Digital Filmmaking For Kids For Dummies book cover

Digital Filmmaking For Kids For Dummies

Author:
Nick Willoughby
Published: May 4, 2015

Overview

The easy way for kids to get started with filmmaking

If you've been bitten by the filmmaking bug—even if you don't have a background in video or access to fancy equipment—Digital Filmmaking For Kids makes it easy to get up and running with digital filmmaking! This fun and friendly guide walks you through a ton of cool projects that introduce you to all stages of filmmaking. Packed with full-color photos, easy-to-follow instruction, and simple examples, it shows you how to write a script, create a storyboard, pick a set, light a scene, master top-quality sound, frame and shoot, edit, add special effects, and share your finished product with friends or a global audience.

Anyone can take a selfie or upload a silly video to YouTube—but it takes practice and skill to shoot professional-looking frames and make your own short film. Written by a film and video professional who has taught hundreds of students, this kid-accessible guide provides you with hands-on projects that make it fun to learn all aspects of video production, from planning to scripting to filming to editing. Plus, it includes access to videos that highlight and demonstrate skills covered in the book, making learning even easier and less intimidating to grasp.

  • Create a film using the tools at hand
  • Plan, script, light and shoot your video
  • Edit and share your film
  • Plan a video project from start to finish

If you're a student aged 7–16 with an interest in creating and sharing your self-made video, this friendly guide lights the way for your start in digital filmmaking.

The easy way for kids to get started with filmmaking

If you've been bitten by the filmmaking bug—even if you don't have a background in video or access to fancy equipment—Digital Filmmaking For Kids makes it easy to get up and running with digital filmmaking! This fun and friendly guide walks you through a ton of cool projects that introduce you to all stages of filmmaking. Packed with full-color photos, easy-to-follow instruction, and simple examples, it shows you how to write a script, create a storyboard, pick a set, light a scene, master top-quality sound, frame and shoot, edit, add special effects, and share your finished product with friends or a global audience.

Anyone can take a selfie or upload a silly video to YouTube—but it takes practice and skill to shoot professional-looking

frames and make your own short film. Written by a film and video professional who has taught hundreds of students, this kid-accessible guide provides you with hands-on projects that make it fun to learn all aspects of video production, from planning to scripting to filming to editing. Plus, it includes access to videos that highlight and demonstrate skills covered in the book, making learning even easier and less intimidating to grasp.

  • Create a film using the tools at hand
  • Plan, script, light and shoot your video
  • Edit and share your film
  • Plan a video project from start to finish

If you're a student aged 7–16 with an interest in creating and sharing your self-made video, this friendly guide lights the way for your start in digital filmmaking.

Digital Filmmaking For Kids For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Digital filmmaking is the process of creating and telling a story or presenting information through the art of film using digital video cameras. Basically, it’s a way creative people like you can turn the ideas in your heads into films audiences can watch on movie screens, TVs, or computers. You can assemble a team to create your film, audition and hire actors, and then shoot your film. Afterward, you can edit your film using commonly available editing software.

Articles From The Book

36 results

Film Articles

Types of Shots in Filmmaking and How to Frame Them

In this video, you learn about the rule of thirds for framing digital video shots and gain a better understanding of the types of shots in filmmaking you can take from extreme wide shots to extreme close-ups. The rule of thirds, although not a rule that can't be broken in filmmaking, is all about how to frame a shot or where to place the subject in the scene.

To understand the rule of thirds, visualize imaginary lines crossing your viewing area. When placing your subject in the scene, you place them on one of the intersecting lines. For a vertical shot like the one shown in the video, you place the subject on one of the vertical lines. For a horizontal shot, you would place the subject on one of the horizontal lines, making sure that the focal point (what your audience is looking at the most) is where the lines intersect. When taking shots in filmmaking, you have several types to choose from, depending on how far away or close you want the subject to appear in your digital film. A wide shot, also known as a long shot, shows more of the surrounding scenery or a wider view. A mid shot or medium shot is commonly used for television shows and is good for showing hand movements and facial expressions. A close-up is great for capturing facial expressions and emotions in your digital film. Close-ups, like the one in the video, often show just a subject's face. Extreme close-ups in filmmaking show strong emotions and fine details (like wrinkles or skin flaws).

