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Old 06-14-2017, 03:56 PM   #1
StanNJ1
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3 Basic Newbie Video Questions

Greetings. I am an experienced photographer with very little knowledge of making videos. I'm not a total novice but I guarantee nothing that I've already done is going to earn any awards.

Here is an example of my skill level



Equipment: Any videos that I've created in the past have been too static in my opinion so I just purchased a Ronin M gimbal. My primary camera is a Canon 1DX MKii DSLR. I also just picked up three IKAN bicolor video light panels.

1) Focus- The first question I have is about focus. My camera does this well but I'm not sure if I would be better off using fixed manual focus. In example, if I'm following someone who is walking or moving around should I try autofocus or should I manually focus and then try to remain approximately the same distance away from them? My first video will likely be an interview where I might do some panning shots using the gimbal. I could use tracking focus but while experimenting with this there were times when the focus would hunt which is very distracting.

2) Resolution- I'm likely not going to be shooting in 4K and certainly don't plan on posting anything in 4K. My tests have all been done in 1080. Is this an unwise practice?

3) Frame Rate- I like the smoothness of 60 fps but wow does it produce some large files (can't imagine 4k 60) If I intend on posting the final results in 24 fps should I also shoot at that rate or should I shoot at 60 and then process down to 24?

I have many more questions but don't want to inundate you with a long novel.
Thanks in advance,
Stan
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Old 06-14-2017, 04:44 PM   #2
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As I said in my PM great beginner film! And the...

Spoiler: heart shape came as a surprise so kudos for being able to pull that off with such great buildup...

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Old 06-14-2017, 05:41 PM   #3
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As I said in my PM great beginner film!
Thank you
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Old 06-14-2017, 06:05 PM   #4
directorik
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StanNJ1 View Post
1) Focus- The first question I have is about focus. My camera does this well but I'm not sure if I would be better off using fixed manual focus. In example, if I'm following someone who is walking or moving around should I try autofocus or should I manually focus and then try to remain approximately the same distance away from them? My first video will likely be an interview where I might do some panning shots using the gimbal. I could use tracking focus but while experimenting with this there were times when the focus would hunt which is very distracting.
I will assume that you will not be limiting yourself to just one video,
so now is the time to experiment and see what works best for you.
I never rely on auto focus. Never. If I'm following someone who is
walking or moving around I "pull" focus as I shoot. Try it both ways.
You have already discovered that AF needs to hunt for what to focus
on. and (as you have already seen) that can be distracting. But sometimes
it's usefull
Quote:
Originally Posted by StanNJ1 View Post
2) Resolution- I'm likely not going to be shooting in 4K and certainly don't plan on posting anything in 4K. My tests have all been done in 1080. Is this an unwise practice?
At this stage nothing is unwise. I do not shoot 4k if my end product won't
be 4k. Other here differ. No one has the answer that will suit you in the
future.
Quote:
Originally Posted by StanNJ1 View Post
3) Frame Rate- I like the smoothness of 60 fps but wow does it produce some large files (can't imagine 4k 60) If I intend on posting the final results in 24 fps should I also shoot at that rate or should I shoot at 60 and then process down to 24?
I know you're seeing a pattern here. This depends. At this stage in your
video education you should try everything. See how it looks to you, get
the feel of it, edit different frame rates and resolutions. My personal method
is to shoot the frame rate I will show it in. Also, I'm very "old school" and
much prefer the look of 24fps...

I know from being around this forum for a while there are some people
who have very specific suggestions of what is the best way, or their way
or the "industry" way - I'm not one of those. I was an experimenter when
I was starting and I still am. I try different things because I need to see
what happens rather then be told or read about what happens. So my
advice is always to get out there and play around with the equipment.
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Old 06-14-2017, 06:23 PM   #5
StanNJ1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by directorik View Post
I will assume that you will not be limiting yourself to just one video,
so now is the time to experiment and see what works best for you.
I never rely on auto focus. Never. If I'm following someone who is
walking or moving around I "pull" focus as I shoot. Try it both ways.
You have already discovered that AF needs to hunt for what to focus
on. and (as you have already seen) that can be distracting. But sometimes
it's usefull

At this stage nothing is unwise. I do not shoot 4k if my end product won't
be 4k. Other here differ. No one has the answer that will suit you in the
future.

