Now the holidays are out of the way, we can look forward to a few 2018 delights in the cinematic pipeline. There’s an onslaught of releases scheduled for this year – here are a few highlights we’re anticipating:
Marvel takes an interesting turn here – for diversity and for their superhero universe generally – with the story of T Challa who “returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda to take his place as King”. If you’re into this sort of big screen spectacle, Black Panther promises to be a fresh take on the whole genre in February.
The Incredibles 2
Pixar’s finally created a followup to their 2004 hit, having given Toy Story, Cars, and Nemo plenty of sequels in the meantime. Now it’s the turn of the superheros of domesticity. Elastigirl will take the lead this time, to save the world again in some entirely unlikely but inevitably entertaining way, coming in June!
Nick Aardman’s distinctive claymation extravaganzas are always worth checking out, from Wallace and Gromit to Chicken Run… his films are brilliant at combining compelling stories with an onslaught of clever sight gags. In a couple of weeks, his latest creation will whizz us back to the dawn of time where stone-aged protagonist Dug is fighting to save his home from a more evolved Bronze Aged threat.
These three are just the start, with 2018 promising dozens of new releases… far more than we’ll have time to see, but that’s the beauty of a rich and varied medium in its prime!
We’ll see you… at the movies!
As a filmmaker, understanding the emerging mediums available in the industry is essential to staying ahead of the technological curve. Most recently this has seen the advent and rise of 360 degree video emerging from within the film industry. So why has it become so popular?
Aside from the exciting challenges and considerations for the capturing footage in 360, it’s in many cases a better way to connect with an audience and show them an entire environment. Often a one-sided view will no longer be good enough, now filmmakers must start to understand and consider much more depth in a scene for a 360 film when shooting. Here are a few tips for using a 360 camera to prepare your budding filmmakers for the inclusion of 360 video going forward.
- No Close-Ups
One of the limitations of a 360 camera is that they generally use 2 fish-eye lenses to create the extensively wide view and then stitch the two images together for the spherical effect. This means that the closer a subject is to the camera, the more it distorts. For filmmakers, this reduces the ability to use close-up shots with this medium… which can hinder dramatic effect and cinematography.
- Gateway Filming
360 degree video opens the doors for virtual reality age filmmaking, allowing VR headsets to immerse the viewer, so that they take the perspective of the camera. While this is an excellent experience, it needs extra consideration for filmmakers. Great care is needed to ensure the audience isn’t overwhelmed and are encouraged to look at the right space, particularly in busy scenes so they don’t miss the narrative and the message.
- Beware of Seam Lines
We mentioned above about the image stitching for a 360 camera. This means, that at some point, there will be a seam line where the two images meet. In some instances, you’ll easily be able to marry this up so that it is unnoticeable, for example in dark scenes or when adjoining grass and sky where the colours blend well. Unfortunately, this won’t always be the case. You’ll have to ensure that while filming, the seam line does not fall within a critical area of the frame, for instance, the main subject or characters being sliced in half and oddly reattached.
- Bye Bye Tripod
A tripod is usually considered to be an essential piece of equipment for a student filmmaker, however you’ll have no use for it with a 360 camera. This is because the legs generally protrude into the shot and instead you’ll have to opt for a monopod or camera with travel specifications so that it can handle extra shaky ground when shooting. You need to ensure that your equipment as a whole does not have any appendages which could be captured in the shot, instead opting for dials or knobs for control.
- Consider Audience Positioning
In 360 films, the camera takes on the role of the audience which means you’ll need to ensure that their positioning is correct in and out of the scene. If they are meant to be a bystander, the subject needs to be fairly close so that you could realistically be able to hear. Alternatively, if the audience is a witness or spectator you’ll need to create an environment where they aren’t exposed, offering coverings in the frame. How you incorporate the camera and audience positioning is the choice of the filmmaker, however remembering the perspective is key.
It’s an exciting time for filmmakers, particularly with the evolution of new waves of technology. So don’t keep your students in the dark, instead introduce them to the advantages and limitations of 360 degree filmmaking.
It is quite common for filmmakers, even established ones, to fear the unknown or second guess their work, particularly when creating work who’s whole point is to be displayed for all to see. Fear, particularly for creative minds, can hinder artistic ability and destroy your filmmaking capability, leading to self-doubt and often the abandonment of a passion project. However, when your fear is debilitating, it is time to conquer it, so these tips for filmmakers are aimed to overcome your fears and give you a realistic, helpful process so you can keep creating.
Types of filmmaking fear:
First, let’s look at some of the types of fear that filmmakers commonly feel:
- Afraid of the unknown
- Afraid the film isn’t viable
- Afraid the audience etc. will dislike it
- Afraid you won’t do the subject justice
- Afraid you don’t have enough resources to get it done
- Afraid you’re underqualified or talentless
- Afraid of wasting your time
- Afraid of your work being unimportant
Sound familiar? This is obviously not an exhaustive list but you get the idea. So, what can you do about it when these less than encouraging thoughts start to creep in?
The best advice for filmmakers is that if you are starting to feel afraid, ask yourself these three questions and often, you’ll be able to identify the underlying cause for the fear (making it a lot less scary.)
- What is the direct result of this action/behaviour/route etc.? – Often, the fear of consequences can plague your decisions, particularly if you are prone to overthinking. Ask yourself if there is immediate or genuine danger to yourself, others or the project and then consider it rationally rather than spiralling.
- What are my motivations for doing this? – Remind yourself why you started this project and what led you This is easier if you have a memento or totem that you can look at, that acts as an intrinsic reminder.
- When did my fear start to manifest? – You’ll notice your fear building but many times there is a different reason that is being avoided. Is your fear directly related to what you are doing or has it built up from something else? Identifying it makes it easier to manage.
Fear is a natural part of life, it’s where the fight or flight response comes from and it is completely normal to be afraid, but it shouldn’t be debilitating. Accept that fears will pop up and that it’s healthy to be afraid as long as you keep going and you’ll find this is the boost for your filmmaking career you may have needed.
Surround Yourself With Support
When working on your film, create an excellent support network that you can confide in and bounce ideas off. Support can make you feel less alone and avoid the negative thoughts from impacting you too greatly, and talking about fear can help to quell them somewhat. Just ensure they are people whose opinion you can trust so that when they tell you not to be fearful, you’ll believe them.
Don’t Shy Away
Fear works best when it mounts, chipping away at you a little each day until you feel like you can no-longer complete your project. Don’t let this happen to you, show up each day and make your film despite your fear and you may well find it’s a better end result because of it.
Engaging with your fear and making sense of it makes it less scary so take these filmmaking tips on board to conquer your fears and avoid it putting a halt to your projects and career in the future.
Snap released lens studio at the end of last year, showcasing just how far augmented reality (AR) technology has come in terms of accessibility and functionality. Although they aren’t the only platform to embrace AR, with Facebook, Google and Apple introducing their AR platforms recently as well, they started early and are possibly ahead of the curve.
With the successful roll-out of “world lenses” where users create AR effects on real-world surroundings and approximately 95% of their geofilters being user created in their app, it’s clear to understand the excitement around Snap’s latest launch. These new AR lenses are excellent news for smartphone filmmakers who can take things one step further and use the app to add AR effects easily to their clips.
How Does It Work?
Using a desktop app, users can create an AR effect (or ‘lens’) which creates a unique code supplied as a link. This link can be clicked on and integrated in the Snapchat phone app for a 24 hour period and is shareable for up to one year from creation. It can be used multiple times so filmmakers can share it with one another.
Note: There are company guidelines that need to be adhered to for lens creation although there is no formalised approval process yet.
How to Use Snapchat Augmented Reality For Filmmakers
So how is this relevant to filmmakers? Augmented reality is growing in popularity, creating a deeper connection with the audience and allowing overlays that span between real life and fantasy. We all witnessed the phenomenon of Pokemon Go and this is a similar application, just more in depth, straying away from the gaming industry. Here are some of the ways you could use the new AR effects in Lens Studio as a budding filmmaker.
- Change the shape or size of an object in frame – Whether that is distorting it or making it interactive so that when a user walks closer or further away the object changes. This can help with effects in a video, particularly when you are trying to include the audience in the perspective.
- Use templates – Get inspiration from supplied templates that allow you to adapt current content and help give ideas when starting.
- Long-term – While the lenses are only active for the traditional Snapchat 24 hours, they can be saved in the app and developed over a longer period of time. This helps if you are aiming to create an in-depth film with your phone so you can develop everything you need before implementing it.
- Video Snapcodes – 3D images can be created and placed into still or video content by generating QR Snapcodes that can be used by anyone and are easily accessible.
- 2D – For those who prefer the 2D medium, Snap’s Lens studio works in this capacity too.
Ultimately, the introduction of these AR lenses allows you to explore your creativity in an up to date medium that also sets you up for real-world advances in the future. With the growing popularity of 3D films, the advent of VR headsets and increasingly AR applications, gams and marketing it is becoming commonplace to use this technology and it is a filmmaker’s responsibility to get their hands on it and be creative.
Christmas and New Year are already over in a blur and no doubt you are back in the classroom seeing friends and family’s resolutions taking up your newsfeed or inbox. It’s easy to fall back into the usual teaching rhythm… After all, it’s what we’ve always done. Might it be the perfect moment to take stock and strive to be better? This year, we’d like to suggest some teaching resolutions for a new year, new classroom, new you and ones that will improve engagement and interest year-round for your students. So buckle in, It’s time to become a truly 21st century teacher this year!
- Start Fresh
After the holidays, everyone is dragging their feet upon their return to work or school so instead of picking up right where you left off, use them as a springboard for starting afresh. Try new approaches in the classroom, whether that’s standing desks, incorporating games or the layout of your lesson plan to get your learners’ attention. For example, you could incorporate a quickfire question and answer session to boost engagement.
If you know you have challenging content to cover this term, encourage students to go full steam ahead with positive phrases and quelling their fears. Once they delve in, they’ll forget about everything else and get down to working on their next challenge.
A good teacher knows when to use their resources and with a plethora of teaching software available, if you aren’t already, you need to. From keeping track of student progress and grades to making easy, online quizzes it can save you time and energy, that can be better spent moulding young minds with killer content.
- Use A Virtual Learning Environment
On the subject of technology, virtual learning software for teachers is on the rise which allows greater flexibility in the classroom and beyond. No student learns the same and they shouldn’t have to. A virtual learning environment allows teachers to set tasks or training and teach remotely to compliment classroom learning for a greater chance of reaching your students. This modernization will drastically change the way you teach, for the better!
- Find Your Community
Teaching children can take a village so get rid of all the white noise in your inbox or newsfeed and keep what matters. Whether that means unsubscribing or deregistering yourself from unhelpful mailing lists, get rid of the junk. Joining groups on LinkedIn, Facebook or Edutopia, whatever your platform, find a community you can engage and bounce ideas off, they’ll inspire you (and keep you going.)
- Forge Student Understanding
Show an interest in your students this term and get to know them better. Often, you will find an element in their lives you can use to encourage or motivate them or an explanation on how they behave. It can also be a strong indicator of the type of learner they are and how classroom or virtual learning environments suit them best at different times. This will allow you to divide into groups more effectively, plan classroom tasks and generate a level of respect that breeds in a classroom environment to their peers.
- Teach Yourself
It’s time to do something for you. Find a subject, topic, crash course or podcast that re-ignites your passion for teaching and you’ll find your students respond. If you can find something that gives you extra qualifications or credentials then jump on the opportunity, what’s better than an inspired teacher to learn from?
- Get students to set goals that are in depth and SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time sensitive) to outline their aspirations this year.
- Introduce students to a virtual learning environment to gauge compatibility.
Incorporate these teaching practices for 2018 and you’ll be beating those post-holiday blues in no time. Make it your aim this year to modernize and inspire, both yourself and your learners, to make 2018 an amazing year.
Jump cuts, done in the wrong way they can look obnoxious and amateur making your filmography feel flat. However, they are one of the traditional film editing techniques that budding filmmakers can utilize; do them correctly and you’ve got a way to streamline film, create dramatic effects and sequences or cut out useless footage easily. We look at the good, the bad and the ugly of jump cuts and how to use them the right way for awesome films.
