Open Auditions for Koreans in Cebu for a Short Film Production!

OPEN Auditions are going to be held at Turtles Nest Book Cafe and Gallery this coming Saturday, August 28, from 4 PM to 7 PM for Koreans, and half-Koreans, presently (and indefinitely) based in Cebu.

Continue reading Open Auditions for Koreans in Cebu for a Short Film Production!

Video Shoot Up @ The Outpost

Budding videographers, music video directiors as well as musicians are invited to learn from award-winning filmmaker Ruel Antipuesto as he instructs everyone on how to utilize the practical yet powerful mode of communication: VIDEO, at the Outpost this July 24 and 25, 2010.

Details in the poster below!

Taking the Shot Right, Part One.

SineBuano continues its discussion on the craft of cinematography with the rules and techniques that assures good framing and composition that would appeal to viewers’ visual sense and sensibility.

Only after you master the basic tools of a medium (like visual arts) and are able to go beyond these basics to express your ideas in original and artistic methods then your work can become praiseworthy  –  even exemplary.

The Heart of the Cinematographer’s Art

Form versus Content. A scene can be well-exposed, in crystal clear focus, have ideal color balance and well-lit; all the qualities of a scene shot in “good form” but the same scene could still be empty of emotional meaning and impact. In other words, the scene could be void of meaningful content.

When a scene in a production bears emotional impact: the scene is striking, dramatic or humorous then we tend to overlook minor technical weaknesses.

This leads us  to consider “Content takes precedence over form” yet form also matters a lot too.

In fact, when the form of a scene is prepared to appear solid and strong, it can bear the content to a higher level for greater impact to an audience.

Enhancing the Message. A major role for production tools is to enhance, amplify, or explain the message meant to be conveyed through a particular scene. For example, music is a production tool when it enhances the atmosphere, tips us off to danger or sets the mood for romance.

Music and such similar tools and techniques must be used in perfecting the scene’s form to best present good emotional content. There is a saying in videography and film: Never just say it if you can show it.

Composition: Setting the Scene

Defining Composition. Composition can be defined as the orderly arrangement of elements in a scene which, when taken as a whole, conveys intent and meaning.

Film and video production use both static composition and dynamic composition.

Static composition covers the content of fixed images, such as paintings or still photos.

Dynamic composition takes into consideration the effect of time: moment-to-moment change. This change in time can be within a single shot (including camera and actor movement), or it can apply to the sequence of scenes created through editing.

The Not So Golden Rules in Camera Framing and Composition

Now that we know the reasons that guide a good cinematographer’s eye and hand in composing a scene worth shooting, let us become familiar with some of the “golden rules” that helped many in acquiring a shot that’s good in form and bear strong emotional content.

Though these have been called “Rules”, these are really “Guidelines” in camera framing. You can apply these “rules” or not, you have to take it at heart for composition is an art and not a science.

1) Clearly Establish Your Objectives

Before you decide to include any shot, be able to justify its purpose in the overall message or goal of the production.

“If in doubt, leave it out. ” When a certain element or elements in the scene does not sit well with your internal sense of rightness, unity and beauty then remove those elements from your scene’s frame. If you cannot be 100% justify the necessity of those elements in the scene, how can you expect to justify it to an audience?

Remember that content takes precedence over form, so strive to make it a primary objective in camera framing and composition to depicting emotional states.

You want to show something that an audience can respond to. People respond to emotions such as joy, sadness, solace and anger. If done right, your camera framing may lead your audience to reflect the emotional state you aim to convey, they might even experience it truly.

2) Strive for a Feeling of Unity

The concept of unity applies to such things as lighting, color, wardrobes, sets and settings. Following this can ensure that the “form” of your shot is pleasing or at least, sensible to the viewship of your audience.

3) Compose Around A Single Center of Interest

Think of each shot as a statement and for every statement, there must be a subject. Compose your shot around a single subject that an audience should be interested in.

This can be done in the following two ways:

A. Using Selective Focus where the surroundings are a blur and only a particular person or object is in sharp focus. This provides a contrast that catches your viewers’ attention to the subject in focus.

B. Human eyesight looks where there is Light. With a dim or shadowy background, you can compose around a single center of interest by directing a light on it.

4) Observe Proper Subject Placement

Composing a shot well can be achieved by moving the camera lens to properly place a subject in frame to improve or at least maintain an audience’s attention.

A. The Rule of Thirds – divide the shot frame as a grid of 3 by 3 boxes then place the subject or align several subjects in the shot on where the lines cross or the points of intersection as in the examples below.

Using the Rule of Thirds projects a sense of proportion, tension and energy, according to the rule’s supporters.

Breaking the Rule of the Third – of course there are always exceptions to the rule. Again, it’s really up to you when it’s best to apply the rule or not to apply the rule.

B. Beware of  Horizontal and Vertical Lines – Do not frame a shot like the example below.

Observe how those vertical lines made by those sail ropes stretched out from those masts make a confusing, thus unappealing, sight.

C. Leading the Subject – or in other terms, create a lead room which is the space in front and in the direction of stationary or moving subjects. When the human eye sights an image for the 1st time, it expects to see a bit of space in front of the subject.

Let us take a look at the example below:

Here we see three pilgrims on a trek. The extra space allowed of the rightmost pilgrim implies direction as well as movement.

