Notes on Filming With Drones

Filming with drones

Below are a few notes from a recent presentation by California Drone Supply at Scratch Media for SD Media Pros. An important note is that the FAA is updating rules and requirements for drone pilots.

Filming with drones
Filming with drones, SD Media Pros with CA Drone Supply at Scratch Media.

Typical Filming with Drones Timeframes

As with any system the amount of time required varies based on the complexity of the project.

  • 1 hr setup
  • 2-3 min for a test run
  • 15 min fly time (with 30% battery buffer to land safely) 1 hr to charge a battery

Elements of Filming with Drones

  • Crew: Pilot, Camera Operator, Visual Monitor (PA who maintains visual on drone), Equipment/Aid Aid
  • Sight survey, create a map of obstacles, how to maintain line of sight
  • Layout flight-path
  • File paperwork with local flight control and necessary organisations and obtain certificate of authorization

Legal Considerations

  • FAA requires a licensed pilot to operate the drone
  • Stay below 400′ for non-commercial work
  • The drone can’t take off or land in a National Park, but it can fly in, photograph and fly out
  • Drone company usually has insurance for general liability, comprehensive (gear), and crash liability

Filming with Drone Links


O'Connell Design
O’Connell Design

O’Connell Design is a creative studio dedicated to film and motion, game cinematics, and engaging visuals. For more information on our studio and to view our portfolio go to www.oconnelldesign.com.

 

Lower Third Motion Graphics for CARDA

Lower Third Graphics for the California Rescue Dog Association (CARDA)

We recently created lower third motion graphics for CARDA and their spot on Canine Corner. Founded in 1976, CARDA is a 501(c)3 non-profit, and the largest volunteer search dog organization in America.

CARDA’s mission is to train, certify, and deploy highly-qualified search dog teams to assist law enforcement and other public safety agencies in the search for lost and missing persons. CARDA search dog teams have participated in thousands of missing person searches and have saved public safety agencies millions of dollars through the use of volunteer resources.
We’ve had the pleasure of working with this great organisation for nearly a decade. It has included the projects below and many more.

Logo and Brand Evolution

Work on this brand has involved working with the existing mark, helping it evolve into something easily identifiable in modern media and social media outlets. It has also involved market research, analysis of the competition, and concept work to help the organisation grow in the future.

Pet Food Express Fundraiser Materials

CARDA participates in one big fundraising event annually in partnership with Pet Food Express. This event is crucial to the organisations funding and operations CARDA flyer design. throughout the year. We created
posters, flyers, print and digital advertising, and store displays. Their next event is scheduled for June 6 & 7, 2015 go here for more information.

Previous CARDA/Pet Food Express Fundraising Successes

Newsletter and Custom Illustrations

We’ve also designed and produced a monthly newsletter for CARDA’s internal distribution. It’s used to inform and educate CARDA members. Educational and promotional illustrations, photographs, and diagrams were created to aid articles.

Related Information

Good Design and Funding a Nonprofit


O’Connell Design is a creative studio dedicated to film and motion, game cinematics and engaging visuals. For more information on our studio and to view our portfolio go to www.oconnelldesign.com.

 

Staying Broadcast Safe with Motion Graphics for TV

“Broadcast-safe video (broadcast legal or legal signal) is a term used in the broadcast industry to define video and audio compliant with the technical or regulatory broadcast requirements of the target area or region the feed might be broadcasting to.[1] In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is the regulatory authority; in most of Europe, standards are set by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU).” –Wikipedia

Here are a few notes to help you with your next motion graphics for TV project.

Broadcast safe color bars.
Broadcast safe color bars.

Broadcast Safe colors, broadcast colors, or broadcast-safe colors are colors required for videos in the broadcast industry. Essentially, you need to keep each RGB value below 235. You can do this by specifying each color in the graphic but it all changes when you add an effect or a blending mode. An effect that adds to the brightness or glow can cause you to move beyond safe colors.

Solutions for Broadcast Safe Motion Graphics for TV:

  1. Use the scopes at a TV studio or let video editor handle it. It’s always nice to divide up the work and hand this over to a professional.
  2. Use Synthetic Aperture’s Color Finesse (more below)
  3. Use the After Effects plugin Broadcast Colors (although the reviews on this seem to be mixed and it might not be as accurate as you’d like)
  4. Aharon Rabinowitz’s solution is to solve the problem with an adjustment layer
  • Add adjustment layer on top of all footage
  • Layer, new, adjustment layer
  • Effect, Adjust, Levels (going to dull colors)
    • Input K: 16, Input white: 235
    • Output K:15, Output white: 235
Color Finesse for After Effects CC.
Color Finesse for After Effects CC.

