August 6, 2015
Filmmaking has changed drastically over the years, and is still continuing to do so. Now we don’t need an expensive camera to shoot our next project, those small things in our pockets will do the job just as well. Of course, we’re not saying smartphones should replace high quality film equipment, they can also be used to log schedules and take shots of potential locations.
The following apps are just some of the ways to make your phone a more filmmaking-friendly device.
10. Cinescope – £2.99 (iPhone, iPad & iPod Touch)
Shooting with a phone can be restricting when you start looking at the finer details of manual composition. With this app,created by Fruitvale Station cinematographer, Rachel Morrison, you can open up some capabilities in regards to framing, and shoot in any aspect ratio you wish. Whether it’s 16:9 widescreen, 4:3, 1.85 or even a customized ratio, Cinescope is a great way to get a better idea of your visuals.
9. Magic Hour – FREE (iPhone & iPad)
You’re shooting outside, and you have no control of your environment. With the Magic Hour app, photographers and filmmakers will know when is the best time to shoot. The app will specifically countdown to when it is the ‘golden hour’; when there are no shadows as light is diffused through the Earth’s atmosphere. You’ll also get info about light in your area. A great tool for filming outdoors.
More of the Top 10 Apps for Filmmakers can be found here.
March 17, 2015
So, you’re a noob filmmaker, huh? Well, that essentially means you’re a walking mistake factory.
That’s okay! Making mistakes is part of learning and becoming better — which, if we’re smart, we never stop doing. But, it’s always nice to learn how to avoid pitfalls before its too late, which is where filmmaker Darious Britt comes in. He has compiled 15 common (though not altogether obvious) mistakes that filmmakers make when they first start out and not only gives examples to learn from, but he also offers some excellent wisdom on ways to fix them in the video below:
Here’s a written list of all 15 common mistakes from the video:
- Weak story
- Undercooked scripts
- Bad sound
- Poor casting choices
- Poor shot composition
- White walls
- Poor lighting
- Unnecessary insert shots
- Too many pregnant pauses
- No blocking (movement)
- Too much chit chat
- Action for the sake of action
- Generic music
We can all be honest here and admit that we’re all guilty of making at least 95% of these mistakes (if we’re really honest, 100%). Darious offers so many great tips on how to not only avoid these things, but also how to fix them after we’ve made them.
What common mistakes have you made as a beginner filmmaker? Which ddo you notice in the films of other beginner filmmakers? Let us know in the comments below.
January 2, 2015
The only barriers to becoming a marginally better filmmaker a year from now are time and practice—not better equipment, better connections, or better funding. However, time and practice alone won’t make you the absolute best filmmaker you’re capable of becoming.
To make that type of improvement, you need a solid strategy. Follow these blueprints to make your New Year’s resolutions all about working smarter this year, not just harder.
“If you don’t know who you are in 2015, your clients won’t know either.”
The first step in becoming a better filmmaker is getting rid of the word “better.” Or, more accurately, replacing it with something far more specific. The more fog in front of your goals, the more difficult they’ll be to reach, so take some time to reflect on them thoroughly.
What were your best works in 2014? If that answer doesn’t come to you right away, take some time to figure it out. Then figure out why they were your best works—and why the others were not. Do you need more practice in ________? Do you have a natural gift for ________?
These will lead you to a larger, more important question: what type of filmmaker are you? If you decide to be great at everything, you’re really deciding to be good at everything—and great at nothing.
To become a true expert, you have to specialize. This doesn’t mean you have to pigeonhole yourself and only work in one genre. Nor does it mean you should turn down work (yet). But it does mean you should identify the styles and strengths that define you.
The more specific your reflections, the better. Should you be focusing in commercial advertising next year? That’s still a bit foggy. Think about your ideal clients in 2015. Are they the adventurous brands that sell horsepower, black leather gloves, and energy drinks? Or are you better suited to capture the quiet artisanship of a winemaker?
Should a client seek you out for a yoga video or a skydiving video? Or should they both skip you and make room for the client promoting beer and chicken wings?
If you don’t know who you are in 2015, your clients won’t know either.
“The day you stop learning is the day you stop being a filmmaker.”
Once you know who you are—or who you want to become—the next step is to figure out how you’re going to get there. To do this, you need to know where others have gone before you.
The best way to follow in the footsteps of your favorite filmmakers is to, wait for it, follow in their actual footsteps. At the same time, the only way to innovate and create something new is to take steps that others haven’t—which means first understanding where others have been—and why they’ve been there.
In order to be your best a year from now, you’ll want to learn from those who made the same decision a year ago—or one hundred years ago. Look closely at their work and figure out what you like and what you don’t like. How does it differ from your work? How does your work differ from theirs? How did they do that, how might you have done it, and how might they have done your work differently?
