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BTS VideoBTS videos and films can be many things. Sometimes they’re just that, a brief glimpse behind the scenes of your favorite films. Other times, they’re a harrowing account of productions that, by all standards, should never have succeeded, much like the fantastic Fitzcarraldo documentary Burden of Dreams, or the always-popular Hearts of Darkness. And then there are BTS pieces that are meant to inform, videos that provide insight into the filmmaking process. Last but not least, there are BTS pieces that are just downright entertaining to watch. And once every blue moon, a BTS video comes along that serves all of these purposes. A recent video from the Australian production company Graetzmedia falls into the latter category, and it might even be the most entertaining, informative, and inspiring BTS video that you’ve ever laid eyes upon. More »

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Disney Automatic EditingWe all know that editing is an incredibly complex craft, one that requires not only an immaculate sense of timing, but also an in-depth knowledge of narrative structure. The edit is, after all, the final re-writing of the script. With that said, editing can also be, well, a pain in the ass, with hours on end spent making minuscule changes. But what if an edit, or at least a competent rough cut, could be done with an algorithm designed to choose the best shots and string them together with continuity? Well, a group of engineers with Disney Research have done just that, and they’ve put together a brief video explanation of how it all works. More »

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House of Cards - Kevin Spacey - Text MessageFor the past 15 years, filmmakers have been attempting to tackle a serious problem: how to visually portray the screens that permeate every aspect of modern life. From computers to smart phones, screens — and more importantly, the information on those screens — have become instrumental components of the contemporary human experience. As such, filmmakers have an inherent need to find ways to incorporate this experience and information into their visual stories. The only problem? Pointing a camera at a cell phone or computer often doesn’t look great, and it can be difficult to absorb the required information. Some filmmakers, however, have found ways to make it interesting. More »

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Robert RodriguezWe all know Robert Rodriguez. Not only did he make his first feature for less than $8,000 and share every step of that process in his book Rebel Without A Crew, but he’s gone on to shoot countless other features and even found his own television network. For anybody wanting to make their first film, but is not sure where to start and what steps to take, a video of one of Rodriguez’s famous 10-minute film schools has been making its way around the web, and it has the answers that you’re looking for in a way that only Rodriguez can provide. So if you’ve got a few minutes, here’s Robert Rodriguez, the man himself, to tell you exactly how to make your first film. More »

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EditReady

Earlier in the summer, Divergent Media, a software company whose tools need no introduction in the video production world, released EditReady, a Mac transcoding app with a tremendous claim, that it was supposedly the world’s fastest transcoder for Quicktime conversion. In a market that is fairly saturated with transcoding solutions for filmmakers, that is definitely a bold claim, to say the least. However, after reading about what sets EditReady apart from its competitors, then testing the app for myself, I’m ready to say that the claim is indeed a valid one. I also talked briefly with Mike Woodworth, the CEO of Divergent Media, who’s also the lead developer of EditReady, and learned more about how the software was designed, what it can and cannot do, and where it is headed in the future. More »

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Dolly Zoom TimelapseThe internet is practically overflowing with timelapse videos. Some of them are good, some are not, and some of them are truly mind-blowing. As we know, modern motorized camera movement equipment has really paved the way for all sorts of inventive movement to be included in the timelapse format. In general, if a camera move has been done in a live-action environment, someone has probably done it in a timelapse. Although I could very well be wrong, until today I had never seen someone perform a dolly zoom during a timelapse. Eric Stemen recently put together a video not only showing how the technique looks (mind-blowing), but also how he pulled it off using traditional hyperlapse techniques and a little ingenuity. More »

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CompressionAs filmmakers, most of us consider ourselves to be creative people. Having a creative intuition and knowing how to use it is incredibly important in this field, but many of us — especially folks like me who are scientifically and mathematically inept — tend to overlook many of the technical and scientific aspects of modern digital filmmaking. As boring and convoluted as some of it might seem, having a working knowledge of the various engineering concepts that are used in the digital image creation process can make us better filmmakers, because that knowledge can inform the creative decisions that we make. Luckily, there’s no need to go to engineering school for that knowledge, as most of it can be found on YouTube in some form or another. For instance, here’s most everything you need to know about video compression. More »

