Sam, I wonder if you should be a character in your film. It's not appropriate for every film and can often be seen as an overly easy way to tie a loose storyline together, but, in this case, you are a bit of the bridge between cultures and stereotypes, so that might also be interesting to explore. Or at least have on tape, which you can later decide to keep or scrap. (I say this, having produced a film with an emigree director going back to his homeland where he didn't make the conscious decision to include himself as a character until he returned and could not afford to go back, so it was a lot of patchworking to bring him in as a character after-the-fact).
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.
"Someone" was me (or, at least, I was one of those who answered you).
If you search all the old posts that I wrote several months ago, you'll find that I'd pasted examples of how I do transcriptions.
ONCE AGAIN, you're asking the same questions. I don't mind helping you – to the contrary, I'm quite happy to help you (and I'm sure that this is true for everyone else) – but since it takes time and concentration to answer a question I don't think it's appropriate for you to have the generous people who participate on this board waste their time by asking the SAME questions, several times. As a matter of courtesy, you ought to check old postings first, as I pointed out to you just a couple of weeks ago.
Yes, you'll need DVD's (or VHS videocassettes or whatever) with time codes.
First of all, someone, the translator (in this case) needs to transcribe the entire content of each cassette containing interviews.
When writing down the transcription, the translator needs to indicate time code corresponding to the BEGINNING AND TO THE END OF EACH AND EVERY PARAGRAPH.
Then, passage number two, the translator writes out the translation maintaining the same time codes at the beginning and at the end of each paragraph.
The reason you MUST do this is that – when you'll have written your story outline or the script – you'll be able to find any soundbite you are interested in, within a few seconds time. If you don't have time code, it could take you a long time to find the 'bite.
Immagine that you might build your documentary (as I have in some cases) without any voiceover narration. In a situation like this, your script will rely totally on the soundbites of your character(s).
When you start editing and you build the story, it'll be easy to find and assemble – in the correct order – all the relevant soundbites along the timeline. If, at any time, you should decide to substitute a given segment with another, it'll only take you a few seconds to identify and grab it.
What is your dp whing about?
A) Having to do the translation?
B) Having to indicate time codes?
It may take a while – especially if one person has to do it all – to translate and transcribe 16 hours of interviews and it will take a lot of hard work and concentration. That's why people who have to do this – unless you're doing it yourself (not in this case) – want to be payed well. But, if he's accepted to take on the job, you must have already covered this issue.
It may take him several weeks time to complete the translation, but ince you're not in a rush, who cares. Of course, he might prefer to be out shooting, that's why you have to pay him!
If he's referring to B), it only takes a few extra seconds time to write down the time codes.
I'm putting up a topless avitar to see if it makes Wolfgang any more eager to help me!
I don't get your sense of humor. And it's not the first time.
I'm more than "eager" to help Darla or anyone else; in fact, I answered her question.
I just pointed out that Darla has a habit of asking the same things more than once. I wrote: "As a matter of courtesy, you ought to check old postings first, as I pointed out to you just a couple of weeks ago "
What's your problem with that?
Wolfie, I'm just hurt that you've (more or less) dimissed me as being unwilling to make real sacrifices to pursue my cinematic vision; drawing unfavorable comparisons between me and John Cassavettes. I thought maybe if I took off my shirt, you'd give me a second chance! ;-)
I hate to disappoint ya. I didn't draw any comparisons between you and anyone, in fact I never mentioned you.
I wrote that I didn't pay for interviews and my experience has taught me that (with rare exceptions) it's possible to convince people to talk without paying them. It just takes a lot of patience and time and perseverance or whatever skills to convince them.
In any case, you don't have any hopes at all. You're not my type.
Wolfgang, I acknowledge your generosity. But if you're tired of answering the same questions over and over again, why not just try not answering?
And Darla, honestly, your domination of this topic is getting tiring. It's not all about you. Pick your spots and please don't repeat yourself, okay?
Darla – is there any way you can import the dvd footage to quicktime? There is software which enables you to punch in the timecode while you're transcribing (Inqscribe, for instance) while running a quicktime movie. Don't quite know how it all works, but you can also set a timecode offset, so if you know the start timecode of your original footage, you can sync it with the transcription quite painlessly.
But another option to consider, is to simply create a new audio track in fcp (or avid, whatever) and then translate with a voiceover to that track.
I have used both methods and they both have their advantages. Good luck.
As for asking a question again and again, I think it is slightly churlish to make a big deal out of it. If we (I say "we", but I am as much in need of help as anyone) are prepared to help someone with a technical issue, then we should just help. These are all complicated issues and there are many solutions, so it isn't always evident which is the best way to go about things the first time round.
