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T351 Week 10 - Fall 2014

Misc Announcements / Reality Check

  • Lab starts at 8:30 AM! - We've got lots to do this week (pitch stories, meet one on one about your final projects) so please come one time.
  • Art Videos - Please do your best to have your Art Videos completed and in the drop box as close to the start of this week's lab as possible. We'll start watching them around 10 AM. We'll review as many as possible in lab this week. (Next week in lecture we may review some of them.)
  • Storytelling Projects - You'll be pitching your stories this week. Please make sure your proposal & treatment is uploaded to Oncourse in the "Storytelling" folder. Regardless if yoru projects gets picked, you will be graded on your proporsal & treatment.
      • Once we've picked stories and teams in lab this week the next step will be for the group to revise the treatment as needed and create either a 2-column script or a drama script with key sequences storyboarded. Please turn in via Oncourse. Feel free to share your stories/treatments with me if you want advice. You'll shoot these the week after next.
    • Remember KISS - Keep it simple!
    • Get real actors (not fake ones)
    • Avoid unnecessary dialog.
    • Everyone in a group is expected to edit their own version. You can make a case for sharing an edit if you have a plan that provides everyone with activities and input to the final edit.
    • 2014 Campus Movie Festival - Be part of it! Timeline is perfect for T351.
  • Final Projects - I'll be meeting with each of you about your final project this week and next. Your final pre-production work is due in two weeks.
    • Your Final Project is worth 65 points:
      • 20 points: Project design which includes: program proposal, treatment, script & other supporting pre-produciton material.
      • 40 points: Production & legal paperwork (releases, music clearances, etc.)
      • 5 points: Critique.
  • Last chance for submitting an application for a Fall 400-level advanced production class. The link is: http://www.indiana.edu/~telecom/undergraduate/production.shtmlYou have today and tomorrow. We're pulling the apps Wednesday.

Agenda:

  • The Art of the Short Story
  • Intro to Advanced Production & Editing
  • Off-line / On-line editing
  • Time code
  • EDLs

Readings:

Art of the Short Story

The short story has many virtues. Because it's short, it's relatively easy to produce especially when compared to a feature length film. The format is recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. There's an Oscar for animated and live action short films.

Your upcoming storytelling projects are a way for you to experiment with the genre.

Approach

What is the perspective or who is telling the story? Most films are told in the 1st or 3rd person.

  • 1st person stories are told from the "I" or "we" perspective.
  • 2nd person is told from the "you" or the reader's perspective.
  • 3rd person is told from the "they" or narrator's perspective.

Conflict- The essential ingredient

The essential ingredient - Many know that conflict (challenge or struggle) is the essential storytelling ingredient. Many make the mistake of interpreting this to mean there should be violence.

The "aha" moment - A good story strings the viewer along and makes them curious as to solving the puzzle (Memento, Fight Club, ) or resolving the essential conflict.Sometimes just figuring out why they chose the title for a short is enough.

  • How They Get There (Spike Jonze short film) With no dialog this short reveals the reason for its title.
  • Shovel Ready (Winner of the 2010 48-hour film festival) Elements: Character: Marco or Muffin Gabbowitz, a person who works with animals, Prop: a horn
    Line of Dialogue: "Do you think you can do that again?"
  • Cake (Winner of Greensboro 48 hour film festival) Often breaks the 4th wall.
  • Sparks (Winner of the 2012 Campus Movie Festival)

There are lots of good examples at Short of the Week.

 

Story Types

Some assert that there are only a handful of story types, which are retold in infinite variation. In their book, The Art of Technique, Douglass and Harnden describe the following:

  • Jack the Giant Killer
  • Prince & the Pauper
  • Clash of the Titans
  • The Peacemaker
  • Triumph of Courage
  • Tempting Fate
  • Role Reversals
  • Fish Out of Water
  • Strange Bedfellows
  • Buddy Pictures & Love Stories
  • Ship of Fools
  • The Quest
  • Portraiture

They content that all stories essentially fit into one or more of these categories.

Consider the story you'll be pitching this week. What kind of story category does yours come closest to fitting into?

