Puppet Promo CT Public Video Training

This assignment was a promotion for a CT Public Television program about a local puppeteer named Matthew Leonard. The brief intro is an After Effects play on the company name “Lionheart Puppet Company”. The experiment with AE and the brief time allowed (about 8 classroom hours) resulted in some unaddressed audio issues, but I thought the motion graphic attempt was worth it, although sorting through hours of footage for a 3 to 5 minute promo was pretty time consuming.

While permission was given to use the footage (owned by CT Public), apparently the background music in this assignment was copyrighted. CT Public bought permission to use the music (on CT Public), but it did not extend to any students. Had I known, I would have used something else that is copyright free.


(Length – 3:11)

YouTube sent a notice that the video was removed from their search results, but I could still link to it so I kept in on this page. Later the video disappeared from this low traffic portfolio site, then re-appeared. I am going to try to recreate it with different background music.

In addition to learning about j cuts, sifting through hours of footage and playing with an After Effects intro, this project has also been a reminder about copyright law.

The Gateway campus in New Haven had an impressive video production studio and offered to help students to get acquainted with current video production tools. Below are the notes from the class.

Notes from 8 week video editing course:

Week 1 

20180515 Tue 1st prod class
Discussed f stop (aperture), shutter speed and ISO
Instructor recommends the Panasonic GH4 ($999) camera. This is what we’ll use in class.


Total cost for camera, card and 25mm lens $1,180.
It offers 4k recording and most features needed for pro-sumers.

(The Canon Rebel T6i cost $750. It comes with standard zoom lens but it records only 2k. An add’l telephoto lens was $100. The instructor  mocked this lens in class. ouch!)

F stop
A lower number produces a wider hole, more light, brighter image
A larger number (low aperture), causes a darker image, but offers greater depth of field for focus
Smaller number – less depth of field

Shutter speed
Control motion blur. Example speeds: 1/8 is slow, 1/250 is fast
For video shutter speed, recommend 2x frame rate, so for 30FPS use 1/60
For 24 FPS shutter speed 1/50, etc.
High shutter speeds need lots of light

Like the old air planes with machine guns and propellers, need to time your shot with when propeller is not in the way

ISO, higher number makes image brighter, but can create digital noise.
order of setup
1) shutter speed (double frame rate)
2) set ISO as low as can go
3) set aperture for exposure (lower number is brighter, bot shallow depth of field)
4) bring up ISO as needed, try not to go over 800 ISO
5) White balance after

White Balance
Clear Blue Sky 10,000 – 15,000 k
Domestic Lighting 2,500 – 3,000 k
Candle Flame 1,000 – 2,000 k

Every time the source of light changes – need to change the white balance.\

Recap email sent May 16, 2018:
… first discussion on the pieces we use to control exposure in our camera. The short breakdown:
Aperture: The opening in the lens allowing light through. Increases or decreases light and also changes depth of field.
Shutter Speed: A control of how quickly the image is exposed. Increases or decreases light and also changes motion blur. In video, your shutter speed should always be two times your frame rate.
ISO: A digital adjustment that increases brightness but also increases visual noise.
White balance does not affect exposure, but does adjust the color of your image. If not set correctly it can cause video to appear overly yellow or blue.
not required reading/viewing, but usually interesting tidbits.
Depth of Field: Here is a much deeper explanation of Depth of Field

ISO: And ISO, how it works, and why it produces the visual noise that we see at high ISO values.

F-stop: And last but not least, here’s the math behind F-stops (the numbers for Aperture values) as well as a reason why we use F.

20180517 Thur – 2nd prod class
Composition – everything in front of the camera
Mike Brown youtube, move the camera don’t be lazy
Balance, rule of thirds
Brightness and Color huge impact on balance, red draws eye
Leading lines direct your eye, flat bg bad, in office cube, tough, go somewhere else to provide separation from the bg. Over the shoulder shot

Class assignment, in groups of 3, take a camera out of the classroom and each person is to shoot a wide, mid and closeup shot for about 5 sec. Don’t worry about white balancing. Use your feed to zoom.

