The importance of Pre-Production and 3 very important aspects of it

The motivation for this post is to emphasize and bash the idea just how important preproduction is during a scripted shoot. In every shoot I’ve been on, preproduction has been the key point in the entire production process that has determined the quality of the final cut.

1) The script must accommodate the Storyboard/Shot Chart

It’s almost common sense that a script is an essential part of preproduction. With that said, what is often over looked is how the script accommodates the storyboard or shot chart. The script cannot live by itself.

Recently, I was on a shoot that had a very well prepared script. However, the main issue was that there was no story boarding or shot charting. We, as the crew that shot the project, was very impressed with their in-depth preproduction and totally looked over the fact that we didn’t have a story board or a shot chart. The result was catastrophic. When it came time to shoot, we were forced to think of locations, how the shot was going to look, etc. This resulted in 3  4-6 hours shoots that exhausted the crew. I felt the morale of the crew decreasing after each day of the shoot. This all could have been prevented if we simply location scouted and had come up with a shot chart or a storyboard.

Granted, I understand that TTV does have a busy schedule and most of our shoots are run and gun style. With that said, it’s still important to think about these essential elements of production.

2) Finalize the script with your client before ANY shooting begins.

The key difference between the script and the storyboard/shot chart is that the script must be finalized because everything that is in a script can be controlled. The message you are trying to send using the video is determined by you and your client with the script. This must be set in stone before any shooting begins because the message that you are trying to send using the video is hard to change during a shoot. This doesn’t mean stick to the script when shooting. For example, the way actors say the script might not seem natural so you may just make some minor adjustments during the shoot, which can be done without sacrificing time. In other words, how the message can be told may change during production.

Unfortunately, what may happen is that the script is changed drastically during a shoot. The reason why this must be avoided is to avoid causing logistical errors. Logistical errors cause missing scenes, missing audio, etc. In addition, thinking about the logistics of the shoot consumes time. SO FINALIZE YOUR SCRIPTS BEFORE YOU SHOOT! 

3) Schedule production time in advance and stick with it

Plain and simple, if you commit to a shooting time, show up and shoot. Make sure everyone is able to shoot. If key members of the crew aren’t able to contribute to production, it is more likely that the footage won’t be what the crew imagined it to be during preproduction.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that preproduction is the base of your video. If the base of any structure is week, that structure is going to be week. So make sure you nail preproduction so that you can make something you’re proud of!

Happy shooting,

-Keita Funakawa

Pixar and the Magic of Storytelling

Its 10th week and I’m trying to do anything but study! I was reading my blogs looking to keep see what is the latest Hollywood news, more information on the Canon 5D Mark III and their mysterious EOS 4K Camera, what’s the deal with “The New IPAD”, and I found this gem of video.

If you aren’t familiar with TED, it is a company that has conferences where they invite people to share ideas and information.  You can attend these conferences in person or watch the videos that they post online.  This video is about Andrew Stanton who wrote Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, Wall-E and the current live action movie John Carter which he also directed [along with A Bug's Life, Finding Nemo and Wall-E].  He talks about his experiences with Pixar, his inspirations, and how he crafts his films.

Its a wonderful video which shares insight on how we share stories and how stories are important in our lives.  I’ve been kinda hooked on writing since I’m taking a playwriting course this quarter and another playwriting plus a screenwriting class next quarter as well.

I believe the bigest take away would be that you need to make the audience care by telling great stories.  You make a promise to them in the beginning and you have to follow through.  To tell great stories you need to give them wonder, suspense, mystery, and fun.  However, you can only write what you know.

I loved the quote -

“Frankly, there isn’t anybody you couldn’t learn to love once you’ve heard their story”. – Unknown Social Worker

We all love stories, just tell us an interesting one. Best way to write or tell interesting stories? Lead an interesting life. Do crazy and wild things! Learn new things and travel.  As a filmmaker we’re in the business of story telling only ours is a visual medium.

Executive Producer – Johnathan Nguyen

Credit – Go in the Story

The Power of the iPhone

There is no argument that the iPhone was a game changer. It revolutionized the smart phone industry and skyrocketed Apple into on of the most valued company in the world. Today, people from every different walks of life own and use this tiny but powerful machine.  Combined with its App Store, the iPhone has thousands of capabilities meaning you can use it for anything and everything.

Which brings me to today’s post. I recently got an iPhone for Christmas and I’ve been on an app downloading frenzy. I found that not only can the iPhone be a great tool in increasing my productively and communication, there are several applications that can be used in the film world.

Below are listed some of the iPhone apps that I’ve found by snooping around the internet, reading blogs, and some suggested by a few friends of mine. These apps are helpful to have on set.

