Make Video Look Like Film: Shot Design - Filmmaking Tutorial 1

Uploaded by polcan99 on 30.07.2009

Hi. My name is Tom Antos.
This is my first instructional tutorial
so please bear with me.
I don't have the best microphone, but hopefully you will get
something out of this video.
I'm going to show you today how you can achieve
nice looking images, whether you're shooting with film
or HD cameras or video cameras.
I have a lot of people looking at my work and asking
"How do you get these nice images?"
"What equipment did you use?"
I always tell them
it's not up to the equipment.
It's not because of some expensive camera,
but most people don’t believe me.
But basically, it comes down to designing the shot.
You know, if you can get your hands on some really nice camera,
but you don’t know how to use it
it won’t make that much of a difference.
Often, people look at some project that inspires them
they go "wow" - this looks really nice.
They find out what camera it was shot on
get their hands on that camera
and they think their project is going to look the same.
And of course it doesn't.
Why? Because it's not just the camera.
It comes down to production design, to locations, costumes,
good photography skills, good cinematographer.
All these things make overall a nice image
Here is an example with Beverly - a very talented actress.
She is also a talented songwriter.
Thank you, Beverly, by the way.
This is not a scene for any project.
I'm doing this just to illustrate my point.
This example is shot on the Red camera with Nikon lenses.
If you look at this shot right now, it's kind of flat looking, right?
It's kind of boring. And the reason is
I did what most people would do. Let's say we are shooting a scene
where someone is talking on the cell phone to their friend,
maybe pacing back and forth in front of their house.
They're nervous, waiting for some important news.
Well, a lot of people don't think about how they're going to shoot.
They just go to the location they have available
and they just kind of shoot it there.
And they spent all their money on the camera, on some expensive piece of camera,
but then the shot doesn't turn out nice.
Well, if you point the camera for example at this
- just a plain looking door,
then obviously it's not going to look interesting.
When the camera pans over to the right you can actually see this
interesting-looking red garage door.
Now, the first thing I would say -
if you can afford it -
then you should spend money on a good production designer.
Somebody who will find the right kind of location.
Somebody who’s going to dress up the location for you.
Also, you should maybe invest money in props
and renting a nice location and things like that.
If you don’t have the money, see what you have available to work with,
kind of how I worked in this case. I just had this location and I saw...
well... this red door looks more interesting
than that front door.
So I moved all the action over here.
Now, when you look at this angle, right away it looks more interesting.
It has more color.
You can see those flowers in the foreground.
But what is bad-looking is...
on the ground you can see these patches of grass
- basically, not interesting.
You don't need to see the ground
to get the idea of what is happening in the shot.
We just want to see this girl on the telephone,
talking to somebody.
So, the first thing, I would change the angle.
I put the camera a bit lower.
Those of you who are using video cameras, you would zoom in.
If you are using film lenses, I changed the lens
from 50mm to 105mm.
I basically zoomed in a bit more
and right away, it looks more interesting.
Basically, we are only showing things
that are pleasing to the eye, like that red door,
a little bit of a flower pot in the foreground
and some greenery and flowers in the background.
The stuff that doesn't look interesting, we don't show.
So, that's the first step.
The second thing... a lot of times
- even people who do shoot with nice film cameras
or HD digital cameras,
they... when you are shooting outside, you have a lot of light.
And when you have a lot of light,
you need to get rid of that light.
Otherwise, the image is overexposed.
So, the first thing people do,
they close down the iris.
The problem with that is that your depth of field
becomes almost infinite,
especially if you close the iris really high.
like I have in this case.
And that makes everything look sharp.
Everything is sharp and focused in this shot.
The first thing I would do is open the iris
all the way up,
but in order to darken the image, I put ND filters.
But if you don’t have ND filters,
darken the scene some other way.
Maybe increase the shutter speed.
Darken the scene some other way,
but leave the iris all the way open.
That way the depth of field is very narrow.
Now, Beverley is nicely in focus
and the flower pot in the foreground
and the background is out of focus.
Right away, it makes it look more interesting.
It adds some dimension to it.
It makes it look more 3D.
Next thing you can do...
I decided that the red shirt she is wearing
blends too much with the door.
I told her "let's change the shirt".
It's important what the actors are wearing and the make-up.
Here, Beverley put on some make-up
and right away, it looks better.
Those are all the little things that will add up.
They all make tiny difference,
but if you do all of them,
overall, it is going to make for
a much more interesting-looking shot.
Now, the next step is...
what happens when you bring your footage back
to your editing suite.
If you shot on film, you have to develop it,
do the transfers.
If you shot it on digital, you just have to put it in your computer
and you have to adjust it
and a lot of people fail miserably at that stage.
It's very very important that you
pay attention to it. It’s not as easy as
just increasing the saturation
or making the colors more bright.
Color correction... There are some people
who are really good at it.
and I would say, if you know those people,
hire them. It’s worth the money.
Very good colorists,
they’ll add life to your image...
...and there are some people who are horrible at it.
I... I think I'm decent. I can do an OK job.
I’m definitely not as good as some colorists out there.
But if you spend the time and learn the proper color correction
- and you don't need some crazy plug-ins -
...people think you just throw some preset on it.
It’s not like that.
With every shot it’s going to be different.
You use basic color curves that you can get
in Final Cut Pro or Premiere Pro
or whatever it is that you’re using.
Use basic color curves and you can do a great
color correction.
Like in this case, I'm going to push the blacks,
pop the reds a little bit, maybe make that green
at the back stand out more.
But make sure that her skin tone doesn't look
jarring and freaky.
Leave the skin tone looking neutral.
And that right away makes the shot look
a lot more interesting.
That is the last stage.
And now it’s a shot that belongs in a movie
or a nice music video or something.
As you can see, I didn't spend a lot of money on it.
If you compare this
to the beginning,
you can see the big difference. The clothing, the location...
the angle is just horrible
and there is no color correction.
So, you can see the big difference
between the beginning and the after-shot.
Again, the last thing I want to illustrate to you guys
is that you can achieve great looking results
even if you can't afford to got the Red camera.
Let's say you can only get
a little DV camera.
Well, here I shot the exactly same scenario
using the Canon XH-A1.
It’s basically a basic camera that people use out there
for wedding videos and that kind of a thing.
But because that camera uses video lenses
I moved the camera back, zoomed in a bit more,
opened the iris all the way up
to minimize the depth of field,
to throw the background out of focus.
Again, I picked a nice angle, added some color correction
and it looks right away like a nice presentable shot.
Especially, if you compare to the beginning,
which was shot on the same Canon XH-A1.
You know, it looks just as crappy as
the same shot on the Red camera.
That's kind of it. In the next tutorial
I will try to show you guys how you can make
interior shots look better
using lighting and things like that.
But for the exterior, this pretty much covers it.
I hope you enjoyed it and I hope you have learned something
and good luck out there shooting. Bye.