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Proving my capabilities to colleges?

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Glenn Fisher
Proving my capabilities to colleges?
on Feb 21, 2009 at 7:25:43 pm

Hey COWers,

I'm a sophomore student in high school with a fair amount of video experience. I've focussed mostly on producing videos and CDs of my district's amazing music program (to get an example of the quality of my work, here is a link to the best video that I've recorded and edited so far).

I'm starting to look into colleges, especially those that offer a major in "cinematography/video production."

I will be taking an independent study next year in the fundamentals of audio in order to build up my strengths in audio recording.

What is the best way to show my strengths and the quality of my video and audio work to colleges? How can I prove my talents to college admissions officers (film festivals?)? How do you guys in the industry show your abilities and talents to prospective clients?

Thank you all!



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grinner hester
Re: Proving my capabilities to colleges?
on Feb 22, 2009 at 2:14:35 pm

Hi Glenn. Awesome stuff, man.
In the industry, we dazzle clients with short demo reels usually. You'll make the same to get jobs and gigs... less than 3 minutes of your best stuff. Consider this a teaser so they'll call you for an interview. Less is more. If you leave them wanting to see more, they will call you. If they turn it off before it's done, prolly not.
You won't need this for colleges. They require tuition. ;)
You should check out the program at Piedmont College in NC. It's not a film school but a jr college I was able to design the ideal production and post program for. They call it the DEAT program there and it's what birthed Blair Witch Project back in the day. Was actually turned in as a final. You can indeed land some sweet gigs with a reel like that. In that program, your reel is your final and you leave with a list of regional employers who are hip to the program.
College is not a place you have to impress. It's a place to impress yourself.



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Peter Ralph
Re: Proving my capabilities to colleges?
on Feb 22, 2009 at 3:57:02 pm

Grinner - I would have thought that a lot of film schools would be actively scouting talented kids...is that not the case?

Most everyone in film schools is paying big bucks to be there?

shootingbynumbers.com


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Bob Zelin
Re: Proving my capabilities to colleges?
on Feb 22, 2009 at 5:32:51 pm

Save your parents money. Get a job. Get an internship. You will find that once you get an internship with your local TV station, production company, etc., you will quickly see that school will do nothing for you in this business (well, there are lots of girls at school, and that is a BIG +). Any employer will value your experience working for "company xyz" much more than your 4.0 GPA from your "film school". And when you do your internships, and start to learn about modern cameras and editing systems, you will soon realize that today, you can OWN the camera and editing system for less that one year at "film school", and start your own company. Much better investment for you and your parents.

bob Zelin
BSEE Polytechnic Institute of NY - what a total waste of time and money that was !





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David Roth Weiss
Re: Proving my capabilities to colleges?
on Feb 22, 2009 at 5:49:10 pm

[Bob Zelin] "BSEE Polytechnic Institute of NY - what a total waste of time and money that was ! "

Especially if your major was either cosmetology or interpersonal communication.

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


A forum host of Creative COW's Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, and Indie Film & Documentary forums.


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Kerry Brown
Re: Proving my capabilities to colleges?
on Feb 22, 2009 at 7:46:17 pm

You didn't ask for constructive criticism but here is some anyway. Slow the pans and zooms, a few were fine, repeat that speed. Try to cut on a motion when possible. Stay on a tripod and be sure the curtains are closed in the background. Overall an excellent job!

Let us know what you used to produce this?

KB


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Glenn Fisher
Re: Proving my capabilities to colleges?
on Feb 22, 2009 at 8:05:50 pm

Thanks for the criticism! I always appreciate helpful advice on how to get better.

For the video, we recorded the audio and video separately, then synced them up later. We recorded the audio using two of the school's wide-diaphragm condenser mics in the orchestra room (set up using an AB configuration). After that, the orchestra went into the auditorium where we played back the recording using a stereo (so that the conductor could sync the playing in the auditorium to the recording). I then recorded their performance from many different angles and edited them together in post.

As far as equipment, I used a pretty cheap Bogen/Manfrotto tripod with an old head (I've since gotten a 503HDV head which is soooo much nicer!). The camera was a Sony HDR-HC1, shooting in HDV.

For post-production, I used Final Cut Pro and Soundtrack Pro.

----

I still don't feel all that satisfied as far as my college admissions question goes. I would like to get into the most selective tier of colleges (I'm considering some ivy-league schools, MIT, UCLA, and the likes), and they really need to see proof of a high quality of work. My dad especially wants me to find some way to show what I learn from my independent study in audio (i.e. getting recognized somehow for a high-quality sound).

Analogously, athletes can join a varsity team, be named an MVP, or win regional and state titles. These awards show that they didn't just spend a lot of time on a sports team, but they were good at it and accomplished.

I would like to find something similar, where I can show a highly selective college (whether a film school or not) that I don't just spend a lot of time making videos, but that I'm good at it too (or at least I hope I'm good at it!!).

Based on the responses so far, it seems like a demo reel and internships might be the most viable way of being recognized. Are there any other ways that you guys can think of?

