Critique of a user submitted clip

A few times a week, I receive request from videographers to write an article about their most recent work. Most of the time, I point them toward resources like Planet5D Cinema which are designed for these kinds of things.

It is not because I don’t like these clips; it is just that I try to keep the site content as closely focused as possible around the HDSLR related technicalities and not the end result.

So, when I read Ken Karpel email this morning I was about to reply back my standard ‘go to Planet5D Cinema’ answer when I realize that 1) I liked the clip and 2) I could use it to give a few pointers to other shooters.

So, before going any further, let’s watch to clip.

Yes, it’s 7:33 minutes. Asking someone who is not your mother to watch your 7 + minutes movie and expecting them to watch it until the end is a challenge. Yet, I am sure most people did. Why? Ken did a lot of good things, lets take a look.

The good

  • Right at the start, we see two cops and a suggested dead guy. What happened? Mystery is the best way to keep your audience eyes glued to the screen, that and strip tease. But mixing them together is not a guaranteed success.
  • He divides the film into small stories and presents each main character at the start. By doing so, he sets our expectations.
  • He uses references from other classics (how many can you identify?). Once viewers see these, they want to stay to see more of them.
  • The rhythm is very dynamic and so are the edits.
  • Nice music, fits the clip very well.
  • Lots of fluid camera movement (pans and tracking) and pull-in/out.
  • Good looking girls. If they are good for million dollar movies, they are good for budget clips too!

The bad things things that could have been better:

  • The vignette for the intro looked cheap. Then again, I hate vignettes. I am not a big blaxploitation fan so maybe it was the standard way to start a film back in the days…
  • While the sound during the film is ok-ish, at the ending we barely hear what the hero is saying which make the whole thing end on the wrong note IMHO.
  • The clip was shot with a 5DMrkII and a 7D but, unless someone told me, I would not have guessed it. I would have liked to see much less depth of field in some scenes. Since most of the sequences where shot outside, I guess they did not have access to ND filters (hint hint, look  at our sponsor to the right) and had to push the aperture up to keep the shutter under control.
  • Muzzle fire: I know the clip is not taking itself too seriously but the firefight could have been made more realistic with the use of some glow effects and shorter flashes.
  • Light management of indoor sequence could have been better. The bright scenes are too bright and the dark scenes to dark. Solution? Reflectors! You don’t even need fancy ones to get good results; just a big white board can do the trick. Once the subject is correctly lit, you can adjust the ambient exposure.

While the film has some technical issues, its style, dynamic edits and overall feeling makes it a winner. What do you think?

About Tommy

Photography allows me to be what I want to be, to be where I want to be, and to do what I want to do ... I'm not professional photographer and I don't need a title, I love to take photographs and that is what I do, I love to learn and I always try to do it better ...

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