Flash Frame Visuals Academy of Film & Television

Flash Frame Visuals Academy of Film & Television
Flash Frame Visuals Academy, Bangalore, India

Sunday, 28 October 2012

CONFESSIONS OF A FILMMAKER - PART 1


Flash Frame Visuals Academy of Film & Television
Bangalore, India 


CONFESSIONS OF A FILMMAKER- PART 1

It’s not everyday that you sit and write honest confessions about cinema and the things behind…and that too just few hours before when your shoot is about to begin. But I, who often have shared my experiences and learning at every stage with my students and readers, got tempted this time as well and just took some time out to sit in one corner and just pour my thoughts out to my readers.
Each time I step in the shooting spot, only one line echoes in my head repeatedly and that is ‘There is something about this madness’! Yes, people and some more people, each busy in their own task, running around, some noise, some hurry, wow..it makes my feel alive and their enthusiasm makes me get up and take care of my bit of work.

After writing good number of scripts and having enough brainstorming sessions, we were all set to make a proper feature film. And as I have always mentioned, it all started from a one-liner, followed by synopsis, flow charts, mapping, screenplay and endless re-writing sessions. Well, for this part I would like to give major credit to the writer and director of the film, Mr.T.G.Keerthi Kumar, also the Founder & Director of Flash Frame Visuals Academy of Film & Television. We jotting down ideas while traveling in car and he sitting all night long developing the thoughts into scenes and dialogues...it still is as fresh as it just happened yesterday. And it was ready.

Now it didn’t come as easy as it might sound here. Only one word to conclude the above mentioned experience was PATIENCE. One line that I used to hear from him on and off and that was’ from audience point of view’. Yes, while making a film, audience is your god, and everything you do, will do or think to do, should sink in with what audience demands today. And till today whether its direction, or any other department of filmmaking, first thing we always priorititize is audience expectations from us as a filmmaker.

‘One page is equal to one minute’, ‘follow proper alignment’,  ‘format should be clear enough to make the entire team understand your script in a single glance’…yes what all we keenly emphasize in FFVA was finally being implemented here in our script and ‘preach what you teach’ never made more sense before. Each and every lecture, assignment, story ideas that I discussed in the class and rejected it for the improvising it further was very much being applied to our own film as well. And to witness all this was our students who have been absorbed as Assistant Directors in our own film. Yes, it’s almost like seeing your kids grow in front of your eyes. It’s a pure delight to see them becoming professional with each passing day. I think that is FFVA’s growth.

Coming back to our feature film, without wasting much of time, while we were busy forming team, with our Executive Producer Mr.Antony Naveen Kumar,  we zeroed down to this young music director, Dayanand Piraisudan, and started with our music some four months before the production. I think that was the best decision ever, because music is something that gets sweeter with time.
More time it’s given, better is the output, and I must say that music is the major strength for any movie. Composing the tune, live recording of the instruments, singers, mixing, you have be there and experience it yourself to feel the divinity of music making. I think amongst all other departments of filmmaking, music became one of my personal favorites.

Singer Tippu singing for our Feature Film
Then came the cast and yes it look a little long time than we had expected. But I think it was worth the entire wait, because more than just looks and the talent, the most important thing in actors should be the flexibility in the attitude and sincerity, which fortunately we could find in most of our actors. And here begun our documentation work.  Scheduling, dates planning, availability, locations…this all would not have been possible alone.

Then we moved on to add the other integral members to our team, which included Assistant Directors, Associate Directors, Cinematographer, Art Director, Costume Designer, Production Manager amongst others. Yes, and now we are one proud team. Can’t imagine a day without either of them. Often I have read when Directors say that while making their film, their team was like one big family, but I think I could not have agreed with them more.


Director & Cinematographer checking the frame 
Part of our crew, getting ready for the shoot 
One thing I would like to mention here is that team is not just with whom you work. Team is made up of people with whom you will spend best and the worst moments while making your film, on whom you will let down all your frustration on a bad day, and share a good laugh on a good day. Team is someone who irrespective of the days, would laugh at the end of the shoot and next day early would wait on the spot with a good yet sleepy smile on their faces. Yes, each day I have learnt a lot from my team people. And if the team is made of all young people, I must say its an asset.

