Saturday, October 31, 2015

Pursuing Improvement

The UWA entries are almost in the can. With thirty submissions already, it is a good showing -- and a perfect place to look for hints on how you can improve YOUR machinima.

I noted growth among the veteran filmmakers -- smoother flow, interesting (and new) effects seemed to lead the kudos list. This is a perfect time to pick your favorites, not for the UWA viewers tournament -- but for yourself. Was it the theme or the story that drew you in? The smooth camera work and interesting angles?  After you FIND your favorites try discerning why they won your personal contest. See how improving your skills in that area will improve your work overall.

There were also some notable (at least to me) reoccurring areas that many folks could choose to work on, and I do not remove myself from that list. So let's look at those problem spots. They are NOT new ones *wink*, which tells me we need to keep reminding ourselves.

And of course if you are completely happy with your work and wouldn't change a thing? Well congrats and get back to filming!

EDITING:  Editing is my favorite part of the process. I can get lost for hours amid the film clips, filters and transitions. Getting the timing "just right" (always a personal preference) can give one an outstanding creative high. Unlike chocolate, no calories are involved.

Is less more? Not always, but TIGHT is usually better. You don't need ten seconds of a mountain sunset view to get your point across. Three will likely do it. OR have another scene superimposed to add some interest.

A well-known game producer has had to go back and cut the fat from the current project. It was painful, but the team found that they actually had a much better product with LESS. If you are asked to tell your story in about 4:30 minutes, see if you can't actually do that. I bet you can.

Watch the FLOW of your film to see if the viewer can understand what you are trying to say without getting bored and going out for tea. 

ANIMATIONS: Getting our virtual bodies to move as we would like is tricky in Second Life where most of these films were made. Hands IN bodies rather than ON hips is not a good thing. Elbows hitting inside legs (a common occurrence for long armed Chic) is just as bad.

You have some choices to fix this -- perhaps four.  You can move the pose balls around in a couples animation (or adjust the individual placement menus within furniture or props) so that the people fit. 

Sometimes though your actors aren't anywhere near the proportions the animations were design for. You can find another animation, resize your avatars a bit to make the animations fit OR shoot from a different angle.

SMOOTH CAMS:   I read once when I was just starting in machinima that you shouldn't have too many camera movements. If you think about it, they are rarely seen in TV and movies. The article said that they made your viewers dizzy.

Now I don't know about the DIZZY part of the equation, but they could certainly make your film seem BUSY.  And jerky cams definitely pull your audience away from the flow of the film.

There are two fixes for this. One, you can do the zoom and pan within your editing software. This is often the easiest (and sometimes the best) choice.  Two, you can turn on Camera Position Smoothing. In Firestorm this feature is on an easy to adjust slider in Phototools (a button) on the Cam tab.

At the bottom of the panel you will see a Cam. Smoothing slider. The default is 1. I usually use around 50 or so (you don't need to be careful as it isn't that fussy). Note how SMOOOOOOTH your mouse moves things! Be sure and turn it back to the default when you are finished.

If  you don't have a viewer with easy access to this feature, you can set the number via the DEBUG panel. 

HORN TOOTING:  Now this is a person prejudice but I am going to add it in here. I do have an issue with GIANT announcements at the beginning of the film -- ones with the filmmaker's name in five inch high letters. The intros that go on for 30 seconds are also not good in my book. If you make a good film, folks WILL know. If you do not -- well you probably don't want them remembering - LOL. Sorry, couldn't help that.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I think I have made some improvement in the last year although some of my early films are still noteworthy -- at least in my book. I have improved the flow at times and due to the availability of better props, wearables and animations my production values have remained high. I have definitely improved my voiceovers (all those tutorials helped with that) with the one in Folding Time being my best to date.

I marvel at some of the effects folks accomplish but in the end I am a simple gal and a simple filmmaker. If you look at my first notable work, Shades of Gray and compare it to my last, Bookends -- you can see that things haven't changed too much for me. My tools are of higher quality, but my methods and focus are pretty much the same.

No comments:

Post a Comment