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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old September 9th, 2006, 06:03 AM   #1
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Please Critique

Okay, the other thread ("My First Rehearsal") went 11 days with no one but one person commenting on the clips. Maybe nobody saw that I appended a different clip to review. So here's a new thread asking for comments. I feel confident in my work, but I"m not (by any means) at the level I'd like to be -- up there with the likes of Glen Elliot, for example. So please help me see what I"m doing wrong... I don't want to be "the bad videographer" that helps keep the bar lower.

http://www.svpcolumbus.com/videos/LoveStory.wmv

-Michael

P.S. The colors are a little hot, yes, and I can't seem to find the magic exposure setting that satisfies the camera AND the zebra lines being shown. I use a Canon XL1S.
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Old September 9th, 2006, 06:38 AM   #2
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Well Michael, take a brave pill and sit down.

Who is this film aimed at? Who's the intended audience?
It's long, and I managed to sit through half of it before I gave up. Even family might find it a bit tedious, and close friends will be looking for chapter points.

The 'and' should be a smaller font than the names.
The camera's motor noise and the wind roar are just tiring. Where was your mic? Don't tell me - on camera.
The girl squints into the light.
Her dress is grossly over-exposed, and in the soft (ug) shots the high-key theme is taken too far. The shot on the steps is just blown out.

I kept wanted you to change the focal length when filming them on the bench, but in reality I'm just wanting more visual punch. When they both sit down together there's a horrible lamp stand disrupting the frame.

Are they pleased? Did they request this static camera? You say the colours are a little hot but to me it all looked too pale and over-exposed.

tom.
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Old September 9th, 2006, 08:11 AM   #3
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A little long

I have to agree, it is a little long. I too stopped half way through the video even though it is a touching love story. Everything else is good enough, with the exception of blown out dress. I did not hear any camera noise.

Keep going....
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Old September 9th, 2006, 09:00 AM   #4
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A Touching story

I thought the story was touching and like how you ended with the guy comming to tears at the end...nice touch.

I think I would have cut away to other shots more often to add interest with voice overs and maybe edit the story down a bit to speed things up...shorter cuts and to the point always seem to be better and more interesiting than keeping every detail and every word included. Just watch any documentary or movie and notice how long each frame is on before the next cut (usually no longer than 8 second per cut)

Thanks for sharing...I think the couple will like it.

Jeff
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Old September 9th, 2006, 10:34 AM   #5
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Thought you did a good job on music levels.

You seem to have a good repour with subjects.

Most cuts are fine.


Didn't like the below





the font you used won't work well on a tv

the guys stripped shirt (ouch!) don't let interview subjects wear stripes or plads

where were the close ups?

shots too far from subjects (after I saw park and bench they are not important)

wind noise

far too much park bench and walking around

stills would be improved with Ken Burns effect (should have been more stills, some childhood)

didn't like having his face in the shade of his hat. (not a good set for interview)


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Old September 9th, 2006, 02:42 PM   #6
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My primary comment would be SOUND. You need to get a wireless mic or a soundman. Get the mic as close to subject as you can. Some wise people have said that sound is just as important as the visual and I think its true. Try looking at any video with the sound turned off.
I agree with most of the comments above. Keep trying. You'll get there.
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Old September 9th, 2006, 03:11 PM   #7
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Michael,

I think it would be good for you to pick up the book The Five Cs of Cinematogrphy by Joseph V. Mascelli. Stuy it, plan your shoot ahead of time based on principles outlined, then go for it. A video shoot plan as in war never survives the first contact with the enemey completely intact. But you do need a plan to go forward.

Michael Smith
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Old September 9th, 2006, 06:54 PM   #8
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Thanks!

Thanks for the replies; keep them coming. In my own defense, what I forgot to include on this thread was the part on my other thread (that no one commented on) ... we had 1 hour on 1 day to shoot it.

Tom: you're right about the over-exposed thing. I've always had trouble with the Canon view finder showing me good results with the zerba lines. I thought I could save the video by keeping it high, and go for a dreamy sort of look.

The good news is that in a few days I get to edit my next love story. The bad news, is that it was shot about 2 months ago, right after the one you saw was shot. I can't say my shooting will be any better, but maybe I could learn the art of edit saves.

I appreciate the feedback. I needed to hear it. Most of my critics are people who get wrapped up in stories easily (hence, good editing, at least, is key with them)... but they don't see the details like you guys do or complain about colors being blown out. Thanks.

-Michael
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Last edited by Michael W. Niece; September 9th, 2006 at 07:52 PM.
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Old September 9th, 2006, 08:20 PM   #9
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Hi Michael,

I think you did a great job in getting that story out of them. And the edit also flowed smoothly between the two. So what's the main problem with this piece? I did watch the whole thing, and it FELT much longer than the 13:36 running time. Why? Simply because once you've established them sitting at the bench, there's really no need to stay on them that much, except to cut back once in awhile to capture some special bits of emotion. Granted, you only had that one hour to shoot, and that's always tough. In that case, I would use a lot more still photos to break up the piece. The part about the engagement was nicely done. You should try to replicate that in other parts of that presentation.

