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Old December 12th, 2003, 06:17 PM   #1
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Incorp Letters (ie correspondence) into Video

Plan to use letters as visual with voiceovers (reading the "letter) in an Eating Disorders Project as topic intros and seques. Would love some references in movies, etc to look at while I consider the best technique for my purposes as well as any ideas you may have.

There's the "KEN BURNS" technique, of course. I use FCP 3 and have some experience with key frames with video, but haven't used any still graphics. Also use Photoshop but have yet to use the two programs in tandem.

Any movies come to mind that use written correspondence as narrative transitions, set-ups, etc that anyone can recall.

Also, electronic letters in the form of blogs or journals kept on websites.

These won't be dramatized, i,e, goal is not to create impression someone is writing/typing at the moment. I assume an underlying (tasteful and nuanced) music track will add to the depth.

Appreciate any ideas.

PS: is there any web source for such inquiries, i.e. "Movies with Letters as Graphic Element?"
Diane
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Old December 12th, 2003, 07:24 PM   #2
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Hi Diane,

Although these aren't how-to films, they're worth a look since the only thing you see during them is the Ken Burns effect...go to iFilm and look up "Real True History" or "MJButler." There are five films in the series, and they're a riot.

Here's the link to one.
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Old December 14th, 2003, 10:11 PM   #3
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I remember seeing letters in Dances With Wolves and the Indiana Jones flix. Hope they will help.
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Old December 15th, 2003, 08:22 AM   #4
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Thanks. I'm also exploring a cool little program called Snaps Pro for capturing type from the internet/Word and using it to create pans and scrolled QT movies for import into FCP.
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Old December 18th, 2003, 02:27 PM   #5
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To create or modify video images in Photoshop, I always use an exported black video frame as reference, then size any other image (such as another captured video frame, but not restricted to that) and apply whatever effects or modifications necessary to the image in PS, save the image (as JPEG or Bitmap) in an easily accessible folder, e.g. named "stills" within the video project, then import the image into the project (e.g. into a bin called "stills") and treat it like any other footage. Works great.
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Old December 18th, 2003, 10:04 PM   #6
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what does the black video reference frame do? Sorry for being so dense.
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Old December 19th, 2003, 02:21 AM   #7
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Diane,
I hope you don't plan to use much text that way. Video is not a very good medium for the written word. Even if your audience might be more motivated than average spectators (just guessing), you should not stretch its patience. Also, if you ever need to do a version in another language, changing only the voice-over will take away some of the original effect. How will it work with subtitles?

But, have you considered using SMS-like messages instead of letters? That would put it within the right age group (no?) and force you to be brief (always a good thing).
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Old December 19th, 2003, 03:26 AM   #8
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Well, You've Got Mail is a good example of electronic correspondance on film. Naturally, there would not have been any actual shots of computer screens/laptop monitors--just artificially rendered GUIs created by graphic designers and sometimes comped in in post.

Tor is right that pointing your video camera at a monitor to capture blogs isn't going to be easy on the eyes. For such shots, consider using a compositing program to comp in the screen content in post.

For paper letters, scan or use a high res still camera to take digital still photographs of your source material, then manipulate in a compositing program.

John, you've seen Two-Minute Danger Theater!, yes?
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Old December 19th, 2003, 08:25 AM   #9
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good suggestions, thank you. Actually, I have shot the computer screen with a lot of adjustments it wortked fine, but it was just a more convoluted way of achieving the same results with static graphics...

And the idea of using a high rez still camera is SO OBVIOUS...I feel like an idiot having made the problem more complicated than it is...

Is photographing the document the way I resolve the "breaking lines" issues I get when I scan it? (i.e. is it always better to photograph and input versus scan for input

diane
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Old December 19th, 2003, 08:58 AM   #10
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Diane,

This software at OSX downloads looks interesting. Looks like it would be a faster than keyframing.

As for how to make the document itself, simply create it in your word processor, export as a PDF, then import the PDF into Photoshop to manipulate it however you want...and finally export it for your dv editing program. No scanning, no photo.
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Old December 19th, 2003, 09:54 AM   #11
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John:

I had just purchased software similar to this (www.stagetools.com) [how do I make these links hot?]. I worked with the demo and liked it, although the price was steep ($200). Moving Pictures is a plug-in (I use Final cut Pro but it plugs into a numberof NLEs) and Still Life is stand alone.

I hope I don't get buyer's remorse reviewing Still Life (seeing that is from the OSX site I might; the stagetools software seems to favor Windows).

Thanks for the link. I have found the stagetools software easy to use, and useful, since I haven't tackled After Effects yet. I recommend anyone interested in producing "Ken Burns" effects (amazing how this has become a term) quickly and easily might want to consider reviewing these programs.

And yeah....PDF, good idea. That works for the computer simulation. What about creating it in Final Cut Pro itself, using the included Boris text generators? With Photoshop, I am faced with a size issue whereby I have to size it 720 X 534 then resize and save it at 720 x 480 (I think those #s are right), save the original for changes, etc. Confusing for me. I assume there is not simpler way to get graphics from PS to FCP without the squish effect?

Thanks for the info. Very useful. As usual, what makes this forum great.

Diane
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Old December 19th, 2003, 10:08 AM   #12
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Diane,

Yep...those are the right dimensions, and now that I think about it, you're right--that is an unnecessary step, I guess. Why go to the trouble of using a word processor, Photoshop, and then FCP when you can do it all directly in FCP?

Old habits die hard...and Photoshop is an old habit.

Thanks for the wake up call. ;)
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Old December 20th, 2003, 01:23 AM   #13
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Diane,

Here's a documentary that makes extensive use of letters and documents:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv...son_a0a781.htm

Also, Apple has incorporated the "Ken Burns Effect" (with Ken's blessing) into iMovie.

Happy Chanukah from Santa Monica!

Dorothy
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