As far as I know, student films are classified as this because they are made with film school resources. If this disqualifies you for certain finishing funds, maybe the school can point you to an alternative. Take this up in the NAmerica funding topic?
The Mentoring Room - Ask the Working Pros
This is a Public Topic geared towards first-time filmmakers. Professional members of The D-Word will come by and answer your questions about documentary filmmaking.
Jo-Anne, thanks but I'm still not clear what exactly constitutes a "student film."
also it raises a new question – what you said about school resources – why would that make any difference?
and no, my school knows no more resources than anyone else.
*this is posted here because the term "student film" is used in a number of designations not just for funding, i.e., film festivals, etc. sometimes there's even a separate category.
maybe every instance "student film" has its own definition??? it's so exasperating....!
Hi Linda, it's really not that complicated. A student film is a film for which you received credit toward a degree using the school's resources – be it their equipment or their editing facilities, etc.
so why the discrimination? who cares whose facilities are used? what's the dif?
and what about a film (such as the one I'm in the midst of now) where it started as a class project but outgrew it and now I'm finishing it separate from class?
some situations have also used the designation "no students" rather than "student film" which makes me feel like my work is somehow automatically disqualified just because I'm a film student.
Hello members, anyone have any suggestions as Gaffers, DPs, or Directors what lighting/camera combination has worked best for you?
It somewhat depends on what type of shots you're making. Talking heads inside will obviously need a different appreach than outside shots. You're also constrained by your budget. Care to tell a bit more what kind of project you're embarking on?
Filming subject is upon American Folk Music from the region and its events. From Old Time to modern emerging genres.
Most interview shots would be scheduled in home, office visits, classooms, archive areas, and outdoors. The other shots will mostly be from outdoor summer events, darkly lit venues, front porches, barns, and in home band jams. At times we will take shots of nature, buildings, homes, and scenes of natural discourse and activities of the human talent and scholars. Of course always expect random opportunities.
Budget most likely won't allow for multiple cameras and light setups but has yet to be invested on equipment so currently very flexible for any recommendations.
At the very least I want to be able to do a light triangle w/background light that gives a good rim on the subject and would be a bit too much during the night. Any suggestions on a package or combination that would work well and is travel friendly?
Derek – here's a pro bono promotional video I made for a school in Pakistan using a Canon 7D and a monopod. Edited using Final Cut Pro on a laptop – it was almost free to make it, apart from a few days of my time. I'm not sure that's exactly the style you're going for, but it's cheap and fast and fairly easy.
I am starting to edit a trailer together for a doc project in the beginning stages of editing. I need to get the trailer to show and help with some financing. The doc is very archival heavy and has a main character with a lot of published philosophies on various topics of interest to the film. So, the director and I are playing with the idea of including text in the trailer so I'm looking for some advice on maybe good examples of films that use text in a way that is informative and also stylistic interesting and significant. Beyond examples, any experiences with using text/quotes in films? Thanks in advance for any feedback!
In reply to James Longley's post on Tue 7 Dec 2010 :
Wow, what a beautiful piece, James.
Hi everyone. I am just breaking into the world of film making, and I have a great idea on a unique story in Bali and how a couple that moved there is changing the way we eat throughout the world. There is much more here, but that is the gist. They have responded to my interest and want to know my proposed plan. I have never made a film before, and want to find someone to work with me on this project who is a cinematographer. Also I need to get back to them and let them know my ideas this week. Any suggestions how to approach this? Thanks, Kristen
In reply to Nadia Hennrich's post on Mon 29 Nov 2010 :
Hi, Nadia. Sorry I didn't get right back to you. I have been on a couple of projects that have consumed all of my time, and I haven't been on D-Word for several weeks.
If you still haven't mixed yet, get in touch with me. My schedule opens up after tomorrow.
In reply to Kristen Kellogg's post on Mon 20 Dec 2010 :
Well, I just got back from shooting in Bali 2 weeks ago, and currently live about an hour from you, so perhaps we should talk. dan at gmail dot com
In reply to Daniel McGuire's post on Mon 20 Dec 2010 :
Hi Dan. I am currently in Australia, but do you have skype? Maybe we could have a chat on there? Or shoot me an email kellogg.kristen (at) gmail.com Would love to hear about what you just wrapped up as well.
