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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.

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Faraz Mohammad
Tue 26 Jan 2010Link

Hi,
I am gonna be shooting my documentary using Canon HV 40. What would be the ideal stand to put the camera on to avoid shaking ?
I was thinking of tripod stand but then someone recomended monopod bcz I will be moving around alot following the character at their work place.
Can anyone give better suggetion which stand should i use ?


John Burgan
Thu 28 Jan 2010Link

The BBC is looking for people to tell us the story of their world in a two minute film, with winning films assembled into sequences by leading figures in documentary film.

No-one sees the world the way you do. Make a short film about life from your perspective – and enter in this competition to be judged by professional documentary makers.


Albie Garcia
Sun 31 Jan 2010Link

Only the second time I have posts anything, usually a reader. I am working on a music doc of a small town and have done several intvs and shows. I have two questions not related at all.
1.) When getting clearances in the intv. process. Do I still need to get another clearance from the same band to shoot the performance. Essentially, do I need two clearances one for the show, the other for the intv.
2.) Many co-workers have donated thier time helping me with this project. One in particular is really pressing her ideas. I keep reminding her of the direction that we should be taking. Nine months in she says she is not sure if she can continue, becasue she doesn't believe in the project. I have been the only person who has invested in this project (financially speaking). Trying to keep an open mind.
Ideas? sorry this is so long.


Justine Jacob
Sun 31 Jan 2010Link

In reply to Albie Garcia's post on Sun 31 Jan 2010 :

1 – your release for the interview can include the shows – I would include all the shows in the release for the band and have each band member sign one.

2. Not sure what your question is. Have you done crew deal memos with each person working for you? Even if they work for free, you should have them sign a work-for-hire crew deal memo that says you own everything they do for you. But, again, not sure what your question is.

Edited Sun 31 Jan 2010 by Justine Jacob

Magee Clegg
Tue 2 Feb 2010Link

Hello,

I have a 22-minute documentary, "A Box with a View" about the influence of cable television in a farming community located in South India. The short has been received well so far. Most recently it was nominated for best international documentary at the Queens International Film Festival in NYC, but now I am in a situation where I do not have enough money to continuing submitting to Festivals. You can watch the full documentary at this link: http://www.vimeo.com/5024075

Is there anyway to team up with a company that promotes films like mine and the deal would be for them to take a cut if the distribution rights are sold? Any Suggestion would be a great help! Thank you so much.

Magee


Kelly Nathe
Tue 2 Feb 2010Link

Does anyone have any experience working with Lombardo Films?

They've expressed interest in distributing a film I'm working on and would love to hear from any of you who have experience with them.

Thanks!

www.lombardofilms.com


Sacha Broute
Sat 13 Feb 2010Link

Hi, I'm new to this stuff and just had a question. You know in some TV shows when people film their travels when they go someplace in the world or something like that? Well the camera they've got is something attached to them, and the lense stuff sits right in front of them to film wherever they want it to film, without having to hold the camera. It's hard to explain, but thats the big picture. I was wondering if someone could tell me what they are called, or where i could buy one. Thanks!

Edited Sat 13 Feb 2010 by Sacha Broute

James Longley
Sat 13 Feb 2010Link

It could be they are using one of these cameras.


James Longley
Sat 13 Feb 2010Link

Actually, since I have now read and re-read your post several times, it occurs to me you may be trying to describe the kind of camera support systems made by Steadicam and other companies.

When they are designed for professional use, these types of camera support systems can be quite expensive and cumbersome. If you are just starting out as a cinematographer, you may find it more expedient to use a small, light-weight camera, and practice holding it steady to achieve the shots you want.

A small monopod can also be extremely helpful in stabilizing a light-weight camera, and is an inexpensive solution for steady filming. A good monopod for a small camera will be one that weighs enough to provide a counter-weight to the camera, so that the balance point lies just below where the camera attaches to monopod. This counter-weight will allow you to "fly" the camera through the air with your arm, avoiding much of the vibration, pitching and rolling movements normally found with hand-held videography. Another good trick is to use an elastic camera strap in conjunction with a monopod to further stabilize the camera.

Tiffen makes a product called the Steady Stick that some people have found quite handy.

Edited Sat 13 Feb 2010 by James Longley

David W Grant
Sat 13 Feb 2010Link

I've placed my video information on Without A Box and have the opportunity to upload it to IMdB. It's half hour, made with Final Cut Express. IMdB asks for Quick Time format, up to 2 GB (which they say will handle feature-length).
My .mov file is 6.59 GB and won't upload (I let it run all night). What to do? [IMdB's Help section does not speak to this. I looked at Apple's Final Cut Express discussion and see mention of using a 'Sorenson Squeeze'. I did use File/Compress on the .mov 6.59 GB file but the disk is full so it did not compress.
Is there a simple answer to my issue? (Feel free to just direct me to the right place to look.)
Thanks.


