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Monday, October 31, 2011

Free film teaching book - Making Better Movies with Moviestorm, Vol 2

The second volume in Matt Kelland’s series on improving your filmmaking technique with Moviestorm follows on from camerawork and moves onto the set. The first volume was about how your shot selection affects your story-telling; this second volume is about what it is that you film and how to place actors to get the shots that you want.

“The thing you need to realize about films is that what you see isn’t always what you think you see,” explains Matt. “Everything in a movie is carefully constructed to look good on the screen. It’s not real. Even documentaries and reality TV are staged. You can’t just put your actors on the set and tell them to behave normally. You often have to get them to behave in very strange ways or stand in odd positions in order to get the shots you want. It’s quite unnatural, but it’s something you have to get used to doing. More to the point, you have to do it without the audience being aware how artificial it all is. It has to look completely natural, and that’s harder than you might imagine.”

Like the previous volume, the book consists a series of workbook-style exercises. Each illustrated double page spread covers a specific technique or situation, and suggests several different ways to film it. By comparing the different versions, you quickly develop a sense of what works well, and how to translate your ideas into the language of film. Exercises in this volume include walking through doorways, dramatic conversations, deep staging, and using extras.

It’s about trying out different things to see what happens

The exercises aren’t aimed just at Moviestorm users. They’re useful for filmmakers working in any medium: live action, high end animation, or machinima.  Moviestorm provides a fast, easy way to try out techniques and experiment with style - it’s like sketching out a movie quickly to see what works. You get the idea down, evaluate it, and try again. You can then take those skills wherever you go.

Film teacher Andrew Segal has already begun using this series to help explain some aspects of filmmaking to animators.  “It proved to be useful when I was teaching Maya to a group of professional 2D animators who work on Peppa Pig. There is a marked difference in thinking for 2D animation and 3D shots, especially the use of physical depth. It saved me tearing my remaining hair out when trying to set up and explain the staging and set construction. I usually work backwards in Maya, blocking out the set/camera etc to get rough story shots, so I know how much set to build and how detailed the props and characters need to be. The practicality of learning these techniques in Moviestorm, rather than just the theory, gives you an easier way to fix these concepts in your head. I also like the lack of ‘what buttons do I press’: this gives the reader more control over what they have learned and how it’s implemented, and it makes the volume concise.”

“If someone goes through the book and does the exercises, they’re going to come out a better filmmaker, no question.”
Hugh Hancock, Guerilla Showrunner

“A really good primer for any film student, especially all crammed into 40 pages.”
Andrew Segal, Carshalton College

“An excellent resource for both new and veteran users.”
Shirley Martin, filmmaker

Volumes 1 & 2 are both available now, as a free PDF download directly from Moviestorm.  Please feel free to pass them on, and let us know what you think!

Download Making Better Movies with Moviestorm, Vol 1

Download Making Better Movies with Moviestorm, Vol 2



(1) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Moviestorm in Savannah

We’re very pleased to have been invited to present Moviestorm next week at the prestigious IDMAA conference at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia. IDMAA (The International Digital Media and Arts Association) is an influential organization of senior digital media arts educators and academics. Their focus is on finding new ways to teach arts by using new technologies and methodologies, and they are fascinated by the potential that Moviestorm offers.

We’ll be there throughout Thursday and most of Friday. We’re very much looking forward to meeting the delegates from around the world, as well as enjoying beautiful Savannah’s legendary hospitality!

(2) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Monday, October 03, 2011

Free film teaching book - Making Better Movies with Moviestorm, Vol 1

One of the things we realized over the last few years is that Moviestorm isn’t just a great way to make films quickly and cheaply. It’s an amazing way to learn about how films are made and develop your filmmaking techniques. As film teacher Phil South put it, it’s like a pilot using a simulator to train in - it’s affordable, safe, and convenient. 

Making Better Movies with Moviestorm, Vol 1 is the first book in a series by Moviestorm co-founder Matt Kelland showing how to use Moviestorm to improve your filmmaking. It includes a series of simple exercises which focus on specific techniques. Importantly, they’re not specific to Moviestorm: they’re generic exercises which are equally applicable whether you make your films with Moviestorm, high-end animation, live action or anything else. The advantage of using Moviestorm to film in a virtual world is that it’s fast and you can practice solo without needing to find cast, crew, or kit.

The books are designed as practical self-guided workbooks rather than textbooks. The books aren’t designed simply to be read - they’re a training course that helps you to practice what you already know until it becomes second nature, and experiment with ideas at your own pace.. Each illustrated double page spread explains a technique and then asks you to film a scene in various ways so you can experiment with that technique.  Review and follow-up sections encourage you to be critical of your own work and suggest further ways to film that scene or use that technique. 

It’s about the simple, everyday scenes that you need to master

“Over the last few years, I’ve shot literally hundreds of hours of footage,” explains Matt. “That’s taught me a lot more than I initially realized. It’s given me an intrinsic understanding of what makes a good shot, and more importantly, how those shots will cut together into the finished movie and what they say about the characters and the story. I’ve also had the opportunity to learn about and practice directing, camerawork, editing, set design, and every other part of the movie-making process. I couldn’t have done nearly as much if I’d tried to do everything with real cameras and actors. It’s not just about the expensive shots like car chases, it’s also the simple, everyday scenes that you need to master.”

Phil South, who wrote the introduction, adds, ““How do you get good at telling stories with movies?  It comes down to experience, of course, and experience comes through practice. The same is true of any technical ability which has some art to it. The more you do it, the better you get.”

This first volume is about camerawork, and includes 17 exercises. These cover filming some of the most common situations you will encounter, including walks, conversations, and phone calls. More advanced techniques include reveals, POV shots and how to fake crowds with only a few extras. Future volumes are expected to be released monthly and will cover staging, editing, lighting and sound.

“Spot on. The exercises are set up in a very logical, progressive way.”
James Martin, University of North Texas

“Excellent - great for schools and colleges alike. The tone of the writing is perfect - neither patronising or too authoritative.”
Jezz Wright, Blockhouse TV

“I really liked how you tell the reader to try a shot with and without each technique to be able to actually see the difference they make.”
Dan Horne, film student, Full Sail University

Volume 1 is available now, as a free download directly from Moviestorm.  Please feel free to pass it on, and let us know what you think!

Download Making Better Movies with Moviestorm, Vol 1


(8) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

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