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destro

Directing book recommendations please

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I'm looking for book recommendations.

 

I use mostly After Effects and Cinema 4D. A couple of bits of my work are here: http://www.vimeo.com/user970565

 

I'm self taught. Learning for me was playing around to see what looks good and studying the reels of people whose work I liked. What I want now is some of the fundamental concepts.

 

I only do computer graphics, no shooting with real cams (although I would like to play around with that in the future). What I'm after is a book on directing I guess. Here are some of the things I want fundamental concepts on:

 

-how to compose shots

-how and when to do cuts so they make sence to the viewer

-ways to seperate foreground and background objects

-standard lighting setups for common situations

 

I'm not sure if I need a computer based book or if these things apply regardless of the medium.

 

Sorry for my wooly request. I hoping someone can figure out what I'm asking for.

Edited by destro

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Focused more on editing than the other aspects of filmmaking, but still for me one of the best people at talking about the creative process of filmmaking in interesting way is Walter Murch you should check out his book In The Blink of an Eye and also The Conversations a book where he is interviewed by Michael Ondatje. I also recomend Hitchcock Truffaut which is a discussion between the two filmmakers about directing.

 

I know these titles might seem an odd choice as recommendations for people doing motion graphics, and working mostly on the computer but really when it comes to the basics of filmmaking you can't go wrong with the masters and most of the concepts translate.

 

Anyhow even if I am totally missing the point of what you are after these are all good reads anyhow if you are into film.

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Funny, was just in the bookstore looking at these books. Simple and kind of for the novice, but nice breakdown of the basic approaches to composing a shot.

 

Setting Up Your Shots

 

Cinematic Storytelling

 

Just doing a search on cinematography or filmmaking on amazon should turn up a few books you would probably want to check out.

Edited by JoelD

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Guest Sao_Bento

I've never read this one, but I know this one is made for animators looking to understand cinematic language and shot blocking

http://www.amazon.com/Digital-Cinematograp...6835&sr=1-3

 

Shot by Shot was popular back in the day.

http://www.amazon.com/Film-Directing-Shot-...6248&sr=1-1

 

In an odd kind of way, I think Hillman Curtis' "Making Short Films for the Web" to be of good philosophical value to people who are coming to film making from other disciplines. He kind of outlines what he expected, what worked, and how different those two things turned out to be from what he expected.

http://www.amazon.com/Hillman-Curtis-Creat...6315&sr=1-2

 

A more difficult read, but super good are the Eisenstein books "Film Form", and "The Film Sense". In some ways, the difficulty of reading translated 50's Russian might actually add to the experience - it has a Yoda-like quality in terms of seeming to be both vague and profound at the same time. These are going to have a steeper curve than the other books mentioned in this thread though.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Film-Form-Essays-The...6533&sr=1-1

 

http://www.amazon.com/Film-Sense-Sergei-Ei.../ref=pd_sim_b_7

 

Additional insight, but only peripherally related to what you are looking for is Sidney Lumet's "Making Movies"

http://www.amazon.com/Making-Movies-Sidney...6701&sr=1-1

 

Personally, I just wish I had time to read.

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I may sound like an asshole, but I find the best way to learn how to set up shots and learn what works well together is to do it. write a short filme (even if you arent a writer) and get some friends together and go shoot it. Then edit it and figure out what works and what doesnt. For the parts that dont work, look to films you respect that did the same thing you were trying to do and pay attention to how they did it. How they framed the shots, the focal length of the lenses used, the way the music is scored, the performance of the actors. These are all things that are important.

 

As far as lighting and shot composition, as a director, that isnt your MAIN focus. Youre main focus is telling the whole story. The idea is to get a good DP who worries about that stuff. Thats not to say that you shouldnt think about it at all, but you cant make the whole thing happen on your own. Film making is by far the most collaborative art form out there. Dont discount any of the disciplines, dont think you can get away with having a sub par actor, or camera man, or location sound mixer. You cant. Sometimes you cant help it, but if you can, find the right people and it will make the whole experience a million times more pleasurable than if you feel like you have to pick up the slack for someone whos not so great at what they are there to do.

 

Clint Eastwood has a great philosophy on it saying something to the effect of "Youre the captian of the ship, but you dont do all the jobs yourself."

 

Every short film I work on I learn a little bit more about how to work with other people, how to think about a scene, and how to break it down in a way that delivers the tone and mood that I feel the scene needs to work.

You find people you trust that are good at the different disciplines of film making and you team up with them.

 

Its like being a designer, youre making decisions about all these details that, when its all said and done, will affect how your movie makes people feel. Make the right decisions and it will illicit the response you wanted, miss it and it will leave people wanting.

 

Hope that helps some.

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You learn by doing, but it doesn't hurt to read the insights of brilliant directors. There are already some good suggestions here. Mamet is fantastic. I don't always agree with him, but I like that he makes me think. Shot by Shot is a good how-to guide. In the Blink of an Eye is a MUST read. Conversations is also great.

