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Student Film Critique

Lesson 26 from: Filming Families: The Modern Family Video

Courtney Holmes

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Lesson Info

26. Student Film Critique


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


The Spark That Inspired Me


What Are Family Films?


Gear for Family Films


Camera Settings for Video


Frame Rates & Slow Motion


Picture Profiles & Color Grading


Settings for Audio Capture


Lesson Info

Student Film Critique

Student critique time! Okay, so we're gonna hop back over to my laptop. And so Tiffany Luong has provided us with a film and this is a family film. Can you tell me when you did it? I did in November. November? November 17, Yeah. And, she's good. And so November 17. Yeah, okay. And was this... How many films had you done prior to this? Prior to that maybe about 20 or so. Right, okay, great. Not all good ones. (Courtney laughs) This one's so-so, too. (laughs) (laughs) It doesn't matter, it's fine. And so are films a big part of your business? I wanted them to be. But I'm still working on marketing that. Yes. Yes, so, yeah, a lot of times families want the photos, but I realized that my business name is Tiffany Luong Photography. I didn't even like, some people don't even know that I do films. So I just have to be better at publicizing that. Yes, yep, okay, cool. So what I'm gonna do with this is... So this is something that I love, love, love doing with my student...

s. And I will, online, I usually have this on my laptop and then I do a screencast recording and it creates a video of just me talking. And it's this stop and start dialogue and usually my dog snores in the background. (audience laughing) And all these things. But I really like doing this because it gives the student an idea of what would go through my mind as I'm watching. So we'll go through it. So what we might do is play the whole thing first and then we'll stop and start. (soft nostalgic music) Awesome. Okay. So did you do photos through this as well? I did. Yeah. Which is why I missed it when he popped out of the door to scare the kids. (laughs) I was like, "Ah, why did I even leave that in there?" (Courtney laughs) Yeah, I actually didn't finish. Okay, so and what would you say was the priority? The priority I think was photos. Okay, all right, well, that makes sense. And are you using auto-focus or manual? Manual mostly, and back-button focus as well. Okay, so back-button while you're filming or-- No, back-button while I'm doing photos. But then a lot of manual, but then I'm seeing as I'm re-watching this I was like, "Oh, I think there was a lot of back-button focusing during video as well. Potentially, yeah. Yeah. I was noticing that, too. So I wondered if that was auto or manual then which one you were doing the most of. I noticed that moments, and this is one thing that I noticed happens with auto is it's trying to catch, it's trying to decide where the focus should be. And the unfortunate thing about that is that if a great moment's happening, then you have the focus trying to find itself. It kinda just ruins the shot for you. (soft nostalgic music) So this opening, had you been doing photos on the bed when you first got there? No, that was towards the end. But then I wanted it as the opening scene. (laughs) (laughs) Okay. Or I felt like it worked the best for the title slide. I love the title slide. I think that's really cool. Thanks. Okay, yeah, I can see what it would work the best with the title slide. I guess I would consider potentially maybe not using this as the opening, or maybe just something a little bit more wide, 'cause it's the only clip of this scene and then we just move onto something else. I think maybe it would be stronger if you spent more time setting up the story and introducing the people kinda slowly. Then this and less then, had then been more of a scene, like a longer scene, it might've been okay. But that's one thing I would consider. (soft nostalgic music) I love the light there. This is just such a short clip. But I like this moment. (soft nostalgic music) This side-by-side, for me, doesn't work. It would be better if it was dad and the little girl, but because you've got mom and the little boy in this room, sorry, right here. And then your very next clip is them in this different room, here, then you're kinda like, "Huh, how'd they magically change rooms?" So be mindful of that. And then it comes down to just having to decide which one to include and which one not to. You might just have to make a decision there or a different clip in between them will help smooth that out, some B-roll. (soft nostalgic music) So I would probably cut the beginning where the focus is trying to find her face. Right. And just start it from the moment the focus was on. So that's just an editing thing. (soft nostalgic music) Then the sliding will be good if so we're just going from her, kinda perched up here, to then the sliding. And this could be another edit type thing. So if you had a closer up clip of something else, just the two side-by-side, don't work as well together, just because of how her body is positioned. It's just that continuity thing there. Woo! (chuckles) Didn't meant to go there. But it could be, like it might've worked if instead of here you had chosen to shoot down and less so of her body but just her feet coming down, would've been another option. And see that's also a moment where you could've stepped back and instead of following her down the slide, let her just come through. Or I should've just stood outside the room and then just gotten it through the door frame. Yeah, yeah. Because just the space in the room was pretty non-existing. Yes, it looks small. Yeah, (chuckles) yeah. Did you any color grading to this at all? Not too much. And even I think halfway I asked them to turn the lights off because I was like, "Ah, I have mixed lighting everywhere." Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. Okay, this clip here, I would probably just cut all together. Okay. There's not a great moment between him and her and so 'cause we now move into the scene where they're in the next scene. I would probably pull this one. Focus is really different on this one. Like it's kind of all over the place. I think it's autofocus. Or it could've been camera stabilization, too. Oh. 