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What's Your NO.1 Advice?

Posted: Wed, 11th Aug 2004, 9:18am

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TAP2

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If you guys could give other filmmakers a piece of advice, what would it be?
If you all actually give some advice we could have quite an interesting/helpful thread.
Anyway, here's mine.

Use LIGHTS
Whenever you shoot scenes in dark environments, or in low-lit rooms, use a light. That doesn’t' mean you go and get your bedside lamp, it means you get in your car, go down to your local 'light' dealer, e.g. Homebase, and buy yourself a huge 400w light. These things are like heaters, but give off huge amounts of light.
Carefully position the light during scenes so the camera doesn't pick up the shadows and you'll notice a huge improvement in the look of your film. It also gives you the ability to do more fancy tweaks in post, with lighting and colour. As a general rule, MORE LIGHTS = BETTER RESULTS.

Sound, make it CLEAN 'n' CLEAR
Also, What many people don't realise is that you'll never get your film shown on television if you don't have CLEAN audio.
If your camera (like mine) has a built in mic, then scrap it - it picks up horrible noises such as the DV tape rolling, and other strange noises from the camera. Either,

1) Get an External Microphone, and connect it to the camera.
2) Use another device to do the recording, and sync in post (should be easy as you just match up the camera's audio track, then erase it)

I used a Pocket PC in my last film (the sound quality is outstanding on the built in voice recorder, with NO grain) I simple hid the PDA behind prop objects and now we’ve got crystal clear audio in all our films. I’ll give you guys a sample if you want. I’ve also got an MP3 player which we used, but that gives a tiny bit of grain. Don't have either of those, look around, perhaps you've got an old dictaphone that has great sound quality.

I’ll look forward to you guys sharing your advice.[/b]
Posted: Wed, 11th Aug 2004, 9:57am

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billy3d

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Multiple Camera Angles
This is a very common technique.
You just shoot the same shot again and again, exactly the same way from different angles, and
cut them together while editing.

Giving a Warm or Cold look while shooting
Simple, and also a very widely used trick, white balance with somthing slightly blue, to get a warm look, cuz all the blue is sucked out of the image, similarly white balance with something more orange/red ish to get a cool look. I read an article about this guy who wanted a cool look, so he whitebalanced with the back of his hand.


Ques for Tap2: What other devices could one use to record audio?
Posted: Wed, 11th Aug 2004, 10:12am

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ghevans

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unless its essential to the atmosphere of the film - keep it on a tripod (or if available - use a glidecam device).

also - record using an external microphone.
Posted: Wed, 11th Aug 2004, 10:12am

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Sollthar

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Work out your angles!

If you havethe right light and worked out what the shot should be like, try it a couple of times to see if it REALLY looks good this way. Don't rush a shot by not testing it.
Also, I would recommend learning about how to frame a shot correctly, because thats the first thing one sees in a movie. Do the shots look GOOD the way they are framed or do they just seem rushed and appear "well, I guess I'll shot from here now".


Don't hesitate to say a directors favorite line

Watch very closely to what happens. Watch the actors, the way they're giving their lines, watch the light, if all stays the way it should, whatch the camera and how the shot is framed (in case your filming, thats simple, in case not, use an external monitor to watch it all on screen) and if it's not looking the way you want, don't hesitate a second to say a directors favorite line:
"Very well! Lets do another take of this!"
Posted: Wed, 11th Aug 2004, 10:19am

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Simon K Jones

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Learn the rules

Go buy a book, or take a course, or just study films really closely.

Until you have learnt the basic rules of shooting and editing for continuity, you won't get anywhere.

Plus, once you've learnt the rules, you will know how to break them properly in order to serve the story.
Posted: Wed, 11th Aug 2004, 10:44am

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raider

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something I'm doing right now -- Learn photography - this transfers very well in regards to framing and composition - a nice rule in photography is to simplify. The average human can infer about where a scene is taking place, you don't have to have the entire Wal-Mart in frame so that someone knows you're in front of a department store. (maybe ok for an establishing shot)
Posted: Wed, 11th Aug 2004, 12:58pm

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Mantra

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Remember to look at what you are making from the Audience's Point of View. It's easy to get caught up in the design/making and forget the audience.
Posted: Wed, 11th Aug 2004, 1:06pm

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Andreas

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Do not forget the chicks!
What would a James Bond movie be without the girls? wink
Posted: Wed, 11th Aug 2004, 1:57pm

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otteypm

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Take Charge

All the technical skills can be learnt to varying degrees, the theory structure and processes involved in making films can be learned, but no-one is going to hand you opportunities on a silver platter, you need to work hard and prove you are skilled and capable. When it comes down to it, if you are passive you will be overlooked.

Also, listen to every bit of advice people give you, then decide if you want to use it or ignore it.

