Dan’s Film-Making Tips, 16th Feb

04 Dan's Friday Film-Making Creative Tips & Wonders


In this weekly blog post, we delve into the age-old debate ‘Practical effects vs CGI’ as we examine the most iconic uses of practical effects in cinema history. Then we explore the art of cinematic lighting techniques, providing an extensive guide to help enhance your storytelling capabilities for your upcoming projects. Lastly, we turn our attention to a gripping short film titled ‘The Wait’, telling the story of a lonely drummer amidst the isolation period of 2020. This compelling narrative offers a poignant reflection on the human experience during these challenging times!

Practical Effects vs CGI


Since Georges Méliès first blasted the moon’s eye with a rocket, visual effects have been the driving force behind cinematic storytelling, enabling visionaries like George Lucas and Stanley Kubrick to transport audiences to new realms and bring their wildest dreams to life. As technology has advanced, CGI has emerged as a popular choice among filmmakers for its cost-effectiveness and low risk in realising creative visions. While CGI can achieve stunning realism, there’s an undeniable magic to practical effects that resonates with audiences. Seeing tangible, real-world effects on screen adds depth and authenticity that CGI often struggles to match.

Many iconic movies owe their longevity and enduring appeal to the use of practical effects. Consider Stanley Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’, where the haunting elevator scene drenches the lobby in over 300 gallons of fake blood. Executing this shot would have required meticulous planning, significant investment, and a willingness to take risks, as the outcome was uncertain. There was a chance of damaging expensive camera equipment or the need for multiple takes if the fake blood didn’t cooperate. Understandably, filmmakers and production companies now often prefer CGI due to its cost-effectiveness and ability to minimise production risks. CGI grants creatives precise control over visual elements, allowing them to craft the perfect shot to convey their story.

Despite the rise of CGI, there’s still a demand for practical effects today. A video by ‘CineFix – IGN Movies and TV’ highlights the top 10 practical effects in cinema, showcasing the enduring appeal and creativity of these techniques. As filmmakers strive to tell compelling stories, practical effects continue to captivate audiences with their tangible presence and timeless charm.


Cinematic Lighting Techniques


Lighting is one of the most important aspects of video production, silently conducting the visual narrative that unfolds on screen. It goes beyond just visibility, it helps to shape the mood, tone, and atmosphere of a scene while directing the audience’s attention to what the filmmakers want the audience to see. From classic three-point lighting setups to the contrasting effects of high-key and low-key lighting, filmmakers harness this tool to enhance their storytelling abilities and bring about diverse emotional responses.

For example, the impact of warm golden hues in a scene will evoke feelings of nostalgia and comfort, whereas suspenseful unease will be created with shadows and darkness. Through deliberate placement of lights and manipulation of highlights and shadows, filmmakers immerse viewers in the emotional journey of the narrative, helping to add depth to characters and create atmospheric locations. A comprehensive guide by nofilmschool.com delves into various lighting techniques, offering insights into their effective application to drive narratives and evoke emotional responses.


The Wait


‘The Wait’, directed by Nolt Vutthisak, is a short film that has gathered over 3 million views on YouTube. The film encapsulates the story of a drummer navigating through the isolating COVID-19 period of 2020, yearning for the presence of his bandmates. Left to his own devices, the self-taught percussionist must tap into his imagination to pass the time.

The film’s genius lies in its simplicity, gorgeous cinematography and lighting. Despite its brief one-minute duration, it effectively communicates its humour and messaging to the audience, making it a captivating and poignant cinematic experience. ‘The Wait’ subtly conveys deeper layers of meaning; the protagonist’s wait isn’t merely for a mundane task like a microwave, but rather for the end of the pandemic, signalling a return to his beloved drumming pursuits. This dual narrative strikes a chord with viewers, resonating deeply with those who have endured the trials of lockdowns and isolation, yearning to reconnect with their passions and resume their day-to-day lives.


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