Evan J Palmer's Blog

A blog about learning (code, improv, film and, anything else).

Category: Film Making

Fixing Focus in Post with Adobe Premiere

I’m not a very good film maker… yet.

I’m bad.

I went out to shoot with some friends – sixteen hours away by car – and when I reviewed the footage at home (yes, I waited until I got home to review) I found that one of my main shots was not in focus like I had expected.

I’m sure there are lots of other things wrong with the shot, but hey, it’s all learning!

Anyway Here’s the original shot (poke the image with your mouse to upsize):
Without Sharpen

You can see the actor’s melon, in particular his hair, is not in focus at all. Check out his poorly focused shoes too. I was bummed but luckily a friend of mine told me to try the “Sharpen Tool” in Premiere.

I was sure this wouldn’t work, because I mean, if the information isn’t there, it’s just not frikken there. We can’t fix it in post. I mean, that’s like in CSI when they zoom in on a blurry face on a security camera and all of a sudden we can see the mole on the murderer’s right cheek aaaaaaaaaaand he’s guilty! Welll…IT DOESN’T WORK LIKE THAT!!! Right!

… right?

Luckily I’m a big dummy, and it does work like that.

Here is the same frame with the sharpen applied (click for embiggification):

With Sharpen

Note the actors shoes and shoe laces, and his hair. Not perfect, but good enough for an amateur, like me.

Now I know why Adobe’s slogan is “Making Dreams Come True”…. at least that should be their slogan.

For more information on using the sharpen tool, give this a click!

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It’s cool for dudes to wear make up…. right?

kiss

So we recently shot a short film with lots of close ups.

It’s funny, the close ups aren’t that much closer than a view you might get of your friend when you’re talking, but for some reason on film, every imperfection in the actors skin is suddenly noticeable – maybe even amplified.

This might be because of the lighting? Or maybe just how your brain registers the actors face on film. Or maybe just because as an editor I’ve looked at it so much that I notice more stuff?

It’s cool – it can kind of be fixed in post with some soft filters or color grading (depending on the type of imperfection), but I think it’s a good idea to use a little make up if planning lots of close ups.

I’ll be trying it for a future shoot.

First Shoot with Actors or The Importance of Story Boards

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On Saturday we shot our first short with people who aren’t normally involved.

We had the regulars, plus two actors  I met at improv classes, and an extra cameraman. We also shot at a friend’s house, so we had some spectators too – people who had inconvenienced themselves by lending us their house as a location.

Because we had these extra stakeholders, I was super conscience of time.

There was one glaring mistake that came to light that day – I hadn’t planned my shots.

We had a solid script.
We had rehearsed.
We had all the props.
We had a charged camera
We had laptop for reviewing
We had lights
Audio was sorted

But we really should have story boarded storyboards, for two reasons:

Firstly to make sure we didn’t miss any shots. I haven’t finished editing yet, but I have a feeling that I’ve missed a few shots – mostly around the bit where I’m acting, so at least I can reshoot myself if I need, but with story boards, this wouldn’t be a problem,

Secondly so we could tell everyone how much longer was left without guessing. After a few hours of shooting people were getting bored and hungry. It was hard for me to guess how long we had left because I couldnt’ say, well, we’ve done about 50% of the shots. As a result, we rushed scenes towards the end, and they didn’t turn out as well as they could have.

Next shoot I won’t skimp on this important planning step.

Two lessons learned from being a dickhead

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My film-editing-colleague and I made two funny faux pas with clients recently.

The first one occurred when emailing a prospective client. My business partner and I were writing up an email. We were discussing how we should not be too formal, which I think is true, for us. We joked we should call them new client “bro”  so my mate typed it into the email. We laughed and he upped the anti and changed it to “Broski”…. then accidentally clicked send.

Yup – we called a potential client “Broski” in writing.

Then we just pretended that we meant to do it. They decided to go with us, for some reason anyway, so now when we go to shoot we’re going to have to pretend we just talk like that.