Again, thanks for all of the responses! I really appreciate it!

-Glenn Fisher



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Andrew Kimery
Re: Proving my capabilities to colleges?
on Feb 22, 2009 at 10:14:09 pm

Is getting into a 'highly selective' college a goal in and of itself or are you hoping that getting into a highly selective school will be good for your career path in this industry?


-Andrew

3.2GHz 8-core, FCP 6.0.4, 10.5.5
Blackmagic Multibridge Eclipse (6.8.1)



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Glenn Fisher
Re: Proving my capabilities to colleges?
on Feb 22, 2009 at 10:30:57 pm

Well, to be honest, I have a very wide-range of interests, and I'm not sure if video is the industry that I want to pursue. Regardless, I believe that my video work is a "hook" in applying to different colleges. It's an interest that sets me apart from other students, which is important to admissions officers that are looking to diversify their university.

Whether or not I want to apply to film schools, the question remains the same. What can I do to show my standing and abilities in video, and prove my skills to a college?



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David Roth Weiss
Re: Proving my capabilities to colleges?
on Feb 22, 2009 at 10:31:57 pm

[Kerry Brown] "You didn't ask for constructive criticism but here is some anyway."

So long as Kerry is providing constructive criticism, I'll provide some as well from a directing standpoint.

Glenn,

While the piece is well shot from a technical standpoint, in terms of lighting, focus, etc., there are some big problems with camera placement and the angles you chose. The problem is a mistake commonly known as "crossing the line" or "breaking the 180-degree rule," which creates major problems for viewers, as it confuses geometry and positioning in 3D space.

Once you establish the relationship between bodies in 3D space you need to maintain it by choosing proper compositions and angles that insure continuity, otherwise your viewers are constantly trying to interpret those relationships. Our brains are hard-wired to understand relationships between people and objects in space, and if you defy the established logic you lose your audience, because their brains become preoccupied trying to make sense of the illogical. They may not know what was wrong, but they do sense that something wasn't right.

In a nutshell, once you cut to any shot that establishes the position of the conductor to the right side of the frame you can't simply cut indiscriminately to an alternate angle that places him at the left, because in our mind's eye this puts him at the back of the stage behind the orchestra members.

I could go on about this subject and I could discuss when it is appropriate to cross the line, but I suggest that you search the Internet or your school library for more information on this important subject. In the meantime, check out this nice little video that on YouTube that gives a pretty good explanation:






David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


A forum host of Creative COW's Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, and Indie Film & Documentary forums.


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Glenn Fisher
Re: Proving my capabilities to colleges?
on Feb 22, 2009 at 10:37:56 pm

Thank you David! I will be sure to investigate the 180 degree rule and keep it in mind when I go back to the middle school to film a similar video in the next month or so. Thanks again! :)



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Steve Wargo
Re: Proving my capabilities to colleges?
on Feb 23, 2009 at 1:06:35 am

[David Roth Weiss] "Especially if your major was either cosmetology or interpersonal communication."

I have been rolled up in a ball laughing, for over 15 minutes.





Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1 HD .


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Mike Cohen
Re: Proving my capabilities to colleges?
on Feb 23, 2009 at 1:29:13 am

I have interviewed a number of film school grads for jobs which they did not get. Everyone had something in common - they felt film school was a lot of theory and honestly they had nothing useful to offer.

Likewise, we had a art school video program at college, which did nothing to prepare one for a career doing anything except teaching art school video classes.

Harsh? You bet.

My college experience was broadcast news oriented, and my college internships prepared me for just about anything. Of course on the job experience is the best of all. The major goal of your education whether at a community college, Harvard or your local cable station - is to learn to think creatively, to solve problems, to relate to others in a professional manner and to grow as a person. Technology changes often, so focus on the craft. Your video shows us that at 16, you are on the right path. If your folks want you to get an Ivy League education, make sure you do too. Honestly, as a high school sophomore I didn't know what I wanted to do next week. Maybe things are more competitive now.

Keep posting your work online. The fact that you have sought advice on this website shows that your head is screwed on tight. Keep it up.

Mike Cohen


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cowcowcowcowcow
Richard Herd
Re: Proving my capabilities to colleges?
on Feb 25, 2009 at 12:44:15 am

Best film school in the country: http://www.afi.com/education/conservatory/admissions.aspx

Really tough to get in and very expensive.

As an undergrad, consider studying drama.

But that's way ahead of the game: your junior year and senior year in high school, consider getting involved with the drama department. Cinematography and video ain't about the codecs, wiring, lenses, and all the other amazing, complex tools; it's about the audience, the ones receiving/experiencing the work. You'll want to know words like denouement, catharsis, proscenium, mise en scene.

So many movies I see from the school of "just buy a camera, get an internship, and go for it" are riddled with cliches--cliches in the story, dialogue, and character--cliches in the camera, editing, and acting.

There's a couple thousand years worth of drama to read and watch and 150 years of cinema to screen.

Capturing clean pic and audio: easy.
Making a movie that 1,000,000 people want to pay $10 to see: really really really really hard.



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