AJA DataCalc
Price: Free
iTunes

This applications is very useful when you’re worried about data storage. The app calculates storage requirements based on frame-rate, compression, resolution and other options. Its compatible with many popular formats. Since I’m always running and gunning know how much room I have left on my cards and how much space it’ll take on my external HD is extremely useful.

LVRUSA
Price: Free
iTunes

Whenever I buy something new I always lose the manual. Its a really bad habit of mine. What I like about this apps is that it gathers all the manuals of popular digital cameras and stores it in one handy location. This app has a huge library of information ranging from the Canon EOS 7D to Sony HVR to the RED ONE.  Other useful information include how much time can be recorded on popular media types as well as the estimates on how long different batteries will hold a charge. There is even a color temperature chart.

Although, I don’t own most of the cameras and equipment that this application provides, its useful to have. I’ve been on shoots with various people who use different equipments and being able to look up some basic information always help. No one wants to be that guy who doesn’t know “what that button does” on a shoot.

LVRUSA iPhone App Screenshots

Gobo (Filmmakers Dictionary)
Price: $0.99
iTunes

There is a funny story regarding another member of Triton TV.  This unnamed person was on film shoot one day and was told to grab some “stinger”.  He quickly replied said “Yes” and went to grab the stinger.  At this point, he realized that he didn’t know what a stinger was searching all over for it.  The director soon realized that he had no idea what he was looking for and explained that a “stinger” is an extension cord.  The rest of the crew laughed and went on with production.  Later, the same person was asked to grab some C-47 and C-stands.  Again, he had no idea what was going on and asked around for some “C-4″ and “Sea Sands”.

Moral of the story is that unless you’ve been on film sets, you might not be accustomed to some of the production slang and terminology.  This is where Gobo comes in.  The applications is a Filmmakers Dictionary. It references a ton of information including color temperature, video formats, ect.

Gobo Filmmakers Dictionary iPhone App Screenshots

Clinometer
Price: $0.99
iTunes

Most tripods these days have bubble levels on them.  However, when you’re running and gunning some times its hard to balance your camera properly. This applications is a pure clinometer. It calibrates seamlessly, launches quickly and works effectively.

Clinometer iPhone App Screenshots

DSLR Slate
Price: $9.99
iTunes

I’ll admit that I’m pretty bad at logging information during production and in post.  Some recent shoots have made me aware that I need to start slating and logging my shots.  Since I own a Canon EOS 7D this was the perfect slate for me to use.  Triton TV’s workflow is mostly DSLRs so this is just makes since.  You can load all the camera info into the slate.  Color temp, shutter speed, ISO, ect.

iTouch4 Flashlight
Price: Free
iTunes

The app is a portable sun gun. Sometimes especially when you’re film a really dark area i.e. night clubs and parties – its hard to get your exposure right.  I own an LED light which I use but I don’t always have it around.  When I need an extra light to just light a scene or increase my exposure this app is there to save the day.  It also helps when there is a blackout, trust me I’ve been there.

Flickerfree Calculator
Price: Free
iTunes

This application can calculate any frame rate and match it with a shutter speed so you don’t get any flicker or any awkward movement in your footage. I was taking the VIS176 – 16mm Film class earlier this year and I wish I had this application back then.  Punch in your  settings and find the perfect settings, it helps with slow motion and fast motion.

Sunrise & Sunset Lite
Price: Free
iTunes

I don’t own too much lighting equipment so I rely a lot on ambient light.  This application lets me know when I can expect the sun to go up or down.  Knowing when golden hour will happen is a godsend for video and photography.  The applications looks at your GPS location uses it to calculate all the info.  Its simple, effective, and clean.

Cinemagram
Price: $1.99
iTunes

Most people are familiar with Instagram but haven’t heard of Cinemagram. This application is very simliar in that it’ll take a picture and you can overlay it with effects just like Instagram, however what makes it different is that it creates moving images. Yes, Instagram but for short animations.  Its fun, you can make short artsy videos, and share them with the rest of the world.

Action Movie FX
Price: Free
iTunes

This is a really fun app and Pratik demonstrated it during one of our General Body Meetings.  Pretty much you record a video using your iPhone’s camera and then you add pre-made special effects.  It comes with two free effects and you can go to the store to buy more.  The effects range from a tornado, missile explosion, a dropped boulder, and many more.  The app is made by Bad Robot the company owned by J. J. Abrams so you know you its a quality product.

