Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Windlight and Silhouettes

It is easy to forget about still shots.  Lost in the process of capturing the movement, perfect moments can get set aside.

This was taken at the end of an adventurous filming session involving new and untested tech -- not exactly an afterthought; there is a plan. One of course that can get set aside should a better idea emerge.

The original shot was missing grounding shadows to anchor the bike. The hill in the background claimed too much attention. If you have some photo editing skills you can fine tune your still frames adding extra effects in your video software should that be appropriate and wanted.

This isn't the final edit of course. Those shadows (and lack of their partners underfoot) aren't the least bit correct. But still, the idea is there. I can go back and see where shadows would actually be and adjust accordingly.

We often think that the actors "must" be lit to their best advantage. Facelights help accomplish this; rezzed lighting globes can do that job also. But sometimes, all you need is a good pose and some striking Windlight.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Additions to SAND

The  Voronoi House has been sitting up in SAND for-e-ver, empty and forlorn with no appropriate furnishings.

Well all that has changed. The apocalypse never looked so good. So get your grunge on and your storyline written and get over and do some filming.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Working with Actors

Escape To Tomorrow (working title)

I don't often film with other folks. Frequently the characters in my films are me in another form. Sometimes they are avatars of friends who plop their virtual selves down on a pose ball or a piece of furniture that I can control and go on with their day.

I have had experience directing with real folks though and the ideas are the same -- and coming in useful on a current project. So I thought I would share a few tips should you decide to do some filming with others.

As a director (most likely working without a production crew) it is your job to have everything ready for the actors. They are supposed to be the "talent" and while you as director ARE running the show, you certainly can't do it without the folks in front of the camera.  So ---

* Know what shots you want
* Set up the shots and decide on the camera angles before your actors arrive
* Get your lighting set
* Make sure all props are ready to go
* Know what your actors were wearing in previous contiguous scenes if that is relevant -- that continuity thing.
* Depending on your capturing software, you will not be able to type to your actors, so either voice chat, Skype or a group call might be needed. OR make sure your directions are clear before you turn off your interface.

The more you have done BEFORE folks arrive, the faster the shoot will go and the happier you all will be.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Find Your Shot

I was filming this morning. I had set up a scene within a new story video. I captured video, took still shots and generally had fun. I was trying to broaden my style a bit, looking for different angles.

It was great fun and I have a collection of shots to choose from.  Since I had such a good time, I thought some of you might too.

The spot is here.
Adjust your Windlight.
Find your Angel.
Take your shot.

Feel free to add the link to your photo (or film clip) to this post. Or you can add it to the Flickr group here

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Last Call for Camels

All good things ---

The archeology hut and camels will be retired soon to be replaced with some exceptionally nice ruins from the upcoming Fantasy Faire.  The ships of the desert have had a good run with many photos taken but it is time for something new.

If anyone is doing extended filming in this spot, please contact me (IMs go to email or comment on this page) and we can arrange something.

Just a heads up!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Apocalypse Anyone?

New in SAND and perfect for any end times filming -- a fallout shelter prop.  There is no interior but think of the possibilities.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Camera Angles

A short video on camera angles.

A little philosophy, a few examples and some chatting -- well of course there is chatting! Filmed on the Country Road at the Machinima Open Studio Project, Second Life

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Everyone Has a Story

New in the full sim city

A budding machinimatographer mentioned the other day that while he could most likely learn the filming and editing part of the craft, he was unsure if he had the creative skills to tell the story.

While there are many kinds of machinimatography (event filming, documentaries, work for hire) that don't need an imagination to complete, I do believe that we EACH have at least one story to tell -- likely more than that.

It doesn't need to be lofty or arty or even that complicated. Here is an example that came to me as I placed this new industrial traileresce studio in the city.

I grew up in trailer parks. My dad's job was stable but transitory. We moved often, sometimes with just a few hours notice. 

