Full-Length Movie with 3 digital camcorders

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    • #37519

      Hey guys- I’ve been making YouTube videos for awhile, and I’ve been a Partner for over a year. Lately I’ve been developing a script for a full-length movie, and I’ve cast the actors already (I will co-star in it). However, I have no budget available, and only have three Sony Handycam-sized digital camcorders to use to make the film. I’ll be editing in Adobe After Effects CS4, and I’d like the best definition I can get- all the camcorders will be on the highest-quality setting, of course. I was wondering about video quality and sound quality- is what I’m trying to do even possible? And are there any low-budget video or audio options that I should invest in to make this a reality?

      Thanks a lot guys.

      Clinton V

    • #166408

      In poker they have a saying “All you need is a chip and a chair…” Video can work in a similar fashion…As long as you have a dream and something to record with…you can usually make due. I will say this, if you are going to have this screened at a theater, the size will really show the noise in your shots so yo uwill have to be exceptionally careful when shooting. Videomaker magazine once wrote an article on how to get that “Film” look. I’m sure you can find it in the online archives. Take your time and if posible, keep a large-ish screen on set for setting up the focus/aperture, etc. The bigger the screen the easier it is to see mistakes.

      I have done some shoots in similar conditions and I can tell you that if nothing else, you will gain a lot of experience that will aid you later in your filmmaking. Don’t hesitate to message or reply if you have any questions. I love meeting passionate people and so if there is anything else you need or want to know, just holler.

    • #166409


      Been there, done that, wrote the companion book….

      You sir, are way ahead of the game as you already have experience shooting (I take it from your YouTube experience), the fact you already have some gear (three cameras), a completed script, actors already cast and access to an editing suite. Shoot it, light it and get the best sound you can in the field to save yourself additional ‘hair pulling’ sessions in post (nobody gets out of those, you just want to cut them down.) Most important, do as thorough a pre-production plan as you can prior to the start of principle photography. You’re already off to a good start coming to the forums for advice, but you’ll have to do much more research and put more thought in as to how utilize your local resources to pull this thing off. Some things that will save you headaches are; get experienced shooters involved in the project (they don’t have to be high-end pro’s but at least know what they are doing), get someone working on sound and have secondary mic’s recording audio (donot, I repeat, donot rely on the built-in camera mics), and light your sets (you don’t need expensive lights, but make sure you use bounce cards, reflectors and lights as much as possible.) This stuff may sound basic (it is), but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a perfectly good flick killed because of crappy imagery or crappy sound.

      Far as low-budget options go, go through the ‘how-to’ videos here on videomakers site. They’ll give you many good tips on how to do much of this stuff on the cheap. Last and most important. Don’t get carried away with the process of making your movie. Letting yourself become enthralled with the ‘cool point’s that come with making a film will distract you from your goal of getting it done. The easiest way to prevent that is keep your story in mind. If you’re drifting from the core of what the film is about (hey, what about an explosion here and a gunfight there, and, and, and, and…) it will start to show up on set and in the editing suite when you watch the dailies. Many a project (including big hollywood ones) have gone off the rails for similar reasons.

    • #166410

      Consumer-grade camcorders generall use smaller CCD (or CMOS) chips in them, which menas that there’s overall less light hitting the chip than with a larger camera, and the images won’t be as remarkably crisp. Some consumer camcorders start to grank the gain up on your image just
      getting out of sunlight, and the more gain your camcorder puts on the picture equals
      more grain and artifacts you’ll have on the screen to make your final
      product look awful. My advice is to light the snot out of your scenes, make them as bright as you reasonably can. Make sure you know the difference between soft and hard lighting, and you know when to use it.

      Audio can be a huge pain in the rear on cheaper camcorders. Prepare to record audio independently, and possibly bring an audio technician on your project. (The advantage of this is that you have someone to yell at when th audio stinks :D.) I’ve also done some work in the past where I shot a scene, and then after the fact had the talent come back into the studio and dub over their voices. You get awesome audio quality this way, but you do need a fairly decent studio with a screen the talent can watch to dub with. (Your talent is also going to need to have some skills in regards to matching to their taped performance)

      All in all, as it’s been mentioned, you’ve got a lot going for you. For the smaller film festival circuits, you’re probably about good to go. Give it your all, and share your progress here.

    • #166411

      “… light the snot out of your scenes…”

      You tell’im Jim

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