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Old September 13th, 2021, 05:56 PM   #1
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The Flutist - a no-budget short film

I made this one as a proof of concept. The concept, that is, that anyone with access to a computer can make a short film even with a zero budget. I did not use my usual Vegas Pro for editing and color grading, I did not shoot any of the footage with any of my cameras, nor did I compose my own music. I did not use any of the stock footage or sound that I had paid for.

I started by going to pexels.com, where I found this free-for-anyone set of clips: https://www.pexels.com/collections/f...-home-oz7ygln/

I downloaded a free video editor: https://kdenlive.org/en/

I used my own free frei0r color-grading plugins to work with KDEnlive: https://github.com/Pantarheon/freliba

I got free music from YouTube Audio Library. It was a bit too long, so I used the free Audacity software to delete some 20 seconds from the beginning of the audio clip.

The video clips were mp4s in slow motion, so I downloaded the free mkvmerge to change them from 25fps to 50 fps without re-encoding. This turned them into Matroska files, which KDEnlive could import but then rendered the video as just a white screen. So I used the free ffmpeg to convert the clips back to mp4s, without re-encoding but with that new 50 fps rate.

I imported the clips to KDEnlive, arranged them in an order that made sense to me (in other words, I edited the film), then color-graded the entire short film using one of those plugins I mentioned earlier. Gave the project the cinematic 24fps frame rate (I was pleasantly surprised how smoothly KDEnlive worked with the 50fps footage in a 24fps project). I exported the very last frame of the last clip into an image and added it to the end. Of course, I faded the first clip in and that one final image out.

I decided to add an opening title, so I used my own fonts (which I had already made free for anyone) to create a title that looks like it is etched in glass: https://github.com/Pantarheon/OpenAir (I used two tracks, one with the OpenAirWall font for the gray background, the other with OpenAirDuct for the white foreground, made both transparent and gave both the same fade in as the main track, and then used an identical fade out for the end of the title.)

I was not happy with how KDEnlive rendered the final result to mp4, so I had it render to a sequence of PNG images. Then I used ffmpeg to render a 4:4:4 mp4 from the PNGs and to create an audio track from the WAV file I exported from Audacity.

All in all, the only thing I paid for was my Windows 10 laptop, but I have had it for several years now, and all the resources I used can be used in Windows, Mac, Unix, Linux, even a Raspberry Pi.

This is the result:

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Old September 13th, 2021, 11:57 PM   #2
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Re: The Flutist - a no-budget short film

Iím confused. What is the concept? Apart from not realising a new Anglo-US spelling difference the thing youíve done is use a colour correction and edit some random shots together in a decent enough way. Apart from a few movement jerks, Iíd probably not have noticed the change in speed. I also watched twice, first time muted, so in my head I expected to hear a flute. So the piano uptempo music was a shock.

Whatever you did to the files must have worked but Iím not sure what you were intending to try out? Did it work?
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Old September 14th, 2021, 10:39 AM   #3
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Re: The Flutist - a no-budget short film

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What is the concept?
The point was that it is possible for anyone, from a child to an old person, to make a short film for free even with no budget whatsoever. Not a master piece, just something. So I used free resources for this. Not what I normally do, just to show people who might want to make a short film to hone their skills that they can.

As for the speed, you did not notice the difference. Good! The original clips were all in slow motion. In the final product they were in regular motion. I was not going through all the details in a simple message, just made a quick summary of what it took, simply to encourage anyone who may think they cannot make some kind of nice little short film because they do not have a great camera, or expensive software, etc.

That was not possible when I was young because there were no personal computers, no pexels, no youtube, etc. We still had things like 8 mm film cameras, so we were doing things (at least I was starting in my early teens, but not everyone could afford to do it back then, particularly not in the closed off Communist society I was growing up in). Now there are resources available for everyone (well, except in places like North Korea).

Of course, eventually I will make a video on every step it took to make this, to help anyone, especially the youngest, to get started.

As for my English, it is my fifth language, so please bear with me.
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Old September 14th, 2021, 10:59 AM   #4
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Re: The Flutist - a no-budget short film

No your English is fine - I meant in Britain its Flautist - I assume Flutist is an Americanism?

Anyone can make a movie. Surely though, what makes a great movie is not the technical expertise of clever machinery it's telling a story. I don't think you actually made the point - you took stock footage, and tinkered with colour - that does not a movie make, to quote Yoda. There is no story, just nice images. It doesn't actually do anything? With the sound down, I imagined the little girl making awful noises, then at the end to be playing something recognisable. I turned the audio up to discover there was no story?

I think everyone can make movies but how many can make ones people would watch? The steps you took are context driven surely? People would not try to make movies with free clips? They might want to use a camera?
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Old September 14th, 2021, 12:19 PM   #5
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Re: The Flutist - a no-budget short film

https://www.dictionary.com/browse/flutist shows the word British above the definition, but also says that according to a British dictionary it is a mainly Canadian and US variation of flautist. In my own language (Slovak), it is a flautista for males and flautistka for females.

Again, the point is to show anyone can do it and use it to hone their skills while having fun with it. As for whether there is a story, we should agree to disagree on that. :)

As a retired child psychologist, I want to help whatever children would like to learn such a skill. They have to start somewhere, but most importantly they have to start.
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Old September 14th, 2021, 12:53 PM   #6
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Re: The Flutist - a no-budget short film

I like the idea that in Slovakian, the word has two versions - I'm old fashioned so like the differentiation.
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Old September 15th, 2021, 09:10 AM   #7
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Re: The Flutist - a no-budget short film

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I like the idea that in Slovakian, the word has two versions - I'm old fashioned so like the differentiation.
Thanks. :)
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Old September 15th, 2021, 10:06 PM   #8
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Re: The Flutist - a no-budget short film

I thought you presented an excellent exercise that showed what is possible with free software and and stock footage. I can also see where something like this could be a good learning tool for youth and young adults to understand storytelling.
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Old September 16th, 2021, 09:44 AM   #9
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Re: The Flutist - a no-budget short film

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Originally Posted by Larrie Easterly View Post
I thought you presented an excellent exercise that showed what is possible with free software and and stock footage. I can also see where something like this could be a good learning tool for youth and young adults to understand storytelling.
Thanks. This encourages me to start working on a video that explains every step I took.
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