Film Crew Members in the Audio Video Technology and Film Classroom

If you are trying to do film projects in your classroom, it is important to get everyone involved.

So everyone needs a job, a different job.

On a film set everyone is encouraged to “stay in your lane”. That means to do your job and your job only. Film has a chain of command, and there can only be one person in charge

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Filming in my classroom.  

of the production. That person is the director. I assign a student to be the director, but I let them know I have the final call. As teacher, I assume the role of producer and make sure the students are able to make a film by providing them with the gear necessary and provide supervision of the entire production process. I usually assign an assistant producer to arrange for other locations and handle the business end of the production. I have tried to keep these positions as true to the industry as possible.

 

Film crews vary in size. As a teacher, you could put the students in groups of 5-7 students and have them make a films. When I did this in my class, I had the student do silent films and kept the actors to a minimum. Numbers never worked out evenly and students are always going to be absent. I figured out it is best to just a do a whole group production. I would prefer to have crew of no more then 24 students. At most schools you are going to have a few more. These are in order of my chain of command.

 

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Actors running lines

1 Director – They are responsible for keeping the film production going on even when the teacher is not engaged in production process. I let them know they are charge of the production and I am in charge of the classroom.
2 Assistant Director – The AD is responsible for running rehearsals and keeping the production on time. I put them in charge of the production assistants.
3 Assistant Producer – The assistant producer helps to keep the classroom going. I usually have the makeIMG 1630 425 copies of the script and any paperwork.
4 Director of Photography/Camera Operator- The camera operator is the person who will be setting up the shots and capturing them. The DP is responsible for the look of the film. I encourage this person to change the settings until they see an improvement. I combine these roles because this isn’t Hollywood and I need students elsewhere.
5 Script Supervisor – This student is making sure that everything gets captured. They also take notes on which takes are good. It is helpful to have this person record the settings from the camera. If someone is absent, they have this information to match the settings to get the same look.
6 1st AC or Focus Puller – This student is in charge of getting the camera in focus and helping to set up the camera.

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Editor working to get everything cut together.

 

 

 

7 2nd AC or slate – In this position they help to set up the camera, work with the 1st AC to set marks for actors and everyone’s favorite job slate the shots.
8 Gaffer/Lighting – Depending on the equipment available you may be able to add more people. The key here is to have enough light to shoot the scene. This person needs to work with the DP to get the look you are going for. I recommend keeping it simple. It is a horror film it needs low light. It is a comedy it need to be brightly lit.
9 Actor 1 – Realistically you may only 1-2 students who can act. Unless you are fortunate to have a lot of drama students in your class. You are going to need a few students who can fake it. I usually pick students who are extroverts like cheerleaders, chorus or band students. They can usually take the pressure of having everyone look at them. The fewer actors the better, if not getting coverage will be an issue.
10 Actor 2 – Depending on how many students have talent, this person may be more of a supporting role for the other actor.  If you have several people who can act, give everyone a chance.
11 Key Production Assistant 1- This is one position that will help where needed and will assigned to help by the assistant director. They will help assign the other production assistants duties.
12 Background actor 1 – This is where you might want to use some 2-3 students who are well liked, but may not have the acting or technical skills. These students may have one line to deliver or may have some action in the film. One of the scripts I use has a character who shows up late for class. It is a funny character so everyone gets a good laugh. This helps the students get into the character.
13 Background actor 2 – To keep things interesting I give my background actor a small role.  Think about the Breakfast Club.  You are a nerd doing your homework.  You are a jock sleeping.  You are a beauty queen doing her makeup.  Get the picture.
14 Art Department 1 Set Decorator – This student works with the DP to place objects on set to be seen by camera.

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Keeping up with the shots.

