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Table of Contents | Part 1 >

The Videomaker's Journey:
You cannot learn how to make movies by just reading about it.
You must practice it by performing various tasks.

The Learning Process - by Arthur Bullock

Portrait of Arthur Bullock. I learned the value of being a team player a long time ago. I am also a student of human behaviour. My last job was terrific: I was the Supervising Draftsman in a consulting engineers office for the water supply works. My boss trained me how to do a large amount of the engineers' work on water treatment plant plans, such as hydraulic calculations for pipe-work and his special requirements for designing the pipe layout at the pumps and the other minor works. I taught myself how to design the floodlighting.

I used to be a worrier, that was cured a long time ago. I have a wonderful family - my wife and 5 daughters all have a mad sense of humour and give me heaps - but they are all nice to me.

Over the last 10 years - I have written technical articles for a local movie making club. I have given special consideration to making it easy for beginners to get started. The Moviemaking Clubs in Australia were permitted to re-publish my articles in their newsletters and several did so. A New Zealand club even published some extracts.

Some tasks will be set out in the course. You need to look back on your previous efforts - then work on improving your methods. Joining a movie making club is a good way to find people who can give constructive criticism. If possible find a club that has a history of movie making. [Visit the IAC list of UK clubs.]

If you have old travel and family video shots - trim and adjust them with a simple edit operation - make DVD copies for easy viewing - and archive them for safe storage. At a later date, you can then edit them down to a series of short movies. If the old stuff is really bad - maybe you can convert it into a series of stills. If there are short clips that are not too bad - sometimes by converting the first and last frames of each clip into 3 second stills, they may become watchable. Examples of how to do this, will be shown in the course.

The audio level gauges in some editing software are not related to standard zero db audio. The audio level has to be set by ear - this seems to be typical of some of the computer systems used by most movie makers. This is not good enough - we have calibrated the audio level in my iMac -so that we can read the audio volume on an external audio level gauge, as we adjust the volume to the required level on each clip. How to do this will be shown in the course.

All of this tutorial is based on practical experience gained from making home movies.

Note that these articles were written for use in Australia. Comments in green have been added by the editors for British references.


Click on the links below to read each chapter:

1. Introduction

  • Take steady shots.
  • Stop the video camera after each shot.
  • Framing the main subject.
  • Panning or tilting

2. Basic equipment

  • A miniDV video camera.
  • Desirable features in a video camera.
  • Tripods and handheld camera work.
  • Computers.
  • An external hard drive.
  • DVD discs.
  • Firewire connecting cables.

3. Additional equipment

  • A directional microphone on a boom.
  • Headphones plugged into the video camera.
  • Lights
  • Filters
  • Reflectors
  • Wide-angle lens adaptors

4. Taking video camera shots - 1.

  • Preliminary check
  • Using the image stabilizer
  • Using a tripod
  • Zooming

5. Taking video camera shots -2.

  • Panning and tilting.

6. Framing and composing shots - 1.

  • A general comment.
  • Get in close and after each shot look around for cut-a-ways.
  • Shots of medieval and modern buildings.
  • Macro shots.

7. Framing and composing shots - 2.

  • Shot sizes.
  • A summary of shot sizes
  • Composing shots.
  • The main subject should be off-centre.
  • Looking and walking space.
  • Over the shoulder shots.

8. Framing and composing shots - 3.

  • Framing devices
  • Dealing with the background.

9. Framing and composing shots - 4.

  • Angle of view.
  • Diagonal lines, the Dutch angle and the Dutch tilt.
  • The use of different size shots.

10. Taking video camera shots.

  • Automatic and manual focus.
  • Automatic and manual exposure.
  • Automatic and manual white balance.
  • Wide-angle lens adaptors.
  • Shooting "day for night".
  • Night shooting for night.

11 Lighting

  • Power requirements
  • Locating the lights
  • The colour of light
  • Special effects and mood lighting
  • Rules of colour
  • Care of lamps
  • Only one light

12 Sound

  • A Note for Beginners.
  • How to Record Good Quality Audio.
  • Handling a Microphone Boom.
  • Recording Levels.
  • Editing the audio.
  • Hiss, Hum and Distortion
  • The Quality of Audio
  • Impedance Levels of Line and Microphone.
  • Microphone Types.
  • Audio Meters
  • A Zero db Audio Level Signal
  • Recording a Commentary

13 Story Writing

  • How to find stories and ideas
  • Story writing for short movies
  • A typical screenplay
  • A Brief Look at Some of the Copyright Rules

14 Shooting Scripts

  • Drafting the Shooting Script
  • A Summary of the Shot Sizes
  • Drafting the Storyboard
  • Advice for Beginners
  • Storyboard System 1
  • Storyboard System 2
  • Storyboard System 3
  • Sample Storyboards
  • Sample floor plans

15 The Crew

  • The Crew
  • The Size of the Crew
  • The Director
  • The Video Camera Operator
  • The Microphone Boom Operator
  • The Director's Assistant
  • The Lined Script
  • Shooting Script for The Trouble With Harry

16 Finding Actors

  • Finding the Actors
  • Directing the Actors
  • Sample Release Form
  • Asking Actors to Work for Free
  • A List of Props used for the movie Violets are Blue
  • Locations
  • How to Direct the Actors
  • Directing the Camera Operator

17 Editing for Beginners

  • Preparation for the Edit
  • Trimming the clips / How to start the story / How to end the story
  • Jump cuts, crossing the line and screen direction
  • Shifting shots around / Fine tuning / Cutaways / Inserts / Reaction Shots / Overlapping sound or video
  • Tweaking: lightning flashes / image correction / transitions
  • Adjust the dialogue audio volumes / Remove unwanted sound
  • Finishing Touches - Titles / Credits / Music / Hints / Comment by Col Tretheway
  • Supplementary advice: image correction - old equipment - editing equipment - the final render - high definition editing.

18 Producing and Directing

  • Introduction
  • Preparation for the day of the shoot
  • Camera work
  • Another type of movie (The Handyman)
  • Beginners should start with a very short movie
  • Acknowledgements
  • Making the movie is just the start
  • Advanced advice on writing screenplays - a reading list.

19 Burning DVDs and Archiving

  • Choosing DVD blanks
  • DVD Types
  • Copying DVDs
  • Storage Space
  • Burning DVDs
  • Three ways to burn DVDs - step-by-step instructions
  • My iDVD Check List
  • Archiving and DVDs
  • Problems and Advantages of DVDs
  • Archiving
  • Appendix: Options for Saving our Movie/s

20 Transferring VHS & S-VHS to DVD.

  • Introduction
  • Background notes for younger readers
  • Problems with old VHS and S-VHS tapes
  • Family and travel video shot with a Hi8 video camera
  • Equipment
  • My ACT Electronics VE4 - video image processor

21 Transferring Ciné Film to DVD

  • Variable speed projector
  • Fixed speed projector
  • Recognising 8mm film types
  • Recording audio
  • Impedance levels
  • Focus and exposure
  • Projector screen
  • Characteristics of 8mm, super-8mm and 16mm
  • The process
  • Sample movie

22 Beyond Basics

  • Start
  • Story Development
  • Pre-Production
  • Responding to Criticism
  • Editing Refinements
  • Transferring Ciné Film to Video
  • Putting Pace into Movies

© copyright Arthur Bullock, 2007-13

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Page updated on 28 June 2013
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