The Best Camera Monitor Mount

The guys over at AndyCine sent us a low profile hot shoe mount which we think is worth shouting about!

Today we are going to talk about its features, the many different ways you can use it, and why we like it so much!

Welcome to The Film Look.

It doesn’t look like much, but it packs a punch. We were sceptical about making a review for a product so small and basic, but MAN we were surprised when we started using it!

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It has 360 degree rotation and 176 degrees of tilt. This is great if you need to flip the monitor for self-shooting, as well as positioning a monitor when shooting at some extreme angles.

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It’s made entirely out of aluminium (or aluminum), which makes a great change compared to other budget hot shoe mounting systems.

We’ve had a bunch of mounts in the past, and the ones that feature some plastic parts usually break before you can get them tight enough.

It has a ¼ 20 screw on the top to attach monitors, lights, and other bits, and features a cold shoe attachment at the bottom for attaching to cameras as well as a ¼ 20 thread so you can attach it to things like light stands.

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One thing that this hot shoe mount DOESN’T have is the ability to hand tighten.

Instead, it comes with a small allen key to adjust the tension on the rotation and tilt, so you can get it rock solid or loosen it off if you want some play to it.

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What makes this better than other methods, in my opinion, is you can find that sweet spot where it will hold in place, but you can also adjust it without having to loosen it off completely. It makes setting up the shot fast and efficient, perfect for run and gun shooting.

You will need to carry an allen key around with you if you need to tighten it up on location, but I don’t consider it a big issue considering the advantages of this feature.

The hot shoe mount comes with a bunch of extras.

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You get a handy padded tool case as well as a bunch of screw bits and a flat-profile wrench ...which even opens beer bottles.

I also love the size and weight of this mount. It weighs only 45g and its dimensions are 4.5cm by 3.5cm by 3cm. So basically, it’s tiny and really light!

We have used things like magic arms in the past to mount camera monitors to rigs before, and although they provide a lot of flexibility, they can be difficult to re-position and keep tight (at least the budget ones we’ve used).

The best mounting option we’ve seen for run and gun filmmaking has been the articulating arm you see on monitors like the SmallHD Focus and AndyCine A6, with its swivel-tilt feature/

But this hot shoe mount seems like the better option considering you can rotate and tilt.

So this mount is light, small, strong, and flexible, but the best thing about it is when you start to connect to it other products.

First thing we tried was connecting it between our shoulder rig and a magic arm. Like I’ve mentioned earlier, repositioning a magic arm can be annoying as you have to slacken it off, adjust it, try to hold it in place, then tighten it up again.

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This is even more difficult if you are trying to adjust it while it's on your shoulder as you really need two hands to get it positioned properly.

By adding the hot shoe mount onto the magic arm, it means you can easily re-position the monitor with one hand without assistance from someone else.

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The next thing we tried was attaching it to a crab clamp. The clamp we have already includes a ballhead arm which gives you a lot of flexibility, but it's another mount which is either locked or unlocked. By adding the hot shoe mount, it means you can make slight adjustments without having to reset the lock.

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We will be reviewing this crab clamp by SmallRig in the next coming weeks. If you want to see all the ways you can use this thing to help you make films, get subscribed!

You might use this one - you might not - but, if you have a video mic on top of the camera, the hot shoe mount will give you the ability to offset the direction of the microphone. This could be handy if you are framing someone out of centre but you want to keep the microphone directed towards them.

In all honesty, if you are recording sound during an interview, placing the microphone on the camera is usually a bad idea. We have a video talking about that. There is a card in the corner and a link in the description. But, in a pinch, you may find this technique useful.


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We're making a new VIDEO SERIES! | Behind The Scenes

We're making a new video series, reviewing a new product, writing a new script, and we've just finished a new podcast!

🎥 This episode's kit/gear/equipment:

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AndyCine Mini Hot Shoe Mount: https://amzn.to/2PnIHav

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AndyCine Mini Hot Shoe Mount: https://amzn.to/2pI2Rkl

🎬 In case you missed it

Handheld Gimbals Review: https://youtu.be/8O-d8hNOja4

AndyCine A6 Monitor Review: https://youtu.be/Hcx_QIdlGFM

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Turn ANY song into Horror Music

Today we are showing YOU how to transform a song into a nightmare using some basic plugins you can find in your editor or digital audio workstation, perfect for your upcoming horror film.

In our short film The Asylum Groove we wanted to emphasise a disturbing scene by slowly manipulating the music from a lovable and heartfelt song into something twisted and disturbing to give the impression our character is slowly realising he is trapped in a nightmare.

We did this with some default plugins found in Adobe Audition. The plugins we used can also be found in Premiere and other editors, or even free DAWs like Audacity. So if you don’t have access to purchased products, you can still achieve this effect.

The trick to making this technique work is juxtaposition, which is essentially a fancy word for something with heavy contrast. The heavy contrast for this technique is picking a song which you’d not recognise as being scary, spooky, or horror-like, which means when we manipulate it, it will amplify the juxtaposition and we will be left with something very disturbing to add to the freaky images on screen.

Juxtaposition is the reason why Tiptoe Through The Tulips sounded so scary in the horror film Insidious.

