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<   No. 3316   2014-01-26   >

Comic #3316

1 {photo of video store shelves full of DVD movies}
1 Caption: Making Movies

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Leia and R2
Leia costume and R2-D2 prop.
I've been thinking about movies a fair bit lately. I am currently reading The Making of Return of the Jedi, the final book in J. W. Rinzler's trio of books about the story behind the original Star Wars trilogy. These books were only written and published fairly recently, and Rinzler had to dig back through archives and old interviews to assemble the material. He has done a fantastic job and I recommend the books to anyone with an interest in the Star Wars films, or in film making.

I've also in the past few months attended a film and video trade show as part of my job, and have been flipping through books on cinematography. It's quite a bit more complicated than still photography, because you have the same technical and artistic issues of exposure, depth of field, composition, lighting, and so on, plus the additional considerations of shot to shot composition, continuity, changing focus during a shot, motion, and dealing with actors. And that's even before you factor in sound effects, dialogue, storyboarding, and visual effects.

But it's a field I'm keen to learn more about. Especially because these days it's easy to get your hands on a good quality video camera. In fact, I have one. There's one built into my digital SLR camera. I've only used it a few times so far, but I hope to start using it more to record vacations and to make some short creative films. It's not like I have enough hobbies to keep me occupied already!

So far I've made one short film*. It's notionally a trailer for a feature length film. It was inspired by the mezzacotta Cinématique random movie generator that one of my friends put together. This generates random movie titles and plot summaries. We decided it would be fun to generate one and then film a trailer for the resulting description. You can see the result here. (The version of Cinématique we used in the video was an earlier version, without the final graphic design.)

We filmed the entire thing during a single lunchtime at my work. We started by generating the random movie, then planned a plot and storyboarded it roughly on a meeting room whiteboard while we ate lunch. Then when we'd finished eating we filmed the scenes, starting in the same room, then moving outside our office building and into the lobby and the basement for the final shots. Most of the shots were filmed with just one or two takes - I don't recall if we ever filmed more than two takes. And most of the dialogue was ad-libbed on-camera. Ideally of course you'd probably write an actual script and do several takes until the actors (and camera operator) got it right. But we wanted to do it quick-and-dirty, to get it done in a single lunchtime.

Obviously I have a long way to go in this craft. But as long as I'm having fun along the way, that's what's important!

* Well, one short film with live actors and some semblance of a plot. I've made a few other things in the past: stop motion LEGO stuff, and some random time-lapse videos.

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My comics: Irregular Webcomic! | Darths & Droids | Eavesdropper | Planet of Hats | The Dinosaur Whiteboard | mezzacotta
My blogs: (daily updates) | 100 Proofs that the Earth is a Globe (science!) | Carpe DMM (long form posts) | Snot Block & Roll (food reviews)
More comics I host: The Prisoner of Monty Hall | Lightning Made of Owls | Square Root of Minus Garfield | iToons | Comments on a Postcard | Awkward Fumbles
Last Modified: Sunday, 26 January 2014; 02:10:36 PST.
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