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All my footage looks like cheap video...
  • I created a concept video for a larger project we are starting next month. GH2, hacked, inexperienced camera op. Basically, there were 3 scenes I wanted to see if we could shoot. It looks okay for the most part, but there is something missing.

    I am looking to light, frame, and create more cinematic footage. What do you guys see that could be changed or modified for next time?

  • 42 Replies sorted by
  • you are keying from camera side - classic rookie mistake.

  • @shian So what would you do about outdoors? I bought some ND filters and reflectors. Going to try to control lighting as much as possible. What would you suggest?

  • To me, in that video most noticeable is that shots last for long time. More shots, tighter and faster editing especially in action scenes, more close-ups.

    Getting music and cutting rhythm closer together (not cutting on beat, just similar tempo) helps to smooth things out when dialogue or action are not intense enough to create their own rhythm for cutting.

    Another thing is camera movement, these days in movies camera tends to be in some kind of motion very often, unless scene is intentionally static. So more camera movement will help, what kind of resources you have for that?

  • One thing I see is that your white balance is drifting (especially in the choking shots). the GH2 does not lock white balance even when shooting unlike Canon, you should always use a WB card and lock with a custom white balance.

  • Or shoot with one of the presets.

  • Doesn't really look like anything is graded either. IMO, for a project like this you should be going for a look, whatever that is. Find something that fits the tone and try to get the footage leaning a little that way. You probably won't be able to push it too far because of the lighting but you can do something with it. Bleach by pass it, raise the blacks, crush the shit out of em. Something that give it a look. I'm not suggesting those, just giving examples.

    As for outdoors, if you can't do anything like throwing up a silk or something like that, you could always negative fill camera side with heavy black cloth or black foam core. That might help a little to unflatten people faces.

  • @neokoo we definitely need to do a better job getting in and out with the shots. The dialogue scene should have been more interactive with talking from both characters as well as reaction shots from the girl in the background.

  • @silvertonesx24 I noticed the roaming white balance after the fact. I am currently experimenting with using the Kelvin scale for basic white balance and correcting any aberrations in post.

  • @vicharris should I be going for one constant theme throughout the entire movie? I have noticed on Burn Notice and a few other television shows that whenever they change environments, like going from Miami to Cuba, the color base changes. Miami is more vibrant than Cuba which is more of a warmer Red.

  • for camera movement we just acquired a handheld rig. we have a dolly system. we have a jib. and we may be acquiring a slider

  • It's all still graded the same. Of course you change up the color when you want to invoke a certain emotion or feeling, to put it simply but every scene and every trailer youhave like a different movie. It seems like you've generated a lot of interest in your project and I suggest you find a look you want for it and use that as your base look. Burn Notice is probably not the best example :)

  • @Mckinise: Where is your GH2 made?

  • @Mckinise I'm thinking two main things:

    That you need to control the background more. Not in terms of the camera but in terms of the physical (practical props). For example there's too many items in the kitchen. If the female character is cooking one pot steaming on the stove does it, clear out all the rest of the stuff.

    That you need to rework the dialog, the investigative character makes some hammy expositions, you can switch those lines to the other characters. The cutting between lines needs to be much better.

    Anyway looks like a lot of work, the more you do it the better you get. The free Davinci would be good for some grading and look at VX motion for some cool titling!

  • @andyharris do you mean the guy with the southern accent? I am thinking the dialog would have flowed a bit better with the cuts and inserts we attempted to record. Had a few card writing errors before we switched cards. We only had one take that made it through for Andy (Southern Guy). We ended up using a scratch clip for his reaction shot.

  • @neokoo What type of close up are you thinking for the chase sequence?

  • A little attention to lighting and grading will go a long way. In the very first shot, for example, we see some really unpleasant shadows. The door casts a somewhat distracting shadow on the wall as it opens. It's not a particularly crisp shadow, it just sort of looks like a random lamp was pointed right at the center of the shot. Which is basically what I assume it was. That's how we all start out lighting shots. Get enough light on the subject that you can see what's happening. You've certainly done that, but now you can start thinking about the next step. What do you want it to look like? For that first shot, I think there are basically two ways to go. One is bright even lighting so that it looks like a happy cheerful house, so the attack is a surprise. Or, a high contrast, moody setup so that you establish immediately that this is a creepy/scary situation.

    So, assuming the cheerful route... Don't shine a light directly on the scene. If you are lighting it with something like a 500 W home depot work light (much under appreciated, and not at all expensive), I would start by pointing the work lights directly away from the scene. Point them at the opposite wall, using it as a giant reflector, you will get a smooth wash of light this way, and smewhat minimise shadows. Adjust and fiddle as needed, depending on the geography of the scene, and the available light kit it's hard to be very specific. The table on the right also needs to get cleaned up. I mean, it's less cluttered than the table in my apartment, but you aren't shooting a real table in your house. You are shooting an abstract cinematic concept of a table, and it doesn't need to be cluttered to express being a table. If you can get something like a paper lantern light above the table as a practical light casting a warm slightly redding light, that will help add some color and warmth, and some shading on the subject's face so he doesn't look completely flat from the flat wash of lighting coming from the far wall. When it comes time to grade, push in a bit of contrast, and keep it saturated. Take advantage of that warm lantern. You'll need to play in the grade a bit to hit what you want. Also, don't be hand held for the shot. Have some sort of gentle movement, but this is a perfect cheerful, cinematic shot. Moving on a dolly is best. Moving on a wheeled office chair may be close enough. Panning on a tripod works, too. Just has to be smooth. If you are handheld, see if your editor has a motion stabiliser mode in it to smooth out the bumps.

    Assuming that you want a more moody thriller look, you want the shadows. But, you probably want them crisper than they are in this scene. You also want some sort of motivation for them. So, start by adding a practical lamp in the lower left of the frame. Dim it down almost all the way, so you can tell it is on, but it isn't actually your main light source. Then, use your actual lighting from off camera behind the practical. Now I can see where the shadows are coming from (Or think I can. Same difference in a movie) so they aren't confusing to the eye. A big 500 W worklight has a big reflector area in it which softens the shadows somewhat. Maybe try black light absorbing foil or something over the reflector. (Again, assuming the work lights because they are common. Not that you specifically have to use them. Just guessing about cheap kit. Be creative with what you have handy.) Now the light is coming from a small area instead of the big reflector. You lose some light, but that is the price of controlling it. This is a scary, imperfect world from the first shot, so don't worry about the table. Just let it get darker than it is. If you want shadows, revel in the shadows. Use the light to point out "look exactly here" and let the other stuff be less important in the frame. Move the camera more to the right so you aren't right parallel with the light. If the light is coming almost parallel to the wall, you probably want the camera at a 45 degree angle or so. The range of 45-90 degrees between camera and key light is basically where this kind of setup works. You need to be able to see the dark side of what is being lit. In the grade, you probably want a lot of contrast. Keep things crisp. But, no need to crank up the saturation here. Handheld is fine. The camera man was so nervous about being in this creepy place that he didn't set up a tripod. He's ready to run.

    In the next scene, it's the poster frame on Youtube. "We called the law..." You have the talent sitting in the shade, but you can see the sunny background. Your camera doesn't have infinite dynamic range. So, either move the talent to the same lighting as the background by getting them out from under the shade. Or, dim down the background. As it is, the background looks very blown out, which is a dead giveaway for the low dynamic range of video. You will need to work within the limitations of the equipment you are using. You could set up a net behind your actors in these shots, which would reduce the brightness of the backdrop. But, when you get to a wide shot, the shaded area will still be much darker. You want to maintain consistent appearance for thing between shots as much as possible. You could expose so that the guys are really dark in the close ups, but that would probably be weird. This kind of shade + sunshine of sort of a Kobayashi Maru of lighting setups.

    Anyhow, that's my thoughts after looking at it quickly. Hopefully this is helpful for your next project.

  • @forkazoo That is a lot to process, but I think I am understanding where you are going. I need to put a lot more thought into how I want to present the scene. Studying the limitations of my camera to hide its flaws while also accenting its strengths in a way that helps tell the story.

  • @Mckinise

    Well, the "looking around on wood pile" moment would be an easy spot to show actor's face, since movement stops but visual pace needs to continue. Then, when one of characters stumbles, closeup of his exhausted expression. Things like that.

    Generally, since it is a chase, I'd try to run with characters and film from the front, behind and side. Dolly for side shots, stabilized rig or handheld for side, front and back shots, moderate wide angle lens (12 to 20 mm in m4/3), fixed focus, enough DOF to keep actors somewhat sharp in medium to close shot sizes.

    When shooting from the side on a dolly, maybe longer focal lengths too, to increase the effect of sidewards movement and make characters and background appear closer together. This could also be somewhat faked by panning, with long enough focal length and characters running on a circular path around the camera. Sounds a bit silly and in worst case could end up looking that way too, but worth a try if you want a close shot of actor running between motion-blurred trees.

    For wide shots that show more of landscape, outward or inward dolly moves centered on actors could work. For example, outward movement at the wood pile, and slowing down inward movement as actor arrives to where the two girls are.

    BTW, have you tried to borrow a "formula" from similar sequences in movies you like? How many shots, what kind of shots, order of shot sizes, the cutting rhythm and so on. It could make things easier.

  • @producer Not sure where it was made. US version. In the process of getting a new camera. Bought a G6 but it has stuck pixels; on its way back to the retailer.

  • @Mckinise: Just take a look at the bottom of your GH2, there is a metalic label where is written.

  • @Mckinise

    C O M P O S I T I O N

    your actors, your light, the script may be bad, but when you understand how to compose, to bring out the characteristic feeling of that moment, things change pretty good. By understanding, texture, weight of color, form, contrast, arrangement, depth, color psychology, rule of thirds, perspective, movement, etc... all in the moment every moment, it only sharpens your composition over time.

    From what i see, your don't understand well how to compose. Every angle even 5 pixels diference affect composition.

    EDITION is another story.

  • @endotoxic I'm studying every day to get better and I appreciate everyone that has given me pointers.

    What would you suggest I do to better understand scene composition?

  • enroll in art school... or take my class

  • You teach a class? Awesome.

    Question for everyone here. Is there ever a point where you just decide to shirk the conventional and just do things your way; the way you want?

  • Is there ever a point where you just decide to shirk the conventional and just do things your way; the way you want?

    Unless you're a genius, this is usually referred to as "incompetence".