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Lessons Learned From Short Film 3

This film was a sequel to a film we called The Race where both brothers raced each other around the court on roller blades. The first film ended in a tie, so they raced again in this movie. The first film was pretty basic and was all shot on a tripod with very few edits and only a half dozen scenes. For the sequel I wanted to step up the editing by shooting more coverage. I also wanted to increase the tension by getting the camera moving and in the thick of the action. I think we accomplished both of those goals.

I also decided to alter the camera’s settings to try and give the story a more “film” look. This also involved shooting in black and white. We shot on the Canon D60 with the 18-135 mm kit lens set to 50 mm. For the exteriors I used an ND8 filter. This was also the first use of our new fluid head tripod. Ironically enough, I went hand held for the actual race and so only used the tripod for the interior shots of the kids gearing up and the coin toss.

I used Open Shot on Ubuntu to edit this film. It was my first attempt at editing video since college. Needless to say, things have changed a bit in the last twenty years. After I got a decent cut I decided to go ahead and drop in titles and credits and then I found some fast paced music online and dropped that in. Since we shot the film in MOS or without sound, we always intended it to have a music overlay.

We shot the interior footage at 60 fps in order to facilitate slowing the scenes down in post. But I never learned how to do that so those shots look more video-like than the rest of the film which we shot at 24 fps (frames per second). Eventually I’ll get better at using Cinelerra and we can readdress those shots in a new edit. Open Shot crashed on me many times during my edits. I eventually figured out the auto save feature and then didn’t lose any cuts after that. I find the cutting tool to be very tedious and not very accurate in that program. But I have nothing to compare it to at this point. I hope to use Cinelerra for the next film, but that’s only if I get the time to go through a bunch of video tutorials. Because that program is not intuitive.

This film was shot, directed and edited all by myself. It’s not easy or ideal being a one person band on a dramatic film. Too many moving pieces to keep track of. All the shots were thought up on the spot and then I had to get the kids to execute which is a bit like herding cats. Lessons learned: Plan better, get a helper and perhaps go a bit slower so I can think things through.

Some of the hand held footage is soft, meaning out of focus. Partly that’s due to the zoom lens I was using and part of it was due to incorrect exposure which limited my depth of field. No excuse for that on such a sunny day and with using a neutral density filter. For the next film I’ll be using my prime lenses that all have measurements on them so we can set the focus better.

This film is a perfect example of what four people can do in an afternoon with a few decent film tools. Get out and make something and I guarantee you will learn things and get better at filmmaking.

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