Attention All Global Alumni!
It's a known fact that this section of the website is frequently (OK constantly) neglected, but I just wanted to take a moment to reach out to you in the most formal yet informal way possible.
As I gear up for the year and start working on new projects I took a moment to look at all things last year I wanted to accomplish, but fell short of. One of those was a global alumni page where students who went through the club or program can leave some information behind, advice, and maybe some things you are currently working on. Basically, a mini profile on where you're at in college, what you are doing with life, and maybe if you find yourself in frequent productions, a contact email so others can reach out for crew help, or what not. It's also a selfish way for me to take pride in everything you contributed with your time here at Raritan High School, and brag about how awesome you guys are.
If you are interested, I would love for you to send me the following things. Shouldn't take more than a minute of your time I promise.
RHS Graduating Class (class of X)
Where you are currently attending school
College clubs, programs film/video related things you do (if any)
Short blurb of advice for new media students/global family members.
Links to any video work you've done at school (if any)
An email (if you like)
An appropriate picture of yourself
Send it in an email to email@example.com
Much appreciate folks. I'll make sure to share the results as I build the page.
Hope you are all doing amazing things, loving life, and make the best of everyday. We all get one turn, so make them count.
With all the loves,
It's been several moons since i've even looked at this blog. Time to get it up and running again as it's the one thing I can do over the summer to keep dishing out some neat factoids, or toss out some movie suggestions to you fine folks. Well, those who read this anyway. To you, thanks.
So last year I was at a film festival over the summer. The Film One Fest is an international film festival held in the Atlantic Highlands. I was invited by some friends to check it out with them, and we had a great time. The whole festival is outdoors, where they have live music, a few vendor stands, some good eats and of course, films, projected on a big screen. On a nice summer evening, its awesome. The only thing that really caught me off guard were the quality of the films.
Some were great, some were good, some fell into that category of "cute" (which I'm not sure how that makes me feel at the moment). My biggest gripe was that some of them were not...really...good. At all. Now, I know this is all objective, as all art is, but these were barely films. A film is an creative artistic expression. A couple of shots of your dog playing in the ocean is not. I'm sorry. It's just not. Yes that was an actual submission and if for any reason the person who made that finds their way to this post well, then...i'm sorry. You're dog was cute, but an artistic expression that was not. Needless to say (in a non egotistical way) I thought I could do better.
I'm not the best writer, I know this. But I won't force a story. I gave it some thought here and there but nothing serious. As the summer continued, and I took more and more trips to the beach I fell in love with the drive. There is a cute/fun little back road that winds through Navesink (which is extra fun in the mini) where I pass this tiny little convenient store. I loved it. I had never been, but it looked so old school Americana it was hard for me not to find it charming. I filed it in the backlog my brain in the part that stores interesting locations to use for future video shoots. So I passed this store, and spent days on the beach.
Now the one obstacle I had (and i'm sure you can all agree) is that the festival submissions had to be under two minutes in length. So from a story standpoint, it had to be super simple, insanely abstract, or shots of a dog playing in the ocean. One day, while laying in the sun, a story starts to form in my head. Where do original stories come from? I don't know. They appear? Is that fair to say. This story wasn't crafted, at least initially. It just happened. Kind of.
With a location in mind, I started to think about what sort of conflicts would work in that type of setting (basically, I was doing a story telling exercise that I assign in TV1). Remember all story is conflict. We need a protagonist and an antagonist. Conflcit, an exciting climax and resolution...in under two minutes. I thought back to my associations with convenient stores. Slurpee's with dad as a kid. Wawa hoagie-fest. Quick meals on a lunch break from a crappy job. There was, on more than one occasion, a time where I went to a 7-11 and had some grungy looking "kid" ask for me to buy him cigarettes. I put kid in quotes because I'm pretty sure I was a kid too, but I guess I looked older. I always felt really uncomfortable about it. What does this loser want? First off, "dude, no." Second, it's illegal. And third, "dude, I already said no". Now I have to go inside and buy my toquito while you wait out here and judge me. How dare you. I should just take your money and run out the back. Or buy you like 9 toquitos and say "deal with it", or "what are you going to do? Call the cops?". Punk.
So with that tiny rant in mind, I go from feeling normal, to inquisitive, to annoyed, to angry, and then (through fantasy) satisfied via redemption. Perhaps the same thing a character in a short film would go through? Ehhhhhhh? See what I did there! Maybe I'm not so bad at writing after all.