Heres a quick example, Taps advice is open to a bit of interpretaion

Carefully position the light during scenes so the camera doesn't pick up the shadows
On first reading I thought he was saying cut out all shadows, which would be odd as shadows are a very important part of using lighting in your scenes and shouldn't be ignored, then I thought he might be talking about getting odd shadows from your lighting and camera equipment which is a sensible bit of advice.

My final piece of advice is never be satisfied with your work, always set yourself a very high standard

I won't be offended if people ignore my advice biggrin
Posted: Wed, 11th Aug 2004, 2:39pm

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TAP2

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Thanks guys,

This is a really useful thread already...

otteypm, with various shots it's essential that you don't have shadows (especially when mixing halogen and sun light in daytime scenes)
Otherwise, of course, you may want them for effect.

As Tarn said, the best way to learn is to read a book. I've read a book I bought and it's great. It teaches you 'rules' such as 'never cross the line' ; For those of you who don't know what this is, when filming 2 people talking, don't put the camera on opposite sides, keep it so that one person is on the left, and the other on the right. It's easiest explained with a diagram.

Framing shots is also essential. I was teaching one of my friends the other night as he kept filming horrible looking shots. I never frame someone in the centre unless it's perhaps a dialogue to the camera, or for some other effect. Also, I don't film space above the actors - I've never seen this as a 'rule,' but I think it looks horrible if you have lots of space above the actors' heads.

Thanks for all your tips!

About the audio, I'm no expert. I just try and make the most use out of what I've got. Even a laptop's built in mic is probably better than your Camera's. You could also consider plugging a microphone into a minidisk?
I'm sure there's something. Then again, some cameras' built in mics are outstanding in which case, there's no point unless you want VERY rich, detailed audio. The closer the microphone is to the actors, the better.
Posted: Wed, 11th Aug 2004, 2:58pm

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Serpent

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Nice Camera Movements
I am going to start doing this, but I see so many good films on here ruined by the lack of good camera movement, or where the camera is on a tripod, which isn't a bad thing, but it's there the whole time. Dynamic camera movements help a lot, and can be used differently to set the mood of the scene. But I think EVERYONE should either buy a steadicam, or make one.

Color Correcting
Need I say more? More films need it and do it to set the mood/feeling of the scene.

The rest has pretty much been said, lighting, audio, etc.
Posted: Wed, 11th Aug 2004, 3:36pm

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Pooky

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Serpent wrote:

Nice Camera Movements
I am going to start doing this, but I see so many good films on here ruined by the lack of good camera movement, or where the camera is on a tripod, which isn't a bad thing, but it's there the whole time. Dynamic camera movements help a lot, and can be used differently to set the mood of the scene. But I think EVERYONE should either buy a steadicam, or make one.
However my problem is that I am alone, and don't have anyone in my family/friends that knows how to handle a camera well enough.
Posted: Wed, 11th Aug 2004, 3:43pm

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Serpent

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I taught my sister in a day. Teach your little bro.
Posted: Wed, 11th Aug 2004, 4:18pm

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TAP2

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There's a trick for very subtle camera movement, as used by Solthar in 'GHOST'

NOTE: In order for the trick to work you have to have your film in very thing widescreen.

1) Film something/someone with the camera mounted static on a tripod, but make sure you film in 4:3, with all widescreen settings off.
2) In the computer, mask off the bottom and top to leave a widescreen shot. (You're effectively chopping off the top and bottom of the footage)
3) You can then animate, or add a 'moving path,' or even rotate your origional video footage, and you'll have that extra footage that you cut out to use.

Hard to understand?

Imagine you've got a painting.
Imagine you then cut out some card with a rectangle hole in it.
Move the card around and you'll be able to see different parts of the image at once. That's the same thing you're doing on the PC.

2* (Easiest way is to set your canvas size in MS paint to 720*576, make the backcolour blue, and draw BLACK boxes at top and bottom of equal size. Then, all you have to do is composite your footage through or on the blue)
Posted: Wed, 11th Aug 2004, 4:20pm

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Aculag

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Don't Form To The Mold

No one ever got anywhere by doing the same thing (Well... There are exceptions..) as other people. If you're wanting to make a memorable film that people will watch a long time from now, it's going to have to have something different in it. If The Matrix didn't have it's slow motion bullet dodging and such, it'd just be another action movie with a bit more substance. That type of thing.

Just because you want to make a horror movie, doesn't mean it has to be a take off of The Ring to be a success. You want to make a drama? Don't use those ridiculous handheld shots and have everyone screaming at eachother. A genre is just a generic type of thing, and you can make your own structure.

Filmmaking is an art. All painters have their own style, they may use ideas from other painters, but when you look at a Van Gogh, you won't think "Oh, that's Rembrandt." (Well, you might, but in that case, I suggest going back to school)

When people look at your movie, who do you want them to think made it?

Find your style.
Posted: Wed, 11th Aug 2004, 7:24pm

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Cutty201

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Turn the sound off

I am a firm believer that sound will make and break a film but a good way to see if your film is visually appealing and not boring is to try watching it through without sound and just pay attention to the actions and movement. it's a lot easier to critique when you are just looking at the pictures smile.

