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Old April 6th, 2006, 11:56 AM   #1
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DV Challenge 5- What have we learned

While the progress thread started on DV Challenge 5 may be duplicative, I think we should have some place to post what we have learned. I'll start it off:

1. Don't work with children, animals, or reflections. You cannot depend on cooperation from any of them.

2. Rule of Thumb: No matter how much time you have, you won't have enough time.

3. Don't use yourself as an actor. Trick others into thinking they are wonderful-- because you certainly aren't.

4. The camera does not add ten pounds to you-- it adds 100 pounds...

5. One thing I haven't learned is what is a backdrop, and how does your hometown become one ?

6. My shiny new FX1 does not work well in low light, so I got out the trusty old VX 2000. Its a good thing the Challenge doesn't require HDV.
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Old April 6th, 2006, 12:11 PM   #2
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Oh, one more:

7. If you are having a conversation with a reflection, remember to look at the reflection, rather than the source.....
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Old April 6th, 2006, 12:15 PM   #3
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What I have learned

I have learned that I am pretty durned good at making pretty bad short films. But it was fun...and that counts for a lot in my book.
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Old April 6th, 2006, 12:24 PM   #4
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Hmmm....really associate with #3, Chris. I'll never use myself again, that's for sure. Let's see.....

1) Tripod, tripod, tripod! Never leave home without it (NOR the @#$% camera mounting plate the goes with it!) and don't use a camera without it.

2) No matter how hard you try, you can NEVER "direct" your wife.

3) The camera doesn't add 100 lbs. I've done a pretty good job of that myself.

4) It's easier to fake a sunrise with a sunset than it is to beat a sunrise.

5) ....oh yeah.... when you're filming yourself using a pay phone, it helps establish the scene a bit if you're NOT visibly wearing your cell phone in the shot!

Actually, my FX1 worked pretty well with just 6 candles as light; and one penlight in another scene. I had mine set on 1/30th sec shutter speed because there wasn't a whole lot of movement in that one scene.

Oh, forgot one:

6) NEVER upgrade your editing software (PPro) in the middle of a production!
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Old April 6th, 2006, 12:34 PM   #5
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I learned a couple of things:

1) light your green screen evenly!

2) get an assistant, or a monkey.

3) take responsibility for your own project -- don't expect your actors/friends/wife to get excited about the project before you do. If you are excited about it, they'll catch on eventually.
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Old April 6th, 2006, 12:42 PM   #6
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For the most part, my production went pretty smoothly. I learned a few things, though:

1. Too much footage is always better than not enough. I knew that before, I don't know why I stopped recording early a couple times.

2. Extremely high shutter speeds aren't always the ideal look.

3. The weather can really screw you over.

4. Confirm your actors'/actresses' availability in the days leading up to the shoot.

And a few more things I'll post later to not spoil my movie.
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Old April 6th, 2006, 12:55 PM   #7
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"Get a Monkey"...Sounds like an interesting idea. I could do that. Then again I saw a movie years ago called, I think, Monkey Shines where an adorable little guy tried to kill off several people working as a helper.

Anyway, add to the list, something about the more time allowed, the longer the preproduction process, and the less that actually actually gets shot.

I am forcing myself to finish this one with ANYTHING on tape. I had grand ideas but they are not happening this time around. I will submit something just to stay off the wall, which goes against my idea of do it right or not at all. It's the freakin' wall of shame here. Nobody want's that monkey on their backs.

I love the saying: Why put off till tomorrow what you can put off today?

Sean
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Old April 6th, 2006, 01:21 PM   #8
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My big lesson is don't start shooting with a bad Idea or story.

Don't try and do too many things at once. Several times I took on a bit more than one man can chew. pulled it off only to find that I kind of missed the point of what I was shooting and why.

another thing I found was i have to have a better way to see what i'm shooting. It was really the first time I incorporated a lighting kit and 1500 watts blasting away, it's really hard to see anything on that little flip out screen. Oh yeah, learn how to light before you shoot.

Don't ask anyone around you what they think. They almost feel obligated to tell you to do something differently, even if they like what you did.
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Old April 6th, 2006, 02:26 PM   #9
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. If it looks in focus on the LCD on the Sony Z1U, that doesn't mean that it really is in focus...

. Lighting for decent exposure does not equal cinematic lighting.

. Having a crew is better than not having a crew.

. Having a preproduction meeting is better than not having a preproduction meeting.

. The day of the shoot is not the best time for the cast to question the motivation for each shot.