 

15 Art Department 2 Props – For this job you really need someone who is going find all the props necessary for the scene.  I had student make props for our last 48 hour festival.
16 Production Assistant 2 – The PA in this position will be in charge of lock ups. When you are recording, they will make sure that no one enters the set. They are standing at entrance to keep the production from getting interrupted at a critical point.
17 Production Assistant 3 – I like to assign someone to help out the Art department. They don’t get to make decisions.  This person supports the department.  This may be the person who moves everything for the Art Department.

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Director looking on as DP sets up the shot. 

18 2nd Assistant Director The 2nd AD is in charge of paperwork including the call sheet. Briefly, the call sheet is a document that lets the crew know what scenes are being recorded and who is working in which jobs. Assuming you have a classroom printer the students would get one everyday for the next day of recording.

 

19 Boom Operator – This is the student who aims the boom pole to record the best audio. This takes a bit of technique. I try to demonstrate to the students the difference in sound quality by showing the difference between a microphone that is aimed at the actor versus one that is aimed to the side of the actor.

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Boom operator

 

20 Audio Mixer– This student

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Trying to fight the shadows.  

is responsible for recording the audio. They press record on recorder, adjust levels as necessary and monitor for any problems. When we are short on crew members, we plug the camera straight into the camera and monitor the audio there. Just make sure that the camera setting are correct and you are not dealing with onboard audio.

 

 

21 Data Wrangler – This student is responsible for copying the footage to a hard drive or computer. It is best to make multiple copies. I prefer to use several small SD cards and keep the footage on the card until the production is over. To back up the footage on a Mac I create a disc image of the card. This is stored on an external or several external drives. Another method, I have used is to simply drag a copy of the footage into a folder and label the folder with scene number. I don’t recommend this method unless you are certain that it will not mess up the file structure.
22 Editor – On my most recent productions, I made the whole class edit the final project. However this fills another position and keeps a student busy during the production process. As long as the student has access to a computer that can usually edit the previous days recordings. On the first day, have this student work on a credit roll and a title sequence.

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Camera Department

 

23 Assistant Editor – I have this student import, label the footage and place in bins according to scene. For example, if a shot is scene 1 take 2, then label the shot sc1-tk2. Then that footage is put in the bin for scene 1 and sort the good takes from the bad takes. Later this footage is easy to find. Another duty they can perform is to synchronize the audio from the audio recorder to the video. Hopefully, your software will make this an easy job. You can manual synchronize the audio by lining up the sound of the slate from the audio recording with the scratch/camera audio.

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Small crew working on a short film.

 

 

24 Production Assistant 4 – You can never have too many production assistants. You may have this student tag along with you. When a problem pops up, assign them to fix it. It could that someone is absent or that the wind is blowing props around. Something will happen, and that is where they can be assigned.
25 Behind the Scene Photographer – It is a good idea to have a student take some pictures of the production process. These are good PR for your program. These can be used promote your final film or to share with parents.
26 Make Up Person – If you have a student or students who are interested this can be a valuable position.

Sure you are probably going to have a few more students. They can be background actors or PAs. My second year class are usually smaller and I have to do my productions with less students.

I hope this helps and email me if you have any suggestions holcomb.ca@gmail.com.

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Creating and Sharing Live Photos

Live Photos have been part of iOS for a little while.   I have been experimenting with it to see its potential.   I used it last week to take pictures of my daughter at practice.  I was trying to take some action shots.  With Live Photos I was able to catch her in action. It didn’t matter that I didn’t snap the photo at the exact right time.  


In case you are not familiar with Live Photos, they are essentially a 3 second video that pauses in the middle.  I am not sure how that I will be able to use it except to share it on social media with family and friends.   I look forward to see what the future will hold for this feature.   

If you want to know more about this feature be sure to watch my video. 

https://youtu.be/wWVmMp14d_4

Economics of Movies, Part I

This holds even more true today.

