What baffled you when you began filming?

A warm welcome to all. Here we talk about films, which people put onto YouTube or Vimeo and embed here. The idea is to allow useful, friendly discussion.
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Dave Watterson
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What baffled you when you began filming?

Post by Dave Watterson »

There's a good idea kicking around ... a section of this forum designed to help complete beginners.

I know we all help each other anyway, regardless of whether the problem is a simple or complex one ... we are all aware of our weaknesses in one area or another ... but for the first months of having a camcorder and starting to make "real" movies, people often feel reluctant to ask questions.

How can we best help?

Can you give me some ideas for introductory topics / ideas / areas we could cover?

Obviously once it is up-and-running such a section of the forum will shape itself round the points made by its users. but we could "seed it" a bit ...

What puzzled you most when you began? What are the most common questions you hear from beginners?

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Re: What baffled you when you began filming?

Post by billyfromConsett »

I started what I'd call film-making when I bought a DV500 edit card and Adobe Premiere 5.

The biggest challenge I had was how to use Premiere, and that's where Newcastle ACA were able to help. They organised a presentation with a computer connected to the projector - and it got me on my way. So I joined up.

Currently I'm trying to help a friend use Sony Vegas 9 to edit AVCHD - which I've never used before myself. So it's like being back at square one. If anyone's got tips for that - as its not like Premiere - I'm all ears.
tom hardwick
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Re: What baffled you when you began filming?

Post by tom hardwick »

Complete beginners? I'd start off with a basic camcorder course. Without decent footage to begin with there'll be no editing worth doing, no audience awake, nothing worth keeping.

So off the top of my head my 12 point plan would go like this.

1) Keep the camera as steady as possible. Use any support you can find, keep the stabiliser turned on, let the action happen within the frame.

2) Keep to wide-angle - the more telephoto, the more wobble

3) Keep the sun behind you or to your side to get the best exposures

4) Don't zoom or pan. Much better to walk forwards to get a closer shot or move further away to get it all in. Certainly ok to pan with moving subjects though

5) Get some closeups showing detail. Then get closer still. Closeups add impact through simplicity

6) Think variety as it's the spice of life. Shoot the same scene from a variety of angles, heights, positions. Get up early and film late in the day

7) The closer you get to the people you're filming, the better the audio will be. Remember your camcorder is an audio recorder, and you'll have to film complete sentences.

8 ) Shoot longer scenes than seem necessary at the time, as editing them shorter is very easy.

9) Use the side-screen rather than the viewfinder, it's less intimidating for your talent (performers)

10) People are much more interested in seeing people than buildings, gardens and Welsh countryside

11) When you stop filming, move to another position to avoid 'jump cuts'.

12) Edit ruthlessly. Remove all badly exposed, shaken, misfocused footage. Remember a short good film is far better than a longer, so-so one.

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Re: What baffled you when you began filming?

Post by Pqtrick »

An interesting thread! No many takers thus far, everyone must be sunning themselves on their private beach somewhere. So here’s my few centimes worth for starters.

I can’t remember actually asking questions as such when I first attempted my first documentary in super8. I just pitched in and did it.

But what I do remember is some good and constructive encouragement I had from a member of the local cine circle. This was many years before I actually joined and even considered myself a more serious moviemaker.

How do people make this transition, if that be the word from a snap happy video maker to a more considered film maker? I suppose the answer is that when they first start thinking about what they are doing.

I recently had a holiday and there were others on the tour for instance. Many just pressed the button and hoped for the best. Others with their mini-disc camcorders waved them about like magic wands. There is no law against it. Several others being bit inquisitive, seeing my camera on tripod, asking more searching questions.

I tried to simply say what you are about, in this case in the best French I can muster. You get nodding gestures of approval when you tell them that you cut all this down to about ten minutes. As everyone knows what ‘family’ movie can mean!

Then you get several people taking a picture or videoing from your very same vantage point. Then you have to say perhaps that I may only be looking through the viewfinder from here. Someone asked how they could edit video to take out the ‘bad bits’. So some interest begins to emerge.

I cannot say that what I was doing was all that special. But perhaps this is what it is all about, if I have any knowledge I am happy to pass it on without dwelling on too many hard and fast rules.

It would be good if those with the time and patience could introduce moviemaking by demonstration and say this is 'why we do it like this' - 'but the choice is theirs'. I am sure that there are many fledgling camcorder owners could be introduced to a more enjoyable and relaxed pastime.
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Re: What baffled you when you began filming?

Post by Chrisbitz »

Make lots of horrible rubbish films, and be proud of making loads of painful mistakes!!
Everyone's done it, and it really is ok to do it.

You have to make mistakes in order to learn from them!
I like to make films, this is- my Youtube account. What's yours?

