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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Lights...camera...action! » » Does low production quality bother you? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Platt
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As I'm finishing up my DVD, "Catapult!" I'm becoming a little concerned some shops might disregard it due to the very homegrown nature of the filming- inconsistent lighting, uneven backdrop, occasional echo, etc.

The feeling most people seem to have around here is that if the magic is clear and understandable, the rest doesn't matter. However, I wanted to take a little survery. Thoughts on this? Does lo-fi bother you, even if the magic looks great and everything is clear?
Sugar Rush is here! Freakishly visual magic. http://www.plattmagic.com
cinemagician
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Clarity is key.

Are you using more than one camera to capture the action as it happens ?

I think it's very important to use more than one camera.

When we are forced to look at a static medium shot on a T.V. screen, a lot can be missed.

In person, the experience is so much more imediate. Our eyes and brains do the "editing" for us.

I think at the very least it's important to use more than one camera and to cut from medium shot to close up where appropriate.
...The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity...

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Tony Iacoviello
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I think the quality of the material is what matters.

some of my favorite videos are the Marlo videos, much of which were shot at home with a simple super 8 movie camera. The same goes for Ross Bertam.

The Chad Long Home Made Video, the name describes the production, the material is excellent.

There are others as well. Some reviewers (professional and amauter) will look for anything negative to say. There is no way to win. If the material is good and can be enjoyed and learned from, it fits the bill as a good production in my opinion.

Some judge a book by it's cover, others by the words and ideas within.

Tony
magicleland
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I believe in a great digital life style, therefor I believe that great video and great material should both be included.
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ScottRSullivan
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While 'content is king,' I would think that production value has just that, value. I feel production value is important for two reasons.

First, how would you feel if you went to see a movie and the actor wasn't wearing make-up and looked aweful. They still give a great 'performance,' but they don't look 'pretty' or 'handsome'. Think BBC.

Seeing the bad teeth, pimples and/or moles doesn't take away from the performance. Or does it. How many times have you been distracted by something in the background.

For example, a magic instructional tape taped in a living room. Every once and awhile a truck drives by out the front window. Doesn't affect the magic directly. But I am distracted. So I DOES affect it.

The second main reason it matters (in my opinion) is the production quality direcly reflects the attitudes of the performer.

Just like your attire reflects much about who you are, your magic and in this case, your video, directly broadcast to the world who you are. It shows exactly how much you value yourself. If you don't care enough to shave and groom properly, those you meet in day to day activity will infer you to be a 'bum'. Whether this is true or not is NOT the point. It is the image in their minds that will be formed.

So take it all with a grain of salt, pepper or sand. As magicleland said, it's a great digital life style. It is so easy to make a great image and have high production value. Spend a few extra minutes and a few extra dollars to make yourself shine.

Warm regards,
Scott

P.S.
I also enjoy watching old videos like Vernon's discussions and the like. Yes, it's bad production value. Yes the audio stinks. But it's what they had BACK THEN. Look at what we have TODAY. We can't compare current productions with that of the past. Otherwise weathermen would still be pointing to cardboard cutout suns stuck to a wall painted with a map!
Tony Iacoviello
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As a fan of independent films, sometimes the production value is there, sometimes not. With today's technology and independent can create a good product, but without the money it is hard to compete with the big guys. The same hold true in the magic world.

I'm of the opinion that if you have something good that you want to share with the community, you don't have to mortgage your house and hire a company to produce it. If you don't have the expertise and the tools to make a video that will compete with L&L's standards, I don't care. People who will use the material won't care either. As long as it is a clear and easy to watch and understand production.

Look at the success of Don Driver's two videos. Very low production, but high quality information. Nothing but praise, but the people who bought them are people who will use the material, and they recognize the value.

If you market it towards performers, do the best that you can, let it be known that you did it yourself, and if the material is good, it will be well received.

Market towards the magic hobbyists and you will be in trouble.

In an ideal world, both the material and the production quality should be the commercial standard, but this is not always the case. Many "high production quality" DVDs are on the market with recycled material and crap as filler, then again, the same can be said for some of the "low production quality" DVDs.

In short, if the material is good, it will find its market, regardless of the production quality, as long as it is clear and easy to understand.

Tony
Platt
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I appreciate the comments. Scott, I'll advise you to steer clear of Catapult! Not only is the production value low, I wear white trash hats, the occasional wrinkled shirt and have substantial stubble. If people see this as a reflection of how I feel about myself and my magic, well, so be it.

You asked how I would feel if I went to a movie and the actor had bad teeth or whatever. To me, that's comparing zombie balls to bowling balls. I'm seeing a hollywood production for far different reasons than a magic instructional video. I'd like to believe most others are too. But to each their own. I suppose there's some folks who are looking for good dialogue in a porn video.

Anyhow, I'm sorry if this comes off defensive. I asked the question because I wanted true opinions. So thanks for the honesty. I do appreciate it. I just happen to disagree.
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RobertBloor
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This advice comes from someone whose degree is in television production.

