Herman Wang: Writer/Director "The Spell Tutor"


(Herman Wang) #21

I’m a computer programmer. I’m lucky enough to be good at something that pays well, which funds my leisure activities.


(Meg Carroway) #22

What is the benefit of something like that? Is there an ultra prize for being in that, or is it just a way of seeing where you are in comparisson to other people across a full fest season?


(Anna Bateman) #23

What is your biggest editing pet peeve when watching other people’s shows?


(Herman Wang) #24

For me, it’s making the creative decisions that define the show’s identity. So the purview of a director (who’s responsible for the video product) plus the back-end stuff like writing style and production decisions. Part of the equation is that there’s no budget for hiring different people to do all that, so I do much of it myself. I’m sure it’s the same for many indie productions.


(Hailey Harper) #25

How is show runner different from creator/writer and executive producer? or is it just a combo term more than a separate job title?


(Herman Wang) #26

Each property has different rules; fortunately, Warner Bros are pretty permissive about Potter fan fiction. One of the obvious rules is “no profit-making”, so we’re not going to go on revenue-generating channels like Seeka. At this point, there are so many other fan film projects that use the original characters, unlike us, so we’re well below the radar where we’d get a letter from a lawyer.

The plus side is that there’s a built-in, highly enthusiastic fan base. We’ve screened and/or gotten vendor tables at general fan cons, as well as Potter-specific ones. Before the Fantastic Beasts series started, people were eager for any new Potter-related content, which helped us out a lot.


(Jonathan Hardesty) #27

Hey! It’s tough to come up with a question because you’re an active presence on here and you’ve given us a lot of cool tips and instructionals on special effects. I guess a question that might be interesting is how do you deal with the difficulties of controlling the frame? Another question would be what resources have you collected over the years that have been invaluable to your work?

There are a lot of youtube video how-tos but I’m curious how you’ve approached learning the art of special effects and what made it all click for you!


(Jaime Lancaster) #28

Did you have to submit for those or did you get invited? Is the ROI worth it?


(Rodrigo Diaz Ricci) #29

Hi Herman!
Your experience comes from the video clips, How this experience has influenced your work in web series? How do you work episode by episode and hooking up with the public online?


(Herman Wang) #30

I’m a learn-by-doing sort of person. My first music video is kind of terrible in retrospect, but I read articles online about editing and directing style and improved over time with subsequent works.

VFX is pretty easy if you have an analytical mindset and learn the basics about how non-linear-editors work. The stuff in my columns here is the bare-bones DIY stuff. It’s even easier if you use third-party plugins - all our spell casting in The Spell Tutor is a “particles” plugin from Boris.


(Anna Bateman) #31

Do you have plans to make a less effects-heavy show in the future? Or do you like doing VFX and consider that kinda your THING, online?


(Herman Wang) #32

Shooting with a white light source is the best way to ensure proper results, of course, but if you don’t have one I would just go ahead and white balance under the existing light with a sheet of white paper. If it shows in the camera’s viewer as white instead of yellowish, the rest of the scene should look more or less correct, even if it doesn’t match what you see on the actual set.


(Herman Wang) #33

My music videos were made a few years ago during the transition to HD, so it was still necessary to specify. A few short years later, and it’s pretty much the norm now :slight_smile:


(Bri Castellini) #34

But won’t what the camera captures on that white paper be yellow-er because of the yellower light source?


(sam lockie-waring) #35

what about if different lights in the room are different colors (because the people who own the place are psychopaths, obvs)?


(sam lockie-waring) #36

i think the idea of “white” isn’t contingent on the white in the room? i might be totally off though. i don’t do a ton of post


(Herman Wang) #37

If you watch our episodes, you’ll see we do a lot of close to medium shots, especially for interiors. I skimp on location costs by using places that are “good enough” and clipping out the sections that don’t fit with camera angle.

Plus I do a lot of things myself, which definitely saves on cost.


(sam lockie-waring) #38

what do you do in terms of production design to make it look like the location was on purpose? how much time do you spend on that design aspect?


(Herman Wang) #39

It’s kind of a next-level laurel to placing in a single festival. You get a little more bragging rights :slight_smile:
Plus, having the list relieves the burden of having to seek out worthwhile festivals yourself.


(Herman Wang) #40

I once watched a fairly high-budget feature film that was shot entirely at 30fps, which just looks awful on a big screen. 24fps looks much more cinematic to me.

Another thing I notice a lot is when editors don’t use their coverage properly. For example, they’ll stay on the wide shot even though there’s an important-but-subtle character tic that would be better captured with a switch to close. Or they’ll have one character basically facing away from the camera during a conversation.