Part of Lesson Plan: Les Frères Lumière Court-métrage
Activity Overview / Details
Before shooting the short, go over the basic principles of production with the class. Since we are focused on creating a simple, single shot, natural scene production that does not require extensive camera movement or staging, we only need to be concerened with the basics of lighting, setting the scene with blocking, and directing the talent.
There is a very simple set up for this project in terms of camera use. Hand out video cameras to the students and play the Video Camera Basics Video and show the students how to set up a tripod. Have each student demonstrate their understanding using a video camera. If students want to truck the camera (have it moving on wheels) during the scene, they will need to devise a method for smoothly moving the camera and practice using it effectively.
Lighting (optional for this project)
Note: This review of lighting is included for reference only. For this project, students should use natural lighting (i.e., film outdoors in full sunlight) for this Short. If lighting is used, it should be used to supplement the natural scene and add to the mis-en-scene of the video (see note below and the 3 Point Lighting on Location Video) .
Play Video Lighting Basics Video.
The standard lighting scheme for classical narrative cinema. In order to model an actor's face (or another object) with a sense of depth, light from three directions is used, as in the diagram below. A backlight picks out the subject from its background, a bright key light highlights the object and a fill light from the opposite side ensures that the key light casts only faint shadows.
Explain that students will simply be using the artificial lights during this particular project to supplement the natural lighting or create a natural look where there is none.
To that end, play
3 Point Lighting on Location Video
and discuss as a class what situations might arise where you might need to use light to supplement the filming environment.
Director Peter Marshall writes that every film shoot is divided into five parts: (6 if you include lunch).
1) Block – determining where the actors will
be on the set and the first camera position
2) Light – time to light the set and position the camera for the first shot
3) Rehearse – camera rehearsal of the first set-up with the actors and crew
4) Tweak - make lighting and other adjustments
5) Shoot - shooting the first scene (then repeat the process) as many times as is needed to get the shot
More information on this is at: http://actioncutprint.com/filmmaking-articles/filmmakingarticle-05/
Explain: When we talk about blocking a scene, it means that we’re basically rehearsing what we are going to do with the camera and the placement of the principals within the scene. It is a way of getting the rhythm and timing of a shot down so that you aren’t wasting footage while you stumble and bumble through it with your actors not knowing where to stand, how fast to walk, or what to say at specific points in the camera’s motion.
It may not be necessary to go through the steps of blocking out a scene if you’re using mostly still or single-motion camera shots, but for complicated shots that use several sequences of motion without cutting, blocking a scene is imperative if you want to get things looking really smooth and professional.
The process of blocking a scene comes from the term used in theatrical productions to position the players on stage during a scene. In filmmaking it also encompasses their position within the frame of the camera, and thus the camera’s movement and position are affected by it as well. Its derivation comes from a director in the 19th century who used actual blocks to work out the positions of his actors on a miniature stage before the live rehearsals took place.
Play Introduction to Blocking Video
Explain: You will need to lead, provoke, and inspire your talent to get good results.
People who aren’t used to being on camera have a difficult time pretending it isn’t there and it isn’t pointed right at them, but that’s exactly what you have to get them to do if you want to bring out a believable performance in an inexperienced actor.
It’s true that the classic line, “what’s my motivation?” is often used satirically. Isn’t that what you should be offering to the people in front of your camera, though? You owe it to them to explain who their character is, what they’re like, where they come from and why they do what they do, regardless of whether your genre is comedy, drama, action or anything else.
The typical reaction of a person who is put in a situation where they feel uncomfortable is to do something that breaks the tension they feel. Some people can’t stop smiling, or laugh uncontrollably and get red in the face. Others goof off and turn everything into a joke so nothing gets done. More shy people may clam up and feel like they aren’t able to express themselves in any way but by delivering quiet, monotone lines.
Start with the no-brainers – tell them to relax, stretch, take a deep breath. Tell them to jump up and down a few times, shake it off. Take charge as much as possible.
Keep the camera pointed at them regardless of whether it’s on or off. In fact, tell them that you’re going to do a practice run-through of the scene or shot just for the purposes of blocking the scene, but then actually record it. Make sure you cover up the red "recording" light on the camera if you do this.
Play Directing Actors Video
Materials / Resource
- Video Production Tips Video [ Watch Video ] [ Download Original Video ]
- Video Camera Basics Video [ Watch Video ] [ Download Original Video ]
- Video Lighting Basics Video (optional) [ Watch Video ] [ Download Original Video ]
- 3 Point Lighting on Location Video (optional) [ Watch Video ] [ Download Original Video ]
- Introduction to Blocking Video [ Watch Video ] [ Download Original Video ]
- Directing Actors Video [ Watch Video ] [ Download Original Video ]