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Fashionable Camera/Editing techniques


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#1 Amin Khan

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 12:30 PM

Hi there,

im new to this forum and relatively new to this field. I work as a freelance video editor and motion graphics animator.(mostly cheesy corporate stuff)
Ive been stuck in a rut for a few years. Ive always had a vague interest in filming techniques, ive harbored a fancifull dream of one day becoming a fully fledged film maker(sound familiar?? ;) ). As time went on this dream receded into the distance and i often thought 'who am i kidding?', well now its back with avengeance. With this new job of teaching i took the opportunity to start from scratch. Researching film from the ground up, studying theory aswell as actually doing it(making films).

At the age of 33 Ive decided to commit myself wholly and utterly to the art of film-making and AV.

Im not here to solicit opinion on the wisdom of this decision because - for better or for worse - it has been made and that is final.

I plan on covering basic camera techniques and editing techniques in my class - and have the students make a video along these lines:



http://www.youtube.c...feature=related

My question is

1) what camera techniques are currently in vogue?(either in TV or Film) is there an online resource for such things?
2) For some of the difficult techniques are there handy workarounds? cheats? (like is there an easy way to create a 'rack focus' effect on a crappy camcoder with autofocus)
Equipment available to me is pretty crap to say the least
3)any advice would be most welcome



Thanks.
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 01:20 PM

You need a manual focus camera to do rack-focusing from one object to another, unless you manage to pan enough to get the auto focus to select the correct new subject and rack over to it. But the excessively deep-focus look of 1/3" DV cameras makes it hard to see the rack very well unless it is a longer-lens shot and racking to an object in the extreme foreground or back.

I think if you are going to teach cinematography & filmmaking using video cameras, the cameras can be cheap & basic... but they need to allow simple manual controls over exposure (iris, shutter, gain) and focus. Otherwise students get into bad habits by not ever having to consider those basic photography elements.

One popular trend, which is easier to do with a cheap video camera, has been this faux documentary style ala "Bourne Ultimatum" -- jumpy, handheld, lots of cuts.
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#3 Amin Khan

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 04:22 PM

Thanks David,

I think that yours is the only solution to achieving this effect with the equipment we have. The course i teach is not a cinematography course but simply one module dedicated to using a specific editing software. I have chosen to expand its remit just to make it more interesting for myself and the students.

I'd also like to know how a cameraman thinks up new shot techniques/transitions etc. Apart from the Bourne 'hand-held' approach Are there techniques that come in and out of fashion, what currently is the 'thing' everyone is doing?

Thanks again
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 05:14 PM

Personally I would teach classic narrative filmmaking and let the students copy whatever fashion of the day comes along if they feel like it.

If you try to teach a fad in a course, by the time the students graduate, it may be passe. Give them the fundamentals of classic directing, blocking & staging of actors to camera, composition for narrative & symbolic effect, creating mood & energy, montage, etc.

If you were going to teach figure painting, you'd give them the fundamentals in life drawing, anatomy, creating volume & dimention with light & shade, etc.
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#5 Amin Khan

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 07:37 PM

Hi David,

I absolutely agree with you about concentrating on the fundamentals. We hope to make a video of camera techniques/editing techniques this coming lesson(not too dissimilar to those youtube links i posted). So whereas most of the shots will be basic shots(like long shot, medium close up, close up etc) Ill know ill also have to do something that excites them otherwise ill lose their attention(these kids arnt necessarily film lovers and i have to work hard to sustain their interest)

I found the best way to motivate them is to actually get them to do something fun - and hopefully get them to appreciate some of the fundamentals indirectly(i guess this applies to myself aswell :) )

I guess that what i am really asking is how can i get them to say "wow thats cool!! i want to learn more"

...bearing in mind we have a SD camcorder, a rickety trolley, one 1k light with barn doors and 2 hours on a tuesday afternoon.

I mean i showed them examples of establishing shots, framing shots and told them about crossing the line but it wasnt untill i showed them the clip of the dolly zoom in Jaws that they really sat up and started paying attention. Do you think it would be possible to do a dolly zoom with a rather old camcorder? Are there any other neat little things i can show them to grab their attention??

btw ive created a youtube account for the class and we will be putting the results of our efforts online - ill make sure i post the link.
thanks again
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#6 Amin Khan

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Posted 02 February 2008 - 03:45 PM

well we are half way through getting different camera shots, we used a wheely chair for our dolly, we tried a 'ducth angle' shot and high and lo perspective. we tried a tilt and a pan - something which was an accomplishment in itself(youd understand if you ever saw the equipment we had to work with) - we will continue to try and get some more shots this coming week and maybe try and get some better equipment. Then we will edit the footage using well established editing techniques.

apart from anything else the students loved it and we all had a good time.

they have been set an assignment of producing their own 2-3 min short by april

Ive included a bit of footage they shot previously and edited:



Sorry about the quality. still figuring our way around youtube) feel free to leave comments , they will be thrilled at reading them!

Edited by Amin Khan, 02 February 2008 - 03:47 PM.

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#7 Amin Khan

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Posted 26 February 2008 - 08:45 PM

well this is a start...we covered some very basic techniques: the students have been tasked with making their own videos which hopefully will be a tad more sophisticated. Not too displeased with the result considering the equipment available.

The keying was awfull due to a very bad chromakey on a very uneven makeshift bluescreen. The dolly was done with a wheely chair and the tripod was broken so the tilt was guided by a shaky hand. the focus racking was aided with some post trickery.





sorry for the newbish work, i realise now i should have begun this thread in another forum.

Edited by Amin Khan, 26 February 2008 - 08:46 PM.

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#8 Mitchell Yount

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Posted 27 February 2008 - 11:51 AM

As a music video director I can tell you one thing: BE DIFFERENT! Use different things! experiment! practice!
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