The brazier postmortem
Looking at my website, I realised that pretty much the only thing of value there anymore is the brazier postmortem, so here it is, in all it's glory:
Intro: This was good, unarguably the best part. The stark red text matches well with the music, and it's synchronised too. It may not be truly representative of the intended subject matter, but I think that works for it rather than against, and the "it really stinks" is a fair warning.
Audio: I think the lack of background music hurts. Even something ambient would've worked. The other thing is it blocks out background noise, so changes in the audio samples are less noticeable. The lack of coherence is noticeable. The audio doesn't flow well at all. The reason is basically because it didn't flow. We recorded it one bit at a time, so it's amazing it came together as well as it did. If you only listen to it(without watching), then you can only notice a couple of inconsistencies(acting inconsistencies aside, as well as the missing scenes). This is absolutely amazing. The interjection of Harpreet by Michael didn't work too well, but it wasn't horrible.
Colour/Exposure/Aperture: We left all the settings on auto. We probably should have shot each camera angle by ensuring the same exposure and white balance, and adjusted it as the day went on. The aperture should have been as big as possible, to ensure clear pictures of people's heads. Overall this wasn't horrible but still noticeable. Some camera angles are exposed more than others, so the shifting of camera angles looks inconsistent. Namely the semi-outdoor shots(the ones near Michael, Harpreet, and me) looked different to the ones of nathan and tim. Worse, since tim was in the shot with Michael in it, then AGAIN in nathan's shot, he changes colour abruptly. Not good.
Lighting: The worst. We're all lit directly from above, with very little diffuse lighting. There's backlighting coming in the window, but none on the other side. This means everyone is lit unevenly, and there are shadows pointing down. On top of that, there's a fluorescent light there as well, which is providing pretty good diffuse lighting. This means the shadows are a light blue colour. This looks really dodgy. On top of that the 2 colours are used to white balance the cameras differently in different angles. Diffuse lighting provided by the sun in the morning is the best kind. If we can afford to(and have time), getting a white umbrella and sticking a 100W globe thingy at the front of it works well.
Composition: I think it was pretty much a given that we went overboard with the camera angles. We pretty much knew this before we shot. There's a bit where PC1 is speaking, the camera angle changes, and PC1 is still speaking. Clearly this looks stupid. One thing we did right was the static camera angles. Lesson learnt: Only move the camera if the subject is moving. We were all sitting there, so the camera should sit there. Simple as that. Note the subject doesn't have to be a human subject, or even a physical subject. The "action" or "drama" could be moving. Rotating/Panning would've been good, for example, if we're introducing the characters. They have to be doing something though, and "passing the action" along to the next person. For example speaking, and the person next to them answers. You can pan in a way that this works. Anyway, that's difficult, and it's good that we didn't move the cameras.
The camera angles that worked were where all the subjects were involved. When PC2 and PC3 are talking to PC1 (off camera), that looks "right". Also, when PC1 is talking to the DM, that also looks appropriate. There are even camera angles where one person is talking, and the expression of the other person is important, so that looks appropriate. However, if you change the camera angle so that you go from A->B, and the person in A is also in B, then it looks "wrong". Two adjacent camera angles must have an entirely different set of subjects. Also, in general, the total number of subjects must be greater than or equal to the number of camera angles. The exception to this is in action shots, but action shots are difficult, and you have to be careful. You can't switch characters in action shots(for example one camera angle on one side, then another angle on the other side. It confuses people. That's all I know about action shots for now.
Editing: I was reading a bit about jump cuts and jarring edits. Everyone kinda knows about not crossing the stage line, having establishing shots, and keeping the eye focus on the subject(ie: whenever cutting, make sure the subject is on the same part of the screen, even if it's a different subject). Other things like matching eyelines are also important. This can be seen at work(or rather, non-work) in the brazier. The most comfortable edits are the ones where these rules are followed. We also never took a single cutaway or establishing shot. Gotta remember to do that. The handover in the beginning("inscribed in the pedestal you find the following words") is totally comfortable. This is part timing, and part following the rules. The next cut(to PC2 and PC3) is totally jarring, because we've never seen them before, and they seem to pop out of nowhere. This is also crossing the stage line, as well and moving eye focus to the other side of the screen. The next cut doesn't have matching eyelines(or lighting), etc. etc.
The amazing thing is how well waldorf's works in contrast. This is partly just luck, but things like "handovers"(tim walking in after picking up the "raw materials") work really well. Establishing shots are also generally non-jarring, since they get a person used to an entire scene. A lot of the cuts tend to be to establishing shots, and the jarring cuts are really there for comic effect(me being replaced by nathan in the car). The "satan" cutaway totally works, despite the fact that it's supposed to be jarring, it actually does help the flow of the main storyline.
Let's make this absolutely clear... don't eat the props. Shooting entire scenes is better than shooting bits at a time. We need to develop a flow. It makes the acting better. We should also try having 2 people dedicated to the task of direction and camerawork. This is important during the filming process.
Ending: Using courier as the scrolly font is a bad idea. Something like times is more appropriate. Also, the size is way too large, and the scrolling speed a tad too high. The music is synchronised brilliantly again. The "copyright" bit is genius. The music is great, but it's evangelion, so of course it's great.