Posts Tagged ‘studio’

PASSport 2

Posted: September 16, 2013 by Alan Hardcastle in CMP 13_15
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Here are a few questions for you to answer on your blogs….

  • What are multi-camera techniques?
  • Why are they used in the industry (benefits)?
  • Explain and give examples of ‘typical’ multi-camera set ups

Watch some quiz, game and chat shows to analyse different multi-camera techniques
Choose a piece of footage from a quiz, game or chat show and analyse it –

  • how many cameras are there?
  • Where are they?
  • What shot sizes is each camera getting?
  • How is it an effective use of technique?

Studio Report

Posted: November 25, 2012 by Alan Hardcastle in FdA 12_14
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Monday we will be working through your report –  a crash course, if you will.

So today, have a read around based on some ideas in this post ready for tomorrow, where I will take you through a proposed structure and touch on some suggested themes.

In general, when writing a report or an essay (the main difference being a use of arguments), you need to open with an introduction that defines what you are talking about. One way, is to use a dictionary definition to get you started. So, open by answering the question – what is studio production?

You can then always fall back on a bit of history. This is an easy thing to research, and all you need to do is pull out the relevant bits. Equipment was big and bulky (fond a reference, add a quote, maybe an example) so production required a studio [ref needed] – maybe a quick visit to any book about the birth of American cinema will tell you about Edison controlling most of the filming in America in the early 20th Century, which happened in New York [ref needed]. This meant a lot of people were very unhappy at having to pay him to use the camera’s he had invented. So they looked at alternatives, and had to move production to California – eventually establishing Hollywoodland [ref needed].

This example of history also gives rise to the reference to Studio as a funding body – cinema as mass production and industry, following the phonographic industry model. So now we have a Financial model (ownership of means of production, funding) to go alongside our technological model (size of equipment, limitations of technology)

So, having established what you are going to talk about, and established a short historical context of why studios exist, now you need to talk about why anyone would choose to use a studio. Equipment has become more light weight, more portable – why lock yourself in a room and build a set when you can go to a location?

The Italian Neorealists (think of them as an early reportage movement) talked about the weight of a location [ref needed] – they also said a lot of things that are very useful to documentary – so a location has more of an air of realism than a set. OK, fine – so explain how ‘Rear Window’ (Hitchcock, 1954) still looks so real.

Film, video, TV, Cinema – all are mediated realities. Now we need to look at Post-modernism to help explain this, and maybe some of Baudrillard’s Hyper-reality [ref needed] to look at the nature of this. The job of a film maker is to fool the audience and provide them with an alternative reality which will captivate them – so, we need to add an aesthetic model – and possible a spiritual model – to examine why we choose to use a studio.

As you delve through this information, you will discover a lot of information to help you with your Location report next – try not to compare them too much in this report, as you will have to define Location to do it, using up you word count!

[References will be filled in, using books, in class – live!]

Studio Practice – The Story So far…

Posted: November 5, 2012 by Alan Hardcastle in FdA 12_14
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We are at the turning point in the unit now. You have been led through a few projects – we have a regular working Radio Show, we have made a Game Show and have Forward Motion coming soon. To pass the unit, you need to have worked on at least 2 studio productions. So, so far – so good.

It is now time to start pushing your own ideas froward. There are a lot of possibilities – some people are involved in filming at the Digital Arts Festival, you may want to do more work on setting up the Radio Station and producing more programmes for that. You may feel the urge to write & direct a piece of fiction in the studio, or just continue being involved in as many productions as you can be involved in.

For each production, I need to see record of what you did. There are 2 ways that this happens. Firstly, blog all your experiences. Tell me what happened. What did you want to do? What did you do? Why did you do it that way? What should you have done? etc. This is your understanding of the event; I judge your understanding by your description of what you believe to have been important.

Secondly, the Planning and Pre-Production. OK, we focus a bit more on this in the next unit, but the logistics of choosing equipment, developing content, and generally setting up the studio are all important. Plus, it shows your intentionality.

All of the above evidence is of your personal practice – 2 practical productions, with blogs explaining what you did and Pre production to show your practical approach to the production process – all show how you approach Studio Production.

