Tuesday, October 23, 2007

#54 Wk39 Directing Actors

I forgot my pop filter and you're going to hear it. I apologize and promise it won't happen again, I just don't have time rerecord. I've used a limiter and have compressed it a little to save your ears, I hope that does the trick. If you find the popping too annoying, just pass to the next show, though I think it's worth the bother.

The first week of the Directing Actor module. Our instructor, Steven Maler, Creative Director of the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company led us through several exercises that put us in the position of the actor, so we could see first hand what an actor needs from a director to deliver a great performance.

I'm not ready to channel Stanislavski, but I get the point of method acting. Reading scripts in front of the class and improvising dialogs between characters shifted our focus radically from the technical aspects of production and editing. It wasn't that difficult and I think the teacher gets a lot of the credit.

Another new idea we learned was the concept of the beat. Check out the link, I don't know how well I explain it. It's pretty important, both for the actor and director. The point is to know what good directing can accomplish.

The last part of the show I get kind of moody and cow eyed wondering why I bother and what's the use in trying. Somehow, when I think of Jeff Daniels, I feel all better. Let me know what you think

Finally, I'll be joining the seething throng at Podcamp Boston 2 at the Boston Exhibition Center this coming Sunday October 28. I'll be the guy with the Canadian flag bandanna. I hope you check it out.

Monday, October 15, 2007

#53 Wk38 Avid Edit Lab

I'm trying out a new, scaled down intro, whadya think?

Here are a few podcast recommendations in the show:

Podcamp Boston 2 is taking place Oct 26-28 at Boston Convention Center. Registration is free and there's a lot of seminars presented by regular people who have their own podcasts. During the sessions there's a lot of give and take between the audience and presenter, so everyone has the opportunity to contribute their experiences. I plan to be there on Sunday.

The Avid Edit Lab module finishes this week and I've got the highlights. I also have some comments to make about editing and the rocky road Avid has led me on.

We spent about 4 hours in our Saturday class critiquing the films we handed in. Nothing is ever finished, you just pick a point in time and stop. The critique was great, lots of useful comments and everyone was engaged. Two Film projects and eight people, so there was a lot of variations on how the same problems were solved.

Monday, October 8, 2007

#52 Wk37 Avid Edit Lab

Howard Phillips is out for the next couple weeks, down in Washington, directing the fall program at the new CDIA campus. Good luck everyone. Filling in for Howard is Chris Bowan.

Chris is an Avid editor and has a lot of tips for accelerating the editing workflow. He showed me a lot useful thing using key commands for editing. It can be awkward to use at first, but it makes a big difference in how quickly and smoothly you get things done. Eventually you can work entirely through the keyboard, with your right hand and the mouse in your left hand. Or vice versa, if you're a lefty.

Between learning Avid and editing a dialog centered movie I have a feeling, shared by a few people in class, that this project is much harder. Rather than trying to create a completely finished final cut, I'm spending my time playing with different types of edits. Trying to keep the story moving ahead smoothly. I'm relying on straight cuts, no transitions and looking for shots that lead well into each other. The dialog is controlling what I choose to keep in and out and if it deviates from the script, I'll take that chance.

So I'm not thinking about the finished film, but how I take care of individual aspects of the film. Hopefully that will lead to a good, finished feeling cut. Same results either way, but different methods. I'm hoping that I'll learn more by taking the long road.

I need to investigate storyboarding, it would help me visualize the film better before I begin shooting. It's very easy to overlook crucial takes at certain angles and frames. I believe it would have helped identify how one shot would lead into another. I'm discovering that at certain points in my cut I need a specific view, or angle of one character to help lead into another character's dialog. I can see that what I want isn't there. I would like to know what that would be while I still have the opportunity to shoot it.

I include a brief description of how to prepare still images for use in video. Despite years of trying to understand it, I still get confused when I talk about it. If you take anything useful away from my comments, let it be to do research for your own understanding. here are some links about different types of TV screen resolutions, NTSC (what we use in North America and western South America) PAL and SECAM. You have to be careful of the pixel dimensions of your still image because TV uses rectangular pixels, unlike square pixels that are used for computer displays. Find a good book on Avid too, like the one we use as a manual class.

Show notes are in the lyrics section of the mp3. Drop me a line at videostudentguy.gmail.com.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

#51 Wk36 Avid Edit Lab

This week we begin the Avid Edit Lab module, continuing to learn how to use Avid as we cut a movie from footage we shot a month ago. I'm finding it very difficult to get this. I'm looking forward to actually digging into a project where I have to cut it from capture to export. Be forewarned, if you've already got experience with FCP, it's going to complicate your brain learning Avid.

