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T351 Week 1 - Summer 2013

Welcome! & Introductions

Agenda:

  • Course overview, review syllabus & grading procedures
  • Look at some samples of last semester’s work
  • Do a quick, in class assignment
  • Begin cameras
    • take lunch break
  • Continue cameras
  • Homework assignment: Storyboard / Continuity Sequence
  • Shooting assignment

Course description: T351 teaches the technical skills and creative principles required for video field and post production. Topics include:

  • Video camera: lenses, imaging & recording
  • Video technology (HDTV, signal transport, display technology)
  • Composition
  • Continuity (technical continuity vs. continuity-style production)
  • Audio (recording and editing)
  • Lighting
  • Editing
  • Producing / becoming better storytellers

My Personal Goals:

  • To teach you proficiency in field production
  • For you to become solid editors
  • That you'll become better writers and producers
  • Provide you with several high quality portfolio projects

[Personal goal – as a student field and post was my favorite class. You can do almost anything. You can try your hand at any topic or genre.]

Note to Summer Students: This is an intensive summer session course. It is a lot of work in a short period of time. There is quite a bit of production homework outside of lab. You should drop this class if you are not fully committed or have a significant number of demands on your schedule (job, other classes, etc.).

Food and drinks are not allowed in the classrooms, lab or studio. These places only get cleaned once a week. Please make sure you don’t bring in or leave trash. Help us keep it clean.

Circulate roster. Need your name, e-mail & phone number.

Syllabus & Class Structure:
Contact info. E-mail & phone works well. Use the 332-1005 number.
Office hours are Tuesday from 9-11 AM & by appt.

Readings are from my own on-line notes and the Television Production Cybertext, found at: http://www.cybercollege.org/tvp_ind.htm

You should've received my email about needing SDHC cards last week. These will be used for the Sony HXR NX5U camcorders. We can also use the Sony Z7Us in case anyone is interested. If you do want to use these you must buy Sony HDM-63VG videcassettes. Be sure to bring your SDHC and/or Sony HDM-63VG media to every lab! You will need them this week. The Sony Z7Us can also use Compact Flash cards to store footage. But they need to be very fast. (I bought some Extreme III CF cards and they were not fast enough.) Here's a link to an article reviewing which cards work.

Do you own a Canon DSLR that shoots video? If so read this article. You'll want to be sure to convert and capture your footage in the best manner possible.

1 lecture & 3 labs per week. We'll take a half-hour break between Monday's lecture and lab to give you a chance to have lunch.

Every week you will take part in lab activities. There is paperwork to go with each activity. It is up to you to download it off of the website and bring it to lab. We’ll provide you with the ones this week, but you are responsible after the first week.

Check web site for revised readings & assignments.

Review syllabus (take time)

  • Attendance
  • Come on time
  • Course requirements and grading
  • No laptops, iPads, or cellphones!
  • Schedule- no lecture next week, but labs as usual
  • Facility Policies (read over) We will cover these in more detail in the labs.
  • Only those in production courses can use the facilities
  • No food or drink allowed
  • Lab hours- set shortly after the start of every semester

Most equipment has controls and switches, which should normally be left alone. If you don’t know what they do, don’t flip them. Better yet, RTFM find out what they do.

Report any broken equipment to the lab monitor or to the instructor.

Equipment must be returned on time. If for some reason you are late, CALL THE LAB.

Success. What does it take to be successful in this class?

  • Both sides of your brain (both right and left) as you need to be both artist and technician
  • Come to every class and lab on time
  • Do all of the paperwork, including logging footage and writing critiques
  • Stay on top of the weekly readings
  • Don't wait to the last minute to do your work. Do your assignments ahead of or on time. If you wait until the last minute, you will be rushed and the equipment won't work. When it knows you need to use it, it’ll break.
  • Take individual responsibility. I'm not going to hound you if you don't turn things in. It's up to you. The level of your commitment is equal to my willingness to help you.
  • Participate in class and with teams
  • Pre a pre for assignments and study for tests
  • Be communicative (an important trait for producers)

Focus on Quality. Don't try to make long projects. Keep projects short and sweet and articulate. You have a unique opportunity in this class to create a number of different portfolio pieces. If you are good and create outstanding videos, you can use them to win awards, get a job, or to get into graduate school. Show up on time and have an outstanding reel. All of you are capable of doing great things in this class- and having a fun and fulfilling time in the process.

