» Author Archive

Description image

Imagine this. You’re working a RED Epic film with a bunch of new crew members, and you’re in the camera department. It’s the first set of the second day. This production is moving, and you shot 10 pages the previous day. Your DP calls out for the 35mm Cooke prime — no sweat. You head over to the video village or camera cart, look for the lens case, and *gasp* the case isn’t there. After a full half hour of looking, your team can’t find the missing lenses. Panic ensues, mistrust starts to brew, and fingers begin to get pointed. What’re you to do? There may be an innovative solution for you if you’ve got a prepared equipment manager — the StickNFind, a bluetooth powered  location sticker that works with Android or iOS. Click through to see the IndieGoGo pitch video: More »

Description image

Finding the perfect soundtrack for your film on stock music sites or using music generation software can be infuriating and sometimes seem next to impossible. I mean c’mon… we’ve all heard Apple Soundtrack’s “orchestral swells” or “classic sitcom” canned tracks more than once, haven’t we? An amazing sound designer teamed with the perfect composer can give your film a true emotional pull. Resourcing for a talented composer could probably be accomplished through general production job posting sites like Mandy.com or networking sites like Stage 32, but I recently discovered another tailored solution. It’s called scoreAscore, a platform designed to help you resource the right composer for your production. Click through for the entertaining and brief intro video (complete with papercraft stop motion!): More »

Description image

It’s very surreal to waltz through my local big-box store and think “Wow, I could make a real movie with that Canon.” It was even more surreal to see some of that same gear in the Black Friday ads. As we’ve seen with the “DSLR Revolution,” the democratization of filmmaking comes from amazing imaging devices becoming accessible (cheap) to the masses. Well, this year the revolution continued, as they say, as there were a lot of filmmaker-relevant deals going on for Black Friday. But what about a roundup of (still ongoing) Cyber Monday deals? Griffin Hammond of Indy Mogul provides a nice video of his “MEGA DEALS” after the bump: More »

Description image

As I said in my previous post on the Great Wireless Mic Shootout, great location audio will make your film shine. To ensure a proper sync with any second-system audio however, you need great source audio on an external recorder and from the camera. Luckily for us DSLR shooters there are plenty of options for on-camera mics out there. And if you’re not a fan of all that second-system syncing in post, you’re in luck — now through December 31st, RØDE is packaging PluralEyes 3 — a $200 value — with the purchase of their Stereo VideoMic Pro or their VideoMic Pro. Hit the bump for an informative video from Aahron Rabonowitz of Red Giant/Creative COW fame: More »

Description image

Thoughtful, artistic lighting is necessary to set your film apart from the competition. Some great planning and pre-production on lighting design can make a $5,000 short film sell a $50,000 look. And the good news is there are many tools that can help you achieve your intended look on an indie budget, from a good book lighting setup to a bit of well-managed haze. As a new iPad owner, I recently stumbled upon Sylights, an app geared at photographers that (like many things DSLR) also has great digital filmmaking applications. Hit the jump for some screen caps and a brief rundown of this handy FREE app/website: More »

Description image

In post production, I’ve always been a fan of the products from Adobe. I cut my teeth on programs like Photoshop 7, After Effects 5.5, even Image Ready (remember that?). But for editing, I never really got into Premiere Pro, and instead focused my attention on Final Cut Pro (from version 3 onwards). However, this year I finally made the decision to migrate to Premiere Pro CS6, as Final Cut Pro X has some infamous issues. Granted, Final Cut Pro X has come a long way, and it continues to be a true “pro” tool, but there are some quirks worth comparing against Premiere Pro CS6. Both suites are tools that should be compared objectively. Ric Lanciotti from The Pacific Northwest College of Art made this great video comparing the two editing suites. Though he takes the perspective of an educator looking for solutions for students, I think there are still lessons for all of us — especially those of us who only edit in one suite or the other. Check out his full 45 minute presentation after the jump: More »

Description image

You see Joseph Gordon-Levitt on the left here? He seems pretty confused. Now, it’s arguable that he’s contemplating the nuances of time travel. Or maybe pondering how he can elude male pattern baldness. But you know what? I think he’s thinking about something else entirely — his MacGuffin in Looper, written and directed by Rian Johnson, who also helmed and wrote Brick and The Brothers Bloom. Hit the jump for a great video by Isaac Niemand that looks at the MacGuffin in general, and a take on Looper‘s MacGuffin by boingboing’s Jamie Frevele that provides a great case study. Note the bottom portion of this post is SPOILER-ridden if you haven’t seen Looper yet! More »

Description image

Good location audio will make your film shine. The less you have to redo in post the better, as nat sound will bring a level of realism to any project. There are many tools available to help you achieve better sound, from a bevvy of tried and tested field recorders to some crucial on-camera mics like the ever-popular Rode, but what about those hard-to-reach areas away from the camera? Clearly wireless mics are the solution, but which mid-range system is the best? Thanks to Dave Dugdale of Learning DSLR Video, we have our answer. Check out the wireless mic battle of the ages after the jump. More »

Description image

There are many great ways to connect to other filmmakers today. We have sites like Production Hub, Mandy.com, and even Craigslist that are fantastic for crewing up and getting on crews. However, when I’m playing “closer to the chest”, I find myself sourcing locally nowadays on Facebook. I like to see who knows who of closer friends, and I prefer direct connections to general callouts. This merger of production resources and social networking is the theme behind Stage 32, a 70,000+ member network for film, television, and theatre creatives. More »

