Resident Undead: Webisodes Critiqued – Production Tips for Everyone!

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@residentundead

Resident Undead Team

First, I would like to point out that the work that Adam Kimmell, Jim Leopardo, Daniel Hooven, and the others involved in @ResidentUndead is clearly a work of passion. My critique is not meant to discourage or dissuade their efforts but to bring an AV production based critique mixed with my thoughts on what they captured as a paranormal enthusiast. Not many people take the time and effort to do what these guys do and for that I applaud them.

One thing I noticed was that there seems to be a lot of obvious audio cuts, this could be made more seamless with the recording of nat (natural) sound and using that as a bed of consistent audio between scenes. Basically, let a camera or audio recorder sit and record silence for a period of time. In fact, by the very nature of letting cameras roll you have that nat sound anyway and you can put it to use to soften the transitions between cuts.

Auto focus is your enemy when shooting exterior or establishing shots. Always rack focus on on you camera (zoom into the most distant part of the scene you want to cature, manually focus, then pull back.) This will put most everything from that most distant point to the closest point in focus. Establishing shots are important, always get them no matter where you are whether you are shooting the exterior of a building or our in a field. Save the auto focus for the night vision shots and remember bright light and having an object too near the lens (like your face) will cause the camera to refocus and it will take some time for it to get re-established.

Always move the camera about two or three times slower than you move your head. I know the natural reaction is to jerk the camera around when you hear something. Consider this, if you make that movement after you hear or feel something you are most likely not going to catch anything there and if you do it will usually be out of focus. If you want to shoot into a series of rooms while walking past them, don’t do it by moving the camera with a quick tilt up and down movement. No one gets anything of it, and again auto focus will probably get messed up.

Consider band pass filters on EVP audio, inserting them before you pull up the level. If you don’t block the noise above and below the sound you want to isolate and then you jack the level, you are jacking all that noise up too. Band pass filters, notch filters… they are the way to go. Also, never use any reverb. Compressors are a good way to make the sound pop once you have it isolated and the level raised.

When doing your VO’s (voice overs) be sure you use a pop screen in front of the mic. No one wants to hear popping P’s or your breaths between statements. In fact I would suggest cutting any breath noises particularly if you have a music or nat sound bed under the VO.

Lavalier mics are vital for interviews. Personally I wouldn’t discourage you from even using more inexpensive wired lav mics.

Finding a better way to distribute your webisodes would be big help. @youtube has the length limit issue, so splitting them up to address that issue means you can get lost easily in finding the next part, I know it happened to me.

I must say that as I have gone through the episodes from the first to the most recent at Bobby Mackey’s, the quality has become significantly more professional. The amount of research you did for Mackey’s episode was the most thorough I have seen or heard. Any good investigation revolves around solid information, putting it out there for your audience to digest, and then referencing it as you have experiences through the investigation.

One final thought. Make Resident Undead your own. I know there is a tendency to draw a style from popular shows (clearly Ghost Adventures is an influence) but you have a style that is yours alone, use that difference to be a new voice in the documentation of such things.

I am very impressed with @ResidentUndead and I suggest anyone interested in the paranormal and watching the development of show related to paranormal events check out my friends at:

 

 

 

http://www.wix.com/residentundead/home

YouTube for Kimmell:

http://www.youtube.com/user/adamkimmell

 

 

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