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Thread: Advice appreciated on shooting a short film in the British humour genre of comedy

  1. #1

    Default Advice appreciated on shooting a short film in the British humour genre of comedy

    Hi all, hope I've posted this in the right section.
    Ok, here goes.
    I've written the storyline and the shooting script for a short film in the British humour genre of comedy. Although I'm confident about the storyline and shooting script I'm not so confident about lighting, sound, camera angles etc. In other words, I'm not so confident about just about everything technical. I'm a writer, not a film maker, although I'm hopefully getting there.
    My main questions are, could I have arranged the camera angle and lighting better? I think I'm ok about the sound, although if you have any suggestions they would be appreciated.
    It might help if I explain the camera, lighting and sound rig that I used for the scene.
    The camera was a Sony PD170, lighting was a Strand 650\800 watt light rigged at 45 degrees distance and 45 degrees height from the woman. The sound was a Sennheiser shotgun mic held about 3 feet from the woman's face and pointing 45 degrees at her face.
    Although this shot is probably pretty prosaic, and although the next couple of shots are, the following scenes are more bizarre.
    Last edited by snapper1; 02-20-2011 at 12:10 PM.

  2. Default

    I'm a video noob, but...

    Did you record with stereo sound? The balance is off to the left.
    I can hear mp3 artefacts in the right ear, and there's music in the background coming from one of the neighbours.

    Is it supposed to be orangy-pink? Or did you just not 'white balance' it?
    I don't like the shadow on the wall that much, but it might be unavoidable?

  3. #3

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    Hi thanks for the advice, just what I wanted.
    I didn't white balance it, will investigate that and balance.

  4. #4
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    Iron out the background sound and sort out the colour as Anti has suggested above and I'd be happy with it, but I believe it could be improved further.

    The composition is a little odd: the character is neither centered, nor positioned according to the "rule of thirds".

    The background, which I suspect is appropriate, commands as much attention as the talent. There are two things you can do about this: 1. Use a backlight - some light shining from behind (not directly behind) the subject will help to separate the character from the background. 2. Use a shallower depth of field so the background becomes slightly out of focus.

    The biggest problem is there is no life in her eyes. They are also entirely in shadow. A secondary light (fill light) may fix this - I'm not sure about the lifelessness but it will soften the shadow. Try to get something reflecting off her pupils and the character will spring to life.

    Or so I believe ...
    Tim

  5. #5

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    Hi Tim, thanks for helping.
    The background, which I suspect is appropriate,
    You're right, it's set in a kitchen, one with old fashioned doors and latches.
    She has a few more things to say yet, there'll be a few more shots of her yet, but future shots, when her husband gets to respond, can have a similar background or a Welsh dresser, pretty fussy with plates etc. I could have used a white vinyl photo background, totally unobtrusive, now I think about it.
    Yes I'll sort out the lighting and sound. Just as an aside, I see that my Sony Vegas HD v.10 software has a white balance tool, I haven't tried it yet, think I'd rather learn white balance on camera than in post.
    Re. the dead eyes. This is by no means an excuse, it isn't clever casting on my part, but she does have a pretty dead life, could her dead eyes be construed as reflecting her dead life, I wonder.
    Yes I realised that I hadn't composed her in the centre, there was a feature behind her that I wanted to keep out of the shot, so I moved the camera to the right to keep it out.
    Thanks again, I really didn't expect so many constructive comments.

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    If dead eyes suit the part that's great. Just bear it in mind when shooting someone where it doesn't fit (it's nearly always te thing I don't realise until I'm editing - by which time, of course, it's too late). The white balance in Vegas 10 is really jus a very quiclk fix and it works extremely well. You can belnd the corrected footage with the original. Just try it - it works. Obviously it's better to get it right in the shoot, but if you've already shot it ....

