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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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VICE News C300Canon cameras might not get a whole lot of love these days (especially in the comments on our site), but the truth is that the C300 (which is now cheaper than ever) might just be one of the best documentary-style cameras around because of its tremendous versatility and low-light ability. Nowhere is this versatility more apparent than in the hands of the cinematographers of VICE News, one of the more engaging journalistic outfits around today. Their travels, and dare I say adventures, have taken them twice the world over as they’ve captured footage from every major international conflict in recent memory. In a recent collaboration with Canon, VICE DPs Jake Burghart and Jerry Ricciotti shared the standard VICE camera package, as well as their unique camera rigs that allow them to be ready to shoot at a moment’s notice. More »

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Taking Flight Creative LiveIn the past two years, the aerial cinematography industry has really taken off (get it?). What was once only an option for people with sky-high budgets (okay, I’ll stop) now has a delightful low-cost for entry-level equipment. With that said, piloting drones and snapping off great shots is far more complicated than owning the right gear. In fact, there’s a veritable plethora of information that you should know before your drone ever leaves the ground. Luckily, our friends over at CreativeLive have you covered. In their upcoming course, Taking Flight: Drone Photography & Video, Jeff Foster will teach you everything you need to know in order to get started with aerial cinematography. More »

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Adam EpsteinThe Saturday Night Live Film Unit is responsible for the short films (like this Wes Anderson horror parody) that get broadcast every Saturday night. Many are written, shot, and edited in 4 days or less, which makes for a very condensed and hectic production and post schedule. Last month, we interviewed Adam Epstein, the staff editor for the SNL Film Unit, and he not only provided technical information about how he works, but also some insight into how to be creative and effective on extremely tight deadlines. But that’s not where the great info stops, because Adam is now gearing up to hit the road for his Cutting Edge Tour, in which he’ll teach you everything you need to know in order to go from an empty timeline to an effective broadcast-ready piece. More »

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Excell +1 BMPCCLast week, Fotodiox Pro released the Excell+1, a product that had many of us extremely excited because it seemed to be a far less expensive counterpart to the popular Metabones Speed Booster. Cut to one week later. Many of the new units have made their way into the hands of eager filmmakers, and a few have put the Excell+1 up against the Speed Booster, only to find that the Fotodiox has some major focusing and sharpness issues at apertures wider than f/2.8. The folks at Fotodiox have released a few new videos in an attempt to explain more about what the Excell+1 can and cannot do, and to offer people who were expecting Speed Booster performance a full refund for their purchase. More »

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Anomaly Kickstarter w jts

Here at No Film School, we focus a whole lot on the process of making feature films. However, long-form storytelling like television narratives and web series are entering a golden age in which in-depth character development is key and content and structure can be as creative as ever. For independent and low-budget filmmakers looking to take advantage of the creative freedoms of long-form storytelling, while simultaneously working on honing their craft, web series are definitely a great way to go (just ask our fearless leader, Ryan Koo, whose series The West Side won critical acclaim). But how does one go about getting started with creating a dramatic web series? It’s certainly not easy, but today’s interviewee, Terrell Lamont, has some answers. More »

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CropperCapture[70]The App Store and Google Play Store are rife with apps aimed at providing helpful tools for filmmakers. Some of these apps are truly useful — apps like Shot Designer and pCAM and Cine Meter II – while others really aren’t. For users of RED cameras, there has never really been an app specifically designed to aid with the operating of these cameras. Until now, that is. Last week, RED released their REDTools App for the iOS platform, and it includes a number of tools for RED cinematographers, including depth of field calculation, recording time calculation, crop factor calculation, and more. More »

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Blackmagic Pocket Cinema CameraOf the myriad cinema-style cameras that have hit the market over the past year, none are as inexpensive or have as tiny of a form-factor as the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera. Add to that the camera’s 13 stops of dynamic range and internal ProRes/CinemaDNG recording, and it seems like one hell of a bargain at $995. As most of you know, Blackmagic has a distinct history of reducing prices on their cinema cameras, and they’ve done it once again — at least for the time being — with the BMPCC. For the next month and a half, you’ll be able to snag one of these little cameras for only $495. More »