Can anyone recommend any great websites (other than this one) where I can get help on how to make my first documentary?
Not sure a website or a book can replace the experience you will gain by launching in and actually making a short doc exercise – ideally something in your own back yard – walk before you run. I presume you have access to a basic DV camera and edit software? How about a 2-minute portrait of "someone at work" – that's always a classic subject. Try to interpret it in visual terms, rather than relying on interview/talking heads.
Also search for "documentary filmmaking" on amazon.com – check out Andy Glynne's Documentaries and How to Make Them and Michael Rabiger's much more comprehensive Directing the Documentary
Can anyone talk about educational distribution? Who are the game players? Can it be lucrative? Is it a difficult market to crack?
In reply to Kristen Kellogg's post on Mon 20 Dec 2010 :
Documentors started about a year ago and have a lot of resources on their page. I loved their film, Shakespeare behind bars and they are really nice folks in general. They do charge for most things, but looks like you can do a subscription as well.
In reply to Kristen Kellogg's post on Mon 20 Dec 2010 :
If you need to come up with a proposal quick, watch as many documentaries as you can. Make sure you have a good mix of different genres, old and new. Then, figure out what you want to borrow from each, and start conceiving the proposal from there. A quick list of varied docs might be:
SALESMAN (Maysles Brothers)
GRIZZLY MAN (Werner Herzog)
HARLAN COUNTY USA (Barbara Kopple)
IRAQ IN FRAGMENTS (James Longley)
DARWIN'S NIGHTMARE (Hubert Sauper)
BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE (Michael Moore)
this list could go on forever... but other than making docs, watching docs is the best way to learn.
John-Thanks for the book recommendations. I read Documentaries and How to Make Them by Andy Glynne today. A lot of clarification and great insight.
Christopher-I have been watching a variety of films the last few days and it's been a tremendous help.
Justine-many thanks for the site! So many helpful hints!
Thanks everyone for helping me take the necessary steps to making my vision become a reality.
sorry for the loud introduction.
hope everyone is well.
I am currently in my final year at university, over here in the UK.
I am studying Film production and Technology, and am working on a dissertation, which is based on, the technology used for cinema release documentaries.
I have started the research, and have noticed, i am getting much more information to do with the theory, artistic and issues and debates in documentary, more than the technology side of documentary film making.
I was wondering if anyone could assist me with any articles, books or websites I could look at which focus on the technology side of film making for documentaries in cinema.
Also, I'm amazed at how there are so many different people on this website. wow! this is like a small community within it self.
Also, are there any camera men, sound recorders and editors and cinematographers, which i could maybe interview through email, just so i can get an insight of those who work in the industry, with first hand experience, that would be so great.
if anyone can help, that would be great.
Thank you for your time.
Perhaps your interest for this topic is only about docs production in the "first world". Anyway, you will find a very broad range of technologies used in docs, from the oldies (but goodies) dvx 100´s to the DSLR´S. So maybe your question should be more in the perspective of "how and why" the diverse options of cameras, sound gear, etc., are being used by documentaries filmakers. Well, is just a suggestion.
In reply to Jaime Cruz's post on Thu 23 Dec 2010 :
Thank you for writing back man, appreciate that! yh I am looking into those camera's at the moment. I am analysing the technologies through time, in reference to films. from the 20's to the 60's and to the 21st century. so I am looking at films such as, man with a movie camera, gimme shelter and touching the void. I want to look at why 35mm were used, why did people stop using them, then 16mm came in to action and now the 35mm is getting back in documentaries. I know the general idea, but i want to get in to more detail. also what the future may look like for documentaries. i wish i could change the title, I really do...but I am stuck with it now, so I just have to get on with it and learn to love it.
Jaggy... because of my age, I might be able to help.
When I started... feature docs were shot on 35mm.
I filmed some pickup shots for 'Janis' and 'The Man Who Skied Down Everest'.
If you wish, you can write me off forum.
In reply to Bill Kerrigan's post on Thu 23 Dec 2010 :
hey Bill, hope your well.
