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T351 Week 13 - Spring 2015

Agenda:

  • Reality Check
  • Final Project
  • Advanced Production Tips & Techniques
  • Engineering & Troubleshooting

Reality Check:

  • If you made siginificant changes to your Drama/Storytelling projects(that might effect your grade) please send me & Todd an email.
  • In order to receive a grade for your Final Project Pre-Production components, they must be turned into Oncourse by today at the latest. We can not give a grade for anything accepted later.
  • No lab this week - it's Final Project production time.
  • Aim to come to lab next week to work on and show your rough cut. I'll review rough cuts starting at 10AM.
  • We'll look at your Final Projects starting promptly at 9:30 AM during week 15 lab.
  • The Multimedia Movie Exercise will be due Monday, April 27th (details). We'll review this next week in lecture/lab.
  • On-line Resources:

An example of good short, dramatic storytelling:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4EDhdAHrOg

Final Projects: You can start shooting these as soon as your pre-production is completed. What you shoot is what you have to work with. Do it thoroughly and right the first time. Make sure your audio is clean, your video is well lit, and framed.

A few students shot video during the day that turned out grainy and out of focus. The little viewfinders do not show subtleties- such as noise from the gain being turned on. Be sure to carefully check your camera before you start shooting:

  • Gain and auto gain is off (should display 0db on the screen)
  • Shutter is off (should display 1/60 on the screen)
  • ND filters are off (unless you need/want them)
  • Recording format: You likely want HDV 1080i - I do not recommend 24p if you want to broadcast it on 1080i or 60i TV.
  • Auto iris: is it off or on? You do know how to change it, right??
  • Auto focus is off. Be sure to frequently use the expanded focus feature.
  • White Balance: You are either going to WB in A or B, or use a preset (indoor or outdoor)
  • Focus - Use the expanded Focus button!

Also:

  • Don't forget to get releases from your talent. Talent release forms can be found on the T351 website.
  • In addition to dedicating plenty of time to edit, be sure to plan on spending time on the graphics.
  • I'd plan on taking an entire day to devote to sound design and audio fine-tuning.

What makes a first-rate video? (What will we be looking at when we grade these?)

  • Video serves a clear purpose. Viewers have many choices on TV and the web and want content with a point (or that's highly entertaining).
  • It contains a good story (even non-fiction). There should be a clear and logical beginning and a clear and concise ending.
  • Every scene, shot and sound is included for a reason. (Advance the story or build the character.)
  • Technically & aesthetically sound
    • Strong composition
    • No long (unmotivated) pans/tilts, shaky shots, bumps or awkward or unnecessary zooms
    • Good exposure and tonal balance
    • Thoughtful lighting
    • Audio - Don't rely on the camera mic (unless you are just shooting B-roll).
    • Edits are motivated
  • Good visual composition. Create a consistent visual treatment (color palette, fonts, etc.) and use well-designed graphics appropriately.
  • Attention to sound design - take time to finesse the soundtrack and make sure you have consistent audio levels. You can get interesting audio elements from the Library / Audio / Apple loops folder.

Video Production Tips and Techniques

Pre-production

  • Understand the point of your video. Why are you making it and why will a viewer want to watch it? Understand the context of how your video will be viewed.
  • Know the S.O.P. and conventions of the trade. These exist for a reason. This includes using conventional formats for proposals, treatments and the various types of scripts.
  • On scripting non-fiction: See Jim's super secret (NOT) production planning form. Note the "ingredient list". These are the essential ideas that will be embedded into the video. Not all have to be verbally articulated.
  • Plan, plan, plan...... There is never too much pre-production.

Production Techniques:

  • Set all cameras to the right format - You should should shoot and edit in the intended delivery format. Generally for network broadcast you want 60i. For theatrical projects 24p. To clarify on video frame rates:
      • Broadcast video actually runs at 29.97 fps but the industry refers to it as 30/60i.
      • Film runs at 24 fps, but when shooting video you use 23.98 (or 23.976). This is similar to calling 29.97 30.
    • I'll often shoot in 30p. Progressive is betterwhen outputting clips for the web and the 30p can easliy by output to 60i.
  • Establish your scene - We need to know where we are, what time of day it is, where objects and people are, and the layout of the space. Always be sure to address this or you will confuse the viewer.
  • Continuity & smoothness - Unless you have a good reason for doing so, follow the rules of continuity and use a tripod. Don't go handheld unless you stay wide and are a good shooter.
  • Film Style - Repeat the action capturing it with different (cut-able) shots. Works great for fiction and non-fiction (capturing B-roll), especially when matched with continuity-style production.
  • Rule of threes - When shooting think of three things: the shot we see right before the one you are about to take, what you are about to take, and the shot that will come immediately after.
  • It's Art! - Try to make every shot well composed and interesting (a piece of art in itself).
  • Think Deep Thoughts - To get the maximum sense of depth try composing your shot with 3 distinct layers: foreground, mid-ground and background. If you're shooting an establishing shot of the exterior of a building, you can setup the camera with something in the forgeound (E.g. branch). You can also frame strong lines so they lead into the frame as opposed to perpindicular to it.
  • Be shallow - One of the most definable traits of film is it's shallow depth of field. You can get the most out of a small format camera by using a large aperture (small f-stop) and using the telephoto (larger focal length). If there is plenty of light I'll turn on the ND filters untill I'm able to shoot with something close to an f-2.
  • Warm things up - Slide a warming card into your camera case. Warming cards are slightly blue. When you white balance on one you trick the camera into shifting the hue just a little. They make everything look a little rosier (warmer). Alternatively you can cool things down (tint blue) by white balancing on a slightly warmer/rose-colored card. Sure you can color correct in post, but this saves rendering.
     
     

    Normal white

    Warming WB card

  • Get a move on - Move the camera or move the subject. Dollies require a lot of gear and setup time. Often the move we need is only a few feet. Small jibs and sliders offer an inexpensive, simple, and effective solution. Slide rails are inexpensive, transportable, and provide an easy way to move a camera in one direction. They can also get into places where a dolly can't (E.g. on a tabletop). Small jibs can provide both horizontal and vertical movement. Small video cameras and DSLRs are lightweight enough to use the inexpensive variety of a Steadicam (without the counterbalanced/articulating arm). Even a monopod has enough weight to stablize a very light video camera. For these to be most effective you want to setup your shots with foreground, mid-ground and background elements.

Lighting - Except for shooting B-roll in run & gun situations, always plan on lighting your subject. I usually try to make the subject about 2 stops brighter than the background. Yes, there are exceptions, but almost always we need to make our subject stand out. This is especially true with interviews. This is why you usually don't want to place subjects against a light wall- the wall would be brighter than the subject. If nothing else, always try to get some soft key light on your subject. (This can sometimes be done with a reflector providing there's a good light source to use.)

Audio - Mic your subjects appropriately

  • Interviews & narration should be relatively close mic'ed.
  • Storytelling projects should take into account audio perspective (how far the sound source is from the microphone). This often results in using a shotgun microphone.

Room tone - The audio channels in your timeline should always have something in it - as almost all spaces have some amount of ambient noise. This includes, fans, air conditioners, electronics, outside background noises, etc. When shooting at any given location always record  30-60 seconds of "room tone." This gives you audio filler materials to use in your editing timeline to bridge gaps between exchanges in conversations, or to cover while someone is not talking.

Post-Production

  • Apple Final Cut Pro or Avid? http://vimeo.com/22029233
  • Practice, practice, practice - Know your editing app and become comfortable and proficient using it.
  • Sound Design - Audio is perhaps the most important but often overlooked production element. Come up with a strategy to make sure your soundtrack is well designed and adds to the art & effectiveness of your production.
  • Make sure you have consistent audio levels (ADL - average dialog level should be about -20).
  • Audio too soft? - Normalizing it (show example). This boosts the overall gain (including noise).
  • Sometimes it's good to give scenes a distinct look, such as when illustrating dreams or flashbacks. Plug-ins are 3rd party software modules that function within a host application. Once you purchase the plug-in package and install it, you'll find the effects accessible through the standard video and audio effects menus within the host application. Boris Continuum Complete offers a wide assortment of effects for video editing and After Effects (making cool light waves, fire, extruding text, etc.).
  • Graphics - Spend time finessing these. Come up with a graphic treatment
    • Use colors and font that mesh with your content.

To make your sequence broadcast-ready

  • Use drop frame timecode
  • Must be closed-captioned
  • Make sure all video levels are in the legal broadcast range (0-100 IRE for digital, 7.5 - 100 IRE for analog).
  • Make sure audio is within the legal broadcast range
  • Include 30-60 seconds of Color Bars at the start of your sequence (with the 1kHz tone at the appropriate level such as -20 dB)
  • Slate (important production info including: title, date, producer, running time & audio format, etc.)
  • Black (approximately 10 seconds or optional countdown)
  • Program start time of 01;00;00;00
  • Black video tail at end

Useful resources:

 

Vocabulary (Know these terms)

  • Plug-in
  • Room tone
  • Warming card (for WB)

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