Thursday, August 30, 2007

#45 Wk31 - Film Project II

This is the last week of the Film Project II module, which is to say the last week where we can shoot footage that we will edit in 3 weeks.

We don't have anything more we plan to shoot right now, but we may. This week we reviewed our footage and talked about it in light of what we already learned in previous classes and this project. We had problems lighting, but the final footage looked quite good.

There's also information about how to log video, before you capture and I explain how the camera sees compared to how our eyes see.

Next week is another new module where we learn how to use Avid.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

#44 Filmmaking Manifesto #4

This is the last post that where I discuss the 13 proposals in the Filmmaking Manifesto from Mike Jone's blog, Digital Basin from earlier this summer. I've learned a lot, have you? During these episodes I've tried to stay focused on Mike's ideas and how CDIA measures up against it from my narrow perspective as a film student.

I plan one more show on this topic where I talk about what I've learned personally. It's not a recap or summing up, though I will probably spend a few minutes doing discussing just that. What I'd really like to do is reflect on some things that were a little too far off topic to include previously as well as some actions I want to take.

This week I'm going to cover the following items:
  • 11 - Creating Personal Stories
  • 12 - Collaborative learning
  • 13 - Teacher as facilitator
As far as personal stories are concerned, I'll elaborate on the writer's block I've experienced. Happily in the previous post in this podcast I believe I have beaten off. Look at #43 for more details. I haven't read much on how to write, but I was strongly affected by Stephen King's book On Writing and since he's the kind of author you either love or hate, I included two reviews of the book.

I'm very interested in the use of wikis and wikia for collaborative learning. There are applications for business, education, content managment, anything. I cite Podcamp as a place that uses wikis for scheduling presentations. It's anarchic, but in the right situation it can be the right tool. You should listen to Mike's audio presentation on Blogs, Wiki's and the new world order.

On the subject of teaching again, I invoke the words of Kahlil Gibran on children.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

#43 Wk30 - Film Project II

This week our team hunkers down and puts in long days of shooting the scene for the second film project. The team consists of Jonathan, Dennis, Mike, John and myself. Despite difficulties, all the effort pays off. I hope I'm not spoiling the suspense for you.

In process of learning my lines and and other performance skills, during an impromptu acting bootcamp, I have a story writing epiphany that releases me from the curse of writer's block.

There are a few technical details I include, such as a production breakdown list, a shot list or storyboard, a master shot, blocking and what is a C47.

I also try to describe the the wonderful feeling that you get after you stop banging your head against a wall, also known as success.

Finally there's a fair bit of talk about the satisfaction that comes from working as a team. I admit that my description is a little over the top, particularly where I invoke a few lines from Shakespeare's St Crispen's day speech as delivered by Henry V. But I do mean it. I love that speech by the way. There's a particularly poignant performance in the Danny Devito film Renaissance Man, it's worth checking out.

All told, it was a week of hard effort, valuable insight and worthwhile achievement.

Drop me a line at or leave a comment. In any event, thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

#42 Wk29 - Fillm Project II

Very short post this week. We're preparing ourselves for a multimodule film project.

This week we're choosing our script and team members. Have to shoot the script and show some footage in another two weeks. Following that we're learning how to edit in Avid, then another three weeks of editing.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

#41 Wk28 - Screenwriting

This episode is all about Saturday's class where we diagram the movie Manhunter, by Michael Mann. This is the precursor to the Silence of the Lambs, and Hannibal Lektor is just as scary in this even though he is a minor character.

Using scripts of The Village, by M. Night Shyamalan and Heat, also by Michael Mann, we looked at how to do the formatting. Writing the content of a movie is a whole other matter which we didn't get into. The first step in the door is the actual format of the script. People are very particular that it look a certain way, all the letters are crossed and dotted, headings are just so. Also I pass along some tips for things to avoid when writing for visualization.

Here is a list of items for formatting the page:
  • Location
  • Action Block
  • Character Name
  • Parenthetical
  • Dialog
  • Transitions

Lots of software you can use, Final Draft we're using in class, Movie Magic Screenwriter is another app available. Demos are available. There's a free, opensource screenwriting software called Celtx that I have downloaded, but haven't really looked at.

Books are available, but looking at scripts, which you can download from IMSDB, SciFi Movie Page, Simply Scripts and the Weekly Script. A couple online magazines are Script and Creative Screenwriting.

#40 Wk28 - Visualizing Fiction

Due to a change in the curriculum at CDIA, this module was broken into two parts, the first two were about production audio, this one is called, well, you can see what it's called in the title, and it's about film studies, history and what we call film grammar, which is the construction of the story through camera frame, sound, editing and everything else that goes into creating a film.

There's a great deal that we covered, but of course I'm going to talk about all the interesting things. Genres are discussed briefly, we review some films, such as Manhunter that demonstrate how to build suspense, not as easy as you think.

For some reason I use an analogy of Impressionism vs Jackson Pollock and then from there move into the horror genre, specifically zombie movies such as Night of the Living Dead, Shaun of the Dead and 28 Days Later.

There's a number of guidelines for judging the value of such movies as Heat and Memento like intention, 30 degree and 180 degree rule, misdirection and the concept of filmmaker as Auteur.

For a number of reasons I've divided the week into two episodes. The next one will be about screenwriting and how important the formatting of the document is.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

#39 Filmmaking Manifesto #3

This week is another installment of my review of CDIA, the school where I'm enrolled as a film student, where I'm grading the film program using the points presented in a filmmaking manifesto written by blogger and educator, Mike Jones, who writes the Digital Basin. By the way, Mike is in Australia and I make reference in the podcast to a presentation he delivered on Sound and Space at the University of New South Wales. I'm afraid it came out as South Wales, and I don't want you looking for Mike in Great Britain.

Here are the topics for this week:
• Multi-channel and Spatial sound
• Screen studies
• Working with clearly defined obstructions
• Working Lo-Fi but High-Concept

These episodes are independent of my weekly journal and it's been exhausting and enjoyable putting out two each week. There's one more post about the Manifesto and then I'll do a follow up show with my personal thoughts about this topic and how it's impacted doing this podcast.

Do some reading on Neil Postman, he has lots of food for thought.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

#38 Wk27 - Production Audio

This week we focus on using the wireless mic and placing the mic so that it is hidden. How to work with people so you can do your job efficiently and professionally.

The big shoot in Thursday's class involved running multiple mics through separate mixers to 3 cameras. It was a real pressure cooker. Impressions were mixed, but I think we learned a great deal about our deficiencies in this area.

Begin prepared and displaying confidence are key assets of sound production people. There's a lot to think about and nothing can be overlooked.
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