Although we discussed focus, f stop (aperture), shutter speed and iso in the previous class discussion, this was the first time we actually held the camera. Finding the dials and menus for f stop, shutter and iso mentioned in the previous class lecture was not intuitive and pretty time consuming. This made it difficult to concentrate on the assignment involving composition. The few in the class who were familiar with this, or a similar camera had a big advantage.

Recap email Sent May 22:
Tonight we …discussed composition in video and …got some live practice with the cameras.
We …barely scratched the surface of composition. You can find books and multi-hour lectures on just composition, in particular movies (Blade Runner is a great example). What is or isn’t in a …is a skill set you will continue to develop for your entire career.

Read Stockman pgs 20-55
Additional Resources:
Commentary from Mike Browne (in class, he has a youtube channel with …tutorials.


Another channel…

Review doc Lenses.pptx

A lens is usually described by it’s focal lenth (in mm), the distance from the point where light forms a sharp image of an object to the digital sensor (or 35mm film) at the focal plane in the camera (when focused at infinity).

The longer the focal length, the narrower the angle of view and the higher the magnification. (shorter FL = wider angle of view and lower magnification)

Common Focal Lengths
14-35mm: Wide, for inclusive shots, group shots, landscapes etc.
50-60mm: (“Standard” FL) closest to the human eye, offering minimal distortion
70-200mm: Telephoto, popular for portrait photography or other single subject shots
300mm and beyond: Super Telephoto, for where you can’t be near subject such as (wildlife, sports, etc)

Prime vs Zoom Lens
Fixed vs Variable Aperture
Lens Mounts
Cine Lenses

Week 2

20180522 Tue 3rd prod class
Reviewed lenses.ppt on Focal Length, distance of lens to sensor
Diff lenses may have diff focal lengths, magnification and field of view
14 – 35 mm considered wide lens (beware the big nose effect)
50 – 60 mm standard view (close to what eye sees)
300 mm for shooting lions 🙂

If you want a fuzzy bg, back up and use a longer lens
Some lenses are loud. (problem for wildlife)
Variable vs fixed aperture lenses
Diff manufacturers have diff mounts, can get adapters
Crop factor of 2 can make 20mm work as 40mm lens
Recommend UV filter on all lenses, this protects from scratches
Cine Lens, no zoom, set of lenses w diff focal lengths but same physical size, expensive, $70k for set of 10 – can get knockoff set of 6 for $2k
Image stabilization, OIS optical image stabilization, physical mechanism in lens, does not warp like digital stabilization.

Recap email sent May 22:
…tonight’s activity… aim to …force you all to think about your shots. Most people frame an object from the side they approached it, take a medium-ish shot, and call it a day. That’s fine if all you need is a quick documenting shot, but if you aim to tell a story, that will never do. Every shot should be carefully considered for maximum impact. Would a close up be better, or maybe an extreme wide? Maybe I don’t need to see my whole subject at all but instead can focus in a single detail that implies or summarizes the whole.
We talked about lenses. This is a deep rabbit hole. Some people will never stop looking for their perfect lens while others will shoot with whatever is on hand. Whichever you turn out to be, these lessons should help you understand what everyone is talking about.

…if you want to continue this…, take any camera, choose an object and take 50 different pictures of it. The first 10 will be easy. by 30+ you’ll likely be banging your head against a wall. That’s okay, that’s kind of the point. It’s out of that frustration that we start making odd choices, trying things we wouldn’t normally try. Most of these new things won’t work, but that’s okay. If you find something that does and you remember it later, you’ve just made a future piece better.

Week 3
20180529 Tue 5th prod class
[text book: Making Videos That Don’t Suck]
We each took turns being the interviewer and the interviewee on camera. Great understanding of both go through. Need to set up everything before talent arrives, use a stand-in. Have q’s prepared in advance. Always start by asking them their name and end with the Q: is there anything else you would like to discuss?
With the interviewer off camera and later all interviewer parts edited out entirely, view focuses only on what talent says which reduced distraction. Remind the talent that your job is to make them look great and that since the questions will be edited out, it will be helpful for them to rephrase or include part of the question in their response, so the audience understands what they are talking about.
I asked instructor for access to interview footage for a class promo. He said to bring in a USB drive next class (awesome).

