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!