May 2016 - Challenge: Slow Motion with Special Guest Judge Vanessa McKellar
This month, we invited a special guest judge to select the Top 3 best uses of slow motion in a mini-film all shot and edited during the month of May. She is Vanessa McKellar of McKellar Wedding Cinema. (Vanessa also graciously handled Q&A for us!)
Vanessa is the highly talented cinematographer behind the husband-wife wedding cinema duo from Texas, and she has recently taken to telling other kinds of real-life stories through documentary filmmaking. Vanessa's vast storytelling portfolio boasts talent that can be described as both documentary and artistic. She uses many visual techniques to emphasize the meaning behind what she sees, and one of those we've all been dying to learn more about is slow motion.
And now, in no particular order, here are her Top 3 picks and, in her own words, her reasoning behind her decisions.
"Sweet Spring" by Francesca Russell of Francesca Russell Photography and Films
Vanessa writes, "This was just beautiful: beautiful flowers, beautiful music, beautiful children, beautiful light. Those are the kind of flower shots I try to get at weddings and it's not easy! Nice and subtle use of the prism. Lovely bokeh. The slow mo was perfect - the shots that needed to be slow were, and vice versa. I wanted to watch it again as soon as it was over!"
"Peek" by Lydia Steumke of Lydia Steumke - Birth and Family Photographer
Vanessa writes, "I want one of these for each of my own children some day! Kept me entertained and interested the whole way through. Adore the shot of her braiding her hair. Her inclusion of natural audio was understated but added a lot of dimension. Nice variety in her compositions - shooting wide and tight, through things, etc."
"Day in May" by Jennifer Stein
Vanessa writes, "Great fun with lots of energy. Fun to feel like I was in the middle of their family life for a bit. Some really pretty shots in there with the lights. I was most impressed by how well she edited to the music- the energy in the shots matches the energy of the different parts of the song."
Great job, everyone! Next month's challenge is getting yourself in the frame, so come on and Join Project 12!
PROJECT 12 CHALLENGE WINNERS
This is the month each year we create our demo reels - our very favorite 1-5 clips from each month, saved throughout the year and compiled in December. The other option, for those who joined sometime during the year and didn't have a year's worth of clips to draw from could create a holiday highlight reel where they could include up to 3 holiday events. I limited people to 3 so they wouldn't be completely overwhelmed. This is a lightweight, fun month, so we could all enjoy the holidays! I look forward to what the year ahead brings.
This month, our theme was "On the Inside." Participants in the theme interpreted this in creative ways - some literally, and some showing us the inside of their homes and hearts. Sarah Krieg was brave and open enough to share with us all the ups and downs of her beautiful, challenging, and surprising journey with IVF. It's so well done, and she is amazing. I'll let her film do the talking from here...
This month, the idea was to document daily life and pull together the clips that happened in beautiful light. Documentary photography and film can be tricky because authentic, once-in-a-lifetime moments don't always happen in perfect light, but they're worth shooting anyway (of course)!
This month, our technical challenge was simple: quality audio capture and expression. And what better way to learn that than with a simple interview?
We brought in guest expert, filmmaker Nora McCormack from S/P Films. Nora knows how to handle interviews and audio challenges, so I asked her:
What are your 3 best tips for interviews?
This month, participants were asked to choose one area they wanted to improve on, learn more about it, and work on it. There was quite the variety in the videos, and so a theme wasn't readily apparent among the submissions. Which is cool; everyone's working on something different right now. So, this time, I just chose a video that spoke to me, and that was Janet Crouch's video of the birth of her new grandbaby! Enjoy!
This month, participants were asked to create a video making the best use of dramatic light to emphasize emotion.
This month, participants were asked to create a Day in the Life where they themselves got IN the frame for a significant portion of the film. Carlee Kettell shined at this challenge, and I want to share her film with you here.
This month, we invited a special guest judge to select the Top 3 best uses of slow motion in a mini-film all shot and edited during the month of May.
This month, the challenge was to think more about composition and lighting as we created in black & white. I was looking for films where being black & white helped us focus on what is important.
This month, our only instructions were: fill the frame with ONLY what you need to in order to communicate what you want to say. We had lots of films that contained beautiful detail shots, but these were the best examples, for me, of films that featured detail shots and made details the primary player in the film's meaning, whether audio details like Melanie's film or visual details like Juanita's film.
This month, we decided to try a skill builder instead of focusing on a content-based theme. The challenge was to pair video clips with audio that didn't come from the video clip. The objective was to evoke emotion using the juxtaposition of non-matching audio with related visuals. We had some very original self-portrait interpretations of the challenge as well, and I'm pleased to announce the winners of this month's family film fest!
This month I left the theme very basic with just the word "family." I wanted to see how people documented and communicated their interpretations of their experiences. As always, I was looking for how well the filmmakers communicated emotion through the medium of video, with their own experience as the subject.