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BRRecreation2

You can learn a tremendous amount by simply watching great films — paying attention to the details, breaking down a scene, concentrating on how elements come together. But if you really want to start making movies, learning a specific cinematic craft, it’s not enough. You have to get hands on.  It was with this in mind that I found myself increasingly intrigued with the idea of taking a compelling shot from a movie and seeing what could be learned by attempting to recreate the lighting as a cinematography exercise. I reached out to the very talented DP Seth Iliff, and asked him if he’d be up for the challenge. Despite our lack of budget and limited time he jumped into it with gusto. I got to witness the process first hand — here’s what I learned: More »

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gailmooneybhseminarIs it possible to make a feature documentary that spans the globe without a Hollywood style budget? Mother/daughter team Gail Mooney and Erin Kelly did just that with their film, Opening Our Eyesa documentary that tells the stories of eleven individuals across six continents making an impact in their communities. As we’ve previously mentioned, Gail Mooney shared her experience pulling it off in an hour-long seminar courtesy of B&H, and an on-line video of that seminar is now available for your perusal. It delivers an informative (and inspiring) intro for anyone thinking of launching a documentary project on a small budget: More »

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arri-alexaWhen thinking about your upcoming project, do you ever catch yourself dreaming about the latest greatest buzz camera? I know I do. It’s easy to get caught up in the tech and forget that finding the right tool for a given project is just as important as thinking about the right project for the tool you have at hand. As the good folks at Indiewire found out at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, filmmakers are using a great variety of cameras to make their projects happen. More »

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StoraroDo you follow light like the moon follows the sun? How do the colors in your film express the thematic content? It’s in answering these kinds of questions that legendary cinematographer Vittorio Storaro (The Conformist, Apocalypse Now, The Last Emperor), has developed his approach to lighting over the course of his incredible career. In the 1992 documentary profile of Storaro, Writing With Light, we not only get an overview of his career, but we get glimpses into his working process and how that translates into his films. More »

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WeinsteinMemoMaking your movie has never been the end of the ride — whether you’re a no-budget indie filmmaker or Errol Morris — you’re going to have to promote your film. Most of us aren’t natural born promoters, so who better to take pointers from than one of the preeminent promoters of the ’80s/’90s indie boom, Harvey Weinstein. As this blunt (and funny) memo to Errol Morris illustrates, even if you’re promoting what would later be recognized as one of the best movies of the decade (The Thin Blue Line), you need to know how to get folks interested in seeing it. More »

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Despite all the advances in image resolution and quality, most DSLRs on the market still require separate audio recorders for quality sound capture. We’ve previously covered and compared affordable external audio recorders for DSLR filmmakers, and although great tools in themselves, if there’s one common drawback shared by these recorders it’s that they were designed for live music/event recording, rather than filmmaking. Enter Tascam’s new offering — the DR-60D — an audio recorder designed specifically with DSLR filmmakers in mind. Here are the details: More »

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If you’re a one-man band, you know how tough it can be to simultaneously handle the camera, capture sound and interact with your subject. More often than not, you’ll have to settle for a static shot, or hide behind the camera while trying to speak to the person you are interviewing. Redrock Micro’s new “parabolic track slider” — the One Man Crew — aims to add graceful motion to your shots, while freeing your hands to focus on other aspects of the shoot. How? Check this video out: More »

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Do you know how your sensor translates light into the data that later becomes your images?  How does the physical construction of your sensor affect how pixels get interpreted?  This little video is a great introduction into how CCD (charge-coupled device) sensors work in a digital camera, and gives a peek into the cool stuff happening under our noses at 24fps: More »

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Can you look inside and see a murderer? A saint? A fascist? In this thought-provoking clip, Orson Welles shares some of his views on acting, and how great performances depend on the act of revealing — the ability to show those parts of ourselves that are the character.  Whether you agree or disagree, it’s worth checking out and pondering: More »

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Do you love movies?  Do you love LEGO?  If you’ve ever had a desire to recreate favorite shots from your favorite movies, you’ll understand just where imgur user hatinhand is coming from.  Rendering moments from movies as varied as 2001: A Space Odyssey and American Beauty, there’s plenty to pore over — both for your inner film nerd, and your inner LEGO nerd: More »

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The VFX industry has exploded over the past few decades — going from a very specialized, somewhat obscure, corner of the filmmaking industry to one of its most important high-profile sectors.  It seems like every movie and tv show these days requires VFX of some kind.  Are you one of those folks looking to bring fantastic never before seen screen characters/worlds/sequences to life?  Well, here’s some advice from the folks behind some of the great pioneering VFX in recent film history — from Star Wars to Terminator 2: Judgment Day to Jurassic Park and AvatarDennis Muren, Phil Tippett and John Rosengrant have watched the industry transform more than once, and here’s what they advise anyone looking to break into visual effects today: More »

