Sunday, April 15, 2012

Youtube Partnership 2: Live Action Filming

In the previous episode surrounding the circumstances in which one can attain a youtube partnership, i outlined how to kickstart yourself into stardom by way of doing commentaries of all kinds. whether they be video commentaries, vlogs or tutorial videos. However, that spectrum of videos is very narrow and may not be the best choice for everyone who wants to attain youtube partnership status. As such, in this episode we will be going over a few video capture techniques as well as some different types of videos that users can create to add some popularity to their page.

Youtube is a diverse community that has a new video submitted almost every minute. As such there is quite a lot of variet and unfortunately it becomes extremely difficult to get any corner of the market that has not already been covered before, in every way imaginable. If you manage to come up with a truly unique idea that doesn't yield any results when searching for it on youtube, then by all means, pursue that as hard and as fast as you can because with no good coverage on a certain niche, it becomes very easy to take control of the game and get all eyes on you.

I was fortunate enough to be inspired by the discovery of the then incomplete programming language Small Basic which was developed by Microsoft as a programming language geared towards complete beginners, but as with any programming language, instruction is always desired as it's not like someone can magically pick it up and know how to write properly. When i started recording Small Basic tutorial videos, there were no other tutorial videos, just lots of videos of people showcasing these complex programs that they had written from scratch but never how to make them. So that was/still is my niche appeal. My videos are in high demand because it's extremely difficult to find a series of programming tutorials for Small Basic, let alone one that talks you through from point A to point Z with as much layman speak as humanly possible.

However, tutorial videos may not be your path of choice, a lot of the people have the abilities required to teach the content but just don't have the silver tongue of a teacher. Don't be offended, it's not for everyone. Only people who are okay with making next to nothing and working more than the average human being. Like charity work. For other people there is a greater call to action as we envision cinematic scenes of consuming emotion, gripping action, and gut-busting laughter. For those of us who envision these things, this blog is for you.

When first envisioning your idea for a live action film, you want to write down the core concept of the idea, if you have a good memory, you can expand on the core concept to your entire idea. Most of the time, these small idea fragments are not going to be the entire story arc, a lot of times people are privy to just imagining up the climax of the story as a whole. This means you're not even close to being ready to start filming.

Once you've got your idea down on paper, it's time to expand on this. Remember if you're creating a new youtube account, your account will not be allowed to host videos longer than 10 minutes, so the emphasis on this next point is critical. The more intricate you want your story arc to be, the more spartan your writing has to be. By spartan writing i mean in the same writing motifs as Ernest Hemingway who was famous for removing any excess from his writing. If it was not in his book, it was not needed in his book. No fluff. So instead of having your hero travel across the lands, meet 16 friends and then get into a big fight with the big baddie, start the book with your hero and all of his friends and have them travel to the baddie and fight him end of story. Small adjustments like that will remove fluff. Going to meet up with his 16 friends at 16 different locations adds nothing significant to the story that could not be solved with a paragraph at the beginning of the story arc.

Got your script written? Now is the true acid test for whether i will make the 10 minute cut or not. Get you and a couple friends of your to recite the script. It's not necessary to add any emotion to the script, it's not necessary to memorize the script. Just recite and time your run and see if its finished in about 9 minutes. Why 9 minutes you ask? An optional 30 seconds for an intro animation to the video if you choose and a mandatory 30 seconds for credits.

If it doesn't make it in your 9-9.5 minute limit, take the script back to the chop shop and see what you can cut out further. Rinse and repeat until you have a finished produc that makes the 9-9.5 minute cut and flows well.

Next up we need to storyboard the script. Storyboarding requires a little bit of artistic ability, the images in the story board can be as intricate as concept art or as basic as stick figures and boxes. It all depends on what you're comfortable with doing and how much time you want to spend on the storyboard. The concept for a story board is to create a single frame drawing to sum up each scene in your video. A scene is from camera record to camera cut. Unless you're intending to record the entire video in 1 continuous shot, this always remains true.

After you have a storyboard, assemble your cast and show them the storyboard. Make sure everyone understands what the idea is, what you want the end result to look like and make sure everyone memorizes their lines before you take the time to film the shot. I say this because scripts in a movie look hideous, unprofessional and strip any and all emotion from the video. A lot of what forms human emotion is facial expressions and it's difficult to capture of portray them at all if your nose is in a stack of papers.

Post processing of the video and uploading it to youtube are the last two steps in the process and post processing can be a bear. Depending on how much post processing you have to do, it could take you 20 minutes, it could take you just as long as the entire process up till now (a few days). There are some low-quality, free video editing software out there that would be a poor substitute to programs like Sony Vegas or Adobe After Effects, but if you need to use them, by all means, use them. A lot of times you've got to work with what you've got and do the best you can. However, you want to make life easier on yourself and are truly dedicated to devoting a large chunk of time to doing this in the future, i would strongly suggest investing the capital into either Sony Vegas or Adobe After Effects as they are both industry standards and will make your life worlds easier once you understand their UI's.

Once again i want to emphasize quickly that the chances of you being an instant success over night after your first video is uploaded are slim to none. You will need to keep working at it and let it happen naturally. If by chance you do become an instant success, the subscribers you get from your viral video will demand more equally quality content. If you don't provide, you'll be throwing that success down the drain.

Lastly, i did want to outline a list of professional filmography tools that you can make alternatives to for extremely cheap

  • SteadiCam - SteadiCam is a trademark company name that offers a series of camera apparatus' that helps you in the steadying of your camera motions. This helps aleviate a lot of camera jitter caused by shaky hands. Their cheapest models go for around $150.00 and i've seen models sell for as high as $6,000.00 from manufacturer. Naturally, most aspiring filmographers don't have $150-$6,000 to just magically blow on one piece of equipment. So there are dozens of youtube videos on how to make one yourself with about $20-$50 with of PVC, epoxy and gym weights.
  • Fig Rig - A fig rig is another camera stabilizer that very much resembles a steering wheel of a car. The camera mounts in the center where the horn or airbag would normally be. An industry standard Fig Rig will cost you about $300.00, you can make one for about $20-$40 dollars worth of PVC piping and epoxy.
  • Dolly Rigs - Dolly rigs are used a lot in modern film, specifically when the hero is sprinting through a forest and the camera is staying close to him perfectly to give the movie the feeling of speed. Sufficed to say, a professional dolly rig is no the cheapest thing in the world. In fact, it's one of the most expensive rigs for camera available on the market. However there are plenty of tutorials to show you how you can make your own dolly rig for about $60.00 a square meter of track using 2x4's some railing and a home made dolly.
This blog is getting long so i'm going to end it here but sufficed to say, any type of rig you might need to record that project you imagined up, you can find an alternative that is several times cheaper than industry standards. So get out there and start filming!

Have you ever wanted to record your own videos? what is the main reason that has stopped you from doing so?

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