What is it that makes student movies look unprofessional?


#1

What is it that makes student movies look unprofessional?

When i see student movies it is the same effect as i was recording at home with digital usual camera.

Is it the film grain,is it the color corection they need to add? Do they need to slow the movie a bit,maybe couple of frames? Definetly high exposed windows are ugly too.

Also i notice student movies miss some OUT OF REALITY effects.For example if you see DMX video spot for Slippin there are some people waving with hands around him that looks kinda creepy,some parts are slow motion and stuff like that.These elements make you dream and get you in the movie.But in students movies everything is so ordinary and you lose interest in seeing such movies.Of course there are exceptions too…

So i need some advices from you guys for books or dvds or whatever that can make my movie look more professional and not just as i just made a video with friends on holiday or at home or whatever.

Thanks


#2

Imo its lots of stuff. The color correction and the overall post production is often much simpler than in a commercial production.
The cut is also an issue to take special care of. Sometimes, a few frames decide if the shot is believable or just odd.
And, of course, things like missing line of interest and general camera techniques to establish some sort of continuity is often not considered by students.
In addition, students tend to use other students as actors or filming at places that are simply not suitable for the scene and its intended meaning/feel. There is so much to take care of in a movie. It is easy to do it wrong.


#3

What is it that makes student movies look unprofessional?
Perhaps you see the wrong student movies.

Definetly high exposed windows are ugly too.
A typical giveaway that it was shoot on DV.

There is so much to take care of in a movie. It is easy to do it wrong.
Agreed.

Another point is simply the missing budget. No money for film stock, light equipment, tech staff-> Let’s do it on miniDV. No money for large sets, so you shot on the street, on unblocked sets, with no additional lighting, people starring in the camera, actors who can’t act, bad weather, no time to reshoot.
I’m editing student flics now and then so I know what I’m talking about, but the point is not good or bad VFX. If your story is lame, not convincing, if the pacing is bad, the acting crappy no VFX on earth will save the film(which cost money usually too whch you don’t have as a student).

And, of course, things like missing line of interest and general camera techniques to establish some sort of continuity is often not considered by students.
I tend to disagree. Yes there are rules like this line fo interest, 180° rule and such, but it’s formalism, more a guide than a dogma.

Walter Murch wrote down his ‘Rule of six’ in ‘In The Blink Of An Eye’

  1. Emotion
  2. Story
  3. Rhythm
  4. Ey-treace
  5. Two dimensional place of screen
  6. Three-dimensional space of action

Emotion, at the top of the list, is the thing that you shoul preserve at ALL cost
If you find you have to sacrifice certain of those six things, sacrifice you way up, item by item, from the bottom.

My advice: Look as many films as you can, do as many films as you can, and learn from your and other peoples errors.


#4

hey! i find myself doing a 1 min short and i’m asking the same questions. The thing is that i feel like when i arrived from my country to france…i just don’t know the lenguage and is not easy to make something comprehensive…so for me it’s just something that you’ll (and everyone trying to lear) understand with lot of work and experience and tryin to be racional and analitic (don’t know if that word exist in english) and critic with your job.
good luck!

cheers!! :buttrock:


#5
  1. rushed shooting, run-n-gun are far from ideal for a cinematic experience, planning the shoot, story boarding… must must must
  2. depth of field - yes, you can tell stories without it, but for the cinematic look you NEED to have it to direct attention. It will also force you to work with correct compositions.
  3. color correction/grading take a lot of time and effort, there are NO quick fixes for this.
  4. Talent - user real actors when you can
  5. Lighting - use it or loose it, especially if you start working with REAL lenses (aka 35mm adapters) you need that extra light
  6. Hand held shots are great for stylistic shooting, but “pro” tools for camera motions are irreplaceable for getting the right look. Zoom doest not replace dollies. Panning has some very strict rules, especially if using 24p (check some cinematography publications). Stability is my #1 rule, there are plenty of great tools in post that can add camera shake and blur to your footage, there are almost no tools out that that can fix badly shot footage.

Boh I will stop here, but for me these are the greatest points that make the difference, I ve seen some HV20 shots with a 35mm adapter that, to me, looks cinematic enough to suspend my belief that it was digital work.


