Xian-mei adds some really good points to making great TM videos!
I figured I could chime in to add some of my own advice on how to take your videos to the next level, with some relatively-beginner points:
- Cross Dissolve Is Your Friend!
Cross Dissolve is a standard feature that is found in most video editing software. If it is not, that is a sign that you need to jump ship and get a new one.
Essentially, Cross Dissolve makes a fading transition between two scenes by blending the two shots together.
If you need an example, watch my Total Miner: The Amityville Horror at the following timestamps:
Cross Dissolve gives that extra boost to footage by making soft transitions between similar interests. For example, in scenes 0:13, 0:16, and 0:17, each Cross Dissolve was between establishing shots of the house, and then 0:55 and 0:58 dissolves made nice transitions between the Lutz family unpacking.
Im pretty sure any respectable video editing software has Cross Disssolve as a hotkey, so use it!
- Shoot More Footage Than You Need!
Think of a photographer who shoots hundreds of photos of a model for hours at a time to get that perfect cover photo shot. The artist doesn't get the perfect one on the first try.
And neither should you.
I honestly shot a good 15GB worth of footage for my Amityville Horror movie (in contrast to its ~250MB final compressed size). What I did, outside of filming actual people interacting in the film, is a ton of establishing shots.
- Footage of me flying around as the camera with the hud off, seeing if I could get really good day shots of the exterior and interior of the house.
- Same as above, except I did it again at night. Tried many, many angles of view, tumbled the camera, flew straight at the walls, etc.
- Walked around inside of the house with a torch, and basically strolled through the house as if I was the main character walking alone in the dark.
When filming with with real avatar actors, have them redo their acts multiple times. Even if the first or second one is "perfect", you may find when it comes time to edit that they actually went too fast, or your shot isnt long enough, etc.
For example, at 1:27 and 1:52 in my video, I had my brother redo that same jumping scene for a whole five minutes nonstop. Just to nail that perfect "surprised jumping back motion". As well as open and reopening doors, walking around, spinning in circles, etc.
When it comes time to edit, having way more footage will not only help you get that perfect shot, it will also help fill in some "blank" areas in the film. If you don't know what should go in that scene, put in an establishing shot.
Plan Out Which Scenes Contain Characters
To make my life simpler in creating a video, I always plan out actors in the following ways:
-Scenes (in chronological order) that have NO players
-Scenes that have ONE player
-Scenes that have TWO players
-Scenes that have THREE OR MORE players
This helps, because you can prioritize and cross of scenes that you need to shoot, and scenes that you can do yourself. If say, I needed to film a scene of the Amityville house, I can do that on my own time. If I need someone in another scene to be walking, then I'll plan to have everything ready when I need to film that person.
Have those props and sets built before the actor shows up to help. Makes things much easier.
And with this ordering, you can also cut corners too!
When I make a list like above, most of the time I can filter out ones that can be fullfilled with a real actor, and one with an NPC.
Say for example in 0:54-0:59, when the Lutz family is unpacking. Technically, that gets filed under "three or more", but really, the characters dont need to be moving around all that much. So instead of rallying three people to stand still, use NPCs!
In contrast, take 0:48, with two characters. I was able to cut corners by employing only one actor and one NPC. The real actor (Refugee) was turning as if he was talking, and the NPC girl was motionless. Simple. No hassle of getting two people.
Green Screen Effects
Use SkyColor [0,255,0,255] for a green screen effect. If you've got video editing software that can perform Keying, this is how you use it. If anyone wants me to elaborate on this, feel free to post. It's a bit of an advanced feature that required trial and error on my part, but I'm willing to share if interested.
I used a metric ton of green screening in my video. If you can master keying, you will absolutely take things to the next level.
We might as well use this thread as a Q&A session for video-making tips for Total Miner, so if you have any questions, post them below.