Synthetic Aperture’s Color Finesse for Broadcast Safe Motion Graphics for TV

Synthetic Aperture provides professional digital video production tools. Color Finesse is a plugin that does color correction and enhancement in After Effects CC, Final Cut Pro, and Premiere Pro—and as a standalone application.

Reviews on this plugin seem to be positive but mixed. For more information on Color Finesse workflows go to:

  • Color Finesse Workflow: Primary Grading (Part 1)
  • Color Finesse Workflow: Primary Grading (Part 2)
  • Color Finesse Workflow: Using a Control Surface (2011)

As always, make sure the scopes are set up for the appropriate broadcasting system. “In the USA, that means NTSC, and NTSC works from a Waveform Monitor video level black of 16-16-16 to a white of 235-235-235. Set color saturation for the Vectorscope to 75% Bars, not 100% Bars. Of the two, it’s more important to get the vectorscope right. Most NLE’s have software proc amps that sort out video levels properly. But not color saturation.” (-Dave LaRonde, Former Sr. Promotion Producer, KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA)

Dave also provides a tip for great reds used by the BBC – “they begin with fully-saturated reds, and then the MAKE THEM DARKER. The result: a nice, bright and legal red, but darker than you’d think. Try the trick yourself, and check it out in Color Finesse.” (-Dave LaRonde)

Sources


O'Connell Design
O’Connell Design

O’Connell Design is a creative studio dedicated to film and motion, game cinematics, and engaging visuals. For more information on our studio and to view our portfolio go to www.oconnelldesign.com.

Scene Lighting Tips

Shane Hurlbut of Hurlbut Visuals, Francine Filsinger of San Diego Filmmakers, and Lauren O'Connell of O'Connell Design.

Shane Hurbut’s Illimination Experience Tour with MZed was a fantastic experience. You can technically describe how to light a scene. You can be very specific with cameras, lenses, locations, lights, distances, angles,… but nothing compares to being in the same space with Shane. To see how he tunes all of the aspects of camera and light to make the shot communicate before the director even yells action.

Shane Hurlbut illuminating the scene.
Shane Hurlbut illuminating the scene.

Below are a few, of the multitude, of tips he offered and other research to use as reference while preparing for your next film or motion graphics project.

Apps to Aide in Scene Lighting

  • The Grip App ($8, iTunes) – Dolly and crane stats on them to work out if they will fit while on location
  • Helios ($30, iTunes) – planning sun in scene
  • Set Lighting ($8) – pretty self explanatory, set lighting
  • Gobo (free, iTunes) a film dictionary app
  • Light Source Pro ($30, iTunes) – helps take the guesswork out of choosing the correct lamp for the job
Shane Hurlbut of Hurlbut Visuals, Francine Filsinger of San Diego Filmmakers, and Lauren O'Connell of O'Connell Design.
Shane Hurlbut of Hurlbut Visuals, Francine Filsinger of San Diego Filmmakers, and Lauren O’Connell of O’Connell Design.

A Few of the Essential Tools

Lighting TIP: Plop down the camera to see what the location holds. Determine the color temperature, exposure, and quality of existing light. Frequently you will discover something that adds to the mood.

5 Things to Remember for Close Ups

Lighting TIP: Keylight (square reflections give away while circular reflections are organic)

  1. Eye Shadow (when there is a shadow under the eye of the lit side of the face) makes the character look damaged or vulnerable.
  2. Half Light typically makes the character appear to have ulterior motives.
  3. Rembrandt Patch is a wedge of light under 2 eye (little light on the 2 eye) can be used to give the feeling of loss with hope.
  4. Nose Shadow (shadow under the nose, slight side cheek shadow) create a feeling of a clearer fate. This is a power position character.
  5. Set the light low enough to see the reflection in the eye

Lighting TIP: Do a light study while the actor is in makeup, prior to shooting. This allows you to work out idiosyncrasies with their face and improves communication, not to mention this might reveal something that will save your production time.

How to do a light study for an actor.
How to do a light study for an actor.

Discovery > Creation > Execution

  1. Figure out how a scene needs to look, feel, and be shot.
  2.  Embed the shotlist in the script. This gets everyone on the same page.
  3. Formulate look (describe the light) this will help the production designer (what colors are used in the scene paint on walls, materials used,…)
  4. Gather still photography for inspiration and to keep the production on track.
  5. Set keyframe for each scene. This is one shot to tell the emotion of the scene.
  6. Draw schematics

“It’s being obsessed with the light and heart of every single frame…”

A Few Miscellaneous Film and Motion Graphics Lighting Tips

  • Shane describes how he used lights, flags, and the camera to set the scene.
    Shane describes how he used lights, flags, and the camera to set the scene.

