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Old July 17th, 2005, 11:49 PM   #1
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Secrets: DV Challenge #2

http://www.surgetechservices.com/smchenry/

There are lots of notes on the web page that explain what I used, how it was done and so on. Please feel free to give comment. This is my first attempt at this sort of production. If you have questions, fire away.

I know it is a bit confusing perhaps as to what the heck is really going on but if you listen, think and follow things in their timeline, you will probably see the intent. If not, it's all explained, at least what I was trying to present, at the bottom of the web page.

Hope you like it at least a little,

Sean McHenry
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Old July 18th, 2005, 02:30 PM   #2
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No comments from anyone? Anyone? Buhler. Buhler. Buhler...

Nobody liking it, nobody seeing it?

I hope some of you liked it.

Sean
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Old July 18th, 2005, 02:59 PM   #3
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I liked it :) I enjoyed all of the movies. And basically we all are winners because we did it.

I liked your story. It's very tragic and I like the "suggestive" telling that you do with the bike liying down and the wheel spinning. I am reading something about writing scripts and letting the audience imagine what happened is stronger than actually seeing it. So I think it's good work!
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Old July 18th, 2005, 06:13 PM   #4
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I think that it is difficult to critique your piece, because of the seriousness of it's message.

At least for me.

I think that in order to adequately convey a story like the one in your entry, you need more than three minutes.

On the one hand, it is very ambitious to attempt to do this. And that is commendable. But on the other hand, I don't think that the three minutes do the script justice.

That's my opinion. Don't feel bad - it is 10,000000 x harder to make a serious, compelling, tragic film three minutes long in one weeks time, than to be silly. And you attempted the almost impossible.
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Old July 18th, 2005, 08:02 PM   #5
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I agree with Fred. Good job, too. Kudos! :)
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Old July 18th, 2005, 08:32 PM   #6
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Thanks guys. Good feedback and yes, I think you are right, the way I went should have more time devoted to the story line. I would have done so much more with it. In fact I still might develop it further. Keep the link to the web site handy as I may finish it out the way I saw it in my head. I would have added at least 3 more shots.

I do have a version on the way that was color corrected and changed the timing of at least one shot. it was a minor editing flaw I didn't see at 2am.

Please keep encouraging me and the other entrants. I want to be doing this for a long time.

If you want to see some similar short films, check out the archives of the defunct WeeklyDV.com

Sean McHenry
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Old July 20th, 2005, 05:24 PM   #7
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Great production, but it better be for all the gear you used! :)

I'm going to skip the praise, because you already got lots of it, plus a sweet prize package. :)

Here's what I found problematic:
At the start, the husband's voice over sounds like it is a news radio, and I ignored it, which left me wondering later in the film. I went back and watched it once I realized it was important. Showing the white car screeching to a halt confused me. It doesn't sell me on the mistaken identity of who has hit their son.

That's it!

BYW, nice crane move into the car windshield!
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Old July 20th, 2005, 08:44 PM   #8
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OK, here is what I wanted to do to fix those very issues. This may still make it to the final polished version I'll post on the site later.

On the husbands voice, I needed a quick shot of the answering machine. That would clear up that confusion. Problem is it breaks the flow of the wife preparing to go off to work so now I need to back up to perhaps the alarm going off and then her hitting the button on the flashing answering machine. Maybe hitting it after the shower but it kills the flow of those shots and if I do the VO after those shots, it would leave no dialog over those shots making them almost pointless or at least too long. I'll work on this one for a while.

On the white car. I lost the lead a bit earlier in the evening than I would have liked, and we lost our precious light. I had planned a short shot of her (VO) calling for the son, perhaps walking down the driveway while calling him, rather than just heading into the house. As the white car comes around the bend past the scene and fallen bike, we hear her scream and the neighbor who is watering her flowers turns in the direction of the scream. She then becomes the witness the phone VO of the husband spoke of. The white car goes screaching off (after I record some tire screaching) and they all, except the wife, think it was the white car.

I need a close up of the wifes face in sudden realization that it was her that hit him, or, I also thought of a shot from the interior of the car as she pulls into the driveway and hitting a bump in the road. She has had a few and would basically ignore it but it sets the scene for the final action in that sequence.

