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Video Maker's Journey Introduction

Beyond Basics:  start | story development | pre-production | responding to criticism | editing refinements | transferring cine film to video | pace

The Videomaker's Journey: part twenty-two
Beyond the Basics: Responding to Criticism.

Use the links in the text to move between sections.

Responding to Criticism

Comments on how basic movies can be easily improved

This Lists a lot of faults that can be easily corrected.

When you are given advice, it is important to listen. Do not make excuses, otherwise people will stop trying to help you.

I have entered several movies in The British International Amateur Film Festival, the BIAFF. This is the best way to learn how to improve your movie making. The movies mentioned here were awarded two Stars. Note that the judge’s comments are shown in bold italics. The advice is all fair comment. The suggested corrections are all practical, they can be easily carried out by amateur movie makers.

MOVIE: Violets are Blue

The judges were very kind to us. They also took the trouble to praised the good points.

1. Good opening and titles

Violets Are Blue
by Arthur Bullock, Fay Finlay & Colin Tretheway

2. Unfortunately, this film was let down by the sound track. The background sound effects varied considerably in level. The wide shot of the car had a different background sound to the close ups. Andrew’s phone replies should have been in telephone distort.

I have read many times that the movie maker should always record ambient sound levels. This track can be used as a constant background with another sound track containing the dialogue and as little background sound as possible. Prior to this, I concentrated on recording dialogue that was clearly understandable above background noise. While this put me ahead of a lot of local amateur movie makers, it is not good enough.

Provided the background noise is recorded at a much lower level than the dialogue, and this is normally possible - the “Noise Reducer” in the computer will remove the background noise. Then add the specially recorded ambient noise at a suitable level.

Get the microphone close to the actors, if necessary, the actors should project their voices.

Telephone Distort. Using the computer editing software - select AUDIO FX - try “High Pass” Effect - set “MORE” close to maximum.
3. The doorbell effect was very loud and unconvincing.
Take care to adjust doorbells and other sounds to a suitable level.
4. The choice of music over the test drive and death notice was well chosen.
5. The general construction and pace was good as was the camera work, but there was an overuse of fades to black.

Fades to Black. I can now see there are several fades to black that shouldn’t be there. I have also revised my ideas on using Fades to Black as described in Part 17, to separate the sequences.

6. The mock up of the newspaper was not completely convincing.

To make a fake newspaper - go to the IAC Web Site (www.theiac.org.uk) on the home page select ”Toolbox” on the RHS, select “Make and Fake”, click on fodey.com and follow the instructions. Note: do not use real names of newspapers or persons.

7. Overall, a pleasant little story, as one of the judges put it “a love story to warm your old bones”.

Comments on other movies

There is a significant difference between movies you make for your own archives, for your family use and for general use at your club - and the dramas and documentaries you want to enter in international amateur competitions.

MOVIE: Ni Hao (Hello)

1. This was an interesting travelogue, which clearly showed the buildings, country and people of this diverse country.

Nia Hao (Hello)
by Arthur Bullock

[Ed: problems clearing the music for the web means that the version you see here has to be overdubbed with different, royalty-free music.]

2. Film of the types of transport and buildings was effective and shots from a slow moving vehicle were well done.
3. The commentary was informative, but at times was just a single phrase, descriptive of the picture, or naming a building. The narrative is a difficult, but vitally important, part of this type of documentary.
4.  The choice of music fitted the subject well and gave an immediate impression of China. This helped with the general mood of the film. Some of the film appeared to have no live sound, or this may have been drowned by the music. Often this did not matter, but when, for example, the tour guide was shown in close up, speaking to the group, her voice was expected. The school scene was good, but perhaps went on a little too long for the general viewer. As a record of your visit, this may have been included for yourself as a reminder of the trip. Sometimes different edits of the same film might be made for different audiences.

A fair comment - this is one of the most common faults that is seen in amateur documentaries.

5. A lovely record of a holiday trip.

MOVIE: The Restless Wind

1. The sailing boats provided a good background for an action film. It was a good idea to break up the aquatic scenes with a history of the club. There were too many long shots most of which were held too long. A mix of shot length would have helped to hold the interest and detract from the fact that the visuals did not always match the commentary.

(Arthur’s comment - it would have been possible for me to do this at the time, I could have got a friend to bring along a power boat so I could get a lot of close-ups and other shots from on the water - I have a power boat license and I am a very experienced dinghy sailor - I know how to keep out of the way of the sailing boats and not make a nuisance of myself. I owned and skippered a 16 foot skiff and regularly got 4th place in a fleet of twelve 16 foot skiffs.)

2. Different music could improve this movie as the “piano rag” type didn’t seem appropriate.
I have about 18 hours of Royalty Free Music - I missed the target here - I have plenty to choose from.
3. However this is a great record of the activities and triumphs of a historic sailing club and the members will be delighted with it. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to see your work.

MOVIE: A Long War

1. We all enjoyed the punch line in this film. However we felt a little more care could be taken with the sound quality, this keeps breaking up. There were also a number of jump cuts which needed to be attended to. If the faulty technical side could be overcome, this project would be worth attempting again. With the help of another enthusiast life would be easier.

2. Great that an effort was made. The film maker has the ideas so its not impossible that he or she could do much better in the realisation.

Video Maker's Journey Introduction
Beyond Basics:  
start | story development | pre-production | responding to criticism | editing refinements | transferring cine film to video | pace

© copyright Arthur Bullock, 2010

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