    Use Fill Light to set the mood.

  • Go into an interview with a point of view (mood, tone, visual references,…). The director wants to see what kind of collaborator you are
  • 33 Rule – The sole responsibility of the cinematographer is to follow the director’s vision. 33% to inspire the crew to kick a**, and 33% to work with the production to finish on time and on budget.
  • Frequently lighting is 1% of a film’s total budget.

For more information on Shane Hurlbut and his latest tips go to www.hurlbutvisuals.com


O'Connell Design
O’Connell Design

O’Connell Design is a creative studio dedicated to film and motion, game cinematics, and engaging visuals. For more information on our studio and to view our portfolio go to www.oconnelldesign.com.

 

Social Media Image Workflow

Social media for film promotion.

Social Media image generation workflow for social media posts.

Social media master template for film promotion
Social media master template for post images for film promotion.
Social media for film promotion.
Social media for film promotion.

Keeping up with the graphics required to promote a film or project via social media can be daunting. It’s important to maintain a look and feel with a clear message while supporting a consistent brand. We are focused on the quality of the content on these channels. To help with that focus we tend to use a template to assist in the social media image workflow. This post was, in fact, created to support another recent post on 10 Tips: Social Media for Film Promotion.

Social Media Image Workflow

  1. We start with a template we created in Adobe Photoshop. This has all of the post sizes scaled up to fit neatly within a 1280×640 px box. (You will save time by working larger and scaling the graphics down for the final product.)
  2. Place the graphics and text necessary. Remember that the images will be reduced in size for the final graphic, so keep the text large and short.
  3. Layout the design for each social media outlet.
  4. After the design is finalized, reduce the image size to the required dimension of each social media outlet.
Social media image workflow for film promotion posts.
Social media image workflow for film promotion posts.

10 Tips: Social Media for Film Promotion

Social media for film promotion.
Social media for film promotion.
10 Social Media for Film Promotion

Social Media for Film Promotion

More and more social media is key to getting independent films to market. Whether you’re generating financial backing or to get seen when they are done (especially if you’re going the four walling distribution route) film promotion via social media platforms is worth serious consideration. Here are some tips for your social media for film promotion.

  1. Does your social media post pass the re share test? If it’s not something people will want to pass on, it won’t help promote your film.
  2. Be useful and valuable. By providing information, analysis, assistance, and/or entertainment people will tolerate pure promotion when you ask something of them. A good ration is 20 valuable posts to 1 pure film promotion post.
  3. Be yourself. Depending on your audience, people are more likely to respond when it sounds like a person on the other end rather than a corporation.
  4. Drama. You’re doing film promotion here. Add drama and make seeing your film an event.
  5. Short and to the point. Try to use a 50 character heading, 3 sentences or less (140 characters for Twitter), and write in the active voice as much as possible.
  6. Credit your source. It’s good etiquette, karma, and more links and connections help promote your stuff.
  7. Images, Images, Images. Always add an image.
    – Instagram: 640×640 px
    – Facebook: 940×788 px (newsfeed: 472x394px; single image: 504x504px;
    – Event images: 784x294px) https://www.facebook.com/PagesSizesDimensions (This page has useful graphics, which are free to see, but requires you to ‘like’ them and ‘invite’ your friends before it allows you to download the promised reference files. Not a recommended practice for promoting your film.)
    – Pinterest: 735x1100h px
    – Google+: 800×600 px (minimum, 4:3 ratio)
    – Twitter: 1024×512 px
    – YouTube: Always upload a thumbnail of your title screen that coordinates with your social media. Vimeo: Always upload a thumbnail of your title screen that coordinates with your social media. LinkedIn: 180x110px (thumbnail image)

    Social media master template for film promotion
    Social media master template for post images for film promotion.

    Social Media post image generation workflow. Consider creating a template for use in your graphics software to help you generate relevant artwork quickly and easily.