'Cause I think I added that after and then I just, maybe it was too crooked and then so my stabilization was like doing this. Okay, is that in post? Yeah. All right, so you used warp stabilizer? Something like that. Yeah. Yes. (chuckles) Okay, so warp stabilizer is something that can be really handy and can also be so obvious. So you have to really be mindful. And this isn't really directed at you, necessarily, but I see this a lot where the walls are moving. If you notice that stationary objects in the frame are moving-- Mm-hm. (laughs) You've gone too far, okay? (Tiffany laughs) So cool it down on the warp stabilizer. Warp stabilizer is not a fix-all. It's really only best used when there's a tiny bit of shaking and you really want it to look polished. It's not something can be used to fix footage, unfortunately. You end up with the walls moving everywhere and just really wobbly. Yeah, okay. (soft nostalgic music) So I would have loved to have heard audio. Did you capture any, I mean, I know you captured audio but-- Yeah, no I didn't, I don't-- Didn't incorporate. No, 'cause I was too scared at that time to use audio. Okay, yeah. When you have... One of my things that I try to avoid is if I'm not using the audio, I try not to include any clips of mouths moving. 'Cause if mouths are moving and I can't hear what they're saying, I'm kinda like, "Wait, what?" And so that's another thing where I think, as a viewer, you're asking questions, you get pulled out, you lose. Yeah, so. Yeah. (soft nostalgic music) And so that's kind of a similar thing of like following that movement, maybe pulling back a little bit more so you can still get what they're doing, but it's just anticipating that that's what you wanna shoot. I think sometimes following the movement it's like, "Oh, they're doing something. "I'm gonna go with that." You know what I mean? And so pulling back a little bit and anticipating that that intentional, like really intentional, like this is what I'm trying to capture, is the act of her bringing the strawberries in. And then also really remembering your photographer's hat. So why is that important? Why are you showing it? Why are you wanting to include what is interesting about that? And thinking about that and using that to guide you for your compositional choices. (nostalgic music) So through that whole thing, I think there was just a little bit of not really being sure what it was you wanted to show necessarily. And so I think just really thinking about that before you go into it and be really intentional with those clips. And what is it about them eating that is significant? (upbeat music) So let me just run this back. (upbeat music) So they were making this to take it outside to eat it outside, right? Yep. What are those things? Bell peppers. Yeah, bell peppers that they eat or grew or got at the farmer's market like really recently. They were talking about it for awhile. (Courtney chuckles) Maybe that's why it gone shown twice, 'cause I was like, "Oh, two clips of bell peppers." Yeah, okay. Yes. (chuckles) With this, this is hard. Like it's a transition. This might not... I would try and think about how you can shoot in a not-so literal way. Like how you can still show the steps of them moving without it being so, okay, they are moving from this room to the next. Okay, now they're putting shows on. Okay, now the other one's putting shoes on, okay. Like by being less literal, and still implying through the way that you shoot, by shooting more about paying more attention to the way that it feels for them to do all of these things and really thinking that way in your approach, gives you more space to have the emotional stuff in there. 'Cause if you're not having to show so much of the literal, then you have more space and more opportunity to bring in the emotional stuff. And that's what hooks the people, like that's what hooks the clients on your stuff is the emotional side of it. So I would always look at every clip and think, "How relevant is this? "How much do I need this clip? "What is this telling about the story? "What's this contributing to the story?" And be ruthless about what you're putting in and what you're not. (upbeat music) One thing I wanna mention about music is it's hard in here 'cause we have a lag. So there's a really, a short delay. For the people that are watching there's not. So I'm gonna try and see. (upbeat music) Do you hear that change in the music? It's like, dun-du-du-la-la-la, dun-dun-dun-dun. Yeah. Okay, so that's where you need to change your clip. Oh, okay. Right? And that happens throughout the whole film. You need to be listening to the beats. And one of the things that I learned about, when I first started doing this was, I would put clips side-by-side. And I would watch them back and I'd be like, "Why doesn't that feel good?" And then I started shifting them to the beat of the music. And then when I started doing that, I was like, "Oh, that feels a lot better." So really drilling in, zoom in on the timeline, look at the waveform for the audio underneath, the music track, you can see the spikes. And sometimes that can be helpful to kinda know where that beat is. This one in particular would have it. But let that help you guide, or help guide you through the beats. But trying to make the changes on the beats will make a big difference, especially when it's going into, 'cause this is even going into a different phrase in the music. Uh-huh, right, right. (upbeat music) One thing that I'll do, and I'm gonna show this later in the editing is I'll mark, I'll go through my music, and I mark the phrases in the music and I kinda edit my scenes into each phrase. (upbeat music) This clip where she's doing this with his face is what... What made you decide to include that one in there? I just like it when I recognize like all the things that parents have to do. 