Technically - a little bit of wind noise and background noise - nothing too severe that it completely detracts from the story. There was one part where I heard you say a couple of words. I probably would have edited that out. The colors seems a bit washed out. Maybe you can push up the contrast and saturation a little bit.

Keep up the good work, and thanks for sharing.
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Old September 9th, 2006, 09:24 PM   #10
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Mike Smith: I went out and bought that book you mentioned, and read about 40 pages so far. Wow, if I could redo that story (even in 1 hour's time) I would change a lot! Of course, everyone knows that hind-sight has 20/20 vision. Just by watching a simple commercial now I feel more aware of what was done with the camera to captivate the audience. I'm so glad I have the book now; and I'm not even done with the first C!

-Michael
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Old September 10th, 2006, 01:57 AM   #11
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I agree with the overall length being too much. I would cut it at least in half. Edit together the pertinent moments that tell the story of their relationship into a more direct piece. You don't necessarily need to keep it all in the order it was spoken. You can pull out topics and edit those things together into a few areas of interest. If you ever choose to edit like that, you might want to have a different camera angle between the two people so it looks less like a jump cut from one person to the next.

The one thing I don't think people mentioned yet is too much headroom in the video. I would cut the distance between talent and camera by half so both the composition and audio would improve. Remember the rule of thirds and also come in even closer than the 1/3 mark to help get more pixels devoted to their faces. SD video has so few pixels that you reall need to overcompensate a bit. Also, a diffusion panel between them and the sun would keep down the squinting and improve the quality of the light.
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Old September 10th, 2006, 02:33 AM   #12
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I'm glad you came with feedback Michael. I think you've taken the criticism with good heart and respect. Well done.
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Old September 10th, 2006, 09:45 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael W. Niece
Mike Smith: I went out and bought that book you mentioned, and read about 40 pages so far. Wow, if I could redo that story (even in 1 hour's time) I would change a lot! Of course, everyone knows that hind-sight has 20/20 vision. Just by watching a simple commercial now I feel more aware of what was done with the camera to captivate the audience. I'm so glad I have the book now; and I'm not even done with the first C!-Michael
Well, I'm not familiar with the book or what it entails but I disagree with many of the comments here. (And if that book is about "commercials" I really don't think it applies here.)

Sure, it may be too long for those of us with no emotional investment - but overall, I don't think that's a problem. They have a story to tell (hence the title) and it needs to be told however long that takes and this couple did their part nicely.

I won't embellish on the color or sound. Only 2 things for next time. (which somebody pointed out when they critiqued my first love story):

(1) More closeups. If using one cam, I stop the interview before going on to certain questions just to zoom the camera a bit. It breaks up the monotony a bit and gives a nice cutaway shot when changing scenes. And if your lucky, the emotional responses will be during these shots.

(2) More intimate movement: some of the bench dialog could've been dubbed over shots of the couple getting a bit more intimate in the park.

Again, other than some minor things I don't think you need to restructure any of your "production thinking" at all. Although you are directing the flow of this thing, it's still a live event because I'm sure their dialog is not scripted nor did you know what they were going to say in advance. (So cut yourself some slack).

And I really don't understand the question about "who" the intended audience is for this - it's ultimately always the "couple" and if it bores the hell out of everyone else but them, who cares? This will be the most watched piece by them 10, 20 years from now. We often make this mistake, trying to please casual one-time viewers and experts and too many times forget the "content" and who it is "really" directed at.

You did a nice job - the couple did a nice job. Thanks for sharing.
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Old September 10th, 2006, 10:30 AM   #14
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"And I really don't understand the question about "who" the intended audience is for this - it's ultimately always the "couple" and if it bores the hell out of everyone else but them, who cares? This will be the most watched piece by them 10, 20 years from now. We often make this mistake, trying to please casual one-time viewers and experts and too many times forget the "content" and who it is "really" directed at."

This is the fundamental element of what we do... with regard to marketing and sales.. it seems the focus has moved away from the couple and gone into a "how can i get MORE clients with THIS work...'

In this regard, the product doesnt have to perfect.. in fact, less than perfect is ideal as it allows for a rawer feel to the piece... less than perfect carries a differnt type of energy...
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Old September 10th, 2006, 12:37 PM   #15
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Rick, what I was getting at was that the camera angle ("The First C") can make or break a shot. It's easy to distract the audience by doing certain angle changes or having the subjects poorly framed. It doesn't focus on commercials, per say... I just happened to watch a few commercials when passing through a room on the way to this computer and realized how they used camera angles to grab my attention and convince me I need to by their products.

I have to admit I was torn about how long to make the piece because I knew the couple is very detail-minded. Their complete video package was, in fact, the longest I've ever made; it is 1 hour and 37 minutes from start to finish. The ceremony itself was over an hour of raw video (it was a Catholic wedding) and I figured they'd want 90% of it. Remember, the girl said something about her religion being very important to her. I took a risk giving them a long video, but overall they were pleased and didn't comment about the lengths. I hope they aren't hiding feelings about it.

Anyway, thanks to everyone for their feedback. Like I said before, I really needed to hear it because I can't get better without being told about a fault I might not see, or one I handled poorly.

-Michael
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