Media Production Mentoring

Free online film school designed with beginning filmmakers in mind.


Literal Music Videos

There is no doubt that Meat Loaf's "I Would Do Anything for Love" is one of the greatest rock love song's ever written.

And the music video is super wicked cool too. Of course, I've long been a fan of the Vampire genre, and this seems to fit nicely with more modern tellings of Stoker's story.

But now check out the Literal Video Version:

Meat Loaf: Literal Video Version

I absolutely love these kinds of creative projects. There are so many good film terms used. And, honestly, you begin to question why anyone thought this made sense. And it totally cracks me up because... yeah... they're right. If we were to take the video literally, we'd be laughing rather than rocking out.

Here's the thing to remember for your productions, though: The original music video still rocks. So even if you can epically poke fun at a production does not mean it's not good in the original context. How it Should Have Ended proves that with major blockbusters all the time.

Of course, there are some really odd music videos out there. Things like "Total Eclipse of the Heart" which... well...

The literal video version is much, much better. At least, it makes more sense:

Total Eclipse: Literally

Okay, okay... for those of you who aren't as up on awesome '80s rock, check out the literal version of "Penny Lane" and think about it: Music videos are really, really odd at times.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor


Deja Vu

You Can Save Her

I realized two things this morning while the girls were playing with the fridge magnets:

  1. The letters would not have been on the freezer portion of the fridge because that is out of the reach of children who would play with these letters.
  2. Claire has a kid... but he comes and goes as needed.

Suspension of disbelief is required even for great films.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor


Bad (film) Grammar

I've watched the first three episodes of Stargate Universe (SG-U).

First, it's Battlestar Galactica all over again. Many of the exact same characters just with different actors. Same plot points. Same story arch. Same conflicts. Same shooting style. Slightly more Myst-esque lighting. Some really terrible acting (which Battlestar mostly avoided).

But the makers of SG-U have used terrible film grammar in several scenes.

The grammar of film has to do with the accepted meanings of certain shots. Use the wrong one at the wrong time, and you'll confusing you audience. confuse your audience.

Throughout episode 2, there are moments when the camera goes to an angle or position that, grammatically, says, "I'm someone watching the actors from the shadows" but thus far they have done nothing else to indicate that these were nothing more than "artistically interesting" angles.

Example one:

Someone is hiding in a crevice watching

This camera position tells us that someone is watching this conversation without anyone realizing it. Someone, or something is on board the ship without anyone's knowledge.

Example two:

Someone is hiding in the ventilation shaft

Seen through a grating or some other shaft, a spy is looking down from above. That is the standard interpretation of this angle, framing and camera motion. But the next shot is back to normal with no indication as to why they may have gone into the rafters to get this take.

Example three:

The watching eye

A security/surveillance camera would take a shot like this. But this is not part of a security or surveillance system. Perhaps the editor failed to include the "grimy" filter they put over the roaming camera balls aboard the ship, but I don't think that is the case. This shot is wrong for even that (wrong position and static).

The lesson: Do not break the rules of film grammar just to get a pretty/different shot. Mixing things up is not worth mixing up your audience. It is far too easy to send the wrong message with an improperly used camera angle. So plan and think about your shots. And if you're editing the show, don't use 'em just because they look good.

On the other hand, if you are trying to communicate something subtly with your angles, you need to provide more than just a few glimpses now and again. Subtlety is not the same as cryptic hints. Subtlety allows your audience to slowly connect the pieces and get excited with you. Cryptic hints merely frustrate or confuse, and ultimately detract from your payoff.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor


Spending that Much

I was approached by a potential client who asked for a quote. I gave him one, with a few details about what I would do, how I would do it, and hinted at a few of the benefits I bring with my experience.

He wrote back and said, "Hmm....I wasn't thinking of spending that much."


He then went on to tell me that he didn't need a "professional" shoot, that he didn't need fancy special effects, and figured that there'd be "little to no editing" required and that an hour should suffice for his needs.

It took me three days to get back to him because, well, I couldn't figure out how to say it nicely:

I didn't base my quote on how much I thought you'd like to spend!

I based my quote on my understanding of the production process. I've shot this kind of thing many times and have a pretty good handle of what's required. And, hello: If you shoot for an hour or two, you will need to edit it to make it your requested 15 minutes in length.

Have you done pre-production? No? Well, that's more stuff I'm going to have to help you do. Seriously: I'm not going to sell myself short just because you are completely ignorant of the production process and so think I've got to be overestimating this.

And if you don't want a professional, need no editing, and figure you can just set up a camera and shoot: Please, by all means, get your Uncle Earl to produce the video for you. If what he creates is what you want: Fantastic! We've both won.

If not, then next time you ask for a quote, remember that you're asking me.

I ended up suggesting he watch the video linked through this post.

He wrote back and confessed that he didn't know much about the production process and realized he had made some false assumptions. He said he'd get back to me.

He hasn't yet.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor


Why the DSLR Video Camera Now?

Last Friday I was chatting with Nathan Rigaud about the latest in Digital Still Cameras that now all seem to have high definition video capabilities as well. I was not aware that these cameras now offer audio in, which makes them pretty ideal for young filmmakers.

It's been pretty crazy to watch the explosion in this area of technology. When I entered college, DVD burning was not yet an option. Three years later and you could burn as many DVDs as you wanted on a reasonably priced laptop. Video web compression went from a 120x240 Ream Media file to today's common video sites streaming HD Flash footage for free. And back in my day, you had two options for video: Stand Definition and Uncompressed SD.

Now, my pocket camera shoots HD footage and lets me drag it into YouTube with pretty good results.

But why, someone asked me, are digital still cameras all the rage these days? Why are they shooting HD and surpassing many of the video cameras of just two years ago?

Why indeed.

I think there are three reasons:

  1. Larger sensors: Digital cameras have long had larger sensors than their video counterparts. Larger sensors give you bigger/better images.
  2. History of flash media: Granted, the first digital cameras captured to floppy disk, but rather quickly switched to solid-state memory. This long preceded Panasonic's P2 hype, and now that flash memory is so cheap and wicked-fast, the Digital SLR is the inexpensive, proven, open option.
  3. Do it all: I have a $10,000 HD video camera that rocks. But it's stills are hardly even a megapixel in size and not very good. For a couple grand, on the other hand, I could have a camera that shoots at a higher resolution in video and takes gorgeous stills.

I'm sure there are other reasons that have to do with lenses, accessibility, price-point and all that. But the three outlined above, I think, made the rest possible.

So will I get myself one of these beauties?

Not yet. But they sure look like a great option.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor