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Thread: Documentary shown at the shnit filmfestival in Germany October 2011

  1. #1

    Default Documentary shown at the shnit filmfestival in Germany October 2011



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  2. #2

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    The documentary is ok in that it has all the right elements but for the subject matter it is dealing with it seems very dry and lifeless, which I'm sure is the opposite of what was intended. I would have expected something that reflected the energy of the music.

    Sorry if this seems negative.

  3. #3

    Default Learn from negative reviews

    Dear Midnight Blue,

    Quote Originally Posted by Midnight Blue View Post
    The documentary is ok in that it has all the right elements but for the subject matter it is dealing with it seems very dry and lifeless, which I'm sure is the opposite of what was intended. I would have expected something that reflected the energy of the music.
    The film festival team invited me seems to have an opposite opinion. Most viewers including Maracatu musicians like this documentary or if not they don't tell me. This was my first documentary I have ever made and of course it's not perfect. I'm not a film maker by profession. I was highly motivated by the invitation of the film festival but of course I have also to learn from negative reviews in order to improve my story telling/editing. In this context: Can you please specify you review so that I can better understand what "very dry and lifeless" means?

    Many thanks in advance

    Best regards
    Ebel
    For other readers: If you are also the same opinion as Midnight Blue please write you review.

  4. #4

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    It's great that the people you made it for like it. It is a good video in that technically it has some nice visuals, well recorded sound etc especially as it was your first so very well done for that. The reason I say it comes across as dry is that it has been made in a very matter of fact way, which would be perfect for some documentaries like business corporate type of stuff BUT I feel this could have made with a bit more life in it. For example I only remember seeing one person smile throughout the whole thing @5:05. There were some others like the children @6mins BUT I don't take away this as a lasting memory. There is some energy from the drum instructor at the beginning but that seems to dissipate very quickly.

    I there had been live sound from the out door carnival shots you may have captured some of the atmosphere better but the interviewees talking over these shots sucked the life out of them
    for me. This is the sort of thing I mean. Perhaps having to read the subtitles had a bearing as well but there isn't anything you can do about that.

  5. #5

    Post The next will be better

    Dear Midnight Blue,

    many thanks for your comprehensive review. Yes, you are right: Perhaps to many scenes in close focusing and to less faces. My idea was to explain the roots and the soul of the music, focusing on the music and not to much on the people. One problem with the original music from the places outside was the quality and thediscontinuity in background sound. Yes, there is this great scene at the beginning of the documentary, but these are pieces of luck if you capture it in the right moment.

    And I promise: The next documentary will be better . I learned already a lot from the first and many conversations at the shnit film festival.

    Many thanks again
    Best regards
    Ebel

  6. #6
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    I have to agree with Midnight. It is dry and lacking in emotion.

    Now, sit down, brace yourself... this isn't personal!

    The people say the words but we don't feel them. For example the woman who says "drumming is energy" and then pontificates about energy, sounds barely awake! When we see her, she looks even more boring, poorly lit, placed right in the centre of the picture and framed loosely. The background is very untidy and "Oh so 5D". A phrase has started doing the rounds. "That is so 5D". It means that the images have little depth of field but also no depth. The images in your doc are, unfortunately, very 5D.
    You are talking about a vibrant, energetic rhythm based LOUD music and you have middle aged people sitting at a desk talking about it like teachers. Boring.
    In the street scenes there were a lot of back, backs of heads and rear views. Most of it was out of focus (5D) which means that the viewer has to search the frame to find the element which is sharp, by which time the image has been cut. There is a lot of "hunting" for focus by the cameraman who doesn't manage to get it sharp as much as he should. In fact nearly every shot, especially in the indoor sequence with the German Karnival band preparing, is unsharp or mis-focussed most of the time.

    The recoding of the drums is awful. Often distorted and lacking clarity. The audio recording for the interviews starting at 5.45 is terrible. Not helped by the awful lighting and messy background.

    It could be interesting and informative but it doesn't quite do it, I'm sorry.
    Last edited by Rembrandt Rob; 10-26-2011 at 04:52 PM.