That's great.Seriously, I would love to hear from you, and your work. Thank you for replying back to my post, really do appreciate it Bill.
Is it possible I could maybe get your email add, so we can talk about this?
You'll find the email address of any D-Word member if you click on their name or photo.
In reply to Jaggy Singh's post on Thu 23 Dec 2010 :
Jaggy, please email me here:
kerrigan at mac.com
hey, thanks for the help lads.
thats great Bill, ill email you now.
Merry Christmas everyone
I recently completed a 20 minute version of the feature-length film I am directing (www.withwingsandroots.com) which is targeted for educational use. The film comparatively explores the immigration debate in the U.S. and Europe through the stories of children of immigrants in Berlin and New York. The film was shot half in Germany, and a very big German educational distributor is interested. They have given us a generic contract to look over, but I have no idea of the terms are decent or terrible, plus it is in German! Basically, they seem to be offering us no money upfront, but 50% of all profit from sales. They would get exclusive access to all German-speaking countries and Goethe Institutes for three years. I know that I need to find a German entertainment lawyer to speak with before signing anything, but it would be great if anyone could share any of the terms they have gotten in educational distribution contracts, or even send a sample contract.
Thank you so much for your help!!!
Christina, you're a member so you shouldn't post this in The Mentoring Room. Especially since it's a public topic and therefore open to Google searches and the like. This belongs in the Marketing and Distribution topic.
Christina – you could try contacting Christoph Fey – he's a a German entertainment lawyer based in Berlin and has been very helpful in the past.He works for a company Unverzagt Von Have and his contact details are easily Googled.
Advice sought: Least expensive PC for video editing programs
I am seeking help finding the least expensive PC laptop capable of running Pinnacle Studio video editing programs. I’m on the low income side (especially after becoming unemployed) so I am working with modest equipment.
Because I am couch surfing, I need to stick with a laptop, not a PC.
I’ve tried several other editing programs such as Vegas, Adobe, etc., and I’ve tried iMovie on the Mac. Pinnacle works best for me. My current laptop, a Dell I bought in 2009, cannot handle my HD video editing. I am using a Kodak Zi8 camera.
The system requirements are at: http://www.pinnaclesys.com/PublicSite/us/Products/Consumer+Products/Home+Video/Studio+Family/
There are three main versions and all 3 appear to have different requirements:
Studio Ultimate Collection
The graphics card requirement is the same for all of three.
I’m a lean quick on my own how to use document, photo, and video editing programs for creative purposes. I am however clueless about the tech stuff.
I am getting unemployment checks and money is tight. However, I believe in myself enough to take a gamble and spend up to $1,000 on a laptop.
I need help though because I'm not good at the tech stuff and don't want to get ripped off at the stores. So far, Best Buy, Fry’s and my computer savvy friends have all recommended different machines. I’m hoping that at some point I’ll hear the same recommendation a few times.
At least at Best Buy and Wal-Mart there are no re-stocking fees.