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Adobe Audition CCFor the past month, we’ve been covering the latest release of Adobe’s CC video applications extensively — from the exciting new titling features in Premiere, to the two new keying effects inside of After Effects, to the full gamut of new features in SpeedGrade. Those aren’t the only apps that received a few new welcome additions to their feature-sets, however. Audition, Adobe’s audio post-production program, also got a few new usability and interface updates that make multi-track mixing sessions easier to navigate. In an excerpt from one of his many post production courses, Larry Jordan breaks down these new features in Audition and provides a few helpful tips and tricks. More »

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shogun-product-divider2In the past month, two relatively revolutionary photo/stills cameras have hit the market. I’m talking, of course, about the Panasonic GH4 and the Sony A7s, both of which feature the ability to record 4K video (although not internally in the case of the A7s), and both of which offer high frame rate shooting at 1080. For a multitude of reasons relating to image quality, both of these cameras beg to be used with an external 4K HDMI recorder of some sort. The only problem — no such recorder is available on the market yet. In a few months time, however, that will not be the case, as Atomos will have released its highly anticipated Shogun 4K recorder/monitor. Today, the company opened up the pre-ordering process for the Shogun, and for people who order prior to July 31st, Atomos is throwing in a kick-ass free gift as well. More »

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Lawrence of Arabia EditingThere are very few things that you can learn in film school that can’t be learned online in some form or another. The only problem is that tracking down all of that information can be a bit of, well, a pain in the ass. Oftentimes you have to dig through page after page on obscure forums, or watch YouTube video after YouTube video, just to find something that is relatively helpful in your pursuit of filmmaking knowledge. Other times however, sites like IndieWire, Cinefix, (and ours, of course) bring the film school to you, without any need for absurd tuition and a lifetime of debt, and for people wondering what kind of material is taught in college editing courses, right now is one of those times. More »

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Michael ShannonJames Franco is everywhere these days. Between acting in just about everything and directing feature after feature, it seems safe to say that he’s in the prime of his creative output. In terms of his directorial efforts, Franco definitely has an affinity for adapting tough pieces of literature, like his upcoming feature Child of God, which is based on a novel by Cormac McCarthy, plus As I Lay Dying and The Sound and the Fury, both of which are based upon William Faulkner novels previously thought to be unadaptable. The adaptations didn’t start with that recent trio of films, however, but in the late 2000′s with several short films based on poems. One of these short film adaptations comes from a Frank Bidart poem called Herbert White, and, as luck would have it, it’s is probably one of the most disturbing films that you will ever see. Oh, and it stars Michael Shannon. More »

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Excell +1 BMPCCOne of the most sought-after tools in video production these days is the Metabones Speed Booster, a tool which absolutely lives up its claims of making your lenses faster and wider, thus eliminating the dreaded crop factor from small sensor cameras like the Panasonic GH4, while giving you an additional stop of light. One of the problems that most low-budget filmmakers have with the Speed Booster, however, is that it’s not inexpensive by any stretch of the imagination. At $490 for the BMPCC Nikon version (and even more for the Canon EF adapter), you’re shelling out half the price of the camera just for an adapter. Luckily, Fotodiox Pro has just released the Excell+1 Micro 4/3 adapter for Nikon and Canon FD lenses at just a fraction of that price. More »

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Game of Thrones VFXOf the multitude of tremendously cinematic shows that dominate our airwaves today, Game of Thrones is likely the most ambitious, and it’s almost certainly the one with the highest production value. From the absolutely massive (and excellent) ensemble cast — all fitted with highly stylized wardrobe items — to the dynamic digital cinematography that showcases some brilliant production design, the show looks like nothing else on television today. However, perhaps the most stunning aspect of Game of Thrones is the unmatched aesthetic and sheer magnitude of some of the locations and visual effects. Like many of the period and fantasy pieces shot today, the effects are comprised of a unique blend of traditional photography and heavy compositing, although it can sometimes be difficult to tell which is which, unless there happen to be VFX breakdowns and BTS featurettes. For Game of Thrones, these things exist in abundance. More »