. If I'm given 10 days, I will probably spend most of the 10 days on the project. If I'm given 30 days, I will probably spend most of the 30 days on the project.

. If I'm given 5 minutes, I will probably fill the 5 minutes.

You get the idea...

Bill
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Old April 6th, 2006, 03:24 PM   #10
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For this film, I did the following:

1. Had absolutely no crew whatsoever - just lil ol me - a cheap date

2. Hired myself to play 2 roles with 2 different outfits - shooting yourself blind can be very challenging

3. Acted as the stunt double for both characters - must bring more pads next time

4. Actually got up and out before the sunrise and captured it coming up - a first for me Edward)

5. Secured permission to use one kind couples location for part of the story

6. Ordered all props from ebay - they arrived and all was good

7. Watched the weather channel as though life depended on it and lucked out with only 2 days of open windows to shoot.

8. Managed to avoid being hauled off to the funny farm - had I been seen by the federalies, I may be typing you from the clink

Finally, beat myself to a pulp, bleeding from the eyes, delirious - and had an absolute blast doing it.

whew
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Old April 6th, 2006, 04:05 PM   #11
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My film is finished, and I'm currently defragging an external hard drive for the ultimate encode. What have I learned?

1.) I have poor posture, and could get a job ringing cathedral bells if my other interests never turn into careers.

2.) Neutral density filters are your friend. If the ones built in to your camera are broken, or otherwise unusable, do NOT simply make do. Purchase the screw on equivalents for use until you can get said camera repaired.

3.) Level and focus! If your tripod head has a bubble level on it, don't forget to check the damned thing! And though it's less a problem with video--at least, with 1/3" chips--don't forget to focus. Hard to judge without a monitor, but you can always just zoom in on the eyes, use "Push Auto", and pull back to frame the shot. This is what I ended up doing, when I remembered to focus.

4.) FedEx truck drivers are magical beings, much like unicorns; my order was set to be delivered on a Monday, containing items I needed for a shoot the preceding Saturday. The package left B&H's Brooklyn warehouse, went to Newark, of all places, and made it back to eastern Long Island by Friday afternoon. Especially impressive considering traffic on the Long Island Expressway.

5.) Widescreen is friggin' awesome. I couldn't care less about a wider horizontal field of view, so long as the screen is an exaggerated rectangle. Clich, perhaps, but I really don't care. It just looks so cool.

6.) A mic stand with a boom arm is an invaluable thing when you can't get a real boom operator.

7.) At my budget and skill level, there isn't much difference between a short shotgun and a similarly priced lavalier (wireless, too, if you can believe it). I recorded two microphones for most shots, and ended up liking the sound of the lav better in a good ninety percent of them. Probably 'cause I shot most of those scenes before getting the aforementioned boom for my shotgun, but you know how it is. Use what you got, and all.

8.) Don't be afraid of reshoots! I reshot three scenes in my movie, one of which I did three times on three different nights. Demanding, and potentially depressing, but it's worth it.

9.) Whatever you do, do not take the tape out of the camera! Forget about tapes with chips, or pre striped nonsense, just keep the damned tape in the camera and use your "End Search" button, if you've got one. Timecode breaks are a thing of the past, even though my editing software still has problems with batch capture (set a mark-in, a mark-out, everything starts digitizing just fine, I come back twenty minutes later, the thing's still working on the footage, long after the mark-out).

10.) Quicktime 7 Pro has problems with large files on my system. I open up a four hundred megabyte file, it plays without a problem, I can export a compressed version. I open up a one gigabyte file, it plays without a problem, I get a "buffer overrun" when I try to export. Looks like my movie's gonna be Windows Media all the way, as Windows Media Encoder loves my one gigabyte source file. Handles it beautifully, encodes quickly, looks great, small file.

And finally, the most important:

11.) Never give up. Never surrender. It CAN be done, you just have to believe, as cheesy as that is to say.
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Old April 6th, 2006, 06:57 PM   #12
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1.) I'm a lazy bastard.

2.) Knowing your going to be on the wall of shame sucks :(
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Old April 6th, 2006, 07:34 PM   #13
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I just learned that when shooting a double glass door, have the actor open the one opposite from you or you'll get a great shot of all your gear along with you.
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Old April 6th, 2006, 08:09 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Khalil
I just learned that when shooting a double glass door, have the actor open the one opposite from you or you'll get a great shot of all your gear along with you.
Try having a boom mike leaning in a corner on the peripheral of a shot...
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Old April 6th, 2006, 08:09 PM   #15
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Were we supposed to learn something? Is this a requirement, or can we post our movie anyways?
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