2015 January

Shooting with Two / Multiple Cameras – Lens / Camera choices

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If you’ve decided that you’ll shoot with two cameras, here are the three things to worry about.

Make sure audio is being recorded separately and slating is done for both cameras for syncing in post.

If possible, try to make sure that you’re using the same camera. In the world of DSLR filmmaking, the sensors of the different cameras can be significantly different on how they capture light. This will produce different color schemes and graininess for the same lighting conditions. If you don’t have a choice, this is not the end of the world, as color correction in post is always available. But if you haven’t engaged in that kind of post production, it might be a good idea to find someone with the same camera as yours for your multi-cam shoot.

Lenses are the other issue. If you’re shooting opposite sides of a conversation for instance, it would be ideal if both sides looked similar, and that can be achieved with lenses that are similar, with cameras that are equidistant from the subjects on either side. Anything else might look a bit off. And one of the goals for us filmmakers at least at this beginning stage should be to make sure that our cinematography is not distracting to the point where the audience is thinking about it. The audience should only be thinking about the story, not about why one actor appears closer to the camera than the other.

So, ideally try to make sure the second camera is the same as the first, and you have a similar set of lenses for each camera. It’s easy to say this I know, but beg and borrow to make sure such is the case for your shoot. Otherwise you’ll be spending a lot more time in post production than you’d care to.

The House on Pine Street – Crowdfunding Success

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Film: The House on Pine Street
Amount: $18,481 of $18,000
Country: United States
Platform: Kickstarter (campaign website)

The House on Pine Street Poster

I came upon this campaign recently, and it is from early 2014. I decided to write about this because it seems to defy certain rules, mainly that you cannot do a successful campaign without a proper fan base. These guys don’t seem to have a fan base.

In their campaign video, they do make clear how this is a Kansas movie. Whether that has anything to do with the donor base, I don’t know, but it’s interesting enough to point out. Also, $5,000 of the total get, or about 27% of the donations has come from actors paying for Extra roles.

The campaign included a reasonably good video and a lot of concept art.

I didn’t think the prizes were anything special or even worded in any special or particularly appealing way. But, they did reach their goal. An $18,000 ask is a pretty ambitious goal, and somehow they got to it quite comfortably.

  • They raised about $5,000 or 27% of the total from selling roles for extras.

DIY Rain Machine

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I’m generally not too keen on DIY. I know filmmakers love it. Filmmakers love to talk about it. Very few are actually able to accomplish creating effective and usable DIY gear. Or maybe I’m projecting. Maybe it’s just me who’s terrible at making DIY gear. Everything DIY piece of equipment I’ve tried to make or buy from some internet dude, has been a waste of time and money. You don’t save much, but you spend an enormous amount of time thinking that you’re being productive.

Enough talking about myself. This piece of DIY is just pure genius. In the video below, Tom Antos shows you two methods on how to build yourself a rain machine for your indie film. The second method is supposed to be more sophisticated, with sprinklers and all. But after taking a look at the video, my personal preference is for the first and cheaper system. I think the water droplets have a larger variation in size with the first system than with the second.  Enjoy the video.

Shooting with Two / Multiple Cameras – Part I – Should you or should you not?

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There are primarily two reasons to shoot with multiple cameras. The first is for coverage reasons, and the second is for the purposes of capturing honest reaction shots to the action.

Most people shoot with multiple cameras for coverage reasons. And if that’s the reason for your decision, then things aren’t really that complicated, in terms of lens choices and focal lengths. You might want to try to stick to the same camera type, as different cameras with different sensors capture light differently. Using different sensors is still fine. It’ll only mean that you’ll be spending more time in post in the color correction suite, making sure things don’t look markedly different.

If using multiple cameras you do want to make sure that you slate both cameras so that audio syncing is not an issue in post.

I happen to  use multiple cameras in almost everything I shoot. My reason for doing so is not coverage. It’s to make sure that if a take is perfect, then I can use multiple angles of the same take. This is not a “proper” way to shoot anything as almost any DOP will tell you. What shooting with multiple cameras means is that you have to compromise on lighting. Where you put the light is going to be restricted somewhat on your choices of where you put your cameras, as you don’t want lights to appear on your frame.

But that’s the struggle. If you’re a director who’s planning his shoot day, these are the kinds of things you will have to decide on. Do you want to pick that fight with your DOP? Do you want to have 5 to 10 takes of a simple conversation scene from multiple angles with one light setup, or do you want to shoot the same conversation scene 5 to 10 times each, for the two conversationalists, lighting each setup separately.

