Monday, July 5, 2010

What we learned a lot the first time

we filmed the someone for the talking bust. Actually, we learn on a daily basis.....I am trying to think if there is a prop out there in the yard that has not been modified...no, nothing comes to mind......

So, we are smart enough the first time to get a balaklava - that thing that goes over your head so just your face shows (warning ordering one online will likely get you on an FBI watch list.....so if you are hiding from the feds, have a friend place this order :D ) for the actor to wear, so they blend into the background for easier editing.

Well first thing - the person cannot move their head. You know in Scrooged (Xmas movie...yes, there are other holidays) when the guy jokes about stapling antlers to the heads of the mice...you might want to "staple" your actors head to something in the same fashion :D Just kidding...I am a big kidder!



Actually, our brilliant idea for this was to run a 1 x 2 up the back of the chair and tell the actor to hold their head so that they can always feel the wood flat on the back of their head. Tell them "if your head is not touching the wood, you have moved too much. "

Another really good suggestions is to flip the small LCD screen on your video camera to face the actor so they can see themselves being filmed. This helps them see when they are moving too much or out of frame. It is even better when you can hook up a monitor to the video out on the camera for a larger image so the actor can better see if they are moving and the facial expressions they are making.

Facial expressions are important. That is why we would recommend finding someone who is expressive when they speak or having them practice the story in front of a mirror and "act out" the story on their face. Too much expression can be a problem, just have them do enough so that they do not look like a ventriloquist dummy....unless that is what you are looking for.

If you are really lucky find a friend or a local animation company* that has an actor that does voice talent. Someone that does that for a living has a great foundation of how to make the perfect expressions that are not too over the top. AND - you get the added bonus of them having a professional speaking voice.

A good speaking voice is more important than you think. Having someone that can tell the story clearly, at the same pace all the way through and can enunciate perfectly makes a huge difference.

You would be surprised how much in common speech we drop letters or syllables from words when we speak, how much we change tone and pace....fine when you are talking to your friends, most of us don't notice....but trust me, people will on the video.

You and your friends can record all afternoon until you get it right. I recommend an adult beverage or two to keep everyone's stress level manageable :D

When you have this down it is time to record both the video and audio. We do this somewhere quiet because dubbing the voice in after the fact is an extra step that we like to avoid if we can.

Put up some kind of dark backdrop, fabric, dark colored wall, sheet or bedspread (no pattern) place a chair in the center (with stick to keep their head straight), have your actor put on the black hood and sit in the chair.

Have them recite the story several times (make sure that you press the "record" button, I mean we have never made that mistake, who us? . . . . but you might :D )


Even if you think it was perfect, record it a few more times just to be sure.

Have a shot of Jaeger or Vodka and move on to the next step video editing.

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