The film we shot for the Huntington Theatre demonstrated to me how awkward the color correction tools in FCP 5 are. I know, they're way better in the next upgrade of the Suite. Apple's Color app is a great deal, amazing deal, but I don't have it yet. I asked Howard, our instructor to show Laura and I how to use the color tools in Avid. Cool, powerful and intuitive, at least to someone who's been color correcting digital photographs for years. You use curves, not levels, not unlike Photoshop, only different. Of course I'm used to thinking in CMYK, from years of prepress work, so I'm sure it will be bumpy ride to the top.

Scouring the web for new podcasts I discovered one on wood fired pottery. Oten Maxwell's podcast, The Firing Log about using a woodfired Anagama kiln, was very entertaining for the long drives home from school and it got me to thinking about the divided lives professional crafts people create for themselves due to their livelihood. They produce one of a kind objects in a mass production world, they use 15th century tools in the 21st century and they work outside the mainstream workplace. How do you live when your focus is high touch in a high tech world. I got to wondering how it looks from their perspective.

Our final project is a 10 minute film, give or take, narrative or documentary, subject of our choosing. It's still early, but I'm going to investigate this a little further, so don't be surprised if you read some comments about frits, fluxes and fettling knives.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

#50 Filmmaking Manifesto #5

I've come to the end of the series of podcasts about the Digital Manifesto that Mike Jones posted on his blog, Digital Basin. That was earlier this summer and I try my best to explain why it's taken me long to post 5 podcasts.

Throughout the series I've been using his ideas in the Manifesto as a guage to determine how current the curriculum at my school, the CDIA is. It did very well - 9 out of 13. Here are the issues, numbered according to the Manifesto followed by the episode they were reviewed in.

  • 03 Compositing #35
  • 04 Distribution w/o hierarchy #37
  • 05 Owning the entire filmmaking process #37
  • 06 Software agnosticisim #37
  • 08 Screen Studies integrated into Production #39
  • 09 Succeeding despite obstacles #39
  • 10 Promoting the story ahead of production values #39
  • 12 Collaborative Learning #44
  • 13 Teacher as Facilitator #44

Not Passed
  • 01 Composing Space #35
  • 02 Virtual Camera #35
  • 07 Immersive Sound #39
  • 11 Personal Stories #44

These episodes were different from what I usually post, they involved big ideas and how they fit into the world of filmmaking. Keeping the idea threads connected from one episode to another, particularly when a lot of time passed between was difficult. Time to think and understand seems to be a constant problem for me.

For all the effort, I enjoyed exploring ideas and that took me to unfamiliar territory
Bear in mind, these aren't my ideas, I'm just having fun poking at them.

I thought of a couple of things to add to the manifesto:
  1. Get Teachers and students to better interact between related/linked fields, such as audio, 3D and fx, even web design. I don't think the fringes of our filmmaking experience should be familiar territory.
  2. Get more exposure to the supportive technology used for digital distribution.
Collaborative learning tools, such as blogs and wikis have a lot of potential that I hope to explore for sharing ideas and information and for promoting my work.

Towards the end of the episode I talk a little about how all this technology is pushing against the boundaries of a stifling culture of intellectual protectionism. If I sound a little harsh, it's only because I've only recently come to recognize how limiting it is to withhold access to resources that, if they were more available, would result in a great deal more creativity to the benefit of everyone. I'm sure once I get used to it I'll return to lamblike complacency.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

# 49 Wk34-5 Intro to Avid

I'm running to keep up again. I spent a lot of time recently on a non-class film project for the Huntington Theatre in Boston Mass. We did a promotional film for a play that is running through next week called the 39 Steps, a comedy based on the Alfred Hitchcock spy thriller. It was a lot work in a short time, but I, along with classmate Laura got it in on time and made the client happy, so it was good all round.

This is the end of the Module on the introduction to Avid, but there's another 3 weeks of Avid that follows where we edit our own film. I'm going to spread my comments about Avid over the next few weeks. This week I'll give you a general overview of the program and talk specifically about the user interface and how important it is to organize your files properly in Avid, as opposed to to Final Cut Pro.

We edited the 39 Steps promo in FCP, but it's really difficult to use one program on a job while you're learning a different one in class. There's a lot of lessons we learned, like how difficult it can be for two people to edit one film, dividing up production tasks and working remotely.

I thought you would be interested in the process of setting up for the shoot, so I included that as well as described the equipment we used and why. Towards the end of the podcast I've included a list of things I would do differently, or pay more attention to if we have a chance to do this again, which I believe we will.

Some of the highlights of the post production process was doing color correction, creating and working with a soundtrack and setting the compression values to optimize file quality for posting on Youtube.
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