Then come the hard part – what happens in the industry? You also need to write a 2,000 word report exploring professional practice. But what does this mean?

It could be a historical overview of why Studios exist. This could cover studios as the physical building, with equipment to serve a specific purpose (the development of the radio, TV or Film Studio) or the Studio System as a business, the rise of vertical ownership within media, meaning that companies produce and distribute their own content, linked with Horizontal ownership whereby the radio station owned by the company play the song they own which is the theme to the film they also own and want to promote.

A few more ideas:

  • Operation of a Radio Studio – Development of content and technical delivery.
  • Studio Film production – Set, lighting and cinematography to fool the audience.
  • Studio Formats – Why some shows are logistically suited for the Studio shoot

You will have been developing your study skills as part of Critical Studies. Now, you need to put them into practice – you need to read books! Select the information that is relevant to what you want to say, and Organise your work into a report.

So – Step 1 – what are you interested in? Decide what you actually want to look at. Enjoy Radio? keep it radio focussed. Want to write your own scripts? Look at the limitations of the studio etc.

Step 2 – Find some information. What do other people say about this subject? Look around for information. Documentaries. Videos. Books. Internet. Even, dare I say it, Wikipedia.

Step 3 – Store the information! Read/watch it. Listen to it. Make notes about what is relevant in that source. Keep those notes safe (in a book, a word document, evernote, blog, etc.) and keep a record of the source (Zotero, etc)

Step 4 – Find the links between the information. This way you can start to structure your report. You need to take me on a journey somehow – whether that be you setting out to make a short play using experimental lighting, or setting up a radio station. Build on information, don’t just repeat a fact and then move on to the next random fact.

Step 5 – redraft it. Read it, and make sure it makes sense. Re write it until it flows – reads well and informs us.

Step 6 – redraft it. Again.

So, you have a busy month. Develop at least on idea, make sure you have planning & pre production for at least 2 ideas, blog about your production work and write a 2,000 word essay. Easy.

Just get me the first draft (500 words is fine) by next week!

The Tao of the Shot

Posted: November 13, 2011 by Alan Hardcastle in FdA 11_13
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The difference between a film and a good film is the attention to detail. To produce quality, every element needs to be considered in detail. In this unit, we have pretty much taken all other constraints out of the way, and can just look at the relationship between the subject and the camera.

There are 3 basic areas we are going to consider. The blocking (where all the elements within the shot are placed in the real world), the lighting (how we control what is lit and how it is lit) and finally, the framing (how it appears on the screen). All of these elements combine to inform the audience to construct a meaning and tell the story.

NB – we are looking at just one shot. A scene will be constructed out of a series of shots and should flow. Here is an example from Film Directing Shot by Shot by Katz.

We can break down the relationship in the following way to show what we need to consider for each shot.

Blocking means looking at the position of the characters relative to each other in the space they occupy. It will also be concerned with any movement occurring in the shot. This blocking also includes the camera – imagine it as a character by itself, as it basically is the audience.

The first thing we need to consider is the relationship with characters in the shot – after all, as humans, we are more interested in human interactions. We need to position the subjects in such a way that both appear realistic, say something about their relationship in the shot, scene and story. Oh, and stick the camera in there too! Here is an example from Film Directing Shot by Shot by Katz.

And here we can see it applied to a simple I shape of two people facing each other.

We can see this applied in just one position – read the book for the other 9 set ups – and there are a number of ways of then framing this.

examples for 3 and 4 or more characters…

The starting point of lighting your production is to use 3 point lighting (Tutorial Here and a Video Here). Here is a very good Simulator that show you the position and effect of each light. However, this is a starting point, and if you are creating a meaning you need to alter this accordingly – are you drawing attention to any elements of the shot? if so, light them!

One of the defining elements of Film Noir is the lighting – or shadow. Often the shot would be filled with dark, brooding spaces – but characters eyes would always be lit.


It is a good idea to know in advance how you want your shot lit by finding examples of what you want it to look like. Either by shots in other films, or by referencing photographs and paintings. The use of light and shadow has it’s own complex language – learn it and use it!