In this case, I think transcribing from a DVD or cassette without using widely available specialised software would be a real waste of time and energy. But that's just me, no doubt Wolfgang doesn't agree.
darla, go ahead and keep posting in here whenever you need help. if someone feels like they've already answered your question, they don't need to respond again. or, if you prefer, you are always welcome to send an email to any of us who have offered helpful advice before. it's not easy starting out on your first project – especially one with an international bent – so we definitely want to encourage you on your way.
Hey guys, I really didn't think I was committing a capital sin by pointing out to Darla that we'd already answered her question.
Please notice that I made this observation at the end of my answer to her question.
I happen to work in communications so I try to pick my words carefully.
Since others – as well as myself – had given Darla good advice the first time around, it seemed logical to suggest that she ought to check out the old posts.
Regardless of what you may think Rob, this hardly constitutes making "a big deal" about anything, much less "churlish" behavior.
Wolfie, you're a blowhard and a bully who can't remember what you've said from one day to the next, let alone showing any evidence of being able to pick your word carefully. Rather than Darla re-reading your old posts, how about you go back and read your own bloviating post about your supperlative interview technique and tactics.
I have no difficulty admitting that some of my posts were long-winded. But does that make me a "bully?"
And you didn't even take off your shirt for me...
Guys, allow me to say my intentions were – are – good and I feel that I've been misinterpreted. Anyway, for me 'nuff said.
If you all don't mind, I'd prefer to drop this matter and get back to ... answering questions and reading interesting answers.
Guys, guys. I'm not sure if you are all going back and forth in good fun or not, but we should remember that the mentoring room is part of the D-Word public forum, so whatever is posted here may show up anywhere. Not everyone in here knows our backstories, backposts, or personality quirks and it may not make some folks feel welcome to have fighting in here nor any discouragement of questions or discussion.
I'm no topic cop, but might make a citizen arrest to suggest any further discussion of who is in the right or wrong be taken to the private forum parking lot, so we can focus here on providing constructive advice.
Erica's right. You're certainly welcome to meet in the Parking Lot and go 15 rounds (you could even take your shirts off first). One of the pleasures of professional membership.
Totally not sure what's up here. Wolfgang, you answered a question I never asked.
Doug, is there a limit on posts?
I asked a question that I never asked before – how best to get my footage into a format with time codes to give to the translator. Sometimes, since I'm very new at this, I don't always know how to ask the question most eloquently.
By the way, thanks Rob, and Erica, and Christopher – and of course, all of you.
My footage is on PAL (yes, I know you all know this), so I've gotta get someone with a PAL camera deck to run my tapes through FCP and then do time codes (assuming I will also edit in PAL) and put all that back out on either DVDs or Quicktime files to give to my translator. I think I'm understanding this correctly.
I'm close to NYC, so I guess I can just pay someone to do this for me. I really don't have too many other resources (no camera, no FCP).
If your tapes are DVCAM, a DSR 11 deck will do and these are easy to find (rent). You would also need a laptop with FCP.
If you know someone or have a friend who has a Mac with FCP, they could capture for you. Then it would be simple for them to burn DVDs with timecode. And then you could mail or ship the DVDs to your dp in Italy. For safety, keep copies for yourself.
Allow me to suggest that, while you're at it, you might want to buy a small external disc (200 GB would do and is relatively cheap, US$299.00).
This way, you'll have a backup and – more importantly – you'd already have your video ready to be logged, whenever you decide to do the edit. Furthermore, a 200 GB hard disc will provide more than enough space to edit your doc.
To everyone who replied, thank you for your time. I know I have to be diligent and creative. It's that now I have to walk the walk of documentary making. For me personally feeling all those things is different than understanding them, or studying them first. i.e. storylines wavering. Thanks for the inspirational kick in the rear from Erica, Jennifers and everyone else.
Erica, I contemplated including myself in the story but I don't want it to be about me, or run through me. I'm actually scared of bringing the attention, or focus on myself. I want it to be about Egyptians. I guess want and get may be two different things but I hope not in this case.
p.s. transcribing english takes a heck of alot of time. I'm awesome at english, and humble ;-). I think I need to start transcribing even though I don't have alot of hours. Not to mention there is audio.....
Did I mention d-word rocks?