So there we were on set at the Red Store. The first shot is usually the longest one of the day for me. Even if I know what I want getting started is such a big mental hurdle. It would only make sense that I pick the most complicated shot of the day to start. The sliding shot of the counter was the opening shot of the story and the first shot of the day. It was rough. On top of a long set-up, I discovered while editing that the shot itself was unusable. We took it twice, and both times the sliding track was in frame. While shooting I remember it looking like a big reflection off the counter, so I didn't think anything of it. The shot itself was supposed to feature blown out whites in the window, and warm 35K interiors near the register. The lighting was awesome, but I messed up the shot. I big encouraging factor as to why I will be looking to invest in bigger playback monitors for location shoots.
The day was smooth sailing from there. We had tons of traffic to deal with, as the sidewalk was not as wide as I remembered when I had scouted originally. We basically hung in the road, and made traffic work around us. The real obstacle here came in post when it was time to mix audio. The cars where a nightmare, and extending them through shots, or grabbing audio from clips not even used was a must. It took a lot time, and i'm still only 90% happy with it. At least the dialogue sounds clean. We used two mics on this shoot, one shotgun on the camera, and a boom. The final audio is a mix of the two, with other foley sounds to fill in some gaps. There was some ADR (advanced dialogue recording) too. About a week after the shoot, I made my brother and sister in-law record their lines at a Memorial day BBQ. They were less than thrilled but it what I was missing to make things sound good.
The light was our friend, as we used 150W (35K) lights inside to contrast against the bright exteriors. The sun was helpful too, as we had the day I wanted (hot, summery) and a overhang to kill some shadows. We ended up using simple reflectors and diffusers to bounce light were we wanted, and screen where it needed to look cleaner. For one shot we even brought out one of the 150W lights out to use as a fill. I wasn't concerned with the look of the added light, as I knew in post that I was going to color grade on the warmer side.
As I mentioned post production was kind of a grab bag of chaos. Some shots were almost unusable (see photo above) and others had audio issues. The one thing audio related I didn't concern myself with was appropriate scene calling. Syncing audio was a nightmare because each take was called as "another scene" or "same thing but again". Funny in retrospect and it was nothing to be upset about but it did make syncing take much longer than it should have.
So the final edit was 3:35 seconds. The festival entry needed to be no longer than 2. Oh joy. Not to mention I needed original music. And a defining title sequence. I reached out to my brother to see what he had in terms of score. He sent me a demo of a song he recorded on his iPhone. I dug it, he met up with some people to record it professionally. Two days later I had the songs, and they fit perfectly.
I had some ideas for the logo, but my drawing skills had taken a sharp declined since high school. I did some mock-ups knowing I wanted the title to incorporate a unique look. However, the title of the film was still up in the air. We worked under the production name "Smokes" but the general consensus was that it didn't seem to fit. In the same vein, I changed it to "Cigs" (since that what the character says) and asked a very talented student to see what they could do with it. After a few more additional mock ups, we selected what we thought was the best one and scanned the image to be redrawn in Photoshop. Still, while the title was unique I wanted a visually interesting way to introduce it. As a big fan of sound effects over title cards, I thought that syncing with the production logo would make a nice edit. I foleyed lighting of a match, and inhaling /exhaling from a cigar. It sounded great. The foley was mixed and paired with digital smoke to reveal the title using simple screening and layering techniques.
The video edits were simple, the audio clean up was a pain in the ass. Using a variety of filters in Premiere I was able to clean it up and make it sound decent. The difference between the two edits was the rhythm of the narrative which I am a big fan of finding and let play out (in what feels to me at least) like a more natural pace. I never a force an edit, and there were some shots I just wanted to let breathe. Hang on them for a moment longer, let them be. Which is why I feel the Directors Cut is my preferred version over the "festival edit". It feels less rushed and you're able to sit with the characters longer. Granted, it's only 1 minute and 16 seconds longer, but it feels like a world of difference.
So at the end of the day, we have this short film. And I say 'we' because as we all know, it can't be done alone. While I wrote and directed there were so many people that helped this become a reality. Without them this would not have been made, and I happily share this film with them. And because of the their help, It has been selected to be screened at the FilmOne Fest this summer, a feat which I am very proud of. So to my brothers, thank you for traveling from other states to help. To my students/crew. Thank you for volunteering your time, sacrificing a weekend, and helping as much as you did. It means so much to me. I hope you can all be a part of the screening on Saturday July 18th. The event is a lot of fun. An outdoor screening of 50-60 films (all around two minutes remember) live music, tons of eats and art vendors. Grab a lawn chair, a blanket, and some friends and join us under the stars where we watch the fruits of our hard earned, demanding, rewarding, artistic, inspiring, motivational, educational, team effort.