Recap email Sent May 29:
I hope that after tonight you all have more of an appreciation for what it’s like being under those lights, and that it will help you better connect with your talent in the future. Next class we will be talking about microphones and audio, but also spending some time shooting. I want to have cameras in your hands for at least half the class period, so come prepared to get hands on. (And someone please remind me to teach you guys to white balance, I think we skipped it earlier due to time.)

Read Stockman pgs 123-156

Additional Resources:
So arguably the most awkward part of setting up for an interview is putting a microphone on someone, even more so if you have to hide that mic under the subjects clothing. No one wants a stranger sticking a hand up their shirt without warning. So here a article/video from an audio vet on how he makes the process a little less awkward. One of the biggest takeaways, explain everything you’re going to do. It’s less weird if they know what’s coming.

To follow this up, here’s a bit discussing various ways to hide microphones and mount said microphones to your subject. These are more applicable to dramatic productions than documentary or news, but it’s still good to have a few tricks in your pocket in case your subject shows up in a t-shirt or a director suddenly decides all microphones must be hidden.

20180531 Thur 6th prod class

Recap email Sent May 31

Tonight we talked about audio recording, particularly microphones, and about shooting b-roll for less than interesting situations…

Next class … we’ll be talking about the business side of this career, particularly some things you need to know as a freelancer (I don’t know anyone who works professionally in this field that hasn’t freelanced at some point). … advice from myself and others. If you have questions about this side of things, now is the time to bring them along. All questions are welcome, though not all have answers.

For my returning editing students, I also plan to bring the hard drives along with me on Tuesday.

Additional Resources:
This is an article on Ambisonic Sound. It’s how we record and work with sound for VR experiences, and it’s basically 3d sound. It’s a weird and wild world that’s still evolving, but it VR is something that interests you, this seems like a decent place to start.

See docs for WOCHU.pptx
and Microphone.pptx

Week 4
20180605 Tue 7th prod class
Lecture about the realities of freelancing, the importance of using an LLC, how to estimate the cost for your services, the importance of not working for free.

Recap email sent June 6:
Tonight we discussed some of the realities of being a freelancer. Working for yourself can be a fantastic experience that a lot of people find very freeing. However, it comes with a lot of extra responsibilities. The most important thing you can do is make sure that you have your bases covered. If you don’t have your taxes and contracts handled, it won’t matter how many clients you have because it could all go up in smoke with one bad job. I don’t want to make it all sound terrible, but freelancing is not for everyone.

The PowerPoint is attached, and I have also included copies of our release form and the release form sign I use for event coverage as examples.

None. For fun, take the example formula we used in class and try calculating your freelance rate.

Additional Resources:
Did all that contract talk sound daunting? Well, here’s a couple templates to help you get started.


And here’s another template example paired with some actual discussion of what the various parts are for.


That same company puts out a free e-book on being a freelancer. I haven’t read most of it, but the bits I’ve seen have been solid.


And just in case those don’t have you covered, here’s a third plain-language example, this one geared specifically for a graphic designer. I particularly like the paragraph on this about Cancellation.


See docs: The Business of Freelancing.pptx
appearance release.docx
shooting notice sign.docx

20180608 Friday additional assignment at Rentchler field camera operation
Freelance experience

To: “[email protected]” <[email protected]>
Date: Wednesday, June 6, 2018, 6:03 PM
Subject: Friday Event

Good evening Sean,
The Conference Agenda is
attached. The following is the breakdown of our day.

Event: LeanCT Conference
Location: Rentschler Field, East Hartford CT
Arrival Time: 7:30am
Leave Time: 1:00pm (expected)
Parking: In lot outside …
Duties –  Tyler: Camera 1 for speakers, interviews, and breakouts
Sean: Camera 2 for speakers, assistant for interviews and breakouts
Larry: Audio for speakers

Week 5
20180612 Tue 9th prod class
Discussed storyboarding and ideas for next (remake of Cobblestone scene) project with Mike Robson, Jason Klien and Josh Moreno including the “stairs collision” scene

Recap email sent June 13:
Last night we talked about pre-production, specifically storyboarding, and you got started on your next project. Please make every effort to get to class on time on Thursday as you will have only 1 day to shoot your assigned scripted scene.

