Saturday Night Contest - The World of Wonderstone

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by j.bayme, Mar 2, 2013.

  1. Yesterday morning, we announced a massive, epic contest in collaboration with Warner Brothers and legendary magician David Copperfield. The contest is in celebration of the new film "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone." In the film, a comedy, Steve Carell and Jim Carrey play rival magicians - alongside Steve Buscemi and Olivia Wilde. The movie comes out March 15th in theaters around the world.

    The contest is very simple: create and submit a 60-second short film showcasing your magic or cardistry skills. The more creative, the better. Your video can feature magic, cardistry, or both. We're looking for overall talent and creativity, and the contest itself will be judged by David Copperfield. What an honor.

    You can see full details on the contest on this entry page. All submissions must be uploaded and submitted to that page in order to qualify. You can see the official entry form at the very bottom of the contest page. The deadline for submissions is in TWO weeks, on March 15th at 11:00am EST. In this post, I wanted to offer some tips and advice on how to make the most of your video.

    It's a common misconception that making a great video requires expensive cameras, complicated lighting equipment, and editing software. On all three counts, this is no longer true. Even with an iPhone or iPod Touch, anyone can create amazing videos on a limited budget.

    As a kid (AKA last year), I was obsessed with magic and film. I loved movies, and I loved magic. But I didn't have the resources to buy a $2,500 camera, or $1,000 for Apple's Final Cut Pro editing software. But I was determined, so I had to figure out a way to make it happen.

    As a result, I learned a lot about how to do big things on a small budget. I went to Home Depot and bought some simple clamp lights for $15. I used iMovie or other free editing software. I learned a lot about lighting, composition, audio, editing, and typography. And I filmed things on an old Sony Handycam that was grainy and hard to focus. Nowadays, any iPhone or iPod Touch can record in crisp 1080p HD.

    My point is simple: if there's a will, there's a way. So I encourage everyone to use these next two weeks wisely. If you have enough passion, dedication, and determination, anyone can do incredible things. Seek out inspiration from movies, music, television, and art. This contest is a chance to win some great prizes: 500 decks of cards, a phone call from David Copperfield. But more importantly, it's an opportunity to share your talent with the world, and get your skills seen and noticed by theory11 and David Copperfield - the highest grossing solo entertainer of all time.

    So what are you waiting for? Go for it. Remember that videos must be 60 seconds in length, and you can only submit ONE entry. So make it great. Make it perfect. Make it something you will be proud of, weeks and months and years from now. Who knows what could happen. You just might win.
  2. Wow! Good luck, everyone!
  3. Hey JB , i have 14 , can i enter or i need to have 18 or more , thanks for answer :)

    Fran Dc
  4. I will second JB's Home Depot clamp lights suggestion. Andrei gave me this tip a year ago and I use them every time I film now days and did not spend much money at all. Those and a little parchment paper as diffusion is perfect.

    I am looking forward to seeing what you guys can come up with. I will be headed to Abbott's on March 15th and 16th so I probably won't be submitting anything. Anyone else headed to Abbott's to hang with Eric Jones and David Regal?

    Good luck to everyone!
  5. Hey Fran, for legal purposes in collaboration with Warner Brothers, submissions to this contest must be from those 18 years of age or older, or with permission from a parent or legal guardian.
  6. Hey thanks for answer , the only problem is that i don't live in the USA , is that a big problem?

    Thanks for answer :)

    Fran Dc
  7. Quick question! What video format is it okay to submit my video as? On my computer, the program I use allows me to export to an MOV file. Is that okay?
  8. Any common video format is fine. We recommend MOV, MP4, M4V, or WMV, which should be easy to export from any video editing program. If you need to convert or compress your video, I personally recommend a free program called Miro Video Converter, which is available for both Mac and PC.
  9. Hey JB! So i am 14, And i saw that you need to be 18, except with parental permission, how do i give you guys that? or is it only necessary if i win?
  10. Hey Joshua, yes - that's correct. Permission from a parent or guardian would be required in the event that you win. Good luck!
  11. #11 Andrei, Mar 2, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 2, 2013
    Production quality is just one of the factors we'll be looking for in this contest. But it isn't difficult to produce a great looking video if you put a little thought and effort into it. You don't need to own a $2,000 iMac or a $3,000 camera to make a great looking video.

    There are plenty of affordable cameras that shoot great quality video that are under $200. You don't need expensive lighting equipment either. There are a plethora of choices for HD recording devices such as flip cams which can be placed on a small tripod for stability. It also helps to shoot in well lit areas. Go outside on a sunny day if needed. Something as simple as removing a lamp shade and bringing it closer to your hands helps a ton! Also, you don't need to OWN equipment either, go to your local school and there's bound to be something available to rent out, even if it's just for a day.

    Try this, get a cardboard box and glue/tape aluminum foil on it and use it as a reflector in the daylight to bounce the sun into necessary areas. Go to your local Wal-Mart and purchase a white poster board and use that as a reflector, you will be surprised how much this helps. I know because I've done it! It's amazing how much better a video will look if it is properly exposed. Remember though, shadows can also be your friends if treated properly.