Curious Intentions Media

movie-tickets-popcornI recently saw a segment of Clark Howard on the news where he discussed how much money can be saved by getting rid of cable. He suggested by getting Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime you could save a ton of money and get a better selection of shows. I think the same could be said about watching movies. I remember 10 years ago, I went to around 15 movies a year, probably more. On top of that, I would rent movies 2 at a time at the video store at least twice a month. Now my habits have dropped to next to nothing. I still see movies but not at the same frequency. There has been a major dent in my movie going habits. People who know me would say that is what happens when you have children. Nothing could be further from the truth.

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Early Morning Inspiration 

I started this blog as part of an online class, I was involved with.  I wasn’t sure what I was doing, but I had just finished my EdS in Technology.  The class was a MOOC or massive online open class.  Technically, I dropped out/ stopped participating after a few months but  I learned so much. Occasionally, I will post a little something.  Recently, I have ramped it up, and am more focused on what doing which is technology and film.   

The Problem

So what should I do with all the other ideas that pop up in my head that are not as focused?  I am going to create a more personal blog for all of my other rambling that have nothing to do with technology or film.  What I am thinking about is how I spend the other 80% my time…. being a father.  

So why am I posting this here?

Well, it does have to do with technology.   I started the blog here because I am sure someone suggested it.  I really didn’t have a plan when I started, I just did it. So now I am going to take my time, plan this out.  I need a name, I need other social media accounts, I need a site, and a whole lot of other stuff. 

Have you ever started a blog? Where is the best place to do this?  Let me know in the comments below.

Film and Video Book for Classroom Teachers

A few years ago,  I was part of a small video production company.  We were trying to find our niche.  We all enjoyed making films, but we knew we were not going to be the next Warner Brothers Pictures.  We all agreed that running our production company would allow us to make films even if that was not the focus of our business.  We produced some commercials, recorded some live events and made some instructional videos.

Fast forward a few years later

We were all working other demanding jobs.  We had a couple of projects we needed to do but not the time to work on them.  We all agreed it was time to dissolve the business part, although we would try and collaborate on some projects together for fun.  In the end, I asked to keep the website up and in hopes that business would grow and we had an entertainment blog that was getting major traffic until this last summer.

This last year, I have began to revive some of our projects for fun and hopefully for profit.  The first of these projects was our instructional video series Tap That. This was video series to help people use their iOS devices.  So far I have made a few videos and am working on updating the format.

Another project that we worked on was an interactive ebook for film and video production. The goal was to align it to match the state standards for Georgia. Since we were dealing with digital distribution it would be easy to create multiple versions to match each state.  I had a 90 page draft, I was working on when the standards were updated.  I  worked on recreating an outline to match the new standards.  I was primarily in charge of creating the content since I had years of experience teaching.  Before I could get a new draft finished, I had a trip to attend the Student Television Network Convention.  We scrambled and I was able to put together on a chapter on camera composition in a PDF format.

When I attended the convention, I shared a link with the teachers I knew.  I also posted links to social media.  The link was for a form.  If you shared your name and email address, you received a link to download the pdf.  It was our plan to send the teachers an email with a discount code when the full book was released.  Our plan was to keep the book cheap since it was digital media and teacher might be paying for this out of their own pocket.  The last time I looked we had 200+ downloads.

Sometime in the middle of the spring, the website was up for renewal.  I missed this because this because I was not in charge of the website.  It went down and with some help migrated the material to a free site.  I am not sure if the link for the PDF or the form still exist.  I still have all the material and several drafts of the PDF.  I am going to  create a new form and put the PDF back online.

So what is next?

I am working on new outlines and would like to break this down into series of several short ebooks.   The ebooks will be aimed more at teaching video production.   This time it will be in the Kindle format so that it can be read on more devices.  I am going to be looking for a couple people to proofread my material.  I usually write late at night and I type slower then I think.   Since this is going to be a solo effort,  any feedback would be great.  A new website would be great.

If you could subscribe to this blog, share it with others and comment I would appreciate it. This way you can copy of the PDF when it becomes available.

Thanks,  I hope to hear from you soon.