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Posts Tagged ‘film’

Tutorial: Sound Design Jobs in Film

This is a sound production tutorial provided by the Light Film School. The objective of this tutorial is to outline sound design jobs in film and teach indie filmmakers more about sound production. The video offers useful tips and advice for the many indie filmmakers who often work on a limited budget, deadline, and crew. With some extra time, creativity, and a modest investment, an indie filmmaker can greatly improve the audio production standards of their film projects.

Who Works in the Sound Department?

Before getting into the audio techniques in earnest, the tutorial first covers the average structure of an audio production department. Sound production has multiple stages, with crew members performing the work at each stage:

Boom operators/Mixers: These people are responsible for the early stages of sound production. Boom operators capture the audio, while the mixers set the proper levels and recording of the audio. The sound that they capture on set is called production sound, and on many indie film sets, the job of boomer and mixer is performed by one person.

Sound Editors: The sound editor receives the production sound. This person closely works with the director to oversee how well the audio matches the overall soundtrack. The editor also manages the post-production sound team. The following people are managed by the sound editor:

Dialogue editor. This person works exclusively with the project’s dialogue track.

ADR editor. This person re-records any dialogue that couldn’t be captured on the set.

Background editor. This person lays in and edits the background tracks, whether simple ones or complex atmospheric tracks that define the environment’s acoustics.

Sound effects editor. These people research various sounds in sound libraries or record non-diegetic sounds. These are sounds that are not produced by the events within a scene, but are present to set the mood or tone.

Folly artist. These people handle the “folly” sounds like punches or footsteps. In other words, diegetic sounds that are the result of actions in a scene.

Music editor. This person will work with the soundtrack by editing and syncing the music into the project.

Re-recording mixer. This is the person who takes over the sound once everything is finished and mix together all elements to build a final soundtrack.

In larger budget films, these roles are played by various people, but on some indie sets, they’re played by only one or two people. Regardless, a successful sound production process depends on how well the boom operator and mixer are able to capture production sound. No level of sophisticated editing can fix bad production sound.

How to get good sound?

The film script and good location scouting are two factors often overlooked in getting good sound production. For instance, consider the scenes written into a script. Sometimes writers will put in scenes (like a daytime industrial setting) that offer too much noise. While writers don’t need to change their script to suit sound productions’ demands, it’s important that the latter think creatively and anticipate obstacles. Thus, investing time into location scouting is crucial to quality audio production. In addition, the sound crew needs to consider the kind of equipment they’ll use and where they’ll position themselves within a location, in order to get the best results.

It should be noted that while you can play around with the sound of a location during editing, you can’t isolate or delete bad sounds. It’s best to do a proper job of recording in the first place. Some people aren’t aware that certain sounds share frequencies with others. Thus, if you try to delete a “bad” sound in your film, you may end up changing the dynamics of the “good” sound because they share the same frequency.

Overall, there are many factors that go into good sound production, but the most important one is having all departments work together to solve problems. Below are ten tips for ensuring this:

1. Turn off all mechanical and electrical devices.
2. Close all doors and windows.
3. Scout for quiet times at the location.
4. Close the set and implement a “no talking” rule.
5. Allow the boom operator and mixer into rehearsals. This will help them figure out their sound levels and position themselves within the scene so they don’t cast shadows against walls.
6. Perform test recordings.
7. Capture wild lines you need to re-record.
8. If the scene requires crew to move around, have them minimize sound and impact by wearing soft foot ware like socks.
9. Test the noise level of your props and be aware of which ones are noisiest (bracelets, necklaces, phones, etc.).
10. Give sound recorders time before and after the shoot in order to capture room tone.

In many instances, sound crew have the heavy burden of being understaffed, pressed for time, and not given enough time to prepare. Just because this happens often, it doesn’t mean that it should. Good sound is the responsibility of everyone on the set, and it will only happen if the sound crew is given ample time to set up and test. In the long run, you’ll get a better production because of it.

Free Film Studies at Ghetto Film School Online

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The academy award nominated director, Spike Jones, has been invited to the Ghetto Film School, to offer a free online film studies Master Class for the Ghetto Film School. This is a unique program where young filmmakers from around the world get together in order to discuss more about filmmaking and storytelling. Spike Jones accepted their invitation and held a conference, talking about this business and about the main challenges that they need to overcome. He responded to several questions and he gave them a creative assignment created by himself.