So that's how I would have fleshed it out better but I, like all of us, was under pressures, job, family, work, etc and so I didn't make enough time available for all the shots I wanted to get. Luckily there was just enough to hint at what was really going on.

Sound like a real story with those additions? I didn't want to make it too obvious but I think the areas you mentioned need strengthening.

Sean
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Old July 23rd, 2005, 02:45 PM   #9
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Dylan's comments are very good, I picked up on one or two of them as well (The white car? etc), but still loved the piece, was moved by it, and really really loved the crane shot over the front of the car. VERY NICE!. Congratuations, Sean. Job well done.
-Jon
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Old July 24th, 2005, 01:27 AM   #10
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I was particularly fond of the crane shot in my living room of Natalie walking down the staircase.

By the way we had a combination birthday and cast party tonight. She and the rest of the family and friends were quite pleased with the outcome. Looks pretty good on the plasma in 16:9.

I made her a DVD and just happened to find a refrigirator magnet that says "as seen on TV" and gave that to her along with her copy of the DVD.

Just watched Lucas's original THX 1138 again for the Nth time. I am realizing such films have had a deeper effect on my than I thought.

In the commentary to THX, Lucas and the others mention over and over that they intended to use a very stylized approach to this, Georges first film, in that it would be in keeping with early Japanese Sci-Fi films. Very controlled and squeeky clean but making the audience think about the sets and action and learning for themselves what is going on in the film, rather than having all the answers brought out along the way. They specifically mention that they didn't explain any of the special events in the film, they let the audience discover and explore the events and rituals. I very much like that approach.

Mamet likes to say that everything happens in the cut. You don't have to show everything. If there is a character getting stomped by a bad guy, you don't have to see his nose catching a punch, in fact, you can shoot something more abstract or even looking at the bad guys face and hearing the effects of the blows and that can be very much more effective to getting the audience involved than a Peckinpaw or slasher film approach.

A shot that makes people look away is counter productive I think.

Anyway, enough on this. Waiting for DVC3. Can't wait to see what demons arise from a word like "kittens" or "slippers".

Until then, I have a few shots to shoot this weekend and fit them into the early version to fix "Secrets" into a real story I fully like. I'll post it on my little web page when it's done.

Sean McHenry
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Old July 24th, 2005, 01:45 AM   #11
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How did you do the crane shot? Dolly in while craning up and then turning, or was it done on a tripod and just a slow zoom speed?
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Old July 24th, 2005, 01:49 AM   #12
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In both shots, the tripod was static. On the car, I positioned the crane for the best final position, looking in the windshield directly at the lead. Then I adjusted other angles to get the effect I thought best.

For the one in the house, used the full 8'8" and had the tripod up a few feet too. Again, placed the crane and tripod for the best final position and adjusted backward.

If I had only had some black cloth to kill the reflection on the windshield it would have been better. I was using a polorizer but as overcast as it was that day, the sun light was from all angles and it just didn't help much.

Sean
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Old July 24th, 2005, 12:12 PM   #13
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Hi Sean,

I recently shot a car mount scene with the camera mounted on the hood of a car. I hadn't done one of those for a long time. I noticed that automobiles of today have much more curved windshields than they did in the old days.

I was only able to keep the reflections out of 1/3 of the windshield using a roto pola because of this. Maybe using a vehicle with a flatter windshield would help in this situation. I think you would have needed a very big piece of black cloth to have had that help.
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Old July 24th, 2005, 10:17 PM   #14
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Even if it had only been big enough to block the reflections in the final resting spot of the camera it mght have been better. I would have to see it with the motion.

I had noticed that I have the balance point a bit too torqued down. That's what caused the minor bouncing at the end oif the shot. I was actually moving it from the camera end to try and dampen that bounce a bit.

One of these days I'll buy or build a PTZ mount for it.

Oh, and Bill, no zoom. I used the .65 HD WA lens and focused and positioned it for the final shot position and just backed up from there. The natural distortion of the WA gave it an interesting look.

Sean
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Old July 25th, 2005, 10:50 AM   #15
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Pdx-10

I think this just might be the first short I've seen shot on the famous PDX-10. I actually have one and the hard edge of the PDX-10 isn't apparent here. Nice work.
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