Basic Film construction etc

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John C
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Basic Film construction etc

Post by John C » Thu Nov 24, 2011 10:22 pm



I tried to go back to basics and produce a Family Holiday film that would be enjoyable for the family in years to come. They were the Audience.

We had a clubnight where one of the categories was A Holiday Film and the film had a poor reception.

How could I have presented the information and used better skills to make the film suitable for showing to a wider audiance.

Trying to improve

John C

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TimStannard
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Re: Basic Film construction etc

Post by TimStannard » Sat Nov 26, 2011 1:53 pm

Hi again John,

From your description it is unclear whether the category was "A Holiday Fim" as distinct from a Travelogue.

In my mind a travelogue is primarily concerned with describing a place or a journey and people and events related to that, whereas a holiday film is much more concerned with capturing the spirit of the people taking part. Clearly there may be some overlap and it is to be expected that a holiday film will include quite a bit about the area visited.

As there is so much footage of the participants, I'm assuming you broadly agree with my idea of what constitutes a "holiday film" and this is what you've made here.

First and foremost, I think it is important to realise that it is club members who gave this a poor reception. These are people who have spent years making and watching amateur films, watch with a more critical eye and have high expectations. The fact that you have edited, included a commentary, researched a bit of local history, added some music, made it audible etc means that this already stands head and shoulders above the vast majority of holiday footage shot any year by camcorder users. Indeed only the best of that gets uploaded onto YouTube and your film is better than most of that.

Making a holiday film which will appeal to those who took part is fairly easy. Adding some background information will impress them. I'm sure the film has had the desired effect among the holidaymakers.

But you are interested in how to make it appeal to a wider audience.

I'd suggest this is far harder with a holiday film than with a travelogue. The wider audience does not know there people, so you need to film them and present them in such a way as to get their characters across. Perhaps pick one or two people to focus on. Something which will immediately draw the viewer in (and I believe this goes for just about all films) is to get them talking on camera. This really helps get personalities across - indeed, whilst the conversation was not particularly interesting, my interest picked up a bit when we had the barbecue scene where we could hear people talking, simply because this was the first time we felt we had any involvement with the people.

And credit where it is due, I loved the "Action!" joke at the end of that scene - we (as outsiders) suddenly got a hint of the joviality between the paticipants.

Sadly, in most cases we were treated to random shots of people who may or may not have been part of the holiday group ambling or cycling around in places which in many cases we were't even introduced to. This works fine for participants because it triggers memories - for the rest of us it's just random people ambling/cycling without anything of interest in the picture. Shots should either have something which will be of obvious interest or focus or they should illustrate something which is being narrated. (Actually here even something like "Many of the tracks were traffic free and Jack and Jill regularly cycled between our home and the centre of the ....." would be better than just the shots.)

Moving on to the more travelogue aspects. I think its is important to make sure you have footage to cover the narration. Right at the beginning you talk of the battlefields which leads the viewer to expect some shots of the battlefields and therefore leaves us rather disappointed when we see no more than a shot of some people looking at an informational sign (Let's be honest, in film what the viewer sees is reality, so you could have included shots across just about any fields and the viewer would be none the wiser!)

The narration was rather dry and delivered in the third person. If you give your own impressions and opinions this makes the film much more personal and can draw the viewer in.

Like with the shots of the people, we often had little idea what we were looking at. You introduced Center Parcs and the cut to people milling around what looked like a rather pooor market? Was this at Center Parcs? Was it a market? We simply have no idea. The shots weren't interesting enough on their own to stand up. It was obviously interesting enough to make you want to film it - you need to try to make us interested, or tell us why you found it interesting.

Technically there are several things which could be improved, but I don't think it's down to the technical issues that you received a poor reception.

I hope you don't take this entirely negatively - my intention has been only to show you how the content could have be improved to appeal more to me. What's more most of this could be done quite simply with the footage you have.

A final observation I would make is that the holiday (and travelogue) films which seem to have been the most successful tend to concentrate on one particular aspect of the holiday/journey, rather than try to include it all.

Another final observation I'd make is that the award winning travelogues withing the IAC are most often made by people who plan their film before they go on holiday and even arrange part of their holiday around the film. Mere mortals like you and I who just take the camera along for the ride are never going to compete with that sort of dedication, but it needn't stop us making a film which will appeal to morethan just friends and family.
Tim
Proud to be an amateur film maker - I do it for the love of it

John C
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Re: Basic Film construction etc

Post by John C » Sat Nov 26, 2011 4:58 pm

Tim,

This is the third effort I have had at replying. Thank you very much.
I will rescript and could I include some WW1 footage instead of the information board?

John C
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Re: Basic Film construction etc

Post by John C » Sat Nov 26, 2011 5:03 pm

Ha i beat the the computer that time !!! :lol:

Thank you for the definitions. May I use them in future discussions as there is a blurring of definitiond between Documentaries made on Holiday and Travelogues and Holiday films.?

I will rescript the film and include more info. You were correct it was a very poor Market. Maybe the camera can still tel the truth.

Thanks for pointing me along a positive path.

KR
John C

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TimStannard
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Re: Basic Film construction etc

Post by TimStannard » Sat Nov 26, 2011 9:02 pm

I'm glad you have take my comments in the spirit in which they were intended - that of constructive criticism and indeed speculation as to why you fellow club members weren't too keen. When I re-read what I had posted I was concerned I'd come over as rather harsh.