It's that magical time of year where we enter festival season. An opportunity for you filmmakers to push yourselves creatively, technically, and efficiently, further than you have in your careers thus far. Television Production 2 classes begin the New Jersey High School Film Challenge, otherwise known around the media cave as "5-Day." Five days to write, shoot, produce, and edit a 3 minute short film competing with other high schools across the state. The event culminates with a day full of workshops run by industry professionals, a surprise screening, and the opportunity to make connections to several surrounding schools and production houses. The opportunities are amazing, and just being able to be around peers who share the same passion as you is a great feeling. Oh, and there is pizza too. Quite a lot of pizza...
Let me take a second to bring up to speed some things regarding the challenge this year. The event is held at Jackson Liberty High School, which has a fantastic media production curriculum and department. It's quite impressive. Since selection is limited it was decided that only the best film in each class will be invited on the trip. All submissions will be voted on by myself, Mr. Sherman, and Mrs. Harak. There is also ONE wildcard winner that will be voted on, and can come from any of the TV 2 classes.
Prompt: There will be a prompt issued on the first day of the challenge containing required elements to your film. Last year they were, FILM TITLE, CHARACTER NAME, and PROP. The character name must be spoken at some point in the film, and the prop had to be both seen in a medium shot and close up. The prop did NOT have to be a crucial element to the plot.
Time: The duration has been changed from 4 minutes, to 3 minutes. Films can run over 3 minutes, but will be penalized when it comes to screening and awards.
Acting: Anyone can act in your film. If you are a group of five, you don't necessarily have to be in the film at all. Parents, teachers, siblings, etc. can be in your film.
Music: All music in the final edit, must have rights cleared. Meaning, unless you made it, performed it, or paid for it, you do not have permission to use it.
Content: I will quote this from the official rules so there is no discrepancy from what I say vs. what they say.
"Your film should not be gratuitously or explicitly violent, obscene, or sexual. Likewise, entries should avoid students involved in risky, questionable, or illegal activities without also exploring the outcomes, ramifications, or consequences of those activities. School’s should follow their own policies in regards to acceptable content when applicable."
Credits: Credits are a mandatory part of your film, and must include the director or directors names. Credits count towards your total run time.
Submitting/Uploading: Must be submitted by the final day at 4PM. Failure to submit on time means disqualification from the challenge.
Given the high pressure that surrounds filmmaking I'd like to offer my sage advice that could help along the way. We have quite the time conundrum this year as the switch to block means I only see some of you twice this week. Also with PARCC It may effect who is in the classroom at any given time. That being said, here are some things you can do to prepare yourself. First, identify your groups before class starts. You know who you work well with, and who gets you going creatively. Find them, and bunker down together. Two, utilize google docs/drive. Even though we are in the midst of covering screenwriting, don't slow yourself down with formatting or using time to get comfortable with the new writing software. We will continue that after 5-Day. Google drive allows you to continue working outside of class, and share things with group mates. Got the creative itch in the middle of the night, pop on and make some updates to your story. You can share it instantly.
Speaking of story. Start thinking NOW! Yes we don't know what the prompt will be, but if you have a few threads of an idea you can try and shape the prompt around it. The last thing you want to do is use too much time coming up with your idea. The biggest part of the challenge is time, and we don't have a lot of it. You should have a story idea quickly, and get started on shooting as soon as possible. Pre-production materials are up to you. I'll say it thousand times and stick by it until I die, but storyboards help. If you do them correctly, then your film is practically finished before you even start shooting. Factor this into your pre-production time. As far as content, I know some films last year really pushed the boundaries a little bit as far as to what is "appropriate" or not. We can flex a little bit, but still need to adhere to the festival and school rules.
Use class time effectively. If you are shooting your entire film outside of school, then you should not waste a freaking second of class time. Story, tweaking dialogue, storyboards, gathering props, rehearsals, mock shoots, blocking. Anything that can be done to help you should be done. Sitting around doing nothing WILL NOT BE TOLERATED.
Acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses. If you don't feel you have complete mastery over the DSLR, then don't use one. If you are not checking exposure, white balancing, and focusing for EVERY. SINGLE. SHOT...then don't use it. This is not a matter of pride or shame, but about making sure you can work efficiently. I may have a small handful of microphones to give out as well. This could help with audio quality.