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There are many ways for filmmakers to use their skills to generate income. You can move to a major filmmaking hub like New York, Los Angles, or Atlanta and cut your teeth in the world of features and television. You can shoot commercials and web videos for local businesses. You can shoot and edit weddings. You can even use your own short films and features and generate income through various online distribution outlets. And last but not least, you can sell stock footage. The only problem with the latter option is that most stock footage houses these days aren’t built with filmmakers in mind. Today marks the launch of Story & Heart, a new story-driven stock footage licensing hub and filmmaking community that tackles many of the issues with modern footage licensing head on. The result is a stock footage service that is unlike any other to come before it. More »

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Ursa SunriseLast week, we got word that the highly anticipated Blackmagic URSA cinema camera was at last starting to make its way out into the wild. With the camera landing in the hands of some capable cinematographers, it was only a matter of time before footage started to surface. As was the case with the previous Blackmagic cameras, Australian DP John Brawley was among the very first to spend some quality time with the URSA, and now, we finally have some footage to sink our teeth into. More »

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Ryan_Connolly_Guerrila_Filmmaking_WEB_1600x900In the past two months, we’ve covered several courses from the good folks over at CreativeLive, an outstanding online educational resource for creatives of all types. First was Larry Jordan’s comprehensive FCPX masterclass. Then there was an epic 2-day course on aerial photography. This coming Monday, August 11th to be exact, another course is beginning that should definitely be of interest to independent and low-budget filmmakers. It’s called Guerilla Filmmaking, and it’s being taught by Ryan Connolly of Film Riot fame. So, if you’ve got any spare time this coming Monday through Wednesday, tuning into Connolly’s course will provide an educational alternative to the cat videos that you would probably be watching otherwise. More »

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Film PerforationsLast week, celluloid lovers scored a major victory when a few major studios struck a pact with Kodak to ensure that film would remain a viable capture medium for the foreseeable future. Because film will be sticking around for a while, there is still value in learning the ins and outs of the various film formats available today, especially for cinematographers aspiring to work at the highest levels of the industry. One of the aspects of film that beginning filmmakers often find confusing is that of perforations, or the small holes that line the edges of the stock. In a technical sense, these perforations are what the sprocket catches in order to hold each individual frame in place so that it can be properly exposed. However, perforations are also used to describe the various formats and aspect ratios of film, and that’s where things can get confusing. Luckily, there’s a handy new infographic that explains everything you need to know about film perforations. More »

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Resolve 11 EditingAt NAB 2014, Blackmagic Design announced DaVinci Resolve 11, and it not only contained a handful of fantastic new color correction and organization features, but also upwards of 70 new editing features that brought Resolve’s timeline trimming functionality into line with many of today’s popular NLEs. After a month and a half in public beta testing, the final release version of DaVinci Resolve 11 was made available today. More »

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CropperCapture[92]Over the years, we’ve covered a wide range of methods and tools for lighting a film, everything from hardware store clip lights to high-end cinema lighting tools. As fantastic and practical as some of the higher-end tools can be, most of us just don’t have the budget to rent (let alone own) those tools, so we end up resorting to cheap fixtures and DIY light-sculpting methods in order to illuminate our films. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, however, considering that having a DIY mindset when lighting can produce some truly ingenious and cost-effective techniques. Not So Fast, a short film from David F. Sandberg, is one such example of DIY lighting ingenuity. In a short BTS video about the making of the film, David reveals how he used a plastic IKEA trashcan in order to create a portably-powered DIY beauty dish that provides fantastic results. More »

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CropperCapture[90]We’ve all heard it. “If only (fill in the blank) camera had a full frame sensor, I’d be able to use it.” Or, “The image from the GH4 sure is great, but I just couldn’t get used to a Micro 4/3 sensor.” If you’ve spent any time reading editorial comments about digital cameras in the past 5 years, then you’re almost certainly familiar with these types of statements. While different sized sensors can provide substantial differences in both aesthetic qualities and low-light performance, the argument that’s most often thrown around in these discussions is about “crop factor,” or the relative field of view from one sensor size to the next. Personally, I think it’s about time we put the issue of sensor size into perspective so that we can stop making goofy, arbitrary statements like these. Zack Arias over at DedPxl agrees, and his new video does a fantastic job at providing that perspective. More »