It is important you bear in mind my comments are no more than my own views. In particular my "definitions" of the distinction between a "Holiday Film" and a "Travelogue" are only how I see them - There may well exist much better (and possiby quite different) definitions.

If you are considering reworking it (and I'm glad that you are, if only as an exercise), I suggest you ask yoursef as you are about to include a clip "What does this clip add to the film for a non-family member?" Perhaps test it against Lord Reith's principles - does it Inform, Educate or Entertain? If not, no matter how good the clip is, it's best left out.
Tim
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TimStannard
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Re: Basic Film construction etc

Post by TimStannard » Sat Nov 26, 2011 9:06 pm

And I also meant to say that I've only managed a couple of 3 stars at BIAFF so I'm hardly an authority on the subject and please wait forothers to join in before putting in any effort!
Tim
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Dave Watterson
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Re: Basic Film construction etc

Post by Dave Watterson » Mon Nov 28, 2011 7:08 pm

Tim's advice is very good indeed, so I will just make a couple of general observations:

A) Video is specially good at close-ups and not much good for vistas, so keep close in to your subjects as much as you can. (e.g. in the barbecue scene get your camera so close the lens-hood might melt!) Otherwise the film comes across as a bit cold and distant. Don't be shy ... use your Irish charm (having met you at Cheadle Hulme I know you have this in bucket-loads) and talk to market stall holders about their goods, get them to show you the finer points of their fruit / breads / crafts and film those things carefully. After a few minutes the stall holders will be relaxed and happy for you to take close-shots of them too. Talk to tour guides and museum staff.

B) Mercalli and similar video steadying programs are good, but unless you zoom in a little the audience sees the edges of the film frame bouncing around. A modern tripod is not much weight to carry around and is really worth it.

C) Try not to include pans, tilts or zooms - unless you are following a moving object like a person, car, bird or firework. Generally use your zoom to get good framing on a picture but cut the actual zoom in or out from the finished film. There is one exception - I like your neat zoom into a circular church window from the outside going directly to a zoom out from a circular church window into the inside of the building.

D) It often pays to make a holiday film personal ... ask the youngest girl (the one who calls out "what shrimps?") to talk about what she has noticed that is different in France and come back to her at several points in the holiday to record more remarks. You may use only a few of them and add them as often as not to pictures of places or things rather than showing her face talking to camera.

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TimStannard
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Re: Basic Film construction etc

Post by TimStannard » Mon Nov 28, 2011 9:41 pm

Dave Watterson wrote:Don't be shy ... use your Irish charm (having met you at Cheadle Hulme I know you have this in bucket-loads) and talk to market stall holders about their goods, get them to show you the finer points of their fruit / breads / crafts and film those things carefully. After a few minutes the stall holders will be relaxed and happy for you to take close-shots of them too. Talk to tour guides and museum staff.
This is something which many of us find difficult to do, especially whilst holding a camera. I fit into that category, but I discovered, quite by chance when filming a street party, that if there are two of you involved, a lot of that shyness disappears - presumably because of the moral support. So my tip would be either to get a companion to hold the camera whilst you interview or vice versa. If you can pack a small external mic, this is even better as the interviewer can get it right in close to the interviewee.
Tim
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John C
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Re: Basic Film construction etc

Post by John C » Wed Nov 30, 2011 10:10 pm

Thank you both for your kind support. My computer has been cutting off and so I have not been able to reply. All your comments very much appreciated and will be used as a check list for the re make.

Kr
John C.

John C
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Re: Basic Film construction etc

Post by John C » Fri Feb 17, 2012 9:49 am

:roll:
Thank you all for your wisdom.
I remade the film from scratch, using the footage available, and it was part of an inter club competition which our Club won for the first time ever. The Club had an evening discussing your analysis and as a result I believe that we have all benefitted from the Forum.

Thank you for taking the time to help the less experienced.

K R John C

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TimStannard
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Re: Basic Film construction etc

Post by TimStannard » Sat Feb 18, 2012 8:56 am

That's fantastic, John. Hopefully the fact that you have enlightened some of your members about the benefits of this forum will encourage others to join - so it's wins all round.
Tim
Proud to be an amateur film maker - I do it for the love of it

col lamb
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Re: Basic Film construction etc

Post by col lamb » Tue Feb 21, 2012 10:10 am

I agree with Dave's and Tim's very constructive comments.

Whilst not particularly helping in this instance may I add some other comments about future video activities.

A tripod is very handy but can be a bit restrictive, I have a couple of monopods that I use when out and about and they do help considerably. With a monopod if you extend the leg and add a weight such as a can of beer to the bottom of the leg you have a rudamentory steadycam.

My lightweight Manfroto monopod cost £20 and the heavyweight one £35. Mercalli then does not have to work quite as hard at steadying the shots if needed.

I have some very good shots on one "holiday" video where my Wife does the question asking and I just shot the video, it makes it much more natural for the interviewee and also introduces more voices into the travelogue/holiday video. So next time why not brief your partner and get them involved in making the video record of your travels?
Col Lamb
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Dave Watterson
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Re: Basic Film construction etc

Post by Dave Watterson » Tue Feb 21, 2012 10:37 am

There has to be a joke in there about whether the picture gets twice as unsteady as the can of beer is consumed!
Sadly I didn't find the joke!

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