It’s not important you take a class or go back to school. What’s important is you spend some time reflecting—then acting on those reflections. Does so-and-so have better lighting than you? Go remedy that. Do directors X and Y capture more intimate emotions? What are they doing that you aren’t? And why aren’t you doing it?
Listen to the audio commentary on your favorite (and least favorite) films, follow the experts who teach about film on Twitter, read screenplays to find out what’s in the parentheticals, and direct all of this toward your goals and weaknesses.
“Everyone you meet in 2015 should know what type of filmmaker you are.”
If halfway through the year (i.e., June—go ahead and mark your calendars now), no one knows about the progress you’ve made, you’re missing out—and so are your potential clients. Much of the reasoning behind specializing and studying the work of others has to do with personal growth. However, it also has to do with the growth of your personal brand.
If someone wants to hire a fast-paced, adventurous filmmaker, are they going to hire the filmmaker who specializes in this? Or the filmmaker who takes only one project like that a year?
The hard (and strategic) work you put into becoming a better filmmaker should be visible in your portfolio. If you decide to be a better filmmaker by focusing on ________, make sure people can see the fruits of these labors both online and offline.
Everyone you meet in 2015 should know what type of filmmaker you are. If you’re not on Twitter or Facebook, remedy that. If you are on Twitter and Facebook, make sure you’re coming across as the focused filmmaker you are.
The same goes for your website or online portfolio. If you don’t have the skills to build a website—or a web designer brother-in-law to trade favors with—Squarespace is a great option for building an online portfolio without any knowledge of html or coding. Plus, in addition to handling the coding and hosting aspects of your site, they also handle the backend SEO—which will help new clients actually find the better work you’ll be posting.
September 3, 2013
By Marc Schiller, Truly Free Film
Back in early May, I had the pleasure of attending “A2E: Artist To Entrepreneur” a fantastic lab organized by Ted Hope and the San Francisco Film Society. Over a three day period, a group of extremely talented filmmakers, technologists, marketing and distribution experts came together to explore new paradigms for film distribution.
On the first day of the lab, Ted and his team passed around a worksheet that all of the filmmakers were asked to complete. While filmmakers are often asked to submit information when applying for funding, few are compelled to explore their film from a marketing and distribution perspective as effectively and as thoroughly as the A2E worksheet demanded.
In the weeks following the A2E sessions, I’ve found myself adapting, expanding, and – most importunity – relying upon, the worksheet to set the foundations of our marketing and distribution strategies. Now at over seventy questions, it’s become an essential part of the BOND360 process.
Included in the worksheet are ten essential questions that every filmmaker should explore. In many ways they create the backbone of any successful marketing campaign.
So if you are embarking on a release of your film here are ten questions that you should ask yourself and then share with the broader team:
- What does the film say about the world we live in?
- What universal themes are explored in your film?
- Briefly describe the appeal you think your film will have for audiences (and why)
- List ten or more keywords to describe your film.
- What emotions do you feel your film brings forth in viewers?
- What are your film’s strengths?
- What are your film’s weaknesses?
- What are the unique opportunities with your film?
- What are the threats?
- How does your film primarily differentiate or distinguish itself from other work?
1080i, 1080p, 1080p vs 720p, 720p, adobe, avid, dv, edit, editing, editor, event videos, fcp, filmmaker, Final Cut Pro, format, formats, GLJ Media Group, HD, hdtv, hi-def, jeffvlog, NLE, premiere, resolution, riegel, screen, strategies, television, tips, video production
January 10, 2013
I have seen tons of editing tutorials out there that are NLE specific. I watch them all the time. However, I rarely see any basic editing tutorials that are useful for any NLE. In order to fill the void, I present my video-editing tips series, good for the newbie, and potentially useful to the pro.
If you are creating videos for the web, then this tutorial is for you. I’m going to go over a tip I use to increase production value while capturing live events or action, and cutting to music.
In order to take advantage of this tip, there are a few parameters to meet. You must have:
- Footage that is 1080p (or at least 1080i)
- An NLE (non-linear editing system) capable of adjusting scale, position, and creating sequences in multiple formats.
- 1 billion dollars to donate to my paypal account (this is not mandatory, but preferred)
There are 3 main formats for HD footage: 1080p, 1080i, & 720p. The “i” stands for interlaced. The “p” stands for progressive scan. Here is a great explanation on the difference from Geek.com:
Like displays, resolution is the prime determiner of an HDTV’s picture clarity, and those crazy numbers roughly equate to vertical resolution. A television which is 720p, for example, will support video of up to 1280 pixels wide by 720 pixels tall. A television which is 1080p will support video of up to 1920 pixels wide by 1080 pixels tall.
