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camera Making a Found Footage movie that doesn't suck

I am preparing to direct a found footage movie next summer (June 2021). The movie will be shot entirely in the woods. The story is set in England during the Middle Ages, and the "camera" is a memory preserving magic crystal. I am hiring a director of photography to film it. I will have him film with a wide angle lens to capture more of the surrounding forest and to make the film seen more expansive. What can I do to help the footage a high-quality feel that does not come across as cheap or tacky?
 
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indietalk

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You would have to come up with your own stylistic look to what the memories look like. Are they dreamy? Soft? Crisp? Color? Black and white? In real-time or faster/slower... frames at a time... glitchy, flashy? Etc. Do they have flares and a "broken mirror" look from the crystal? This is something you need to figure out with your DP but you as the director should have the idea and s/he can help you translate it to film/video. In other words. What type of image does your story call for?
 
You would have to come up with your own stylistic look to what the memories look like. Are they dreamy? Soft? Crisp? Color? Black and white? In real-time or faster/slower... frames at a time... glitchy, flashy? Etc. Do they have flares and a "broken mirror" look from the crystal? This is something you need to figure out with your DP but you as the director should have the idea and s/he can help you translate it to film/video. In other words. What type of image does your story call for?
I don't mean memories as in the movie has flashbacks. I mean the crystal acts as a camera and is constantly recording the experiences of whoever holds it. Still, this is some good advice. Thank you. I want the image to be as sharp and crisp as possible.
 

indietalk

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Either way you need to come up with the look.
If it is sharp and crisp then what is your normal image that is not from the camera? Is there enough of a dichotomy? @Alcove Audio can chime in here and also let you know how sound effects can help.
 

indietalk

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If the crystal POV is a majority of the film you do not want anything jarring or extreme that can actually make people sick (motion sickness etc.). I am thinking some super saturated images with a possible slight edge distortion or blur, but nothing too much.
 

indietalk

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So the entire movie is the POV of the crystal? You never see anyone pick it up or do anything away from the crystal? All of these shots are POV of what the crystal "sees" or "saw?"
 

indietalk

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A crazy kaleidoscope camera effect with magical sound effects the whole time. :lol:
 
Either way you need to come up with the look.

I think what people are asking is "how does the Crystal transmit the experiences." Is it like actually reliving the transmitted experiences? Is it sort of dreamy or surreal? In other words, the audience needs to understand that audio-visual context of the Crystal experience. If the Crystal is just residing in one place the visuals will need to be very static. Or is the Crystal being moved from one place to another by someone/something? Or are the experiences imprinted upon the Crystal by someone almost like a mental film/hologram for others to experience?

@Alcove Audio can chime in here and also let you know how sound effects can help.

These are the questions to which I would need answers in order to give you a direction for the sound design.
 
I think what people are asking is "how does the Crystal transmit the experiences." Is it like actually reliving the transmitted experiences? Is it sort of dreamy or surreal? In other words, the audience needs to understand that audio-visual context of the Crystal experience. If the Crystal is just residing in one place the visuals will need to be very static. Or is the Crystal being moved from one place to another by someone/something? Or are the experiences imprinted upon the Crystal by someone almost like a mental film/hologram for others to experience?



These are the questions to which I would need answers in order to give you a direction for the sound design.
Think of a found footage film like Blair Witch, except this one is set in Britain, 500 A.D.. Instead of a "camera," it's a magic crystal created by a sorceress. But it's the same plot device.
 

indietalk

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Soooooo it's the POV of the crystal seeing the people looking into the crystal? What are they seeing in the crystal? This is so confusing.
 
The questions we are asking are:

"How are the story/experiences being imprinted on the Crystal"?

and

"How are the story/experiences being read/experienced?

The "technical" aspects of how the Crystal works is integral to how you design the film both visually and sonically.

