… for Random Weirdness

Tip #1183: Make a Film Using Zoom

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Remember, Zoom is both a technology and a character in your film.

Image courtesy of Paula Goldberg & PremiumBeat.

Topic $TipTopic

This article, written by Paula Goldberg, first appeared in PremiumBeat.com. This is a summary.

Let’s explore the important elements you’ll need to know to make a successful short film using Zoom technology.

  • Storytelling. The platform might be unusual, but the content demands remain the same. You can’t fix an idea in post. Everything starts with the material. With any short film, you’re looking for a simple plot and complex characters, a compelling conflict, and a surprising, but truthful, resolution. The extra consideration with Zoom is that action will be limited, and your screenplay will be dialogue driven.
  • Casting. Don’t cast your roommate. Good actors want to work on good material. If your script is gripping and your artistic vision clear, chances are you’ll find actors willing to do your project. So much can be forgiven technically, but a bad performance can kill any script.
  • Minimize the Tech. Built-in computer webcams are compact and so are their lenses. This sets a limit on the amount of light that they can capture—a problem especially for low-light conditions. External webcams provide better performance. Some even feature wide-angle lenses. They’ll also give your actor the ability to adjust resolution, frame rate, color, and brightness.
  • Preparation. Time is on your side and a spectacular return on your investment is to spend that time in pre-production. I’d approach it three ways: set/costume, filmmaking, storytelling. The most important part of the preparation is artistic. This is a very unnatural way for actors to work. You may want to suggest that they put a piece of paper over their own image on the screen. This will help them be less self-conscious—in no other medium is the actor able to view themselves while shooting. Once Sasha suggested that, both actors felt much more comfortable playing off each other.
  • Production. A perk about Zoom is that the director can record and watch each take live by muting their audio, disabling their video, and selecting “hide non-video participants.” When the video is processed, there will be no indication that anyone was present except the performers. You can pause between takes and discuss, then hide yourself again and resume another take.
  • Editing. If recording on Zoom, a [close-up] can be quite compelling, especially if the storytelling has numerous reveals and twists. It encourages multiple views to catch moments you didn’t get on the first view. However, don’t be afraid to edit. Most people are used to jump cuts and you have three angles you can use—a split screen two shot and the two singles. What will help the flow is if you cut on action, which can be as simple as a shift in seating position, interaction with a prop, or hand movements.

The article has a variety of technical tips and lots of screen shots, as the author follows her production from first idea through to editing. It is well worth reading.


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