'Cause I'm like I have to do that to my kid all the time. (chuckles) Yeah. And also so that they have this later and be like, "Look how much I had to clean up after you." (audience laughing) All right, cool. (upbeat music) I liked that, that was good, the way that you went from showing a bit of a wide, bit of a midshot into a closeup and then you're going back wide, that's nicely done. (upbeat music) So (chuckles) where dad's showing the food is kinda cracking me up. (upbeat music) I would probably try and put something in between these two clips just purely 'cause of what, like they're not, he's not doing the same thing. And so I try to make it look like I've got a lot of camera positions, shooting the same thing at the same time. And so this kinda goes to that continuity thing where he's not... If he was in the exact same position between these two clips it would work a lot better, but because he's not it feels a little jolting. But if you just had another closeup, like if you had another closeup of something else that you put between the two, it would work, it would be fine. So be mindful of that. (upbeat music) So this is cute. The only thing I would say is that we've got her running up. And you're the same camera position but you're closer. But in this clip, he's not in it. And in the next one he is. Okay. There he is. Yeah. Like he appeared out of thin air. So that's so normal when you're shooting to have that kind of thing happen. But when you're editing, try and put something in between so that it's not as jolting, that change, that difference there. It's that continuity of you want the person to feel like they're there and that they're part of it. And so if they're seeing all the people being added into the scene naturally instead of appearing like that, that's gonna be more immersive for them. (upbeat music) I like this, the way that you've moved from here. And they're in similar posit, yeah, similar positions. Door's open, that's okay. You're inside, this is cool, this is good. (upbeat music) I would probably cut it a little earlier, 'cause I don't know what he's doing. All I need to know is just that they're walking in. So I'd maybe cut it around here, just 'cause you can see he's looking for something to do. But we can't see what that is. And then we never see what that is. Okay? Okay. (upbeat music) This one, I would maybe start before the, 'cause mom's reaching in to clean the little girl's face. Dad's reaching in to clean the little boy's face. I would probably start it from this point right here instead of the faster camera movement, because we never really see this action happen. It's just, it happens so fast. And so I would probably cut it and start it more like here. Okay. And then go in. (upbeat music) That's cute, and I like how you did that, so you were inside. Little boy was at the window. I can see you in the frame (chuckles) in the window. (Tiffany chuckles) And then dad was on this side and then you switched. That's nice. And it doesn't even matter, that really that dad was wiping his face and then he's not now. Like that's not as noticeable here, 'cause it's not the focus. But that was nicely done. (upbeat music) Is that warp? I think that's warp stabilizer on that one, too. Yeah. (upbeat music) Just a little bit on the playground. Or, what is that? Playhouse. Playhouse. (chuckles) Let me go back to this. All right, so dad was sitting in the chairs, now he's not. Yeah, yeah. So I would some sort of B-roll or shoot that differently, or, yeah. And a lot of times, like I said, sorta just deciding, like this whole scene of the treehouse? Club, what is that? Playhouse. Playhouse (chuckles) is decide what the scene is really gonna be. And I think maybe culling it a little bit more might help with that and deciding which clips are gonna work and which ones aren't. And that, I usually determine what the best moments are, use those and use the clips that around it. Okay. Okay? Yeah. But I really like this in the way that you've gone in and out of the house. It's really good. Okay, yeah, and so now dad is back in. Yeah, and then also no one took the cup when he gave it to-- Yeah, no one took the cup! Yes. (both ladies laugh) Leaving me hanging! (chuckles) Yeah. Like it's nice because we see more of it, but, yeah. And so this would be a thing where I would decide which one. So I would probably, you don't need to show them bringing the fruit over to the table necessarily. So you could just start from the next one. Because he's jumped to the other side of the table. (soft guitar music) And so that clip, she was at the kitchen. And then in the next clip, she's closing the door. So be mindful of when you've got the same subject, doing two different things with the clip side-by-side. It's just picking which one. (soft nostalgic music) (chuckles) Where dad's doing that is adorable. I would've gotten in closer I think on that. Like com positionally this does... I would probably more had him over here and been more focused on that, 'cause that's where my attention wants to go. But I'm kind of seeing more of this. Right, right. (nostalgic music) And so more of a transition between the kids in the house to then the next. (nostalgic music) Right, so I probably wouldn't include this clip at all. This is really literal. There's not any great moment happening here. And there's not any lead-up, really. I can see it really in the distant, like barely, the car that I think they get into? Yeah. Yeah? But I couldn't see it the first two times I saw it. Oh, uh-huh. If that was more visible it would make a little more sense. And then they get into it. (upbeat music) Yeah, so the kids are in different laps. The little girl was in mom's and then they swapped. That's hard when they do stuff like that, because you don't have control over it You're just letting them do it so you do the best you can with what you have. In that instance, if I was wanting to get these two camera positions, these two angles, then after they changed, I would then shoot both again so that I knew that if I wanted to put the two together then I would have them where the kids are in the same spots. (upbeat music) This is really cute, this whole little scene, when they're in the car. (upbeat music) I think more of like where this excitement is happening when we're shooting their backs, more of like their faces and what they're doing and in terms of shot types, more details of the things that they're touching and playing with the kids. (upbeat music) This is really, really cute. And to try and incorporate it in some way it's hard, because there weren't any other clips where they were doing this. So maybe mixing it up even with just a closeup of something else and then to this and then a closeup and then to something else into the next clips. But it's tricky. 