Cinema Production / Film Making
Updated June 22nd, 2010
These days many people interested in making movies have turned to "micro-cinema" which is ultra-inexpensive hobby style of making films. Before micro-cinema one of the largest hurdles to making a film is the required technical expertise of an array of specialized equipment and the expense of acquiring that equipment. However now there is a simple to use and relatively inexpensive medium. Modern digital image and sound acquisition technology had provided film makers to create motion pictures on the micro-cinema level for the first time. Digital Video cameras are very affordable and easy to learn to use. Also, editing digital video on a home PC has become a viable alternative, to old fashion dedicated hardware which was costly temperamental and difficult to operate. Though digital video has a long ways to go before it replaces the traditional film process entirely it may not take a long time before that large gap is closed or is reduced significantly. In fact the new Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) cameras have closed the gap greatly between more traditional video cameras an film based motion picture cameras. It would benefit anyone interested in learning to make movies to get interested in the digital medium. But the technology for digital video is changing quickly, so quickly that there is no single source of information to keep abreast of all the innovation going on in digital cinema. One way to stay in touch with the rapid pace of digital innovation is to get involved in a forum of film makers.
However, die-hard film makers that demand the highest quality, and are who unwilling to settle for sub-par images know that film is still the only medium that will provide the best or at least most conventional image. The 35 mm film format is still (for a little while longer) the motion picture industry standard. 16 mm film is only a quarter the size of the the 35 mm film gauge but is a reasonable option for many small time film makers, and it has resolution that is still slightly higher than high definition TV and has a much better latitude and color reproduction than any video format. Many prime time network television shows are shot using 16 mm cameras. Super 8 mm film has enjoyed a sort of cult following over the years. With the advent of the Internet many people who could not gain access to rare and hard to find equipment are enjoying the ease of equipment acquisition that previously only people in metropolitan areas enjoyed. In fact, it no longer matter where you live if you need to get specialized equipment.
If you want to get good equipment like classic Arrilflex cameras or parts to build a modular video camera , the Internet can get you the the same access and deals that previously belonged only to those who new the resources in the large cities. Check out this web sites link page for just those kinds of resources.
While digital imaging has not yet totally arrived, digital audio has. Capturing sound on set or location is primarily done with digital audio recorders. Some of the recorders are the familiar Digital Audio Tape or DAT recorders, but these are quickly being replaced with hard-drive recorders and the newest, and maybe best, flash-drive recorders. There are a few instances where an old analogue tape recorder like a Nagra might still be used to capture a very specific vintage sound but unlike there old film camera counterparts these tape decks are truly out dated and hardly practical to use.
Cinema or Motion photography (motion pictures) is usually associated with fictional story telling, but sometimes employed for other purposes or to convey other meanings like nonfiction accounts, news, instructional, abstract artistic, or even purely expressionistic. Anyway, motion pictures or cinema is a modern conveyance of meaning. As such it has become a new up and comer as one of the arts.
Cinema would otherwise be just like still photography except for sound and live action. The introduction of sound alone makes cinema twice as involved as photography or sound recordings individually. Adding, theatrical actors makes cinema a nearly all encompassing art form. This high level of complexity makes cinema a difficult form to create and critique, but this rarely stops many from constantly trying either or both.
While cinema is similar to, it is also different from, theater because it can present views, perspectives, that are not achievable in normal theatrical presentations. An extreme intimacy can be achieved with cinema due to proximity and temporal manipulation that has lead to a distinction between the styles of cinema actors and theatrical actors.
Since cinema is generally consumed with fictional story telling in the method thoroughly described by Aristotle in "The Poetics" sound takes a supporting role in the story telling rather than leading as it does in music recording. As such the method for designing the sound and music for cinema has it's own unique characteristics compared to music recording whether live or in the studio.
The creation of cinema, more specifically, the intent for the creation of cinema is like any of the other arts. However, because it is so encompassing and thus so envelops the general audience, cinema is in great demand by the consuming general audience. Because of this, profiteers have found themselves in the "business" of making movies. On the one hand this can be viewed as detrimental, but on the other it is truly a blessing. It is detrimental because profiteers look to the general public for what type of film has or would have the largest demand. The best things that civilization has brought us have not often been determined by the lowest common denominator, as is the case here. So, many of the films produced by those in the business of cinema are very bad at furthering the experience of humanity. On the other hand it is a blessing because cinema can be a hugely expensive endeavor. If there were not business minded individuals involved in making cinema the large amounts of capitol needed to create the large spectacle films could not be done.
Intent, capitol, and critics aside the technical aspect of producing cinema is a field worth study all on it's own. Some of the specific areas of technical detail in cinema are the photography or cinematography, audio recording, and stage building, or set dressing. There is also unique fields of stunt performers, puppeteering, special effects make-up, pyrotechnics, model building, and other special effects
Motion Picture Creation Analysis
Movie making is a huge and rigorous task. Even a small short film can be a significant undertaking worthy of involved careful planning. Organization and thoughtful design are most important to making a motion picture. Creating a plan or "design" of a movie is easier when one has an idea of the structure of movie making in general. One way to analyze the making of a movie is to view it in three parts: Preproduction, Production and Postproduction.
This is the beginning of the process. It involves making decisions about the screenplay, who will be the cinematographer, who will record the sound, who will direct the actors, who is in charge of scheduling, who the actors will be, what locations will be used, what equipment will be used, how talent and crew will be compensated, how the crew and talent will be transported and fed, and so on. For a production designer (usually the producer or director) a check list of things that need to be done is probably helpful, especially for those who have to interact directly with the Production designer. (this section can take the longest amount of time of the three sections)
Capturing the images and sound of the actor's action is the main objective of this section. It is where all the movie action actually happens, with some small exceptions like voice over and dialogue replacement. This process should flow from your production design if you did your work in preproduction. However, no matter how good a production design you have unexpected things will come up so a production manger must be flexible and creative. That also goes for the director and crew.
All of the images and sounds are brought together and edited into a final product. The screen play is consulted to make the edits but on occasion the actual "takes" do not fit together well during editing. Editors, working with the director, can then, sometimes, rearrange the takes they have to create a workable story line. Many times errors or problems in production can be fixed through creative editing or some other cinema magic, but it is always best to try to get the images and sounds needed during production.
It may be surprising to some people to discover that a large portion of the work and effort of making a motion picture actually occurs in the preproduction phase. Organizational plans for each of the sub parts of film making occur during this stage. With out these plans the large number of people required to create a film can not be properly organized. For example, a single scene shot at a location will require coordination with the property owner, coordination with a prop handler who in turn has to acquire props from another source or sources, coordination with wardrobe who has to acquire wardrobe based on the criteria of the art director who has to coordinate with the cinematographer and the director, coordination with an electrician to make sure the location can provide the power requirements for lights and other electric gear, and so on...