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Voice and Vision:  A Creative Approach to Narrative Film and DV Production

Book Description

Voice & Vision is a comprehensive manual for the independent filmmakers and film students who want a solid grounding in the tools, techniques, and processes of narrative film in order to achieve their artistic vision. This book includes essential and detailed information on relevant film and digital video tools, a thorough overview of the filmmaking stages, and the aesthetic considerations for telling a visual story.

The ultimate goal of this book is to help you develop your creative voice while acquiring the solid practical skills and confidence to use it. Unlike many books that privilege raw technical information or the line-producing aspects of production, Voice & Vision places creativity, visual expression, and cinematic ideas front and center. After all, every practical decision a filmmaker makes, like choosing a location, an actor, a film stock, a focal length, a lighting set-up, an edit point, or a sound effect is also an expressive one and should serve the filmmaker's vision. Every decision, from the largest conceptual choices to the smallest practical solutions, has a profound impact on what appears on the screen and how it moves an audience.

"In Practice” sidebars throughout Voice & Vision connect conceptual, aesthetic and technical issues to their application in the real world. Some provide a brief analysis of a scene or technique from easily rentable films which illustrate how a specific technology or process is used to support a conceptual, narrative, or aesthetic choice. Others recount common production challenges encountered on real student and professional shoots which will inspire you to be innovative and resourceful when you are solving your own filmmaking challenges.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. Halftitle
