Saturday, November 17, 2012

Special Guest Speakers Jono Schaferkotter and Vanessa Tomasello

Vanessa Tomasello and Jono Schaferkotter
This week our video production class was honored to host two special guest speakers, Filmmaker and multi-media artist Jono Schaferkotter and producer and owner of The Design Jungle, Vanessa Tomasello. Jono was kind enough to share his time and give two guest lectures about the storytelling process in film and guided the class through the creation of a beatsheet for our next class project. Jono returned with Vanessa to give another lecture about screenplay development and stayed to help the student teams work on their film concepts and screenplays. The class extends a big thanks to Jono and Vanessa for sharing their time, knowledge and expertise with us.
About the Guest Speakers:
Jono Schaferkotter is an artist whose work easily jumps mediums and genres. His portfolio includes large-scale paintings, mixed-media sculpture, interactive art installation, multi-media choreography and much more. In the last decade, he's created three feature length films, an internationally award winning short, music videos, international documentaries and numerous award-winning commercials. Recently, he has expanded his horizons, tackling both the world of fiction with his new novel and developing his skills as a singer/songwriter. His work has taken him around the world. While he primarily works out of San Francisco (and more recently, New York), in the last few years, he's traveled and lead teams filming in Kenya's Rift Valley Region, Tokyo and the Heilongjiang Province of China.
Vanessa Tomasello is a producer, editor and owner of The Design Jungle, a local video production house that specializes in creation of stunning corporate media for video game trailers,  corporate branding videos, product and tech demos and web campaigns.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

"The BIG Project" Phase 1: Loglines and BeatSheets

Hello Students,
This next project will be the most in-depth attempt to date for our class. You will be working in teams to create an original narrative short film or documentary. Your project will utilize story development and screenplay development techniques to create a video that is engaging, well produced and follows a 3 act story line.

The BIG Project
Project Specifications:
Format: The goal of this project is to create a compelling narrative, either fictional or factual (documentary) short video. Work in teams of 3.

Grading: Your project should reflect the skills and knowledge you have developed throughout the semester. Camera work must be smooth. Audio must be appropriate and well mixed. Edits must be used properly. Direction should show use of production techniques learned in our scavenger hunt video, use different angles, closeups, midrange shots, wide shots etc. 

Note: Teams are encouraged to recruit help for their projects, stagehands, actors etc... Teams may help each other. Make sure any volunteers are committed. All project beatsheets/storyboards/scripts/shot lists must be approved by me before production can begin.

Each team member is responsible for editing their own final version of the video, no group efforts with editing. Special exemptions made for difficult special effects sequences, must have prior approval.

Phase 1, Brainstorm and Create a BeatSheet:
Deliverable: Create a proposal for your teams film by brainstorming ideas for your short film and create a Logline and Beatsheet to develop your 3 act story arc. Follow the worksheet below to make your idea fit into the Beatsheet format.

Script Title (Your script or movie title)
Logline (A catchy, one-sentence summary of your script) 
Beat 1—Opening Scene 

The opening scene is an opportunity for you to give the audience the starting point of the protagonist’s journey. It can be an image of your protagonist, an important setting, a revealing conversation between characters, an object that is essential to the plot, etc. This should give your audience a “snapshot” of what the rest of your film might look like, or what your film is all about. The opening image in the Wizard of Oz depicts Dorothy and Toto running down a dirt road with storm clouds approaching in the background. Once you watch the whole film, you realize how important that first scene really is. And remember, just like the first page of a novel needs to draw the reader in, the opening image of a script needs to draw the audience in. (Describe your opening image in the space below.)

Beat 2—Setting Up the Story 

All the important characters (your protagonist, antagonist, and supporting characters) in your main plot will be introduced during the first ten pages, or at least hinted at. You want your audience to know all your characters’ strange tics and behaviors—basically, what makes your characters unique. You will also want to set up your conflict (or what your protagonist wants more than anything and how his or her fears and antagonist are in the way of him or her getting it.) By page ten, your audience needs to fall in love with your characters enough to care about their conflict. (Below, brainstorm character behaviors and events that you might need to write into your script in order to set up your conflict.)

Beat 3—Inciting Incident 

In the set-up, you have told us all about the world of your script. The inciting incident (also known as the catalyst) will turn that world upside down. Protagonists get fired, find out they have a long lost brother, get news that they have three days to live, meet the girl or boy of their dreams, get blown somewhere over the rainbow by a powerful tornado, etc. This is what forces your protagonist out of a daily routine and into the adventure of a lifetime. (Describe your inciting incident in the space below.)