What Are Jump Cuts?
Essentially jump cuts are an editing technique that cut two shots together transitioning from one aspect to another. It seems fairly simple but this could involve scenes or subjects, for example using a cool jump cut editing trick to increase suspense in a horror film or simply to speed up time across a relationship in a romance movie.
Where Can You Use Them?
You can use jump shots anywhere as they are surprisingly diverse, from TV interviews and music videos to full-length movies or an Instagram short!
Issues To Avoid With Jump Cuts
Continuity – One of the first film editing tips given to young filmmakers is to consider their continuity in a film and this is where jump cuts can make it tricky. When using more than one subject or the complex way a shot is set up, it can be easy to make a mistake in continuity that isn’t immediately obvious (except to the viewer) which can lead to glaring mistakes. Overcome this by ensuring that jump cuts are used to keep things simple or to focus on showing time changes instead of changes to a scene.
Confusing Message – As a jump cut can be quite quick for the viewer, particularly going backwards and forwards it is important that you don’t make the scene too busy otherwise key elements can be missed. Focus on a single character, their reactions and subtle changes that are done over time rather than a lot of things happening at once which can confuse the message you’re trying to get across.
Things to Consider:
Change Shot – When using a jump cut in filmmaking, it makes changes of the background scene stand out which is not good if you’re trying to remove poor or lengthy footage that includes scene changes or differences part way through. For example, during an interview, jump cutting 3 minutes out if the subject moves can be glaringly obvious and create a jarring end result however by cutting to different shots such as a close-up to medium or wide it can show intentional transitioning making it look more professional.
Time Transitions – Another Jump cut editing trick is using them to show time passing or alternatively create a faster sequence, this is where they really come into their own.
Comedic Timing – Use a jump cut to inject some comedy into your film by jumping to close-ups of faces to see reactions or as a slapstick travelling method for traditional humour.
Jump cuts can be an excellent tool for your next film, just ensure that it benefits your storytelling and is used in the right way otherwise it may not have the impact you are looking for.
Recommended Steps for a Learning Exercise:
- Describe and explain what a jump cut is as well as its applications
- Have students attempt to create short 5 minute films of an interview with a subject including changing shots
- Ask them to cut it down to 2 minutes and make it more interesting by using jump cuts.
You’ve got a killer idea for a movie or you have the script to hand, but how do you make this a reality without a secret stash of cash? It can be difficult for student filmmakers without the industry contacts to find funding for their first projects. How films are financed varies greatly depending on the niche, demographic and initial ideas for the film. With this in mind, we are offering some insight on how to fund your film from a variety of different sources, to turn your concept into a reality.
- Government Funding
When asking how films are financed, the first point of contact is to look to your government for currently available programs, grants and incentives. Although these are highly competitive, with a thorough business plan and an excellent idea you can apply to Europe’s MEDIA programmes in line with their regulations and policies. In British filmmaking there are also specific UK government funds that you can apply for which encourage British filmmaking each year, that are provided by the BFI.
Crowdfunding is growing in popularity with films being entirely crowdfunded if their subjects are popular or they can be used to show viability and be picked up by studios (or other financers) who want to see the project go ahead. It works by offering people to donate smaller, manageable amounts into your project and in return you have different tiers of reward system for incentive.
One of the best examples of successful crowdfunding is the Veronica Mars movie that came after the cancellation of the TV show, rose in popularity and ended up being completely funded (all $5.7million) by fans. Now, even bigger studios are using partial crowdfunding to help get interest and numbers up, the downside is there is a lot of competition so you need to stand out.
- Soundtrack Financing
Focus on the music by using well-known artists and fantastic original soundtracks to promote the movie, raise its profile and secure funding that way. Music artists have their own labels and followers which will jump on the bandwagon to see their favourites perform (particularly if they have a cameo as well.) The downside is that it can steer the project in different directions than you may had envisaged and your fans will be music, rather than film orientated, meaning you’ll need to appease them as well.
