Film production: advice requested.

Discussion in 'Camcorders, Action Cams & Video Making Forum' started by gritstone, Sep 12, 2007.

  1. gritstone

    gritstone
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    I'm a member of a social sports club.
    Traditionally they have produced an amusing play each year, which is entirely written, produced and performed by club members. It is performed to a club audience of about 100, during the annual club dinner.

    It's been suggested that in future, rather than performing it as a play, it gets recorded as a video film and this recording is played back to the audience at the annual dinner. And I've been asked to 'scope it out'.

    Initially the idea is very appealing - and would give many opportunities to provide a different performance to the original play format.

    However, as a complete novice to this type of film making, I'd like to see if anyone on here has any advice/comments on this. Not least, is there any books/guidance around that might help me?

    And - any idea's for how best to play a film to an audience of 100, in a public room (e.g. hotel)?
     
  2. redsox_mark

    redsox_mark
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    I’m not a filmmaker; more of a videographer and editor (amateur!). There are lots of books, courses etc on all aspects of filmmaking and videography.

    One book I can recommend is this one
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Video-Shooter-Storytelling-Cameras-Expert/dp/1578202892

    It’s focus is on shooting techniques and related items like lighting etc. It doesn’t cover writing a screenplay or directing a film.

    Here is a link to some course material (from Australia) on film making; it is aimed at documentaries but should be helpful for any type of film.
    http://users.bigpond.net.au/kay.wand/video_course/guerrilla doc's web version.pdf

    There are others on this forum who are filmmakers of one type or another who can help.

    As for showing it – use a good quality, bright projector and a big screen.
     
  3. felix2

    felix2
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    Hi,

    What sort of length performance are you aiming for, and what sort of number of cast (& crew)? We made an amateur feature length film 'The Lost Sock' (it was originally supposed to be a 5x 5-minute episode soap opera!), which rather ambitiously involved around 100 local people, businesses and organisations (although only had a crew of between 2 and about 7!) and took a year, after the script was complete.

    We (and the writers and actors!) did find it was very different from producing a live play, and used a lot of different techniques (e.g. close-up stuff that would look too 'intimate' onstage, mixed with wide general shots, as opposed to 'filling the auditorium' when acting,... swapping between locations,... passage of time,... doing several takes often with minimal rehearsal rather than weeks of rehearsing leading to one hopefully 'perfect' performance, etc...).

    The simplest thing (and probably least exciting to watch) is effectively to film a 'stage play', probably filming it live with a few cameras and mixing down to the edit to show. Beyond that, you'd then be choosing locations for filming (possibly just a few, possibly dozens - the more you use the longer it'll take!). Then it's generally easiest to use only one camera, but do several takes, 2 or 3 from each of a few different angles (establishing shots, wide, 2-shot &/or close-ups on each person speaking, Point of View shots, cutaways...), and then edit the best together.

    I can't recommend any specific books but there are plenty around (to cover the basic 'golden rule' techniques of using a camcorder, through to screenwriting, film-making & production for different types of video, and editing conventions...). But have fun!, look at what other people have done & learn from that, and try to be organised! And have fun :smashin:
     
  4. gritstone

    gritstone
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    Tnx, good info.
    I guess we'd be looking at about 20-30 minutes in length, with multiple scenes, along similar lines to what you describe. I should have added, it needs to be completed by end of Nov!

    ...I'm thinking at this time to put them off, at least until next years performance (Nov 2008)... I suspect a year would be long enough, but not 2 months.
     
  5. gritstone

    gritstone
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    Great stuff here.
    At my stage of knowledge the pdf seems really helpful - Tnx.
     
  6. felix2

    felix2
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    Don't let me completely scare you off the idea! Our project was pretty large-scale for a production team of 2(!). The script / ideas needn't take any longer than for a live play; depending on its complexity (and number of locations and amount of setting up) the filming for a 20-minute piece could be done in one (very full) day (at 2-3 minutes end-product film per hour of filming, or at 1 minute per hour would be more like 3+ days...); and could be edited in 2-3 days...

    How about this year incorporating a 4-5 minute video (or a couple of 2 minute video clips) into the live play performance (if you can get hold of a nice projector or very big plasma)? Then you could 'cut your teeth' on a less overwhelming project over say a couple of weekends (+ editing) fairly easily, and see how it goes down, before you do something a bit more ambitious another year? Just a thought.

    I hadn't seen Kay Wand's pdf before, it's helpful stuff (wish I'd read it a couple of years ago!! :D ). I've also just put online a 3-page pdf of tips I wrote up for a couple of friends earlier this year (although I think it's probably all covered in the other one anyway):
    http://www.felix2.co.uk/videostuff/8_Camcorder_Tips.pdf (I never did quite finish it, so excuse the stick men!)
     