#6

Ditto all the above - need a good script, good actors, mind your pacing, etc.

As far as it “looking” amateur - good images are MADE. You don’t just “put the camera here, put the actors there, and GO!”

I have a hard time overcoming the look of video used for dramatic storytelling (when no DOF adapter is used - having the whole world in focus), but it can be done if CARE is put into setting up the shot. Using adapters helps, or shooting film with good lenses - but the same applies that care is neded to set up the shot, or it’s just going to be “blah”.

Good lighting is not only recreating and accentuating something in the real world - it also guides you to the subject, separates them from their surroundings, and helps dictate how the audience should be responding emotionally - action/adrenaline, fear, sadness, suspense, happiness, etc.

Get your hands on as many issues of American Cinematographer as you can find and read them all. DPs go over how they used color, why they chose to do this or that - it’s not necessarily as nuts&bolts magazine - it’s about the craft of creating images to enhance the story and vision of the director.

Don’t rush things, and don’t be afraid to get closer with the camera. Ths doesn’t mean do an entire movie of extreme closeups - just don’t be afraid to do a head and shoulders, or a medium 2 shot.

Hope this helps-
-Lew :wink:


#7

Depth of field and lighting. Depth of field and lighting. Depth of field and lighting. Depth of field and lighting.

You need a full frame sensor (like the RED camera or 35mm film) to pull it off. Also you need about 12 stops of exposure latitude not found in cheap video cameras.


#8

I agree with most of the above.

Basically, it’s production value issue.

I’ve seen student films with gorgeous pictures, where they got almost everything right, but it still looks like a crappy student film, because the acting is such movies (almost) always sucks. You thought the acting in Attack of the Clones sucked? Nuh-uh, not if you watch student films.

As for the technical camera aspects, dynamic range is IMO more important than depth of field. The DV format has so little color and brightness information it makes you want to kill yourself. And there is NO “MOVIE LOOK” filter than can “fix it”, contrary to countless threads in here. :wink:

  • Jonas

#9

Watch Hollywood camera works and you’ll know why unprofessional looks unprofessional and professional looks professional.

ingeneral lack of camera lens contrast. To much 50mm all then time.


#10

The thread is a little out of date, and it was asking why “it look unprofessional”. But still I have to add one thing that seems to be missing.

SOUND!!

Ever watched a poor telesync from the cinema? (of course I havent;) ). Poor quality on the sound can totally ruin the movie. There is nothing as bad as a movie experience where you get the feeling the camera was hidden inside a box, or under water.

Another thing that is usually totally left out is costumes and make up. Just watch a movie Resident Evil: extinction where imo the costume work is top notch, it does alot of difference!

Most common mistake however I consider to be poor camera-work. Misplaced random angles. Too close, too far off. That along with poor editing. Try creating your own cartoon, and you will learn that it can be really difficult to decide what to put in each square. How many squares and how to place the dialogues to make the story continuous.


#11

I hope Im answering the right posting (what makes a student film).
Im a documentary film maker and film teacher.
My take on your question is:

  • maturity (or lack thereof). I am not trying to look down on anyone but making a film is a complext process, needs maturity on all levels. Few exceptions. And age doesnt always bring maturity, watch the tons of bad movies produced everywhere.
  • budget: which will influence: pre-production, sound, lights, filming and post-production.
    I dont mind watching a video that was shot on a HD cam and has no color continuity, as long as there was a strong mind behind it. I did see several very good films (for the student level). They looked bad, as the budget was too tight to mention. I tend to remember those v.s. big budgets that suck at everything else but the hairgel.
    Fassbinder (not my favorite) made very cheap films, good fims. But he was mature from the start, so to speak.
    There’s one line almost at the end of Hearts of Darkness, see what Coppola has to say.

#12

Wow thanks for the recomendation,greatest documentary ever.

Do you have any other movies to recomend good from directing point of view? Or maybe books?

Thanks a lot again


#13

Musashi
(brave nickname!)
I just got out of hospital after an operation, cant focus too well on anything else but my health. Still, I wanted to answer you, though it wont be very helpful right now.

