Jump to content



Photo

Generation Why - An All Steadicam Web Series


  • Please log in to reply
3 replies to this topic

#1 Reid Nicewonder

Reid Nicewonder

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 2 posts

Posted 04 September 2010 - 10:18 PM

Hey everybody. I'm new here. I hope it's okay if I tell you about a web series I worked on. All shot using an HVX200 and the steadicam flyer, it's a fifteen episode comedy series about a group of college roommates where each episode is one long continuous take. I hope you enjoy. Thanks!

Trailer Link:
Season One Trailer

Website:
Generation Why
  • 0

#2 Charles Papert

Charles Papert

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 2224 posts
  • Los Angeles

Posted 05 September 2010 - 01:18 PM

Hi Reid:

I watched the trailer and three episodes.

Overall I found them reasonably entertaining. Acting and writing decent for the most part. You guys obviously had fun making these and it shows.

At this stage, the single-take Steadicam concept is no longer radical (it's been done; sometimes well, sometimes not) so the question is: what does that style bring to this material. In this case, the material being somewhat broad, loud, in-your-face comedy, it seems to require the camera to be up in the actor's grill all the time, which means a lot of whip pans and constant movement. (A different approach would be like a Woody Allen film, where he will play scenes in long masters where the characters move in and out of frame with plenty of beats occurring off-camera). There is a lot of energy going on in these clips so it's probably a good choice to keep the camera right up there in the middle of action, however it seems to work best when the action is frantic and playing in the round versus two sides of the line--the "Acid" episode seemed the most successful, where the frenetic shooting style complemented the overall tone. When a scene with more subtle dialogue comes up ("Filmmaking") and the camera is doing endless roundy-rounds and restless movement against two people standing around talking, it can feel self-conscious and arbitrary.

What's tricky with a Steadicam oner like this is finding reasons for the camera to move from A to B when none really exist, other than you want to be at A at one point and B at another and you have to get there somehow. If you haven't seen it, watch Larry McConkey's commentary on the long shot from Raising Cain where he details how he solved some of these types of issues. That may be a different aesthetic than you were all going for here, but it's hard to tell whether the choice to do single long takes with Steadicam is artistic, time-related or simply because it seems cool. One of the things I learned a long time ago working for great comedy writer/producers is that you can kill a joke with camera movement; it can hurt the timing. It may seem less sexy to play a scene in cuts, but if it makes the scene funnier or more impactful, why wouldn't you?

In the credo on the Generation Why website it indicates that the series was conceived as a reaction against the cliche college film. I would put it to you that the decision to make these a single take was ITSELF a cliche, an attempt to add some flash to the proceedings that works intermittently. Had the technique been used judiciously, in my mind the series would have benefited.

Reid, I watched your reel so I know you are working hard with your gear. I'm sure it was a great experience working on this webisode and you learned a lot. This kind of shooting requires a lot of concentration and listening to the dialogue and you did well with that. Technically, there's quite a bit of slop in the horizons especially around the whip pans and I'm sure you are aware of that. That's particular hard stuff especially with a super-light rig as you have (and one as hard to dynamically balance ). Half-hesitantly, I'd admit that the loose look compliments the energy at times, giving it more of a handheld feel (again, in the "Acid" episode) but other times I was made aware of the extraneous movement.

I hope you found this criticism constructive. If I thought there was no talent here, I wouldn't have bothered. I look forward to see what you guys move on to next, as a group and individually.
  • 0

#3 Reid Nicewonder

Reid Nicewonder

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 2 posts

Posted 06 September 2010 - 02:34 PM

Hi Reid:

I watched the trailer and three episodes.

Overall I found them reasonably entertaining. Acting and writing decent for the most part. You guys obviously had fun making these and it shows.

