Behind the Scenes Stills

As we work on the post production of our latest promotional video for NOVA Woodbridge, I wish to share some stills from student Megan Robertson.

You get a chance to see our two wonderful actors, Shea Davies and Rick Kain, as they prepare for their roles and, then, make the parts come alive.  They were both sensational in their talent but, also, both very professional.

You will also see our wonderful makeup artist, Tiffany Roop, of TDR Artistry as she preps our actors.

I would also like to thank Sabrina Chandler of Center Stage LLC in Occoquan, Virginia, for working with us on the wardrobe.  She is an excellent resource for those in the area in need of wardrobe.

Most of all, in these photos you will see a collaboration of students and faculty members working together to make art.  You can also see the set construction of the detective’s office, including the light reflecting his name through the glass of the door.  And the fake windows were used as our main lighting source, with the exception of a mood setting practical lamp on the table of his desk.

Some of the photos show the set while the house lights are on and others give more of an idea of the richness (though simplicity) of the lighting design.

Enjoy a look behind the scenes while you wait for the final product to come alive in post production.

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Rick Kain as the PI

Rick Kain as the PI

Rick1

Rick2

Shea preps her hat

Shea preps her hat

Tiffany makes the femme fetale come alive

Tiffany makes the femme fetale come alive

Studying lines

Studying lines

Rick on set

Rick on set

Detective3

Shea takes her mark

Shea takes her mark

Actors rehearse

Actors rehearse

One view of the set

One view of the set

second view of the set

second view of the set

Students work behind the set

Students work behind the set

FishEye2

wardrobe adjustment

wardrobe adjustment

Our detective discusses his character

Our detective discusses his character

The detective enters his office

The detective enters his office

Getting the floor image to work

Getting the floor image to work

Paige hard at work

Paige hard at work

Still at it

Still at it

Reviewing the shot

Reviewing the shot

Kelly and Jonathan share a laugh on set

Kelly and Jonathan share a laugh on set

Jonathan planning the shot

Jonathan planning the shot

Getting the lighting correct

Getting the lighting correct

Fish eye view of Demetrius hard at work

Fish eye view of Demetrius hard at work

Still at it

Still at it

Chris explains the shot

Chris explains the shot

Jonathan and Demetrius  plan the next set up

Jonathan and Demetrius plan the next set up

Coaching the actors

Coaching the actors

ChrisCoach1

ChrisCoach

Shea enters the scene

Shea enters the scene

Chris watches on (the bald head is the give away)

Chris watches on (the bald head is the give away)

ChrisCoach6

Actors1

Getting it right

Getting it right

Discussing the best way

Discussing the best way

Aaron doing audio

Aaron doing audio

AaronAudio2

Prepping audio for the next shot

Prepping audio for the next shot

Actors3

Actors4

Actors2

NOVA Woodbridge Film

NOVA Woodbridge Film

 

 

Promo Teaser

NOVAPromoStill

We finished the interior shoot of our 2014 promotional video for the NOVA Woodbridge Film Program.

We will be showing more stills in the future and, of course, we will premiere the finished promotional video upon its completion from post-production but, in the meanwhile, please enjoy this still taken by film student Aaron Kimmel.

You can get a good idea of the set (a 1940s film noir private investigator’s office) from this overhead shot.  Please notice the set construction, including false walls, false windows, and even the fake image of the name plate from the detective’s door, shining on the floor of his office.

I would also like to thank these people for their assistance on Monday’s shoot, as well as, the exterior shoot as well:

Kelly Cochran

Bryan Brown

Erin Devine

Demetrius Oatis

Jonathan Balsamo

Meghan Olney

Paige Fischer

Aaron Kimmel

*I will thank our actors and non-NOVA support staff in the next post.

Burke and Herbert Videos

The Filmmaking Club here at NOVA Woodbridge completed a community project for Burke & Herbert Bank at the end of the spring 2014 semester.  With the post-production assistance of our own Jonathan Balsamo, a series of eight videos were created for the bank, each with a money saving tip.  The videos have circulated on the scoreboard at the home games of the Potomac Nationals games this summer and have been exciting for fans to watch the hard work of our Filmmaking Club students.   Here is a post from the Burke & Herbert Facebook page:

Also, the Filmmaking Club worked on an inspirational video to promote the great work of the VFW in Manassas, VA.  Here is a link to this video as well:

 

Classes Start Today!

For those that tried to enroll in the Video I course (PHT 130) here at Woodbridge only to find it is full, please let me know if you would still be interested in taking the course next semester so I can get an idea of which courses to offer.

I hope everyone has a wonderful semester!

Classes are starting soon

Just to let everyone know that classes are starting soon (August 20th).  The Intro to Video class (PHT 130) is filling up and I don’t know if it will be taught in the spring, so I would recommend signing up now.  It is Thursday mornings.

Students will get to see the new RED Epic camera used for a music video shoot and a promotional video for the film program.

Also, I would highly recommend ENG 279 (Film and Literature) with Professor Cochran and CST 151 (Film Appreciation I) with Professor Brown.  Also, look at all the theatre classes, including Acting for the Camera.

In addition, the Filmmaking Club will be starting up again in the fall, so be on the lookout for this great student-led club.

As always, if you have questions, let us know.

Camera Movement Motivation

I just wish to share something that I have spoken to our students quite extensively about and I came across the best example of its use: hand-held camera shake.