The best mentality I can say to have is to not view this as a 5-Day film challenge, but as a 120 hour challenge. It will exhaust you, but try and utilize every moment you can. Obviously, this is a balance between your other classwork and personal life. My take? Make it personal. I know that sounds silly, but if you make it a personal challenge as well as a graded school project then you won't notice the time until it's up. We have spring break right around the corner, and we are working on scripts in class until then. If you need to burn the candle at both ends for a week, now is the time to do it.
It'll be a long week for all of us, and hopefully you find the experience and challenge worth while. I know it's a lot to go through, but in the end you'll discover the effort has given you a project you can be proud of. And hey, maybe win some awards along the way. If not, no sweat. It's all about the journey and experience. Also, "10-Day" is right around the corner ;)
Sundays. The day of the week typically dedicated to rest. Well I suppose worship and rest depending on where you fall. I'm not the most religious of people but there was always something to look forward to on Sundays. Football.
Sunday errands were scheduled around it, depending on what time kick-off was. 1 o'clock games were nice because it got me up early enough to take care of things before the game started. 4 o'clock games were good for sleeping in, while primetime games always made Monday (or Tuesday) a little more difficult to get through. For the devout, it was worth it. So with the Super Bowl over and football on hiatus, what's to be done at 1pm, 4pm, or 830pm on Sundays from now until September? Good question.
For me today marks the first film in the Cinema Sunday's season, and I will be tearing through a backlog of movies I've bought over the years, but have failed to watch (or even open) for some reason. I'm not going to do write-ups of them like I did for some films over last summer. While that will return I just don't have the time for that now. Unless of course I feel there is a important take away, or something we discussed in class on display in its finest form. Then I'll bring back the "write-ups." But don't hesitate to ask on Monday mornings what I watched. Just be ready for me to ask you back. Hopefully it was something good. Something that inspired you. Something you can take away from and use in your next project.
Worst case scenario...you're entertained, and there's nothing wrong with that.
Creating a Culture
At the end of the year (calendar year, not school year. Sorry seniors) it's interesting to see where some of the TV 1 students are in regards to doing video projects. We've covered the basics, gone over the shots, and had some practice in earlier projects. It's around this time where things tend to get a little crazy, as we come up with story ideas revolving around an innocent, little, yellow, banana.
The Case of the Stolen Banana is a simple in execution, but ripe (ha! Shem joke) with creative potential. I've seen everything from morph suits, to Assassins Creed costumes, giant gorillas, ninjas, lightsaber duels, and the list goes on and on. So it's always an exciting project to do where the opportunity to flex creatively comes to the forefront.
The project announcement has always garnered the same reaction. "Banana?" asked rhetorically. Blank stares. Thoughts of me being crazy. "Wait, seriously...a banana?" This marks only the third year in which the project has been done, but it's interesting to see the impact it has made on the students who have done it in the past. While current TV students are caught up in the production and "ride" of doing wacky things for their project they get to hear the overflow of comments coming from TV1 Alums. "Oh you guys are doing the Banana Project!". "That was my favorite project1". 'I loved that project!". Etc. Instant connection between old a new, with a quick dash of nostalgia.
In such a short time frame a project has been established that is uniquely Raritan, ours, our own, and thus a culture around the Television Production class and school itself has been born. Something to think about as many of you leave your mark on the school. What culture have you created? What will resonate in the halls long after you graduate and move on to the next big thing? What mark will you leave, when somebody steals your banana?
Seeing as how we just wrapped up the first half of our big fall video project, I thought I would share some thoughts with you on the subject of filmmaking, and the personal journey I took to go from initial idea to final product. I heard a lot of questions during production that I thought I would explain a bit here in some detail, even though we cover some of this (in some capacity) in TV 1 & 2.
*Editors note: This post was written over the course of the video being made, and some changes have been made to earlier sections.
Like all creative things, it starts with an idea. The obvious influence in the song choice was Guardians of the Galaxy. It's been a long while since I had that much fun at the movies and the soundtrack was a big reason for that. As soon as I started listening to it after watching the film, I knew I wanted to do something with the song. I really enjoyed the free spirited nature of it and how it had this "fun but self-impowering" feel. That led to the idea of this care free character doing their own thing the norm be-damned, and enjoying their confidence with a smile. The later portion of the story needed to tread the line between capturing this spirt, while not making the character appear as an authoritative threat. This was the most difficult part in both shooting, and more importantly casting. That's what lead to having a female lead. The song is sung by a male, but the character driven aspects to the roll and the tone I was looking to achieve made the gender of lead singer irrelevant. It would fit the character, not the gender.