  8. Crazy-go-nutz with #hashtags. It ties content together and it increases your possible reach.
  9. Schedule and spread it out. Take a look at you analytics to determine when your audience is online. Then plan your film promotion campaign. Spread your posts out to build interest but don’t overwhelm. You know your viewers, they’ll stop watching if you overload their inbox.  Social media services include: Buffer (https://bufferapp.com), Hootsuite (https://hootsuite.com/), SproutSocial, Social Bro, Tailwind Ap, and Tweetdeck
  10. How many posts are recommended? Some experts recommend 3-4 posts per day. For the audiences I manage 2 to 4 posts a week are more appropriate (with an increase prior to key events). This is a bit of a balancing act. You need to post regularly to keep your ‘edge rank’ up, but you also need to keep your audience happy.

Identify your audience, consider your content, plan it out, and use social media for film promotion in a thoughtful way. Get out there, get seen, and get your film funded.

Sources and references include:

Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick, Canva https://www.canva.com/
The Correct Dimensions for Images on Different Social Networks by Dave Greenbaum Post Planner


O'Connell Design
O’Connell Design

O’Connell Design is a creative studio dedicated to film and motion, game cinematics, and engaging visuals. For more information on our studio and to view our portfolio go to www.oconnelldesign.com.

15 Tips for Directing Motion

Directing Motion workshop with Vincent Laforet

Here are just a few tips (of the many) from the latest MZed seminar Directing Motion with Vincent Laforet.

Directing Motion workshop with Vincent Laforet
Recreating a scene from Schindler’s List

 

  1. Remember there is a shared cinematic language, no one owns a camera move. If it adds to your story, use it.
  2. Establish rules of etiquette with the crew before the start of filming. For example:
    Vincent Laforet at the Directing Motion workshop.
    Vincent Laforet at the Directing Motion workshop.

    – When ready, start with the person furthest from the Director and call in order (“set”),
    – camera person says “speed”, and
    – last the Director calls “action”.

  3. Motivated vs Unmotivated Movement
    – Motivated movement is when an actor gets up and goes, the camera follows them.
    – Unmotivated movement is when the camera moves without reason. Does it add to the sorry? Usually the story and sound are what motivates the camera.
  4. Storyboard: you don’t get what you want when you don’t do the prep.
  5. Blocking: single most important thing you can do to add value to your film without adding to the cost.
  6. Coverage principal 3×3: the wide shot sets the geography, medium shot sets hero focus, and tight shot for a connection. And don’t forget to get the reverse.
  7. Start with the wide shots and move in.
  8. Usually get the best performance a few takes in. This means the actors will likely be able to give their best performance on the shots that will show their facial expressions the most.
  9. You build tension the tighter you go with the shots.
  10. Hitchcock’s Rule: the most important person in a scene is the biggest.
  11. Suggested App: Shot Designer
    – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=air.us.hollywoodcamerawork.shotdesigner
    – https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/shot-designer/id556342711?mt=8
  12. Rules of the episotic:
    – set the geography,
    – shoot the action beats and background, and
    – use short cuts, snap zooms, and motions.
  13. Less than 2% of a blockbuster film budget is for the cameras.
  14. Elements of a proposal include information on the: story, transitions, locations, photos, scale, and closing thoughts.
  15. Firm bid: set a price, if the film company is under they keep the extra, if the film company goes over they eat the additional cost.
Directing Motion with Vincent Laforet
Same shot, 2 different rigs.

In addition to lots of great information on directing motion in film and video, Vincent took the group through a series of “hands on” film set examples. We recreated the zolly shot from Jaws, a scene from Schindler’s List, and did a short action sequence. The last two were shot in the day class, edited, and shown in the evening.

Vincent LaForet’s Directing Motion workshop can be downloaded at MZed.


O'Connell Design
O’Connell Design

O’Connell Design is a creative studio dedicated to film and motion, game cinematics, and engaging visuals. For more information on our studio and to view our portfolio go to www.oconnelldesign.com.

Smoldering Sun & Light

Sun and Light Film Test

This short clip was primarily created using Adobe After Effects’ CC Sphere, HDR Highlight Compression, Curves and a whole lot of Fractal Noise effects. In addition Adobe Illustrator and Premiere Pro were used.

Motion graphics
Screenshot 1
motion graphics
Screenshot 2
motion graphics
Screenshot 3
motion graphics
Screenshot 4
motion graphics
Screenshot 5

 


O'Connell Design
O’Connell Design

 

O’Connell Design is a creative studio dedicated to film and motion, game cinematics, and engaging visuals. For more information on our studio and to view our portfolio go to www.oconnelldesign.com.

SDF’s Understanding the Character

SDF’s Understanding the Psychology of the “Character”

This evenings presentation was given by Billy Cowart of WCI Studios. Here are a few notes from the presentation.