Johnathan Nguyen – Executive Producer

Credit -
The Black and Blue
Hurlburt Visuals 

Top Ten TTV Equipment Wish List

10. A Pack of Attack Hounds

9. A 1968 Volkswagen Van

8. A Vibrating Heart-Shaped Bed

7. A 5D Mark 3 made of Legos

6. A Projector Screen made of iPads

5. A Wookie (They make great ADs!)

4. A V-Neck Shirt Making Machine

3. A Life-Sized Chocolate Replica of Martin Scorsese

2. A SD Card Tracking Device

1. Fully Functional Acting Robots

-Joseph

Trend Magazine Disection

Sooo, the Trend Magazine Launch Party back in 2011 was an event that I was really excited to cover because I looooooove fashion. Part of me was really nervous at first because it was my first solo project and I didn’t want to mess up. But it nevertheless was a great experience and I got a chance to interview the vendors that provided all the clothes, accessories, and make-up for the issue. But once I uploaded the footage to start editing I was in for a huge surprise! First, there were a couple of very cool shots that I wanted to use but it turned out that they weren’t in focus! I was soooo mortified because I was worried that I wouldn’t have enough footage to make a long enough video. Second, there was an interesting interview that I had with Nina jewelry that I wanted to include in the video, but it turned out that the boomer was not turned on. But, when I was interviewing her for the second time, my camera ran out of battery! Just my luck…and it was getting late. Despite a couple of other bumps in the road I think it turned out pretty well for a first project. I got to really experiment with various video transitions and having the overall flow of the video match the background music.

-Jocelyn

At Least Something’s Growing!

I’m sitting here at 3:55 AM (what? last time I looked it was 3:15!), pondering on the futility of life and the arts while waiting for my video to export.

The video, which will be up on the website in just a bit, is a (more or less) raw documentation of the protests at UC Riverside on January 19th. I had the privilege of attending and witnessing student solidarity – no, community solidarity. Together, we came together and fought privatization for a day. We fought the budget cuts that are forcing classes to become larger and larger, for more and more Visual Arts classes to be cut (which directly affects a lot of the people involved with Triton Television), etc. etc.

Some of the rhetoric and language thrown out at these protests is depressing. It sucks that we can’t let more students come. It sucks that the Regents are stealing money, forcing people to cut back while they get richer. The imposed austerity measures are taking a huge toll on us, and it can get really depressing.

But, when I come to Triton Television, I see a blossoming community. I see 20 new interns coming through every quarter. I see staff and producers that I don’t even recognize – and that’s a great thing! It means TTV is growing extremely fast. In the past quarter and a half, we’ve put out more videos than during the rest of TTV’s existence. That’s amazing.

Let’s keep that momentum going. Keep telling your friends about Triton Television. Get them to the Channel Launch Party on Thursday at Porter’s. Tell them about the channel they can watch student-produced videos on.

And speaking of those videos, let’s start putting out videos left and right. Let’s make videos for everyone. Let’s get teams of people to cover the walkout on March 1st, while another team goes to get Pi Phi’s Surf Classic. One group can cover a Red Bull event downtown while another can get the water polo game on campus.

This is the path towards an amazing career. Building step by step – learning the camera, assisting on countless videos, all the while making connections, getting to know the artists and collaborators on campus, until we have our own thriving artistic community. That vision is in sight – now let’s make it happen!

Sean Estelle

The ZOR Introduction Video

I am currently in possession of a video that I desperately want to release but can’t until February 4th. It’s a video for UCSD’s Indian dance team, ZOR that will premiere at their first dance competition.

 

My involvement in this video began the week before finals in fall quarter. Out of the blue, a girl named Sita contacted me knowing I had experience making videos. She wanted to see if I was interested in making this video for them that would be shown before every one of their competitions. It would tell a story leading to their well choreograph dance performance. Part of me wanted to just reject her so I could focus on finals and enjoy winter break. But as a TTV producer I knew it would be morally wrong to not help someone with their video related needs. And honestly this project really caught my attention. I love making videos with interesting plots where I get to work with actors. So I agreed to meet her at our studio the next day. Funny tangent- I didn’t know that ‘Sita’ was a girl’s name when she first messaged me and she came to studio with the lead male actor of the video. I shook his hand and said ‘you must be Sita’. Embarrassing mistake.- During the meeting she explained the plot of the video for me. She wanted to showcase a man’s life in San Diego, his relationships with others, and his involvement in his dance team. Right of the back, I imagined what the video would look like and we started planning each scene. It was fun because what I love to do most is create content which I was given the ability to do in this video along with directing it.

 

Over Winter break, me and Sita finalized the script and started planning out the shoot. I insisted on doing all in one day because it would be hard to get people together after classes started. The shoot was planned for the Sunday before Winter quarter started. My next task was to assemble a team. Victor has been my DP for my previous personal projects and I’ve always felt really comfortable working with him so he was an obvious choice. I also needed another person to be my assistant director which I offered to Raman. I literally ran into to Raman after my first meeting with Sita and told him about the project and he expressed interest (and him being Indian was the selling point, since we were working with ZOR).

 

We started the shoot at 10AM. I planned out every location of the shoot and projected we would be finished by 6PM. I was very wrong. Throughout the day, Victor worked the camera, Raman did sound and lights, and I spent most of my time yelling at a large group of Indian actors. We shot in front of Geisel, at Scripps, in downtown SD, took a lunch break, shot in residential neighborhood as quickly as we could before sunset, inside someone’s apartment, and finally at the price center ballroom. Oh and then we recorded audio back at the studio while skipping dinner because food was not my priority that day. But at around 10PM, we finished and I hugged everyone around me because of the relief I felt at that moment. I truly appreciate my crew for sticking with me throughout that exhausting day.

 

I began editing the piece the next day because I was really excited to look at the project. By the end of the day I had all the video cut but unfortunately it was about 3 and half minutes. I told Sita about this and she said the video needs to be less than 2 minutes. Later that week, she came over to my apartment so we could decide what to cut. Honestly I felt like I dismantling my newborn child, but it needed to be done. Throughout the next week, Sita gave me the music to put in the video. (I never heard so much Bollywood in my life). And after many draft of slightly altering clips, changing musical transitions, and adding subtitles, the video is finally finished. And to ease my anxiety to prematurely release it I wrote this blog instead. 

-Joseph

Reflections

By: Jocelyn Coca

Just wanted to say that I’m so excited to start working on new projects and with new people (congrats fall ’11 interns!) for this new year. This past quarter has been crazy and fast paced but I definitely learned a lot. I hope to keep on learning but also have fun! I feel that something I learned along the way is to just have fun with a project because one never knows what one might capture on camera, it might turn out to be THE footage that makes the video memorable. Who knows, playing around with the editing features could make one’s video UNIQUE. Plus, with everyone at TTV, there’s never a dull moment! I’m definitely grateful to be a part of this family.

Beavis & Butthead

Everybody has that ONE show that they routinely watch every week, well mine is Beavis and Butthead, but that hasn’t always been the case. When I was a little kid I used to hate watching the show with a passion because the characters terrified me, especially with their weird voices. They were so strange looking and their laugh freaked me out. But now that I’m older and the fact that I’m kind of weird, I learned to appreciate their crude humor. From their sayings like “We’re gonna score” to the act of Cornholio there is always something going on with them that distinguish them from other shows. I also appreciate the show more now because of the fact that the creator Mike Judge graduated from UCSD for his undergrad career. It gives me hope since I’m a comm. major that a student who wasn’t a science major became really successful. Because of the show I will never look at shows or music videos the same, I tend to criticize music videos a lot now. They’re really critical of shows like Teen Mom, Jersey Shore and True Life which all appears on MTV, but the thing about their critiques is that they don’t even know what they’re talking about so it makes it funny. Now I analyze every little thing on shows even if they don’t matter. Even though the characters Beavis and Butthead can be really slow at times they remind me of the way that my friends and I act. I’m pretty sure a lot of people act like them at times. Basically BEAVIS & BUTTHEAD IS THE BEST cartoon in my opinion. If you want to know what I’m talking about tune into last night’s episode

http://www.mtv.com/videos/beavis-and-butt-head-season-9-ep-8-copy-machine-holding/1675620/playlist.jhtml#series=2211&seriesId=37392&channelId=1

 

-Jazmin Marquez

Breaking Bad

This is a television show I recently started watching. The show focuses on this character named Walter White. Mr. White comes to find out that he has cancer and therefore has been given a death sentence. Reflecting upon his situation that he is an overly qualified chemistry teacher and that will be leaving behind little money for his wife and two children decides to do something about it. Circumstances push him towards selling Meth as he sees it for quick profit in the little time he has left. The show jump starts into a fusion of intense crime and drama. Mr. White then follows down a dark path pushing him further into edge leading two lives one as a father who has terminal cancer and the other as a Meth cook.  

Anyone that is looking for a serious drama look no further. The story is well written for the most part and is therefore one of AMC’s top television series. I like what they have done in the organization of each show. When an episode airs, they show a small glimpse of the future. This sequence is usually very short but it really keeps the viewers interest. The rest of the episode will show you how they got to that point. The acting of Mr. White really gives the show its edge. He is really able to develop the character and show that he is capable of making the choices that he makes.

Image

The actors name is Bryan Cranston. The cool thing is that the creator of the show Vince Gilligan had already cast Bryan Cranston because of a previous work they did together years back on a single episode he did on the X-files. He has now won 3 emmy awards for outstanding lead actor.

There are plenty of good shows out there and this is one of them. In addition the first 3 seasons are streaming on Netflix!

-Raman