Coming to the more practical aspects of why team spirit is more important, firstly I would like to mention is that no good movie can come out without a good team. Director alone is incomplete even if single department fails to perform as per his expectations. All the people have to walk hand in hand, leaving aside their egos and their self-interest and all they have to think is the final outcome of the movie. Each hour or rather each minute on the spot counts. If it’s meant to be a single shift, the entire team has to work in a way to make it possible.

Our Cinematographer and our students assisting him

The good and the bad part of cinema is that nothing comes free. Each day of the shoot carries some big investment in it, with around 70 members in the crew per day, which cannot and should not go waste. And in order to make it happen the the Director, Cinematographer, Art Director, Costume Designer, Executive producer, assistants and production managers need to sit, plan, discuss the possibilities, each day, about the hindrances and look in the same direction and work towards it.

Director, Art Director and AD looking at the Monitor, in the spot
And most important, all work, no play makes team a bad team. Yes, if everything else is in place but some fun and humour is missing, then something somewhere is not right. And I think that is the major success of our team I must say. Extreme of the weather conditions, or last minute change, no matter what some little laughter is must on the sets to keep the team alive and going.

With almost first schedule getting over, I have learnt a lot and am sure will be learning throughout. 'Lights, Camera, Action' is definitely making more sense than ever. Shall keep you readers posted about other things and observations that I will come across in my journey. So while FFVA team makes it to the film industry and the movie hitting the theatres in early 2013, am sure there will be lot of stuff to share with all you readers.

 And while the shoot is on, sitting in one corner and pouring your thoughts, and that to for such long time, not a very good idea. So I keep my pen down and join my team…meanwhile happy reading to you!


Article written by 
Aditi KK
Head - Academics 
Flash Frame Visuals Academy of Film & Television
Bangalore, India
Email : info@ffvacademy.com
Website : www.ffvacademy.com 


Saturday, 19 May 2012

Writing for Television

Flash Frame Visuals Academy of Film & Television

Bangalore, India
http://www.ffvacademy.com


Find us in FB : https://www.facebook.com/flashframe.visuals
Twitter : @flshfrms


Writing for Television

Television is no longer the ugly stepsister of the entertainment industry. Of writers making money in show biz, the Writers Guild of America reports that 30% more earn their income from television than from features. With expanding markets in network, cable, and syndication, the trend is likely to continue. But while television may look like film shoe-horned into a small, black box, in reality it's a unique medium with rules of its own.
FFVA students working on a script
Unlike features, television spec scripts are not written to be sold, they're written to sell you. Every spring, network TV Shows find out whether they've been renewed, and new pilots are ordered. The Powers That Be on each series then have a feeding frenzy, reading spec scripts from writers as they decide whom to hire for staff and freelance jobs. The process is the same for cable and syndicated shows, at slightly different times of the year. If you want to break in, the first thing you have to master is the art of the TV spec.
Rule #1 - Design your calling card
Choosing a series to spec is critical. You should pick a show you love to watch, one that's critically acclaimed and popular as well. Liking the show makes it easier to write, critical accolades encourage others to read it, and the longer it stays on the air, the longer you can use it as a sample of your writing. Television doesn't have the same shelf life as film; your spec becomes stale within a year after the show goes off the air.
The biggest decision you'll make is genre. First, of course, is whether to write for a sitcom or a drama. But even within sitcoms, there are the "brainy" shows, like Frasier, and the zany ones, like 3rd Rock from the Sun. A good spec for one won't get you in the door at the other. As for dramas, it's a smorgasbord: sword and sorcery, medical dramas, soft series like Providence, rough-edged stories like NYPD Blue. The narrower your focus, the better; most producers want to read a spec that's in the same ballpark as their show. So if you want to be hired on, say, Charmed, don't write a Law & Order script. But don't write a Charmed script, either: legally, producers can't read a spec for their own series.