  3. Title
  4. Copyright
  5. Dedication
  6. Contents
  7. Acknowledgments
  8. Photograph and Illustration Credits
  9. Introduction
  10. Film as a Collaborative Art Form
  11. Filmmaking and Technology in the 21st Century
  12. Teaching and Learning Filmmaking
  13. Part I Developing Your Film on Paper
    1. Chapter 1: From Idea to Cinematic Stories
      1. Finding an Idea
      2. From an Idea to a Story
      3. Narrative Basics 1: Conflict-Oriented Drama
      4. Short Film Stories
      5. Narrative Basics 2: Other Dramatic Questions
        1. There Are No Rules
      6. Ideas within Limitations
    2. Chapter 2: The Screenplay
      1. Stages of Script Development
        1. Concept
        2. Treatment
        3. Author’s Draft
        4. Shooting Script
      2. Formatting the Author’s Draft Screenplay
        1. Elements of an Author’s Draft Script
        2. General Screenwriting Principles
      3. Screenplay Language and Style
        1. Visual Writing, Character, and Action
        2. Working with Dialogue
      4. Rewriting
    3. Chapter 3: The Visual Language and Aesthetics of Cinema
      1. Shots, Sequences, and Scenes
      2. The Frame and Composition
        1. Dimensions of the Frame
        2. Shot Composition and the Graphic Qualities of the Frame
        3. Shot Size
        4. Camera Angles
        5. Creating New Frames and Aspect Ratios
      3. The Moving Frame
        1. Camera Moves: Stationary (Pivot) and Dynamic
        2. The Moving Frame and Perspective
        3. Motivation and the Moving Camera
    4. Chapter 4: Organizing Cinematic Time and Space
      1. Single Camera Production and the Continuity System
      2. Principles of Continuity Style
        1. Continuity of Mise-en-scène
        2. Continuity of Sound
        3. Continuity of Performance, Actions, and Placement
        4. Spatial Continuity and the 180° Principle
        5. 20mm/30° Rule
        6. Cutting on Action
      3. Scene Strategies: Putting Continuity to Use
        1. Two-Person and Person/Object Interactions
        2. Coverage
        3. Multiple Lines of Action
        4. Creating Point of View
        5. Group Interactions
        6. Moving a Person through Space
        7. Moving Multiple People through Space
        8. Parallel Action
      4. Style Outside the Continuity System
    5. Chapter 5: From Screenplay to Visual Plan
      1. Three Tools for Pre-visualization
        1. The Shooting Script
        2. Overhead Diagrams
        3. Storyboards
        4. It’s Only on Paper, Not Written in Stone
      2. The Director and Pre-visualizing: A Method
        1. The Big Picture
        2. The Details
        3. Back to The Big Picture
      3. Pre-visualization and Collaboration
      4. The Shot List: From Visual Plan to Production Plan
        1. Creating a Shot List
      5. Day-to-Day Production Scheduling
  14. Part II Preparing for Production
    1. Chapter 6: Preparing for Production
      1. Line Producing and the Creative Process
        1. Art Direction
        2. Location Scouting
        3. The Location Technical Survey
        4. Costumes and Props
      2. Budgeting Your Film
        1. Film Length and Shooting Ratio
        2. Shooting Days
        3. Workflow and Budgeting
        4. Facilities, Equipment, and Supplies
        5. Personnel (Cast and Crew)
        6. Hidden Costs
    2. Chapter 7: The Cast and Crew
      1. The Production Crew
        1. Production Departments
        2. The Principal Production Crew: Creative Core
        3. Crew Meetings and Communication
        4. Being a Crew Member
      2. On-Camera Talent
        1. Finding an Actor
        2. Auditions
        3. The Actor as Creative Collaborator
        4. Rehearsals
        5. Working with Extras
        6. Releases, Minors, and Unions
        7. The Contact Sheet
  15. Part III Tools and Techniques: Production
    1. Chapter 8: The Film System
      1. The Basics of the Film System
        1. Frame Rate
        2. Film and Sound
      2. The Generic Film Camera
        1. Body
        2. Gate
        3. Movement: Claw and Shutter Mechanism
        4. Drive Mechanism and Film Transport
        5. Viewing System
      3. Loading a Film Camera
        1. Film Loads
        2. Camera Magazines
        3. Loading a Magazine
        4. Removing Exposed Film and Splitting Cores
      4. Filmstocks and Processing
        1. Anatomy of Raw Film Stock
        2. Film Processing Basics
        3. Identifying Film Stocks
    2. Chapter 9: The Digital Video System
      1. NTSC Broadcast Standards
        1. NTSC Analog Video Basics
        2. Other Broadcast Standards
        3. Timecode
      2. Digital Video Standards
        1. Progressive Scanning
        2. Resolution
        3. High Definition Video
        4. What Is 24p?
      3. Digital Video Camcorders
        1. The Basic DV Camcorder: Exterior
        2. The Basic DV Camcorder: Interior
        3. Compression and Color Sampling
    3. Chapter 10: The Lens
      1. The Camera Lens
        1. Focal Length
        2. Lens Perspective
        3. Prime and Zoom Lenses
        4. Focus
        5. Aperture
      2. Depth of Field
        1. Controlling Depth of Field
        2. The 1/3 – 2/3 Rule
        3. Circle of Confusion
      3. Lens Considerations on DV
        1. DOF and DV
        2. Focusing a Zoom Lens
        3. Video Lenses and Automatic Functions
    4. Chapter 11: Camera Support
      1. The Handheld Camera
      2. The Tripod
      3. The Dolly
      4. Stabilizing Arm Systems
      5. Jerry-rigged or Improvised Support Systems
      6. Aesthetic and Practical Considerations
    5. Chapter 12: Basics of Exposure
      1. Elements of Exposure
      2. The Light Meter in Film
        1. Calculating Exposure
        2. The Incident Light Meter
        3. The Reflected Light Meter and Spot Meter
      3. Metering for Digital Video
        1. Exposure Control and DV
        2. Using Field Monitors
        3. Other DV Exposure Factors
    6. Chapter 13: Basic Lighting for Film and DV
      1. Light Sources: A Few Common Terms
      2. Three Essential Properties of Light
        1. Intensity
        2. Hardness vs. Softness
        3. Color Temperature
      3. Camera Filters and Lighting Gels
        1. Altering Light with Filters
        2. Altering Light with Gels
      4. Light and Directionality
      5. Fundamental Lighting Setups and Principles
        1. Key Light
        2. Fill Light
        3. Back Light
        4. Set Lights
