Young Editor Seeking Input
I finished up a video I was working on and would really like to have some veteran editor input. Not much to say here just say what you liked and what I need to work on. One thing that I have been trying to improve is audio, however I am limited to the Flip Ultra HD right now, so I crank it up as much as possible. Link is below and here is the details on my "workflow": Shot with 2 actors, we did all of the camera work and of course editing-just us two. Edited on my 13" MacBook Pro, FCP for cutting and the title. Soundtrack Pro was used for static noise reduction. Like stated above I shot with the Flip Ultra HD converted into ProRes HQ. Final export was in H.264 and as you can see in the quality menu, 720p. Thanks for any help and the link is below.
I bet that was fun to work on. Kind of an homage to "24", I'm guessing. if that's the case, have fun with using parellel action in 2 screens side-by-side and in otehr PIP arrangements during the "stalking" parts... This also speeds up the action and collapses the story tighter.
Couple things. Just my own opinion.
The opening stuff at the laptop is just too shaky; use a tripod, at least for that particular scene, until he gets up to go. Add back urgency and speed impressions thru faster cutting and not so much camera movement. I a spot wher the room is vey tight, like up against a desk facing a wall, you can zoom into and shoot into a mirror on that wall to get a close-up from the reverse angle over the top of the laptop screen looking into the guy's face.
Packing the backpack could be shortened to just zipping the bag with the laptop still visible inside, collapse time where it can advance the plot.
Try using the 3-way color corrector to even out the parts where the auto-iris got freaked out. Also even out the color balance overall while you're there.
Dropping the long gun makes no sense in the context of the sequence. The hit man should carry it all the way in and out; you don't drop and leave weapons behind iIRL because there are no spawn points for new ones IRL.
No way do I buy the towel bit. The placement of it looked contrived; it would have made much more sense in a kitchen or bathroom setting, instead of what looks like a living room. You could imagine a scene in the kitchen with a rubber knife or the shotgun, versus the unarmed guy with the towel: in close-quarters combat like that, the long rifle or shotgun is awkward to swing and point close-in, and the towel gag could work very well there, wrapping around the barrel and deflecting the aim or disarming there. That's how I would use the towel gag. The two guys would not take that much time to play the towel-winding thing; they would wrestle for the one gun, or break away and run. Too much delay there. And you missed a bet there anyway by not snapping the towel in the bad guy's face when you had it in hand.
I would avoid crossing the line of action without transitional shots to cover it. Also, break up the constant stream of similar focal-length shots with wider ones. It lets the sequence "breathe" a little.
Mix it up a little with the camera height; try to shoot a few more low angle or high-angle shots. For example, when they fall to the floor, one or both of them, this is a good place to have them fall into a floor-level "ant's eye view" POV shot from that level. The high angle looking down or low angle looking up also can help with your auto-iris problem, since you'll get into less trouble with backlit window frames. High and low angles also show less of the set, which is handy when you have no budget for sets or want the scene to look more anonymous.
Adding the muzzle blasts looked good, and I bet that was fun to do as well. While you're adding muzzle blasts, you can paint out the orange tips of the Airsoft guns to enhance the realism.
I know shaky-vision is what the kids all like these days, but your shots will look better (to me) if the camera stays wider, at least part of the time, and if you use some kind of hand-held stabilizing device, which can be as simple as a piece of 2x4 wood board or PVC pipe about as wide as your shoulders, with a bolt threaded thru it to hold the camera, gripped like handlebars. Your body and flexing elbows will dampen the shakes but still allow for fluid motion following the action.
For an early effort it is not that bad, actually. If you had the Kodak Z8 model instead of the flip, you'd have an external mic jack for better sound options. And I think they price out about the same.