 Rule #2 - Learn the structure
Besides being shorter than feature films, television shows structured around commercial breaks. For hour-long dramas or action-adventures, the stories are built in four acts, often with a teaser and tag. Each act needs to go out on a strong hook, especially at the half-hour mark, when viewers are most likely to change the channel. Most hour-long shows weave together three plotlines: the A story, which drives the bulk of the episode; a B story, featuring supporting characters; and a C story or "runner," usually lighter in tone, that serves as comic relief.



Sitcoms have two acts, usually with a laugh-out-loud teaser to draw the audience in. Tragedy is easy; comedy's always been tough. Structurally, there's more variety: Friends, for instance, uses the A-B-C formula, while Everybody Loves Raymond generally involves all the characters in one central story per episode. The only way to know is to watch and analyze the show you're writing for. Standard television format can be learned from books -- The Screenwriter's Bible by David Trottier is the most complete -- but the best way is to get a copy of a produced episode and follow it exactly. You can purchase actual scripts online at Hollywood Bookcity. You may also find scripts which can be downloaded from the Internet, but these are usually transcripts, not shooting scripts, so don't trust the format.
 Rule #3 - Capture the vision.
Writing for television is always about fulfilling someone else's vision. The trick is deciphering what that vision really is. Joss Whedon developed Buffy the Vampire Slayer not to showcase a "monster-of-the-week," but to explore the high school (and now young adult) experience; emotional traumas are as important as vampires. Do the research; watch the show; read everything you can find on it. Avoid common "first script" mistakes, like focusing on supporting or guest characters. If your "Ed" isn't about Ed, you're in trouble.
A Talk show production by FFVA's Television students




Rule #4 - Learn to take notes.
In addition to death and taxes, TV writers face one more certainty: notes. Television is a collaborative medium, so start now by joining a writers group and sharing your work. If you make an honest effort to correct the flaws in your own scripts and to be constructive when critiquing others, you'll find the training invaluable. Plus, like every business, the entertainment industry is about who you know. Developing a circle of friends now means you'll have a network of contacts later.
 Rule #5 -- Do it again.
The moment someone -- agent, development executive, or head writer -- reads your spec script and likes it, their first question will be "What else have you got?" If you don't have a second script, or even a third, you've missed your shot. Besides, with every script you get better. Soon you'll be taking the television world by storm.


Multicam setup @FFVA
What is a Spec Script?
What is a “spec?” Spec is short for speculative script. It technically refers to something you wrote on speculation (sometimes referred to as “wrote on spec”) – which really means that you wrote the script for free. You hope that you might later sell it or get hired for a writing job because of it, but to have the chance of either possibility, your only choice was to write the script.



Friday, 18 May 2012

Content 'affects' vs Visual 'effects'


Flash Frame Visuals Academy of Film & Television
Bangalore, India
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/flashframe.visuals
Twitter : @flshfrms


Content ‘affects’ vs Visual ‘effects’

While flipping the pages of Times of India newspaper on May 10, 2012, I came across this article ‘Give comrades B’wood’. Thinking it to be a usual routine content talking about Russians love for Hindi movies, I was about to skip it, until an interesting line just caught my attention. It was a quote from one of the Moscow resident who said ‘I like India films because they are sentimental (read story/human connection), unlike Hollywood flicks which are all special effects’.

Don’t get me wrong here. My intention is not to say that Bollywood rules over Hollywood or vice versa. The point that I am trying to make here is the fact that there still exists audience for whom what matters more is the story, the content to which they themselves are able to connect to.

That is exactly what I am going to talk about in this blog, which reads ‘content affects vs visual effects’, which also means making a right choice between the ‘affect’ that your story or content will make as compared to solely depending on visual ‘effects’ to grab the audience eyeballs.