At this stage, the single-take Steadicam concept is no longer radical (it's been done; sometimes well, sometimes not) so the question is: what does that style bring to this material. In this case, the material being somewhat broad, loud, in-your-face comedy, it seems to require the camera to be up in the actor's grill all the time, which means a lot of whip pans and constant movement. (A different approach would be like a Woody Allen film, where he will play scenes in long masters where the characters move in and out of frame with plenty of beats occurring off-camera). There is a lot of energy going on in these clips so it's probably a good choice to keep the camera right up there in the middle of action, however it seems to work best when the action is frantic and playing in the round versus two sides of the line--the "Acid" episode seemed the most successful, where the frenetic shooting style complemented the overall tone. When a scene with more subtle dialogue comes up ("Filmmaking") and the camera is doing endless roundy-rounds and restless movement against two people standing around talking, it can feel self-conscious and arbitrary.

What's tricky with a Steadicam oner like this is finding reasons for the camera to move from A to B when none really exist, other than you want to be at A at one point and B at another and you have to get there somehow. If you haven't seen it, watch Larry McConkey's commentary on the long shot from Raising Cain where he details how he solved some of these types of issues. That may be a different aesthetic than you were all going for here, but it's hard to tell whether the choice to do single long takes with Steadicam is artistic, time-related or simply because it seems cool. One of the things I learned a long time ago working for great comedy writer/producers is that you can kill a joke with camera movement; it can hurt the timing. It may seem less sexy to play a scene in cuts, but if it makes the scene funnier or more impactful, why wouldn't you?

In the credo on the Generation Why website it indicates that the series was conceived as a reaction against the cliche college film. I would put it to you that the decision to make these a single take was ITSELF a cliche, an attempt to add some flash to the proceedings that works intermittently. Had the technique been used judiciously, in my mind the series would have benefited.

Reid, I watched your reel so I know you are working hard with your gear. I'm sure it was a great experience working on this webisode and you learned a lot. This kind of shooting requires a lot of concentration and listening to the dialogue and you did well with that. Technically, there's quite a bit of slop in the horizons especially around the whip pans and I'm sure you are aware of that. That's particular hard stuff especially with a super-light rig as you have (and one as hard to dynamically balance ). Half-hesitantly, I'd admit that the loose look compliments the energy at times, giving it more of a handheld feel (again, in the "Acid" episode) but other times I was made aware of the extraneous movement.

I hope you found this criticism constructive. If I thought there was no talent here, I wouldn't have bothered. I look forward to see what you guys move on to next, as a group and individually.


Thanks! You're completely right. Having reasons for the camera to move, only using the one-take style when needed (using regular coverage for subtle dialogue scenes), and just better operating in general are some of the things we figured out afterwards and corrected in the next season of the show. I wish we'd had this advice before we started! I really enjoyed that Raising Cain commentary as well. Thanks again for your response!
  • 0

#4 Charles Papert

Charles Papert

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 2224 posts
  • Los Angeles

Posted 06 September 2010 - 04:34 PM

Thanks! You're completely right. Having reasons for the camera to move, only using the one-take style when needed (using regular coverage for subtle dialogue scenes), and just better operating in general are some of the things we figured out afterwards and corrected in the next season of the show. I wish we'd had this advice before we started! I really enjoyed that Raising Cain commentary as well. Thanks again for your response!


Ah, but the real question is: even if you'd had that advice, would you have followed it? Not that it would be a bad thing if you hadn't. Some things have to be explored fully before discarded. And you guys gained a lot of valuable experience shooting in that style, I'm sure. Certainly good for your chops to get inside a scene that deeply and get all of those cues down. Good for the actors too--takes discipline and concentration to get through a scene that long without screwing it up. Your next season will be all the better for having gone through this process, I'm sure.

In my early days with this machine I did plenty of long-take shots, many of which were less than stellar. I'm quite sure I pitched a lot of them too. It makes me all the more appreciative of the shots like this that do work.

FYI if you haven't already, well worthing watching the other shots of Larry's on that site. Once you get that he was responsible for so many of the bits of "business" going on in the scene, it becomes a revelation...
  • 0




Omnishot Systems

PLC Electronics Solutions

BOXX

Varizoom Follow Focus

GPI Pro Systems

Ritter Battery

rebotnix Technologies

PLC - Bartech

Boland Communications

SkyDreams

IDX

Betz Tools for Stabilizers

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Wireless Video Systems

Paralinx LLC

Engineered Cinema Solutions

Teradek