Why not kick off the new year with a bunch of great DIY filmmaking tutorials?
"New year, new me" is so passé, you guys. I know you just spent a ton of money on a gym membership, a juicer, and a fixie because you swore you were going to cut your carbon footprint down to the size of a petit deer hoof, but let's get real—gyms are ghost towns by February, juicers end up in the give-away pile by Spring, and you know that fixie is gonna be hung up the moment a drop of rain hits the asphalt. So, what? Should you give up on "new year, new me?" Nah, try "new year, new gear."
Oh, what's that? New gear is too expensive? Don't I know it, sister. That's why we've put together 10 of our favorite DIY tutorials and hacks from the past year that will not only help you build stuff you'll actually use on set, but will also help you save some of your hard-earned money (that you got from your grandma for Christmas).
Follow focus rigs can get pretty spendy, which is why getting your hands on something cheap that will also let you adjust your focus ring easier is a big time win. Dave Knop, or knoptop as he's known on YouTube, shows us how he turned a random $4 dollar keychain called the Key Band-It he got from a hardware store into a pretty effective follow focus that fits large and small lenses.
The Westcott Ice Light is the VIP of the light wand world, but that thing is crazy expensive at $500. So even though they're incredibly versatile and dexterous, very few low-budget filmmakers will be able to take advantage of them because of their exorbitant price. But if you've got $45, you might be able to make your own. Macroscope Pictures shows you how to build a DIY light wand that has color-changing capability, Wi-Fi, and all of the other features you'd want to see in a conventional, non-DIY unit.
Bikes are for riding, but they're also for making DIY softboxes. If you've got a crusty old cruiser lying around collecting dust and your half-hearted promises to get back in shape, then you'll want to check out this tutorial. Creator Rob Thomas of Prickly Sauce shows you how to turn an old bike wheel, a bit of lycra fabric, and an LED strip into a dirt cheap DIY softbox.
This may not be the tutorial you'd usually expect to see on a list like this, but it just has to be included. In this DIY tutorial, Swedish camera maker Mats Wernersson shows you his painstaking process of building a camera lens from, including creating the glass elements, machining the barrel, using tweezers to place ball bearings, and assembling the entire thing 100% by hand.
I've covered an insane amount of DIY tutorials here at No Film School, and by far the easiest and cheapest pieces of filmmaking equipment to make appears to be the light modifier. You can make these things out of just about anything, from shower curtains to old T-shirts, but if you want to create some really cool lighting effects, cardboard is the way to go. In this tutorial, Academy of Photography shows you how to turn a regular ol' cracker box into a nifty modifier for your lighting setup.
6. DIY lightbox
Product videography can be a huge pain if you don't have a lightbox to create an infinity white background. But don't worry! Photographer Chris Kuga shows you how to build one out of a large cardboard box, some poster board, and a couple of clamp lights.
7. DIY Kino Flo
Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNdkbZ4QO1E
Kino Flos are a fantastic professional lighting option, but guess what, they're so damn expensive! However, there might be a DIY alternative. In this tutorial from Indy Mogul, DP James Codeglia walks you through building "covered wagons," which, like Kino Flos, are low profile, lightweight, powerful lights, but will cost you a whole lot less.
Whether you're doing hands-on DIY tutorials, Tasty videos, or just wanting to be the latest incarnation of Wes Anderson, overhead rigs are an absolute necessity. Luckily, this tutorial from The Film Look shows you how to put your own DIY overhead shooting rig together step by step using only a few materials that can be picked up at any hardware store.
Caleb Pike of DSLR Video Shooter is kind of becoming the MacGyver of the indie filmmaking tutorial world. This guy has come up with some seriously ingenious builds and this is definitely one of my favorites. In this tutorial, Pike shows you how to use a $5 splitter to give yourself the ability to not only record two mics simultaneously on your camera but also keep the two channels separated so you can control the levels independently in post.
10. Triangle light
Another one from Caleb Pike—I just couldn't resist, because this thing is just too cool. If you're bored with shooting with traditional circular ring lights, you might want to give Pike's triangular light a try. This tutorial is a lot more labor-intensive than the others on the list because requires some soldering and electrical expertise, but if you've got the know-how, just not the budget, $100 for a triangle "ring" light is not too shabby.
Want more DIY tutorials? Check out our coverage of other DIY filmmaking projects from 2017 and beyond right here.