The first lesson he wanted to share with them was that every actor is different, so each one of them works differently. This is why a director should know how to give specific notes. Jones showed them the importance of the rehearsal, not only because they get to repeat together and see how it works out, but mainly because during that period the coworkers get to bond with each other, creating friendships and developing a common language. In this way, they’ll be able to get a better understanding of each other while working together at a project.

When it comes to the writing part, Jones had an interesting insight, saying that it’s essential to share the writing with the others. In this way they will not only get the others’ feedback, but they will also get their own feedback. He emphasized that by sitting down and telling someone a story, he gets the opportunity to actually hear it out loud. Therefore, he may hear what works and what doesn’t work. The same thing happens with the test screening. So those who want to work in this industry should share their ideas.

Working in the film industry may be exciting, especially because people get to do what they like. A great advice was the necessity to choose role models and to focus on great movies. He exemplified by saying that whenever he sees a great movie, he keeps it alive in his mind, taking it everywhere. Such a movie may rest in his mind for a week, a month, or even years. In this way, whenever he will need inspiration, he will go back to that movie.

Another essential thing that can be related to any kind of activity, and not only with filmmaking, is definitely the ability to make friends. After all, coworkers spend a lot of time together and it’s important to work in a relaxed and friendly environment. Besides the work with his team, he also likes to get the opinion of a group of writers and directors, mainly because he loves their work. Thus, he values their opinions so he tries to get a feedback whenever he finishes a script or when he’s editing a movie.

Between the questions posed during this conference, there has been a question about story boards. Jones expressed his personal opinion about these, by saying that they are important as long as there is a complicated sequence. Otherwise, there are many sources of inspiration and one shouldn’t stay too focused on a fixed idea.

Filmmaking Video: Rutger Hauer Intro to Short Film Making

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This filmmaking video features the renown Dutch actor and writer, Rutger Hauer as he offers his professional insights with an introduction to short film making. He begins the video with a memorable quote by a colleague, Robert Rodriguez: “what you need to know about filmmaking can be taught in a week.” In response to that quote, Hauer proposes to create this video with the objective of teaching the essentials of film in a 13-minute video.

Hauer starts by proclaiming that if you want to be a filmmaker, then just print your name and the title, “filmmaker” on a business card. Pass around the card to your friends and tell people that you’re a filmmaker, because once you convince yourself that you are, you will be. Seeing yourself as such is important to embarking upon your filmmaking career.

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Rutger Hauer
Photo: http://oiff.com.ua

In addition to seeing yourself as a filmmaker, Hauer adds that you need the right blend of creativity and technical knowledge. Creative people are born creative, says Hauer, that’s “luck” as he calls it. Most technical people haven’t a clue about creativity. On the other hand, creative people have a difficult time thinking high-tech and they often rely on tools and methods they don’t fully understand. However, as Hauer emphasizes, if you have both creativity and some technical skills, then no one can stop you.

This leads to Hauer’s second point of insight: you already have some experience by watching movies, but watching films isn’t enough if you want to make them. You need to grab a camera, make movies, and more importantly, make mistakes. Making mistakes is what makes us good. If you have a scenario in your head, just start writing.

The following are some of the topics that Hauer covers, with the intention on touching upon all the essential aspects of making a successful, budget film.

Making a cheap film. Making budget films always force you to be creative, especially when it comes to finding the right location. Hauer suggests that you write a screenplay that doesn’t require a lot of money. Instead, look around you and evaluate what you have in your immediate environment for use: a pet, your parent, a butterfly collection, a garden, etc. “Even the smallest balcony garden can be your film jungle” he says. Hauer’s first film, Starfish Tango, involved a small story, two dancers, two actors, a village, and seven dolphins and yet was a success.

Getting the plot “out of your head.” Hauer’s third point of insight involves creating storyboards for getting the film out of your head and onto the screen. More importantly, you need to think about the frames and what needs to be present in each scene in order to tell the story–close your eyes, focus and make up the pictures, don’t just pick from some royalty free photos you find on the internet. You should also think about whether or not the story moves you, if all the characters are present, or if the plot is too fast. More importantly, creating a storyboard for the movie allows you to see whether or not it makes sense. The quicker you get your idea onto the storyboard, you quicker you can begin to shoot.