Description image

As fellow NoFilmSchool and feature-film script writer Christopher Boone would tell you (you’re my boy, blue!), writing is something you have to practice daily. The hardest part sometimes is just motivating yourself to stop staring at the blank page and just write something. If you’re the type of person who enjoys a challenge, then perhaps a fun way to get a few good pages in every day is a free platform called 750 Words. Hit the jump for a full rundown on the site, and how it could be a boon to your screenwriting creativity: More »

Description image

I once edited for an entire weekend. I’m not exaggerating — I went into the media lab on a Friday afternoon, and left on a Sunday night after my girlfriend and some friends dragged me out. I was obsessing about the latest episode of our sketch comedy show, and completely missed one of the best homecomings my college had seen. When I came to my senses, this caused a sense of regret. It was an important lesson on getting out, having a life, and generally not letting creative pursuits ruin my life.  More »

Description image

One of the most crucial pieces to a great documentary is the interview. In post production you will ground your edit around a transcription of what these people have to say about your subject. When you are performing the interview, you obviously want the subject looking straight at you to achieve a human connection and better result. But what if you want to connect your subject to the audience more… how would you go about making the connection with the subject while getting a first-person angle on them? Enter the Interrotron, a favorite device used by Oscar winner Errol Morris. Check out these clips from Fog of War, his Oscar winner that used the device: More »

Description image

Do you see the laptop graphic to the left here? This is is a dramatization of what you’ll want to do should you ever mis-manage your file naming or folder structure on a project. Luckily, there are several tips from around the web to help with file management. Let’s pick ourselves up by the bootstraps, and dig in with some helpful (and ultra exciting!) tips for file management. More »

Description image

In 2010 I directed a 30 minute short indie film. My crew and I made use of a domain-level install of Google Docs to manage our production documents from the convenience of the cloud. It was fantastic to have everything all in one place, and we loved that it was on another login separate from our personal emails. However, there were scary hiccups, including strange non-forwarding emails, un-downloadable attachments, and login issues. As wonderful as Google is, we felt Docs left something to be desired. Considering this experience, I’m very excited to share with you another platform that offers that same closed garden approach, with added security and functionality, tailored specifically to filmmakers. It’s called Scenios, and the well-made welcome video is available after the link: More »

Description image

Most of us who are shooting on SD cards, CF cards, or some form of solid-state memory enjoy a number of benefits that being in a digital workflow provides. Some of the biggest Pros involve sheer convenience factors like the ease of making digital copies, and the ease of storage or backup. Some of the biggest Cons, however, involve the cost of storing those large amounts of data, the logistics, and the fact that hard drive media is a bit more fragile than tape-based backup. If you’re looking for a piece of mind solution, and download speed isn’t an issue, Amazon Glacier can provide what you need for an affordable cost. Hit the jump for more details, and an incredibly intricate graphic from yours truly: More »

Description image

Just a couple of days ago I considered the merits of the DIY slider versus the bevy of semi- and professional mini-dolly options. Well now I’ve stumbled upon a product that could very well be a step up from the other sliders out there — the Rhino Slider. This little beast is currently campaigning on Kickstarter with only a few days to go. And like most successful campaigns, it starts at a retail discount with many optional add-on’s. Click through for the details and a few videos, including one that features space flight (I wasn’t kidding), and one that will have you throwing money at your computer monitor faster than you can say Futurama: More »

Description image

One of the most coveted DIY projects around (next to perhaps the jib) is the slider. However, DIY is usually a balance between cost savings and function, and this $10-$15 slider from Ryan Connolly at Film Riot is no different. Let’s take a look at how far you can stretch your dollar for a functional slider. Hit the jump for the tutorial: More »

Description image

Every once in a while I see a filmmaking product, and I can’t help but think “why didn’t I think of that?” due to the genius in the simplicity. Well, today is one of those days. Take a look at the new Cinemecanix C1-PRO-RIG, a two-level rig that allows you to film with two cameras simultaneously. See it in action in the video below. More »

Description image

It’s no secret that many directors have “signature shots,” or shots that they tend to use (or even overuse) in their films. Vimeo user kogonada has edited together three brilliant mashups of some of the signature shots of Stanley Kubrick, Quentin Tarantino, and Wes Anderson. As a community of filmmakers, I think we can all agree there is something to be learned from how the greats make use of these shots. Hit the jump for the first video, which shows Kubrick’s use of the One-Point Perspective: More »

Description image

We’ve all been there… it’s the twelfth hour, and you’re Cam Op or DP on a skeleton crew that’s shooting on a DSLR. The director wants that organic, handheld, flowing look, and stopping just isn’t an option because the talent are in the zone. You’ve been shooting on the 50mm a little too much for your taste, and would love to try the 35mm or 85mm — but your lens bag might as well be on the moon with how fast things are moving (and with no AC). What do you do? Wouldn’t it be great if there was a tool to help with your quick run-and-gun filmmaking — to keep your lens choices literally at your fingertips? Well, with the Quikdraw, a new belt-side lens holder that’s seeking funding on Kickstarter, you can have the luxury of lens change speed with some added security. Click through to see a video of the system in action. More »