 

If you read those four plus:

 

On Directing by Alexander MacKendrick (the best single book on directing I've ever read. It also has some sections on pacing and how to break a story into discrete shots that seems particularly useful to animators in this world of 3 minute unbroken CG camera moves. 100 years ago, filmmakers learned that cutting from shot to shot made their films more dynamic. It's time animators learn the same thing... end rant.)

 

Making Movies by Sidney Lumet

 

You'd have a pretty good foundation. Then go make some movies!

Edited by finegrit

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i have to put a second vote in for david mamet: on directing film. it is a short read and is a great lesson in the critical thinking behind shot selection and many other details that could be carried over into mograph.

 

shot-by-shot and cinematic storytelling are much more text-booky, with diagrams and examples of camera moves and lighting setups. i think i got one of that same series called cinematography and it has a lot of good technical info that will carry over into digital work.

 

sidney lumet: making movies is also a classic book, but more about the real filmmaking process and how he handles day-to-day things on the set. the essence of that book is "everything must support the theme". it is a great book, but won't lend a lot of "technical" or applicable advice for a mographer.

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Just saying thanks again for the excellent book recommendations.

 

I got "Digital Cinematography & Directing" and "Film Directing Shot by Shot". I've learnt a huge amount about how to set up scenes and how the camera itself changes the look of the shot. Almost all of the techniques I saw used in traditional film shoots translate in some degree to motion graphics.

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I saw Walter Murch, George Lucas, and Francis Ford Copolla interviewed on stage at the SF film fest a few months ago. I have to say- um... Walter Murch is the smartest filmmaker ever. No one thought more about star wars, the godfather, or apocalypse now then he did. Shows a director isn't everything too, I guess.

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I have the Shot by Shot blue book and liked it but I would really recommend what's already been stated: go direct something. I learned much more from my first two shorts than from reading.

 

I also have and completely love First Time Director

 

I still read that one back to back. The chapter on directing actors with Back to the Future as an example is really good. It really covers all bases a director will touch on his way home. /baseballmetaphor

 

Also, listen to Director's Commentary of your favorite movies. David Fincher's insights are brilliant.

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Most of us are self-taught. So don't feel bad.

As far as cuts, You should try to take a class in video editing. It will help in a lot of things that you will not get from a compositing or design book.

Edited by tomcat

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Most of us are self-taught. So don't feel bad.

As far as cuts, You should try to take a class in video editing. It will help in a lot of things that you will not get from a compositing or design book.

 

Feel bad?..lol..what are you talking about?

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Feel bad?..lol..what are you talking about?

 

I don't think he knows either. We all know that when you seek knowledge you should feel bad about it if you're not up to tomcat's self-perceived level. Maybe one day, destro, maybe one day. :P

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I don't think he knows either. We all know that when you seek knowledge you should feel bad about it if you're not up to tomcat's self-perceived level. Maybe one day, destro, maybe one day. :P

 

Yep...I thought I might be able to milk another lol out of him ;)

 

Anyway, back on-topic. The first book "Digital Cinematography & Directing" was great as a foundation. Lots of simple pics and text to introduce the concepts.

 

The second one "Film Directing Shot by Shot" had a lot more detail. I think I should read one more directing book just to get another director's perspective. "On Directing" got the most recommendations so I'll go for that one.

 

For anyone else doing motion graphics who is self-taught I would recommend taking a look at directing techniques if you haven't already. The biggest problem I've found with taking the self-taught route is it's hard to know what knowledge you've missed. I'm established now as a full-time motion graphic artist. Looking back I would have benefited greatly if I had read those books before ever touching the computer.

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Old topic but Destro also asked about lighting setups and separating background and foreground. Recently I stumbled across this site that has a LOT of useful info on lighting with lots of pictures and points on theory and other neat things.

 

http://www.hurlbutvisuals.com/blog/

 

A few specific posts that are of interest:

 

Camera Motion:

http://www.hurlbutvisuals.com/blog/2013/04/camera-motion-for-filmmakers/

 

Lighting from Master to Close Up:

http://www.hurlbutvisuals.com/blog/2012/11/how-to-light-for-specific-camera-blocking-master-to-close-up/

 

Storytelling Through Composition:

http://www.hurlbutvisuals.com/blog/2012/08/storytelling-through-composition/

 

Training Your Eye:

http://www.hurlbutvisuals.com/blog/2013/04/training-your-eye/

 

Fun fact: This is the DP that Christian Bale was yelling at during his infamous Terminator: Salvation incident.

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Nice new links there.

 

I did learn a lot amount from all the reading I did.

 

I bought a DSLR a while ago and I have to say it was one of the best investments I've ever made. Going from only using virtual AE/3D cams to also using a real camera caused a huge jump in my understanding of lighting, colour, composition, well....almost everything really.

For anyone doing Motion Graphics that doesn't have a camera, I would recommend buying a DSLR. For me it was a case of not knowing that I needed one until I had one in my hands.

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