 

There are very few real character actors (like Sacha Baron Cohen and Philip Seymore Hoffman), most are actors are people reacting to their surroundings.

Billy started the presentation with an exercise involving one of the actors from the audience. He asked Jennifer to describe different moods or personalities of herself and how old she field when she was in those moods. As he was interviewing each personality, he asked her to sit in a different chair. You could see her body language and posture change while she was thinking about each personality. As he talked to her you could see that each of these personality fragments came about from a traumatic event earlier in her life. They were there to cope and manage situations. At the end of the exercise he asked her to imagine all of these separate personalities sitting around her getting up and sitting down with her (or rejoining her). At the end of the process you could see she field whole, serene and complete.

We all have multiple personalities we use to deal with different situations. 80% of what we do is unconscious. An actor can fragment their personality and it is important to understand when this has happened. By not taking that last step in the exercise to reintegrate with the whole can cause problems.

“It’s not what the actor thinks, it’s what he feels.”

For the Directors and the Characters in Film

More and more directors are shooting scenes without rehearsing. “Be passionate and careless.” The best thing you can do for an actor is feed them with awareness. As the media changes we are getting closer and closer. Frequently he’ll hear the director ask for more from the actor. The director will check the dailies only to see the performance he wanted was there – he had been watching the actors not the screen during filming.

“Stillness is strength, stillness is truth.”

ABOUT THE SPEAKER: “Billy Cowart, the head of  WCI Studios, started acting in 1979 and has been continuously working and building a career ever since. Over 60 plays and numerous Film and T.V. credits fill out his resume. He has worked as a Supervising Producer for Storytellerz and 6 Reel Pictures (NICHE, HANK &EDGAR and CACTUS ) as well as a feature film writer for Emmet/Furla Films and Ross Bell (Producer of FIGHTCLUB and KILLBILL) and Fogleaf Media. He has worked as acasting associate with several casting directors, as a film development associate, as a director  and is currently Co-Producing the feature Film B-Girl. He brings a passion, knowledge, and love to the craft that is contagious. These dynamic courses have been developed out of years of training, experience and exploration in all aspects of Theatre, Improv, Film, and Television production.” – San Diego Filmmakers


O'Connell Design
O’Connell Design

O’Connell Design is a creative studio dedicated to film and motion, game cinematics, and engaging visuals. For more information on our studio and to view our portfolio go to www.oconnelldesign.com.

Top 10 Video Game Cinematic Trailers

10. Tomb Raider – Lara Croft : Turning Point | cinematic trailer (2012) E3 2011

Trailer: ?. Publisher: Square Enix. Developer: Crystal Dynamics. Release: 2013

9. World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Cinematic Trailer

Trailer: ?. Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment. Developer: Blizzard Entertainment. Release: 2010.

8. Fable 2 – Intro Cinematic

The color seems off in this YouTube version, its definitely worth a look on Blur’s site. Beautiful long shots of landscapes and views from a soaring bird.
Trailer: Blur Studios. Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios. Developer: Lion Head Studios. Release: 2008.

7. Brink 2010 Offcial E3 Game Trailer

Great cuts, camera angles and following action.
Trailer: Blur Studios. Publisher: Bethesda Softworks. Developer: Splash Damage. Release: 2010

6. Portal 2 Cinematic Trailer


Trailer: ?. Publisher: Valve Corporation. Developer: Valve Corporation. Release date: 2011.

5. Dead Island: Offcial Announcement Trailer


Upsetting as any good zombie game should be. This trailer is played out in reverse. Trailer: ?. Publisher: Deep Silver. Developer: Techland. Release date: 2011.

4. Halo 3 Trailer

Trailer: ?. Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios. Developer: Bungie. Release date: 2007.

3. Batman Arkham Asylum 2 World Premiere Trailer [HD]

Gritty details and transitions.
Trailer: Blur Studios. Publisher: Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment. Developer: Rocksteady. Release date: 2009.

2. Bioshock: Infinite – Debut Cinematic Trailer

A masterful presentation of tension without fighting.
Trailer: Blur Studios. Publisher: 2K Games. Developer: Irrational Games. Release date: 2013.

1. Assassin’s Creed III., 2012 cinematic

Trailer: DIGIC Pictures. Publisher: Ubisoft. Developer: Ubisoft Montréal. Release date: 2012.


O'Connell Design
O’Connell Design

O’Connell Design is a creative studio dedicated to film and motion, game cinematics, and engaging visuals. For more information on our studio and to view our portfolio go to www.oconnelldesign.com.