Ma' Assalam from Sharm El Sheik
I'm going to be directing short interviews with people at a union convention. This might lead to short videos about a theme or union campaign. We are trying to figure out what kind of backdrop and lighting to use for the interviews. One idea is to use a white backdrop, lit fairly flat, and change up frame lengths – inspired by the look of Errol Morris's Move On ads: http://www.errolmorris.com/content/election04/main.html
Another option would be to use a purple backdrop – the union's color. The lighting kit that's been reserved by the conference organizers includes one 350 fresnel, one 150 fresnel, a 650 fresnel, plus chimeras and gels. I don't know a lot about lighting, so I'm looking for advice about whether these lights are appropriate for achieving this kind of a "natural" look. Whether a white backdrop will be more challenging to light than purple... also, what to use as the backdrop – cloth draped somehow or a firm backdrop of some kind? Thanks for any suggestions!
What's the best way to organize footage to prepare for editing? Do you rely on creating paper cuts, or do you have a better system?
(Since you were previously on the subject of transcripts, I also do transcriptions with time code and if anyone has questions about it, you can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Lucia – if you were to shoot a greenscreen, you could make up your mind afterwards, or even use other footage/photos as a backdrop if the project really took off.
Lucia: You didn't ask, but make sure you have a quiet room and good mics – I've been hosed on audio in this kind of situation before. As for lighting, you won't be shining a light on the background if you're trying to achieve the look of the erol morris link. You only light a backdrop if you're trying to create texture or a pattern. You need to read up on the three point lighting technique, or better yet, practice in your living room with a real person.
Jamie: I found this training video from Creative Cow usefull.
I am in the business of filming people's lifestories but no one takes their lifestory that seriously it seems--and certainly not seriously enough to pay me to make their films (again it would appear from a bit of market research). What great ways do you think I could use to kick start the idea that everyone should consider putting their lifestory on video?
I imagine a bunch of talking heads telling them that it is a good idea and putting that on the web won't work too well. Any creative thoughts?
I know a couple of people who tried to do this and never found the right formula to make it cost effective. The clients want a lot and pay very little.
My suggestion to make it worth your while is to be the guy who shows up at family reunions and tapes people talking to each other. Good audio is the key, because it will be a noisy situation – camera mics won't work. But the oft-told stories will be great and everyone will feel comfortable doing it. Plus, you get everything in a day.
Memorial videos are another idea if you can work fast. Still photos to music. I was hired once to set up in a room away from the memorial service and folks came in and talked about their memories.
The common denominator is to be where families naturally gather.
I did some memorial videos. What a great feeling when you get it right!
Thanks Mark for that suggestion. I agree with Tony--it can be satisfying when you get it right! That is what keeps me going.
Laurence-have you checked out the Association of Personal Historians ? If you search their membership directory, you'll find companies that also create video biographies. The APH also holds an annual conference that members rave about on their listserv.
Hi Everyone :)
I was wondering if anyone would be able to give me some advice please? I have just graduated from University with a BA Hons English. Very keen to get involved in doc filmmaking and am currently writing on mental health. Any ideas as next step into the industry?
Thank you very much,
Don't listen to the elderly patients in this institution, Claire. Have you any practical experience in making docs? It's pretty easy these days to get hold of a DV camera. What's the mental health idea? Do you have a concrete subject or is it more a general idea at this stage?
John's right. Any idiot can make a doc. I am exhibit "A". I had no practical experience when I started (probably obvious if you watch one of my movies.) I still don't have any.
Some practical advise. Get a DV camera. You can get one for about $250.
Get a Macintosh computer. It will cost you about $1000. It will come with iMovie. I use FinalCut Pro, but any of the films I've made I could have made on iMovie.
Two best pieces of advise I ever got about making movies:
1) Watch old movies and study how they get people in and out of rooms.
2) Anything that's worth doing is worth doing poorly.
You could also get an internship at a small doc house. You could see how they do things, and then decide if its worth going broke to make a movie. I worked in reality TV a while and learned about cameras and sound. get your hands on a camera and practice. Realize this career generally leads to poverty. what can an internship hurt, and you would be helping some one who needs your help.
I graduated with a similar degree a couple of years ago and took out a graduate loan to pay for an introductory film making course in London. Cost about 800 quid at the time and if i'd lived in London it would have been ideal (although it did give me some practical experience for my cv and showed i'd got involved) I didn't live in London (still don't) so i signed up with shootingpeople and was contacted to help out as runner on a short over one weekend.
I should add that this was over a couple of years and also involved lots of dull temping and talking about working in film & television instead of doing it. If you're in London (Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol etc) clearly there are more opportunities – If you like London as a place to live – it's personal preference.
I would say just jump in and get involved. Every project you work on you gain more experience meet more people and gather momentum.