John Burgan
Sat 13 Feb 2010Link

Check out Encoding for YouTube Using Compressor


David W Grant
Sat 13 Feb 2010Link

Thanks, John, that's quite a detailed article. I'll study it and probably succeed. / I did, by the way, manage to use the File/Compress ... but it only reduced the 6.59 GB to a mov.zip of 5.83 GB.


Sacha Broute
Sat 13 Feb 2010Link

Thank you so much for replying so quickly-even though I have a lot of time. The 'Steady Stick' seems to be the one they use, but even if it isn't, it looks better. And you're right, I'm far from being a professional, I'm just growing interest in filming documentaries and things, and my High School seems to have some good classes I could take that could help me. Thanks again!


James Longley
Sat 13 Feb 2010Link

No worries. Good luck.


Doug Block
Sun 14 Feb 2010Link

Sacha, great that they have doc classes on Pluto these days. Certainly didn't back in my day.


Tom Dziedzic
Sun 14 Feb 2010Link

In reply to David W Grant's post on Sat 13 Feb 2010 :

Sorenson Squeeze is a good multi-format compression software that will get your video down to 2GB or smaller. It's not cheap, about $700 I think but it's very powerful, clean and easy to use. Also look at ways to reduce space, a smaller window, mono rather than stereo audio, 15 fps rather than 30, etc. You have to experiment with it for best results.


Boyd McCollum
Sun 14 Feb 2010Link

In reply to David W Grant's post on Sat 13 Feb 2010 :

you could try to use MPEG Streamclip which is free. Try exporting to H264 (using Export to MPEG-4). Play with the settings to keep it as close to your original footage size/frame rate as possible. You should be able to get great results with a 2GB limit for a 30 minute piece.

QTPro also give you some options--I'm not sure if FCE comes with it or not, but it's worth the $20 or so for the license just to have it.


Boyd McCollum
Sun 14 Feb 2010Link

In reply to Sacha Broute's post on Fri 12 Feb 2010 :

those things are "cams" as in helmet cams, wrist cams, crash cams, etc. Small little cameras that attach to various points on a body or bike or bag or whatever. See here and here for examples.


James Longley
Sun 14 Feb 2010Link

Sacha -

... But be led not down the path of cultural perversion and moral vacuity that is Reality TV, with its "cams" and travel shows. If you want to know what documentary filmmaking is all about, check out the films of great documentary filmmakers – you can find some good documentaries here:

GreenCine's list – a good list, but keep in mind that people who include Tokyo Olympiad on their lists have not actually watched it.

some person's top 10 list

Academy Award-nominated documentaries – not always the best arbiter of quality but a good list

Edited Sun 14 Feb 2010 by James Longley

Jo-Anne Velin
Mon 15 Feb 2010Link

In reply to Boyd McCollum's post on Sun 14 Feb 2010 :

You can also access for free, a lot of films from the National Film Board of Canada. Their website is terrific now. They have often been at the cutting edge of documentary and animation, for over 60 years. Have fun!


James Longley
Mon 15 Feb 2010Link

And for those people who like links to click on, the National Film Board of Canada's website is here:
http://www.nfb.ca/


Sacha Broute
Thu 18 Feb 2010Link

Thanks for the tips and the links to click on, its fun and very interesting! And yes, Pluto has grown a lot in the past few years and we even have movie theaters now!


Hashin Hassan
Fri 19 Feb 2010Link

Hi,

Im making a documentary together with my fellow student and friend, Dane Smith. We're hoping to sell our documentary after its release. We're both based in the Midlands, England, UK. As this is our first big indie production, we're looking for some advice to get it out to the professional industry who may want to buy, broadcast etc.

How do we approach?

Thanks

(Return to Gaza)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gs10Q9f3s1E


Doug Block
Fri 19 Feb 2010Link

Greetings, Hashin. One time-honored route is to enter it into film festivals, beginning with the most prestigious fests (Sundance, Toronto, etc.) and the top documentary fests (IDFA, Hot Docs, Full Frame, Siverdocs, etc.). Another is to get it to leading internationals sales agents like Films Transit, Autlook, Cat & Docs, Roco and the like. If they take it on, they'll take it to some of the biggest and best film markets to sell to (mostly) tv buyers.


James Longley
Fri 19 Feb 2010Link

Hi Hashin, another way to get the film out is to send it to various university student organizations that are interested in supporting Palestinian rights and building awareness around the Gaza issue. When I made my GAZA STRIP documentary in 2001 I spent about a year touring various universities and film festivals, participating in lengthy Q&A sessions and debates, etc. – You can generally sell DVDs at these types of events, and many student organizations and festivals will cover your travel expenses.

These days with the Internet, it will also be possible for you to make your film instantly available in the event that broadcasters turn you down.


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