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Old November 11th, 2010, 06:34 AM   #1
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Shot first movie - need help

Hi,

So I am taking a video class and have never shot a movie before. I am not intending to become a cinematographer. I am more interested in photography. But since I am in a class I need to do a project. It has to be a movie of no longer than 8 min and it can be just anything. It doesn't have to have a script or a story it can be just abstract/experimental etc. So I made this "movie". And it's kind of boring. It doesn't really have a plot. The only requirement was that it has to be shot by me and I have to record good, clean sound. After talking to a teacher she said it was fine that it had no plot. I told her that I wanted to just record nature and play with the depth of field etc. She said that was fine and that I didn't have to record the sound at the same time as recording video and that it could even be of something other than nature. So, I went out shot some nature, put it in Final Cut and it is what it is. Nothing I am really proud of but I don't have enough time to shoot something else at this point. I still haven't recorded the sound yet.
So, I was hoping that I could show it to you guys and maybe you could give me your opinions what can I do with this "movie" to make it more interesting. Perhaps adding interesting collage of sounds would "spice it up" a bit, have someone read something interesting while the clips are running? I am not sure. I can change the order of clips etc. The clips are straight out of the camera, I haven't done anything to them, only changed the speed of one clip.
Please give me your opinions and your suggestions. I would really appreciate it. If you just say this is crap it's not really helpful, I know it is sort of crappy. FYI, blur was intentional. On the very beginning something went wrong when I converted for youtube so ignore the gray part.
THANKS A LOT IN ADVANCE
Here is a link
YouTube - FP
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Old November 11th, 2010, 07:01 AM   #2
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Since this is supposed to be an educational exercise, I'm not going to be the "Answer at the end of the chapter" for you. But I'll say this, in order to learn to write, you have to read. Similarly, the photos you shoot will benefit from the photos you see.

My suggestion is that you go to Vimeo right now and search for videos in the wildlife category. Note the ones you think are good and come up with your own ideas as to why. Take a couple of those ideas and go do them yourself, in your own way, something that reflects your unique artistry and creativity. If you've made it this far in photography, there's no debating whether you are artistic. Your visuals prove that you are even if you doubt yourself.
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Old November 11th, 2010, 07:19 AM   #3
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Thanks! A lot of stuff I found on vimeo on nature uses stills to make sort of a slideshow, which I don't want to do. I found lots of great wildlife videos but I don't have any animals to my disposal. On limited time it makes it really hard to make something really nice, at least for me.
Do you have any suggestions on videos I could look at?
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Old November 11th, 2010, 06:02 PM   #4
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Hi Kathy,

I don't know what type of video class you are taking. Is it just to learn how to use a camera or is it one that is teaching you how to make a movie?

As Les said, since this is an educational exercise it probably is best to give you some things to think about rather than give you specific suggestions. Keep in mind that these are just my observations and the way I approach movie making.

First, what I see in your video are a bunch of random shots that pretty much do the same thing, rack focus in and then back out of focus. A nice effect but remember it is a specialty shot and it should not be use in all of your shots or it just becomes boring, then annoying for the viewer because it is something that we are not use to seeing and it becomes distracting (I'm not saying that to be mean, just so you know that it is something that shouldn't be used throughout).

I am surprised that your teacher said that it didn't have to have a plot but didn't go any futher. It may not have to have a plot but it does need a purpose. One of the concepts that really sticks in my mind was said to me by a very established Hollywood cinematographer. He said that we need to have a reason for every shot in a movie. And we should understand the motivation for that specific shot and the subtext of it. Remember, you are asking someone to take time from their lives (and in some cases pay money for it too) to watch your movie. So make sure you have a reason why you have that shot. Give them back something for their time. In your case, you need to figure out why you show a specific image the way you have chosen to show it. An example is the shot of the people walking. You keep coming back to that scene but i can't figure out why. Do they have some significance? Is their journey suppose to represent something? And, how do all of the other shots tie into them?

As a suggestion of how to make your movie more interesting, I would sit down and watch it and take out a voice recorder. As you are watching it you might just say randomly what you are thinking as you watch each clip. See if you can find a pattern in what you're thoughts are. What affect does watching your movie have on you? Then, you might be able to come up with some music or words or a poem that would help the viewer understand what they are watching.