But what about the trailing p and i? They refer to the television’s scan modes, but the good news is that you don’t really need to pay attention to that. If you’re curious, they refer to progressive scan and interlaced and refer to the way the screen is drawn, but virtually all modern HDTVs are progressive scan.
Simply put, progressive is the more appealing ‘visual’ format. 1080 has more pixels then 720, which equals a higher quality image, and overall larger size.
Now, since most cameras, including an iphone, can shoot 1080p these days, that is the format I usually shoot in. However, when the final video is going to be presented on the web, the difference of quality b/t 1080p and 720p is marginal at best. So I will always create a final sequence in 720p to give me a distinct advantage in editing. For example, I can:
- scale, rotate, and position the picture to a better framed shot.
- create keyframes to add movement to a shot by increasing/decreasing the size of the image.
- create keyframes to adjust the position, panning either from left to right or vice versa.
This adds some production value to a boring shot, similar to if you had a dolly or slider on set. However, the main advantage I finish in 720p has to do with cutting to music.
Editing to the Beat
Cutting to music is all about matching the visual footage to the beat. This is probably the simplest way to begin to learn how to edit. It gives you certain lengths to cut to, and forces you to make tough decisions, as well as get creative.
For any newbies, the simplest way to start is by stretching out the waveform of the song, and cutting at the peaks. This is usually the loudest sounds, and a good place to start. As you get more advanced, you learn how to cut on different sounds, and add visual transitions to match certain sounds such as a guitar riff.
When cutting event videos, the music usually tends to be upbeat. Without getting to technical, that means the timing between beats will be short, and to create the most engaging edit, it would be great to have a lot of footage and angles to cut to.
However, we all know this is never the case. Whether you do not have enough cameras, or you are a single man crew trying to capture an entire event, this is where my tip comes in handy. Essentially, it allows you to…
Double your footage
By taking 1080p sized footage into a 720p sequence, you are essentially doubling your footage. In a 720p sequence, a 1080p shot will fit the screen perfectly when scaled down to 67% (or approximately 2/3) of its original size. So now you have the same shots you started with, plus the ability to choose different close-ups in the original frame, scale, pan, and even rotate.
Having room to scale opens a myriad of options to play with. If a shot is a little crooked, you can easily fix it. If a shot is framed wrong, you can fix it. If it is ‘boring’, you can add excitement.
In this video, I lay out step by step the technique I use to take advantage of formats when cutting to music for event videos, or any live action piece. This includes how to:
- pick a song that builds.
- match the footage to the beat using waveforms
- cut on the ‘fast parts’ without making people throw up.
The NLE I use in the video is Adobe Premiere, however any NLE that meets the parameters at the top of this post will work. Check it out…
Would love to hear if this tip has helped you at all, or if it was the biggest waste of time since the internet was created. LIKE IT? RATE IT. SHARE IT!
July 12, 2012
If you’ve got a film to promote, have you considered Tumblr? Beyond Facebook, Twitter, and clearly YouTube and Vimeo—where filmmakers can show their work as it was intended to be seen—Tumblr may be the next bountiful frontier. That’s what Lauren Donia, a former project coordinator at the Center for Social Media in D.C., suggests on the center’s blog. (I found it reposted on the TriBeCa Film Festival’s Future of Film blog, which also has its own Tumblr here.)
I’ll be the first to admit I never considered Tumblr’s animated GIFs and fanboy pastiches particularly conducive to lengthy conversations on any topic. When I asked a few 14-year-old Tumblr users what kinds of things they discussed there, I was told unceremoniously, “People don’t talk on Tumblr.” But apparently they do. A lot. Lauren Donia is not a filmmaker or a visual artist but she says she has found on Tumblr “a willingness not just to talk but to engage and promote films, books, music and art.” She’s so smitten, in fact, she deleted her Facebook account last year and is now a firm believer in the power of Tumblr’s aggregate reach, especially for those whose films are already being discussed ad infinitum across Tumblrland. “Filmmakers not using Tumblr are making a huge mistake,” she says.
So why head to Tumblr now? Sometimes pastiche, like film, can engage us in multiple ways at once. And sometimes you just have to go where the eyeballs are. Tumblr is growing exponentially, Donia points out, citing one report that puts Tumblr ahead of Wikipedia in monthly pageviews. It turns out Tumblr is also a very active sounding board late at night and on weekends, times when other social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter, are relative ghost towns. In her post, Donia lays out some helpful tips on tagging, reblogging and organizing Tumblr Meetups that any film marketing team, or shoe-string indie production team, could benefit from.
Sure, we all need some well-deserved downtime. But when you’ve got a film to get out there, can you really afford not to connect with your audience?
LIKE IT? RATE IT. SHARE IT!