My first film w/ the A1U at DVinfo.net

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Sony HVR-A1 and HDR-HC Series
Sony's latest single-CMOS additions to their HDV camcorder line.


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Old July 28th, 2006, 05:51 PM   #1
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My first film w/ the A1U

Hey guys, just thought I'd put this up here since I finally got my film on the web. I did this as my final project in my production class at Cal. We spent the entire semester on the scripts and planning, and then shot. It proved to be more difficult to do than I'd even imagined, and I learned a lot. Given the difficulties, my film came out well, although it could still use some work in the soundtrack. I also missed shooting two scenes, but the narrative still works. Let me know what you guys think.

P.S. I shot using my home made Micro35, although the achromat wasn't perfect, so there's quite a bit of softening on the edges in much of the film.

Google video

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Camera: Canon XH A1 (once it's out!!)
Lens: Canon FD 50mm f/1.4, 35mm-70mm f/2.8-3.5, 70mm-140mm f/3.8
Adapter: Micro35 DIY *Ghetto style!*
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Old July 31st, 2006, 01:19 PM   #2
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Mathew,

I think this is great. I love the quality of the video, and the acting is great. Sure the sound could do with a bit of work, but otherwise I think you did a great job using only minimal equipment.
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Old July 31st, 2006, 01:24 PM   #3
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Thanks for the comments. It's nice to see someone took the time to watch it. It's not exactly the standard internet short being almost 20mins. I forgot to mention it's a little dark, which I think is due to the compression codec I used. More things to keep in mind for the future...
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Camera: Canon XH A1 (once it's out!!)
Lens: Canon FD 50mm f/1.4, 35mm-70mm f/2.8-3.5, 70mm-140mm f/3.8
Adapter: Micro35 DIY *Ghetto style!*
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Old July 31st, 2006, 05:51 PM   #4
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I have to be honest, Matt. Don't take this the wrong way, but I felt the acting was very stifled and stiff. The cut to cut transitions weren't as tight, varied, and fast-paced enough, even for a completative plotline as yours. I can see what you were trying to do, and having done it myself, I know it's incredibly hard, but it simply lacks the pacing and acting. I think a variety of more dramatic camera angles, faster and more emotional (as opposed to the logical way - i.e. we expect a shot-reverse shot for dialouge, but for some reason, it's not cut right and just feels slow and off) editing. The main guy just seems like a dork with his goofy smile and I'm not convinced he is thinking or upset about anything. Things just seem too methodical, forced, and unnatural to me. Nearly 20 minutes of this with no sort of change in pacing just seems unreasonable.
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Old July 31st, 2006, 06:10 PM   #5
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Hi Alex,

Thanks for your comments. I completely understand what you're saying with all of it. Most of it had to do with my lack of experience, technical challenges, and some bad acting.

My main actor I felt pulled his character through fairly well, but unfortunately the lack of properly motivated cuts and camera movements I think brought his performance down a bit.

The shot reverse shot structure I also had difficulty with as matching dialogue and cuts became extremely difficult when there were odd mismatched sounds from one cut to another, or an actors lines came out slightly different or just altogether wrong.

The pacing of the film I also discovered came out I think as a by-product of my own personal style (and my professors meddling, he's a big fan of Antonioni *tears*). I myself am kind of a slow and methodical person, which is actually something I really didn't like seeing in my own film. One of my classmates put it as "It just feels like something's about to happen, but it never does". The plot curve could have definitely benefitted from having a more climactic moment near the beginning or middle of the film

The last thing I'll say, is I totally overused the shallow dof ability of my rig, a mistake I'm finding more and more common with amateur filmmakers like myself with 35mm rigs. On the same tolken though, it gave a more filmmic look that I found was completely countered by my shots that utilized deep dof... I think this is where 24p would have come in handy, 60i didn't seem to look nearly as "video like" when I shot with a shallow DOF.

Anyways, thanks again for the comments. I really appreciate the critique.
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Camera: Canon XH A1 (once it's out!!)
Lens: Canon FD 50mm f/1.4, 35mm-70mm f/2.8-3.5, 70mm-140mm f/3.8
Adapter: Micro35 DIY *Ghetto style!*
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Old July 31st, 2006, 08:52 PM   #6
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Matthew, a good habit to get into is being an expert viewer, that is, pay attention to all the quirks about films and TV shows that you like, and appeals to your style. For instance, count the number of seconds it takes until the camera view switches. In most cases you'll hit about four or five. It's not always because the camera faces the talker, sometimes it needs to catch the reaction of those listening. Not every response is a spoken word either.

The only time you'll count to ten or more is when the something is building, such as the gaping stare of actor whom is slowly reacting to something, an emotional swell, or hearing bad news and taking it all in. Even then, the camera is not stationary or locked off. It's hand-held, or ever so slowly pans in to transfix your attention.

Treat the camera as the third person, your audience. If someones says something, your natural instinct is to look at them. Often I edit many skits and sales presentations for my company. When it comes to edits, I look for these things to ensure it flows correctly. It keeps the viewer focused and attentive. Trust me, some of these are boring subjects about work, however, the employees like them because it keeps things flowing and it's like watching a movie or a TV show.

Another thing, how do we see the world? In a small room, our eyes dart about, there's no noticeable transition. It's pop to this, snap to that. In the great outdoors, we pan and stare. For all about ten seconds, then, we'll quickly focus on interesting details. Soon as we turn away, it's back to pop, snap and look about. Generally we also blink our eyes as we change views. So, unless we are deliberate in our observations, we never notice all these quirks in our favorite shows because it comes natural to us.

So, if you leave that camera in one scene for too long, and nothing is really building or going on except for dialog, we'll get uneasy and squirm in our chairs and change the scene ourselves by looking away or changing the channel.
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Old August 12th, 2006, 10:33 PM   #7
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Hi Matthew, this is great work considering your level of experience as you indicated, I thought it was great in many ways. Good stuff!

I have some questions if you wouldn't mind,

1.) What mic did you use for the shoot?

2.) Did you use cine lenses or SLR lenses on the micro35?

3.) What kind of lighting did you use for the production and how did the level of light needed for your camera & micro35 compare to other 35mm adapters since most eat several stops of light?

4.) Last question: near the beginning of the film with the scene in the car, are those zooms, dolly shots or digital/post zooms when going in on the lead actors face, and Marie as we see her through the car windshield?

Thanks for your reply,

Dennis
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