Here I go though the process I use to make the movies you see on my website and YouTube postings. I used my Virtual Tour Part-3 where I visit the Bates Mansion in the theme of Alfred Hitchcock’s movie Psycho.
My Movie Basics
- Video verse Movie. There is a difference. Video has a flat, sharp and smooth look. Movies have depth of field and different frame look.
- Movies I shoot using a DSLR camera for depth of field, meaning I can better control what is in focus and what is not.
- Movies I shoot at 24 fps (frames per second) because that film is shot in. 30 fps gives a smoother look, but also a more “video” look.
- I always shoot at 1080p. Yes the files are huge, but I have a lot more resolution to work with while editing.
- I use a 18 mm lens with a macro filter to get the layout footage a “large” prospective look.
Tripod Setup for Dynamic Panning Footage
- For dynamic pan footage, I use a 4 foot “Jib Crane” with a motorized Pan Head. This gives a very cinema look, though takes a lot of time to practice to move. Also you have to be very careful not to allow the camera to hit delicate layout structures.
- There is a lot of weight in this setup and you need a very heavy-duty tripod to mount all this stuff to. Mine has 3 inch wheel on a dolly.
- Since it is very hard to look through the view-finder, I use a 7″ LED monitor mounted at the tripod tilt point of the crane.
- Video uses much more battery power, so I use a AC adapter that emulates a battery.
- I use a remote control to operate the camera.
- I use a remote control joy-stick to operate the motorized pan head.
Tripod for Static Shots of “Me”
- I use this same Jib-Crane setup when I’m taking footage of me in front of the green screen for that “Looking Down” look.
Tripods for Static Images
- Very stable tripod. Use highest f-stop you can and use the cameras timer or remote control.
- Custom made tripod for shots “in” the layout.
I use a Rode “Shotgun” microphone for the layout sound and when recording me because the sensitivity is very focused to the sounds that it is pointed at out.
- My camera saves in .MOV format, but when editing I save in .MP4.
- Limit how many times you layer your saved videos because almost every file format compresses the file resulting lost of detail with each save.
- Don’t try to make a movie in one large single footage. Break the movie into sequences and bring the movie together using the many sequences. Below I give examples of some of the sequences which you could see how difficult it would have been to edit as a single movie.
How Some of the Sequences were Made
Making Bates House with Moving Cloud Background Sequence
This footage took four steps:
(1) Still image with green-screen background.
(2) Video of slow-motion clouds.
(3) House image layer was edited to darken except for the house face then the clouds were Chroma-Keyed in.
(4) Video was converted to black & white, slight blur and film grain effect.
Riding the Train from Inside Budd RDC3 Sequence
This footage took the most steps of layering images and video:
(1) A still photo of inside front of a Budd RDC3 with windows masked with green screen.
(2) Track footage using my “Cab-View” camera setup.
(3) Key the track footage into the still inside image.
(4) Take footage of me in front of a green screen
(5) Key me into the inside sequence, convert to black & white, blur and a little film grain.
3D Virtual Camera Footage
This is the most complex and time consuming footage to produce. In this movie I had 3 sequences using this method lasting only less then a couple of seconds, yet took about 8 hours each to produce.
(1) Took panning footage of Bates House using Jib-Crane. Important note, there has to be good motion and depth changes for the 3D software to convert into a 3D space.
(2) Took footage of me in front of green screen. Again, I used the Jib-Crane to get that “looking down at me look”.
(3) Using 3D software, the “surface” is determined. This surface will “lock” even while the video is running because the software “see’s it in 3D. The red target is where I will be placed and the white area will be used to cast as shadow.
(4) Now the 2D keyed footage of me is placed in the 3D space of the Bates House. The yellow “target” above to the right of me is a 3D spot light to create the shadow. Since I’m only 2D, I needed to place the light behind me to get a shadow. If it was placed on the right there would only be a line shadow as I’m like a piece of paper.
(5) Again, I convert to black and white, at some blur and film grain to complete this sequence. Pretty cool!