Although filmmakers try to avoid this financing option because it usually means working with a lower budget, or getting themselves in debt, self-financing is still viable and leads to many personal or powerful films that make an impact. The downside with self-funded projects is you don’t have the quality control of other parties involved to tell you whether the script is good enough or not because there is no developmental stage and this can be riskier.
It’s important to remember that regardless of the type of funding you choose, you need to be clear and confident in your project, message and business plan. How do you expect anyone to finance or back your film if you’re uncertain about what you are doing? So make sure you’re first convinced yourself that it’s worth it.
The Last Jedi is causing some ripples in our own cultural galaxy’s force, to mix up some metaphors. This year’s annual installment from the almighty Disney Empire has managed the seemingly impossible by not only throwing out all sorts of preconceptions of the series, and giving it a new boost of life, but also pleasing critics and fans alike.
So, it seems that it’s our duty as cinephiles to check it out, right?
Scheduling might be an issue here though, and if you’re not booked for a screening until this coming weekend like us, then avoiding the temptation to get a sneaky glimpse of what’s in store is a battle in itself. Reviews, comments and spoilers are RIFE online and far more likely to dampen the eventual pleasures of surprise that we have in store…
With this in mind, and taking a play from the Orange-hued ‘f’ing moron’ currently occupying the White House, the best way to obstruct from the truth is to fill our minds with distractions and obfuscations. If we can no longer determine truth from something not even remotely resembling it, then we can only be surprised by each new turn of events as they present themselves… no matter how predictable or how many times we were warned about something.
Without further ado, therefore, here are some Last Jedi spoilers that will set your mind so adrift that what you eventually see on the screen will invarably come as pleasant surprises.
- Jar Jar Binks, long hoped to be dead by simply EVERYONE, makes a surprise Cameo in Episode VIII as a droid psychiatrist.
- Porgs are actually cute space parrots, instinctively mimicking the noises of any other lifeform they hear, especially Wookies.
- There’s going to be YET ANOTHER attempt to build YET ANOTHER Death Star. Those Imperial Planners just aren’t getting it, are they?
- Luke Skywalker didn’t ‘disappear’, he just went on holiday and discovered that instead of all this constant fighting, what he really fancied was some time alone to work in his poetry and practise the mandalin.
- Han Solo wasn’t killed by his son for nothing, but in a Oedipal twist, Kylo Ren was just making space to ask Leia out for an evening of ‘dancing and cosmic entertainment’
- On a similar note, BB8 and R2D2 become romantically involved and spawn not just a toaster as offspring, but an entire range of kitchen accessories.
- In a bizarre case of art imitating life, The Millenium Falcon is revealed to be made of Lego bricks.
- X-wing Fighters can only make the jump to hyper-space when their pilots tap their ruby slippers together and repeat the words ‘there’s no place like…’ No, just too weird.
- The tagline of Episode IX, after ‘The Force Awakens’, ‘The Last Jedi’ will be ‘To Go To the Bathroom in the Morning’ – making a beautiful complete sentence that reveals all you need to know about the mysterious Energy that binds the Galaxy together. (credit to Mike Pesca of The Gist for that quip)
- In Star Wars – Episode XXXVII, slated for release in 2036, the Force will be revealed to have just been the result of an experiment gone wrong in the LHC.
Thoroughly confused enough?
So, now’s the time to go to the cinema. May the enjoyment be with you. Always.
Making the most out of college as a student filmmaker can set you up for life. Whether it’s finding the future partners that you’re going to collaborate with or getting noticed and financed for your first film, it’s a crucially important time in your career. While learning filmmaking tips and tricks, you’ll also need to balance your projects and new creations alongside your friends and maybe (occasionally) get some sleep. Here are some tips to help student filmmakers make their film school experience worth it:
- Work Together
You’ll often find yourself collaborating on short films or projects, after all most filmmaking can’t be done entirely on your own, but do try to work in bigger groups. Aside from making the project more interesting and intricate it can introduce you to a larger network of people you can draw on and these could be lasting friendships in the industry. They will help you get through the experience together, understanding the needs of a filmmaking career and may even lead to each other’s success in the future. Plus as a bare minimum, the more involved in the project, the more friends, family and wider network that it can be marketed to.