How to use the rule of thirds in digital filmmaking

Framing shots for your digital film is not just about pointing a camera at a subject and pressing a button. You should take time to
consider the best way to frame your shotevery shot — because doing so will always pay off in the final edit. The rule of thirds is one of the most basic and important rules to remember when shooting your film. It’s not really a “rule” in the strict sense, and you won’t be arrested for not using it, but it does make your shots look better. The rule of thirds was first used in paintings and photography and then later in film and TV. Instead of placing subjects in the middle of the frame, artists, photographers, and filmmakers use the rule of thirds to position their subjects and actors to make the shot look more interesting. Here’s how the rule of thirds works. Each of the images below is an identical shot of one of our actors. The second frame has been divided into thirds, horizontally and vertically: three sections across and three sections down. This is where you get rule of thirds from. The goal in this shot was to draw attention to the actor’s eyes, so the shot was framed with the eyes two‐thirds of the way up the frame and two‐thirds of the way across the frame. This leaves the actor positioned more to the right of the frame. You could move her more to the left instead, but because the actor is already looking to the left of the frame, positioning to the right is the preferred choice. It’s better to leave some open space for the actor to look into. As you can see, moving the actor over to the left of the frame looks odd and crowded, and may distract the audience from the point of this filmmaking shot. Using the rule of thirds is like riding a bike: It takes practice. If you use the rule of thirds often enough, framing shots this way will become natural to you, and you’ll be able to do it easily in your filmmaking without thinking about it. Next time you watch a movie, look out for the ways the director uses the rule of thirds. Sometimes you can spot moments in films where the director intentionally breaks the rule of thirds to make the shot feel awkward. (Just make sure you spot these moments quietly. Constantly pointing out awkward shots may annoy your family or friends.)

Types of shots in filmmaking

The beauty of digital filmmaking is that you can move your camera around and change your shot types throughout a scene. Choosing the right type of shots for your film can enhance a scene’s look and build emotions and mood. Be sure to take time in choosing your shots. A wide shot, also known as a long shot, shows your audience more of the scene you are filming. You do this by zooming out on your camera or by simply moving your camera farther away from your subject or character. Here is a wide shot; next to it is the same shot with a grid superimposed on it so you can see how it was framed using the rule of thirds. As you can see, the actor’s head is framed in the top left. Some filmmakers like to start their scenes with a wide shot. When a wide shot is used this way, it’s called an establishing shot, and is used to show more of the location surrounding the subject or characters in your scene. Imagine you’re filming a scene, and you want your audience to know that your characters are on a beach. One way to do this in your filmmaking is to begin the scene with a wide shot showing your characters, the sky, the sea, and the sand. Instantly your audience knows the characters are on a beach. When framing a shot, look out for any straight lines you can find, either horizontally or vertically across the shot. Use these lines to keep your framing straight. For instance, the shot above is framed so that the horizontal line of the shot follows the line where the grass meets the trees. An extreme wide shot is filmed even farther away from your subject or character — in fact, sometimes they’re not even visible in the shot. This shot is great was for filmmakers to introduce the location of your scene. Often blockbuster movies establish the location of a scene by using an extreme wide shot that includes landmarks, buildings, or sights that the audience will recognize.

Shooting a mid shot in your film

The mid shot or medium shot frames the characters from a space above their heads to a point roughly midway down their bodies. This shot is the most commonly used shot on TV and film because it’s great for capturing hand movements, gestures, and facial expressions. Here’s a mid shot taken from a DVD series. The mid shot is used a lot in news reports because it focuses the audience’s attention on the upper‐half of the bodies of your characters. Because the viewpoint of a mid shot is similar to your own viewpoint when you’re having a conversation with someone, it’s also the most natural‐looking shot for an audience to watch. It’s a great shot to use for conversations and dialogue with small groups of people. A two shot is a mid shot used to film two characters together. A two shot is often used in TV when two presenters host a show. It can be used when you have two characters side by side sitting together or walking, or when they’re face to face at a dinner table or having coffee. Over-the-shoulder shots are great for conversations between characters who are facing each other. With an over-the-shoulder shot, you see both characters at the same time but only one character faces the camera as you film the shot. Over-the-shoulder shots are fun because they allow you to see the expressions on a character’s face. Because the character faces the viewer, over-the-shoulder shots can make the audience feel like they’re in the conversation. Over-the-shoulder shots also can be used within close‐up shots to capture more expression from your character and to build emotion. With over-the-shoulder shots, it’s common for actors to look at the camera during filming because the camera is very close to the shoulder of the second actor. Actors looking at the camera can be distracting to the audience. One way to keep your actors from looking at the lens of the camera during filmmaking is to move the camera farther back away from the actor and then zoom in. See what happens when an actor looks at the camera?

Shooting a close‐up shot in your film

Bringing the camera closer or zooming into your subject or character creates a close‐up shot. A close‐up shot is a great way to show a character’s facial expressions, which can help build emotions in your film. Directors normally use close‐ups in scenes to show how a character is feeling. This degree of detail is hard to get with a wide shot or mid shot. Because close‐up shots convey so much detail on the actor’s face, these shots can allow actors to express subtle emotions. An extreme close‐up shot comes in even closer to your character or subject to show an even greater degree of strong emotions or fine detail on a subject. If you want your audience to know that your character is really angry, say, you could use an extreme close‐up of the actor’s face to show the anger in her eyes. You can use an extreme close‐up for any shot in your film that requires a lot of detail. For example, if you want to show the object that your character has in his hand, you could use a cut‐in to an extreme close‐up shot of that object. A cut‐in is a close‐up shot used to show detail on an object or on a part of the subject already visible in the main scene. In this scene, it is important that the audience see the key being passed from one character to another.