Initial conceptualizations had the song move more freely through the school, and to capitalize on making the scope seem larger, I imagined it starting outside the school and working it's way in. Track seemed like a natural fit as it's held at the big field, and would be very practical to stage and costume for. I also knew at one point, I wanted the character to "sing" into a microphone. At first I thought if this dance worked it's way through the auditorium, up on stage a mic would be more feasible. Casting for the scene would not. A full auditorium and stage actors would have been tough. I was very close to trying to organize it with the drama club, and in some cases I wish I did, but something had changed my mind. So the idea of lip-syncing into a baton seemed to satisfy that need, and presented a creative solution that fit the setting as well.
As soon as I saw the video to Walk the Moons' "Anna Sun" I knew that there needed to be a choreographed dance portion to it. And I also knew it needed to be done as a long take. The "Phase 3" material (which we shot first) was rhythmically something I knew I wanted to do from the outset, and the frequent costume change was required because of the simple fact the location did not. If the hallways were to remain the same, then the costumes were going to change. Figuring out how the dance number would come together was tough, but I knew I wanted it and so it was worked into the script early on. Thankfully I was introduced to Taylor Jefferson who worked with a group of students on the choreography.
Since this was originally planned as a super awesome opening to the morning show, the "phase 4" concept needed to take place where it did. The desk dancing was a must, as was an aggravated teacher.
Initial concerns heading into production were small, mostly logistical. There were some lingering thoughts as to whether the content was appropriate i.e. suggestive dancing, lyrics being misconstrued. On their own merit these things were not that bad, however, I knew I wanted to go with a female lead and was hoping these things wouldn't be accentuated with that concept.
A script was written pretty easily with the song on repeat for the longest time. As story elements worked into the right place, I was finding the more meticulous I was getting the more difficult it was to fill some gaps in the song with cretive visual content. Some elements in the script were timed down to the second, and finding story ideas or shots that worked creatively in those small gaps was challenging. Some dances were extended, and the rest fell into place.
The next step was storyboarding the ideas from mind to paper, and without a doubt this was the most vital part of the process. Not only were they a good tool to have on set while shooting, they really helped sell the idea to other crew members. Some of the more important elements in theme where camera angles, as they played a more vital role in blocking and than anything else. Knowing ahead of time I wanted a lower angle for costume montage and a higher angle for the long take and choreographed dance was crucial in making those look the way they do. And believe it or not, it helped move things along while shooting on location. There was never any doubt in what we needed to get. Couple this with the fact that some shots took upwards of 15-20 minutes to set up before rolling, and we saved ourselves a bunch of time. I know a lot of you think they are a pain to do, but they help so much. The better and better you get, the less corners your going to want to cut. Don't cut this corner!
We also took a day to get up to the shooting location to test equipment, determine camera settings, and settle on a shooting style. I was able to figure out ahead of time the exposure type I needed to get the depth of field I wanted (exposure triangle TV 2!), as well as work on using artificial lighting. We tested on an overcast day so the lights proved helpful, although on the actual shooting day we had much more sun. We tried two different dolly types on two different surfaces to know how they would look, and which would be best to avoid shake on the camera. The most important decision was to settle on a frame rate. We did tests on 3 (24 FPS, 29.97 FPS, and 60 FPS). At this point in my career 29.97 looked more natural despite everybody shooting at 60 nowadays. This was locked as a creative choice, and we went on to schedule our shooting days.
The classroom scene, and climax of the video. Logistics were tricky on the spot. Big things (like forcing a perspective) or small things (such as making sure the socks on Lindsay's feet weren't too slippery when she was on the desk...safety first!). But the crew here really stepped up their game. There was a lot of moving and shuffling and reseting and redoing. The biggest obstacle was setting the slider for the desired look, and obtaining the shot without being able to move a lot of furniture. The ending, another long take, was set up to have Lindsay move from the classroom to the news desk, with a costume change, several moving extras, two lighting changes, and extensive camera movement. We nailed it.
