In this article we’ll discuss about – “how to make a movie at home?” Many now have video cameras. Many camera owners have a stock of footage captured but not processed. In principle, this situation is the starting point for most questions about video editing. Methodologically it is more correct to start a story about making a film with the theme “Idea of a future film”. Then it would be more correct to disassemble the rules and techniques of video shooting and only then proceed to editing. However, most people start filming as soon as they buy a camera. They rent whatever they want – a room, an apartment, people in an apartment, a spouse in a bathroom, a view from a window or balcony, pets, etc.
The first acquaintance with the camera, as a rule, does not bring disappointment, since everything turns out to be very fun and interesting. The next step is to shoot a crucial event – a birthday, a meeting, a trip to nature or just a vacation. And only after that the question arises of how to make something more serious out of all this.
Let’s assume that the footage has already been shot, and it is relatively late to think about the idea and the rules of shooting. Let’s go straight to making a movie at home. We will not touch on the technical part for now. Suffice it to say that every Windows computer has at least Movie Maker with help. You can spend half an hour studying and then start practicing.
First Step – Dump the Materials onto Your Computer
You can erase the entire cassette or just selected sections. One MiniDV cassette will require about 13 GB free disk space, plus leave at least 1GB for Windows itself. If there is only one cassette, it’s easier. If there are many of them, it is better to transfer only successful and valuable fragments to a computer.
Second Step – Evaluate the Fragments in Terms of Quality
One second of video consists of 25 frames. This is not as much as it seems. If during shooting the operator moved the camera too quickly from side to side or quickly moved the zoom, then each of these 25 frames will consist of undefined blur. Neither descendants, nor fans, nor even investigators from the prosecutor’s office will be able to extract any useful information from such frames. In other words, it is a marriage that is best removed immediately. If the camera shakes during shooting, it is almost a fusion. But if there is something valuable in the frames, they can be left, despite the shaking. It is desirable that there should be as few such frames in the final film. Otherwise, you will have to distribute paper bags and caramel to the audience – like on an airplane.
Third Step – Evaluate the Fragments in Terms of Content
The language of video and cinema allows us to show not only what we are saying, but also a little more. Pay attention to any documentary or popular science film. Most of the scenes are not directly related to what the announcer is saying. And they shouldn’t, since video is not a security camera.
Scenes should be selected from all footage:
- with literal content,
- with thematic content and
- with background or conceptual content.
Let’s analyze in more detail.
Literal Content – Scenes that show what the film is talking about. If this is a vacation, then the road to the airport, collecting things, shooting inside the plane, bus, hotel, etc. All scenes showing the resting place and the resting process. These are important scenes as they convey the main content. But they are too obvious and limited only by what was captured on camera. A film composed of these scenes alone will be interesting for the first 2-3 minutes.
Thematic Content – Scenes that perform a supporting function. Map animation, photography and shooting of famous places, panoramic and landscape photography. By themselves, they are too abstract. If you compose a film only from such scenes, the viewer will not leave the feeling that this is a Discovery channel, only in amateur quality. But when combined with literal scenes, thematic ones add depth to the film. The viewer does not just look at how good someone was – he sees the environment. Such scenes expand the space of the film, allow the viewer to feel what is left outside the frame. Even if nothing like that was filmed on camera – not a problem. The function of such scenes can be performed by photos downloaded from the Internet or taken by yourself or scenes cut from other films. The camera shows too little. The viewer needs support to understand what is happening on the screen.
Background Content – Scenes that show things that create a special mood. Outside the content of the film, these scenes do not mean anything. But added to the film, they speak more than any others. Such scenes are often static and photographic. For a film about a trip, it can be frames with packed things, tickets and documents lying on the table, an airplane taking off, sand on the beach, an exotic tree or flower. In general, free associations. Oddly enough, many novice operators intuitively feel that they need to shoot, but then they don’t know what to do with them.
Step Four – Determine the Length of The Scenes
According to strict Hollywood rules, a scene should be several seconds long. The more dynamic the movie, the shorter the scenes should be. However, if the film is made for yourself and your loved ones, then everything is not so strict.