Know the imdb.com? There are good reviews and lists there. I wont give you my personal favorites right now.
In my opinion one should know oneself and stay true to that as much as possible. A sincere story told in a wise way may look student like but someone with money will pick you up. Maturity doesnt always mean old age.
Lovely looks and special effects on top of a meager message wont take you far. I know that what is produced these days contradicts everything I say but to do what others do already, you need not ask questions in this forum, just get a job in the field.
Dont forget perseverance is needed, cose novelty makes its way into the main stream with great effort.
Start with little things. Look at Ridley Scott: he’s done tons of ads for TV before going into film and most of those ads were “different”. He than took what he learned there (eye for detail and strength of message) into the movies which, at that time was less usual.

It’s a great job, if you do it because you can’t sleep without doing it, you will succeede. But rest, that you will not find in the filming industry.
Good luck and post your productions online!
R2Deedoo


#14

what makes student shorts look unprofessional is the way they edit it, beginners should really check the flow of the edit if its goin the right way and if it tells the story the right way it should.


#15

That’s exactly what I was going to say. Audio is half the piece, and essentially never gets the care and finessing that it needs in student pieces.

We might be primarily visual artists, but your audio makes all the difference in the world.


#16

Well, i think student movies likes just like that, student movie… that is, a person who is begining his career, and, in my opinion, that is not wrong at all…time to time, just the time tell us if this potential butterfly became a flie…the realy wrong think is a lot of bad movies make for pros, which recive a good pay for his bad job…excuse my inglish, but i realy feel the necessity to give my opinion…


#17

exacly. Beeing a filmschool student (about to graduate) i see a LOT of student film, and because i’m in the “technical” department (editing) we have to help a lot of directors in making their movies, and i must say that it’s great to see students grow. Most, if not all firstyear movies suck but some (beeing a minority) can realy meet up to professional shortfilms. It all comes down to your team. Picking the right DOP, soundguys, editors. Have enough screenings and get advice from professionals. And realise your limits! if you don’t have a big budget, don’t try to shoot 101 different locations, don’t ask your DOP’s to do setups that ends you only getting to shoot 0.5 a scene a day, don’t build your story around 25 mainactors,… .

Does these things make it show it’s a studentfilm, sure, but like aliamapu said, that’s exacly what it is and there’s nothing wrong with that. But making smart choises (in preproduction as well as in production and post) with the limited tools you have at hand is for me is a lot more important as a studentfilm then those people that always try to think they have the skills that are the same as a 10 year “professional” and end up with a halffinished movie. (and unfortniatly there are a lot of directors that try to think they are)


#18

I don’t think all student films look unprofessional. for example, currently I’m working with Nokia in support of the Young Lions Film Competition; the teams had to shoot 60-second videos using a phone. Some of the videos are actually pretty good. For example, USA’s video looks like it could be used in a commercial. So I don’t think it’s necessarily the color tone, etc that they use. I think it has more to do with the angle at which they shoot from, as well as other factors such as background and setting.


#19

I don’t think all student films look unprofessional. for example, currently I’m working with Nokia in support of the Young Lions Film Competition; the teams had to shoot 60-second videos using a phone. Some of the videos are actually pretty good. For example, USA’s video looks like it could be used in a commercial. So I don’t think it’s necessarily the color tone, etc that they use. I think it has more to do with the angle at which they shoot from, as well as other factors such as background and setting.


#20

Lighting, sound, and camera movement. Just because it’s sunny outdoors doesn’t mean it’s going to look bright and happy in the shot. A good example of great outdoor lighting is LotR…here.

Best screenshot I could find. Anyways, notice how ridiculously bright is is on the other side of the hill…it’s just bursting with light. Also, the edges of Gandalf and his various gear (the horse, carriage) are lit with a light “glow,” which makes him look less flat.

Not to mention they do amazing colour correction, without doing the typical student film thing and going 600% Saturation to make the colours brighter.

Most important is sound, imo. In student films, if people talk outdoors, you hear haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa in the background, constantly. In 'ollywood, there is no background noise at all, and the sound comes out crisp. Not to mention, everything makes a noise. Opening a door might be quiet on camera, but after sound mixing you get the clicking noise of the handle turning, and the like.