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Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 3.03.44 PMBelieve or not, there was once a time when camera movement was limited to either the dolly or handheld. The thought of a camera freely and smoothly floating through the air, thus combining the stability of a dolly with the unrestrained freedom of handheld, was an absolutely preposterous one. In the early 70s, however, a Philadelphia-based filmmaker and inventor by the name of Garrett Brown undertook the challenge of creating a new camera movement system that would capture the world in a way most similar to how the human eye perceives it. It was out of that desire that the Steadicam was born. More »

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Put Your Eyes to the Test 12 Camera ShootoutLet’s take a walk down memory lane. Remember two years ago, when Zacuto and Kessler put together what might be considered the most epic camera shootout ever conceived? I sure do, but not because of the results or any one camera being superior to the others, but because it drove home the point that we live in an era where any camera — from the iPhone 5 to the Sony F65 — can produce professional results as long as the person behind the lens knows what they’re doing. With that said, digital cinema technology has come a long way since the 2012 shootout. More »

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Sony F$ 4KFor the past few years, the practice of hacking a camera’s firmware in order to increase the feature-set of said camera has been commonplace and quite popular, especially in the case of the original GH2 hack and, of course, Magic Lantern with Canon DSLRs. However, up to this point, we haven’t really seen or heard about folks hacking higher-end cameras in order to increase performance. Until now, that is. Paul Ream, a working cinematographer, recently figured out how to hack the Sony F5 so that it enables the camera to shoot 4K internally, a task which significantly closes the performance gap between the F5 and its much more expensive big brother, the F55. Furthermore, this hack raises some interesting questions about the ethics of companies limiting the functionality of their products in superficial ways. More »

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Rokinon LensesFor the past few years, Rokinon lenses, which are manufactured in Korea by parent company Samyang, have been widely popular with the new generation of DSLR filmmakers, largely because of their affordability. The manufacturer then hit a home run when they began to introduce cine versions of their most popular primes, with de-clicked apertures and built-in focus gears. For anybody wanting a full set of their cine primes, however, there was one massive problem. There’s a 24mm, a 35mm, and an 85mm — all with a constant T/1.5 aperture — but no 50mm to round out the set. For many people, myself included, this glaring omission prevented us from investing in a set of these lenses. Luckily, Rokinon has just announced that a 50mm T/1.5 will be officially introduced at Photokina 2014 in roughly three weeks, much to the delight of low budget filmmakers everywhere. More »

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Poor Man's C-StandFew filmmaking tools are as ubiquitous and multifunctional as the C-Stand. From mounting lights at any conceivable angle to flying modifiers/flags, C-Stands have literally hundreds of uses on a film set. The only problem: C-Stands are not cheap. At roughly $150 a piece — and that’s for the cheaper models — C-Stands aren’t something to which low and no-budget filmmakers have constant access. Luckily, there are some significantly less expensive alternatives out there that can provide much of the same functionality at a fraction of the cost. Scott Eggleston over at the Frugal Filmmaker has one such alternative that he’d like to show you, and it will only set you back $20. More »

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c300 canon color science4Even though Canon DSLRs might not be getting a whole lot of love from filmmakers these days, the Cinema-EOS line of cameras from Canon, the C100 and C300 in particular, have been widely adopted in the professional video production world, especially for documentary-style work. Since these cameras are fairly ubiquitous at this point, it makes sense for us to know how to get the most out of them. A recent video from AbelCine helps us do just that by teaching us how to maximize dynamic range on the C100 and C300 by tweaking the internal gamma settings. More »

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Sony a5100 FrontEarlier in the week, we were introduced to a brand new bite-sized camera from Sony, the A5100. We already knew that Sony’s new camera, which comes in at $550 for the body, would have the ability to output uncompressed 8 bit 4:2:2 via the mini HDMI port and be able to record to the XAVC-S codec, both firsts for a camera of this size and price. However, we had no idea what kind of performance (in terms of dynamic range, rolling shutter, and overall image quality) would be possible with the camera’s CMOS sensor. Luckily, just like they did with the A7s, the folks at Cinema5D put the A5100 to the test, and their results are fairly exciting. More »

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RED DRAGON Hero Image[Update: Looks like all of the cameras they had are completely gone now.] Once every blue moon, RED puts a truckload of lightly used cameras on sale, giving customers a chance to snag one at a highly reduced price. Well, No Film Schoolers, right now just so happens to be one of those times, as Jarred Land posted on his Facebook page that RED just received a few varieties of their cameras back, each with less than 5 hours of total use, and that those cameras are now available first come, first serve at a reduced price (and the deal will not be on their website). More »

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Inside the Edit Paddy Bird

A few months ago, we shared an excellent short animation that detailed the ins and outs of what exactly an experienced editor does. Although we only briefly mentioned it at the time, that video was an advertisement for Inside the Edit, a soon-to-be-released online creative editing course. Yesterday marked the official release of Inside the Edit, and we here at No Film School couldn’t be more excited about the tremendous potential value that this course offers to aspiring editors wishing to break into the industry. I recently had the opportunity to chat with Paddy Bird, the founder of Inside the Edit, about what sets this course apart from any other editing course on the market today. More »

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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 »