To posit a scenario - The Crystal is worn like a necklace and is enchanted to imprint the story/experiences of the wearers death, sort of a mind print. In this interpretation what is imprinted on the Crystal allows for the "viewer" to know what the protagonist knows, what is a reasonable "guesstimate" of the situation by the protagonist on what is partially known, and what the protagonist only wild-ass-guesses/surmises, (which are usually integral with characters fears) and the difference between the three. All the experiences are as the protagonist perceives them. It is primarily POV, but still allows for visualizing the guesses and guesstimates (different shooting styles?). It can move back and forth in time and can even have seemingly "irrelevant" flashback sequences. When the Crystal is held by someone the holder experiences what is imprinted on the Crystal as perceived by the decedent. Anyone who holds the Crystal can participate in the imprinted experiences. The sound design style is wide open - from interpretive/minimal to hyper-real to over the top (the memories are, after all, colored by the protagonists/wearers perceptions) or a combination of all three. Production sound should be standard boomed mic and lavs.

Second scenario - The Crystal is carried around (in a pocket(????), records what is going on as if it were a camcorder and the story is told sequentially from the Crystals POV. This affects how it will be shot. It somewhat opens up if there is a reason for Crystal is pointed at what you want the audience to see; perhaps the Crystal "lights the way" either literally or figuratively or both (maybe it's a "map" of some kind?) - it's enchanted, right? It's still a very linear camcorder style, however. When the Crystal is held (or put into a "projector" of some kind?) the "viewer" sees what the Crystal saw. This puts a discrete set of boundaries on what and how you shoot. The Crystal is not going to be used like a microphone, so you need to think through the recording of the dialog and how the dialog is presented in the mix. Production sound again should be standard boomed mic and lavs, but, as I said, you have to think it through; do you POV the boomed mic or do you follow as much as possible and "dirty up" the boom and/or the lavs during rerecording. Your overall sound design will have to be carefully crafted as well.


These are just two possible scenarios, there are dozens more. How the Crystal works is important to how your film will be shot and the approach to the sound design which affects how you approach the production sound. We want to know the details of your scenario so we can discuss different approaches to shooting and sound-for-picture.

We're all locked up in our homes and have the time to talk film making. Lay out your project and lets all pick it apart. We've got the time to share our experience and knowledge, so take advantage of it. You don't have to take our advice, but you at least get the opportunity to see how we think a project through.
 
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indietalk

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We'all all asking same thing yup. A crystal is not a camera so we need to know what you mean by that from a technical standpoint.

And we need to know what you mean by the entire movie being the POV of the crystal. So from the crystal's POV (like a lens) a man walks over and picks it up and says "Hey look a crystal!" So that is a handheld POV of the man talking to the camera on set.

This would suggest he found a crystal but does not know it is recording correct? Or is he seeing images in it? So that would suggest it is also a "screen/monitor." And how does it record and display at the same time, this is one techy gadget!

Seriously though we need to know what you mean.
 
The entire movie is the POV of the crystal. The first frame of the movie is the witch who creates it looking at it and holding it up. She holds it for the majority of the movie and explains what it is to the other characters.
 

indietalk

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Huh? So how is it found footage? To me found footage would be they find the crystal and see imagery in it. What you are describing is we are seeing what the crystal records in real time. Still not getting it.
 
Okay, it's not "found footage" in the literal sense. But found footage movies never really have scenes shot in the traditional style where other characters find the camera with the footage. If anything, they have some lines of text before the movie begins. My movie is not supposed to be composed of "found footage," but it is presented in the found footage style. I am sorry. I am not seeing what the confusion is here.
 
Let me streamline my question a bit. Forget everything I've said prior about the crystal and the witch and the Middle Ages. All you got to know if I'm making a found footage movie set in a forest. I want the forest setting to seem appealing and enticing. The horror elements come from the creatures within the forest, but the forest itself--I want to be an interesting place. I will be shooting with a 15mm lens to give it a more expansive look. I will be shooting in summertimes, in June, so that the greenery is out. Do you have any advice on how to make a visually appealing found footage movie that does not seem tacky or cheesy?
 
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