You products are a reflection of you.

If you take the time to make sure you have decent lighting, a mic so you can hear you, a decent camera (not necessarily a $3,000 Canon. My 3CCD Panasonic cost $650), then your product will show a fair reflection of you.

The Other Train of Thought Is...

The details and or information provided is the most important thing. As an example, Rick Allen's "MegaBux$" system has horrible production quality. There's one static shot, he rambles on and on, and Rick isn't wearing a mic so you can hardly make out anything he's saying.

But he's of the opinion that his production is irrelevant so long as the information, if used correctly, will make you hundreds of dollars or more from BOR sales.

I'll Just Suggest You Look At Your Production Value Like This...

Would you turn in a resume to a prospective employer that's written in pencil on paper torn out of a spiral?

No? If they can understand the information, why not? Because the quality of your product is a reflection of YOU.

Robert
"That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government,"
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Platt
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Unlike a prospective employer, I guess I'm okay with people thinking what they want about me. If they think I'm lazy, unattractive and poorly dressed, that's just fine with me. If they don't find the magic clearly lit and find it hard to follow, or aren't loving the thinking behind the effects, that's not fine with me. That's why I put all my effort (if any of you have made a magic DVD, you know just how much effort that is) into the latter.

Again, I know people are going to really like this DVD. It's packed with 2 hours of great magic, very clearly explained, performed by an averagely groomed gentleman in a wrinkled shirt with a shotty backdrop. Again, if the last part leaves you cold, I'd ask you not to steer clear of this one.

All the best, and thanks for the great honest imput by everybody. Whether I agree with it or not, I respect it.
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Mercury52
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I think there's a big difference between production value that isn't "100% ultimate cutting edge" and value that's just bad, sloppy, or shows laziness.

I don't think people mind slight imperfections, but they have gotten used to a certain degree of sophistication.

People accepted the fuzzy video and bad audio of the 80's, because that was the best that was achievable.

Today it's pretty darn easy to have clear audio and video without a lot of excess junk. If you do that, nobody will complain.

Also, if you can't afford to buy a digital camera and other equipment, rentals are available. If you feel you have material that's worth going to the trouble of putting a DVD together, it's worth an up-front monetary investment to get quality equipment to work with.

Kevin
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Platt
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Kevin, I agree with you. I did use a digital recorder. The problem is the backdrop and occasionally the lighting. I learned as I went what was working best. I don't have the time and resources to hire a professional photographer so I used friends. Even myself sometimes. If I could do it again, or give out advice to someone starting filming today, I'd look out for two things:

1- A solid black backdrop that ALWAYS bleeds off the perimeter camera.
2- Non-overhead lighting. The overhead lighting is fine for highlighting the magic, it just looks homegrown and makes you look very very strange.

Those are the two biggest things I learned over this extremely taxing process. But no apologies. It's all there- 2 hours of my favorite magic.
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ScottRSullivan
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Great tips from time spent "in the trenches!" You're correct on both points.

The backdrop should extend quite a distance beyond what you see in the viewfinder. Televisions have what's called a "Safe Zone." It is about 10% from the edge of each side of the frame. You normally can't see this in a viewfinder. Older televisions (those Cathode Ray Tube thingies, not those LCD or Plasmas) all differ in how much 'overscan' they show. Basically it's kinda like print media. Printers always print about an 1/8" extra around all the edges so when it's cut, there isn't any white around the edges.

Anyway, the point is that the camera always pics up more then what you see and some televisions will show that while some will not.

Regarding the lighting, unfortunately, you found out the hard way! Glad you got it looking better towards the end.

For future reference for everyone, the standard lighting technique in typical productions is called "three point lighting." Here's the basic setup:

1. MAIN LIGHT: Set slightly above performer's face, pointing towards the performer. This will be the brightest, set almost to full.

2. FILL LIGHT: Set at about half brightness (depending on it's strength). Set about waist level, pointing at the performer's face. If the main light is shining on the perfomer's left side of the face, this light will be hitting mainly the right side of the face. This lightens and softens all of the shadows on the face (from the main light).

3. RIM LIGHT: This light is shining down onto the back of the perfomer. Maybe 3 feet above head level and 4-5 feet behind the perfomer, aimed at their head. This will highlight the perfomer's head outline and shoulders, making them stand out from the backdrop.

Welcome to the world of video. Good luck with your sales!

Warm regards,
Scott
RobertBloor
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Scott,

Great post. But don't forget the mic! Smile

Robert
"That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government,"
-The Declaration of Independence
ScottRSullivan
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Hmmm. Robert, I was going to suggest shipping a human narrator with each DVD. You might be on to something, though. Much cheaper!

Scott
RobertBloor
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Scott,

hahah. You'd think using a mic wouldn't have to be said. But I digress, the MegaBux$ program set me straight.