Film Articles

Filmmaking Tips: How to Film and Frame an Interview

Interviewing someone on camera can be tricky; this video gives you some tips on how to position and frame your interview subjects and how to direct them. It’s a good idea to plan your film before beginning the interview. Knowing how to frame your interview subject will help improve your digital film.

First, you need to decide on the type of shot you're going to use for your interview subject. Mid shots and close-ups tend to look best when someone is just talking. You want to see their expressions and possibly their hand movements. You might want to do mostly mid shots but zoom in for a close-up shot when the interview subject is expressing a lot of emotion. Next, you need to decide whether you want the interview subject to look at the camera or to look off camera. If the interview subject is speaking directly to the audience, like Nick is in the video, have them speak to the camera. If they are answering interview questions, have them look to the right of the camera or to the left of the camera and place them in the opposite third of the frame using
the rule of thirds. You can even position the interviewer there so that the interview seems more natural. You also want to give your interviewer some direction in how they answer questions. It's important that they repeat or paraphrase the question back when answering on the film. This helps you avoid yes and no answers to questions that the audience is not hearing.

Filming documentaries: Tips for filming interviews

If your documentary film will include interviews, you may wish to shoot them first, because your subjects’ answers may help you choose what to include in the rest of the documentary. The subjects that you are filming for the interview are unlikely to be actors or people used to being on camera, so it’s very likely that they’ll be nervous, and they may make mistakes. It’s your job as a filmmaker and director to make them feel as comfortable as possible. You can do this by introducing yourself and your role within the documentary film and by explaining to them what will happen during filming and what you would like them to do. Many interview subjects think that they only have one chance to get their answers right, which may make them feel more nervous. Try to keep them calm. Explain that you’re there to help them, and that they can retake the interview if necessary. Allow the subjects to practice their answers in front of the camera: This may help them feel more comfortable and allow them to think about what they’re going to say in the documentary interview.

Framing the subject in your documentary interview

You will want to frame your subject as you might want to frame him in your documentary film. If you have extra lights you can use, consider using the three‐point lighting technique for the interviews. Make sure you set up the lighting and equipment before your subject arrives. You want to be sure both you and your subject are as comfortable as possible. If you’re still setting up when the subject arrives, you’ll be under pressure to get started quickly. This is how mistakes often happen when filming documentaries. It’s also important to think in advance about how you’ll record sound. Do you have an external microphone you can use or will you be using the onboard microphone? Remember to check for background noises and any other distractions while filming the interviews. Mid shots and close-up shots give the most natural look to a documentary interview. You could use both. You might start with a mid shot for the first question, change to a close‐up for the second question, and then back to a mid shot for the third. This means you can cut out the questions from the interviewer when editing, leaving just the answers. When these pieces are assembled together, this can look like one long answer from the interview subject and you can change the camera angle as he or she moves from one answer to the next. Make sure the interviewer stays quiet while the interview subject is answering the questions because you don’t want any interruptions in your documentary film from off‐camera noises or laughter. Removing background noises during editing can be difficult and sometimes impossible. Remember to use the rule of thirds.

Looking off‐camera during the documentary interview

Many filmmakers film documentary interviews with the subject looking away from the camera because this can be more comfortable for the audience to watch. Your subjects should look at the camera only when they’re talking directly to the audience. This technique is mainly used when filming TV presenters. To get this effect, have the person asking the questions to sit to one side of the camera, then ask your subject to look at that person when answering. Remind subjects that they can retake the answer if they make a mistake. You can also ask your interviewer to smile, nod, and keep eye contact with the subjects while they’re answering questions. This can help them feel more comfortable.

Question in the answer when filming your documentary interview

Before you start filming your interview, ask your subject or character to answer the question fully, and to include the question in the answer. For example, one crew asked their subjects what their role was in the film. If the subject just said “camera operator,” this may not make any sense to the audience when the question was cut out later. If instead the answer was “I’m one of the camera operators in this film,” then viewers would have no trouble understanding. Your subjects may forget to do this for every question, however, so you may have to remind them from time to time as you film your documentary.

Check here to find additional tips for filming a good documentary.

Film Articles

Digital Filmmaking for Kids: Editing Keyboard Shortcuts

There are a number of different editing applications that will help you edit your digital film. Although these applications have a number of differences, the keyboard shortcuts are generally the same across all applications. Here are some keyboard shortcuts that can help with the editing process.