'Cause they're sitting and then they're up. Yeah, yeah. Yeah? (upbeat music) Do you hear the change in the music? Yeah. (upbeat music) So where the music drops away, it's a new phrase. Right, right. And so it's like just that drum beat underneath you can hear, so would probably consider going into the next clips when that happens instead of this one clip. 'Cause dad's holding out his hands and like he never comes to him, really. So it's a cute moment. There's so many cute moments that I have to just be like, I can't include that, I'm just not gonna put it there, because there's other things that work better. And there's always gonna be this decision that you have to make, whether to include it or not. So I would probably lean towards this one being out and moving to the next one with this phrase change. (upbeat music) This, I really like the hands behind the curtains and the light and all of that. But the part where we're focused on the slide doesn't work as well and it would be stronger if it was just that. And I would shoot that more from the side, like straight onto the hands. That was really cool. It might be too quick. It's such a short little part of it, but more of that. Did that happen for a long time or was that really quick? No, I didn't even know she was there. And I was like, "Oh!" (audience member chuckles) Oh, okay, and so then after that did she come out of the-- I think so and then she ended up on the slide again. Yeah, okay. So this, you need to ask yourself, "What information am I giving my viewer by showing this "right here?" So is this relevant? What's the slide telling us? There's no one that's going down it. We saw it earlier. And so you could use the second part of it where it's just the curtains, whether that's too fast or not, I don't know. But, yeah, always ask yourself that. (upbeat music) The clip, this one, I would... It would be stronger if you had, it would've been really hard to pull back on this 'cause you were in such a tight space. But even you don't have to show the whole thing. Even if it was just a clip where they're coming and like the camera stays stable, and they're coming in, just like earlier I was talking about they're coming and going down the slide, is gonna work better than trying to follow that. Right, right. (upbeat music) I really like this moment. (laughs) (Tiffany laughs) This is like something that I have to do with my son all the time and it just reminds me of that. And so I get whites included. It doesn't work as well 'cause the clip right before it is them going-- The slide. Like, literally her climbing up the slide and then she's off the slide. So be mindful of that when you're editing. (upbeat music) So I love the what's gonna happen but then it doesn't happen. I know! So unfortunately you need to get rid of it. (chuckles) Yes. Because I was like the look on her face was just gonna be priceless when he jumped out. And you know you can see him standing there. So you're like expecting that but then you don't get it. Right. (upbeat music) And then there's that jump cut really 'cause you're in the same place and then all of a sudden he's out rom behind the door. (upbeat music) Okay, and so this was from the bedroom, like it's a similar from earlier. More from here, I think if there was, if you had anything, would be good. It's nice light. But since there's not, and then that very next clip is here in the kitchen, I probably would just go straight into-- Kitchen. That, because there's a few things there. And what do they start doing again? Are they eating again? Yeah, they're eating their leftovers. (audience laughing) And then they brought the popcorn out. (laughs) Okay, yes. (upbeat music) I like this camera position change. That's good, but it was too short. Okay. I remember seeing that and I was like, "Ooh, what's that?" So, here, I think maybe closer in so that we don't have so much of this. But this is a mirror. Yeah, it's a mirror. So I would get in closer on this and still use, I like the framing. And I like that you used the mirror, but get rid of the stuff on the edges. Right, so I used the plant to hide myself. So you could see my elbow there. Oh, I see you there. Yeah, so what tips do you have for like not getting yourself in a reflective surface? Angles. Like, you need to be more like this instead of so much like this. And sometimes it doesn't work. More like this, so that they would be at the edge of mirror. And angled more this way instead of that way. Okay. That's gonna help you stay out of the mirror, the reflection. I love shooting through windows where there's like all of the stuff, reflection on the outside of the window. But it is really hard because you end up in the reflection, too. And in those moments, it's angling yourself into a shadow so that you're not part of the light and being reflected. Right. Yep, okay. So that's what I would do there. Also, I mean, I really like it, but it's way too short. And in terms of the being cohesive throughout and the pace that you're going, it's too quick. Was it just to... Did you edit it intentionally that short? Or was it a shorter clip? I think I was trying to end it on the music, because right after this, it stops. And in the last scene, the mom comes back in. Okay. Okay, I see. And so we're just gonna let the song come up there so we can all see where that was from, licensed through Soundstripe. (Tiffany and Courtney laugh) So with that I think what I would encourage you to do is really try and think about more so how the things feel that they're doing, really being mindful of... Also interaction between. I think there was some safe shot types. And one thing that I would love to see would be more from the child's perspective, looking at the parent and the parent's perspective, looking at the child, things like that, things that are gonna help bring us more into what they're all feeling. Okay. But really well done. Thanks. And it's so challenging to do that when you're also doing photos, especially when photos are the priority. Like you had so much footage there that was good and you managed to do photos as well. So well done. Thanks. And just keep doing it and strive for progress. Not perfection. (audience laughing) Yes, exactly. Thanks, Courtney. Okay.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Shot List Worksheet Template
Shot List Worksheet Example
Ideas for Your First Film
Discount Code