Structure - Make sure you have a beginning, middle and end

Framing/Blocking

Quick exercise: Two characters meet and exchange dialog. How will you approach and frame this?

On framing action - the closer the camera is to the line of action and to your characters, the more depth you will have and more dynamic it will be.

Hitchcock's rule: The size of an object in the frame should equal its importance in the story at that moment.

Sequencing

Many havea tendancy to open with a wide shot, as the importance of establishing your characters in space and time is vital. However many times this is not the most cinematic or interesting choice.

A key goal is to make the viewer wonder, "What's going to happen next?". Simply re-ordering the shots in a sequence can make it stronger and change the meaning.

Sample 3 shot scene (a sharply dressed gal in a business suit is going to meet someone:

Version #1:

  • MS girl walking towards camera down hallway
  • CU low angle tracking shot high heels
  • OTS checking watch (CU) & entering door

Version #2:

  • CU low angle tracking shot high heels
  • MS girl walking down hallway
  • OTS checking watch (CU) & entering door

In version 1 we immediately see where we are and what's going on. The 2nd shot (CU tracking shot) provides the viewer with no more information except showing off her fashion sense. It also inadvertently brings into play "Hitchcock's Rule making us wonder how the shoes are important. In the last (aha) shot we see that she is going to an appointment behind the door.

In version 2 we start with the CU high heels. This immediately causes the viewer to wonder who they belong to and where we are. These questions and then answered by the 2nd shot. The last (aha) shot we see that she is going to an appointment behind the door.

A good storyteller knows how to string along their audience.

Characters

People are expected to act rationally and believable. If the characters don’t follow the rules it can be intriguing, but must be explained.

First action - There is a concept in filmmaking called first action. The first time we see a character we get an impression. This is shaped by the character's first action.

On how to be cinematic:

  • More thought as to composition and design within the frame (this is what cinematography is all about)
  • Consider the mise-en-scène. Everything that appears within the frame should be there for a reason. Costumes, props, blocking, lighting and everything else within the frame all contribute to the viewer's perception. Guilermo del Toro is a master of this.
  • Placement of camera / motion of camera
  • Attention to lighting
  • More close-ups
  • Shallow depth of field & Rack focus shots
  • Avoid zooms (draws attention to the fact that someone is operating the camera)
  • Attention to sound design
  • Attention to color correction / finshing

Using vectorscopes, waveform monitors and TBCs:

Video signals can be broken down into two components: luminance and chrominance. Luminance is the brightness component & chrominance is the color component.

A good editing suite will have a vectorscope and waveform monitor set up, so that the video levels and color can be objectively monitored. It's easy to make graphics in Photoshop too bright, but if you keep your eyes on the waveform monitor, you can tell when the signal reaches 100 IRE.

Waveform Monitor - A device used to examine the luminance portion of the video signal and its synchronizing pulses. The scale starts at –40 – goes to 0 then up to 120 IRE Units (IRE = Institute of Radio Engineers). One f-stop translates into about 20 IRE units The major setting to be aware of are:

Digital (ATSC) Black shold register at 0 IRE.
White White shouldn't be any hotter than 100 IRE on a waveform monitor.

Adobe Premiere tutorial on using the Waveform monitor

Vectorscope - A vector display measuring device that allows visual checking of the phase and amplitude of the color components of a video signal. They are especially useful when used with color bars, as the display face has targets that show both proper phase and saturation.

NOTE: You can't adjust or manipulate a video signal with just a waveform monitor and vectorscope. They simply let you examine the signal. You must use a TBC, a camera control unit or other device to modify the signal.

TBC (time base corrector) - A piece of equipment used to correct instabilities in analog video signals, provide synchronization between video signals, and adjust phase differences in signals to correct color or make them consistent with other signals. TBCs usually have a "proc amp" (short for processing amplifer) which lets you adjust the video's brightness, hue, saturation and setup.

  • Basic proc amp adjustments include
  • Chroma (amount of color)
  • Phase / Hue (actual color)
  • Brightness (amount of gain or brightness)
  • Contrast (on some)
  • Setup (aka pedestal) A signal elevating the black level and all other portions of the video signal

If you have a copy-protected VHS tape or DVD that you need to dub, you can run the video through a TBC. It strips the old sync, which has been modified to create dubbing problems, and replace it with new sync.