That trailer park life was a strange one. People rolled in (sometimes literally as the homes were tiny then like 8 x 45 feet) and out and the landscape changed often even as we were standing still for awhile. 

One of my most vivid memories was the evening practice of a male neighbor. When I would come home from a date. He was always there outside watering the lawn. Yes, even at midnight. Truly odd.  

Was he protecting me? Was he spying on young and lustful kids?   Either way -- there is the beginning of a story there.    

Find a moment or a memory and go from there.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Take Two

It is has been obvious for some time now that folks would rather read what I have to say than look at photos of "new stuff". This isn't just about this blog, it is about them all -- and honestly that makes me happy.

Not the ego type of happy; I really have never gone there. But it let's me know that some folks out there are thinking -- always good in my book. They may not agree with what I write, but they can use the ideas as a springboard to their own pondering.

So I am taking a bit of a turn on some of my blogs, including this one. Yes, there will be pretty photos but there will also be words. You get to decide how wise they are and how much they reflect your beliefs. Even if is a 180 degree difference -- that's good too.

Here we go.

I published a new video today.

It was a remake of one I did in 2011 and while the previous version was "fine for the time", it was so not exciting by today's standards. I had grown; software had improved. Put that together and hopefully the new version made some strides into betterdom.

I spent two days (yes two almost eight hour days) editing this film. I LOVE editing, but after a few hours with only 30 seconds accomplished I kinda hit a wall. I was getting antsy. I wanted to BE DONE. I wasn't having fun.

I sat myself down and gave myself a talking to. "You really DO enjoy this process. There IS no hurry. You are here to LEARN this new software." You get the idea. Amazingly, even though I knew it was a ploy to get myself  back on track -- it worked. After that I simply played. I learned. I took chances (saving often with different filenames) and I explored what could be done with my new tools and new personal knowledge.

I had some clips that I had sliced from the original film and the soundtrack file. I had been taking some partner shots (thank heavens for friends who will let you borrow their bodies for the sake of art) the last week. New footage from my OpenSim build was in the mix. I had no plan. I never do.  I let the footage tell the story, picking the best shots and putting them together in a tale that was unforeseen as I began.

What I found was interesting. Well, OK. Maybe I knew it would turn out that way; it often does. But still it is quite amazing to me. The story that revealed itself was mine. Well, not all mine of course, but there were some very fascinating parallels when I listened to the sound track while watching the visuals.

Is film-making therapeutic? Undoubtedly. Just like painting and poetry, sculpture and acting. We learn unexpected things that we were afraid to tell ourselves.

Yes, I do know how to make storyboards. Yes, I can write a script. But I have found -- that for ME -- the best approach is to let the story tell itself. Find your best shots. Move them around the timeline. See what unfolds.

It was a good two days work. I learned a lot on many levels.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

New in Sand

I have been sluething for primmy stuff lately. It's a bit like gold mining at this point as most items are now mesh and low land impact. But I did recover enough so that there are 500 available prims again for rezzing.

In the process a few decor items have disappeared and this new, very quaint artist's studio is now up in SAND.     There are some fun and different props inside, so get inspired!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

New Windlight Videos

The last week has been spent making and remaking Windlight video tutorials.  The first is VERY basic and meant for first time users but the second and third might be of interest. These use the Firestorm Viewer but much of the information relates to other viewers.

Below that are a couple of my favorite Windlight settings that you can download and install in your skies folder (a little bit of techiness needed for that :D).  

*** Videos ***

First steps in understanding how to change your Windlight skies and see the world as YOU choose.
Working with Windlight - Making Your Own Skies

How to set both your viewer and your Windlight settings to show shadows. Info on ambient occlusion and shadow clarity.

Hard to believe but it has been six years since I made all the "Places" Windlights that are now in many third party viewers. I had been thinking of putting up more settings -- especially ones that works well with materials (normal and specular maps).

Here are two for a starting point.

MOSP - Cloudless
MOSP- Sound Stage Shadows