Another "turn off the sound" technique is to watch some of your favorite movies with the sound off. Watch the camera movements, the angles things were shot at, the make up of the shots. A great way to make your stuff look professional...is well.."do as the professionals do" smile hope it helps smile
Posted: Wed, 11th Aug 2004, 8:22pm

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ben3308

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Analyze your Camera Angles Before Hitting Record
I know I myself have forgotten to do this is the past. Before shooting from a specific angles, thiink, "Will the audience enjoy this or will it be annoying?" If you have darker, more modern movie with really off-looking camera angles, but they still look good, keep it that way. Don't feel like you have to settle for your normal 'person centered in the middle of the screen' angle. Make sure that what you are filming matches the overall style and technique of the film. If you don't already have a style or technique, what you are filming now may very well develop into your style. Also, don't be afraid to experiment with the camera and its settings. Especially White-Balance. Shots can can look ALOT different with just a small change in the white balance. Also, as far as experimenting goes, don't be afraid to break free form the tripod. You might even want too try a monopd ( have one and I love it) and a jib for a cool crane shot. Or even some handheld footage. (While this is constantly overdone, it can look good.) So just think, "Did Alfred Hitchcock develop his classic 'dolly out, zoom in' camera technique by sitting around and not tihnking, just clicking point and shoot?" NO. He experimented. And you should too.
Posted: Wed, 11th Aug 2004, 8:24pm

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stqagehanduk

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I'd say work your script before you start anything, and prepare to kill your darlings - If it's your favourite line or your favourite shot but it isn't serving the story then you should be prepared to cut it.

Leaner and tighter is better. Edit ruthlessly.

Also, the sound mix is important. I think ideally you should have a dialogue track that is just that, and everything else foleyed (not sure if that's a proper verb - but it is now) in later.
Posted: Wed, 11th Aug 2004, 8:54pm

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Evman

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Take your time with your shots.

I have forgotten to do this sometimes due to time crunches, and I pay for it in editing.

Memorize your continuity. Make sure your actors do the same thing in each take.

Don't be afraid to get one more take. just because the last one was good, doesn't mean it can't be better.
Posted: Wed, 11th Aug 2004, 11:28pm

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Magic_man12

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Framing - Rule of Thirds

Alot of people I know who want to get into photography or film have not even heard of this, therefore they tend to have bad technique when they film. - For example, when shooting a person, dont shoot them straight on in the middle - shoot them on the left or right 2 thirds of the frame. Its hard to explain quickly on here so heres a website

http://www.methart.com/tutorials/thirds.html

Of course these are just guidelines - but once you understand and master theses you will understand how you can go further than this and do it more effectively

-MAGIC

Last edited Wed, 11th Aug 2004, 11:32pm; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Thu, 12th Aug 2004, 10:41pm

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Crawford

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Have a story Tests and playing with effects can be fun, but a real story is even more fun.


Read your lines Read the lines out loud, with as much acting as you can manage. If it doesn't sound like something someone would say, re-write it. This is especially important because unnatural lines sound even worse coming from inexperienced actors.
Posted: Sat, 14th Aug 2004, 4:12am

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Atom

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Never give up
Filmmaking is a cruel, hard industry/hobby. You'll most likely fail several times before you suceed. Never give up, because your effort will pay off. smile
Posted: Sat, 14th Aug 2004, 4:26am

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Hybrid-Halo

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Enjoy yourself

Film-making is not a chore, it's a hobby and you should be having fun experimenting with styles of filming/directing. Enjoyment is a key factor for me, and it helps drive me to finish what I start.

Be realistic

Ambition is all good and dandy, but dreaming of shooting a film you cannot possibly film due to either age, lack of actors or budget will only defeat you. Analyse what you have available to you and what you are capable of doing and then write your scripts around this. This will mean you will get filming experience whilst getting feedback off those who see your movies, effectively slowly edging you closer to the larger ideas and more ambitious projects.

Be cool.

Wear sunglasses, have a chair with your name on the back. And most importantly... make sure everyone on set knows that this is your show. They're taking part in your movie so they should acknowledge that your word is final. People contributing ideas is good, provided you run the show.
Posted: Sat, 14th Aug 2004, 5:04am

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sidewinder

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No.1 rule: Look out for No. 1.

Actually, do this:

Get lots and lots of angles. No one's ever moentioned this before, really, but these amateur movies here don't cut to a different shot nearly often enough. Even the best films don't do this! This is mostly because we don't have 8 cameras going all the time, but being able to freely cut to a new angle without disturbing the flow of action keeps everything fresh, and takes away the feeling of viewing things through a camera.

We had loads of angles when we started making Pharmacide 2, and boy, did it look good.

Unfortunately, it took forever to film a scene. Consequently, P2 was scrapped.

Fin!

EDIT:That 'Fin' should be big, but font sizes don't seem to work. Malone! MALONE!