When you make a production, strive to make it the highest caliber possible. This means

  • You will tell a story or make a point with your work.
  • Your project will have a strong ending and clear conclusion
  • Every shot will be steady, in focus and properly color balanced
  • Every shot will be framed nicely with the proper exposure
  • Movements will be smooth
  • Your backgrounds will compliment the subject and not distract the viewer
  • Your scenes will be lit nicely
  • Your graphics will follow the rules of good composition and design
  • Your audio will be clear and mixed appropriately
  • You work will have legal integrity: No music or talent will be used without a release.

Strive to become a critical viewer whenever you watch TV or go to the movies.

  • Think about the production… observe the details
  • Where was the camera placed (high low, tripod, dolly, jib or hand held)
  • What is in focus and out of focus?
  • Look at the lighting (hard or soft, back and set lights)
  • Do the scenes have a mood or feel to them? What is it?
  • What motivated the edit? (action, sound etc)
  • Watch with the sound turned off
  • Close your eyes and listen (music, SFX, close-miked or far)
  • Pretend you are the director
  • Figure out the process used to create the scene

If time allows, show samples of final projects from last semester

In class exercise (5 points) : Take out a sheet of paper. Write neatly and fill in the following:

  • Name
  • Year at IU
  • Areas of study/major
  • Personal interests/hobbies
  • List one TV show you love & one you hate
  • What kind of project would you like to produce in this class?
  • Three things you want to get out of this course. Be specific (documentary portfolio piece, understanding of lighting etc.)

[Process/review roster while class is doing exercise]

Homework for Wednesday:

Prepare a 6-8 frame storyboard which you will shoot in lab on Wednesday and edit on Thursday. (see the storyboard exercise for more information). UPLOAD a copy of your storyboard to the Oncourse folder before the start of lab Wednesday.

You will be graded on the following:

  • 6 – 8 frame storyboard (includes a one line description)
  • Framing, blocking & continuity
  • Production & editing
  • Your critique

Readings: Begin doing the on-line readings on cameras & lenses. This will be on the first quiz!

For Week 1 please read: cybercollege.org/tvp_ind.htm 10, 11, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19 & 20 (cameras, lenses & viewfinders)

For Week 2 please read: cybercollege.org/tvp_ind.htm 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56 & 57 (continuity & technical continuity, editing guidelines and timecode)

  • Think about your various projects. Please consider taking on a project for a real-world client. Planning and scripting these ahead of time is critical. Remember that the success of a video is determined in preproduction. If you properly plan and coordinate your project, the production will be easy. The first two coming up are your Interview / Feature stories & Art Videos. Next week in lab you should have a proposal for your Interview / Feature story. You won't shoot this for several weeks, but it's important to plan now. (review assignment)

Camera / lens review:

  • CCD - Stands for Charge Coupled Device.
  • CMOS (Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor)
    • CCD and CMOS sensors convert light to electrical energy. Lens diameters match CCDs, so a 2/3" lens would be mounted on a camera with 2/3" CCDs. The bigger the CCD, the more pixels you can fit on it. (The Sony Z1Us use three 1/3" CCDs, the Z7Us have 3 1/3" CMOS imagers, the Thompson cameras in Studio 5 use 2/3" CCDs)
  • Resolution (Horizontal resolution is determined by the maximum number of vertical lines resolved. Requires a test chart.) The studio camera heads can resolve about 700 lines. VHS tape can only resolve about 230 lines.
  • Gain (boosts signal and adds noise)
  • Focal length: (Don't confuse with depth of field!) the distance from the optical center of the lens to the focal plane (CCD or target) of the camera). When focused at infinity, a 10 mm lens will be 10 mm from the film plate or CCD.
  • Zoom lens - The focal length can be continuously varied
  • Angle of view (Telephoto lenses have narrow angles of view, while wide angle lenses have wide, or large angles of view.
  • Zoom ratio: Often (but not always) given in a ratio or two numbers (e.g. 12 x 10) The first number represents the minimum focal length in millimeters, and the second number the multiplier. A 12 X 10 zoom lens would have a minimum focal length of 12mm and a maximum focal length of 120mm.
  • Compressing distance: telephoto lenses provide the effect of compressing distance
  • Changes in apparent speed: Telephoto lenses also have the effect of slowing down Z motion. (The Z vector is directly in-line with the lens- as opposed to up and down or let to right.)
  • Perspective changes - Wide angle lenses can cause distortion
  • What is "normal”? A normal lens captures a field of view without visible distortion and that looks natural. To calculate the normal lens, measure diagonally from corner to corner. (e.g. a 50 mm lens would be "normal" for a 35 mm camera.
  • Lens speed - Lenses which let lots of light in (have large apertures or are capable of small f-stops) can be labeled as "fast". These usually cost quite a bit more than their "slower" counterparts.
  • F-stop - These numbers are inversely related to size of the aperture or iris opening.
  • Depth of field - the range of distance that objects will be in focus
  • Relationship between depth of field and f-stop - the higher the f-stop (smaller aperture) the greater the depth of field you will have.
  • Relationship between lenses and depth of field - wide lenses will have a greater depth of field than telephoto lenses.
  • Selective focus (related to rack focus and follow focus)
  • Follow focus
  • Rack focus
  • Macro focus
  • Auto focus (problems with)
  • ND filters - Neutral density filters don't influence the color temperature. They are gray and translucent. There purpose is to minimize the light coming into the camera.