If there is a trend to this post, it's that the descriptions have been getting shorter as we move into post production. It goes to show you that the planning process is the most important aspect to any film being made. For me post production was simple. Since I had the song laid out, I used markers within FCP to identify the timing and rhythm of the edits. In fact, almost all the edits were done before any video was shot. As the days work was done, I just found the right takes, and moved them to the timeline. The longer portions of the edit were doing some mild color corrections, and light sound editing in the opening scene. Below you can see a gif of the color correction process. The first image where Sue is holding the gray card is the original color balance of the camera. Very blue. The second is balanced for the actual shooting conditions of the day, which while more accurate was still too golden in color with very high contrast. The third image is the touched up image in post production. I'm not happy with how it lost some detail, but I pulled some of the contrast out of the image so we were able to better see Jess's and Sue's facial expressions.
There were some hiccups. The track scene has some shots I was not happy with, and I didn't get to use some other ones. Since it was the only scene where we didn't shoot to a back track (the song playing in the back ground) it was justified. Wind caused some issues for the few times we needed natural sound. In fact, in the shot where Lindsay walks into frame looks around and exhales, the natural sound there was re-recorded outside my house. Since I had to recreate that audio track, I provided the vocals for her exhale. So that's actually me breathing out:)
Eliminating shots was easier here then in the classroom scene. We just had so much good footage. Little things like Anthony dropping his notebook in stunned silence needed to be cut, as did the transition from jumping off the desk, into the long take. This was because I repositioned the extras for the studio section, and they were no longer in costume to dance in the window. It was also hard to match Lindsay dancing on the desk shot to shot because her dance was different each take. The end result is an edit that looks natural for her movements, but we also see Mr. Sherman push the chair in three times. I still think it works very well. The long take where Lindsay walks through the studio hides a pretty cool edit. Since the whole video had some color amplification it ruined the shot when the studio lights went on. So, in the last tracking shot when the house lights go on, the video makes a cut so that the proc-amp filter doesn't continue into the remainder of the shot. Pretty cool and sneaky right?
Let this video be a microcosm for how film production really works. Look at our timeline!
-Initial concept (August)
-The sales pitch in our global meeting (where I danced on the table)
-Casting and crew positions
-Shooting test footage
-Shooting (over 20 hours combined)
-Pick-up shots (only one!)
That's pretty cool, and I can only hope you all felt the final product was worth it. It was quite the short little journey and I can't thank you enough for all your help and dedication. To all the actors who were gung-ho from the start, ready to wear, bring in, change nine times, awesome costumes and give it your all even if it meant looking like a fool. To the dance members who took globals in and taught them how to dance in sync, and then have to put up with nailing it in one take (and a difficult one at that!). The crew who ran cables, held up lights until their arms were sore, assisted in direction, and kept the group moving. The weekend warriors who came to school on a Saturday and hung out on track for half a day. This could not have been done without ALL of your amazing effort and support. Thank you for inspiring me to create and challenge what we do as a club and family. For our next project....well, lets start coming up with some ideas.
I thought this would make more sense than tweeting a whole bunch of things in a row. I really want to make sure we are all on the same page with what's taking place tomorrow, next Wednesday, and beyond for our 8th Grade Open House video shoot. Remember our due date is October 24th!
For Saturday October 4th:
Location: Media Center or Track (depending on if the building is open)
Saturday will be the outside portion of our video shoot. The weather is calling for rain, so let's hope we have an overcast day like we did on our test shoot days. If in the event it's pouring out we will have to reschedule for another day. Look to twitter for any announcements for cancellation.
The outdoor scene involves two character types, "Athletes" and "Spectators" (and one gym coach!). If you are an athlete, wear something that looks like a track uniform, otherwise gym clothes will do. Try and wear a shirt that has Raritan on it, or something plain like a solid color (white, gray, or green). If you are a spectator, wear normal everyday clothes, but dress appropriately. We need as many people as possible to fill those stands so bring a friend (or twelve)!
Here are some things to look out for or expect on Saturday:
-Day will start with a quick production meeting promptly at 12:00 o'clock outlining the day.
-It may get chilly or windy on the track. Bring a jacket to wear in-between takes
-We start at 12, so either eat a big breakfast, or bring some snacks to last throughout the day.
-If at any time you need to leave please just make your way out (but we'll discuss that in the production meeting)
-There will be LOTS of down time. Setting up shots, making sure equipment is set up, and the actors and talent are ready takes time. Be prepared to sit for longer moments in-between takes.
-For those interested in the DANCE number portion of our wednesday shoot, maybe we use that down time to work on learning those moves.