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ADR Adobe AuditionIn theory, ADR is a relatively simple process. You bring your actors into a vocal booth, show them their original performance, then record a clean take of them mimicking that original performance. Easy right? Well once you start replacing the production sound with the newly-recorded audio, things can start to get tricky. Oftentimes minuscule variations in performance can lead to ADR that just doesn’t work because of barely-perceptible sync issues. This can be fixed in most audio post production programs by subtly warping the audio file to match the original clip, but that process is tedious and time-consuming, and often the results still aren’t up to par. Luckily, there’s a feature in Adobe Audition that will do all of that work for you with a few clicks. It’s called “Automated Speech Alignment” and the good folks at PeachpitTV have a tutorial to show you how it’s done. More »

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Shane's Inner CircleLearning about cinematography online is no easy task. Since there is more educational material about cinematography on the internet than one person could possibly sift through during an entire lifetime, finding relevant, topical information when you actually need it can be a bit of a drag. Luckily, there are a few online resources to combat this. Shane Hurlbut’s fantastic blog has always been one of them, but since Hurlbut and his team are entirely devoted to educating the next generation of cinematographers, a simple blog wasn’t enough. That’s why they created Shane’s Inner Circle, an interactive educational gathering place for up-and-coming cinematographers, where Hurlbut will generously share his wealth of knowledge, as well as a hefty set of tools, with followers. More »

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Coen/Deakins The Man Who Wasn't ThereSome things are just meant to go together. Peanut butter and jelly, bacon and eggs, and, of course, the Coen brothers and Roger Deakins. Through the past two decades, the dynamic filmmaking duo and the esteemed cinematographer have collaborated on upwards of 10 feature films, most of which are iconic in their own right. It’s safe to say that the Coen/Deakins collaboration train has produced, and continues to produce, some of the finest films of the generation. Like all great things, it can be both fun and educational to look back at the varied work that the legendary team has produced and analyze what makes their work so effective and entertaining. A new retrospective video from Blag Films lets us do just that. More »

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TitlesThere are so many things to consider when finishing up the post production of your film. You’re putting the final touches on the edit, mixing sound, creating visual effects, and a whole number of other small, but crucially important processes. Then there’s titling, a process that many young filmmakers overlook, often adding off-white Times New Roman titles at the last second simply out of necessity. Titles, however, have the potential to be a tremendously powerful artistic asset to any film. Good title sequences — like those featured on the fantastic blog Art of the Title – are able to encapsulate the themes and subtext of a film through masterful manipulation of the art of typography. What exactly is typography, and how can it help you make the most of your titles? A new video from the video production and graphic design firm Parachutes provides a brief glimpse at the wonderful world of typography. More »

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Masking & Tracking Adobe PremiereIn the month since Adobe released the 2014 updates to all of their Creative Cloud video applications, we’ve covered many of the significant new features in Premiere, After Effects, SpeedGrade, and Audition. However, we still have not covered one of the most significant time-saving features that was included in Premiere Pro 2014. I’m talking of course about “Masking and Tracking,” something which used to require timely round-trips between Premiere and After Effects. For all of your effects-based tracking, that round-tripping is no longer necessary, as it can all be accomplished directly inside of Premiere Pro. Here’s Larry Jordan to show you just how simple it is. More »

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No Fly ZoneAerial photography and cinematography are on the rise. As the equipment for stunning aerial shots gets cheaper and cheaper, more people are taking to the skies to tell their stories. In one sense, this is a good thing. Drone photography can produce some beautiful results, and inexpensive equipment means that those results are now within reach for those of us with modest budgets. However, aerial photography, like anything else, requires a working knowledge of these sky machines, as well as loads of practice. Then there’s the issue of restricted airspace, places where unmanned aircraft just are not allowed by law for any number of reasons. A helpful new interactive map called Don’t Fly Drones Here just launched, and it’s a fantastic resource for people unsure of whether they can fly in a particular area. More »