Beat 4—The Big Decision

Page 25 is the point of no return. From page 10 until then, your protagonist should be debating whether to embark on his or her journey or just continue living his or her uneventful, everyday life. Unless you want to write a really boring script, your protagonist will choose the more dangerous and exciting path towards his or her goal. But just like it might be hard if you had to decide to leave everything behind, it will be a hard decision for your protagonist. (Below, write two lists from your protagonist’s point of view. One stating why he or she should stay, and one stating why he or she should embark on the adventure.)

Reasons why I should stay:
Reasons why I should embark on the adventure: 

Beat 5—Into the Wide Unknown 

This is a big moment for your protagonist, and you want to make sure that your audience knows it. He or she is leaving the old world behind, and stepping into a dangerous and unknown world to embark on the adventure. Because these two worlds are so distinct, the act of actually stepping into the new one must be unmistakable. A great example of this is in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy steps out of her house and into the Munchkin City. (Below, describe the moment where your protagonist steps into the new world.)

Beat 6—Subplot 

The subplot, also known as the “B story,” is oftentimes a love story involving the protagonist, but it can also be based around supporting characters or even a brand new gang of characters. The subplot will make your script more dynamic or exciting; the more subplots you have, the more fun your film will be to watch. (Using the space below, brainstorm some ideas for various subplots and how to introduce them into your script. You may want to go back to your “Supporting Character Worksheets,” and see what each of them wants more that anything in the world.)

Beat 7—Having Fun and Getting to Know Your Characters 

This is the portion of a film where most of the trailer clips come from. As you might guess, this part of the script is more upbeat; it is less about “your characters moving towards an end goal” and more about “your characters having fun and getting to know each other.” This does not mean that it is less important. This part of your script helps your audience get to know what your characters and your story are all about. For example, this is the part of Wizard of Oz where Dorothy sings and dances with her newly-found friends along the Yellow Brick Road. (Write out some rising action that might fit into this section of your script in the space below.)

Beat 8—The 50% Mark 

The fun and games are over, and it is time to get back to the story. The midpoint of your script can be tricky. It is said that, at this point in your script, your protagonist either reaches a point where he or she thinks that things can’t get any better or any worse. The trick is that neither is true. The movie is only halfway over, and things are going to get worse before they are going to get better. This is the moment when Dorothy looks across the poppy field and sees the Emerald City. Though it looks like her journey is almost over, it has only just begun! (Below, describe the midpoint of your script.)

Beat 9—The Antagonist Returns! 

Your protagonist has already had some run-ins with the antagonist, and has been successful so far in keeping him or her out of the way. At the 50% Mark, your protagonist may believe that he or she has seen the last of the “bad guy or gal.” Unbeknownst to your protagonist, the antagonist has been getting ready to come back with a vengeance. (Describe how your antagonist rears his or her ugly head again in your script in the space below.)

Beat 10—The “All is Lost” Moment 

Just like the 50% Mark, the “All is Lost” Moment is a false defeat. Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong. The antagonist has come back with a bigger army and a brilliant game plan right when your protagonist thought all his or her problems were gone for good (or when he or she thought that things could not get any worse). After such a huge defeat, it is no wonder your protagonist is ready to throw in the towel and give up on his or her dreams. (Describe the “All is Lost” Moment in your script below.)

Beat 11—The “Ah Ha!” Moment 

This is the moment when your protagonist pulls him or herself off the floor and back into action. Oftentimes, with the help of the supporting characters, he or she will come up with a brilliant plan (Ah ha!) to finally defeat the antagonist—this time for real. (Describe the “Ah ha!” moment of your script below.)

Beat 12—The Final Push 

These final pages of your script typically contain your climax, falling action, and your resolution. This is where your protagonist learns to overcome his or her fears in order to defeat the antagonist, consequently changing—and sometimes even saving—the world! (Describe all the events that make up your climax, falling action, and your resolution below.)

There is a lot of information here. Also, this is a “formula.” It is something that many screenplay writers use to write their scripts, but it not a requirement. You can write an “off-beat” film by rearranging all the beats or by making some longer and others shorter. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

After Effects Tutorials: Advanced

Hello Students,
Your next assignment is to choose an advanced motion graphics tutorial that can be completed with Adobe After Effects. Choose one from the list below to work through, or research websites like or, make sure the tutorial you choose only requires After Effects and don't require any 3rd party plugins or programs. You will need to shoot your own sample footage to use with these tutorials, put some time into it and make it look great!

Difficult!!!  ---> Adobe After Effects Tutorial: Track Your Golf Swing

Adobe After Effects Tutorial: Light Rays

Adobe After Effects Tutorial: Fairly Realistic Fire with CC Particle Generator

Adobe After Effects Tutorial: Floating Hologram Effect

Adobe After Effects Tutorial: Droste Effect - Endless Zoom

Have fun! - Mr.W