-After a few opening shots, all but 5 of the athletes will be re-cast as spectators. All athletes bring a change of clothing.
-If we wrap early, we wrap early. If you are getting a ride from a friend or parent, make sure they can come get you at any time.
-In the event it starts raining during shooting. We will pack up, and wait about 10-15 minutes to see if it lets up. If it doesn't , we will wrap for the day. If it stops, we will continue shooting.
Here are some things to look out for or expect on Wednesday:
-We will shoot during our normal global meeting time.
-There are three sections to the indoor segment: Long Take/Dance, Costume Montage, Classroom/Newsroom
-Expect to go late (530ish), If you can make arrangements to stay that late that would be great, but don't go crazy (other stuff is important too!)
-The choreographed dance segment will take place during this time. It is at the tail end of a long take. MEANING! If we mess up at the end, we need to start the whole take again.
-The costume montage consists of 4 (FOUR) 7-8 second segments where wardrobe changes each time. We all agreed in our last meeting to have one be totally crazy (horse head mask, ketchup and mustard, ostrich, prom dress). The other three will be: Crazy bright/neon colored clothing, formal, athletic. (open to suggestions)
-We will try and shoot as much as possible, and organize those segments based on how long everyone can stay
Here are some things to look out for or expect on the following weeks:
-The rest of the open house video will focus on 4 characters, each with specific traits and interests.
-Each character is lead by a character captain to help script the scenarios and dialogue.
-Character captains will recruit people for their team to help with the script, and will begin shooting as soon as they can.
-Please see me, OR Nick A., Kristen V., Lindsay T., or Sean O., for details. These are the captains.
-The outline for the rest of the open house video will be linked below. It's in the original shorthand form we used while taking notes.
Please use this page as a means of discussion between yourselves, and with me. Use the comments section to arrange travel, costumes props, etc. That way if you don't have everybody's phone number you can still ask questions, post requests and so on. I'll make sure to check back as well. Twitter works as well.
When Ambition Meets Reality
Now that the dust has settled on the first month of school, I figured I'd take some time to reflect on what is always an exciting time of year. The tail end of August is always filled with tons of "we should do this!" and "we should do that!" and "how awesome could this be!"! And maybe this year more than ever the Television Production Department was even more abuzz than ever. A month later and it's tough not to feel a little sting of the grand vision hitting the wall. When reality sets in and there is just not enough time to get things going the way you planned.
First off, the positive. Block is here and it's been great. Great classes, and the time to really focus in and learn the history of communication, and Adobe Premiere has been amazing. I think you folks are picking it much faster than in the past. TV2 we're going to get into some cool camera stuff in a bit, after our first shooting project winds down. TV you're in for a trip. The feedback from you guys has been great and if you're enjoying it as much as you are now, then you're going to love it even more soon. Global, we've been put in a odd spot as we didn't have a super huge project to get us going right out the gate this year. Blessing and a curse, but we've had some time that I would love to utilize with you all. A lot of those ambitious projects involved you, and you had no idea! Stay tuned in our next meeting for more deets. Dates will be set. Time will be put aside. We will make things work. I refuse to let the vision go. This year will be more collaborative than ever, and now we have the numbers to make it awesome.
What's interesting is that work/play is a very real thing. I'm very fortunate to love what I do, and I do it in a way that I expect certain things out of myself. You all know how high my standards and expectations are for you (for those who haven't spent at least a year with me yet, you soon will) so just fathom how high they are for myself. However the play (ambition) always waits for work (reality) to finish. With how I run my classes, clubs, and professional standards, "play" waits a while sometimes. And the more we bring to the plate to elevate our status as a legitimate force to be reckoned with (as well as turning heads in the community and being an desirable destination for future students) But, it's hard not to let that creative scratch come to the surface when it wants to. It's the artist in me. Some of you know what I mean already. When that, "lets make a movie" feeling creeps up, and it's all you want to do.
And do we shall. I'm going to try and find a way to bring some more creative projects to Global. Starting with our first music video, (a huge cast, and dance number!), along with others (smaller projects) and whatever else you folks want to do. I have my ear to the ground for some new film festivals this year (extra-curricular) that we can do. Live sports is still working out some kinks, and we'll get those hammered out as soon as possible.
So the ambition is still there. And really, in those moments when things stand in your way the decision you make to either give up or press onward is presented. Of course it's always easier to do one over the other. What you choose defines who you are. So to that I say, "when there is a will, there is a way."
