Filmmaking Basics/Planning the Movie/Filming

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WikiU Film School - Lesson #003: Planning the Movie - Filming Considerations
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Wikiversity (English) Humanities Art and Design Fine Arts Film and Television Narrative Film Production Course #01 - Learning the Basics of Filmmaking Lesson #003: Planning the Movie Page 2 - Filming


Filming Considerations Today[edit]

It will take about three years to complete this movie. Obviously, the state of the art will change over that time. But deciding how to film this movie based in guesses of future developments is not a safe idea. So let's look at what is possible today.

Overall Considerations[edit]

Before we can begin making the motion picture, some basic decisions need to be made. Are we filming a live action movie or will this movie be animation? What frame size should be used? What frame rate and what aspect ratio? Which audio? Will this be shot by DV camcorders or by HDV camcorders or HD camcorders or with film cameras?

These decisions are made by the film's Producer... which in this case, is the your instructor (me!). For this movie, I am acting as the Producer. Here is the logic I used to make the decisions up until now.

Note: Throughout the entire filmmaking process, the Producer continues to make decisions. Therefore, you will return to this lesson over and over again to see what new decisions have been made and why.

Filming & Animation[edit]

This is both a training exercise and a real motion picture... even if it is very short. Therefore, this movie will be done both as a live action movie and as an animated movie so you will learn more. This is not a far fetched as it might seem since this movie will be storyboarded using 3D software. Therefore, the step to full animation is not be that great. Also, many of the steps will overlap (filming vs. animation) so the effort to do both will not be as great as two times doing it one way.

The Year of HD[edit]

Steve Jobs has declared that this is the year of HD. Therefore, I don't think that Steve Jobs will want to demonstrate a movie made at SD resolution. So now we have to decide which frame size we should use. Just saying HD is not enough. We will still have to decide which HD standard we want to use.

Film is the Ultimate Standard[edit]

This is a good time to point out one of the great truths about filmmaking. In filmmaking, there is only one standard. That is [[w:film |motion picture film]. Motion picture film is recorded at 24.000 frames per second. Film is not shot at 23.976 (or more accurately 24.000 *1000/1001) except for some television shows in North America which are edited on NTSC video.


Selecting the Digital Video Camera[edit]

Based on today's technology, we have a lot of choices.

DV Camcorders[edit]

Today, the lowest cost of filming digitally is by using a DV Camcorder. Therefore, if you want to make an SD movie in North America (which is NTSC country), you can create a anamorphic 16 by 9 movie which will be distributed on DVD-Video disk using wide (fat = anamorphic) pixels at 720 by 480 pixels.

For all graphic (such as the titles) that means drawing on a square pixel frame of 720 by 540 pixels which will later be squeezed to 720 by 480 using non-square (wide) pixels.

Using most any modern computer, this is easy... though a bit awkward.

HD Camcorders[edit]

For now, there are very expensive cameras. That is why currently, most people are using HDV camcorders. (Yes, these two formats are very different even if their names sound the same.)

HDV Camcorders[edit]

HDV is rather confusing since HDV uses non-square pixels just like DV (as compared with HD which uses square pixels.) I prefer to work with square pixels since this movie will require lots of compositing.

Conclusion about Cameras[edit]

For our movie, we will use:

  • Square Pixels
  • 16:9 aspect ratio
  • 1280 by 720 frame size
Anything which is not in this format will be converted to this format before editing.

Lenses[edit]

If possible, we will use prime lenses so we can control the depth of field.

Matte Paintings[edit]

We will use a Matte Painting wherever possible. We will NOT use greenscreen.

The purpose of this movie is to teach the technologies of filmmaking. Greenscreen is the hot technology of the day... but not the most useful. Therefore, we will explore how matte paintings can be used instead of greenscreen.

Digital Video vs. Film[edit]

This movie is short enough to shot on film. If it is possible, we will. If not, DV.

Animation vs. Live Action[edit]

As you will see in the next section, we will also do an animated version. That will show you many new and exciting options.


(more later....) Robert Elliott 30 September 2006