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Following in the footsteps of our recent post on advice for recent grads pursuing creative careers, I found this rare audio interview with Stanley Kubrick complementary.  Kubrick, as you may or may not know, did not go to college, and was largely self-taught when it came to filmmaking.  Over the course of several conversations with writer Jeremy Bernstein of the New Yorker, Kubrick outlines his own beginnings, and how certain experiences, such as teaching himself photography and honing general problem-solving skills, proved crucial to his development as a filmmaker: More »

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Making a low-budget independent film is hard - there are budgetary limitations, crunched schedules, and the inevitable last-minute change of plans.  It’s no surprise then that some traits might make you better at handling these conditions and constraints.  Are you the kind of director who will halt production if the right extra isn’t on set?  Or someone unwilling to be a jack-of-all-trades over the course of a film’s production cycle?  Can you offer creative alternatives at the drop of a hat?  Independent film producer Mynette Louie outlines what she believes to be the 12 key traits that make for “indie-friendly” directors, in what ends up being a revealing and challenging list for all filmmakers: More »

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It’s that time of year when waves of freshly minted graduates head out to make their way in the world.  It’s both an exciting and daunting moment — there’s all the possibility and anxiety of the unknown, mixed with the uncertainty of one’s ability to do what one has set out to do.  This is especially so for anyone pursuing the creative life.  If you’re one of those nutty folks, or even someone already well on their way, Neil Gaiman offers some great advice in this commencement speech he delivered at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.  As Gaiman puts it, it’s “[e]verything I could think of that someone starting out on a career in the arts right now might need to know.” More »

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Can you view raw footage on a monitor?  What’s baked into the image by Log recording?  What’s the advantage of having uncompressed footage vs compressed footage?  With more and more cameras offering a variety of outputs and formats, it’s easy to lose track of just what you’re getting with each option and what they ultimately mean for the final image.  Well, lucky for us, there are folks like Andy Shipsides at AbelCine looking to clarify and explain the differences, as he does in this very informative breakdown for HDVideoPro.
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How often do you take a location’s audio characteristics into account when choosing where to shoot?  What kind of mic is better suited for a shooting range vs an indoor dialogue scene?  In an on-going series of informative sound tutorials courtesy of Zacuto, Clinton Harn delves into the importance of these questions while aiming to provide filmmakers with a basic introduction to sound recording for film.  Not only does he cover the tools of the trade, but he delves into many of the choices we as filmmakers have to make when deciding how to capture a given sound.  For example, how would one record an interior car scene? More »

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The FS700 is expected to start shipping in less than a month, and as we await the flood of beautiful slow-mo videos that will surely come in its wake, Philip Bloom has recently put up his review of the camera — yes, slow-mo abilities are featured, but Bloom also looks at other important factors such as low light sensitivity and ergonomic considerations.  You might be weighing whether you want to buy this camera over the FS100, or perhaps you’re a current FS100 owner wondering if the FS700 is an upgrade.  Bloom offers answers to these questions and more: More »

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Amid the hubbub of new product announcements this item has flown a bit under the radar — this Fall, RED will start offering a 16 week digital-cinema training course.  It aims to take students from pre-production to production to post-production while developing their own projects with the guidance of working professionals.  At first glance, it looks like a pretty interesting opportunity — you get to make projects on RED equipment, while learning the tools, craft and technique from experts.  But what will it cost?  And what are the pros and cons of this sort of program?: More »

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So you’re getting ready to interview that expert for your short documentary, and you want to review your interview lighting technique.  Or maybe you’re just looking for an introduction to lighting in general — where do you look?  Check out these two interview lighting tutorials — not only are they a great review of the basics, but they each do a great job of illustrating just how every light can help shape the subject and tone of  your footage: More »

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If you caught this past weekend’s big blockbuster, Marvel’s The Avengers, then you may have watched it in 3D.  Many of you may or may not have been aware that the film was first shot in 2D and converted to 3D after the fact.  Wondering what that process involved?  Or why some films would shoot in 2D and then convert, vs. shooting stereoscopically from the start?  In a fascinating in-depth article, fxguide delves into the many challenges vfx artists face when converting 2D films to 3D — also known as “stereo conversion” — revealing the kind of pain-staking labor and ingenuity required as well as some of the aesthetic differences between the two formats: More »