Read Stockman pgs 82-95

Additional Resources:
Storyboards seem so simple, but the more your work with them the more little things you realize you want to communicate. This link is a quick read about storyboards, but I’d like to call your attention particularly to how they indicated camera movement, zooms, and talent movement.

This second bit is from Filmmaker IQ. I know some of the videos on the page may be down (that’s Youtube for you) but these folks are a huge wealth of knowledge and resources. Scrolling down the page you’ll see a multitude of external links for people talking about storyboards. Skipping about halfway down the page you’ll find links to various types of digital storyboarding tools (for those of us who, like me, are more artistically challenged) as well as tutorials for using them.

This third link is to the first video in a series about pre-production for non-scripted projects. There are lots of different methods of doing this, but I really like the process laid out by Still motion and I use it for most of my projects.

See doc storyboard template.doc

20180614 Thur 10th prod class
Shot scenes for Scene 125 assignment in hall

20180618 Mon Sent Paul email request for interview for promo w YouTube link.

Week 6

20180619 Tue 11th prod class
Paul responded to email and is willing to have interview.
Sent Vimeo version of promo to Paul and rest of class (many emails, ugh)
In class we reviewed many tools for camera movement including monopod, shoulder mounted carry etc.

Recap email Sent June 20
Good afternoon all,
Last night we [reviewed] equipment for creating fluid camera movement. There are a LOT of options out there, but don’t get too lost in the weeds. … more important to start working with what you have available than it is to buy that perfect piece of gear.
I’ll be sending a second email about the core pieces we use on a regular basis
I’ll be sending you a WeTransfer link with your projects that we watched last class.
I’ll be bringing the hard drives from the editing course during the remaining class periods. If you bring a hard drive of your own I can copy over materials while you work.
Below is the write up for your final project and a breakdown of what your tasks will be in our remaining class periods. We will be discussing the project more in class tomorrow.

Final Project:
You will be selecting groups (just like last time, but your groups may not be the same as your last project). Students will write and shoot an original narrative short (3-5 minutes). The piece will be edited by the instructor for presentation to the class (students can have copies of the footage for personal use if they bring a hard drive on the review day).
These pieces should each tell a story centered around the theme below. Bear in mind 1. the standards for production and content, and 2. the target audience of CT Public and Gateway.
In addition, students should focus on the principle of “show, don’t tell”. While dialogue is allowed, attempt to use as little as possible and instead tell the story with actions and framing.
Suggested Theme: Adult Education
Remember- This should be an original story, not a documentary.

Docs: Camera Movement and Stabilization.ppt CameraMovementandStabilization20180620

Thursday 6/21: Intro/Planning
The project will be discussed some more, groups will be selected, and you will begin writing your project.
Group discussed possible story. Pitched the “in the sign” theme.

20180625 Mon Paul confirmed interview Wednesday are 8-2pm, suggested 9 am, Tyler not in till 1, moved it to 1
20180624 Sun sent storyboard to Cheryl, Kevin and Mike


Week 7

20180626 Tue 13th prod class
Tyler sent email about Certification, I requested taking test tomorrow. Paul confirmed 1pm fine for interview, plan to do both interviews and take certification same day.
sent updated storyboard for final to team.

20180627 Wed Met Paul and Tyler for interviews. Also took Adobe Certification, got a 70 & passed! Yay!

20180628 Thur 14th prod class
Shot sign shots for final, brought in lights, kept falling.

Week 8
20180702 Mon Unfortunately, the Gateway interview scheduled for Tues at 2:30 did not happen.

20180703 Tue 15th prod class
Shot class scene before class. Shot office shots in hall for final

Email recap Sent July 3rd

Just a reminder that Thursday is our final class. We will be watching back your completed final projects and completing a class survey. If you would like any data from the editing class, or your footage from this project, please bring a hard drive to class. No group shot more than 25gb for their project.
If you are interested in the Certiport test, I currently have one person signed up for Monday the 9th. The 11th and 12 are no longer available as I will be on shoots. Please let me know as soon as possible if you have a date in mind.

20180705 Thur 16th Last prod class
Watched 3 final projects, brought 6TB drive to copy files.
Printed out thank you cards for Tyler, Paul and Merilee.
Finally got Victoria Release forms, made copies left with Merilee.
Got about 90% of puppets, it took over an hour. Did not copy final.
Class let out early.