I did not make these videos, just using them for demonstration purposes. If I ever get a machine that can edit video and images again, I will replace all the queued youtube clips with screen shots.
Hype Film School: 101
Author's note: This started out as a response to Boyz n da Pahokee's 'Monster Saturday' Hype Video, but it quickly expanded into something that might have a bit more value. Given the democratization of video production thanks to cheap HD handi-cams, somewhat usable OS-baked-in edit software and free distribution channels like YouTube and Vimeo, web video has exploded lately. This season has seen an up-tick of user-generated media, so I hope this will be useful for the rest of the season.
Hello all, I am professor MGauxBleu. You may remember me from such ironic-kitsch, sadly-relevant and oft front-paged photoshop collages such as Never Forget:
If my computer hadn't exploded, I would have added Van Slyke and Vlad the Transferor to this by now...
Or sadly-derivative DB Hope poster featuring a pseudo-defensive Kelvin Grady:
I am here to transmit some of my film school learnings to the MGoMasses. I am going to make some suggestion for all you future hype video editors. Believe it or not, the moving picture has its own language. This primarily affects editing, which really is the most important aspect of putting a video/movie/film together. If you were shooting your own footage, then the same rules would apply as you plan your shot composition as well as editing. If you are just grabbing other footage, apply these rules to your initial selection of said footage. Follow these rules and people will be psychologically sucked into your video, regardless of what else is going on [though your content will still determine the final impact]. Breaking these rules is what makes "lo-budget" seem crappy.Trust me, your audience will have no idea why they feel the way the do, but the effect is real. We say cinematic language for two reasons: 1) we like to think about "reading a film" just to sound pretentious and 2) because these rules and their use really mimic grammar usage.
Note about the videos: I did not make this video, just citing mgvideo's latest offering. I have tried to queue each video to the right time, but keyframes are a bitch. Just watch the shot I am referencing then pause when the shot changes. No need to watch that whole video a bunch of times.
Screen direction: If you are cutting for a left-to-right reading audience, put things you like—Michigan—on the left side of the screen facing the right. Put things you don't like—opponents, priests, Freakbass—on the right facing left. Hollywood always does this, so that is one of the reasons why you always know who the bad guy is in a movie even from his first shot.
My suggestion: Pick shots of Michigan players moving from left to right, or framed screen left. For drives, Michigan moving left-to-right. Opposite for the opposition. This is a quick rule because then the networks will do your job for you—they will instictually compose shots that look good and follow the rules.
It is composition, not his strange outlook on contraception, that make Jesus so foreboding in this shot.
DRob is heroic, even in warm-ups.
Screen direction, part 2: Things that move from top-to-bottom or left-to-right feel natural and good. Things that move from bottom-to-top or right-to-left feel unnatural and introduce tension. Michigan driving left-to-right, or TRob streaking from top-left to bottom-right = inevitable huge play. Michigan driving right-to-left, or player cutting upwards through the frame is tense; you are not sure if how this is going to turn out but it seems bad.
My suggestion: This is pretty much the same rule as above, but I wanted to emphasize motion through the frame differently. Bonus: A sack will seem extra crushing coming from the left, especially the top.
Aside: if your audience is based in right-to-left reading—Yiddish, for example—or top-to-bottom—Japanese—adjust the above two rules accordingly. Again, things that mimic reading eye motion feel easy and natural; the opposite direction feels difficult and creates tension. Gravity, being universal, means that downward motion = good/easy, upward = bad/hard/tense.
Aside 2: I don't recommend it, but if you super careful, you can "flop" a shot, flip it so that something that is on the right side is switched to the left. Short shots are probably fine, and this isn't up for an academy award, so take my caution with a grain of salt. However, since I am anal and aesthetically sensitive, I would never ever everflop an iconic shot. If people have seen it a million times they will know when it doesn't look right. It will create unease, which likely was the opposite of what you wanted.
Obvious TRob HUGE PLAY
Literally running down hill.
Think Tay scores here?
Nope. A very "tough" play where he guts out every yard.
Graphical matches: If you can effectively cut adjacent shots so that a line can be drawn naturally from your main subject in shot A to main subject in shot B, your audience will jump into the second shot more quickly. Quick is important because we are talking about montages full of short clips; any time trying to "decode" the shot is time not spent getting the point of why you included it.
Add this rule to 2 above to get cut-on-action. Edits tend to be less visible if the audience has something in motion to follow from shot A into shot B. In narrative, this often means that you transition from outside a space inside by cutting at the mid-point of the entrance, showing a little motion in each shot. But this action needs to match graphically to be fully effective.