Sensors

The lens focuses the light onto an imaging or pickup device. In the old days cameras used tubes, these days CCDs (Charge Coupled Device) or CMOS (Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor) sensors are used. CMOS sensors are beginning to become more widely used as they are a bit easier to manufacture and use less power than CCDs. The tiny camera in your laptop or cell phone most likely uses a CMOS imaging device.

Most professional video cameras use a beam splitter, which consists of prisms. The incoming light is split into its primary components, Red Green & Blue and recorded onto three separate CCD or CMOS imaging elements. These elements are about the size of a postage stamp and convert the light energy into an electric charge. While the industry norm has been to use three imaging elements, a growing number, such as the Red One, are using a large, single CMOS sensors.

Here's a nice picture of a prism block from Adam Wilt's amazing and informative website:

Sensitivity

How much light does the camera need to operate? This is called minimum illumination or sensitivity. It’s measured in foot-candles (American) or lux (European) usually along with the required f-stop and gain needed to capture an image. For example Panasonic's AJ-SDX900 reported minimum illumination is 0.01 lux (F 1.4, +48dB +20dB gain).

F-stop

An f-stop represents the size of the aperture in an inverse manner. A large f-stop corresponds to a small aperture, or opening in the iris. A small f-stop represents a large opening. You should know your standard whole f-stops: 1, 1.4, 2.0, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22, 32.

  • Increasing one whole f-stop will cut the light in half (E.g. going from 5.6 to 8).
  • Decreasing one whole f-stop will double the light (E.g. going from 5.6 to 4).

The relationship between f-stop and depth of field: The larger the f-stop (smaller the opening) the greater your depth of field will be. The smaller the f-stop (larger the opening) the smaller/shallower your depth of field will be.

Think about this. You are on location shooting a MCU of your talent for an interview. The background is in focus and detracting from the subject. What can you do to make the background less distracting?

Aspect Ratio

Aspect ratios should be provided width to height. The two common aspect ratios of TV are 4:3 and 16:9.

  • 4 x 3 (or 1.33:1)
  • 16 x 9 (or 1.78:1)

HDTV & DTV (Digital TV)

The broadcast of NTSC (analog video) ended in Feb. 2009. Now video is broadcast digitally following ATSC (Advanced Television Systems Committee) standards. Digital TV supports multiple frame sizes and frame rates and also progressive scanning.

Progressive Scanning: The electron beam scans each line sequentially. It does not use two interlaced fields.

Common Digital TV formats include:

480p uses only 480 lines scanned at 60 frames per second (good but not HDTV)
720p uses 720 lines at 60 frames per second (HDTV)
1080i uses interlace scanning (each field has 539.5 lines) (HDTV)

ATSC HD delivery formats:

Horizontal lines

Vertical lines

Frame Rate

1280

720

60p, 30p, 24p

1920

1080

60i, 30p, 24p

Note that many HD production formats do not record the full pixel dimensions listed above. Some use few pixels horizontally, and then stretch the image upon output to the full pixel dimensions.

For instance 1080 HDV actually records at 1440 x 1080. Panasonic's DVCProHD 1080i uses 1280 x 1080.

Viewfinders

If you were to examine a high-end video camera, one of the things you might notice is that it has a B & W CRT viewfinder (possibly in addition to a color LCD). Why B & W and not color?

