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#1 Kirk Love

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Posted 21 December 2006 - 09:36 PM

hi guys, I was trying to film a short movie today ( my first attempt ever) and it was REALLY bad of course even though I used to shoot events before(like regular ones you know birthdays, weddings etc) What I found was that I was "cutting" the actors in the process, ie I clicked on StandBy button way sooner than they stoppped their speach, maybe I was kinda nervous or something I dont know... I also have no clue how professionals operate with one camcorder when shooting dialogs between 2 people or even more than 2. I asked my actors to do it one step at a time so that I can switch to their faces but it turned out really bad, again because I was cutting them too soon. Any tips where online I can look for some tutorial on how to operate behind the camera, not looking for effects, but for some basics first what view to shoot, how to beter position myself and so on?


thanks a lot in advance!
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 22 December 2006 - 12:08 AM

It sound like you were trying to edit in-camera... Usually a lot of the scene is played on a shot of the actor without cutting, and then later intercut with the other angles of the scene.
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#3 Richard Boddington

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Posted 22 December 2006 - 12:30 AM

To elaborate on what David is saying.

Two people are having a conversation, make it easy and have them sit and not get up.

Shot A, we'll call the master shot, the actors do the scene on a "two shot" meaning you have them both in view at the same time. Run the entire scene, no breaks, unless you need to.

Shot B: A medium shot of one actor, run the entire scene again.

Shot C: A medium shot of the other actor, run the entire scene again.

Now for some additional shots. To save time you can pick a few important lines for close ups. Have the actors say 3-4 selected lines, chin to forehead. And do the same with the other actor. Next shoot OTS, over the shoulder, either run the entire scene again or do selected pick ups. As a newbie I assume you're shooting DV and it's cheap so just run the whole scene OTS.

Now you have a total of seven angles to choose from!

Next, can you do a dolly in while an actor is speaking a line?

Ok load all of this footage into the edit sys and start a cutting! You'll be amazed at how you work a scene shot like this in editing.

For instance.

Two shot opens, cut to first actor speaking medium, cut to OTS of second actor speaking, cut to close up of first actor, cut to medium to second actor, cut to medium of first actor, cut to two shot for the next line....etc etc etc. You can make up any combo you like and make a simple scene very interesting and professional looking.

Do lots of "L" cuts, this is the main stay of professional editing. This means we see one character while the other is still talking, when the audio ends the other character starts. Do the same on the reverse, we see one character while we hear the audio of the other, then cut to the one that is speaking. This smooths out the edit and makes your scene look very professional.

I cut movie trailers for five years, and I can tell you that 90% of lines in Hollywood movies are cut this way. I was always trying to find a "clean SOT" but you can never find one. The actor starts his line, but he is not on camera for the first word, so I had to "cover" this part of his SOT in the trailer.

Now just try having one of your actors get up and walk around in the middle of the scene, now you're complicating things :)

R,
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#4 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 22 December 2006 - 12:41 AM

This is a pretty basic production rule that a lot of people seem to miss when shooting a film for the first time.

It's the concept of Pre-Roll and Post-Roll

Usually, especially in video, you'll start rolling camera, then wait about 5 seconds to call action. Then once the scene is over, continue rolling for another 5 seconds. It'll give you a lot more leeway for when you're editing it all together.

To show the value of post-roll, I'll refer to the editing process of the first Star Wars film made. In many instances, they were using shots right up to the very last frame. There's an example of it on the extra DVD that comes with the boxset of the original trilogy.
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#5 Kirk Love

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Posted 22 December 2006 - 10:25 PM

guys, thanks so much it's clarified quite a few things for me... funny thing is that I was shooting in LP mode on my DV camera(to get more time footage) but just now browsed the forum and found that LP making problems with frame dropping out, so maybe it was one of the reasons the frames were "cut out" when the actors were talking. Looks like working in SP is more reliable.


I cut movie trailers for five years, and I can tell you that 90% of lines in Hollywood movies are cut this way. I was always trying to find a "clean SOT" but you can never find one. The actor starts his line, but he is not on camera for the first word, so I had to "cover" this part of his SOT in the trailer.


Richard, thanks a lot, got a question for you then: how to do "cover" those parts when an actor wasn't in the camera but started talking?
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#6 Richard Boddington

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Posted 23 December 2006 - 01:59 AM

Well in your case it won't matter, because you'll have all the raw footage from all the various angles. So none of your actors lines will be "covered."

In the case of a movie promo, we would cover with video with the preceding shot and slip the audio the same way it was cut. This goes by so fast when you're watching a movie that you don't even notice it. Which is the idea of course.

Do not try in camera edits with your video camera. The pre-roll and end roll will drive you nuts. The camera does not start recording the instant you hit start, and when you stop, it rolls back a bit.

You can get the basic editing software for $20.00 from Pinnacle, load it onto your PC and edit. If you're blessed with a Mac it has built in firewire and most likely came with iMovie so just use that.

R,
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#7 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 23 December 2006 - 05:14 AM

...I was shooting in LP mode on my DV camera... Looks like working in SP is more reliable.