I know you're seeing a pattern here. This depends. At this stage in your
video education you should try everything. See how it looks to you, get
the feel of it, edit different frame rates and resolutions. My personal method
is to shoot the frame rate I will show it in. Also, I'm very "old school" and
much prefer the look of 24fps...

I know from being around this forum for a while there are some people
who have very specific suggestions of what is the best way, or their way
or the "industry" way - I'm not one of those. I was an experimenter when
I was starting and I still am. I try different things because I need to see
what happens rather then be told or read about what happens. So my
advice is always to get out there and play around with the equipment.
This is helpful, thank you. I will attempt learn how to "pull" focus. Is this possible if I'm shooting by myself while holding a Ronin Gimbal?

Another question.....if I were to ask you to list the top three mistakes that beginners make what would they be?
Thanks!
Stan
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Old 06-14-2017, 06:34 PM   #6
directorik
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One guess what I'm going to say...

Spoiler: Give it a try. You might find you can do it with some practice. You
might find it's too difficult and look for other solutions.


They don't get out there and shot and shoot and shoot.

They overthink the technical.

They don't spend enough time on lighting and sound. Just because the
camera gets an image doesn't mean it's well lit, and just because you
use a mic doesn't mean it will sound good.
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Old 06-14-2017, 06:51 PM   #7
StanNJ1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by directorik View Post
One guess what I'm going to say...

Spoiler: Give it a try. You might find you can do it with some practice. You
might find it's too difficult and look for other solutions.


They don't get out there and shot and shoot and shoot.

They overthink the technical.

They don't spend enough time on lighting and sound. Just because the
camera gets an image doesn't mean it's well lit, and just because you
use a mic doesn't mean it will sound good.
Thank you I appreciate it.
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Old 06-14-2017, 06:58 PM   #8
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1. Procrastination
2. Over-thinking
3. Afraid to fail/make mistakes

Basically what he said...

When you start spending money and hiring crew, there's a different type of top 3, but at your level, just shoot!!!
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Old 06-14-2017, 06:59 PM   #9
StanNJ1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by indietalk View Post
1. Procrastination
2. Over-thinking
3. Afraid to fail/make mistakes

Basically what he said...

When you start spending money and hiring crew, there's a different type of top 3, but at your level, just shoot!!!
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Old 07-14-2017, 11:42 AM   #10
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Stan: I'm going to be Frank. You can still be Stan (yep, terrible joke, but I wanted to at least sound a little less harsh. I suspect I'll come off that way anyway ).

Firstly, your camera is fine. Honestly. Shoot in 4K or 1080. Shoot in 720 or SD if you want. You really don't need to worry about this right now. A 5 year old point and shoot would be fine. However, in answer to your first question, in the long run it is better to start with manual focus, and learn to control focus. Relying on autofocus now means you miss out on what is an essential skill when it comes to film-making. Practice with a camera makes perfect.

What you do need to concern yourself with is shots and filming. Here's some feedback, just touching the basics. For the sake of time, I'll restrict it to the first 33 seconds of the film:

First scene

1. A minor point, but starting with a character in bed is an extreme cliché. It can work, however, but for most beginners' films, it just shows a lack of creativity.
2. At any rate, it's also unnecessary. We hear the alarm go off, and see him wake up anyway. There's actually no reason to show him in bed at all.
3. The letter has already been half read, so the insert is frivalous because it slows the pace too much. If a character has just woken up like that slowing things to read doesn't make for interesting story telling.
4. Focus shifting. The focus from the milk to the clock doesn't make sense. Why would we be focussing on milk to begin with? The Fintstone's thing? If the whole bedside table was in focus with a lower point of view, then it might work better, but frankly, I'd cut out everything else apart from the clock.
5. It's daylight with the blinds open, with a lamp on. This is a badly designed scene. If you need lighting like this, have a brighter light off camera to the left. If the lamp is on, don't have the blinds open. We can always try to justify things, but audiences can detect bad scenes.
6. The pacing is bad, especially the way it's edited. Editing as I know to my cost is far more intuitive than technical (which is why I don't do much of it, I suck). But learning some basics goes a long way. One of the most important basics is overlapping.
7. Obviously you're not working with a professional actor, but that guy isn't waking up, and can't act. In that case I'd suggest working around limitations.
8. Continuity error. He pickes up the note with two hands, the left being the last to grasp the sheet, but the insert shows only one hand.
9. Lack of action. Still actors don't make a film come to life and it seems fake. Even an untrained actor can rub their eyes or yawn or pretend that it's first thing in the morning. Any sort of movement helps.
10. One final point on pacing: waking up is a transition from restful to energetic - "slow" to "fast". This isn't to suggest that we all spring out of bed (I definitely don't). But there is a transition that can be expressed artistically.
11. Character reveals go a long way, and are a good thing to learn.


