View Full Version : First Film

Larry Rutledge
11-22-2005, 08:13 AM
I am fairly new to filmmaking, only been involved with it for 3 years now (the first two of which were focused mainly on screenwriting). I just completed my first ever short film recently for a contest. One of the rules was that the film could not exceed 3 minutes.

I shot this on my Panasonic PV-GS65, consumer 3-CCD camera (still saving for my DVX). Currently I only have a WMV available, a quicktime version is rendering now and should be up sometime this evening.

(You know the drill, right-click and save, etc, etc) :)http://www.narrowroadentertainment.com/films/invitation/invitation_final.wmv

Thanks for taking the time to view this, I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts/comments/criticisms so I can grow as a filmmaker.


11-22-2005, 10:38 AM
i just started watching it. But man that is a nice image. I know that camera shoots 30i. But how did you get that image? Looks really nice.

Larry Rutledge
11-22-2005, 03:55 PM
reflex - glad you liked the image...I was pretty worried about how it would look since it is a consumer camera. All I did was use an ND filter outdoors during the direct sunlight and then in post I adjusted the brightness/contrast, tried to get the color of most of the scenes to look pretty similar. I also applied a light unsharp mask to all the clips. Then the last step was to use Celluloid (a plug-in for Vegas) to apply the final color look to the film. In Celluloid are options to convert to widescreen (used that), deinterlace (used that), and convert to 30p (used that). There is also the option to convert to 24p, but didn't try it for this project.

That's it, nothing else. It's not as sharp as I would like all the time, and there is definitely a lack of shallow DOF, but overall I'm happy with how it came out...especially being my first project.

Thanks for checking it out,

Ed Kishel
11-23-2005, 02:41 PM
man those were some cold hearted bastards to crumple up a kids invitation. Throwing it away is one thing, but crumpling? That implies anger towards the child. Maybe you dont like the kid, thats one thing.

But to not like cupcakes, thats just inhuman!

I like your choice of setting the girl in the field. It suggests distance, isolation, loneliness. The fact that the adults are filing through tons of mail with their cell phones and car keys on the table, suggests that their busy life is keeping them away from the simple things that can bring joy into life.

The slow motion is good, and the dolly shot in the park looked great. The diffusion was a little more than I like, but that is just me. Some may argue that its good for fantasies, dreams, or parables.

After she sets the table, it hangs on her too long. The CC is good, but it may have benefited from some key lights- in the beginning when she is coloring. Sky came out well, not the typical white that low cost consumer cams provide.

I'm not that fond of using so many cross dissolves/fades: its an effective transition but when used for over 80% of the cuts, it reduces the impact. It can make a 3 minute movie feel like 5 or 6 minutes. Great soundtrack.

With its faults (and we all have them) its a great project. I look foreword to seeing more.

11-25-2005, 01:34 AM
Wow! this looked really good! I have a GS120 myself, and those tiny Pannys are very impressive, but unfortunately they're absolutely horrible in low light!
I did'nt really get the story in this film, since i'm watching it at school (so i had to minimize the movie everytime the teacher was near:P), so i can't comment on that! But the image was really impressive, and i loved that dolly-shot? how did you do that?

Larry Rutledge
11-27-2005, 07:56 AM
Edweirdo - Thanks for the comments...I'm really appreciating the kind comments and constructive criticism I have been receiving here and at other sites I've posted this. It is really helping me to grow and learn.

I agree, the crumpling it was harsh...the first set of hands was mine, perhaps that's where the anger originated. See I am lactose intolerant and didn't realize those cupcakes had some kind of milk or cream frosting. And I ate one during pre-production and got violently sick for several hours. But they did taste good :)

I like your choice of setting the girl in the field. It suggests distance, isolation, loneliness. The fact that the adults are filing through tons of mail with their cell phones and car keys on the table, suggests that their busy life is keeping them away from the simple things that can bring joy into life. DING! DING! DING! You are the winner! :) Thanks, you are the first to key in on those facts. Most people comment on how they like the look of her in the field, but no one seems to catch why. Nor do they notice the car keys, cell phone, rifling through the mail as a symbol.

There is another symbol too. When she first arrives at the table in the field, to draw the invitations, there is only one chair...for her. Then after she delivers the invitations and returns dressed for the party there are four chairs...for her and the three invitees. Then when no one shows up and she gives invitations to everyone she comes across and then returns, there are no chairs...it is open to everyone.

The dolly shot was tricky as I don't have a real dolly. So I used a garden cart, which is just a metal grate on pneumatic tires. I set the tripod on there and then pulled the handle of the garden cart. It got the shot I wanted, but was unusable due to the shakiness of it. Fortunately the Deshaker plugin for VirtualDub worked miracles on the footage.

I'm glad you commented on the time it hangs on her after she sets the table. I had a hard time editing that whole middle sequence (her waiting and the people crumpling) because of the time limit. I actually wanted to hang on her longer than I did, because I wanted to get across the idea that she was waiting, expectantly for the people to come. She didn't know they weren't coming until she had waiting so long it was obvious. I guess it didn't work, so that is something I would have to think about more to get my idea across.