  7. howardtay

    howardtay
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    If you have a decent camcorder and a tripod and an external mic, just have a go! you will learn more by trying to do it. If it's rubbish then leave it a year, read up on it, and try again, all of us amatuers are experts at trial and error, but you will get some good tips here on this forum.

    tip 1, try not to zoom in and out, this can be very disorientating for the viewer, in stead pause the recording, zoom in on the subject, and then restart the recording, zoom out slowly and never use quck movements.

    tip 2, Plan your shoot by using a printed flow chart with room for comments and edited notes, remember a lot of what you'll be doing will be experimental and therefore apt to change during the shoot.
     
  8. redsox_mark

    redsox_mark
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    felix2,

    Nice document! You've covered all the basic points in a well displayed format.

    That "Video Shooter" book I mentioned earlier is a good one for addressing these points (and others) in more detail.
     
  9. gritstone

    gritstone
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    Thanks very much to you all for some excellent advice and help.

    Decision made:
    I'm advising the club to make their usual play/performance this year, and I'll attempt to make a video of the production (or parts of it) to upload to a video hosting site for posterity.

    Yes, I've got a reasonably decent camera (Canon MVX450), good Manfrotto tripod and a Sony external mic.

    I just need to get a video tripod head now...

    Cheers.
     
  10. felix2

    felix2
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    Thanks Mark! I did quite a bit of SLR film photography a few years ago, and found it interesting moving to video what techniques were helpful (e.g. composition etc) and what was sometimes very different! (e.g. 'posed' portraits compared with candid capture of action). I never got round to buying a new book, but did pick up a couple of gems the local library were selling off when they were clearing out their stock:
    - "Shoot!" by Nigel McCrery (1993), plenty of basic stuff, all on analogue cameras and cueing up VCRs, but lots of helpful universal techniques; and
    - "TV Technical Operations, an introduction" by Peter Ward (Focal Press, 2000), seemed too complicated and over my head when I first got it, but I've recently found it gives a really good introduction to all sorts of bits and pieces in the TV production process, including camerawork, lighting, sound, live production etc, and working in the industry. And just goes to show the huge amount I don't know about!! I thought I vaguely understood manual settings like shutter speed and aperture from stills days, and white balance, but things like gamma curves and colour matrices... although I 'get' what they are, I wouldn't (at the moment) know how to describe them, let alone how to use them!! (But that really is getting into the realm of broadcast though...)

    As Howardtay says though, the best bet (apart from a few helpful do's and don'ts) is just trial and error. Be observant and critical (in a postitive way!!) about everything you film and edit, and other people's videos, and what you see on TV. Ask yourself "Did that work? Why was it so effective? Why didn't it work? What would I change if I filmed it again?..." But did I mention, enjoy it!!! :D

    Sounds like a plan, Gritstone - good luck!
     
  11. senu

    senu
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    Totally agree Felix..
    Summary , keep still, keep quiet, stop zooming/ unzooming and remember to use light to your advantage
    Naff video can be edited so don't put your self under pressure to get the "perfect video" right all the time
    If the Op wants PM me for a small DVD video on "Video Basics". To be honest, there is certainly the need to read books , guided, but doing a series of practice projects cannot but help immensely. It can look great with knowhow and not too much kit,
    Conversely without a "plan" having all the kit in the world will not make if great.

    Th costliest part of all this will be the time to read the books, videotape events and then Edit them for "Showing off"
    I would encourage you to try and get into it sooner rather than later.. You will get a buzz when the results get gasps of admiration and a feeling of achievement when the result is pleasing to others
    I encourage you to think it can be done.. soon
    All the best:thumbsup:
     
  12. Jamiewalshe

    Jamiewalshe
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    this is probably the best place to put this (i dont want to clog up the forums with a new thread) but can anyone recommend some books for people coming from a professional stills photography background to film shooting? ie, something that wont be too basic. id love something that ignored gonig into detail about camera operation, basic lighting and such but will be more to do with the change in actual shooting techniques?

    thanks
     
  13. redsox_mark

    redsox_mark
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    The “Video Shooter” book by Barry Braverman I mentioned earlier in this thread I think would help. It is written by an experienced pro cameraman, and the main focus is on shooting technique. It is not explicitly written with a photography pro moving to video in mind so it doesn’t explicitly talk about the differences. I’m not sure if there are books specifically aimed at still photographers moving to video.
     
  14. gritstone

    gritstone
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    Ordered earlier this week:
    There's a 4-6 week lead time on this book, from Amazon.
     

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