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DrillAs indie filmmakers, we’re used to making do with what is easily, readily, and/or inexpensively at our disposal, and many times the locations we need don’t fit within those criteria. However, with a little bit of know-how and a few bucks (about $170), you could construct your own flats (the fake walls used on films and theater sets), which would not only allow you to film in the location you want (a mock version, at least), but it will take the stress away of having to shoot in someone else’s space. Matt Brown is here with a tutorial to show you how to saw, hammer, and drill your way to making flats that’ll be perfect for any project. More »

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Learn Color GradingThere are many factors that go into making a film look cinematic, like lighting, blocking, and camera settings, but creating a good color grade is certainly somewhere near the top. If you’re completely new to color grading, but are looking for an opportunity to really get a firm grasp of it (or even if you just want to learn a few new techniques), this intensive DaVinci Resolve class, which will teach you everything from the basics of the interface to advanced color control, is now 75% off  ($49) on the online learning platform Udemy. More »

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Hulu SFSThere are so many ways to go about learning how to make films, with resources that won’t cost you tens of thousands of dollars or have you sitting in lecture halls for the greater part of your early 20s. One ironclad piece of advice that always seems to be in the mouths and repertoires of great filmmakers is to watch and study films, because they can offer invaluable guidance, inspiration, or even mentorship to those who are looking for it. And if you’ve decided that this summer will be the one in which you buckle down for some serious cinematic cogitation, Hulu’s Summer Film School, which is a series of blog posts that break down the filmmaking techniques of some of history’s greatest films, might be right up your alley. More »

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eyes-wide-shutWhen it was released in the summer of 1999, Eyes Wide Shut was easily the most anticipated film of the year. Starring the biggest movie star in the world and his wife, it was the first film in 12 years for Stanley Kubrick, who had not given an interview since 1987, on the occasion of the release of Full Metal Jacket. Kubrick, who was known to famously change his work even after its release, was rumored to be still working on the film when he died, to the point where what was released was not the film he intended. He also couldn’t supervise the marketing campaign, which sold the movie as a sexy romp, but just ended up freaking people out. Now, 15 years later, with the movie back in the public consciousness, is it time for a reappraisal, and to ask whether the Eyes Wide Shut we saw was what Kubrick intended? I dunno. Let’s see! More »

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Sony a7sEarlier in the week, we shared a comparison of the dynamic range of the Sony A7s to a few other popular cameras, and the results were enlightening. It turns out that the combination of the massive pixels of the A7s sensor and the ability to shoot with an S-log2 gamma curve provides for some impressive dynamic range, to say the very least. Of course, we all know that no camera system is perfect, and the A7s is no exception, especially in regards to rolling shutter. In another comparative test from Cinema5D, they measured the effects of rolling shutter on a variety of popular CMOS cameras, and unfortunately, our beloved A7s didn’t fare well at all. More »

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199742.tif99% of everything ever written in the history of the world was written by hand, but today, almost every word starts its life on a screen. This is even truer in the case of screenplays, where programs like Final Draft make quick work of complex margins. And with penmanship becoming a dying art and decades of talk about “the paperless office,” there is no denying we are definitely heading towards a society where paper communication is a thing of the past, even if that day is decades away. Yet there are demonstrable benefits to writing longhand, and if you find yourself in a writing rut, or are just looking for a new way to look at things, then a pen (or maybe even a typewriter) might be just what you’re looking for. More »

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Resolve BMPCCChances are that, unless you live under a rock, you know that the already-reasonable price of the Blackmagic Pocket  Cinema Camera dropped dramatically earlier this month. As such, I think that it is pretty safe to assume that there are quite a few new owners of the bite-sized camera. For some, the post processing of the BMPCC footage will be similar to what they’ve experienced with many of the other cinema cameras that shoot log footage and RAW. However, for people who are just starting to work with the flat images from the Blackmagic Film Gamma, getting an appropriately colored and aesthetically pleasing image can seem like a daunting task. Luckily, Casey Faris uploaded a fantastic tutorial that will show you how to get snappy color from both your BMPCC ProRes and RAW files inside of DaVinci Resolve. More »

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cleantechnica led street lighting lights lamps sodium vapor mercury clean green la los angelesEarlier in the year, we posted about the city of Los Angeles’ massive changeover to LED streetlights and some of the ways in which it might affect the appearance of LA in cinema. In addition to its ecological and economic benefits, this new street lighting has a lot of interesting photographic implications, particularly due to the LEDs’ more daylight-like rendition of color. Following the post I was fortunate enough to take part in a segment of KCRW’s program Which Way, LA? in which Academy Award-winning cinematographer Wally Pfister shed his own unique light on the subject. More »

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Composition & DepthThere are many aspects to the art and craft of cinematography. There is a technological component to it, of course, and that’s something that we talk about frequently. However, most people agree that it’s not the equipment that is used, but instead, how it is used that determines the efficacy of a given cinematographic piece. Of the many artistic facets of the craft, perhaps the least understood is composition. Many of our most coveted compositional techniques and theories come from history’s greatest visual artists, and they are entirely fascinating and useful once understood. Unfortunately, learning about them can be about as interesting as watching paint dry. Luckily, the following video on composition is not only informative, but it’s also, dare I say, entertaining. More »

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PolyphonyFilm is often thought of as being a visual medium, but sound (especially sound and visuals together) play a huge role in storytelling. This enlightening video essay from two students from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands breaks down the concept of contrapuntal music in film, a technique used famously by Stanley Kubrick and Quentin Tarantino that arranges independent, yet harmonious musical and filmic parts, expressing a deeper narrative meaning to the tune of Sergei Eisenstein’s theory of the montage. More »

