We love DIY tips at No Film School. Not only can they be really helpful in mimicking higher-end equipment, but they are often cheap to replicate, allowing you to recreate them using common household items.
One of our all-time favorite "hacks" is using a wheelchair or skateboard in place of a dolly track for tracking shots. It's a heck of a lot cheaper, easy to repeat, and can produce some very smooth shots.
In the video below, JJ from Wondershare details six different tips that are "super easy" for filmmakers creating projects with smartphones or looking to step up their lighting game. Check them out below.
The Magic of Tape
When it comes to smaller body cameras like today's smartphones or even the Sigma fp and fp L, you can mount them just about anywhere. But not everyone can afford the latest mounting accessories for rigging.
Enter our trusty friend tape. Tape can go a long way in securing lighter phones. It definitely looks janky behind-the-scenes, but after securing the camera in place, it can work just as well as more expensive clamps.
Speaking of clamps, you can always check your local dollar store for some. You can find all sorts of different electronics there including tabletop tripods.
When it comes to shooting underwater footage, it's best to use a cage made specifically for underwater use. There's nothing worse than losing equipment to inclement weather or water damage. However, with today's smartphones, many can go underwater and not suffer any damage.
But what if you want to get an underwater perspective when there's no water around? JJ cleverly suggests using a clear tray. Pour water into the tray to mimic the feeling of being underwater. It's almost like attaching a filter to a lens.
Changing the Color of LEDs
This is one of our favorites from the video. When shooting with LEDs that are not bi-color, there are several ways you can add color to them with filters. But if you want to do it in a very cheap and effective way, JJ points out that you can use plastic binder dividers. This is a fantastic idea, and based on the images in the video, produces some compelling results.
You can easily find these at the local dollar store and start experimenting. Just be careful that the light doesn't burn the plastic.
Better POV Shots
When it comes to interesting camera angles, Breaking Bad is a masterclass on the subject. The series always found new ways to get creative shots to tell the story. For your projects, it's important to experiment with clever ideas too, especially when you don't have to worry about a budget or time. Even if the shot doesn't work, at least you learned how to create it, which you can then possibly use later down the line on other projects.
Using unique perspectives to visually tell your story can draw your audience in. A way to do that is to create shots that interact with what the talent is doing in the scene. As the video illustrates, if the talent is reaching into a bag for chips, you can cut a hole on the bottom of the bag and point the camera through it for an interesting angle. It's a similar idea to this cat video on TikTok.
Or let's say the talent is reaching into a mailbox soon after a snake slithered its way in. You can use a similar shot to show the snake's perspective.
What are your favorite DIY tips? Let us know in the comments below.