Stunt Island:  Movie Making Tips

         The purpose of this file is to offer the first time Stunt Island 
    film maker a few tips on making their first film.  It assumes you have 
    tried the tutorial in chapter 9 of the instruction book and/or know 
    something about things like "establishing shots".  I got a lot of this 
    type of information from the companion book :  Stunt Island:  The 
    official Strategy Guide.  The tips in this file were found by me while 
    making my first film:  Toxo-Zombies ( and by downloading other 
    peoples work. 

    1)  Use Story Boards:  Before you even hit the set editor, you should 
    have a very clear view of what you are doing.  A few minute short or a 
    16 min. Plus film can benefit from a story board.  A story board can be 
    detailed or very rough.  In any event, it is a series of pictures that 
    illustrates your intended film.  I use stick figures and rough shapes; 
    others may use more detailed pictures complete with props and liner 
    notes about music and camera/prop movement.  Use this as an instruction 
    manual for your film.  You can lay out rough camera angles and save 
    time by moving "scenes" around on paper rather than on the editor.

    2) Try to use sound, as much as, possible: Sound and music will add 
    depth and set the tone of your film.  If you have a truck going down 
    the street, why not give it some sound.  In the same case, the music 
    you play in the background will be clues to whether your film is 
    funny, dramatic, etc.  One thing you have to be careful with is what I 
    call "sound bleed".  I encountered this while putting two sounds 
    together for one scene and they bled into the next scene.  If this 
    happens to you, just mark both scenes in the editor and choose silence 
    from the sound effects list.
         If you find the music a bit short for your scene, consider 
    repeating it or combining it with another piece to round it out.
    If opting for the repeat trick, listen to it in the repeat mode before 
    adding it to your film: some sounds and music don't sound well 
    repeated.  You may want to record your own sound effects and use those.

    3)  subtitling VS Dubbing:  Some films have character interaction and 
    thus dialogue.  There are two ways to make people "talk" in stunt 
    island.  The first is subtitles which are created using the credits 
    option.  If these are used, give the reader at least 3 sec. Per screen 
    of dialog.  Sometimes, 4 sec. is better for longer lines.  In Toxo, I 
    used 3 sec per screen and later found it too fast for some viewers.  
    Try not to have any real action going on at this time, the viewer will 
    be more involved with the subbing.
         Dubbing is using a voice as a sound effect.  This is OK if the 
    voice is recorded well.  The problem is when you want to give someone a  
    copy of the .flm file.  Since they don't have a copy of this sound 
    effect, they will either get nothing or the film will use the sound 
    effect(s) from their usersnd files.  I have one film I downloaded that  
    plays an air raid siren during a speech, because that is the sound I 
    have in my usersnd file.  My suggestion is that you keep a copy of the 
    original .voc file and give that with the film.  Just tell the person 
    what to call it when they convert it in SI.
    4)   Shoot several scenes at once:  I find this a real time saver when 
    filming relatively static scenes.  Once you have your story board, go 
    through and find the static scenes like people talking or an 
    establishing shot of a city.  These are the minor scenes that need one 
    camera or two at the most.  You can then set these up and film them all 
    at once.  In TOXO, I filmed the chief of police, the end scene, the 
    public address system, the soldiers talking, the Pentagon, and the 
    zombie-in-the-window scene all at the same time.  Each mini-scene was 
    created and camera movement determined before shooting.  Most of the 
    shooting was around town with the Pentagon in the middle of the city.  
    When doing this, always set the camera to invisible just to be sure it 
    won't be filmed by another camera.

    5)   Continuity:  This is where things match up from scene to scene.  
    Here are some of the things you can do to make things match up:
    A) If you are using a custom built set, save it for future use, like 
    reshooting a scene.
    B) Keep a list of your characters.  I've seen films where characters 
    change clothes from scene to scene.  One exception to this is when the 
    character ejects and turns into the parachutist....this can't be 
    C)  Watch what you film.  If you are filming in NY, angle your shots to 
    avoid the Golden Gate bridge. 

    6)   Use props for visual richness:  Add little things to give an 
    otherwise generic set some life.  In TOXO, I added the highway 101 sign 
    to break up the monotony of the scene.  I also stuck in a neon hotel 
    sign for color.  These are very minor props and given very little 
    screen time but they do add life to a scene.

    7)   Misc. Tips:
    A)  The ruins props can be used to simulate interiors.  One cool use is 
    to increase the altitude and place it in the city to create a high rise 

    B)   Find new uses for props.  I used the Satellite and telephone pole 
    to simulate a public address system.

    C)   Buildings make great generic backgrounds for static characters.
    For example, I placed the police chief in an alley and used a tight 
    shot to get the background of that scene.  The boombox was shot against 
    the side of the ruin.

    D)   Use the Adjust Spotter view (F6) to get limited moving shots.  
    This is good when you want to film around something while it's moving.

    E)   Use the speed adjust option on the destination deck for cool 
    effects.  One use is to fly slowly (or within your ability) and then 
    speed the film up so it looks like you were flying Mach speed.  It can 
    also be used in editing to speed up slow moving shots.

    F)   One of the best ways to get big explosions is to explode collision 
    spheres.  If you are not the best shot in the world or you have many 
    spheres you could time the spheres to go off by themselves.  I did this 
    in the bombing run in TOXO (I never fired a shot or dropped a bomb).

         These are many of the things I learned from making my first film, 
    I hope they are of use to you. 

                             David K. Plesic