The number of pixel elements in a CRT or LCD display determines the resolution. More pixels = greater resolution, right? Color monitors need phosphors for each of the Red, Green and Blue elements, where black and white monitors only need one. So given the same size CRT monitor or viewfinder, a black and white monitor will have 3 times more resolution than a color monitor. Since we are primarily concerned with framing and focus when we shoot, it's best to use the monitor or viewfinder with the sharpest display, which in most cases will be B & W.

Setting proper aperture

Monitors are convenient but never trust them until you see color bars through it first. The same applies for viewfinders. Always examine the appearance of SMPTE color bars through your viewfinder or monitor before making exposure decisions based on "how things look".

The zebra stripes feature found on most professional camcorders is the most readily available took to help set proper exposure. Zebra stripes are a visual aid that can be switched on or off. When turned on, stripes appear in the viewfinder over the regions of the image that have reached a certain IRE (brightness) level. You can adjust the threshold brightness level at which they turn on through the camera menu. Don't use zebra stripes unless you know what they are set for.

Some cameras have waveform monitors which are an ideal tool for examining brightness (luminance) levels and determining proper exposure. Not many cameras have them- but they can be brought into the field as a stand-alone external test device. Waveform monitors display brightness or luminance information in the form of a visual graph. The major settings to be aware of are:

  • ATSC (digital) black = 0 IRE
  • NTSC (analog) black = 7.5 IRE
  • The brightest portion of the screen should be no greater than 100 IRE

While waveform monitors and vectorscopes are helpful, they aren't always available or practical in the field. This is one reason it's good to have the zebra stripe function on a camera.

Zebra Stripes

 

Continuity-Style Production

#1 rule: Don't confuse the viewer! This is why we strive to maintain continuity. Preserve the illusion of space & time. People and objects remain faithful to their positions (this can be tricky over days of shooting)

Edits must be motivated for the best continuity. When shooting think about how you will get from one shot to another. Will action motivate the edit? A sound?

Viewers create mental maps of where things are and expect time to progress forward.

A Master Shot, which is often a wide shot, establishes the initial relationship of people and things within a given scene or location. You can preserve this illusion by using the 180-degree rule when you shoot.

Review the 180-degree rule. (two people sitting at a table)

How to cross the line:

  • Subject changes attention or move gaze to establish a new vector.
  • Shoot down the line
  • Subject moves
  • Move the camera over line (dolly, crane etc)
  • Use a cutaway, then come back to your scene from a different vantage point

Viewers are getting more used to seeing the rule broken.

Insert shots – close up from a larger shot

Cutaways – cut away to something related (could be something happening simultaneously)

Technical Continuity

Unplanned changes in sound, lighting, props, video texture, or setting is referred to as a technical continuity problem.

Moviemistakes.com has lots of fun examples of technical continuity problems.

A famous one is in T2, when the T2 liquid robot cop is chasing Ahnuld and little John Conner. The T2 is driving a semi, Ahnuld & John are on a motorcycle down in a drainage canal. The T2 drives the semi off of the overpass down into the canal, and we can clearly see the windshield popping out. In the next shot of the front of the semi, the glass is back in the semi. That's an example of a technical continuity problem.

While your productions are not likely to suffer from an elaborate problem such as this, beware of common mistakes:

  • Changes in color temperature. Avoid mixed lighting locations and white balance whenever you change the locations.
  • Changes is light levels Keep lighting levels consistent within a scene.
  • Primary Audio - use the same mic, in the same manner when recording your talent. (Don't use a lav in one scene and a handheld on a stand in another)
  • Background audio - avoid abrupt changes within the same scene. Always record 60 seconds of ambient sound, which you can layer in to the audio mix.

Lab this week

  • Today: Field Shoot Exercise
  • Wednesday: Storyboard / Continuity Exercise
  • Thursday: Edit Storyboard / action Sequences

Readings and Homework (due Tuesday):

Readings:

For Week 1 you should've read: cybercollege.org/tvp_ind.htm 10, 11, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19 & 20 (cameras, lenses & viewfinders)

For Week 2 please read: cybercollege.org/tvp_ind.htm 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56 & 57 (continuity & technical continuity, editing guidelines and timecode)

Homework:

1-page critique for your Storyboard / Continuity sequence

Carry out the pre-production work for all of your class projects. (Please remember to consider producing a project for a real-world client.)

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