Ultimately my wife worked with someone whos ex worked as a producer and i got their email address and got in touch. Attached my CV had an interview, got a few weeks work experience, then a few more and now i'm full-time. I work as a production coordinator by day and try to work on my own project after work and at the weekend to satisfy my creative aspirations.
Just show them that you are enthusiastic and capable and willing to start early and stay late.
Hi – I'm not sure if this this is the right place to ask...I did do a search and didn't find any info on finding television commercial archives for use in a doc – we're stumbling a bit through the process of making our film, www.inspiredthemovie.com – and need some good footage of diet ads... any tips? We've gone the route of getting a dvr, but that is so random...would love to find a place that can get us what we need! Thanks in advance...
Hi Steve! We met at the Doc Dr's workshop a few months ago. This guy has a great film.
Can you legally use ads in an independent film without their consent? I suppose you've answered that question. If you need their consent anyway, maybe the diet companies will send you their ad. Doesn't hurt to ask. You just need one, right? Have you tried taping during soaps and The View, etc.?
Good to see you on this forum.
Hey Mark! We are planning to "fair use" some of these assets. Not yet sure if there will be a cost involved or not – you should check out Bigger, Stronger, Faster at Midtown Art and see how much archival stuff they used! I was surprised at all they used, but I'm guessing they spent some pretty good money on it, because of their producers.
I'm probably going to get an HD DVR to capture more on my own in the meantime! Thanks for your suggestions...
Hi, I am new to the D-Word and relatively new to film making. I do have a multi-media background in experiential marketing – business theater mostly. I am looking for a relatively inexpensive video camera to take onsite to Peru to do some B-roll filming. Any suggestions?
Hi everyone, sorry I have been out of the loop for a while. In response to Darla, I had to deal with the time code issues too. I am not sure the semantics of all languages as I had to deal with Korean, but let me just suggest again that the fastest, cheapest way I found to do subtitling is buy getting a foreign exchange student in that language and teach them how to subtitle. Use them as an intern (sometimes you can get them for free if they are interested in your project) or pay 10-$20 and hour. That is way less than paying someone to translate, then pick what you want to use as clips. I felt I got to know my "Characters" better this way because I would watch the whole interviews on dvd. It is just a suggestion, but after I spent six months doing it the way you are doing it(on paper), I spent the rest of the time right to dvd and the project ran better.
I haven't posted for a while. I'm currently working on my trailer for www.knowingevil.com. Is there any way to gather high quality images for free? I'm looking for art from the Enlightenment era in Western history, also footage from WWI & II and the Holocaust. Thanks again to Len, for helping with September 11th a while back :) Any help will be most appreciated.
Rights are a huge minefield, as I'm sure you've gathered. The slight advantage here is that you're putting together a trailer which will not be broadcast – or is it for your website?
There was a similar request here a while back – see hidden section for suggestions on WWII material
I am wondering if anyone might have any recommendations for a tech problem that I am having. It has come to pass that the audio jack in my Canon GL1 camera is not working anymore. I tried to get it fixed once, to know avail. The camera has a little life in it left for fun projects, and we have decent mics.... thus, I am considering venturing into the secondary audio recording unit audio as a match up for the camera. I don't know much about field audio. Does anyone have any recommendations for a hard disk recorder in the reasonably affordable range?
In reply to Mari Heavey's post on Wed 18 Jun 2008 :
Mari – Take a look at the Canon HV20 with a Beachtek audio adapter...should be able to get one pretty reasonably these days. Not like the pro gear, but the picture quality is pretty amazing for an inexpensive camera. Look at BHPhoto.com Buydig.com, or even at Circuit City...
In reply to Katinka Kraft's post on Wed 18 Jun 2008 :
The expanding mini-plug jack is an easy fix. Whoever tried to do it didn't know what they were doing. I would send it to an official repair shop.
In reply to John Burgan's post on Wed 18 Jun 2008 :
Thanks very much John. And it is not for the website, only for funding, so I am lucky to avoid the minefield for now :-)
I am making a trailer to privately raise money with. If I use this trailer to apply for grants, will I get in trouble if I don't have all of the rights to the material used? I'm not sure if I need to consult a lawyer for this one, but any help will be most appreciated.
you won't get in any legal trouble, monica, and people do this ALL the time... the only "trouble" you might get into is if the clips you are using are well-known and absolutely indispensable to your film. The grant agency may question whether you can raise enough money to use such clips. for instance, if you wanted to use MLK's "Dream" speech... but if you use a photo of an old Model-T car, no one's going to blink an eye.