Framing your shot is the point where you actually convey the meaning to the audience. Everything you have looked at up to this point

Golden Mean refers to a naturally occurring geometric pattern. It tends to be a ration (EG AB / BC = 1.618). It occurs in Sunflowers, shells, and pentagrams…. Here is a Mathematical Explanation and an excellent application here

A quick attempt at an explanation – The Fibonacci sequence is a naturally occurring numerical sequence that is built on the preceding numbers – so, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8. 13, 21 etc. We can use blocks to show how this works – 


As we can see, this is a shape that occur throughout nature – 


And why do we as humans find is so pleasing? Because, being part of nature, we expect to see these ratios in all things, including ourselves.


Rule of Thirds is an approximate application of the Golden Ratio. There is an excellent tutorial here

What we are doing in both of these approaches is dividing the screen up, and making sure that the elements we are shooting fit into them in a pleasing way. Test it – line your shot up to just place your subject dead centre, and then compare it to lining it up with the left or right third, and see the difference.

The most important thing to do is to think about what you are setting up, and look at as many examples as you can – to that end, the following books are very useful – 


Kenworthy, C., 2009. Master shots : 100 advanced camera techniques to get an expensive look on your low-budget movie. Studio City  CA, Michael Wiese Productions.

Pepperman, R., 2005. Setting up your scen
es : the inner workings of great films. Studio City  CA, Michael Wiese Productions.

Sijll, J., 2005. Cinematic Storytelling. Studio City  CA, Micheal Wiese Productions.


Plus Katz, S., 1991. Film directing shot by shot : visualizing from concept to screen. Studio City  CA, Michael Wiese Production


Posted: November 2, 2011 by Alan Hardcastle in FdA 11_13
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So, you have your idea. As a first go, you should be keeping it simple. No car chases and convoluted plot twists involving multiple locations – this is all about using the studio as effectively as possible.

First thing you need is to turn that synopsis into a script.

Formatting a script can be quite convoluted. The basic thing to ask yourself is “how is it being produced?” This will influence the layout and how you write.

You need to write for the format of the production – so, if it is single camera, you can have lots of cuts, tell the story in close up and and have complex setups that need to camera to get into every nook and cranny to let the audience know what’s happening, because the nature of the single camera production is to get the right performance for the story.

If it is a multicam production, you tend to be capturing the performance that happens – live events, as live studio productions etc. There tends to be little room for subtleties, ECU or detail shots, just what happens.

The layouts reflect this. With a single camera, you need to focus on what we are seeing – describing the actions of the characters. Giving them good, realistic dialogue etc. The job of the camera is then to capture what is needed to communicate that visually. The first difference noted on a multi-cam script will be the big gap on the left hand side so that notes can be made for the individual cameras, as we now have multiple viewpoints to plan for.

The format can be explored easily via programmes like celtx, which can also help you plan the production. Otherwise, there are a variety of word templates you can use which allow you to set the elements using styles.

Next up, is your Storyboard. This is where you start sketching how the audience is going to see the final piece. Here is a section from “The DV Rebels Guide” about storyboarding. And a blank storyboard or two to get you started.

While this deals mainly with action / drama type scenes, you can use the same technique for as live studio shows. The kind of camera angles you are using will have a huge influence on how you audience perceive the final product – so think about them and plan how you are using them.

This only leaves the artistic design to consider – Set, Costume etc – do you need some woodworking friends to help you? Do you needs things made? It can be hard to source props, costume, sets etc, so even before your script is finished you will need to send people off to find these things!

And that’s before we start on cast…




Posted: October 30, 2011 by Alan Hardcastle in CMP 14_16, CMP 15_17, CMP 16_18, FdA 11_13
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Pitching is one of those things that is impossible to describe how to do. It is only really measurable by a positive outcome – you sell you idea to the person with the money.

There are basic guidelines, as you will see in the two documents attached to this post. There is advice. But the only way to learn is by experience.

Some people have had amazing success just by talking. Others by dressing up in rabbit costumes. Ridley Scott famously doubled his budget just by having some damn nice storyboards.