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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Equipments


Don't forget to watch the completed MM posted in the following blog

In my previous blog “SCRIPT & SCREEN WRITING:I mentioned that technology has been a prime motivator to make this MM independently. The freedom and simplicity involved in capturing a video at high definition (1080p) with its sound synchronized using a simple digital camcorder gives me the motivation to make a movie independently. Check out this short film which was a test for Edison's "Kinetophone" project, the first attempt in history to record sound and moving image in synchronization. This was an experiment by William Dickson to put sound and film together either in 1894 or 1895.
Comparing the video with the ones we record just by a click(camera, camcorder, mic etc), we can see how far we have evolved in the technology. The very idea of having these devices within everybody’s reach is a great deal for me.
Similarly for recording the sound, editing the raw images etc we have evolved to a state where you don’t need any expensive devices or pro’s services. Just by knowing some basic fundamentals with respect to the technology and devices anyone can start experimenting by making a movie.
For making a digital movie I feel that following are the basic and essential items required:
  1. Video Camera
  2. Mic
  3. Video and Audio Editors
The list can go on with other items but I feel that these are very basic and important things. The above listed items can range from cheap, moderate to highly expensive products but for the purpose of making a low budget digital movie I will mention what I used to stay within my budget.

Video Camera: When using a video camera which captures the image on film(Kodak/fuji refer to this link to know the evolution of film) we think of whether the camera is a 8mm, 16mm, 35mm, 65mm(and many more technical aspects which I am avoiding to discuss furhter) where as for a digital camera we worry about data compression used the video resolution. Compression algorithms and codecs eventually boils down the format(MPEG,AVI,MPEG-4 etc) in which you video gets stored in the flash drive or the SD card.
You might have noticed that a cameras define their resolution in terms like 720p,1080i,1080p. Here 720p is the shorthand name for a category of HDTV video modes having a resolution of 1280×720 (for a total of 0.92 megapixels or 921,600 pixels) and “p” for progressive scan. Whereas 1080i  has a resolution of 1920×1080 (2.07 megapixels) and “I” means interlacing.  If you want to debunk what p/I mean check out this video:
Progressive/interlacing:


Apart from the video camera one needs to worry about the lens required for their shooting. Again this depends on one’s requirements and most of the time lens which is present in the camera should be sufficient for shooting.
Considering the above points I bought a sony HDR-CX150 and a wide angle lens. 

This camera gave me exceptional picture quality even at less light. Please note I had to rely on the built in zoom microphone and didn’t have an option to connect an external mic(basically a mic input was missing), this was a blunder as I had to totally rely on the internal microphone or use a separate mic & recording system. Using a separate mic is a common thing for filmmakers but for a DIY(Do It Yourself) filmmaker this would add on more challenges. Please make sure that the camera you rent or buy has a mic jack to connect an external mic.

Sound: Though I could have used the sound recorded from the camcorder I wanted to try using an external condenser mic to get better results. I used the pro tools vocal studio which had the mic and pro tool software as well. Check out this link for info on the specification. This mic is a USB Mic which can be connected to your laptop/pc instantly.

Lights:Regarding the lighting system, since most of the shots were shot indoor I had to take care of lighting in the house. Basically for a regular movie the lighting is based on the idea of key-back-fill (check this link for more info) but for the MM i had to get rid of the grains because of indoor shooting so I used the lights. I used halogen lights(500W, 1000W) and some soft papers to get the desired lighting effects. (find more info at lighting for movies)

Editors: Until the advent of computer based non-linear editing film makers had to use linear editing method to edit film. Linear editing is an arduous process which involves playing back the source tape (or "raw footage") from one machine and copying just the portions desired on to a second tape (the "edit master").  Film makers had to use the service of skilled people to get their film cut, spliced etc. To summarize the overall process of editing a film was time consuming, expensive and defect prone.
The arrival of computer based non-linear editing technique has been a boon for film makers and especially independent film makers. Movie can now be editing by anyone who knows how to use a editor software available in the market. There are many editors available in the market.
I made use of Sony Vegas Pro 10 to edit the video for this MM. Incidentally Paranormal Activity was also editing using this software.
An audio editor is very essential and I made use of sony Sound Forge for taking care of audio. 

If you notice all equipments discussed above are in reach of almost every person who wants to make a movie. If equipments have been stopping you from making a movie then understand that technology has evolved to such a state where you have options for almost everything.

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