    As for the composition, it's good to show a background feature (albeit slightly out of focus). Move your subject so that she is centred on one of the "thirds" - that is split the screen into three equal horizontal and three equal vertical bands and aim to position the eye line on the upper horizontal lines and the bridge of teh noze on one fo the vertical lines. Look at TV, films etc. You'll see this is done all the time. If your subject is looking towards screen right they shoudl be placed on the left and vice versa. The space in front of them is called "leading space". it's a natural follow-on from shots where they are moving - you show the space into which they are walking/running etc.
    Tim

  7. #7

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    Thanks Tim, you're a star.
    BTW, and Anti might be interested in this, that background music that Anti mentioned was a radio playing in the next room. Duh, didn't think to switch it off.
    Have figured how to use white balance on my cam, not the major challenge I was expecting, just three simple operations.
    I'll reshoot it minus the radio playing, it's only three scenes, this one and two others.
    I could zoom in on the woman's face in Vegas and crop everything else out. Too late now as I'll be reshooting it, just a thought.

  8. #8

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    What you have shot doesn't say anything about where it is. ie if it's supposed to be a kitchen, where are the kitchen things which tell us it is a kitchen. Where are the pots and pans or sink or oven etc. This is what I would consider a starting point when setting the room. Look around the room for a better shot. Don't think you have to use tables and chairs as they are. You may find a better shot if you move them around. Don't just think about one shot when setting the scene. You should have long shot, mid shot, close up in mind as well.

    When you are lighting a scene. Look at it with your eyes then look at it through the camera, see how different it looks. Now adjust your lighting and camera so it looks the same. The day they make a camera with an iris as good as the human eye is the day I'll buy that camera at any price.

    Change the lighting so you don't get such a big shadow across the face. You may be able to do this with a reflector of some sort but I would think you might need another light source. I think in this case the second light or fill light should be placed more forward and lower so the face and eyes catch the light in a more naturalistic way. A third light or back light, as Tim mentioned, would help to bring the lady out of the background giving your shot more depth. Have a look at YouTube for "3 point lighting" to get an idea of the basics.

    The sound is not bad but you said you had the mic 3 feet away, why so far away, with a shot like you have you could have got it much closer and reduced a lot of the room noise.

    So once you've spent hours setting that up. Take a look at what your actor is wearing. In this case she seems to be wearing the same colour as the back ground, which is another reason the shoot looks flat. I would have got her to wear a darker top.

    Now everything looks and sounds right, all you have to do now is get a good performance from your actors.

    Good look.

  9. #9

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    Hi Midnight, thanks for responding.
    Great advice, can't believe you people are so helpful.
    About the scene, I don't know why I said it was a kitchen, in fact it's a dining room next to the kitchen. A bit old fashioned, old fashioned doors and Welsh dresser. Can't have the Welsh dresser as a background due to reflections maybe. So really the doors are my only option.
    It will get worse, she has to talk on the 'phone, a wall phone on a wall which is only about a foot wide, then it's doors each side. Could I post a pic of it or a short clip, get an opinion on how to set it up, maybe I should move the 'phone?
    I'm aware of the long shot medium shot and intro shot, but only as a technique for outdoor shooting, didn't think it applied to indoor shots. Live and learn.
    I do have a couple of other lights I could use, they are halogen work lights, I could rig something up. Think they'll be too powerful for fill in, have a 150 watt halogen I could use.
    If I'm gonna take film making seriously, and I think I'm ready to do, I should buy a couple more lights. I should have bought a used three light kit I saw advertised, 1x 800 watt redhead and 2x2kw blonde lights. My reasoning was, the blondes were too powerful for my needs.
    How about if I panned around the room and posted a clip here? Would that be a problem?
    Mm. Rather than use up your web server space I'll post maybe post the revised version of this scene.
    Or, use another room.
    This is a big Victorian house, I don't use the top floor, I could convert part of it into a set. Seriously, I've thought of doing that.

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    So much to consider isn't there? For a change I left something for Midnight to say - and he's come up with some stonking stuff! Far better than my feeble attempts.
    Do what you like with YouTube space. No problem at all with you uploading as much as you like.
    To be honest, panning around the room won't tell anyone here half of what a visit would do - which probably isn't going to happen. This isn't film, it's digital video. You can afford to do a few trial takes in different positions and compare the results. Sure, it takes time, but not a great deal and you don't have to have the actual actors involved - anyone will do.

    The one thing I would suggest is don't get too bogged down in it. There may be many areas in which it can be improved, but if you keep just trying this, trying that you never get to see what you've made in a finished form. And your next one will be better anyway!
    Tim

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