Thanks for the input I'll just respond to most of your comments below, but first I was going for more of a Bourne look with lots of shaky cam and such. I was going to do a lot more smooth shots, but I wanted to limit the scene to only a chase which didn't flow as much as I wanted. As far as 24 styling, I did one that should be on my channel http://www.youtube.com/XxHiLaRoUSxX. (SIDE NOTE: I am working on a sequel to this Kahlahad Takedown one that I am putting A TON of time in thinking about the plots. Just working out some stuff with actors/friends.) Although I was looking for a Bourne look, I knew that the Bourne movies were rather Cyan looking and I did not want to jump into color for work as I am just learning about that app right now. Like I said though I did not have much of a plot here, I would have called it more of a test rather than a full video, but oh well. Also could you explain more in-depth about the auto-iris issues? I am just learning a lot of terminology. As far as color balance, I would have balanced them more and desaturated almost like bleaching, but me and my friend were looking for a video to hold the channel over until we start shooting another video today. As far as him dropping the weapon, I didn't have much of a plot here like said above. More of a oh what about this shooting. Also it was a sniper rifle so I didn't think he would carry that inside. The towel bit was both an experiment and a real joke. it was just fun to smack my partner around a little :). I would have liked to include more actors to open up a lot more options, but it was a on the thought video and I know that without the proper scripting that I normally do, they would be lost. I wanted to do more angles and handheld shots in the fight scene, but just us two. As far as the muzzle flashes, I did not have the hard drive with my favorite library of shots so I just had to use these. With the airsoft guns, I was in the process of painting some for real, but like I keep saying, quick video out of nowhere. We went a little overboard with the shakes, but ey, thats what we learned. I am hoping to get rid of that Flip soon and pick up a Sony or Canon HD camcorder, but we all have a budget, in my case $0.
Thanks for the input and check out my other videos and feel free to tell me what you think,
There are spots where the action is heavily back-lit, the light behind is brighter than the light on the characters. Your flip cam has an automatic iris that tries to guess the best exposure and it is ok at that, most of the time, but is commonly fooled in backlit situations. It is darkening the frame so much we lose the point of the shot, then it is slow coming back from that situation. When you upgrade to a better camera, you'll have manual iris controls you can set to expose the scenes properly.
Meanwhile, it is easy to go into Final Cut's 3-way color corrector, don't be intimidated by it. Mark an in and out on the part of the shot that's too dark, double-click the clip on the timeline to highlight it. Go up to top of the screen and go Video>filters>color correction>3-way color corrector. Now open the motion tab above your canvas window, find the tab that says "3 way color corrector". Open that. Ignore the three big rainbow colored circles that represent track balls for the moment; you'll roll those with your mouse later, when trying to tint the footage for your "Bourne" look. Just try sliding the little horizontal sliders underneath the big ball on the far left, to raise the level of the dark parts without affecting the brights too much. Then try lowering the too-bright stuff in the clip by adjusting the slider under the far right trackball... Experiment, see what each adjustment does as you move it, you can always undo it if you don't like it.
There is no denying you have the talent and creativity that only fun experiments like this help to refine the craft and skills of filmmaking. My only critique would be this.... I realize you were going for the action adventure "bourne" look... but the quick cuts and tons of action movements are hiding some fundamental mistakes like matched action cuts, and breaking the 180. I think you should try a scene with less action and maybe more dialog between two characters. I realize your writing may not be as refined as a hollywood blockbuster, but it will help you focus on directing, blocking, using limited and specific camera movements to help move the story, using different angles, focal lengths, ect.
Again, you are well on your way and I applaud your energy and gumption. Most kids your age are probably just playing video games and surfing the web doing nothing "productive".
Keep it up!
I started editing my first stuff when I was your age. It's awesome how it's even easier now for editors to get started - less technical hurdles, more time to focus on the fun part. Plus, you can post 720p video or higher online in minutes...I just looked at a video I posted online when I was about 14 and the data rate was like 50 BITS. Yea, bits. Everyone still had dial up. Crazy. Oh, and this was only 10 years ago, I'm 24.
Anyway, good job, it was enjoyable and engaging. Everything I would say has pretty much already been said. Just keep experimenting with different styles and genres and continue to mimic films you like so you can discover things about it you wouldn't have otherwise. Begin to pay more attention to the aesthetics of film, the "rookie mistakes" like crossing the 180 line. Don't get caught up in what's trendy in film or editing right now too much - don't keep making shakycam videos with superfast cuts. Explore while you still can, and remember that your gear doesn't matter at this point. At 14, my gear was a sony handycam analog camera that shot in hi8, a digital converter, and a pirated copy of adobe premiere. You learn with whatever you have and if you determine this is your career, you'll be surprised at how much of the stuff they teach you in college is stuff you've already known for years from playing with your camera.
Just another voice added to the chorus.
You're doing really well for where you are.
You obviously have an eye for action and all the basic chops you need.
But I agree that while you're having success at the structural stuff, you're skipping over some of the real heart and soul of what makes movie making meaningful.
For example, you hardly EVER shoot your characters faces in this. And faces - and the expression on them - are one of the most fundamental keystones to keeping an audience engaged. If you don't care about why the chase is happening, it's just a chase. And the chase is ALWAYS about a character in danger. A character the audience has come to care about.
Keep doing what you're doing. But also expand. Start looking at your friends and associates and school chums and consider which of them are CLOSED in their behavior and which are OPEN. Which are dull - and which are expressive. At some point, ask the expressive ones to help you by volunteering to act in your projects. When that happens, use the actions of the CHARACTERS to drive the story. Not just the action of the camera.
That will be a HUGE step forward toward professional moviemaking as you'll see when you to go to the movies. It's not where the CAMERA goes that makes great movies - it's where the CHARACTERS go.
Something that is essential to the chase is being able to understand where the characters are, and where they are in relation to each other. For instance, when the sniper outside is shooting into the garage, there wasn't really a connection between them. As your protaganist steps into the open garage, you could suddenly cut to the sniper's POV of the house with the open garage as he steps into view followed by an extreme CU of the muzzle flash. That would give a bit of shock to the realization that he just stepped into the line of fire, and give us a bit of a clue about where the sniper is in relation to the house.
There might have been some build up about the fact that a sniper is lying in wait out there, somewhere, and we aren't sure where, a la Clive Owen stalking the farmhouse in Bourne. The packing sequence at the beginning was too much detail as cut, but if it were interspersed with POV shots of the sniper's scope as the protagonist moved back in forth in front of the window, then it would have caused some tension as we wonder if he will get out of there before the sniper draws a bead.
During the actual chase, make sure there are some recognizable landmarks that they can both run past so we can get a sense of how far apart they are, and how much the bad guy is gaining. In between closeup action, get some wider shots with some common features between them so we can get some sense of place. As they run from place to place, we should be able to understand how those places are connected. If the good guy is trapped, and needs to get past the bad guy to the exit, we should see the exit, and understand what the obstacle is. If he knocks the bad guy down and escapes through a door we didn't really know was there, it's not as dramatic.
We can discover the setting with the characters as well. Rather than running and jumping into the middle of a stairwell, the good guy can run up, look down (cut to how high it is), look back to the hall he just ran out of as the bad guy comes into view, then jump down past the camera as the bad guy appears at the rail.
The Bourne style is high energy and exciting, but sometimes in the middle of Bourne's action sequences I couldn't tell what was going on. Use the CUs and camera moves to follow individual punches and moves here and there, but pull back to give us a frame of reference. A CU works best if it shows us something we already saw in a wider shot so we know what we are seeing and where it is. If we discover something in a CU, we should get a wider shot right away so we can get some context.
Also he handheld stuff will have a lot more impact if it moves with a purpose to follow specific action, rather than being generally shaky.
I couldn`t find anything at all that wasn`t technically perfect. Color, iris, sound mixing all dead perfect. Even treble was on the nose. The real thing to change is the story. When Thomas Edison invented his first invention, a stock ticker, he found out that he had invented a machine that worked well but was needed or wanted not at all. Your lively story if not surrounded or replaced by a much more needed by people story is the same.
Thanks for the input, everyone at that. As far as the story went, I didn't really have a story. I just wanted to put up a video, I am planning out a new video though that I have made shot by shot storylines etc. all the filmmaking process. I'll be sure to put up a post asking the same thing.
Sorry to be so harsh but if you make every piece like it`s seriously aimed for maximum repeatable use you`ll soon find you have a selection on the shelf that can go places to pay you.
Great start. Cant critique as I'm no expert. But others that state 10yrs ago, they had Premiere and Hi8 video, I had to share some fun and very amateur moviemaking, how the Older generation (A la Robert Rodriquez) scrapped away with whatever they had and did what they could...
Im trying to find 3 others from that year, funny thing, this was Shot, edited (thats what im calling it), and output to this wonderfull 10min work of Art...
Digitally copied (sorry no remastering done here)
This is Old school Movie-making
Have a laugh
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