FFVA student with storyboard
Lets say one wants to make a film. But basically who is your target? It’s no one else but the hundreds of strangers sitting in a blackened room, elbow to elbow, for two or more hours, with their eyes fixed on big screen, investing all their possible concentration. How you think you would be able to compel such immense mental and sentiment attention from the audience? Only if your audience is able to connect to the story, relate to the situation your protagonist is being thrown into, the way he overcomes his conflict situations…in short the journey through which you take your audience through.

Robert McKee has rightly said that the audience must not just understand your story, it must believe. Audiences are rarely interested and certainly never convinced when forced to listen or believe or sync into the scenes or even the story. The best example I can think here is Ra.One (Hindi flick). They made the protagonist do every possible bizarre thing, used the best of visual effects and tried to convince the audience that he is the next big thing in the town. But it flopped big time. 

RA ONE 
Reason being the story, that had not just few but many flaws which audience were too clever to find out and preferred to stay intelligent still than to believe in their fake gimmick. And that’s the truth. Intellectual analysis and technology, however heady, will not nourish the soul.

Mckee has also mentioned that the more beautifully you shape your work around one clear idea, the more meanings audiences will discover in your film as they take idea and follow its implications into every aspect of their lives. The audience needs to be taken to a limit where all questions are answered and all emotions satisfied..the end of the line! Deep within the protagonist the audience recognise a certain shared humanity. The unconscious logic of audience is like this’. ‘This character is like me. Therefore I want him to have whatever he wants because if I am in his place, I’d want the same thing myself.  And this is definitely not possible only if you depend on VFX.

Next coming to the special ‘effects’… Well, I have nothing against them. Infact they make a very strong source of entertainment for the audience. But the whole point is the way we used them.
Going back to the origin of special affects, the fact is that the history of special effects begins even before the invention of the camera itself. During the 1700s, magicians utilised many techniques to perform optical illusions and astound their audiences. These techniques formed the foundations of special effects.
The greatest changes in the revolution of Special Effects happened in the 20th century, with computers.  Computers helped revolutionized the world of Special Effects in movies. 

No wonder we could even build and resink the "Titanic". So definitely special effects too are important, provided if they are being used at the correct place at the right time, and not simply imposed of audience just like that. Imagine titanic with no love story. Similarly movies like 300, Matrix, District 9 are definitely unimaginable without effects. But the success secret is not just that. They have the most powerful storyline, the screenplay and the way they have juxtaposed effects with the content is truly appreciable.

Storytelling is the backbone of a film - FFVA students during a shoot

So for everyone who thinks that ‘scriptwriting or story is a small thing and anyone can do it’ and its sufficient if they know special effects…well you are highly mistaken. You cannot underestimate your audience for they are too intelligent to figure out that you are trying to compensate your story weakness through your effects, which will never last forever. Time to get your thinking caps on, work on some real good stories, and trap your audience in not just the effects but your film too.

Just an observation: Looking at the Indian and global film industry, we still have best of the technicians and VFX artists who are doing a commendable job. But there are very few who can win hearts only through their stories. So you mind bringing in some change?

References : 
Ra.One Image - Google 


Article written by 
Aditi KK 
Head-Academics 

Flash Frame Visuals Academy of Film & Television
Bangalore, India
email : aditi@ffvacademy.com                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       






Friday, 9 March 2012

Multicamera Setup - Tips & Techniques


Flash Frame Visuals Academy of Film & Television
Bangalore, India

Twitter : @flshfrms

Multicamera Setup - Tips & Techniques

First when I saw the hustle and bustle in the FFVA studio floor, it looked nothing less than the actual television talk show. With eyes engrossed on multiple screens and rest of the bunch standing right behind the cameras, all one needed was ‘action’ to begin the show…and lo! It began.

FFVA students in Multi-camera Setup


Though it was meant to be a multi camera practical session, for Television Production students, it turned out to be a learning experience for all young professionals present there at the scene of shoot.
Multi camera, as name suggests is usage of more than a single camera to capture different possible aspects of a single shot. But does that mean that one can take camera angles as the substitute to prior planning for the shoot? 

