The Friday Roundup – Foley Explained, Title Sequences and White Balance

What’s a Foley Anyway?

I think just about every person who makes their own videos at some point gets to a level of production where they feel they are beginning to make progress.

Then they take a look at something done in a professional setting and maybe feel that progress hasn’t been so good!

When you compare your own productions against the productions of those that are at the same level as you, you don’t really get a sense of what the differences are and where you could improve.

When you look at pro stuff it all seems so much better but you really can’t tell exactly what it is that is making it seem that much better than yours.

Sure you can identify perhaps better picture quality or more fluent editing or something obvious like that but there is always that “something” that seems to be there.

Well very often that “something” is not actually video but is instead, audio.

In most home made videos, the audio track will either consist of music, voice over or badly recorded “live” sound of speaking.

It is those speaking points that are often the problem yet even with a good mic you never seem to be able to get that “real” effect that you see on a movie.

The reason for that is that the “real” effect on the movie is so far from actually being real it’s not funny!

You see when movies or pro productions are being shot, the only real concern of the sound recordist at the time of shooting is to get the dialogue. That’s it!

Nothing else is considered important, just the dialogue.

Everything else you hear in the final product is actually created in post production.

The street sounds, the foot steps, car doors opening… everything!

In fact what you end up hearing is a carefully created, multi-layered soundscape that has been put together using a range of source material and carefully mixed and balanced  so that in a movie viewing setting it seems real.

So when you try to shoot something on a home recording device of any kind, even if you have a handheld mic device you can never get that “real” sound.

How do they actually do it?

Check out this fascinating article below that has some great explanations of the process and some brilliant videos of what the movie industry calls… Foley.

You know you have probably seen that word in the credits at some time.

Well click through and find out what Foley is and even find out who Foley was!

Title Sequences

I came across this video the other day and thought it might be a useful tutorial on not only how to create decent titles for a project but also because it goes into the theory of why we have titles and what their real purpose is.

Now bear in mind that the demonstration part of the video is done using Adobe After Effects and I am reasonably certain most people reading this blog would not be working in that program.

I think I got the most out of the entire video by just watching it and learning why the person that made it was doing the things he was doing and making the choices he was making.

I am pretty sure with enough time I could replicate what he is doing in my own software but really that’s not the point.

For me the keys to this tutorial are the explanations of what the titles are doing and how the various element of those titles contribute to the overall effect.

DIY Bounce Boards

One of the best ways to get great footage both outdoors and indoors is to have yourself a bounce board.

If you have never heard of it, a bounce board is a large white or reflective board that you use to bounce light off and on to your subject.

Typically a bounce board can be used to take a primary source of light, for example the sun, and position it so that reflected or bounced light from that original source lands on the subject.

In this way you can mimic a three point light setup to some degree although obviously the the third light (usually backlight) is missing.

This is especially useful when you are lighting a subjects face.

You can position the subject so that the main source of light is directly hitting the subject, then from an angle, bounce light from that same source on to the subject.

This can be used to stop that “washed out” look a single source of light will create when directed at a subject as it tends to add more natural shadows to the subject.

Now basically a bounce board is just a board with either a white surface or reflective surface so you would think that’s all pretty simple and should be as cheap as chips right?

Well not really!

You see regardless of what these things are or at least could be made of they fall under the category somehow of “specialist” photographic equipment.

This is a fancy way of saying, “We can and will charge a whole bunch of cash for this thing cos’ it’s got its own technical name!”

Take a look at the video below to see how to make your own, really cheap and really effective bounce board.

The video also contains some tips on how to use a single light setup with a bounce board to light an interview.

Although the example they use is for a dark, black background kind of look you can apply the exact same technique in a brighter setting to give any interview shot a professional look.

If you have any trouble getting the same effect make sure you brush up on what the positioning and purpose is for each of the lights in a three point light setup so you can tweak it to your liking.

Non-Technical Editing Tips

By way of explanation I have included this article from Premiumbeat not because every shooting or editing tip in it would be applicable to the average DIY video editor.

All the tips are actually valuable but some are probably aimed at more advanced users whilst others you may have a direct use for.

With regard to anything you think is a little out of your league just take a look at them anyway and don’t just think of them as “things you should do.”

Think of them more as ways to think about an activity or perhaps even a philosophy of how to look at what you are doing.

White Balance

One of the main differences between video footage taken on the auto settings of your camera, whatever it is, and the footage taken on slightly more high end cameras is white balance.

Auto white balance works on the basis of your camera analysing the light information coming in through the lens and hitting the sensor.

It generally tries to find the brightest point in a shot and identifies that as white.

From there it can calculate in a general sense what all other colors should be in relation to that white.

Now keep in mind that all whites were not created equal and that what sets them apart is something called color temperature.

You may have noticed at times that the footage you capture has some kind of a blue or red or even yellow “wash” to it that was not obvious to you at the time of shooting.

That’s because the naked eye is not just seeing color but also it is adjusting constantly as to how it interprets that color.

Cameras can’t do the same thing so if the camera gets that initial “white” setting wrong from the outset then from that point forward you will get a slightly distorted view of a scene with respect to color.

Of course the way to get around unnatural color washes in your footage is to set the white balance of the camera before shooting just like the pros.

Nice idea but far from practical!

Another way to tame the color you are getting is to choose preset white balance settings that many cameras have these days.

The key to using them effectively is to know very well what they are and how to engage them quickly so you don’t miss what you are shooting while you are fiddling around with the settings.

The final way to deal with color in video is in post production where you can use the color correction tools of your video editing software to adjust the color of individual shots or adjust a group of shots so they match.

Regardless of what works for you, having a good understanding of the effect white balance has on your footage is very important and in the article below the author gives an excellent rundown in simple terms as to what the deal is with white balance.

YouTube Boot Camp

From March 16-27, 2015 YouTube are conducting another of their free “boot camps.”

This time the subject is how to build and maintain lasting relationships with your fans.

They will be covering aspects of this such as developing connections and building loyalty.

Understanding who your audience is and the kinds of things they are in to so that you can engage further with them.

How to break out of your existing fanbase into other demographics and how to use YouTube Analytics to achieve this.

These boot camps are free and are always run by some of the best in the business so if you are interested just click the link below and sign up!

YouTube Creator Blog: Separate fan-building fiction from fact with the Creator Academy boot camp

The Hancock Effect

This week Gripps posted a “how to” video of creating the effect of someone landing on his feet on the ground and walking off.

It’s the same effect that many people will be familiar with from the movie Hancock starring Will Smith.

In that movie they had the hero (anti-hero?) landing numerous times from great heights and at great speed then walking forward from the landing.

You can just check out the first frames of the video below to get an idea of what I mean.

The tutorials Gripps creates are almost exclusively in Corel VideoStudio because that’s the software he happens to use but the technique can be applied to almost any video editor at a comparable level.

The key points to keep in mind are that he begins with footage of himself jumping up in one spot, landing then walking off.

All he does really from then is to create a snapshot from that footage of one frame.

From there he just masks out the background and uses the isolated image of himself as the object that comes down from a height which then cuts to the live footage of him landing and walking off.

You can easily do this yourself even if you don’t specifically have VideoStudio.

Now Gripps does go into some kind of technical steps and these are because he is using VideoStudio.

If you don’t have that particular program all you need to do is just watch what he is doing and why and it should become obvious to you how to replicate it in your own editor.

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