Thanks! I appreciate your time and help,
System Requirements for Studio Ultimate Collection
* Windows ® 7, Windows Vista ® (SP2),Windows XP (SP3)
* Intel ® Pentium ® or AMD Athlon ™ 1.8 GHz (2.4 GHz or higher recommended)
– Intel Core ™ 2 Duo 2.4 GHz required for AVCHD*
– Intel Core ™ 2 Quad 2.66 GHz or Intel Core ™ i7 required
for AVCHD* 1920
* 1 GB system memory recommended, 2 GB required for AVCHD*
* DirectX ® 9 or 10 compatible graphics card with 64 MB (128 MB or higher recommended) – 128 MB required for Red Giant Magic Bullet Looks Plug-in: Pixelshader 2 required, Intel GMA integrated graphics not supported. – 256 MB required for HD and AVCHD*
* DirectX 9 or higher compatible sound card
* 3,6 GB of disk space
* DVD-ROM drive to install software
o CD burner for creating Video CDs or Super Video CDs (S-VCDs)
o DVD burner for creating DVD and AVCHD* discs
o Blu-ray burner for creating Blu-ray discs*
o Sound card with surround sound output required for preview of surround sound mixes*
* Capture from DV, HDV and Digital8 camcorders or VCRs (requires a FireWire ® ; port)Capture from analog camcorders, 8 mm, HI 8, VHS, SVHS, VHS-C, SVHS-C, or VCRs (NTSC/PAL/SECAM). (requires Pinnacle or Dazzle video hardware)
* Import from AVCHD* and other file based Camcorders, Digital Still Cameras, Mobile Devices and Webcams via USB
* Output to DV, HDV or Digital8 tape (requires camcorder with FireWire Input port and a PC with a DV/FireWire port)
* Output to analog videotape (requires DirectShow compatible device with video output)
* Video: AVCHD*, BD Blu-ray*, DV, HDV, AVI, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, DivX ® , MPEG-4, 3GP(MPEG-4), WMV, Non-encrypted DVD titles (incl. DVD-VR/+VR), QuickTime ® ; (DV, MPEG-4, H.264*)
* Audio: MP3, MPA, WAV, AC3*, WMA
* Graphic: BMP, GIF, JPG, PCX, PSD, TGA, TIF, WMF, PNG, J2K
* AVCHD*, BD Blu-ray*, HD-DVD, DVD (DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R or DVD+RW, dual layer), S-VCD, Video CD (VCD)
* Apple ® iPod ® , Sony ® ; PSP/PS3, Nintendo ® Wii, Microsoft ® Xbox compatible formats*
* DV, HDV, AVI, DivX*, RealVideo ® 8, WMV, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4*, Flash, 3GP*, WAV, MP3*, QuickTime ® (SD format) files
* Dolby ® Digital 2 channel and 5.1 channel audio*
Advice sought: Microphones for Kodak Zi8 camera & the iTouch.
Also, any recommendations for clip on mics, attached mics, or wireless mics to enable the recording of at least 3 people for the Kodak Zi8 camera & the iTouch?
In reply to Jeff Girard's post on Sat 15 Jan 2011 :
the oldest and still the best place on the web for all things computer-related is www.pricewatch.com
originally in DOS, pricewatch used to list real-time prices with discounts as they appeared online. nowdays it provides links to both retail and online computer supply stores.
ok, that's one option. #2 is my own personal suggestion: you want a laptop and new ones are like new cars: the moment you bring it home the price decreases about 50% – because they are all overpriced. what to do? a couple of options – you can build your own – since you aren't working and have some time, this is a real option and w/price watch and Fry's nearby...
another option: go for the refurbished model. there are SO many out there – I bought a Samsung notebook in 2003 that was about 2 years old; new it was priced around $5000 because that's what they cost back then. I paid about $250 for it and it was loaded with goodies. I was happy if it would last 6 months – guess what – I still have it and it still boots up just fine. Over time tho, memory allocations increased and I can't upgrade for a reasonable price so it's not really practical to use anymore; I just don't want it to wind up in a landfill somewhere or I'd chunk it.
which is another good reason to buy refurbished – there's simply nothing wrong with recycling a computer – many are still worth keeping around. Just check and double-check your hardware requirements, ask about warranties and you're good to go. the cheapest models come with no operating system which if you already have one, you can just use that.
if you can register for a class somewhere, you can qualify for academic pricing on software which will also save you $$
good luck and hang in there.
I'm looking for a Line Producer for a feature doc. Where do I go? The film is on Women and Men and their relationships and will be structured around interviews shot overseas and in the states in several locations. Is there an appropriate forum here to put it out there?
Members Classifieds is a good place to start. You could also put it on the public classifieds – and there are a lot of media-centric job sites (mandy.com, mediabistro.com, craigslist, even) if you're just doing a random sort of cattle-call for resumés...
Just remember, Jack, that the public classifieds is open to Google searches. So be careful about what information you're giving out.
This is my first posting so I hope I do this correctly :)
Advice sought: Recommendation of films to watch for reference
I'm hoping someone might be able to recommend a documentary that successfully tells a character driven story while also exploring this individual's culture and highlights other characters from his/her world. I'm not looking for a traditional biographical piece (I understand my description might come across sounding that way). This is a silly example, but it might help in understanding the type of film I'm looking for... (I just made this up so it might be totally ridiculous, but hopefully it will serve as a helpful illustration.)