Without this visual padding, the pilgrims might appear impeded by a “wall” of the photo’s immediate edge. Such as below:

To Be Continued…

Prepared by DM Judilla from a discussion presented by JM Osabel. This article is part of an ongoing series of discussions on independent filmmaking based from the education and experiences of SineBuano and its members.

Through the Eye of Independent Filmmaking

Art is the imitation of life. Humans have strived to emulate nature’s working wonders through technology. One of the most perfect examples is the video camera’s ability to capture waves of light in order for these to be translated into images, like the eye.

During the fourth independent filmmaking discussion meeting, the members become familiar with Cinematography/Videography by getting to understand the principles that make the craft work.

The Sony VX2000 digital film camera was introduced as the model. This second generation 3CCD professional film camera has been used in many independent film productions both locally and worldwide. This camera is presently the “main cannon” of the SineBuano group’s arsenal in filmmaking.

While presenting the Sony VX2000’s general features, the following aspects of cinematography was also introduced:

(A lot of these terms were passed on from photography, a craft which is predecessor to cinematography/videography)

  • Charge Coupled Device (CCD) : An integrated circuit light sensor that absorbs light and translate it to images. The heart of every modern camcorder.
  • Exposure: The total amount of light allowed to fall on the camera’s image sensor.
  • Shutter speed: Length of time a camera’s shutter is open/exposed; the total exposure is proportional to this time, or duration of light reaching the image sensor. (There is no shutter in the digital camera but this function/setting serves a purpose). The Sony VX2000 shutter speed range is 1/60sec min. to 1/10000 max.
  • Scene luminance: The natural density of light present in the scene from a certain angle or emitted through a certain direction. It can also be the monochrome portion of a video signal.
  • Depth of field (DOF) : A portion of a scene that appears sharp in the image.
  • Focus: In most digital camcorders, there is an auto focus system which determines the subject of the shot and focuses only on that subject. Factors that can affect the accuracy is luminance. There is a manual override that allow adjustment of focus by hand.
  • White Balance: a camera function which determines how much RED, GREEN and BLUE being emitted in a particular scene/location is needed to acquire a regular WHITE.

The Sony VX2000 has an automatic white balance function but it is required to point its lens while recording or in stand by mode at a clean white object (such a thick white board or paper) when there’s a change in lighting conditions to maintain a correct white balance adjustment.

  • Zoom: the variance in focal length, allowing any subject to appear nearer or farther away. Most digital camcorders possess both optical and digital zoom capabilities.

Optical zoom occurs when the focal length of the camera’s lens are changed. Through such, 10 to 20 times the magnification of a certain subject can be achieved. For the Sony VX2000, its optical zoom is 12x.

Digital Zoom magnifies subject images by increasing the number of pixels for each point in an image. Digital zoom can range from 30, 300 times the magnification and trends are gearing up to even higher magnification.

General Characteristics of the Sony DCR-VX2000

  • Width:4.5 in
    Depth:13.5 in
    Height:5.7 in
    Weight:3.1 lbs
    Audio input: built in stereo microphone, electret condenser
    Lens System Type : Zoom lens – 6 mm – 72 mm – F/1.6-2.4
    Focal Length: 6 mm – 72 mm
    Lens Aperture: F/1.6-2.4
    Full Range Auto Focus: Yes
    Optical Zoom: 12 x
    Min focal length : 6 mm
    Max focal length : 72 mm
    Auto Focus: TTL contrast detection
    Features : Aspherical lens, Built-in 1/4 neutral density filter, Built-in 1/32 neutral density filter
    Filter Size: 58 mm
    Focus Adjustment : Manual, Automatic
    Zoom Adjustment : Manual, Motorized drive
    Digital Zoom : 48 x
    Optical Sensor Size : 1/3 in
    Optical Sensor Type: 3CCD
    Min Illumination: 2 lux
    Special Effects: Slim, Sepia, Still, Trail, Stretch, Monotone, Old Movie, Flash Motion, Negative Art, Solarization, Black & White, Luminance Key
    Image Stabilizer: Optical
    Video Head Quantity: 2
    PCM Digital Sound: 16bit (48KHz / 2 channels), 12bit (32KHz / 4 channels simultaneously)
    Digital Scene Transition: Random, Black fader, Overlap fader, Monotone fader
    Min Shutter Speed: 1/60 sec, Max Shutter Speed: 1/10000 sec
    Camcorder Slow Shutter Modes: 1/4sec, 1/8sec, 1/15sec, 1/30sec
    Shooting Modes: Normal movie mode, Digital photo mode
    Shooting Programs: Night mode, Lesson mode, Sports mode, Sunset & moon, Shutter-priority, Aperture-priority
    White Balance: Presets, Automatic
    White Balance Presets: Indoor, Outdoor
    Exposure Modes: Manual, Program, Automatic

Next meeting, basic and advanced rules and techniques in cinematography/videography such as framing a shot, 180 rule, rule of three, proper handling and panning of the camera,image stabilization, chrominance level adjustment to get a desired effect will be discussed.

Prepared by DM Judilla. This article is a part of an ongoing series of discussions on aspects of independent filmmaking based on the education, experience and expertise of SineBuano and its members.