One way to estimate the length of a scene is to simulate the scene sequence with your own palm. Place your palm between your eyes and the screen. Next, you need to try to catch the pace of the film by unrolling your palm – in order to see either the outer or its inner side. It will be difficult to achieve great mastery in this way, but it is quite possible to get rid of the meditation scenes.
Another way is to focus on the speed of scene changes when watching any feature film. Hollywood standards are more sobering than any other argument on the subject. But if there is something unique and unrepeatable in the frame, the scene can be as long as the event itself. Such exceptions may include the achievements or tricks of children, funny behavior of animals, unique situations, tricks and numbers, unusual behavior of people, etc.
Step Five – Determine the Sequence of Scenes
First note that chronological order is not the only way of storytelling. In general, at this stage you can think about the idea of the film. It is clear that it was better to do this from the very beginning, but we work with what we have. For this case, all the previous steps have been “familiarizing” with what is and choosing what is appropriate. Now is the time to start putting together the “video puzzle”.
The plot is usually built around a simple 3-act structure: beginning (intrigue), development (content) and ending (climax). The hardest part is the ending, as it bears all responsibility for the viewer’s impression of the film. Again, given that this film is built from materials already shot, you can choose the most spectacular scenes for the ending role. Or scenes in which an explanation is given to everyone else. If a real plot is built, this is generally good.
Background scenes create the initial intrigue – sand, documents, hotel corridor – what they have in common. The solution to the intrigue is literal scenes (of course, the journey itself will be this common). The literal scenes show the travel process, but what about the result? Where have you arrived? This is the time to include themed scenes. The alternation can be more frequent – each time a new type of scene, although this is not so much the point.
Literal scenes can be the main canvas – for example, filming a person driving in a car. Background – small accents – about the car, about the person and where he is going. A folder with documents in an empty seat is one sign, a cake with a bouquet of flowers is a completely different one, a bag of groceries is a third. If a person says something, for example, about the purpose of his trip, then on the screen there may be shots inside the car, then thematic – reflecting what he is talking about.
So, alternating these three types of scenes, we get a non-trivial video sequence, where each new scene attracts the viewer’s attention with its unexpectedness and novelty.
Let’s move on to the sequence itself. Since the advent of cinema, all creators of this type of art have to take into account a simple thing – neighboring scenes have an impact on the audience’s perception. If you show the face of a person who is looking to the side, and then any object, the viewer will have a stable feeling that the person is looking at this object or thinking about it. Of course, in addition to the need to take this into account, creators have endless opportunities for jokes and practical jokes. Why wonder what a person is thinking if it can be shown?
Before showing the hall in which, for example, a conference is taking place, it is good to show the foyer and / or reception. And even earlier, it is better to show the building itself and in the same captions – the name of the event, date and place. The same goes for the departure scenes – at the beginning of the airport building, then the queue at a counter and then the departing plane or scenes inside it.Practical Tips
In fact, this technique allows you to show either the inner content of something, or a direct connection between things and events. For example, if we have several scenes filmed inside different rooms and shooting, where the operator points the camera at different windows, you can get a funny story from this. During editing, you can alternate between windows and interior shots, and the result is a peeping effect. The event did not take place, but the viewer will see exactly this content of the shown story.
When creating a film, it is advisable to constantly think about the viewer. Especially that the viewer does not think about the creators while watching. The film is the world on the other side of the screen. Alternating between different types of scenes, the creator disguises himself, making the world on the other side of the screen almost real.
You may also like to read: Filming: A Step by Step Guide for Beginners
That’s probably all. The main purpose of all described actions is to look at the video materials with a different look. Not through the eyes of the operator – when everything that was filmed, you want to show “in all its pristine beauty and duration.” And through the eyes of a director – when shooting is just a stage in a more interesting process – managing the attention and experiences of the future viewer.
For this reason, it is better to “check” your films on strangers who know little about the author and the events being filmed. As a side effect, such work can permanently change the way you work with the camera – the consumption of cassettes will decrease and the quality of the captured scenes will be significantly improved. The more we edit, the better we shoot, and the more we shoot, the better we edit. Looking at the camera screen, it will be possible not only to “see the world through the window”, it will be possible to see the viewer and his reaction to a given scene, his emotions, his questions and his interest. Isn’t that how masterpieces are created?
Good luck and wishes for more creative discoveries.