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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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Riley Morton
Wed 25 Feb 2009Link

to Wang Fu,
when you are successful getting your footage in the system, you should be able determine (in info about the clips) whether it was PAL (25 fps) or NTSC (30 fps).
If you want to edit (and deliver the final piece) in NTSC, then you will need to transfer any PAL footage into NTSC, something that any dubbing house can do there in your city.
Altnernatively, you can make that transfer using software like Nattress Standards Conversion:
http://www.nattress.com/Products/standardsconversion/standardsconversion.htm
to make all your PAL footage into NTSC.

if your Sony Camera can playback the footage, you should be able to use that camera to capture the footage into your system with NO loss in quality.


Wang Fu
Thu 26 Feb 2009Link

Thanks
Riley Morton


Dustan Lewis McBain
Thu 26 Feb 2009Link

hey guys, so im getting starting on a documentary and I'ts on social workers and therapy. Any ideas on this? or any films i can get ideas from?

Edited Thu 26 Feb 2009 by Dustan Lewis McBain

Mark Barroso
Thu 26 Feb 2009Link

Dustan:
The more details you offer the better the feedback we can give. This one is pretty broad. I will tell you, however, to not rely on the camera mic built into your camera and instead buy or rent wireless lavs and a good boom or shotgun mic.


Dustan Lewis McBain
Fri 27 Feb 2009Link

yeah true say, kk so heres the pitch. Imagine elementary schools with children that behave badly. Now when these principles at these schools feel that there is nothing left to do, there is this company called bartimaeus to help. This company is a group of social workers that take up a class time and work with kids and teach them moral values and how to communicate with people. (basically this program teaches them how to be leaders, motivation, being independent... you get the idea) Now this company has hired me to shoot a 4-5 min doc describing what they do so that they can hand it out to schools.

I am trying to figure out what exact style this doc deserves to be. Any ideas?


James Longley
Fri 27 Feb 2009Link

I think it should be a combination of live action and animation with a Pink Floyd soundtrack.


Evan Thomas
Fri 27 Feb 2009Link

Yo.

I wish to import some video into my final cut project. Should i download the material as HiRes MPEG4 or MPEG2? Does FCP import both of these file types? I'd assume the hi res MPEG4 but the MPEG2 is much bigger in size. Confused. I could keep googling it but eventually decided to google d-word so here i am.


Mark Barroso
Fri 27 Feb 2009Link

In reply to dustan lewis mcbain's post on Fri 27 Feb 2009 :

Without knowing more about your level of experience, the easiest thing would be to do something something to a news report, similar to what you would see on your local tv. Watch some of those segments and you will see the elements you need to get, and the order in which to edit them together.

Yours would be about twice the length, but it would be a great place to start.


James Longley
Fri 27 Feb 2009Link

In reply to Evan Thomas's post on Fri 27 Feb 2009 :

Evan – MPEG2 and MPEG4 are highly compressed video formats not well-suited to editing. Not sure what you mean when you say "downloading" – do you mean from the Internet?


Wang Fu
Fri 27 Feb 2009Link

please suggest me ..
i want to record voice separately as narration which i will use for my documentary. which is the good instruments to use to record voice without using camera, means i want just record voice not the video.
Thanks


Jo-Anne Velin
Fri 27 Feb 2009Link

What kind of audio recording equipment do you have now? Is it digital? Do you use minidisc? Or anything else like that? What kind of microphone do you have?


Mark Barroso
Fri 27 Feb 2009Link

You can record directly to your computer with the right equipment.


Wang Fu
Fri 27 Feb 2009Link

In reply to Jo-Anne Velin's post on Fri 27 Feb 2009 :
I do not have any audio recording equipement. but i want to buy whole things which can record voice in good quaility. i do not have any microphone i will buy so i need to know which is good, which equipement is good, i want only for audi recording which i will use in docoumentary.
Thanks


Wang Fu
Fri 27 Feb 2009Link

In reply to Mark Barroso's post on Sat 28 Feb 2009 :
Please tell me that right equipment Name which can use in laptop and i can record
Thanks


Evan Thomas
Sat 28 Feb 2009Link

Reply to James Longley...

Hi James, sorry yes i mean downlaoding from the internet. I want to use footage from here http://www.archive.org/details/CombatAm1945 not ideal in terms of quality i suppose but it's what i need nonetheless. Any ideas?


Mario Berlinguer
Sat 28 Feb 2009Link

In reply to Wang Fu's post on Sat 28 Feb 2009 :
Wang, I don't want to sound antiquate, but you may want to consider a DAT, and a good microphone. There are some excellent portable DAT recorders on the used market, they are lightweight so that you can bring it along in future projects (excellent for interviews or field work etc.), the quality is very high and then you can feed it to your computer both via analog or digital inputs, and edit with any audio software if there's some background noise to clean etc. I have a small Tascam that works great.
As for the microphone I can't help you much, since I'd guess it's different to record a spoken voice than singing voice or instruments. For singing solo voice I use a rather bulky microphone, for vocal ensembles two more compact Shure, they have a good range from which you can choose. Whatever you choose, I'd suggest you to buy two of the same, so you can also use them for live/field recordings in stereo.
Hope this helps.

