No Right Explanation

No Right Explanation
The British Are Coming!

Firefilm | 28 May 2012 16:00
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Dan: Reading through the individual reviews and reasons that Chris gave for why each video fell short might have led some people to think that technical quality was a overly strong deciding factor in choosing a winner. The good thing about having three judges is that you get to have zero chance of a tie, and so while Chris may have focused on some factors and Kyle others, I had yet a third point of view on the videos.

Being as we had someone else do our debating for us, I really have no insight on the points distribution or the debate outcome. That being said, a lot of people have commented on the submissions we got and how the video quality could be better. Now, those reading this are about to be given a very special treat. I am going to give you a crash coarse in video production, so when we do this contest again I can expect some award-winning videos.


First off, you need to know the rule of thirds. This rule basically instructs you on where to put the person you are filming within the frame. In your mind, imagine three equally spaced lines horizontally and vertically on screen. The spot where the left vertical line and top horizontal line meet is where you want the eyes of your subject. Pop in a movie and try this out, you will see more often than not that it applies. Also notice that if the camera is positioned lower than the person it is filming, they appear powerful, whereas if it is higher, they appear small or weird.


Lighting is hard because you are at the mercy of what lamps you have in the house. The simplest form of good lighting is called three point lighting. Basically you want your strongest light at a 30 degree angle from where your subject is looking. This is called your key light. Then take your second, less powerful light and place it on the other side of the subject's face. This is called the fill, and it keeps your subject from looking like he stepped out of a graphic novel, or leave out this light if that's the look you're going for. Finally, draw a straight line from your key light through the subject, and then behind him, and put your least powerful light there. This is called the kicker, and it basically separates the subject out from the background and makes them pop. Make sure all lights are as high as you can place them pointing down, because that's where the sun comes from and we are wired to think it looks normal.


Sound is tricky, because it is the most dependent on your equipment. Many of you might be limited to the microphone that is built in to your camera, and that's ok. There isn't much you can do about it, but remember to project your voice, and make sure no one's doing construction outside. If you are lucky enough to have a microphone of any sorts, remember that you want it as close as possible to the subject without being seen. That's why film crews put them on long poles and stretch them out over the subjects. This pole is called a boom, and it is cool because if you are the boom operator you can say you have a boom stick. Boom sticks are cool. Mostly with sound you need to remember that it's always better to be too quiet than overblown. Editing software can raise volume but it can't deal with blown audio.

So there you have it, a crash course on filming. Is there more? Well yea, I have over 10 years of training and experience and I only now barely call myself intermediate/advanced. But when you are out making a web video or some other video project and you throw out that there needs to be more focus on the rule of thirds and that the fill light needs to be higher...well then you just became a Hollywood type. I'll see you...on the casting couch!

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