I agree, it would help to have some key lighting on her. I was limited in the times I could film and most of the time in the field it was between 12:00 noon and 3:00 pm so I had harsh, direct sunlight. So I built a diffuser screen to hold over her, but didn't realize before we got to the field that it would cause such a shadow over her. Next time I will know to bounce some key light back into the shot. I only used the diffuser on close-ups, so the wider shots look better because she was lit by the sun.

I'm glad you liked the overall CC. After reviewing about 15 different color schemes I really liked this the best.

The cross dissolves/fades grew over time. Originally it was more cuts, but it was pointed out by other filmmakers that reviewed it that because the cuts were covering great spans of time I should use a dissolve to show that. Perhaps I took their advise to much to heart :) My biggest struggle with this whole thing is I actually wrote about a 7-10 minute film, and then tried to edit it down to 3 minutes. But all the comments I've been receiving help me understand where I could do things different, so hopefully my next film will be better...and each one after that as well. :)

Thanks for all the nice comments/critiques. I really appreciate both. As I've stated before I really want to learn and grow, so I am greatful for every comment, both positive and negative.

KeiserSniTT - Thanks, I'm glad you liked it. You're right, these little consumer Panasonic cameras are pretty impressive considering what they are and what they cost. And yes, low light is a disaster...fortunately I didn't need to do any on this film. I hope you get another chance to watch it straight through without distraction, I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on the story.

I'm glad you liked the image, it took a lot of trial and error to get it like that. The dolly shot was a bit of work, but I just used a garden cart (metal shelf on pneumatic wheels) and set the tripod on there. It was very shaky, however, so I had to use VirtualDub and Deshaker to smooth it out.

Thanks again everyone,

11-27-2005, 09:12 AM
CONGRATULATIONS! i liked not only your film but the premise upon which it rested. which editior did you use if you don't mind my asking? and, forget the quicktime . . studies reveal that user browsers don't run quicktime properly 38% of the time while browers support media player over 96% of the time. thus, want your film seen by anyone? then use media player - it's an almost guarntee they will be able to "see" it. bear in mind that more often than not movie production(s) is/are done on PC's not mac's. those who argue otherwise are apple/mac users, while those who use both have a preference but CAN argue thusly. :)

Dr D

Larry Rutledge
11-27-2005, 09:08 PM
Thanks, I'm glad you liked it.

I used Vegas Video 5 with Celluloid and Photoshop CS2 for this project. Also, VirtualDub with the Deshaker plugin to fix my messed up dolly shot.

I actually forgot I said I was going to put up a quicktime version, the one I was rendering when I wrote that post came out to over 794MB, I still haven't figured out all those settings. So far, no one has complained that I don't have a quicktime version so unless someone asks for one I won't bother with a re-render.

Thanks again,

Jay Rodriguez
12-13-2005, 09:42 AM
just found this Larry, it's awesome! I'm saving it in my favorite shorts folder!!!!!

CC was perfect, light was alot better then what I can do as of yet and the story held its weight in gold.

12-13-2005, 10:30 AM
That was really great. Music was good and all the kids acted well. I really love the first shot....with the girl walking away from the camera and you only see the very top of her head.

but, who were those evil bastards that cumpled the girls invitation?!? i hate them.

12-13-2005, 10:56 AM
That was impressive.....For 60i footage it looked phenomenal. Especially the wide shots. Well done!

Larry Rutledge
12-14-2005, 01:49 PM
coffee - glad you liked it cousin...it seems about 50/50 the people that like/dislike the cc. I'm glad you liked it, I tried about 15 or so different color schemes before I settled on this one.

Weston - thanks. Yes, Fredrik did an outstanding job on the score...and in only 3 days :shocked: I was really nervous about working with kids, but in the end it was a very easy process.

I have to confess, the first set of hands crumpling the invitation were mine :embarasse ... but someone had to do it, right? :undecided

Filmjunkie - thanks... I have to give credit to Celluloid (the addon for Vegas Video), it did a fantastic job of converting my 60i footage to 30p and applying the overall color scheme which, I believe, helped overcome some of the disadvantages of the consumer camera.

Thanks again everyone, I appreciate the kind words,

12-28-2005, 03:32 PM
Good work with a gs model...I have a gs250 as a backup to my XL2 and it's not a bad little handheld at that! Your footage had a very filmlike look, obviously not 35mm, but it looks as good as any 8mm footage I have seen. You may have been a bit overexposed at times which is surprising since you used a Neutral Density filter...was it a 3 or a 6? Aside from that, you truly maximized what you could do with that camera. Sadly, many people buy these DVX/XL2 cameras and complain about them and expect to be Peter Jackson right out of the box. If it were that easy, everyone would save up 3-5k to get one. Even 35mm film requires careful attention to lighting, angles, etc. You will be great when you get the DVX or whatever prosumer/professional camera you get. Best of luck to you!