I originally thought about calling this Radio Film School episode “Brandon McCormick’s Incredible Infinite Catalog of Creative Compositions”. But Talent v. Tools was easier. Find out why and what you’ll learn.
What started out as a simple research project to study the scenes and compositions of world-class master directors, turned into a treasure trove of a database with nearly 9,000 high-resolution screenshots and 10 GB of data. Whitestone Motion Pictures co-founder and director Brandon McCormick is back on the show with more engaging insight. Learn how this database project of his revealed some amazing discoveries about focal length, shot selection, composition, editing, storytelling, and prioritization. Here are the lessons he learned about feature filmmaking from studying the minutia of master filmmakers films. You may be surprised at what you learn.
And stick around after the credits in the bonus segment as Brandon addresses the question, “why do directors often get credit for work that seems should be accredited to others who worked on a film?”
Screenshots of Brandon’s Database
Here are a couple of screenshots from Brandon’s “Incredible Infinite Catalog of Creative Compositions”. How cool is this?! (Click to enlarge)
Music in this Episode
In order of appearance, the music in this episode:
- Cat and Mouse by Scott Holmes (CC BY)
- The Stars Look Different (Ziggy Stardust Mix) by spinningmerkaba (CC BY)
- Flight of Lulu by Possimiste (CC BY)
- Wee Tipple by Scott Holmes (CC BY)
Click here to learn about Creative Commons licenses and meanings.
Muse Storytelling has a New Class – “Conducting Remarkable Interviews”
Stillmotion’s Muse Storytelling is the process they use to tell the kind of stories that has helped them garner five Emmys, and go from shooting weddings to shooting the Super Bowl. They also have a brand new course on their site called “Conducting Remarkable Interviews” and it’s based on years of experience in the field and research of psychology, sociology, and neurology. Go to learnstory.org to learn more.
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Stephen Greszczyszyn says
Excellent podcast, I really enjoyed the discussion and how Brandon did the analysis. I have a couple of technical questions:
What type of database software was used for the cataloguing and tagging of the screenshots?
I suppose you are referring to the lens focal length in Super35 terms?
How do you recognise the focal length used in a given shot, is that just experience?
Ron Dawson says
Thanks for the comment. I believe Brandon told me he used a program called Pixa. As far as the focal lengths, he didn’t tell whether or not it was in Super35mm terms. Consider that he shoots with the RED and Alexa, it’s safe to say that’s what he was using.
Regarding your last question, based on my conversation, it sounded like he took the same camera that was used for a feature, and used a focal length that gave him the same composition and apparent depth of field. But, a big part of it would be experience. And in one case he said he heard and interview with the DP.
I hope this helps. But I recommend reaching out to him on Twitter with your questions. He’d love to help. @BrandMcCormick.
Great show! And thanks for the info about the database program Brandon uses.
Ron Dawson says
Great show — a lot of very useful information. And thank you for the follow up response to the question about the database. Looks as if Pixa is the program. I’m getting started on my own database today.