"all of the above is nothing more than nonsensical ramblings, and definately should NOT be misconstrued as anyone's official policy"
ned c
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Re: What baffled you when you began filming?

Post by ned c »

1. Read the manual and try all the features, junk the extended digital zoom!. Yes I know reading the manual is usually the last resort but with menu driven cameras we have to know how to get around the features easily and quickly.
2. Shoot, shoot, shoot. Anything and everythng; remember movies are about movement and not just the movement of the camera.
3. Look at everything you shoot on a large screen, remember what method gave which results. Check focus and framing think how things could have been done differently.
4. Select a favorite piece of music and shoot assorted images to go with the music, edit in at least three different ways, eg lyrical, industrial, advertising!.
5. Watch movies, steal all the good ideas.
6. Practice recording sound conversations, now it's getting tougher.
7. Have fun!

My first ever film in glorious black and white standard 8 was of my brother-in-law running about an abandoned sand pit machinery, it was fun and rather surrealistic. We edited it to a wild tape of the stamping section of the Rite of Spring.

ned c
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Re: What baffled you when you began filming?

Post by ADBest »

The first post on this thread called for suggestions that would help beginners in the world of non-commercial video creation and editing.

May I suggest that the thread be anchored to the top of the list in the manner of the Forum Upgrades.

Only a very small percentage of the camcorder owning public are interested in making videos to club competition level. Most of them are interested in holidays and children growing up. They point, shoot and play back unedited footage through the TV, bore their viewers to death and then bury their masterpiece in a cupboard.

My own view is that from this great mass of the unwashed will rise the competition winners of the future, provided that there is a friendly path through the intervening stages. The first step to club membership is presently too daunting.

The beginners section of this Forum could be a vital link in the process.

The fundamentals they need to discus include:-

Some understanding of the range of recording formats – DVD, HDD, Solid State and MiniDV – their advantages and limitations.

Advice on camcorder purchase in price range bands (sub £200, £200 to £400, £400 to £600, £600 to £1000)

Advice on editing software in the sub £100 range including DVD creation.

Hopefully this would start the ball rolling.

Of course if no one looks at the Forum no progress will be made. Could I suggest that every IAC club secretary be requested to e-mail all members club with an Internet connection, drawing their attention to the existence of the Forum and most importantly providing a link to the Forum Home Page.

I will do it for our club.

Michael Slowe
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Re: What baffled you when you began filming?

Post by Michael Slowe »

Good question Dave but impossible to answer! Everyone is different, everyone is looking for a different result. When I started I was already interested in photography so understood all the implications of exposure, shutter speeds and how they affect depth of field etc. I just thought that moving pictures would be more of the same but more interesting to look at. I started with standard 8 film which, even with the wonderful Bolex camera, meant that 'pretty pictures' would never rival 35mm slides so I knew I had to do something extra. When I showed an early pictorial piece of my wife exploring Florence at my local cine club it was received quite well but on seeing the other films I immediately realised what could be done and this has driven me ever since.
Anyone who watches films and TV will know what to aim for and with modern equipment there is no reason why we can't do it almost as well. I don't think this can be taught, except for the basics such as Tom's list of do's and don't's. Even if camera owners don't want to enter competitions they should still aim to present watchable footage, nicely edited which won't bore the pants off their friends. There is so much computer software around now editing is easy and essential. Many of my friends, although not aspiring film makers, use simple programmes like iMovie (on every Apple Mac sold) to put decent stuff together. As Ned advised, shoot and shoot until you can easily see what works and what doesn't. Likewise with editing, it is obvious as you put it together what looks right and what doesn't. I think a club is the very best place to compare results and anybody wanting to improve their video should join one. If not a club there must be local art centres doing video and if not badger your local authority about it.

I've wandered rather with my ramblings but I hope some of it makes sense.
Peter Copestake
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Re: What baffled you when you began filming?

Post by Peter Copestake »

It wasn't bafflement, but sound was always difficult on film. No excuse now for losing the sound on the original.
People still find it difficult, apparently.
I think the rule should be to give priority to the voice. Other live sound or music can be at much lower volume and still be audible. Keep voice a bit toppy. This makes it more audible in poor accoustic conditions
Peter Copestake
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Re: What baffled you when you began filming?

Post by Snide »

Hi folks, i am completely new to filming apart from old camcorder rubbish. I have recently put my lifelong dream into action of making films (a documentary). Undecided for the most part of my life about what to film etc i have decided to just buy a kit and start getting on with it. Otherwise i just wont do it and heading for the age of 40 worries me that i may be running out of time.

I do have the luxury of having an idea on my lap and hope i'm in the right place to take advantage of what i can see so far as helpful advice. Happy to make a payment for the membership etc.

