Category Archives: Cinematography

Production meetings at the Gottesman Video Collective

Production meetings are central to our video-making process at GVC. Without them, many of us we wouldn’t know half as much about video production as we do! These Monday morning meetings are a time to talk about the videos published the previous week, discuss what worked and what didn’t, share tips on how to do better next time, help each other solve problems, and discuss what work needs to be done in the coming week.

Through this process, we learn from each other. Some people started at the lab with more experience than others, and frequently they share their technical expertise. But each of us has learned a little bit simply by working on production, and that also contributes to the group’s shared knowledge. Nick, our equipment manager, performed a number of tests with the cameras which generated some knowledge about how to use them to their best effect. We also periodically work through tutorials on Lynda.com or even on YouTube (which is where we picked up some tips about greenscreening and puppet construction), and bring that information back to the group. Frequently, we find that our high school and college interns teach us as much as we teach each other! Intern Corinne, for example, taught us a lot about color correction, and Reynaldo worked out some neat rotoscoping tricks using AfterEffects.
Continue reading

Lesson Resources – Near and Far

This episode discusses DEEP FOCUS. Orson Welles was a master of deep focus, and you can learn a little more about how he used it in Citizen Kane from this great viewer’s companion written by film critic Roger Ebert.
Continue reading

Production: Faking a webcam

One of the original ideas for the show was that Weena and Erna would be filming it on their webcam, at least part of the time. In a bunch of early episodes — the pilot, early responses, Yell and Sell, Hot Gossip, and the first version of the Snopes video — there are sections with this “webcam” effect. Sometimes we filmed it with a lower-quality camera, at a different angle; sometimes we didn’t. Sometimes we forgot to! Even when we did film it with a lower-quality camera, it still sometimes was not different enough from the main camera angle to look like a real webcam. When that happened, we added in effects in post-production to try to make it more webcam-like. Did it work? How do these clips look the same as or different from real webcam footage?

We used this effect to make a difference between the parts where the puppets prompt viewers to respond and the rest of the show; also, to film shorter episodes. Over time, as you can see, we changed how we did this. Some versions only have a grainy “webcam” look. Others have writing onscreen to describe what is going on. Some use a different camera angle, and some did not.

Which do you think was more effective — making the viewer prompt parts different, or leaving them the same as the rest of the show? Of the times when we did use the webcam effect, which do you think works best? Describe particular visual elements to make your case.