We, at  FFVA beg to differ. Instead for the students, the planning was as rigorous or rather more in the case of multi-cam setup. When it comes to this kind of setup, there is no ‘fix it in t he post’ possibility. If you don’t plan your coverage right, you’ll have nothing to cut away to. Getting a multicamera edit to work is as much about pre-production and accuracy in the field as it is about what happens in post.

Get the paper work right

Students taking notes and checking the paperwork
Irrespective of whether you are in production or postproduction, when it comes to multi cam, get the paper work right. By paper work what I mean is set diagram. You have to have a floor plan for the shoot that identifies talent (read actors) and camera positions. Details such as number of cameras, shot selection, lighting, should not just be clear in the mind of the director, but on your papers too.



Right crew

No matter how good one is technology wise, you team does matter. The crew should be well versed with the technicalities, and members should be all well coordinated and well in sync. After all Dexterity is a must quality is media.



Sight Survey

In Single camera, you always have a chance to reshoot or keep changing the location of camera and talent both. But this is not the case with multi-camera. You have to be very sure of each and every take and the angle being captured. All this is possible only if you are very well versed with the shooting site and you are completely planned about the positions of the camera and that of your subject. Better the groundwork, simpler would be the shoot.

Tapeless acquisition

Choosing to record direct to disk or cards makes it easy to record for long periods without interruption. make sure you have enough recording capacity to avoid having to stop for a “tape change.”

Multi-Camera setup in FFVA campus



Time code method

Be sure to examine your options, which may include time of day or synced time code. These professional options make syncing cameras easy.

Multicamera-Setup in FFVA campus



You might have learned quite a bit from the above stated points. Now there are few tricks of the trade that I am going to mention below. These have been jotted down, post student the project; keeping in mind the kind of mistakes they did while filming. It would surely be an add on to your knowledge

·       Extra audio
 Run audio on all the cameras, even if you plan to only use audio from one source. This will give you ambient noise and help ensure that you have usable audio if something is hard to isolate/edit out of the master. Once recorded, these things cannot be panned latter.  

·       Cable placement
Audio and power cables should be placed apart from or perpendicular to one another (not parallel) to avoid humming. Place audio mixers and power supplies at opposite ends of the camera when possible. Be sure to avoid placing cameras on the same circuits that power light dimmers, which may also affect audio. Just a small observation, but would surely yield bigger results.

·       Cutaway shots
Get some establishing/cutaway shots before the shoot in case there’s a problem with any of the scenes/transitions where none of the video is usable. If you’re doing an interview or similar type of shot, be sure to get some reaction shots (nodding, listening, interested, thinking, and so on) from each person separate from the live/real ones. You never know when the need arises for such shots. Be prepared.

So hopefully this read would surely be an add on to your multicamera knowledge. Above all, practice is the best teacher. And am sure FFVA students know it best. More Cinematography tips coming soon. Happy reading.

Reference : dcfcpug.com


Article by
Aditi KK
Head-Academics
Flash Frame Visuals Academy of Film & Television
Bangalore, India
www.ffvacademy.com


Friday, 24 February 2012

Film Institute - Farewell Party

Flash Frame Visuals Academy of Film & Television
Bangalore, India
www.ffvacademy.com

A Farewell lunch was given to the 2011 batch of Diploma in Digital Filmmaking and Diploma in Television Production. Filmmaking students shared their experience, new ideas and future plans with the Faculty of FFVA. It was a great experience and was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone.

Faculty and Students



Diploma Students - 2011 Batch











FFVA wishes Best of Luck to the 2011 Diploma in Digital Filmmaking and Diploma in Television Production students 






