Tom Barrance

Tom Barrance

I've been a film educator and trainer for over 30 years. I run the site and I've created resources including an ebook, an interactive kids' guide, and films for learners to edit.

Location Wales


  • @EleniPappa Apparently your IP address was blocked as it has been sending spam. If you're using a VPN or proxy you could try changing the location; otherwise turning your router off and on again should solve the problem.

  • Hi Eleni, thanks for the info - I'm looking into this

  • I've uploaded the video again, I hope it works for you now. If there's still a problem, could you try using Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge instead of Safari?

  • I've uploaded the video again, I hope it works for you now. If there's still a problem, could you try using Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge instead of Safari?

  • Which part are you finding confusing?

  • @TalalAlchawa thanks for the information, was that on a Mac or a phone?

  • Are you still having a problem? If so could you let us know which browser and operating system you're using?

  • @MaríaQuintana I can’t comment on everyone’s video. But here’s some brief feedback on yours.

    You’ve planned a good sequence with plenty of different shots.

    My main comment is that all your shots are joined with dissolves. In the continuity system it’s normal to use cuts. In iMovie (on iPhone/iPad) you can change a dissolve between shots to a cut by...

  • I would normally storyboard every shot. But you could miss out repeated shots (for example if you're cutting back and forth between closeups in a dialogue scene.

  • It partly depends on your camera. Professionals would use a 'pull focus' attachment. ('Focus puller' is a separate job in the industry). Some cameras have continuous autofocus that's good and fast enough for filming, but some don't. I try to plan my shots so I don't need to change focus when the subject is moving.

  • I'm not going to be able to give feedback for everyone, but I'll give you some quick feedback on your film as it could be helpful to other students as well.

    There are some nicely framed shots. But shots 2 and 3 are a bit too similar (the angle doesn’t change between them) so the camera seems to ‘jump’ forwards. You could fix this by inserting a POV shot of...

  • Yes, it's fine to make a documentary.

  • Hi Molly, those shots work well together. But in Week 2 we'll be looking at the 'continuity system' which will help you make sequences that flow more smoothly.

  • That's a nice storyboard. But you're right about the second shot. It 'crosses the line', so her screen direction changes. You could fix this by filming from the other side of the road, if that's possible.

  • Thanks for posting, that's a useful link. @AramM.

  • There are a few things you can do to make it easier. For example, keep the story short and fairly simple, and use pictures and sound (and maybe voiceover) rather than dialogue.

  • Thanks Tom. Putting your storyboard frames into a video sequence, as you've done, is called an 'animatic'. It can be a useful way to visualise your film.

  • That sounds like a good basis for a short film.

  • I should clarify that you don't HAVE to include dialogue. If you can tell your story without it, that's fine.

  • No, you don't have to have dialogue. If you can tell the story without it that's great.

  • I don't think there's a standard way to script split screen scenes. I'd probably just write LEFT above the scenes that happen in the left screen, and RIGHT above the scenes that happen on the right.

  • Aspect ratio is a good way to show time shifts. I'll check that series out @AnneJ .

  • You could add a subtle colour grade, as long as the film doesn't rely on visual effects to tell the story.

  • Bienvenido al curso, Francisco. In Week 3 we'll look at the three act story structure you mention in more detail.

  • Hi Andrew, which browser and operating system are you using?

  • Great, your storyboard makes it clear how the shots would be framed.

  • It would be great to see your storyboards - they don't have to be beautifully drawn, simple stick figures and shapes (or photos) are fine.

  • It would be good to see some examples of camera movements that you've filmed. You could just try filming a tracking shot using a chair with wheels; or try doing smooth pans and tilts.

    (Updated) Please note that a tracking shot is different from a zoom. In a normal tracking shot the camera moves but the lens doesn't zoom.

  • @JinQian The sequence of shots, cutting back to a master shot, works well. But if you'd normally have more than one B-roll shot. Because there's just one (the door handle) it doesn't feel like B-roll, and we wonder what it means.

  • @AbigailBaldock @RejwanGareb I've had this information about the best browsers to use for FutureLearn:

    If this doesn't help please let me know which browser and operating system you're using. Is the video screen just blank or do you get an error message?

  • Sorry @RejwanGareb, could you let me know which browser and operating system you're using?

  • Hi María, could you let us know what web browser and operating system you're using so we can try and work out why you're having problems?

  • We'll be asking you to share some work in this week. If possible, could you upload videos to Padlet so everyone can see them? Some students are in countries where YouTube is unavailable.

  • A quick note: if you want all the other students to be able see your videos, could you upload them direct to the Padlet? Some students aren't able to view YouTube videos.

  • @GeorgeRajasekaran There's no specific length. Yes, you can play with rhythm. As @AramM. says, 'each shot should be as long as it needs to be'. There's no fixed rule, but in general long shots, and extreme long shots, need more time than closeups. That's to give the audience time to see everything in the shot.

  • That works really well.

  • You're right, editing has got much faster. According to aptly named researcher James E Cutting, average shot length was about 12 seconds in 1930, and is about 2.5 seconds nowadays.

  • Hi Abigail, sorry the film isn't working. Could you let me know what browser and operating system you're using?

  • Nice use of different angles - you've gone a lot further than we expected for this activity.

  • Great. It's particularly hard to keep the shot steady - even with stabilisation - when you're so close to the subject. When I'm this close and I can't use a tripod I often film in slow motion to make the movement less obvious. @TomGleadell

  • Thanks for the list David. We'll be looking at how to plan a shoot, including some of the things you mention, in Week 3.

  • Great, using toys is a good idea if you don't have a convenient person to film. @TomGleadell

  • Really interesting use of unusual compositions, works very effectively. @TomGleadell

  • It's actually a corruption of 'Deutsch'. It was first used in German Expressionist films like The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari (1920) and Nosferatu (1922).

  • These 'rules' are about filming shots that appear natural and that don't distract the viewer from the storytelling. But @AramM is right. You can break pretty much any 'rule' of filmmaking if you have a good reason to do it. Maybe it would be better to describe them as 'conventions' rather than rules. @MichaelMischler

  • Another good source for watching unusual and arthouse films is Mubi - they have a 7 day free trial, but if you search online you may be able to find longer free trail offers. @MaríaQuintana

  • I loved Living in Oblivion, a great indie movie about making an indie movie.

  • There are a lot of film extracts on YouTube if you search by film name. Vimeo Staff Picks is a good place to view short films:íaQuintana

  • The shots didn't take too long to set up as I had my phone on a stabiliser. They're from a two-minute film I made a few years back. You can watch the whole film on my site here:

  • The videos should be working OK now.

  • The videos should be working OK now. Please let us know if you have any more problems. @RachelM

  • Sorry about the problems some people had viewing the videos yesterday. They should all be working properly now.

  • This should be working OK now.

  • We'll be looking at the different sound elements later in the course - steps 2.12 onwards.

  • Yes, you do count it as two shots.