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CineVerse Camera Comparison ChartDiscerning cinematographers know that different jobs and projects often require different tools. With digital cinema technology proliferating at an incredible rate, cinematographers now have such a wide variety of camera systems to choose from that the process of deciding which one meets the technical and aesthetic needs of any given project can often be entirely overwhelming. If only all of the relevant technical information for each high-end digital cinema camera could be aggregated into one place, maybe into the form of a well-organized chart –Luckily for us, Tom Fletcher over at CineVerse, a nationwide rental house, put together just such a chart with all of the major digital cinema cameras on the market today (the high-end ones, at least), and it’s an insanely helpful graphic that puts our top-of-the-line digital cinema technology into perspective. More »

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Blackmagic 4K Firmware 1.9 Addresses Fixed Pattern NoiseIt’s been a huge issue for many users, and while the severity has been inconsistent camera to camera, the new 1.9 firmware update released today for the Blackmagic Production Camera 4K should address fixed pattern noise on all cameras. Though it may not be completely removed in all situations, this was a much-needed fix for those who’ve gotten some models that have suffered from excessive noise. They’ve also added some really essential features, like a histogram, audio meters, and a time remaining indicator so you can see how much recording time you’ve got left depending on your shooting format. More »

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The Ludvico TechniqueStory is, at its core, a metaphor for how to live. We live vicariously through the characters we see on the page or the screen. So it follows that if you’re creating characters, they should be as real as possible. That is, of course, easier said than done, and a weak or unbelievable character can kill a screenplay or movie regardless of the plot (experimental film excepted). So what can be done? For writers, an understanding of psychology and human nature are vital in order to see people as they are, making it possible to make up people who are more like people than like characters. More »

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CropperCapture[77]There are many jobs in the filmmaking process. It all starts with a script, a story waiting to be told. Then there’s the director, the visionary, the person with the plan. But we all know that filmmaking is highly collaborative, so a team begins to emerge, with a group of like-minded artists all striving towards the same goal. You’ve got your art directors and production designers, and new worlds are created. You’ve got your editors, who lovingly craft the footage into the final piece of art. You’ve got your makeup artists and VFX artists and loads of other craftspeople who ultimately shape the film in some unique way. And then there’s the cinematographer, the person behind the lens. But what exactly does a cinematographer do, and what does it mean to be a cinematographer? The following short video from the EFTI School of Cinematography in Spain has the answer. More »

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frame io logoA week ago we were introduced to a brand new collaborative video workflow platform called Frame.io that aims to “pick up where Vimeo left off.” While Vimeo has some client review features, and there are a number of companies out there that offer similar services, Frame.io is attempting to be more seamless, faster, and eliminate headaches that are often associated with the process. There was a huge response to Frame.io, and many, many questions. Co-founder Emery Wells will be sending out a newsletter answering these questions, but they’ve given No Film School an early look at the text that will be going out later today. More »

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Michael Bay - BayhemWhile his films are incredibly successful financially, director Michael Bay is one of the more polarizing filmmakers working today. Many consider his style the downfall of entertainment as we know it, while others love the non-stop action that oozes from nearly every frame. If fewer people watched his films, they may still be interesting visual specimens, but the fact that his movies have grossed billions and earned him two Criterion Collections makes him a different case entirely. Tony Zhou has put together a video exploring “Bayhem,” a visual style that is rather unique to Michael Bay and his brand of storytelling. More »

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The ShiningStanley Kubrick’s films are some of the most analyzed pieces of cinema, especially his horror masterpiece The Shining. Brimming with intrigue, clues, and hidden messages, Kubrick’s 1980 film has been given the royal treatment when it comes to analysis, even becoming the subject of the documentary Room 237 that digs deep into the possible meanings behind the director’s cinematic choices, and Darren Foley of Must See Films offers up another engaging video essay, this time on Kubrick’s enigmatic work, that explores some intriguing theories on the possible theme of “history repeating itself.” More »

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SuspectsAh, the 90s. Rollerblades. Bill Clinton. A time when moguls like Harvey Weinstein jetted out to Sundance and handed out fat distribution/production deals to filmmakers who were  barely able to legally buy beer. One of these lucky young tyros was Bryan Singer, whose 1988 short, Lion’s Den, led to a feature that went to Sundance, and that led to The Usual Suspects, which led to everyone losing their mind in 1995. Check out this behind the scenes documentary on that classic crime film, and see how story and filmmaking can trump budget. More »

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Shooting something entirely from a first person POV may not be new, but every once in a while an exceptionally well-done shot or scene (or even an entire short) makes you step back and appreciate what can be done with the technique and how difficult it is to pull off, especially when you need to cleverly hide cuts. That’s the case with Random Stop, a short film based on the tragic real-life shooting of Sheriff’s Deputy Kyle Dinkheller after a routine traffic stop. We’ve also got a behind the scenes video that is launching first on No Film School, so be sure to check that out after watching the short. More »

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Sharp AOALast October, Sharp ran a filmmaking contest called the Art of Amazing 4K Film Competition, and now they’re back for another round of ultra high definition goodness. and once again asking filmmakers to submit their best 4K short films. Once again partnering with THX and RED, Sharp will be taking 4K short film entries for the chance to win a host of cool prizes, like a screening of your film at the Mill Valley Film Festival, a private tour of Skywalker Ranch, and more than $65,000 in prizes for filmmakers and fans. More »