Often times, at the level of student filmmaker, hand-held camera use is predominant in productions, usually out of sheer laziness and the need to film quickly before a deadline that is the next day.

I certainly understand its use in these productions but that does not mean I excuse it and will turn a blind eye when grading these projects.

As I have explained, I am not advocating the complete elimination of all hand-held camera moves but I have stated such movement adds its own emotion and meaning to a shot or a scene.  So, I challenge if a student is going to fail to lock down the camera and, instead, use the shakiness of hand-held, then he/she should be able to explain its purpose and impact in that scene.

Subsequent conversations have not convinced all of our students but I have a good video example that should add more clarity.

The example is the love scene from Atonement.

I have to give all credit for “finding” this scene to Vincent Laforet.  I had the pleasure of attending his Directing Motion Tour two weeks ago and he spoke directly about this same concept of when to use hand-held versus other camera movement or locking it down.

[By the way, it really was an impressive workshop and I would have recommended it on this blog but I saw the next to last stop on the tour and it was over before you would have had a chance to attend; however, I would recommend following Vincent on his own blog and through his own work.  He is a talented filmmaker with many great ideas.]

The reason this scene is such a great illustration is because it begins very still and progresses into a hand-held movement.  The two characters are very stiff as their upper class lives form a wall between their emotions and so, therefore, the camera is stiff too.  However, as their feelings begin to melt away the obstacles of their class status and their prudish expectations, the camera begins to move more freely.  At this point, however, it is still a fluid movement.

Then, when they are completely overcome with passion, and begin to kiss, the camera movement goes to completely hand-held, with a lot of shake and out of focus shots.

The use of the camera is done in a deliberate way for the audience to feel the same restraints and, then, freedom through which the characters are journeying.

Take a look:

 

First test shot from RED Epic camera

As I mentioned in our previous post, we have a new camera that will impact our future video production courses here at Woodbridge.

For those that have not had an opportunity to work extensively with professional cameras, I just wanted to put up a teaser to get an idea of what this camera can do…at a minimum.

Just to make sure everything is working, I put everything together, slapped on a  lens (Zeiss ZF.2 21mm) and recorded for about one minute.

Nothing glamorous.  I did not set up the shot, just simply recorded what was near me.

Then, I did nothing in post-production except to white balance the still image I took form the RAW video.

Here is the result:

 

 

A001_C001_0627F1

I should also state that the still I took was a TIFF, which is a format that is not friendly to this blog site, so I had to convert it to JPG instead.  Then, because it was shot at 5K, I had to reduce the image size by 75% because of the file size.

So, above you will see a non-staged (no added lights, simply done under the fluorescents of the room), still taken from video that is converted to a worse picture format in JPG and the file size constricted by three-fourths and the image is still interesting to note the quality.

If the image is large enough on your computer, you can notice the scratches on top of the book case.  You can see the texture of the wall behind it.  You can notice the dust residue at the base of the paper holder (the small slotted blackish grey things between the stapler and tape dispenser).  You can notice the teeth of the tape dispenser shining through the extended tape at the end of the roll.  But I think the most telling part of this image is in the details of what is in focus: the pencil sharpener.

You can actually see the reflection of the hole punch in the base of the pencil sharpener, adding a highlight to the shine of the name of the sharpener.  Also, and this is something very important I share with my students, you can see the detail in the “blacks.”  The head of the pencil sharpener (round rotating disc with six different pencil size options) is the same dark black color as the supply cabinet in the background, yet they do not merge into a blob of darkness; rather you can see the entire shape of the pencil sharpener against this background, giving each black and shadowy area its own depth of “color.”

Now, just imagine what you can do with this professional equipment if you actually take the time to plan your shot and make sure you are using it to its fullest.

Hopefully, we will publish test shots we do in the near future and, also, look out for a promotional video we will be doing in the coming months.

EDIT: I just published this post and the picture looks even worse now that I have published it.  I guess the Site has to compress the file even more in the process, so I apologize if a lot of the quality I have mentioned has been lost.

However, if you ever wish to stop by room 328 here on campus and talk about film and look at the original image, I would be more than happy to show you.

A New Video Revolution at NOVA Woodbridge

red_epic_camera_package

The Woodbridge campus of Northern Virginia Community College proudly introduces the newest member of our filmmaking team: a RED Epic camera.

For those that know, you realize what a great tool to learn and work with as you expand your filmmaking knowledge.  The RED Epic camera is a professional cinema camera that is used to film many Hollywood blockbusters and great television shows.

Take a look:

http://www.red.com/shot-on-red

There are very few colleges and universities across the nation that can boast the introduction of this technology and, yet, you can take classes here on our campus and get a film school education, including understanding RED, and all at a community college price!

For those that don’t know what this camera can do, please take a look:

http://www.red.com/products/epic-mx

(watch the 5K resolution video to get a great idea of the endless creative possibilities you now have).

It is time to move beyond your backyard video shoots and step into a role as a serious filmmaker.

Email me with more questions and get enrolled today for the fall classes, including PHT 130, which will introduce this technology.

Chris Stallings

cstallings@nvcc.edu

Filming “All By (your)self”

I just ran across this creative little video that, as cheesy as it is, is still a great example of what an individual can do with limited resources but lots of imagination.

Our students are forced to rely more on the visuals to capture the attention of today’s audience but a good/creative story and some interesting shot composition and editing can make the simplest videos still stand out from the pack.

Don’t attempt to compete against Hollywood but simply challenge yourself for your own best work.  I will be excited to see it.