Edited Sat 28 Feb 2009 by Mario Berlinguer

Andy Schocken
Sat 28 Feb 2009Link

Wang Fu, rather than asking a series of basic questions about production, it may be more helpful for you to take advantage of some online training resources to learn some fundamentals of film/tv production. I'm sure there are a number of sites offering this type of thing, but you'll find the following link to online training from the BBC helpful to start. Once you've done some research, you'll be able to come back here to have more specific questions addressed.

http://www.bbctraining.com/television.asp

Edited Sat 28 Feb 2009 by Andy Schocken

Dustan Lewis McBain
Sat 28 Feb 2009Link

In reply to Mark Barroso's post on Fri 27 Feb 2009 :
so in terms of recording audio, if i were to put a wireless mic on the person i am documenting, wouldn't the audio come out all muffled because of movement? that being said, what is the best way to get audio? Im thinking regular boom


Mark Barroso
Sun 1 Mar 2009Link

Would seeing the mic bother you? In news, it's accepted. In doc filmmaking, it's not. You can pick. Tiny mics like the Countryman B6 can poke through a button hole and never be seen. There are too many techniques on hiding mics to list here, but it can be done. Plus, if you buy a mic like the B6 you can get a capsule that boosts the high frequencies to compensate for the muffling.
If you have an assistant that can hold a good boom mic, it would probably be fine. Just don't try to shoot and hold the boom, too.

Edited Sun 1 Mar 2009 by Mark Barroso

Jack Trau
Sun 1 Mar 2009Link

Hi my name is Jack and I was wondering about licensing to television and what some rates might be for documentaries which run around 50 in length. a link to any information would be very helpful.

Blue Sky's


Dustan Lewis McBain
Mon 2 Mar 2009Link

In reply to Mark Barroso's post on Sun 1 Mar 2009 :

haha ill try to get an assistant, thats good advice and a good point on hiding the mic, mabey ill get him to even wear a black shirt to hide it? what ever ill do im gonna take a day to test shoot and try both out and see what sounds best. In terms of composition of shots, now everything is live when im shooting this so i wont have the time to align the most compositional shots, so what do you think is the best way to get coverage. Im thinking to play it safe. Like getting everything in the story is more important so ill keep it mostly wide shots, but my B-role will be close and thought out, i think that makes sense?


Mark Barroso
Mon 2 Mar 2009Link

Sure, makes sense. Just remember that you're in charge of the set. They can get some learnin' another day. Today, we make video. Do what you're told or else I show the whole world you're a screw-up.

This works for me all the time.


Tina Flemmerer
Tue 3 Mar 2009Link

Hello everyone,

I am really excited about this portal and all the helpful information you people share. Now I am hoping that someone can help me with my question.

This summer I am planning on going to Germany and then Poland to work on a piece about my mother who is searching for her birth house in Poland. I am planning on brining my own equipment, (camera, mic, tripod & laptop) into Europe, but I am not sure if I have to declare my camera with German customs.

From what I have heard German customs is really cracking down on people coming from America who bought electronics there so I don't want to get into trouble. I'd appreciate any advice. Thank you.


Tina Flemmerer
Tue 3 Mar 2009Link

In reply to dustan lewis mcbain's post on Mon 2 Mar 2009 :

Dustan,

I would not advise you to stay wide for most of the shots. You will regret it later in editing.

The people who hired you are looking to promote themselves to schools with this video. Your customer wants the schools to be engaged in their presentation, they need to draw them in to get hired, so that should be your motivation too. The closer you are to your subject the more your audience will identify with them and like them. So I would go with an array of medium to close shots if I was you.

This is about working with children, right? So get lot's of close ups of the children, their eyes, a smile, a raised hand, and of course lot's of interaction between the social worker and the children. Once children are engaged in some sort of activity they are so natural on camera, and that will make you look good.

If you are nervous about your shooting skills you should go out and practice. I like to practice at the Union Square Farmers Market here in New York. You have a lot of people that are busy shopping and most likely they won't mind to be videotaped. Also, they are not going to stay at a fruit stand until you have found your perfect shot, so it's a perfect way to train yourself to make rapid decisions and get a full array of shots withing a limited time.

And definitely use Mark's advice; you have the camera, so you are the boss!!!

It sounds like an exciting project, I wish you good luck with it.


John Burgan
Tue 3 Mar 2009Link

Tina – there are no restrictions on bringing camera, mic, tripod & laptop for your personal use, so it's mainly a question whether this is clearly pro equipment or more prosumer. If it's new gear, it might help to have some proof of ownership with you.


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