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Old August 2nd, 2008, 03:32 PM   #1
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Advice for New Film Class with the A1

I am using my A1 as the main camera in a film class I'm teaching this fall. While I posted a similar post in a generic forum, I'd like to ask it in the G1/A1 Forum because you all know the camera better and what would be best to use with it.

The class I am teaching at our highschool looks to train students in the craft of film, from idea to final product. The class seeks to educate the student on how to take the tools available today and create a film (obviously more of an indie film than a studio film). I want to have equipment that can produce excellent quality (but keeping in mind we dream on a budget :) ). While I'm using some of my own equipment, I do have a small budget for this class as well. I also hope to receive some income for the class by selling a DVD at the end of the year to the other students at the school and their parents (something of a documentary of the year). The final project of the class would be for the students to take the skills they've learned and work in groups to complete a short film.

I'd love to hear your opinion concerning what equipment you would see as necessary in a class like this (size of class is about 12 students). Below is a listing of what I have already gathered for the class. Also, if you'd like to add any thoughts on how you might structure such a class I'd be glad to hear them! Thanks for your time.
Ritchey Cable

Equipment Already Acquired:

Canon XH-A1 (This is the camera for filming the students short films.)
Letus35 Extreme Starter Bundle (For the most part, the Letus35 Extreme and Rod Support)
Nikon 50mm Lens f1.4 (for the Letus)
Canon HV30 (This is a secondary camera unit for shorts and also for filming other miscellaneous events at the school.)
Quad Core Dell PC
Sony Vegas Pro 8
Magic Bullet Looks 1.1 for Vegas
Azden Barrell Shotgun Mic With XLR Outputs
Various Halogen Lights from Home Depot (On a budget remember :) )
Green Screen (this was a freebie I got with some software awhile back, but thought I'd list it anyways)
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Old August 2nd, 2008, 03:54 PM   #2
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The Letus is an awesome piece of equipment... However, if I were you I'd nix the Letus and the slr lens, and snatch up a lighting kit instead. It doesn't matter what kind of camera you have if the lighting is poor. God did create light first. Hahaha. I'd check some of dvi's sponsors. That's just my opinion, man. I'm sure there'll a lot dudes on here saying you should stick with the Letus. I wish I could've been introduced to one when I was in high school. I also wish I learned how to paint with light in high school, too. Good luck with the class!
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Old August 3rd, 2008, 12:07 AM   #3
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Ok, I'm Convince on The Lighting

OK, I've done some reading elsewhere, and am now sold on the light kit idea. Can anyone suggest a good starter light kit that might be good for our class? Thanks.
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Old August 3rd, 2008, 07:14 AM   #4
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I've taught film/video making to jr. and sr. high students. The equipment you need depends of how you decide to teach the class. My view is that students can learn a lot of essential, very valuable skills without expensive equipment. Lighting is too much for a basic course.

I just finished teaching summer course through the local library with jr. high students where we worked on the essentials of visual story telling, script writing, shot composition, camera movement and editing using $150 SD MiniDV Canon cameras. At that price I was able to break the dozen or so students I had into four small production teams that developed and shot their own projects (in fact we spent just $1,200 on camera, mics, and tripods for the class) and we didn't have to worry so much about breaking things.

I have an A1 and could have turned the whole group into one production team, but they would have had a far less hands-on experience. My experience has been that kids really don't care as much about technical quality as they do getting a chance to be hands-on and work on their own ideas.
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Old August 3rd, 2008, 05:13 PM   #5
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I would also suggest a good set of Lavs.. Sennheiser G2... Good economical choice...

One side note...I would also suggest teaching them the basics of broadcast related things... Not just film... A good friend of mine graduated from a college with a four year degree in "Mass Media" where he learned the majority of time about film and film shoots... He ended up in the ENG / EFP world and kind of struggled a little bit... The two are related but there are some distinct differences...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Douglas Joseph View Post
The Letus is an awesome piece of equipment... However, if I were you I'd nix the Letus and the slr lens, and snatch up a lighting kit instead. It doesn't matter what kind of camera you have if the lighting is poor. God did create light first. Hahaha. I'd check some of dvi's sponsors. That's just my opinion, man. I'm sure there'll a lot dudes on here saying you should stick with the Letus. I wish I could've been introduced to one when I was in high school. I also wish I learned how to paint with light in high school, too. Good luck with the class!
I agree... Lighting and Audio are often time the two most overlooked aspects in a production... A great book for learning lighting is "Matters of Light & Depth" by Ross Lowell... A good resource for sound effects can be found at http://www.soundsnap.com/ ....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ritchey Cable View Post
OK, I've done some reading elsewhere, and am now sold on the light kit idea. Can anyone suggest a good starter light kit that might be good for our class? Thanks.
Might check out B&H for the Lowell kits... Pretty good... Obviously if you can get a good Arri soft lite kit that would be better... But for starting out the Lowell kits do a great job of getting it done...


Sounds like a fun class...I wish they would have had that when I was in High School... I might have actually showed up to my school a little more... : )
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Old August 3rd, 2008, 07:39 PM   #6
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I'll second Peter's opinion

Too much out there is crap because of poor story telling -- no script development or inclusion of cool details such as foreshadowing. While a light kit would be useful and even a steadicam Merlin would be pretty cool, video is really about communication, in this case with pictures and a story. To me that's where it starts.

IMO a basics class should start with the basics -- the process of development of a script to screenplay. Another thought, while they are high school students, the best lesson of all is to show them how all those other classes they are taking are incredibly relevant in filmmaking... English composition & creative writing, history, (so the story is contextually accurate, thus credible), Math, sciences (how light and sound is captured). and on... It doesn't have to be terribly technical or boring or force them to calculate fractions, just show them the relevance... even film project budgeting and getting clearances for locations, music etc can be an eye opener.

While the famous Sharon Stone shot might spoil this for HS, it's still a great DVD on editing:
The Cutting Edge - The Magic of Movie Editing (2004)

I might suggest giving each student a role along with a detailed job description. Give them a week to barter among themselves if they want to trade, then commit them to doing that role. But I've never taught, so may be awful idea! Post back later and let us know...
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Old August 3rd, 2008, 07:44 PM   #7
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also show some of your favorite movies and have the students recreate one of the easy key scenes. We did this with 400 Blows back in film school and it was a fun easy way to dive right into shooting and editing without a lot of preface and instruction. Students learn best by doing and don't worry about it being perfect right off the bat just that they have fun.

-Noah
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