Cameras. You don’t need a sophisticated camera for your first or second film. In fact, just using a Flipcam is enough, and if you need to create steady shots, just use a tripod. If you want more movement in your shot, you can try mounting the camera on a skateboard, having someone push you in a wheelchair, or drag the camera on the floor atop a towel or blanket. Lastly, act “softly” in front of the camera: avoid overacting or crowding the camera with too much action. As a rule, the closer the camera is, the less acting you need to do.

Lighting. Experiment with the lighting. Walk around and see what spots are best left dimmed and which ones need a lot of light. As you move the light around, do it softly so it will look nice and natural on camera. You filters like curtains in order to get a dim effect. Use the reflections in cars, windows, the color of a table cloth, or even the movement of leaves to help you play with lighting. Hauer demonstrates how one can play with lighting by placing a towel over his computer’s camera and noting the slight, but important difference it creates.

Editing. It’s important to be patient and take your time in order to ensure a film of high quality. This is where you can add sound or music (either make your own music or own it, so as to not infringe on copyright).

After all of this you will have your first, simple film. He ends with saying that while you cannot make simple films in Hollywood, you can make them in school and on your own time, so take advantage of this freedom. He wishes the viewers success and fun in their project endeavors.

How to Cut Videos in Movie Maker

Movie maker lets you create your own movies without much effort on your part. Now you can make your own movies without the use of complicated software and the headaches that come with it.

Making Videos

Once you import the movie into the program it will segment it for you into clips which make them easy for you to edit into your finished movie. Use the play button to preview each clip you want to work on. Drag them onto your storyboard and then start to work on them in the order you prefer. This is easy to do with a simple drag and drop of the clips into the new location. Click play and you can view how they all look.

How to Cut Videos in Movie Maker

If you need to trim a clip just click the Show Timeline button and scroll to the area of the clip that you need to edit. Right click on the clip and Use the clip menu and select set start trim point. Go to your clip and scroll to where you want to stop and then click set end trim point. Do this for any parts you want to edit in your clips. So that is all you need to do to cut videos in Movie Maker!


Audio

Go to capture video on the left and import your music or audio file. Click your audio and move it to your timeline. Drag the audio to make it match the length of your video if it’s longer.

Transitions

Some advanced features of editing include transitions from one clip to another. You’ll find many transitions available in the program. Click on the task pane and view video transitions to see the ones available to you.

Titles and Credits

Add titles and credits like professional movies. Click “make titles or credits” in the task pane to do this. Just fill out the boxes provided for you with the information you have for the movies. You can also change the animation of your titles for some cool effects too.

Effects

In the task pane you have thе option to add effects to the movie as well. Some include blur, aging, film grain, greyscale, and so on. These are easy to add to your clips in your movie.

Saving and Sending Movies

Use the task pain and click “save to my computer” to save your movie to your PC. It will be saved to your My Videos folder. It will also select the compression of the movie for you. You can view the finished movie in Windows Media Player to see how it looks. It’s easy to send the movie as an email to your friends if you want. You may also send your videos to the web from the task pane. It’s also possible to save the movies to a CD so you can show your friends and family. Once you are done you might want to upload your video to YouTube as well.

Movie maker is an easy way to start making movies ion your computer. The program gives you all the tools that you need!

cc license credits:

flickr.com/photos/nonprofitorgs

flickr.com/photos/jimthompson

 

Film Budget Breakdown

When people refer to film budgeting it means the process by which a unit production manager, filmmaker or a line producer prepares a budget for a motion picture production. Documents could be as much as 150 pages long and it’s used to get financing for the film so the pre-production can begin and eventually the final production.

A draft is usually made of film budget breakdown and many drafts may have to be made before a final one is agreed upon. A budget has four main parts:

Above the line – The creative talent
Below the line – production costs
Post-production – visual effects and editing
Other  Insurance, bonds etc.

Financing for the film is usually secured from a sponsor, investor, film studio, product placement, entertainment company, or from other funds out of pocket.

Deke Simon – author of Film and Video Budgets describes the budgeting process with great insight and humor. His book is the industry “bible’ on budgeting:

Film Budget Breakdown

Story Rights – This is the right to produce a film that is based upon something such as a video game, novel play or other work. It can be a remake of another film or a sequel as well. Screenplays can be as little as fifty thousand up to 10 million or even more.

Screenplay – This is the film on paper. A screenwriter is used to write the film and they can make tons of money to create the screenplay. The script can be worked on afterwards by a script doctor to get the final draft together.