  7. #7

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    Dear Rembrant Rob,

    upps, you are very harsh to someone publishing the first documentary. But that's OK because I want to learn (but not to be frustrated).
    Quote Originally Posted by Rembrandt Rob View Post
    The people say the words but we don't feel them.
    Perhaps you read subtitles and don't hear persons talking in your language?
    Quote Originally Posted by Rembrandt Rob View Post
    For example the woman who says "drumming is energy" and then pontificates about energy, sounds barely awake! When we see her, she looks even more boring, poorly lit, placed right in the centre of the picture and framed loosely.
    Please be fair and accept that not all people are extroverted as you always want for a documentary. These are real person which have the grit to give a statement which will be a part of a documentary. A documentary is not a motion picture with actors. They are real persons! Telling real stories and feelings. And if this woman says "drumming is energy" I believe her. More than any any extroverted person because SHE is real.
    Quote Originally Posted by Rembrandt Rob View Post
    The background is very untidy and "Oh so 5D". A phrase has started doing the rounds. "That is so 5D". It means that the images have little depth of field but also no depth. The images in your doc are, unfortunately, very 5D.
    OK, you don't like it. I like it. But that's perhaps a question of preference. But, yes an no you are right: It's not an 5D but "Oh so 5D".
    Quote Originally Posted by Rembrandt Rob View Post
    You are talking about a vibrant, energetic rhythm based LOUD music and you have middle aged people sitting at a desk talking about it like teachers. Boring.
    Why boring when you learn something? You didn't like your teachers at school?
    Quote Originally Posted by Rembrandt Rob View Post
    In the street scenes there were a lot of back, backs of heads and rear views. Most of it was out of focus (5D) which means that the viewer has to search the frame to find the element which is sharp, by which time the image has been cut. There is a lot of "hunting" for focus by the cameraman who doesn't manage to get it sharp as much as he should
    In fact nearly every shot, especially in the indoor sequence with the German Karnival band preparing, is unsharp or mis-focussed most of the time.
    Boring is to have always the focus! Old school is to have always ths focus. New is something different!
    Quote Originally Posted by Rembrandt Rob View Post
    The recoding of the drums is awful. Often distorted and lacking clarity. The audio recording for the interviews starting at 5.45 is terrible. Not helped by the awful lighting and messy background.
    By the way this was an one-man-project. Nobody is perfect.

    Thanks again for your comments. I'm on a way to get along with with criticism. But please respect that I want to defend my documentary.
    Best regards
    Christian
    Last edited by ebel; 10-27-2011 at 12:01 AM.

  8. #8

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    Help!!!!
    Is there someone out in this dark world of reviewers likes this documentary? Otherwise I'm a little bit disturbing.

    Best regards
    Christian
    Last edited by ebel; 10-27-2011 at 01:11 AM.

  9. #9
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    ebel,

    Don't feel down about it!

    When people take the trouble on this forum to write about what they think can be improved in your documentary, it is because they can see that you have the ability to improve and they hope you will take on board what they have said. If Midnight and Rob had thought your documentary had no merit at all, belive me, they would not have spent time writing out their criticism.

    Getting a review here itself is an achievement and shows you have skills and/or potential. The rubbish simply gets ignored.

    It is also far easier to be detailed about the things which didn't work than it is about the things which did work. Midnight started off by sayng that the documentary had all the right elements. You may think "of course" and ignore this comment, but it is very easy when making a documentary to have so much material that you can't see the wood for the trees and end up putting in irrelevant stuff and missing out essential stuff. So Midnight's comment is significant praise.

    Rob has given you loads of advice which, as you develop as a cameraman, should become second nature. He's not saying you're bad, but these are areas you need to develop as you make your second, third,... fiftieth documentary. He's giving you targets to aim for. Everything he criticises is common in everyone's work as they start out. I'm sure you don't expect your first documentary to be as good as someone with twenty years experience- an neither do we. Rob has simply pointed out (some of) the differences that thatose twenty years can make.

    I agree entirely with Midnight and Rob about the lifelessness and Rob's exposition about the contrast between the words the people are speaking and the manner in which they deliver them is spot on. I'm guessing they wrote their own lines - in which case they must have felt the energy and passion when they wrote them. if they can write it, they can speak it with the same passion. It's one of your jobs as a director to get that passion across. I suspect you've concentrated hard on getting a good, clean recording of them (and credit to you for that) but in the process somehow lost the messsage of what they are saying. If they were incapable of breathing life into their words whlst sitting, I'd have got them to stand up, maybe take them outside (sometimes recording indoors makes you speak more quietly).

    I also think more of the "live" sound should be used. Yes, you will have different sound qualities, but to my mind this is a good thing, as the same sound of the same drums throughout becomes rather tedious.

    The only new comment I could add was that the narration and the images/sound seemed rather disjointed for much of the film. We had a lot of talk about the history/background but this was all over images of the band practicing/performing. It would have been good to have some images which actually illustrated what was being said. This is always a tricky problem with history in documentaries because archive material might be scarce or unavailable to the maker, but it does need to be addressed.

    But, for a first amateur documentary, I thought this was very well made. you should be proud of it and use the lessons learned as stepping stones towards greater things.
    Tim

  10. #10

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    Dear Tim,

    many thanks for your diplomatic words. I want thank also Rembrandt and Rob that they take their time to comment my documentary. I will try to learn from all your comments and tips. I am planning already a new project which I will post here if I have finished it. Perhaps I can avoid in this next project some of my last mistakes. Hopefully I can count on you all as a reviewer.

    I'm sorry if acted like a prima donna.

    Best regards and many thanks again for the trouble
    Ebel

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