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.

 

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.

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.

SDF’s Realities of Reality TV

“A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” – George S. Patton “Everyone wants to go to heaven but no one wants to die.” – Joe Louis
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretzky

 

This week the San Diego Filmmaker’s presentation was on the Realities of Reality TV with Ken Gora, CEO of Branded Entertainment. He began with the three quotes above. Ken is the producer, and one of the judges, behind So You Think You Can Sell and The Romance. With a background as a corporate head hunter and a PHd in psychology, he has used his skills to create a reality TV series to meet a different market need.

His first idea, for a VP sales contest later called So You Think You Can Sell, came to him in the middle of the night. The idea involved doing something good for the community, creating jobs, generating sales for local companies, and filming it. He contacted several people in the business for advice. Mark Cubin (Shark Tank) asked – how do you make sure you don’t get idiots who might cost the company in sales, screen out serial killers, and has it been done before on this scale?

Essentials to good Reality TV

  • Is it a compelling storyline? – For So You Think You Can Sell, people would learn lessons on selling, strategies of marketing and see how people deal with success and failure.
  • Determine a gap or need – While there are similar shows this would focus on local businesses and local people.
  • Funding (product placement, corporate sponsor, investor, advertising) – 95% of the show was paid for organically (through product placement, advertising, sponsors and branding). As a local show, Ken was able to approach many smaller companies and demonstrate how the it would reach their audience. * Estimate $1k per minute to produce and edit a low budget reality TV show.
  • Characters – The people need to be genuinely interesting, not the people willing to do anything just to be on television.

How does The Romance  Fit the Essentials of Good TV?

Again, it will feature local people and businesses. People learn psychology behind dating and see how people deal with success and failure.

  • Existing dating shows seemed false (The Bachelor, The Batchelorette, Millionaire Matchmaker,…). When dating do people really move into a mansion together? Do people really fly off to Bora Bora together on their second date? Is it really a good idea to marry someone after 29 episodes?Why does everyone look like a model? So by creating a show that is more realistic they hope to fill that gap.
  • Funding will follow a similar model to So You Think You Can Sell plus he is looking at investors.
  • By choosing choosing participants like a single mom who works as a whale trainer at Sea World, he expects to find the right balance of interesting characters.

Sponsor Package

An important aspect of finding funding for the program includes creating sponsor packages. Send an email to the VP of Marketing/Branding with information on:

  • Who you are – a brief description
  • What the show is – perhaps your elevator pitch
  • What placement will do for a sponsor – with a channel 4 deal the show will air in 1.2 million households and will be syndicated for 1 year.

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 After E ects Presentation

How After Effects Can Help Save You in Post

We recently attended an informative San Diego Filmmakers presentation on Adobe’s After Effects by Eric Addison of 100 Acres Films.

Eric started the presentation by comparing a knowledge of After Effects to a deep well. Some people know a section of the well, others know a different section of the well, but very few people know the entire depth of the well. His recommendation was to focus on one aspect – green screen techniques, kinetic typography, or motion tracking, for example. Learn that aspect, become good at it, then move on to something else.

The first example was a quick rotoscope matte and sky replacement to make a flat city skyline more interesting. This also included a bit of information on color correction in order to ensure the two clips come together seamlessly. His recommended color correction extensions/plugins were:

Next he spent time rotoscoping in order to place text behind a moving figure, but in front of the background. This included using the Roto Brush Tool and the Refine Edge Tool. There was also a brief review of green screen and keyer techniques. Some useful keyer links are:

Next he used the Warp Stabilizer VFX effect. It can be used to smooth the existing motion of a camera or to create a locked-off shot, with no camera movement. His example was a shot taken from a helicopter of a military ship under way. The default settings did a pretty good job.

Other important tips included using the clone stamp tool, motion tracking and planner tracking to eliminate or replace unwanted logos or objects. Cloning can be useful if you have a clear section to sample from. For example, if the camera is fixed during an interview and a boom, or object, drops into frame for a time. The clear footage can be sampled to cover the time when the object is in view. Motion tracking is useful if you want to use Photoshop to create “band-aid” to cover or change an object that moves through the frame. Planar tracking is required when the item being replaced or erased moves out of frame.

In the last example, he used planar tracking to replace a ball in a clip and with a baseball. He also used CC Simple Wire Removal effect to remove a wire that allowed it to appear as though the baseball was floating in throughout the scene.

After Effects Gurus to Follow

  • Andrew Kramer, Video Copilot
  • Aharon Rabinowitz, Twitter @ABAOproductions
  • Eran Stern, SternFX
  • Angie Taylor, www.angietaylor.co.uk