Monday, January 26, 2015

The Art of Simplifying

Sometimes a project can seem overwhelming.

Will it make if from paper -- or your imagination -- onto the screen?  

You know what you want to say. You may have a shot list. You may even have a storyboard -- and then you hit a wall.

Too much. Too hard. Close to impossible.

It doesn't have to be.

Remember, most machinima is short. I personally am on record with the UWA 4:30 minute length as one I aim for as a max. There are exceptions but often what needs to be said, heard and shown is repeated a few too many times in longer length films.

A couple of real life examples come to mind (well of course they do).

There was a popular best selling book about the differences between men and women. It was a small book. Even so, it easily could have made its point in a mid length magazine article. We call that extra stuff "filler".  Filler ain't good in my book.

There was a movie about horses that took place in one of the northern states of the US. Wyoming? North Dakota? I don't really remember. There were a good thirty minutes of beautiful country mountain shots adding to the already lengthy movie.

Sometimes you just need to let some footage fall to the floor -- or in modern days, into your recycle bin. If you can take a hard and honest look at your shooting plan and decide what you don't need BEFORE shooting; well, that's the best plan in my book.

Along side of getting rid of the fluff that your theme doesn't need, there are ways to make your life easier and more enjoyable. And if done correctly, your audience will likely never notice.

One option is to make your cutaway shots stills. They are typically of short duration, need no actor and can be manipulated for effects within your graphics or video editing software. Just take a photo the same size or larger as the screen size of your video display window.

Sometimes the only location you have is less than "modern" in that mesh and materials look of 2015. Still, it may be the only one available and in essence it CAN portray the mood and location your are looking for. 

Now is the time to be thankful you took the time to learn how to manipulate your virtual environment with Windlight.  Oh no! You cut class that day and went to the mall (beach, movies etc.) ?  Don't worry, there is a HUGE selection of Windlight settings in most third party viewers. They cover many needs and cycling though the long list of options can get you thinking in new directions. While there is no replacement for understanding how Windlight works, with the help of your virtual "friends" -- you can fake it.

So in case you near that depressing "it's all too much" place in the future -- remember, simplifying is often the answer.

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