Robert
"That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government,"
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Joe Russell
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I think you could shoot a magic instructional video out of a dumpster and magicians wouldnt care, as long as we get the proper information who gives a s**t, their not meant for anyone else to see.
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ScottRSullivan
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Very eloquent. "Their" <sic> also becoming more popular and the production quality as a whole are lowering each year. I fail to understand the idea of lowering a bar instead of raising it. Standards should rise each year, not fall.

Ad astra per aspera,
Scott
JTW
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I will echo but not repeat Scott's points on this one. He is right on and knows what the heck he's talking about!

As a guy who has not only put out a magic DVD ("Tied") and owns his own production company I think I am uniquely qualified to make some suggestions in this situation.

Platt while it is understandable that you don't have many resources at your disposal it is beyond me why you wouldn't go back and re-shoot the segments you aren't happy with. I spent a year and a half producing my DVD. We had many re-shoots and very little budget.

It seems to me (and forgive me if this sounds harsh but it is my interpretation) you are anxious to get the thing to market and start making cash. That should not be your goal.

If it is stop now.

You SHOULD care how people think about/perceive your magic product. If you don't I fail to see that you could possibly put the effort and time into creating your magic as you say you do. If you want to be successful in whatever field you choose to go into you should never apologize for a job poorly done, because it should never be poorly done. Whether you know what you're doing or not.

I hope you don't bring this product out it will not reflect well on you at all.

The only thing I have really agreed with is your recomendation to steer clear of your product.
JTW
RobertBloor
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Quote:
On 2006-06-07 19:47, ScottRSullivan wrote:
Very eloquent. "Their" <sic> also becoming more popular and the production quality as a whole are lowering each year. I fail to understand the idea of lowering a bar instead of raising it. Standards should rise each year, not fall.

Ad astra per aspera,
Scott


Scott,

That's something I'll absolutely agree with.

Unfortunately technology has become so inexpensive that any tom, dick or harry believes that because they can AFFORD the technology, they are also CAPABLE of using it.

This is the sad, but often the truth of production now days.

I believe there is a good side to this though...you and I, and others who hold a high value on production quality will set the bar for future productions. We will not lower it, or allow "junk production inc." to set it.

Robert
"That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government,"
-The Declaration of Independence
Platt
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Quote:
On 2006-06-10 09:52, JTW wrote:
I will echo but not repeat Scott's points on this one. He is right on and knows what the heck he's talking about!

As a guy who has not only put out a magic DVD ("Tied") and owns his own production company I think I am uniquely qualified to make some suggestions in this situation.

Platt while it is understandable that you don't have many resources at your disposal it is beyond me why you wouldn't go back and re-shoot the segments you aren't happy with. I spent a year and a half producing my DVD. We had many re-shoots and very little budget.

It seems to me (and forgive me if this sounds harsh but it is my interpretation) you are anxious to get the thing to market and start making cash. That should not be your goal.

If it is stop now.

You SHOULD care how people think about/perceive your magic product. If you don't I fail to see that you could possibly put the effort and time into creating your magic as you say you do. If you want to be successful in whatever field you choose to go into you should never apologize for a job poorly done, because it should never be poorly done. Whether you know what you're doing or not.

I hope you don't bring this product out it will not reflect well on you at all.

The only thing I have really agreed with is your recomendation to steer clear of your product.
JTW



JTW, you obviously don't me or my material. What I have is a body of highly respected work. Work that is praised by magicians from David Roth to Mickey Silver. I don't apologize for any material on this DVD. I've spent over 3 months filming (including many re-shoots) trying to get a respectable production level but I feel the production quality still falls short of L&L. That's all. The only apology I make is to those expecting a hollywood style edit. I have no interest in making any real money off this. That's almost laughable that you would suggest that. Even if this was a best seller it still wouldn't hold a candle to what I make in my day job in advertising (that's a commentary on the magic industry, not my salary.) This is purely a labor of love. And it's been a lot of intensive labor. I'm releasing a DVD to offer up quality magic to a community I respect. You don't know me. So why you would think otherwise is beyond me. The majority of my fellow hobbyists and many professionals have expressed interest in my magic. Most of those people have also expressed that as long as the magic is made clear, the production quality means very little to them.

Scott,
I very much respect your opinion but also strongly disagree with it. The biggest complaint amongst respected film critics is that while production quality and budgets have gone through the roof, the quality of scripts has dropped off considerably. I'd wholeheartedly agree with them. But perhaps you were referring to the quality of magic DVDs. Personally I haven't seen that to be the case. In my experience, magic DVDs seem to have followed the Hollywood standard and keep getting glossier with slicker packaging. If anything, it's the material that's suffering.

I opened this thread to see how others felt about production quality. Not to hear blind opinions of why I'm releasing a DVD. JTW, whoever that is, I'm sorry I don't have your support.

Best to the rest,

Platt
Sugar Rush is here! Freakishly visual magic. http://www.plattmagic.com
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