Producer – This person or persons makes and develops the film and they can make bonuses as well as a share of the overall profits of the film. Producers can make multiple millions for a film. Film makers also like to use vacuum sealers to provide healthy fresh food for the actors, click here to find more information on food sealers.

Director – The director directs the action of the stars and makes the story come alive with the talent that is used to make the picture. Good directors can make as much as 10 million for a single film.

Cast – these are the actors and actresses that are a part of the movie. These people can be paid multiple millions per film. The cast also includes extras that have minor roles in the background. They can make about $130.00 per day. On low budget films extras often get nothing for participating in the film.

Production Costs – This includes wages of the crew making the film, the sets, the costumes, food, accommodations, transportation and other costs.

Visual Effects – these are done by computer and happen in post-production. These costs are largely determined by the work that needs to be done. Big budget films with tons of effects can cost up to a hundred million to get the effects onto the screen.

Music – Film composers are needed for the music and sometimes this includes big ticket music stars who command high salaries. An original song from a star could cost one million or more.

Budget Reduction

Many films need budget reduction. One way they do this is to cut out the night scenes which require far too much expensive lighting. Other ways include eliminating filming in famous locations or commercial areas as this costs money to shut down these areas for filming. Sometimes car chase scenes are done on Sunday when traffic is light. To cut costs some films use lesser known actors who need the work and take reduced salaries.

Some films are made in other locations but in the movie the city is different. For example the film might be set in Los Angeles, but the film is actually shot in Vancouver B.C. Some films use non-union crews to reduce the costs of film budgeting as well.

cc photo credits: flickr.com/photos/vancouverfilmschool

Pitching Movie Ideas to Studios

I’m preparing to pitch some film ideas and I am making notes from tips I find online:

• A pitch is a short summary of situation and plot points that convey a strong unique idea called a “high concept”.

• The pitch should be no more than 15 minutes long and cover the main concept, story and the characters.

• Don’t talk too much about dramatic details like character feelings and interactions.

• Pitch the main concept, major plot points, primary characters and any twists, just like a movie trailer would.

• Movie structure in Hollywood generally has three acts within a film, so learn the format and present your pitch accordingly.

• Write the pitch out and then learn it by memory. Make sure you know the complete story behind each of your characters and plot ideas – be prepared to answer in-depth questions!

• Use an industry directory like IMDB to locate production company and film studio contacts. Send them an inquiry letter with a request to pitch them.

• You can also try to register at sites like Moviepitch.com and TVfilmrights.com to pitch written ideas online.

Funding Your Film! Using Film Finance Basics

I’m looking to raise funds to produce a feature version of my alien sci fi short Zedic and the Crimson Born. So I came across this most excellent video on Film Financing by Dave Basulto from Film School On Demand.

To start Dave explains the basic budget ranges for funding films. At 0-100K you are your own boss and distribution is mainly through festivals and online. 100K-1M films need “name” talent and a sales agent for distribution but you are still your own boss. 1M+ movies require big stars, distributors in place (tv or studio), it takes a long time to raise the money and you have less control.

You must have a budget to get financing. But Dave says this can be easy once you have done the research. You need to include equipment, locations, hard costs like insurance and crew, sound/music, post production (editor) and be sure to add padding, luckily for you there are insurance companies like onesureinsurance.co.uk which are very affordable and they still cover any damage.

Altered version of Nuvola apps aktion.png for ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At a minimum you need equipment rental and liability insurance. You want to try to work with free talent as much as possible and use cheap music like mine. Make sure to include post-production in the cost. Also, include a still photographer.

Dave uses Gorilla film finance production management software in this video to enter above the line expenses (key players) and below the line (production crew) expenses. Check it out, this was very informative!

If you like this post you might also like my article High Concept Story Plots – How to for Hollywood Screenplays or 7 Indie Film Digital Distribution Companies You Can Submit to Online.

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Music for Movies | Best Way to Score Films | Editing Innovations by Ken Burns

Great interview with famous documentary producer Ken Burns on music for movies. He has been creating films for 30 years and has many on PBS.

He talks about how traditionally the process is to “lock the film” before bringing in composers and musicians. Then scoring is a very mathematical process based on precise timing. Very true and extremely different from songwriting.

Ken instead takes a more innovative and organic approach by recording music he finds moving before editing has even started. He has the musicians record hundreds of music beds. Then he edits the film around the music – which I had never heard of.

He mentions having over 200 versions of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” recorded for his baseball documentary!

Ken Burns on Music for Movies

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