Can you help critique my short to pieces?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by acearchie, Dec 12, 2011.

  1. acearchie macrumors 68040


    Jan 15, 2006
    Hi guys,

    I have just finished one of my first serious shorts. This was a test of my cinematography skills for a university module although we did have to create the film from start to finish.

    The Edge // Short Film

    From the off I can tell you that there are several things that are definitely wrong with it. I attempted to do the project all by myself which originally seemed like a good idea. I suppose it showed me what I am good at and what I need to work on. I felt that given the short time scale I had to make the film working alone I would be able to make sure each shot was exactly how I wanted.

    The sound is awful, the zoom failed to work for some shots and the wind was an annoying factor. ADR was extremely budget but I have realised that I am not a sound man but I don't try to be.

    Focusing was an issue. Even though I go to a "film" university we have no follow focuses or monitors that will work with the 5d meaning that I am having to use the lcd. They don't even have LCD viewfinders to help! Even with reviewing some shots looked fine in the viewfinder but on the laptop back home I could see clearly they were out of focus and by then it was too late.

    Stabilisation. Rolling shutter. Moire. As well as having no focus aiding equipment there are also no rigs therefore it was all as basic handheld as you could get. Or a tripod. If the camera moves in the shot imagine it tracking on a nice frictionless dolly and ignore the shakes and jitters as that's how I imagined it in my head too.

    Acting is wooden. I got two friends to help as there was not enough time to cast. By using my friends it also allowed me to film in their locations which I wouldn't have been allowed to if they hadn't been used. However, they aren't really suited to the roles but the dialogue isn't great anyway.

    I am no scriptwriter. I was never great at writing stories in school and this has only really reaffirmed it. I think that in future I will always try and get someone else who has a passion for this sort of thing as I found myself tearing my hair out trying to write it.

    Those are the obvious points but I am now opening it up to you.

    Can you please watch it and tell me what I can improve for my next piece? I have already learnt quite a lot but would like to know what other people thought. Be as harsh as you like as long as there is some element of a constructive point as I am attempting to learn!

  2. Frederiksberg macrumors member

    Feb 24, 2010
    This isn't really what you asked for, nor is it constructive.

    But I actually liked it. No, it's not professional actors, and maybe the Music was a bit loud. But I enjoyed most of the shots :)
  3. acearchie thread starter macrumors 68040


    Jan 15, 2006
    Ha perhaps I forgot to mention that you can say if you liked it!

    Thanks for the feedback. Interesting that you thought that the music was too loud. I will have to give it a rewatch. Are there any specific parts where you thought that?
  4. HarryPot macrumors 6502a

    Sep 5, 2009
    I wasn't able to play it with sound. But judging how you prefer criticism in the actual shots, and not so much the script, it might have been better this way.

    In general, I enjoyed watching it:)., I haven't seen many short films, and I'm no professional, but I've been taking photos as a hobby for many years now and can appreciate a good video from bad/amateur ones. And yours is certainly a good one.

    Just one thing that I think you overused: extreme narrow depth of field. There are shots were almost nothing is in focus. I think I made a similar comment to one of your photos in the Photo of the Day thread, so it might be that I'm just not so inclined to using very narrow depth of fields.:eek: Specially in shots with persons.

    Maybe a 50mm at f/1.4 isn't the best lens to use. Sometimes a narrow depth of field makes the shot more artistic, but when overused, it feels as if there is no outside world to your characters, like if they were trapped in a small world.

    And, the blood!!:D
  5. Macman45 macrumors G5


    Jul 29, 2011
    Somewhere Back In The Long Ago
    Given The Limitations

    Of the equipment you had to use, take it from a are on the right track, if you had submitted that to me, I would say " This shows promise" you need to focus on some of the more technical aspects, but most of these like the wind noise, the slightly stuttered zooming, can easily be overcome by using a better camera, a tripod, and a sound man.

    On the whole, the acting wasn't that bad either, and I enjoyed it. Overall, with the limitations I mention above, I would say you did a great job with the tools you had to hand....You are obviously handy with FCP not the easiest of applications to use properly, and your ideas come over well in the film.

    A tripod is a must ( no brainer really ) and you can borrow a high end camera, your skills over time will develop.

    Good luck with your future career, and post your next project too.
  6. acearchie thread starter macrumors 68040


    Jan 15, 2006
    Cheers, really glad you watched it without the sound as it really ruins some of the production value!

    Depth of field is an issue and there are times when I should have stopped down but most of the time I was stuck with the low light although a definite scene that could have done with a deeper depth of field is the park scene.

    When I next use the 5d I will definitely try and get a 35mm style lens as the 24mm I used was too wide and the 50mm sometimes too shallow with the DOF and too tight.

    I think for my next project I will definitely spend more time crafting each shot and deciding exactly how much I want in focus.

    Sometimes when you are rushed and haven't planned it so well you can forget simple things like stopping down the aperture might help!

    Thanks a bunch for all the positives in that! I think upping my production value is definitely top of my list at the moment. I am looking at creating another short in the summer which will be my second year final film and I am looking at trying to get some funding to be able to rent a C300 or something that will give me a better image, and more easily controllable, than all the DSLRs.

    Trying to do everything myself seems crazy now I look back on it but it's probably because I was being selfish and wanted to know that the finished product was all mine but what it has clearly shown me is that I would have been much more proud of it had I got some people to help with sound and maybe holding the reflector in a few shots.

    Thanks to both of you for your kind words and helpful comments!
  7. seamuskrat macrumors 6502a


    Feb 17, 2003
    New Jersey USA
    It is not bad for a first piece and especially as a solo project.

    Don't beat yourself up about the diaglog and script. Unless you reach the elite ranks and are at the pinancle of your career you will rarely be asked to be the sole script writer, cinematographer, director, etc. Of course an indie film this maybe possible

    It takes many iterations and attempts to get the script and dialog down an natural. Look at how many feature films and tv shows fail at these basic story foundation steps.

    That said, the story was short and simple. Girl meets girl, falls in love, bad break up and a tragic end. Uncomplicated. I guess knowing WHY they broke up in more details might have satisfied me for the story but in many ways the fact this was left ambiguous is not so bad either.

    Technically you already critiqued many of your issues. Focus was distracting at times and some of the shots felt forced. Was the assignment to use X number of techniques or shots? Some camera shake, etc. All fixable and solvable for future shoot.

    I would not even say the acting was so bad, especially given their amateur status.

    How many discarded shots did you have? Were these the best of all the takes? Or did you do this with limited shots?

    I think the scene with the two women alone the river would have benefitted from a river point of view. Obviously not as easy to pull off. But the person to person framing seemed jolting at times. It was easy to follow but seemed almost like a ping pong ball match.

    I imagine with what you learned, a sound guy with a boom, and some better blood EFX you could reshoot this same film and correct many of the issues and the acting would even be more solid.

    I think you have a solid piece that shows you understand the good and bad of it and from what you have said you seem to know what to do to remedy it the next time.

    Good Luck.

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