My suggestion: Perhaps ignore this initially. It is less obvious and harder to convey in text than the other points, but logically, it fits here in the order I am presenting. If you master everything else, watch your cut with this in mind and see if it "feels right" or not. If not, something might be strange about how your eye transitions between shots.
Color: Good guy is in white, bad guys in black. This rule has some very famous exceptions, but that too has a message. Dirty Harry, while technically the hero, is not a good person. He can be in black all he wants once it is established that he is the protagonist (in this case, just being played by Clint Eastwood is establishment enough.) Consistency is probably more important here than sticking with the light = good, dark = bad. More about that below.
My (very light) suggestion: Michigan in road whites when possible, opponents in home darks.
Time to molest the boys!
Consistency: Once you have established one of the above, or even other conventions, try to stick with it. If both teams have similar colors, then flip-flopping their home and roads will make it harder to follow along. As mentioned above, your shots will likely be so brief that your audience will spend too long trying to figure who they are watching without getting enough time to figure out what you are trying to convey. The obvious X factor in football hype vids are the helmets. Most of the time helmets will be unique by team, but also each team will always be wearing the same ones.
My suggestion: If you feel like you have some momentum early in your piece, stick with it. Your vid will build and your audience will stay engaged. If you happen to be an Oregon fan, good fucking luck. Twenty-five million uniform combinations are not your friends, though, you can take solace in the fact that your team will always be the worst looking one in the video. I guess that counts for consistency...
Break the rules: If you had all the resources in the world, you could follow this to a T. However, that isn't going to happen. So, do what you have to. That ridiculous one-handed Woodson pick in East Lansing is iconic and will work no matter how many rules it may seem to break. Additionally, if I were cutting a hype video for OSU week, I would probably keep UM in home darks and and have OSU in white. We want to be hard in that game and the dark will keep the edge on. Further, OSU's red unis say a lot—blood, violence, even some regal tones. These are not things I want establishing about OSU. Additionally, Brandon Graham, Woodley, guys like that are dangerous, murderous battering rams of death in my videos. They would always be in dark blue if I could help it.
There are some other basic things I could cover here, and some slightly more advanced stuff, but I think that this is enough for now. One "tip" that I have not included is: HAVE A DAMN POINT. This is not a tip, it is a must. Every video should have a story line. ESPN's actual game coverage is master of this, even if it is annoying. For ND and OSU the storyline is obvious: HATE. For MSU, I would focus on the fact that they are clown shoes. Other teams may have less historic stories, so you may focus on one element of the game. For instance, god forbid Denard go down at some point, you could cut a video of the likely starter to emphasize that the game rests on said player. If John Clay is averaging 225 YPG coming in, I would focus on him being a beast and us destroying ball carriers to setup that as the most important question of the day: Monster world crushing running back or our run defense, who will come out on top?
If you are thinking of trying your hand at a hype video, watch the 96 tiny vignettes that the networks put together before and during the game. The canned pre-game ones tend to focus on what ever ESPN has been hyping all week/season [Tebow]. In game ones tend to be game recaps. Even if they aren't showing every big play of the game, the will tend to represent the essence. If it is a whooping, expect the team coverage to be one-sided. It will be a little more even if it is a dog fight.
Except the part about how hype videos should try to show Michigan players in the away whites as much as possible. That's just plain stupid.
"Hype" vids should probably be hypey, so going to Good v Evil may not be constructive. However, as long as the colors stay consistant, or the shots long enough, eveything should be fine.
I am anal and aesthetically sensitive
Yes, you are.
I think diaries like this are what keep me coming back to MGoBlog multiple times a day.
I'd really like to see what kind of hype vids would come out if the creators followed your rules. I think part of the reason people love that "Sometimes When You're On" vid from the last two years is because it has a point, like the OP says. The clips aren't chronological, but they almost seem like they are, so the video sort of tells a story about a hapless, ragtag team of misfits transforming into something great (or maybe competent is the better word here). People definitely responded to that, I think.
Many posbangs to you, MGB.
Also, what the hell is that cookie monster video? Did I miss something this week?
nice points here, I learned a lot from your expertise, keep it coming. That said, you could learn from one of your own lessons and stay focused on your point, which was teaching film editing basics, not bashing catholics. Cheap shots aren't appreciated on the field, and they're not appreciated here. Stay classy MGauxBleu.
It was more a commentary on the use of those images in that specific video. It is classic good guys v. bad guys. I was trying to point out the subtext of this piece. The tone of the commentary was meant to reflect the tone of the piece.
I gotcha, thanks for the clarification. I hope your series continues.