A once celebrated under water basket weaver is looking to make a comeback. She decides to build a store in which she will sell her baskets and through the process of building the shop, she will face some of the demons from her past.
In order for the film to be accessible to the everyday viewer, the film must put the story in context – tell a bit about the history of under water basket weaving and why it is significant to some. We should also learn about others in the field so that we are able to see what makes this particular weaver different (or maybe the same) as others out there.
Does this make sense? Can anyone point me in the direction of a film that follows a similar path?
Thank you so much for your help!
Ashley, first of all, welcome to The D-Word. And bravo for leaping right in with a post. You did it fine, except that the Mentoring Room is mainly for those we call Enthusiasts and the professional members rarely hang out here.
We don't encourage double-posting but in this case we'll make an exception. You should post this again in the Documentary Film topic and you'll probably get a good deal more feedback.
Also want to encourage you to tell us a bit more about yourself in the Introduce Yourself topic.
Thank you so much for responding. I will make my way over to the Documentary Film area and see about posting there.
Thank you for your help.
We're about to go into the editing phase for our indie documentary. For the post-workflow process (using a Mac Book Pro 2.4GHz 4GB), we're about to transcode the (Canon t2i) H264 files into APR422 files using MPEG Streamclip. This seemed to be the best practice at the beginning of year 2010.
- is it still the best practice today?
- while editing in FCP, is it realistic to source the video files from an external FireWire800 HD? I was hosting my video files on an external USB 2.0 HD on a previous project, and it's just too slow. So I'm wondering if FireWire800 would do it or if I need to have the video files on my local MBP drive.
Thanks in advance,
Martin – I'm not the tech geek that some of the filmmakers are (so perhaps other will have something to add)- but there are some other options besides MPEG stream clip. EOS Plugin allows you to use FCP 'log and capture settings' to transcode files.This is supposed to be faster and also allows you to imbed timecode onto your footage. Some have had problems with it however. Magic Bullet Grinder allows you to simultaneously create both ProRes Proxy files and higher ProrRes files simultaneously and creates timecode. Oh but I just noticed that you're transcoding to something called APR422. I've never heard of that. Just about everyone I've talked to uses Prores. Yes FireWire800 should be fine. FYI – you need FCP 7 to convert to Prores Proxy (which takes up a lot less space). I think the timecode option offered by EOS plugin and Grinder is a huge advantage over MPEG streamclip.
Oh! Well that's good – I'm glad to know it's not some new codec.
I think the MPEG streamclip option works fine, especially if you then copy your THM files into the folder that the new files are in and use the free version of QTChange (search for QTChange 0.7) to add timecode and reel numbers. The EOS plugin has me plenty of issues, and I'm not the only one who has run into them – I've spent plenty of time with other filmmakers in the Madison area trying to solve their issues with it.
You're definitely better off keeping your footage on an external FW800 drive (make sure the drive is 7200rpm not 5400) than on the internal. Also, backup, backup, backup. When that drive fails, what do you do?
first q – you should always be editing off a firewire drive for many reasons, much of what has to do w/how FCP operates. also it doesn't have to be a 5400; I have 2 of those and 1 7200 drive; they all work pretty much the same. However, if you are editing HD, then you will probably see a difference w/the 7200 but your processing speed will likely be the limit rather than the external.
you can actually run into some problems with a USB drive so please do stay away from those when running FCP.
your backup files should be on your hard drive; it's called the Autosave vault and you should find it in your documents dir which is the default when you loaded FCP unless you changed it. you can set it in your system preferences in FCP.
next q about transcoding files – didn't really understand what you were referring to until someone mentioned App Prores 422; I export all my files in this codec even if I've imported into FC as another such as H.264. just import the files and change it in your settings; you can also click on the timeline, then go to your settings for your sequence (go to Sequence, settings, you have to be in the timeline or it will be grayed out) and set your codec there for prores or whatever.
fyi, if you join D-word as a member you can post over in the FCP section as well as editing.