    But before you begin, make sure to clean your set (don't have a mess in the background) and frame it right. Experiment to see which flourishes look best from different angles. When you complete a video, show your friends! Get everyone's honest opinion, don't just ask people who will praise the positives. Get real world critique from your friends/family and possibly others to get insight on what could be improved and refine the result from there. I do this in my work on a weekly basis and sometimes, I have to recut/reshoot something five different times in five different ways. It gets crazy but the result will speak for itself. You'll be glad you did it. Play around with different soundtracks!

    Remember, a tool is only as good as the person using it and even expensive tools can't produce a work of art if there is no craftsmanship. A great, creative, and original effect/cardistry move will speak for itself. Don't be discouraged and don't be afraid to experiment a little!
  12. #12 Andrei, Mar 2, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 2, 2013
    One more thing! Here are some tools and bits of advice to making a great production. Let's break it down into 3 easy steps. Lights, camera, action! I don't mean to scare anyone away with information overload but if anyone is looking to improve their skills quickly and effectively, this relatively small guide will do just that. I'll preface it with saying some of the best theory11 videos have been made with zero budget, Home Depot lights, and the tools found hereunder - so NO excuses!


    Expensive lighting equipment is NOT a necessity. Cheap Home Depot lights often do the job. Improving video can be as simple as taking off a lamp shade and bringing it closer to the action. Use a reflector if going outside (purchase a WHITE poster board from Wal-Mart for less than $5 and use it as a reflector outside to bounce sun light into proper places if necessary).

    Home Depot is your friend, they carry $10 clip on lights that work extremely well. Get 2 or 3 and you have yourself a small studio setup. Wrapping aluminum foil around the edge of the clip on lights produces an impromptu french door which allows limited control over the light's direction/intensity. Using something to soften the light also helps (like frosted glass, clear plastic, or my favorite - bubble wrap!) try to avoid DIRECTLY blasting yourself with light. Bounce it off the wall or ceiling.


    Video devices such as flip cams are awesome, they are light, provide great quality, and are inexpensive. Because they are light, they can be difficult to stabilize so use a tripod and avoid swiftly panning and jerking the camera. Camcorders are a little more expensive than flip cameras but provide more features such image stabilization, different frame rates, superior low light capabilities and are much easier to balance and stabilize due to the heavier weight. As previously mentioned, try to avoid sudden pans and keep it smooth.

    The revolutionary still cameras that enable shooting video are called DSLRs. They are by far the best thing on the market. Amazing cameras with large sensor sizes. This means control over depth of field (the background bluriness) and the ability to shoot in low light. They are relatively inexpensive but are the most expensive on this list.

    Our recommended choice for shooting videos, hands down. When purchasing the DSLRs, avoid buying them with kit lenses as they are not that great and add an unnecessary $200-300 to the price tag. Instead, purchase the Canon 50mm 1.8 lens, more commonly known as the "nifty fifty", an amazing lens for just $100. There are a plethora of tripods under $20 that do the job, search on Amazon for "tripod" and you will find everything you need. As with everything, always experiment - try setting your camera on a chair or a desk for impromptu stabilization. Finally, the difference between a cheap tripod and a GREAT tripod is the fluid head which allows for silky smooth pans.


    - KODAK Zi8
    - Flip UltraHD
    - JVC GZ HM300
    - Sony HDR-CX 160
    - Canon T2i (Highly recommended, $500)
    - Canon T3i
    - Canon 50mm 1.8


    Editing Software

    Learning how to edit videos can be a daunting task. Thankfully, there are many great programs that take you by the hand and do most of the work for you. The downside? They lack precise control or compatibility with certain formats and are a bit limited in their potential.

    PC: Windows Movie Maker :: Awesome program for PCs, very simple, and intuitive. FREE
    MAC: iMovie :: Can't get much better than Apple's iMovie. FREE
    PC: Sony Vegas :: Aside from Adobe Premiere Pro and Avid, Sony Vegas is an easy learning curve with a lot of versatility, try the demo version first.
    MAC: Final Cut Pro :: Doesn't get much better than Apple's Final Cut Pro.
    Adobe Premiere Pro :: Amazing. Getting better and better and rivals Apple's FCP.

    If you go Hollywood status, you're probably using AVID, SMOKE as your NLE and DaVinci for grading. Epic.


    That's about it! Are all or any of these steps or purchases necessary? Absolutely not! They certainly help increase the value of your production and allow you to focus on the big picture without creating a barrier between yourself and your audience.

    Chances are, you have some of the items on this list already. The difference between a bad and good production, is effort and craftsmanship. Experiment and as always, have fun.
  13. Andrei, Thanks so much for this!
    I was getting pretty bummed out from a lack of good equipment, and this really helped. Thank you!
    Any advice for backgrounds?
  14. Wish I was better at flourishing and sleight of hand because the idea I had was great. Hopefully there's a contest like this in the future. It's time to practice :)
  15. The official rules states that in order to enter you have to live in
    "the fifty (50) United States, the District of Columbia, Canada, the United Kingdom, or Singapore"

    Why such restrictions?
  16. For legal purposes, we're required to abide by certain regulations in collaboration with Warner Brothers (as a massive, global entity).
  17. Try, and fail, but never fail to try. Go for it! You never know what might happen.
  18. Fair enough, just sucks.
  19. Is it possible to enter when your not living in the staates, if one pays the flight himself?
  20. The official entry rules concerning music confused me a bit- can we use other artists' music or do we have to use royalty free music?

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