The second faux pas was during the last shoot we did. We had all this footage of the carpark for which we were making a promotional video. During editing we noticed in the background of one of the shots, a mother was running with a pram. In another shot, a shading looking character with a hood walked past. Obviously we thought it would be funny to edit the two together so it looked like the shady guy was stalking/chasing the mother through a car park.

How did the client respond? This is an actual quote from an email:

1. Delete the scene with the man with the hood walking past.
2. Delete the scene with the woman running with the pram.

Makes sense.

Two lessons I learned:

1) Don’t write up joke emails
2) Your clients aren’t idiots

17 Things I Learned Filming for a Client

My friends and I recently completed our first paid video editing job for a client.

In some ways it’s very different to what we usually do. So, not just a bunch of friends hanging out, drinking beer and filming whatever we wanted. This time we had people with a time constraints taking time out of their busy days, relying on us to get the correct footage.

I learnt:

  1. Make sure you have a back up power source
    It’s stressful as you see the power supply go down on your battery when the client is relying on you to be effective with their time. Make sure you have an additional power supply, or batery pack and your charger with you.
  2. Make sure you have loads of space to record all the footage you need
    Don’t run out of disk space. You don’t want disk space to be an issue for getting those awesome shots when other people’s time is at stake. Make sure you have additional memory cards and a laptop to transfer the media onto.
  3. When interviewing people, be sure to be supportive, but don’t talk about freezing on camera
    We tried to make people comfortable by saying things like “You’ll be fine. when I’m on camera, I just freak out and forget my lines, but you – you’re awesome and will be fine”. I don’t think that is the correct tactic, because it puts the thought in the talents head that people can freeze. Just don’t mention it and be super supportive.
  4. Think carefully about lighting. Use lighting that’s available, if you can’t bring your own.
    Ideally you should bring your own lighting, but remember to get it right the first time
  5. Have a director
    Someone (preferably a single person, maybe you) should act as a director. The point is that one person should be calling the shots, ensuring there is quiet on set, directing the talent and making a final call on all decisions.
  6. Be mindful of background noise
    Same with shooting anything, really, but you might not be able to re-shoot as easily
  7. If you’re unsure, retake
    Better safe than sorry!
  8. Be mindful of your client’s time
    We’ve got lots of people waiting around to be shot. Five workers, and a manager. Should I shoot the manager first? Do any of the staff need to get back to their regular duties quickly?
  9. Sync audio in post with Plural Eyes
    Plural Eyes is a beautiful piece of software that syncs up audio for you
  10. Make life easy for yourself: get it right first time
    Pay attention to light, audio, framing etc  the first time around. It’ll save you hours in post.
  11. Record lots of ambient noise
    Get it while you’re on location! As film editors will know, this stuff is invaluable for patching up audio and seaming together cuts.
  12. Be a good director
    Make sure you’re filming the best that each person can be. Give them confidence and keep an eye on their body language.
  13. Get the rough cut to the stakeholder as early as possible. This is a tough one, because you don’t want to get it to them too early – before it looks half decent. But you want feed back as fast as possible.
  14. Be more specific with time frames after each review. This means say something like, “we’ll make these changes by tuesday, and when we meet on Wednesday, we expect that you will have a very minimal change set”.
  15. Understand the script/vision as well as you can from the beginning. Read the script several times. Ask questions about it. What is trying to be conveyed in the video.
  16. Recommend stuff, but be accommodating. Ie. from our experience, we think not centering this will look nicer, but of course, if you feel strongly we can keep it there”.
  17. Keep old versions/sequences so you can “rollback” or review when necessary.

Review – Lee’s Adventure

lee_adventure

I watched Lee’s adventure yesterday and I’d say it’s one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time.

It’s a beautiful and erratic Chinese film that bends time to really screw with your mind.

It’s about a young gentleman who suffers from a rare disease whose main symptom is the distorted perception of time. He meets a girl – shit gets crazy.

Parts of it are reminiscent of Fight Club, while other part are more like Primer.

Check it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OalZe2ueiXo