FCP, Premiere, and Avid provide computer-generated waveform monitors and vectorscopes. This provides an excellent way to check levels for graphics and when applying video effects (these are often too bright for legal video).

Note that when capturing DV footage in FCP's log and capture tool, you can't control the proc amp settings (color, brightness, setup, etc). You'll find that the "clip settings" are greyed out. This is because you are transferring footage that's already been digitized. However, when you are wokring with a third party capture card (Like an AJA or Cinewave) you can modify the video signal through the proc amp settings.

If your footage is too dark or needs color correction, you must do this by either applying color correction or a filter.

Color Bars are electronic reference signals generated by cameras or post-production equipment. They can be used for matching the output of two cameras in a multi-camera shoot and to set up video monitors. In general there are two types of bars full field and SMPTE (split). The SMPTE bars are more useful.

When capturing source footage, it's always good to capture some of the bars. This lets you check the captured footage to ensure color accuracy.

Timeline Techniques - Make sure you know how to do these:

Audio

Strive to get consistent audio- especially with dialog and narration. Don't just trust just your ears, but use the audio meter to make sure all of your clips reach the same level. For example, you might use -20 as the average level for your dialog & narration. As you add or edit narration, make sure its average level is -20.

Use markers to edit video to the beat. Visual markers are really helpful for editing video to the music and also for editing audio. Make sure you know how to set clip markers. (Not sequence markers- though these are useful too.) FCP, Premiere & Avid each do this but a little differently. (EC - WFTEOTW)

  • Apple FCP - First highlight/select the clip. Then play your video in real time and press the m key to set markers.
  • Adobe Premiere - The m key creates markers, but in the sequence and not on the clip. You can assign a key easily through the "Keyboard Shortcuts" menu. Look for "Add Clip Marker" and assign any available key to it. Once you've set up the keyboard shortcut you can select the clip, play it in real time, and tap the keyboard shortcut key to make clip markers.
  • Avid Media Composer - Like Premiere, you can assign markers to a particular key. Go to the settings tab in the project window. Then click on the keyboard. This will show you the keyboard and whatever shortcuts are assigned. Use the "Command Palette" to assign marker creation to a key. (Drag & drop the command onto whatever key you wish to assign it to.) Similar to the other software you need to select the track you want to add markers onto, otherwise they will be placed in the sequence.

Check sequence settings - these can differ from the clip settings. If they are different, you'll have to render your video each time a new clip is placed in the sequence.

Know how to add & delete tracks

Linking and Unlinking tracks - You sometimes want to link or unlink tracks. Select the tracks and choose link or unlink from the drop down "Modify" menu..

Splt edits, also known as J or L edits, can be made in many ways in FCP. The easiest way is to select the Roll Tool (press R), and while holding down the Option key, drag the edit point left of right.

Extend edit is a quick way to bring a clip to wherever the timeline is parked. To use it first highlight the transition you wish to extend, plave the time indicator where you want to extend it to, then press the e key.

Match frame - Have a frame in your timeline that you want to find the original clip for? Put the time indicator over the highlighted frame in the timeline and press the f key. Voila your clip will load into the viewer. (This also works in Avid) Also, if you want to locate the clip in its bin, place the time indicator over the highlighted clip and press the F key. Your clip should be shown in the Browser.

Applying effects to an entire sequence or a particular section - There are many reasons why you might want to apply an effect to an entire sequence or a section of one. For instance you might want to add a color treatment and a vignette to give a flashback or memory a dreamy look.

  • Apple FCP - Nest your edited sequence into another, and apply the effect to the new sequence.
  • Avid Media Composer - Add the effect to a filler video track directly above the selection

Vocabulary (Know and be able to define these terms)

  • Color bars
  • First Action
  • Hitchcock's rule
  • Mise-en-scène
  • Pedestal / Setup (interchangeable terms for the starting level of the gamma curve. Where the black level resides.
  • Proc Amp (short for processing amplifier)
  • Story types
  • TBC (time base corrector)
  • Vectorscope
  • Waveform Monitor

 

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