5 Skills That Will Make You a More Valuable Filmmaker There are tons of skills that will make you a better filmmaker, but have found these 5 skills to be invaluable. Here are 5 skills that I like to see in filmmakers I hire or 5 skills he/she is willing to develop. Watch the video above to see all 5 tips and read the conclusion below to see the payoff of mastering these skills. 1. Staging gear is a crucial step in production. 2. This one is huge. 3. I always appreciate a learner’s spirit in assistants and shooters. 4. This skill is GOLD. 5. If you study your boss and learn to meet their needs before they ask, you’ll find yourself on all of their shoots. This post might just sound like a list of ways to suck up to your boss or director, but trust me when I say these skills go far beyond that.
Videos - Creative COW Infographic: How to Avoid Tripping a Breaker with Too Many Lights Working with high-powered lights on standard 15-amp circuits can be tricky business. Luckily, our peeps at Story & Heart are here to help. In this handy-dandy infographic (and the accompanying blog post), the S&H team breaks down the simple calculation that will help you figure out whether or not plugging in that extra 300 watt lamp will trip the breaker, thus costing your production time that could have been better spent, you know, actually shooting things. Check out the infographic below. Essentially, the formula comes down to this: take the number of amps (information that should be clearly displayed inside your breaker box), multiply it out by 120 volts (assuming you're in the US), and the resulting number gives you the maximum wattage that particular circuit can handle. If you want more in-depth explanation of how to judge the capacity of household circuits, head on over to the Story & Heart blog.
Reflective Surfaces Can Ruin Your Shots. Here Are Some Quick Fixes "Reflective surfaces are a pain in the ass," said every filmmaker ever. Say you've just canned a glorious tracking shot. When you go to review the footage, however, you're dismayed to find out that you tracked past three windows, and in every single one of them you can see the dolly and camera crew, the boom operator, and some PA holding coffee that is wandering around like a lost puppy. Almost every filmmaker I know has dealt with this problem in some form or another, and it's one that every up and coming filmmaker will encounter at some point in their lives. But what can you do to get rid of those pesky reflections that can ruin your shots? In my experience, it's always best to have a few different options for cutting reflections readily available to you, because there is no one solution that is perfect for every situation. However, more often than not we're using more than a single source of light in our shots, which means that another solution is necessary.
Disciplinary Architecture or Deterrence by Design Earlier this week, London Mayor Boris Johnson took to Twitter to respond to recent controversy surrounding anti-homeless measures taken by real estate company Property Planners at their upscale Southwark Bridge Road property. Spikes that were installed to deter sleeping and sitting beside the entrance of a luxury building were brought to public attention on Saturday following a tweet by @EthicalPioneer that has since inspired petition and protest. Image via @MayorofLondon’s Twitter account) Political play, or not, the London mayor’s passionate response speaks directly to the outrage surrounding the issue of London’s growing homeless population, which, according to London based charity Crisis, has jumped a staggering 75% in the past three years. Unlike most disciplinary architecture, the architectural practices aimed at controlling our behaviors don’t inspire Twitterstorms, yet the majority of these subtle mechanisms of crowd control permeate our daily lives. April 3, 2012
How to Slate Like a Pro (Plus How You Definitely Shouldn't Slate, Like Ever) Slating is really damn important, particularly when working with dual sound and massive amounts of footage. Here's Tomm from RocketJump Film School to show you the basics of how to do it right, plus some very tangible examples of how not to slate. There are a few things that I would add to the practices in the video. First, if the information is available, always include the clip name/number from your audio recording device on the slate. This little step can make the editor's life so much easier when it comes to matching video clips with the proper external audio. Secondly, it's important to make sure the slate stays roughly the same size in the frame regardless of shot type or focal length. The trick that I've always used for keeping the slate the same size in the frame regardless of focal length is really simple, and it works like a charm. This little formula may change depending on the sensor size you're working with, but for super35, it works like a charm.
How to Light & Shoot a Seamless White Background from Start to Finish A seamless background can make your project look like a million bucks, but lighting one can be a little tricky if you don't know where to start. Zach Arias offers up this lighting tutorial on DEDPXL to show you how to light for a seamless white, black, grey (virtually any color, really) background. If you're a stickler for details like me, one thing you'll appreciate is the utter thoroughness of the lesson. Arias breaks down not only the hows, but the whys behind every creative and technical decision he makes on his set. Check out Part 1 below. (You can also find out more in his blog post here.) Now, not everybody can afford the equipment or the space that Arias is able to utilize in his tutorial, but there are certainly some cheap workarounds that you can use to get the same effect. The key to getting a nice seamless background is starting out with a background that can be made to look seamless in the first place (no wrinkles).
10 Best Affordable Microphones for the Home Studio Making music is perhaps one of the most expensive hobbies in the world—that is, aside from tasting truffles. When you’re looking to set up a decent home studio, it’s hard to find a way to stay within budget without ending up with a terrible sound. Here are ten options to minimize expenditure while still getting a decent sound out of your system at the end of the day, by buying smart when it comes to one of the most important types of studio equipment: microphones. For about $100 give or take, you can pick up a Shure SM57 Microphone (you can double that price for the popular two-packs, or the SM57/58 combo packs). The popular Shure SM58 Vocal Microphone is a dynamic mic that can also be had for about $100, and cuts the budget nicely because you can use this baby live and in the studio. Many heavier artists use the 58 for their vocals even when they’re in expensive studios because of the amount of screaming it can take without distorting. instead. The NT3 Condenser Microphone
Is It Smoky in Here? Shane Hurlbut Shows How to Use Smoke to Achieve Different Lighting Goals Say what you will about Shane Hurlbut, but there aren't too many professional Directors of Photography who take the time out of their crazy schedules to try to give back to the community. Shane's most recent work that we've covered here was the Canon-sponsored film "The Ticket," shot in 4K on the Canon 1D C. While I saw that film at NAB (and wasn't too crazy about the quality of the footage coming out of that camera), it doesn't take away from the fact that he's a professional DP who knows a thing or two about lighting. In his newest blog post, he gives a good run-down on how to use smoke to achieve different lighting goals. 1. 2. 3. 4. I had the chance a few months ago to help out on reshoots for a short film. Something as simple as smoke can completely change the mood of a scene, and affect the way the audience perceives it. Do any of you like using smoke in your shoots? [via Hurlbut Visuals]
A Cheap & Easy Way to Create a Professional-Looking Infinite Black Backdrop Here's a cheap, simple, and professional-looking technique to add to your arsenal -- the infinite black background. Because its visuals add a level of surrealism and style, we've seen this used in music videos, dream sequences in narrative films, art films, you name it -- and chances are if you're not wondering how to pull it off, it's because your curiosity has already led you to find the answer. Filmmaker Lewis McGregor shares his insight into how to create this effect inexpensively and simply by using black material, three lights, and editing software. (No need for a huge soundstage!) If you're just starting out in filmmaking and haven't learned much about lighting and/or editing, then the technique McGregor uses is right up your alley -- especially if you don't have the cash or space, but need your project to look professional. Is there a simpler/cheaper way to pull off this technique? [via UglyMcGregor & Indie Tips]