Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Video production class weblog--Day 2--A comedy of errors

"For the shooter, finding a unique perspective is not easy. It's painful. `You have to suffer!' Ralph bellowed, his voice shaking with passion. `Great photographers have to suffer! Running around with a camera can be fun once in a while, but mostly it's just a lot of suffering.'"

--photographer Ralph Steiner quoted in Barry Braverman's Video Shooter.

1) Day two. The madness continues. I can hear the sound of a man screaming repeatedly due to the students editing a horror scene in the next room.

2) Thus far, I have been showing the class lots of the student videos made last year and the year before. I like to freeze shot compositions on large screen and discuss the poor lighting, the distracting backround, the wrong dominant, problems with automatic focus and exposure on the camcorders, awkward editing, and mediocre music. Since students tend to use music to gloss the sound deficiencies in our equipment, much depends on the songs they choose to set a mood, and sometimes the videos end up looking like little more than glorified music videos. Plausibility and editorial polish often makes the better videos stand out.

3) Otherwise, I brought all of the shooting equipment into the classroom, placed them on several desks, and asked one of the experienced students to show everyone else how to use the JVC camcorders. She placed the camera under the Elmo so we could project her presentation on the class screen. The class also divided up into three groups, with four students in each one. One student works as the director, one the camera person, and another edits and/or acts. I learned that two mounts for tripods had disappeared since last year, so I found myself scrounging around in storage for an unpleasantly long period of time, without finding anything. Then I asked the students to type up an inventory of all of the equipment (even the wheelchair we use for dolly shots), and then e-mail it to me. This afternoon, I will have them all sign the inventory, preferably with blood, in the hopes that that will help them keep better track of equipment during the upcoming shoots.

4) This afternoon, the students went off to shoot practice scenes. One involved a mugging, another a scary door, and the last shows a guy's up and down relationship with a teddy bear. Since then, I have watched one computer's editing software freeze up due to the fancy new camcorder. Also the Pinnacle 12 softwear doesn't work on the computer. In the course of trying to get that to function, someone bent a prong so now the monitor now no longer connects to the main computer. Not being much of a tech wizard, I have mostly looked on and tried to be supportive as people wrestle with cords and machines.

5) When I asked for help, the normally friendly IT administrator gave me a testy look. His assistant may no longer speak to me. Outside, the weather is grey and damp. We are not at all prepared technologically for our guest teacher tomorrow. Wish me luck for tomorrow's class.


JUS said...

Gee... Your IT guy sounds like a jerk. Most of them are.

hokahey said...

I share your frustrations. Schools often make it hard to create. Today we were set to shoot a scene in the basement of the science center in a room we had reserved. We got there and there was a meeting going on, so we had to take time to negotiate for them to move to my classroom. We needed the basement because the film is about 4 students trapped in a school - so there can't be any conflicting background noises. We got all set for the shot - had to get rid of some winter-trainers doing stretches - and we started to shoot - and we heard the custodian vacuuming on the floor above. So we waited for that to stop. We hope tomorrow will be our last day of shooting - because all the conflicts have been stressful. The story takes place during one day - so continuity was imperative and the students were very good about wearing exactly the same clothes. But over Christmas vacation one of the girls cut her hair short! She forgot, of course! But she did redeem herself by coming to school with hair extensions! I love teenagers!

FilmDr said...

JUS, Au contraire, the IT guy is essential for the success of the class. I fully deserved the testy look he gave me.

hokahey, I know exactly what you mean. Creative projects demand different priorities, but I am constantly running up against rules and schedules. The sense of quality control is all in the film instructor's head. If that is lost somehow, then the whole project unspools. It's hard to hold your class to standards that no one else appreciates or understands.