Not to mention, SP's quality is a lot better than LP (or EP in the ol' VHS days). The faster that tape is moving through your camera, the faster the bitrate and overall image quality.
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#8 Kirk Love

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Posted 23 December 2006 - 07:38 PM

guys , thanks so much for the suggestions, as you all said: practice, practice and practice again :) One more question: as Richard said its usually shot in 3 modes: from one actor's angle, another actor's angle and 3-d mode is to film them both in a conversation. What if you got 3 cameras, isn't it better to do 1 shot with all 3 modes? I'll definitely film in SP only from now. Wrote some articles on sound setting up(lav and boom), oh boy, never thought it was that complex. I've finnished editting the short movie that I am talking about today (frame work wasn't easy, but its "doable") . Any other tips how to save some on editting while filming? Let me know your ctitique on this my first short movie, I know its awkward, let me know what to improve there. Its actually a part of a feature that I'd like to film, but since I dont have enough experience , feature isn't something I wanna work on now, only if my friend who's professional operator would like sacrifice his free time and join me. Actors are russian native speakers so I didn't wanna make em talk in english, that'd be a mess so I put subtitles instead.So in this short movie, a girl who's desperate for work goes to the computer company to fill a position as a night shift servers support worker. there something happened with the guy who worked there before her, no one tells her what happened to him though. She'll have to figure out what was that, at the mean time the killer isn't resting and keep on doing his "job" systematically. I dont like putting my real name on youtube so we all took nicknames. Articles on sound said that first only dialogs should be recorded, since the action was in the servers lab, what are your suggestions to record that servers/fans noise?


Edited by Kirk Love, 23 December 2006 - 07:40 PM.

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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 23 December 2006 - 08:16 PM

Well, you could run three cameras at once rather than one camera separately for three set-ups...

But you'd possibly be compromising the placement of lights and microphone in order to hide them from three cameras pointed in three different directions simultaneously, plus if an actor flubs a line, now you've got a bad take on three cameras, so you're wasting more film. And of course, if the shots are over-the-shoulder angles of actors looking at each other, it's hard to keep the cameras from seeing each other unless shooting from farther off-angles (not so much on the actor's eyeline).

But sometimes it is done that way.

Generally dialogue is recorded as "clean" as possible (no background noises, no overlapping talking except in group shots) and sound effects (like a fan noise) are added later in post so that the level can be set to what is desired, plus the sound effect can be continuous over the cut points (you normally don't want to intercut two people talking and having the same common background sound effect be different levels at each cut.)
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#10 Kirk Love

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Posted 23 December 2006 - 11:45 PM

thanks David! How do you seperate that fan noise if for instance you film in servers lab? Dont boom and lav record all that noise , or is the only way to simply cut actor's dialogue during the shot and the rerecord it in the studio?
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#11 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 24 December 2006 - 01:10 AM

thanks David! How do you seperate that fan noise if for instance you film in servers lab? Dont boom and lav record all that noise , or is the only way to simply cut actor's dialogue during the shot and the rerecord it in the studio?


Directional mics and lavs cut a lot of that background noise down if used properly, plus you can see what servers can be turned off for the shot, or if some furniture blankets on c-stands can be set-up off-camera as a wall between the scene and any computers making noise.

Sometimes if the location is really noisy, there isn't much alternative to using ADR (looping) to replace the sound.
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#12 Kirk Love

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Posted 24 December 2006 - 07:10 PM

Richard, I appreciate your and others help a lot and thats I started this thread :) 90% of my friends said its boring, story telling is bad, its not smooth from shot to shot, and all other things you mentioned. Its crap in a nutshel :)What I've noticed though during this first shot of mine is that it was real creative, ideas kept on jumping from nowhere which was really fun to observe, everyone in the crew was coming up with new ideas what do and how to do it. Yeah I had my camcorder on auto focus and didnt' play with manual focus. I was eager to at least start working on it and "break the ice" with my friends and just neighbours :P
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#13 Richard Boddington

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Posted 25 December 2006 - 04:56 PM

Ditto what David says. So far I've always used one camera, hiding the second camera can be tough on cross shooting. Plus if you're shooting sound with film cameras the film cameras need to be dead quiet otherwise you have three times as much noise!

As for your piece...I really think you need to concentrate on learning the "grammar" of film, this is the hardest thing for new comers to grasp. Right now you have a short film shot hand held that follows the actors around with pans, jump cuts, and line crossings. There's no blocking to speak of at all, and this is where learning the basics comes in.

All of the angles are eye level, visually this makes it boring. I see you used auto focus, bad idea, the camera goes in and out of focus as it tries to focus on the main "thing", but often auto focus does not know what that main "thing" is. Next time, kill the auto focus, and focus manually.

I'm trying to give you pointers so you can improve, not knock you

R,
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#14 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 26 December 2006 - 05:09 AM

Another tip - if you are not doing this already - use a tripod. Your footage will be improved immensely. Rock solid footage is much more pleasing to watch than footage that seems to be drifting like a ship at sea. However, there are exceptions like a 'point of view' shot to emphasise what one of the characters is seeing - using the camera as his / her eyes. (A wide angle setting on the zoom will cause less 'shake.') Though use this technique sparingly if you do decide to use it.
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#15 Kirk Love

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Posted 05 January 2007 - 01:45 AM

guys, thanks so mcuh for the suggestions. I really appreciate your help! I gotta shoot more, recently I've been taking my camcorder anywhere I go so that I can shoot more things(streets, malls etc) and see what i can do with it, it helps to improve my operating. Tripod and dolly have to be included at my next shot, just started from scratch. Funny, but I read somewhere that Rodriguez when shooting his El Mariachi was using a chari (his friend was pushing him) instead of dolly, thats creative I guess. :)
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