Sunday, 1 January 2012

Writing for Television


Flash Frame Visuals Academy of Film & Television
Bangalore, India


Writing for Television

FFVA students involved in Script Writing
Television is no longer the ugly stepsister of the entertainment industry. Of writers making money in show biz, the Writers Guild of America reports that 30% more earn their income from television than from features. With expanding markets in network, cable, and syndication, the trend is likely to continue. But while television may look like film shoe-horned into a small, black box, in reality it's a unique medium with rules of its own.
Unlike features, television spec scripts are not written to be sold, they're written to sell you. Every spring, network TV shows find out whether they've been renewed, and new pilots are ordered. The Powers That Be on each series then have a feeding frenzy, reading spec scripts from writers as they decide whom to hire for staff and freelance jobs. The process is the same for cable and syndicated shows, at slightly different times of the year. If you want to break in, the first thing you have to master is the art of the TV spec.
 Rule #1 - Design your calling card.
Choosing a series to spec is critical. You should pick a show you love to watch, one that's critically acclaimed and popular as well. Liking the show makes it easier to write, critical accolades encourage others to read it, and the longer it stays on the air, the longer you can use it as a sample of your writing. Television doesn't have the same shelf life as film; your spec becomes stale within a year after the show goes off the air.
The biggest decision you'll make is genre. First, of course, is whether to write for a sitcom or a drama. But even within sitcoms, there are the "brainy" shows, like Frasier, and the zany ones, like 3rd Rock from the Sun. A good spec for one won't get you in the door at the other. As for dramas, it's a smorgasbord: sword and sorcery, medical dramas, soft series like Providence, rough-edged stories like NYPD Blue. The narrower your focus, the better; most producers want to read a spec that's in the same ballpark as their show. So if you want to be hired on, say, Charmed, don't write a Law & Order script. But don't write a Charmed script, either: legally, producers can't read a spec for their own series.
 Rule #2 - Learn the structure.
Besides being shorter than feature films, television shows structured around commercial breaks. For hour-long dramas or action-adventures, the stories are built in four acts, often with a teaser and tag. Each act needs to go out on a strong hook, especially at the half-hour mark, when viewers are most likely to change the channel. Most hour-long shows weave together three plotlines: the A story, which drives the bulk of the episode; a B story, featuring supporting characters; and a C story or "runner," usually lighter in tone, that serves as comic relief.
Sitcoms have two acts, usually with a laugh-out-loud teaser to draw the audience in. Tragedy is easy; comedy's always been tough. Structurally, there's more variety: Friends, for instance, uses the A-B-C formula, while Everybody Loves Raymond generally involves all the characters in one central story per episode. The only way to know is to watch and analyze the show you're writing for. Standard television format can be learned from books -- The Screenwriter's Bible by David Trottier is the most complete -- but the best way is to get a copy of a produced episode and follow it exactly. You can purchase actual scripts online at Hollywood Bookcity. You may also find scripts which can be downloaded from the internet, but these are usually transcripts, not shooting scripts, so don't trust the format.
 Rule #3 - Capture the vision.
Writing for Television  is always about fulfilling someone else's vision. The trick is deciphering what that vision really is. Joss Whedon developed Buffy, The Vampire Slayer not to showcase a "monster-of-the-week," but to explore the high school (and now young adult) experience; emotional traumas are as important as vampires. Do the research; watch the show; read everything you can find on it. Avoid common "first script" mistakes, like focusing on supporting or guest characters. If your "Ed" isn't about Ed, you're in trouble.
FFVA students during the shoot
Rule #4 - Learn to take notes.
In addition to death and taxes, TV writers face one more certainty: notes. Television is a collaborative medium, so start now by joining a writers group and sharing your work. If you make an honest effort to correct the flaws in your own scripts and to be constructive when critiquing others, you'll find the training invaluable. Plus, like every business, the entertainment industry is about who you know. Developing a circle of friends now means you'll have a network of contacts later.
 Rule #5 -- Do it again.
The moment someone -- agent, development executive, or head writer -- reads your spec script and likes it, their first question will be "What else have you got?" If you don't have a second script, or even a third, you've missed your shot. Besides, with every script you get better. Soon you'll be taking the television world by storm.
What is a Spec Script?
What is a “spec?” Spec is short for speculative script. It technically refers to something you wrote on speculation (sometimes referred to as “wrote on spec”) – which really means that you wrote the script for free. You hope that you might later sell it or get hired for a writing job because of it, but to have the chance of either possibility, your only choice was to write the script.