- Get Your Credit
You may be taking extra courses or projects to learn filmmaking online alongside your other curriculum or you’ve decided to create a project entirely by yourself according to your interests. Regardless of where or how, try to get this counted towards your overall scores and many institutions will. It may be that your outside project earns you a higher mark or qualifies towards coursework that will bump your grades up. Or it could be demonstrative towards an initial idea for your final exam or a piece to show your teacher what you’re capable of. But if it’s teaching filmmaking and you’re putting the time in, make it count academically, (every little helps.)
- Be An Intern
Teaching cinematography and filmmaking is a lengthy and elaborate process with complex elements that can only be understood properly when seen in action. Often, making mistakes yourself or watching how professionals operate in a true setting can give you more insight and inspiration for your own projects and makes learning interactive and fun.
Many internships are paid but even those that aren’t can offer value and teach you the skills you’ll need for your filmmaking career, so they]re worth looking into. Plus, working in a live setting can expose you to new filmmaking technology that may not be readily available at college yet, setting you apart from everyone else and giving you the edge (particularly if you’re given the chance to use it.) Just make sure that you’re able to balance your time and make it count towards your grades.
- Don’t Be Afraid To Market
Unfortunately, most films (regardless of their quality) are not going to become well known and award winning on their own. You need to tell people about them and the best way to do this is to tap into their platforms on social media and use it to market to them. With more people on smartphones and devices this is a cost-effective way to filter to your demographic as well as reach out and network to others (plus it’s an excellent place to put the call out for film extras.)
Student filmmakers have a lot to consider and do during their studies whilst at film school but hopefully these tips offer more insight into how to make the very most out of the experience.
The closer we get to Christmas, the less motivated students become as they start to get distracted by the holidays, their plans and switch off their brains. This makes it particularly hard for teachers to plan engaging lessons that actually teach anything because the focus just isn’t there. With that in mind we have come up with some pre-holiday classroom activities and ideas to motivate and encourage your learners’ participation until the final day of term.
Acknowledge The Holidays
Many teachers feel that if they create an area that doesn’t acknowledge the holidays then it will feel like every day work, however this isn’t the case and often has the opposite effect by creating FOMO in students. While you shouldn’t feel too much pressure to create massive lighting designs for your classroom, some decorations or mementos go a long way to acknowledging the time of year and showing that you can incorporate this into your learning.
Go Festive But Relevant
Don’t fall into the trap of making all the tasks Christmas activities for students for the sake of it. While incorporating the holiday and time of year can make content more interesting you need to ensure it is still relevant to your curriculum, for example if you’re working on script writing, set the task of writing a winning Christmas movie script so that the underlying work is still going towards the end goals once the Christmas period is over.
Keep Resources To A Minimum
Choose activities that use fewer resources that make ending the task simple and easy because pre-holiday classroom activities that require a lot of time and effort to get involved are doomed to fail. Plus, the more resources that need to be closed or put away, the longer you will be staying in the classroom rather than wrapping up and getting home in time to enjoy your holidays!
It can be hard to pre-plan for the holidays because classes and students behave differently so you may find that different activities suit some and not others. Have a selection of choices and let the students decide what they are “in the mood for” which makes a change from normal operating procedure but still keeps everyone on track.
Holiday activities for students that are popular are those that require collaboration and working in groups. At this time of year, learners want to be social so use this to your advantage by keeping morale and interest high and making content physical and practical rather than academic. If you know focus is low, choose groups that draw different learner types to use each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
If you can’t drum up the enthusiasm to teach students this close to the holidays (particularly on the last day of term) pre-prep instead. This could be outlining what you will be looking at or working on in the New Year so that students can keep it in the back of their mind over Christmas or setting new expectations. Getting learners to look to the future makes them see past the holiday slump to consider where they will be taking projects next which can often boost motivation and excitement, particularly if you entice them with fun activities or tasks to look forward to.
Even if you have work that needs to be done before the end of term, set your expectations, acknowledge the holidays and use some of these tips to boost engagement and push through.