        5. Specials and Practicals
        6. Three-Point Lighting
        7. Lighting Ratios
      6. Exterior Lighting
        1. Location Scouting
        2. Subject and Camera Positions
        3. Dusk and Night Shooting
      7. Basic Lighting and Grip Equipment
        1. Lighting Units
        2. Basic Grip Gear
        3. Electricity and Safety
        4. Lighting Safety Tips
    7. Chapter 14: Lighting and Exposure: Beyond the Basics
      1. Contrast Range and Latitude
        1. Latitude, Film Stocks, and Characteristic Curves
        2. Gamma
        3. Putting Latitude, Exposures, and Lighting to Work
        4. Reflectance Values and Latitude
        5. Latitude and Digital Video
        6. Black Stretch, Knee, and Cine-Gamma
      2. Lighting Approaches and Styles
        1. Naturalism and Lighting
        2. Stylized Lighting
      3. Finding the Appropriate Lighting Strategy
        1. The Overall Look
        2. Other Considerations
    8. Chapter 15: Sound for Production
      1. What Is Production Audio?
      2. Understanding Sound
        1. Frequency (Pitch)
        2. Amplitude (Loudness)
        3. Quality (Timbre)
        4. Velocity
      3. Production Sound
        1. Location Audio
        2. Double- and Single-System Recording
      4. Digital Sound Recording
        1. The Basic Signal Path
        2. Digital Audio—Quality Matters
    9. Chapter 16: Production Sound Tools
      1. Sound Recorders
        1. The Generic Digital Sound Recorder
        2. Digital Recording Formats
        3. The Nagra Analog Recorder
        4. Sound Recording on DV Camcorders
        5. Portable Field Mixers
      2. Microphones
        1. Dynamic, Condenser, and Electret Condenser
        2. Microphone Frequency Response
        3. Microphone Directionality
        4. Wireless and On-Board Microphones
    10. Chapter 17: Sound Recording Technique
      1. The Sound Team
      2. Recording Technique
        1. Setting Levels
        2. Reference Tone and Calibration
        3. Manual vs. Automatic Functions
        4. Headphone Monitoring
      3. Microphone Technique
        1. Balance, Consistency, and Being On-Axis
        2. Boom Technique
        3. Using Lavaliere Mikes
        4. Miking and Perspective
        5. Using Multiple Microphones
        6. Audio Continuity: Ambient Sound
        7. Miscellaneous Recording Challenges
    11. Chapter 18: On Set!
      1. Walking onto the Set
      2. Who Does What, When
        1. Dressing the Set
        2. Loading In
        3. Tech Rehearsal
        4. Setup
        5. Final Run Throughs
      3. Shooting a Take
        1. Evaluating the Take
        2. Additional Shooting Procedures and Tips
      4. Miscellaneous (but Important) Production Details
        1. Set Protocol and Etiquette
        2. After the Shoot
      5. The Director and Actors on the Set
  16. Part IV Tools and Techniques: Postproduction
    1. Chapter 19: Postproduction Overview and Workflow
      1. The Golden Rule of Postproduction
      2. Workflow and Format Interface
        1. Overview: Four Common Workflow Paths
      3. The Technical Process of Workflow
        1. Shoot: DV / Edit: Digital / Finish: DV Tape / Release: DVD
        2. Shoot: Film / Edit: Digital / Finish: DV Tape / Release: DVD
        3. Shoot: Film / Edit: Digital / Finish: Film / Release: Film and DVD
        4. Shoot: DV (SD or HD) / Edit: Digital / Finish: DV Tape / Release: Film and DVD
        5. In Conclusion
    2. Chapter 20: Principles and Process of Digital Editing
      1. Digital Editing Fundamentals
        1. Nonlinear Editing
        2. Nondestructive Editing
        3. Too Much of a Good Thing?
        4. How to Approach Surplus Technology
      2. The Basic System: Interface and Workflow
        1. The Hardware Setup
        2. The Software Interface
        3. Making a Simple Edit
        4. The Three-Point Edit
      3. The Editing Stages
        1. Viewing Dailies
        2. Capturing and Logging
        3. First Assembly Edit
        4. Rough Cuts
        5. The Fine Cut and Picture Lock
        6. Finishing
        7. Mastering
        8. Think!
    3. Chapter 21: The Art and Technique of Editing
      1. Why We Edit I: Narrative Order and Emphasis
        1. Editing for Story Order
        2. Editing for Dramatic Emphasis
        3. Fundamental Image-to-Image Transitions
      2. Why We Edit II: Extra-narrative Considerations
        1. Condensing and Expanding Time
        2. Timing, Rhythm, and Pace
        3. Associative Editing
        4. Emotion
    4. Chapter 22: The Sound Design in Film
      1. Sound Design Overview
      2. Sound Design I: Sound, Sync, and Source
        1. Sounds: Speech, Sound Effects, and Music
        2. Synchronous, Nonsynchronous, and Postsynchronous Audio
        3. Source
      3. Sound Design II: The Sound Elements in Detail
        1. Speech
        2. Sound Effects and Ambience
        3. Music
        4. Prerecorded Music and Copyright Clearance
      4. Sound Design Strategies
        1. From Realism to Stylized Approaches
    5. Chapter 23: Cutting Sound and Working with Multiple Tracks
      1. Working with Multiple Tracks
        1. Building Your Audio Tracks
      2. Basic Sound Design: Analysis of an Average Scene
      3. The Sound Mix
        1. The Sound Mixing Steps
      4. Advanced Sound Mixing Programs
        1. Why Go Pro?
    6. Chapter 24: Finishing, Mastering, and Distribution
      1. Finishing
        1. Digital Color Correction
        2. Titles and Credits
      2. Mastering Your Project
        1. Output Formats
        2. Mastering Formats
      3. Distribution Copies
        1. DVDs for Distribution
        2. Screening Dubs for Film Festivals and Broadcast
      4. Web Distribution and the Future
  17. Appendix 1: Production Format Workflow Table
  18. Appendix 2: Common Filters for Black-and-White Cinematography
  19. Appendix 3: How To Calibrate a Field Monitor to Ntsc Color Bars
  20. Appendix 4-1: Scheduling, Budgeting, and Production Forms
  21. Appendix 4-2: Short Film Budget Form
  22. Appendix 4-3: Script Breakdown Form
  23. Appendix 4-4: Storyboards 1
  24. Appendix 4-5: Storyboards 2
  25. Appendix 4-6: Production Call Sheet Form
  26. Appendix 4-7: Sound Report Form
  27. Appendix 4-8: Camera Report Form
  28. Appendix 5-1: Talent Release Form
  29. Appendix 5-2: Location Contract Form
  30. Appendix 6: 16MM Film Camera Depth of Field Tables
  31. Recommended Readings
  32. Web Resources
  33. Filmography
  34. Bibliography
  35. Index