With the switch to the new editing software, I wanted to make a short video myself to get some practice. I kept it simple, so this is what I would call a basic edit. First impressions? It'll take some getting used to. Importing was strange, and a couple of nit-picky navigational things we'll have to get used to, but I think ultimately it provides more opportunity to express yourself and sculpt your vision. If you have any concerns about what to expect, fire off in the comments below.
The Journey from Thomas Leonard on Vimeo.
So were almost there. With a week to go before the school year starts I thought i'd check in with some updates and try and get you guys as pumped up as I am to start the new year. There are a lot of new things on the horizon I don't quite know where to start.
I guess I'll start with what I'm sure will be the biggest change this year, and that's the move to block scheduling. We've prepared, and planned, and modified, and worked our lessons to fit the schedule and I believe you're not going to skip a beat. Plus when the time comes to work on projects, 80 minutes is a dream. I know you will all utilize that time to the fullest. It doesn't mean things will be less hectic, maybe more so. But we'll make it work. Heck if I had two-hour long classes, we'd probably still be pressed for time. So don't curb back on that creativity. Lets push ourselves and make the best projects we can make. There is one small hiccup in that however...
So with addition of a new computer lab for me (yay!) it means we updated our software suite. While this sounds like the end of the world, its only a matter of comfort. I have been using Final Cut Pro for over a decade, and honestly, was nervous to change gears. The fact of the matter is that I was only hesitant because I was moving outside my comfort zone. For those that had a handle on FCP last year and prior, you're going to transition. It may be rough at first (things will be different) and it may take longer for some, but trust me you're going to get it. Just come in with an open mind on day one. That's all I ask. I'll take you the rest of the way. For those that are new to the journey of TV Production, you picked a hellagood time to jump in. So block scheduling, and a new software....why that's going to put a strain on....
Our morning show. It's going to change. Drastically. And we have to do a little more catching up factoring in we need to learn new software. Years prior we had a 5 minute show, and more often than not, we had to trim back a little bit. Once Mr. Sherman and I started adding in sports segments, we had to trim back more. Then Mrs. Harak added weekly segments. Bam. Trim some more. This year we are moving to a 13 minute daily show. This is big. Honestly you may be hard pressed to find a high school that does a 13 minute show once a week, let alone daily. It's going to be fun and challenging, and we are going to come out swinging. This is not simply making segments longer (although that will happen). This is about creating original content on a weekly basis and doing so in a professional way. We're talking anchors wearing dress clothes, real world and local news. Featurettes, and features in the school and community. Dedicated sports and weather segments. Original programing, and short stories. Contests and more. It's going to be a blast but we need you to help make it a reality.
For my Television Production classes the new software is just the beginning. TV 2 is entering it's second year and there are a ton of revamps that are going into effect to help make it a much more involved class. We are going to focus on media literacy, as well as industry related technical information. The way I'm trying to look at it is, if I need to know how to do something or what something does, then you should too. Whether thats the difference between f/stops and t/stops, or what 3:2 pulldown is, I'm going to try and tackle it. We are also going to finally move into the world of manual camera settings. So in addition to having a top notch story, well framed shots and camera movement, we are going to look at how to properly set aperture settings, shutter speed, and ISO. TV 1 is going to have a stronger emphasis on the basics of shot composition and framing, to better prepare them for the the rigors of TV2.
Then we have Global...oh Global...are you ready? This is going to be a big year, and I couldn't be more excited for it. Of course we are going to keep with the tradition of meeting weekly, to discuss upcoming events and have fun times and good laughs. This year there are a couple of things I wanted to do as side projects, just to allow for a little more creative freedom than in the past. Simple things like maybe a monthly shooting challenge, or creating new openings for the morning show. I know we'll get recruited for a lot stuff this year, and I know we won't disappoint with anything we do together. The one upgrade I want to make this year is with sports, and to be blunt it is me asking for your help. With the schedule change it will allow more time in the Global class to put together sports segments. We may just need to shoot them. I'll explain more in our first meeting, but this will have a two pronged effect, and thats because of our new endeavor we're going to tackle this year. I have to leave some surprises so you'll just have to wait to find out next week.
The times Mrs. Harak, Mr. Sherman and I have sat down this summer have been positive. There seems to be a general sense of excitement, anticipation, and fun. Seriously the energy has been great, and it's refreshing to work with such great people who care so much. We are looking forward to a great year. I hope you are too.
Lets do this thaanng,
It's Mr. Leonard. Teacher, Videomaker, Professional Goofball