Both decisions are fine in my opinion. The first decision means you compromise on lighting, and the second decision means, you compromise on time. It’s really the decision of the director on where you want to compromise.

If you’re a DOP, you will probably disagree with everything I’ve said above. If you’re a director, all I’m going to say is this: Every decision is a compromise, in one form or another.

Audio for Filmmakers – How To Think About Audio

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The problem most independent filmmakers have with audio, is that most of us lack experience. The other problem we have is that when we think about making our movie, we think about the visual aspects of filmmaking, how w’re going to light a scene or subject or how we’re going to frame a shot. Rarely do we consider, in our thinking, if say we’re going to shoot a scene at a coffee shop, whether the fridge noise is going to be an impediment on the day of the shoot. But these are the un-sexy things that we need to take into consideration when planning our shoot day. If we shoot near a train station, how will the noise affect our shoot? If we’re shooting outside, will the neighbors be mowing their lawns? How will the traffic noise affect a shoot by the side of a road?

The other thing to understand is this simple truth: If no one notices the audio, you’ve done your job properly. If the audio is bad, the audience will notice, and all the energy spent on perfecting the visual aspects of your film will be for naught.

So let’s think about that a bit more. If the visuals aren’t perfect, you can play with the color correction, maybe cut to a separate shot even. But if the audio is bad, all is lost. There can be no compromise on audio. It can’t even be a little bad. The audience is so accustomed to good audio that any deviation from quality will be noticed, and that is the death knell for your movie.

So, whatever it is about the visuals that excites you and motivates you to make your movie, the end is unattainable without the requisite time spent on perfecting the audio; not making the audio good, or better, but perfecting it. There are no two ways about it. Until we filmmakers get this through our heads, we’re only good for youtube, not for broadcast or for theater.

Remove Youtube copyright strikes 2014 / 2015

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Many of us have used royalty free music that we purchased, in our Youtube Videos, only to receive a copyright notice from Youtube. Here’s how it used to be:
1. The user would receive a notification from youtube about copyright infringement.
2. If you had the right to use the music, you would complain to youtube
3. Youtube would get back to you saying there’s really nothing they can do about it as their software flagged and and some giant corporation like Sony (happened to me) had claimed that they owned the copyright, and that I should talk to Sony directly.
4. You would send emails to Sony, and nobody from Sony would care that you actually existed in the universe.

But that was before. Here’s how it’s going to be going forward in 2015:
1. You now have the right to submit a counter notification. So here’s what happens

  • You get hit with an unjustified copyright infringement notice
  • They have 30 days to respond to your counter claim
  • If they do not respond within that time frame, the strike will be lifted

2. Complain to Youtube directly at the following email address: copyright (at) youtube.com. Youtube is pretty good at responding to your complaints, and if your complaint is valid, they will reverse the strike.

That’s how you get rid of copyright infringement in 2015.

Audio for Filmmakers – RX4 Spectral Repair Tutorial

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This is just a first tutorial on the Spectral Repair Module in Izotope RX4. A lot of people wouldn’t really call it a tutorial as I’m no expert, but I made this video specifically to show the possibilities in RX4 to filmmakers who’re at their wits end when it comes to audio.

Most filmmakers I know, seem at some level, only superficially concerned about audio. I mean they’re concerned. And they talk about their concern, but I’m not sure they do very much about it other than spend money on gear, which is important. But by itself, gear is not going to solve audio problems in a film.

I don’t want to go into it much more in this post. I will in later posts, but for now, this video below should give filmmakers some idea of what is possible in post production. But know this, while you can get rid of a lot of offensive things in your audio file, it costs money or expertise or both, to do so.

What is the job of a Script Supervisor

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Tim Hunt explains in detail, the unceremonious and often tedious and thankless job of the Script Supervisor or Continuity Supervisor. It’s the Script Supervisor that makes sure that the actors are wearing the right clothes, and the sun is in the right place and the cup is in the right hand between takes, among other things. In the video below, Tim breaks down the details.

What is a Continuity Supervisor or a Script Supervisor?

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In the video below, Tim Hunt describes what a Script Supervisor or a Continuity Supervisor is. Tim and I just finished shooting a feature length film and Tim’s expertise was indispensable in getting through the day in an organized manner. From the point of view of a Director, the most important thing Tim did, was keep me from making mistakes that would make the edit impossible. Below is the first part of a series of interviews with Tim.