You have discovered a very important lesson in film making. Going out and shooting a bunch of random shots then trying to edit them together is often a very hard task. Usually you will have an idea of what you want to show before you shoot your first second of footage. Then you go and try to capture it.

Here is a pretty quick video I put together just for fun:


Even though I didn't have a script or plot prior to shooting, I knew what I wanted to capture. My basic goal was to show some of the things you might see while exploring around the Point Reyes Light House, to get people to actually explore their surroundings. So, I new I needed shots of the natural surroundings, I also knew that I needed something to convey the feeling of exploration. So, since I had my kids with me and they are natural explorers, I filled in shots of them. I also wanted to make people look at things a little closer that they may take for granted. Allow them to discover new things. Hence the close up shot of the rock then zoom out to show that when looked at from far away it isn't as interesting, but viewed more closely there are interesting lines and shapes. So this is a small example of the thought that goes into why each shot is in this short video.

Also, your choice of music and sounds will be very important to making your movie interesting. Since it appears that it was fairly windy when you shot most of the footage you might think about mixing in some wind sounds to highlight some of the scenes.

The most important thing to remember is that even nature videos that seem to only be showing pretty scenery actually tell a story of sorts or at least make you feel or think something. So the real task for you is to figure out what you want to convey to your audience, then craft your movie to make someone watching it feel the same thing.

Again, that's just my approach as an aspiring film maker.

-Garrett
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Last edited by Garrett Low; November 11th, 2010 at 07:07 PM.
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Old November 11th, 2010, 07:50 PM   #5
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Thank you so much for your elaborate and constructive criticism. Yes, I do not know that I just have a bunch of random shots and there is a real purpose missing. I am thinking of either going back to the place and do more shooting to give an overview of the place, sort of what you did with your video or come up with something new.
Thanks again.
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Old November 11th, 2010, 08:14 PM   #6
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Hi Kathy,

You have a lot of good close ups that you will be able to use. If you do go back out there you might think about picking up some establishing shots (wide shots that show the landscape that will be scene in the next few shots). I watched your clip again and what might work is to come up with one sentence to describe each scene or maybe even only one or two words. Then you could do voice over of each line or word(s). That could be a very artistic way of introducing each shot.

BTW, voice over and flash back are a film makers best friend when they miss some coverage and can't go back and pick it up.

-Garrett
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Old November 11th, 2010, 08:26 PM   #7
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Great, thank you. I am intending to revisit the location on a weekend. You gave me lots of great suggestions. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. I will come back and report what I was able to shoot over the weekend.
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Old November 12th, 2010, 10:15 PM   #8
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When you feel 'interested' in the footage you shoot, it will invariably turn out interesting to any third person. If there is any doubt, then it's not good enough. Try to build your artistic instinct in this way.
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Old January 25th, 2011, 10:48 PM   #9
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Hi Kathy

First off you really have a good eye and your shot composition is very well good as well.
I understand what you are expressing and I agree with what others have posted.
What I would offer is an idea to keep what you have and just shoot a little more.
You already have your A story in your movie: the couple walking on the beach. And you kind of knew it since you kept bringing them back on screen. However they have no purpose and they are not related to the other shots.
What you could do is - and this is just an idea/example: have the story be about the experience of a couple who leaves the craziness of the city to find peace and serenity on a beach... A few shots of where they came from: city, cars, noises, chaos. Fast cuts and add some music and whatever sound effects you have in your library.
Then as they open the door of the car and put their foot on the floor, then switch to a peaceful, calm music. longer shots. Then some POV (Point Of Vue), handheld camera, as if we were the couple on the beach, and then they start to notice the beauty of the beach... all these things that we don't always take the time to look at....
And maybe you end with a long shot of the couple walking away from the camera.... They are done with their experience. Just before they got back in the car the music stops.... They close the door. Does the crazy music - sympbolizing the crazy city life - start? Well no.... The car leaves away... and the peaceful music resumes.....
That is the story... These people's lives have changed...

Again. Just an idea. Have you parents or friend help you with the car shots. You don't need to show their face. Be mysterious. We'll never see these strangers faces..... Take your camera on the street and shoot in the city.

Good luck.

Xavier
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