My new kit is Sony A1e. Already got a pc that i hope will work well with editing. I dont have any add on lighting or mics etc to my kit. like i said, completely new.

If i'm not in the right place i apologise, problem is i really want to make sure i'm not "alone" and have somewhere to go ;). Found you on google.
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Re: What baffled you when you began filming?

Post by Chrisbitz »

My advidce to you snide, is don't start with your dream film, as you'll learn a lot making it, but it won't be your best, and you wont want to remake it when you've learned all your lessons.

Make a few simple documentaries first, make lots of mistakes and learn from them, and THEN make your dream film!
I like to make films, this is- my Youtube account. What's yours?

"all of the above is nothing more than nonsensical ramblings, and definately should NOT be misconstrued as anyone's official policy"
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Re: What baffled you when you began filming?

Post by Snide »

yeah, im just happy shooting stuff for now, learning the software and soaking it all up inc mistakes of course, many no doubt.
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Re: What baffled you when you began filming?

Post by harryfielder »

Hiya Guys....new (old) boy here and I spent my life working on film and tv but the other side of the camera. I did get to work with some top guys....see siggy....

I will join in some chats on here if I can......

People call me ...

Aitch, (H)
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Re: What baffled you when you began filming?


Crucial when beginning film work, never expect greatness from your first 3 tapes!
If you have the benefit of learning on cine you'll come to video with a diciplin of tight filming, no un-nessecary filming, edit with the eye before the camera rolls, allow only what extra length per shot that you really need, don't correct my spelling, see you at the premiere. :D
Tony Grant
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Re: What baffled you when you began filming?

Post by Tony Grant »

Not really a reply but more of an add on the last paragraph brings us back to the subject

At last it’s done the “De Koffer” is finished, my first short fiction film is completed the actors think they should win Oscars, our ‘in house’ composer thinks the music is fantastic, well he would, he wrote it after all but most of all I am speaking to my wife again. The set was our sitting room, and we have been filming various scenes over an eight month period so the problems of continuity, I am sure you filmers can imagine. “Don’t move that darling”, “The cleaner has broken THAT ashtray and the plant is dying”.

As I sat in front of my computer a few days later, offering a short prayer to the god Edius my phone rang. “Hello! What! A premier! Charity! Well are you going to organize it?” The answer was of course yes. No longer the film director I took up my new role in PR my new task a complete role reversal no longer the ‘director’ but a “gofor and salesman’.

Charity starts at home, is a well known little phrase and it seems very true.The sitting room no longer a film set but a media office, posters, handouts, an oversized cheque, 600 tickets at 12.50 Euros the list just grows and grows, venues, meals, drinks raffle prizes, bottles of Cava and last but not least a rather unpleasant form from Sobam the Belgium music union or what ever you want to call it. What songs are Tony O’Malley and his band going to sing, what price are your drinks, how many people do you expect, how much are you going to sell the DVD for, how many. “I am doing this for the MS League in Belgium, I am not Sony or Walt Disney and I am not making any profit on this, it’s for charity”.

Suddenly I have to find sponsors “Can you print these for me, we have no money”, “What is it for?” “Our premier of the ‘De Koffer’.” “What?” “Yes we are having a fund raising event for the MS league.” “How many posters do you want?”

You might be thinking, why is he telling me all this. The answer is easy, a few weeks ago I showed some parts of the film in the club, really I wanted to see what it looked like when projected on the big screen but what I got was all the usual critics from those people who continue to make films as they were made and edited in the sixties with little or no imagination.

Some 500 to 600 people will spend a fantastic evening and afternoon enjoying music, cabaret, and theatre plus of course the film, raising some 5000Euros for a very deserving cause. I have to say filmers it is a lot more fun than competitions and judges critics and you end the event feeling “Wow” I am going to make another film.

Just came back from a meeting with a new filmer in the next village, I was selling tickets. He is three quarters the way through making a fantastic film about a priest some 100 years age, a full costume drama. He has a SONY DCR-VX2100E and he is editing with Pinnacle. He has never made a film before, his camera is set on automatic, no external mic, he has writen the script and the music. He joined a camera club but no interest was really given to his project, Oh the club treasurer showed him how to download his film from his computer back onto tape but did not have time to look at all his film but said that it was quite good. I watched some sequences with up to 80 ‘extras’ all in costume! One man, one camera on automatic he and his community have had great fun with this project the length of the film so far 55 minutes. I hear you gasp but remember he is making it for his audience. He has asked me to edit a shorter version for the film competions in Belgium next year and I tell you he is going to turn a few heads. Even before I edit it with him I feel sure my De Koffer film will run second to his what ever the scoring and whats more he is making it in BW.
There are lots of new filmers about and all of us should be looking for them they are the future of our clubs and they are out there making films.

Happy filming everyone from Belgium

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