Ratings and Reviews

Adam Nicholls

Worth a watch! Courtney provides a clear and organised class, she is also very passionate about what she does which is always nice to see. She has a great back story which is fantastic. This course is good for beginners who have some knowledge in photography and want to learn more about video. I would recommend that people do not refer this class to the bible of filmmaking as I feel you can expand further on what Courtney teaches. Some useful tips for beginners but some methods I personally feel can be taught differently. I feel a gimbal is a useful bit of kit if used correctly. You can still use a gimbal when in manual mode providing you follow the basics rules! Obviously if Courtney prefers not to use a gimbal then that's also fine but I wouldn't discourage students from exploring useful filmmaking tools. Slow motion can be achieved with 50/60fps however I feel other frame rates should have been discussed like 120fps. I liked that Courtney engaged with the students as it gets them involved and will help them remember what they have learned during the class. Thank you for taking the time to share some of your knowledge

a Creativelive Student

Courtney's work is absolutely amazing and inspiring. I feel lucky that she has chosen to share her process and that this class is available! After watching all the videos and trying my hand at this video thing, I am feeling really encouraged and inspired to do more- both personally and professionally. I appreciate the way that she breaks things down in the video and that she shares her thought process. A really great course!


Courtney’s course completes me! I have storytelling “holes” in my film previously, but this course helped fill those holes to create a flow and a film with emotion. Not only is the course wonderful (and well worth every penny) but Courtney is wonderful as well! I had such an amazing experience at Creative Live!!!!

Student Work