Understanding timelines, marks, and takes

July 06, 2014

Filmmaker Live has a couple of modes that are good to understand.

When you first launch the app, you are in "shooting and blocking mode." This is where you add or remove cameras and characters, and it is where you to play, rewind, and scrub forward and backwards through the Action timeline.

If you hit the Add Camera or Add Element buttons, or if you hit the "Move" button (which looks like a North/South/East/West arrow at the far left of the midbar), you shift into "operating mode." Operating mode lets you move the selected object using touchpads at the bottom of the screen. To close Operating mode and return to Shooting and Blocking mode, you can either press the Cancel button at the far left of the midbar, which discards any changes you made, or press the "Set Mark" button (which looks like a check mark) on the right side of the midbar. You can also close out of operating mode by recording a new take and accepting the recording (which is simple to do but covered better in other tutorials).

We've noticed when people first start using Filmmaker Live, having to go in and out of operating mode to move cameras and characters can seem a little annoying ("why can't I just move my camera without having to go into operating mode?"). If you're reading this tutorial, we'll ask you to trust us on this one for just a bit longer, because very soon you're going to have all sorts of carefully lined up shots and blocking that are critical to your project. Operating mode is there to make sure that you don't bump your cameras or knock your characters out of position accidentally, maybe without even realizing it.

When you hit the check mark button to set a mark for your camera or character, you are setting a mark at the current time. If you want the camera to push on your character, you'll need to set a pair of marks each at a different time. To set your first mark, rewind the timeline, go into operating, frame the opening of your shot, and set your mark. Then scrub the timeline forward by dragging your finger or mouse in the timeline (the area where all the tick marks are) to control how long the push in will take. Once you get to the second time (perhaps around 2 seconds in or somewhere near 00:00:02:00.0 give-or-take a few frames), hit the move button to go back into operating, find the framing for the end of your shot, and set your mark.

Marks are quick to set and give you a fast way to explore framing and blocking. Marks are generally the first tool a filmmaker should reach for when trying to work out an idea. The speed and ease of setting marks comes at a cost, which is that you don't have a lot of control over how the camera or element moves from mark to mark (the motion is always completely straight with no speedup or slowing down). Often times, the simple mark-to-mark motion is more than enough to communicate to your team what you intend for the shot.. Once you have the basics of your shot worked out, if you need more control you can change from setting marks to recording takes.

When you are in operating mode, you can hit the red record button on the right side of the midbar to start recording a take (you can record takes for cameras and takes for elements, depending on what you have selected when you go into operating mode). Recording a take allows you to perform and capture the precise movement you envision for your camera or character, and is covered in more detail in other tutorials.

Cameras and elements can each have multiple takes, which you can select between in the properties panel for the camera or element (accessed by selecting the camera or element and hitting the "Gear" icon in the midbar).

The third major mode (after shooting and blocking mode and operating mode) is Editing mode. Editing mode allows you to assemble clips, each of which contains a shot or part of a shot, into a sequence of visuals that you can watch. The shooting/editing button at the far right of the midbar in shooting mode and editing mode allows you to switch back and forth between shooting and blocking mode and editing mode.

Editing mode has its own timeline, separate from the shooting and blocking timeline, so you can re-assemble your shots in any order, regardless of the order in which you shot them or the order in which the visuals happen in your shooting timeline.

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