So with that in mind, how could this be redone?

As reluctant as I am to start with "just waking up" scenes, here is what I would do:

1. Start with an establishing shot. It doesn't matter if it's the sun coming through the shutters, or the leaves on the lawn with some birdsong so we know it's morning. But it is a habit which should be learned early, and one many aspiring film-makers overlook. Try and maintain the sound with these until the alarm sounds.

2. Use pacing. A long establishing shot or like the above, followed by a long shot of the clock. You could slowly rack focus to it before it goes off. Forget the milk and other props.

3. Alarm sudenly starts, and after a pause we see a lazy arm hit the snooze button. A very slow and short pan to the clock (very slight) might make the shot more interesting.

4. Character sits up in a static shot (slghtly above character) to end with an over the shoulder and bring the note to camera. Focus to note. This should be slightly shorter than the previous shots.

5. He groans and falls back down on the bed in the same static shot. Perhaps a short pan to the window.

6. Reveal of character in next scene.

7. ALWAYS record a shot longer than you need to for editing. Start 3-10 seconds early, and end by the same amount.
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Old 07-14-2017, 12:43 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by indietalk View Post
1. Procrastination
2. Over-thinking
3. Afraid to fail/make mistakes

Basically what he said...

When you start spending money and hiring crew, there's a different type of top 3, but at your level, just shoot!!!
This top 3 can be tackled with a lean startup method approach: fail fast, learn faster.

By making several really short videos to experiment and try things you can discover and learn a lot more than by working on a script for a year, shoot for months and then choke on the edit.
(We have seen this happen several times.)

Make short things you can shoot in 1 or 2 days. And you learn fast :-)
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Old 07-14-2017, 07:06 PM   #12
StanNJ1
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Stan: I'm going to be Frank. You can still be Stan
Thanks very much! (whatever your name is)
For starters, that guy who can't act is me I was the writer, director, actor, camera operator, drone pilot, and editor so unfortunately there's no one else to blame for my pretty lame video.

I wasn't necessarily asking for a critique on this particular video but your insight will help me with future projects and I appreciate that.
Thanks again for taking the time.

Stan
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Old 07-14-2017, 07:07 PM   #13
StanNJ1
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This top 3 can be tackled with a lean startup method approach: fail fast, learn faster.

By making several really short videos to experiment and try things you can discover and learn a lot more than by working on a script for a year, shoot for months and then choke on the edit.
(We have seen this happen several times.)

Make short things you can shoot in 1 or 2 days. And you learn fast :-)
This is great advice, Thank you!
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Old 07-16-2017, 03:26 AM   #14
joelhall
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Thanks very much! (whatever your name is)
For starters, that guy who can't act is me I was the writer, director, actor, camera operator, drone pilot, and editor so unfortunately there's no one else to blame for my pretty lame video.

I wasn't necessarily asking for a critique on this particular video but your insight will help me with future projects and I appreciate that.
Thanks again for taking the time.

Stan
None of us really want critiques, to be fair
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Old 07-17-2017, 04:36 AM   #15
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There's been a lot of conversation in this thread, so I should make it clear that my comments are related to the original post.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with static shots. In my opinion, far too many beginner filmmakers go overboard with camera movement. They move the camera just to move the camera, without any real motivation. That's like dropping the f-bomb every single sentence. It loses its meaning, so that when you really need to shake things up, you can't. Save camera movement for when you need it, for those moments when it furthers the story. Same logic applies for static shots. Know when and why you're using them.

No, don't ever use auto-focus. It sometimes takes some effort, but you need to control that. It'd be a shame to lose a good performance from your cast because the camera momentarily went out of focus. Completely ruins the shot, reminds the audience that they're watching a movie. If the shot is particularly difficult to keep in focus, because of movement and what not, how about you just go for a really wide depth of field?

Frame-rate and resolution? I'd say you should shoot it in the format that you plan to post it in. The only time I ever use a frame-rate faster than 1/24 is when I plan on using slo-mo.

I like your stuff. Keep it up!
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