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Read the review at SternFX
A new DVD from Hollywood Camera Work (The makers of Visual Effects For Directors) has just been released. This is an extension to the Master Course that’s all about making single shots and master shots look absolutely awesome. This course is aimed for Directors, Cinematographers, Script Supervisors, 3D Animators, Visual Effects Artists, Game Designers, Videographers, Actors, Editors and Writers. In my opinion, it is a must for any junior or even senior DOP in the field of movie making. There’s so much to learn in terms of story telling, and this course serves it very well.
Almost all shooting techniques are explained in great detail pointing you to the pros as well as the gotchas so you won’t be surprised in the field. Concepts are broken down to the simplest terms and explore most of the available options. This is great especially for low budget film makers who want to get the most from their gear at the lowest cost possible. I love the fact that this DVD not only tells you how to shoot but also explains what works and why. The camera moves explored in this title are accompanied with a clear graphical path, showing you both the actor(s) and the camera crane, so you’ll know exactly where and how to locate the camera in the scene.
There are good examples of parallax behaviors and a few methods which show you how to combine crazy moves in order to create interesting but logic camera angles. Following these suggestions will help you decide when to avoid real actors and just do it virtually in a 3D program.
I really like the fact that all the camera moves shown here repeat themselves several times so you can examine, learn and understand the concept that you’re learning.
Of course you can always rewind the DVD when needed, but when important things are repeated it gives you the opportunity to really follow the script and the narration without pushing any extra buttons.
The narration is slow and easy to follow. It walks you through the procedure a step at a time, mentioning everything you’ll need to consider when approaching these complex shots.
You’ll find solutions for camera bumps and artificial keyframes, and suggestions regarding when to ease in and how to control the camera speed, so the move will look realistic and interesting. These are all great advices for a real camera as well as a virtual 3D camera in your compositing or 3D program.
The only thing which bugs here is the quality of the render. In most cases it looks like it was done in a hurry using low count polygons, even if this is not the case, the result is an ugly edges look which sometimes gave a rough feeling to the scene. It doesn’t impact the concept being shown, but I found it disturbing as sometimes the image tends to flicker (at least on my 42 inch LED screen). Of course you can argue that this is not important and not needed in order to learn the principals, its just that all the films coming out of Hollywood have accustomed us to such high quality these days, my eyes just probably expected to get some more.
In conclusion: This training DVD offers a good lesson about story telling with the camera as well as technical instructions which can save you hours of research and a few bucks as well. You won’t have to invent the wheel each time you go out for a shoot, just watch the related chapter a few times and you should be ready to roll. And while you might not get the Legend of the Guardians render quality here, you’ll certainly learn how to create those amazing camera moves you’ve been seeing in the recent Hollywood blockbusters.
Eran Stern, SternFX