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Izotope RX3A few weeks ago, we shared a post about using Adobe Audition’s built-in noise reduction tools to rescue bad production audio. While I personally have been satisfied by the results that I get from the suite of tools in Audition, many of the comments on our Facebook post and the article itself mentioned a popular noise-reduction plugin called Izotope RX3. After some cursory research, I’m now convinced that RX3 is the most magical thing that I have ever laid eyes upon. So with that in mind, here’s a quick overview of the Izotope RX3 as well as a few tutorials on how to incorporate the plugin into your audio post-production workflow. More »

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Atomos GH4In the past few weeks, the internet has practically exploded from people sharing their opinions, and footage, from the recently released Panasonic GH4. Most of what people are sharing at this point has to do with the camera’s internal 8-bit 4K recording, which is fantastically detailed, and which is undoubtedly one of the biggest selling points for the camera. However, another feature that Panasonic crammed into the GH4, and a feature that might be revolutionary for a stills/video camera at this price point, is the camera’s ability to output a clean 4K 4:2:2 10-bit signal from its mini-HDMI port. At this point, there aren’t any recorders that can record the 4K signal (until Atomos releases the Shogun this fall), but if you want a glorious down-sampled 10-bit HD image from your new GH4 (and why wouldn’t you), you can do it with the Atomos Ninja Blade. Here’s Jeremy Young from Atomos to show you how. More »

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Ride the Sky TimelapseSeveral years ago, motion-control timelapse was an unexplored frontier in the field of video production. Then DSLR video happened, and company after company came out with their own line of automated motion control equipment. Vimeo nearly exploded from all of the gorgeous timelapse videos from folks like Tom Lowe and Preston Kanak. Unfortunately, the internet became over-saturated with these videos, and the age-old technique of timelapse became a cliché by-product of the DSLR revolution. However, there are still filmmakers out there pushing the boundaries of the timelapse medium. Lance Page is one of those filmmakers, and his new video Ride the Sky is unlike any timelapse video you’ve seen before. More »

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FARGO -- Pictured: Billy Bob Thornton as Lorne Malvo -- CR: FX/Matthias ClamerWhen I first heard that the Coen brothers’ iconic Minnesota masterpiece Fargo was going to be adapted into an FX miniseries, my first thought was, “Well jeez, that sure is a swell idea,” (in a thick Minnesotan accent, of course). After my initial excitement, the skepticism set in. How could anybody possibly create an episodic variation on Fargo, while appealing to modern audiences and paying homage to the original? Despite the enormity of that undertaking, show-runner Noah Hawley and his team not only created a show that lives up to the Coen classic, but a show that is easily one of the year’s (if not the decade’s) best. The show’s DP Dana Gonzales recently sat down with Ben Consoli on the Go Creative Show to talk about everything from Fargo’s locations to its glorious, yet understated cinematography. More »

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Cine Meter II WideIt’s safe to say that smartphones and tablets can do just about anything these days. For most of us, our phones have replaced calendars, alarm clocks, maps, newspapers, and a whole host of other things. The same can be said for many of the tools that filmmakers use on a day-in and day-out basis. There are slating apps, and shot-listing apps, and blocking/overhead apps, and apps that can teach you color correction. There have even been a few notable attempts at replacing light meters with an app, although most of those apps left something to be desired, especially compared to their real-world counterparts. However, one of the most promising light meter apps, Adam Wilt’s Cine Meter, just got a major update that includes tons of new features that discerning cinematographers will love. More »

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GH4 BMCC Green Screen ComparisonCommon knowledge tells us that codec and compression are two of the most important factors (after lighting, of course) when it comes to green screen work and being able to pull a quality key from your source footage. Anybody who has ever had the opportunity to shoot green screens both with DSLRs and higher quality cameras with more robust codecs can attest to the fact that it’s significantly easier to pull a key from the latter. However, seeing as the GH4 keeps blowing past people’s expectations, it was only a matter of time before we started to see green screen comparisons to cameras with better internal codecs. The fine folks at Video Alchemy performed one such test recently, and ran the GH4 up against the BMCC’s ProRes and CinemaDNG. The results are surprising, to say the least. More »