The nightmare scene in The Asylum Groove also includes some sound design elements to help emphasise the disturbing scenario even further. We have a video all about sound design elements and how to use them.

Okay, that’s enough card dumping, let’s get started. I downloaded a song from premiumbeat called Devoted To You. It’s cheerful and positive.

EQ

The first thing we want to do is play with the EQ and reduce the full-of-life sound into something small and tinny. We can do that by selecting an EQ plugin. I’m in Audition, but this will work in pretty much any editor or DAW. I’m going to usce a 10 band Graphic Equalizer; this is one of the easier EQ plugins to wrap your head around but also gives some flexibility.

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Right now the EQ is in a straight line. This means the frequency bands are all even. To make this song sound tinny and reduce its fidelity down to something more sinister, we want to create a ramp going up hill to the right.

Reducing the bands on the left will cut the bass from the song, and increasing the bands on the right will amplify the treble, giving us a very low fidelity song which sounds like its coming from a old, cheap speaker.

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Sometimes when you do this, you might notice it will clip the audio. If this happens you will find a master gain fader somewhere in the plugin which you can adjust to stop it from peaking.

Obviously, this is all to taste, so adjust what you think works for your film.

Reverb

The next thing we want to do is add some reverb into the mix. There are a ton of different reverb plugins and settings, so I would suggest picking something straight forward like convolution reverb and trying out the different presets until you find something you like.

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The purpose of this plugin is to give the impression that the room is bigger. More reverb basically means more space for sound to bounce around an enclosed space, so by adding reverb onto the song we are trying to make the character seem smaller in the scene by increasing the size of the room. This is psychological emphasis.

Pitch Shifter

Next up we have pitch shifting, which is the first plugin which REALLY gives the song a eerie and uncomfortable feeling, contributing to the nightmare effect.

With this plugin, you want it to be subtle. If you go too far in either direction, you get chipmunks or a bad darth vader impression, so be sensitive with this one.

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With the pitch shifter, we will decrease it two semitones. This will make the song change in key and will start to sound a little weird. Coupled with a slow fade-in with this plugin, it should provide us with a really strange final effect.

Echo

Next up we have echo. This is very similar to reverb, but instead of simulating a change in the size of the room, we are creating feedback which echoes more clearly.

The idea behind this plugin is to generating a disturbing, paranoid voice in the back of the character’s head, as the vocals repeat over and over from the echo.

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Play around with the echo presets until you find something which has tight echo with a quick decay. You don’t want to pick something which lingers too long or has an extended delay.

A delay plugin will give similar results.

Chorus/Flanger

Last but not least, we have chorus and flanger. This effect is basically to create the most weird sounding, alien abduction simulating, vocally destroying sound effect.

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This effect will add some paranoid static to the mix and will throw the sound from right to left and back again. We can go aggressive with this one. We want to hear it slowly destroy the song.

Crossfading

Once you have your song completely messed up and sounding really sinister, we can fade in the effects. To keep it simple, I’m just going to duplicate the track and crossfade between the clean song and the crazy-weird one.

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You will want to choose the best time to cross between the realms. And you might want to consider fading in each effect separately.

Extras

To sell the effect even further, I added a few sound design elements along with some foley art and the dialogue in the scene. And wouldn’t you know, we have a video about foley art!


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Handheld Camera Gimbals: Does a Filmmaker Need One?

Do filmmakers need to use a handheld gimbal to make their films? This is a question and a video we’ve been wanting to make for a while and it has been made possible by Per Gear.

They have sent us over the Zhiyun Crane Plus to help answer that question.

Just to start off, we are not going to go into detail about how to set up the Zhiyun Crane Plus. There are lots of other great videos on YouTube that do that. We’ve linked to a video we like in the description below.

There are 3 key tips we have learned about using a handheld gimbal. The first is, spend time balancing and unbalancing the gimbal.

This will help you learn how it works, and the process of setting it up will become quicker which is key on set. The more balanced the gimbal is, the steadier the shot will be.

The second tip is, practice operating it before you use it on a film. A handheld gimbal like the Zhiyun Crane Plus will do 90% of the work, but the other 10% is up to you.  

Walk around with it, follow a subject, and review the footage. We did this when we first got the gimbal by recording a whole Film Look video.

Which you can find here.

The 3rd tip is for when you are preparing to use a gimbal on a film. Block out the scene and walk through the camera movement with your actor or a stand-in. Also, add t-marks so you know where you need to hit.

Right! Let's test the gimbal to see when it can help improve a shot.

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We have set up 3 different shots you might find in a film and will be versing the gimbal up against shooting the same shot handheld and on a tripod to see which one works best.

First, let's start off with a simple walk and talk. Our character is on the phone to his local pizza shop ordering a pizza.

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This is not really a dramatic scene so by using the gimbal we can walk in front of the actor and capture the whole scene in one take.

Capturing this shot on a shoulder rig gives you a very similar shot, but you do have more camera shake, which would be perfect if our character is angry because his pizza is late, as it would link the feelings of the character to the style of shooting.

Shooting this shot on a tripod limits your movement. You can have your character walk towards the camera from a distance like we did.

You could also use this to your advantage and deliver the key lines of dialogue to your audience when your character is at their closest point to the camera.

You can achieve these walk and talk shots using these 3 different methods, but the gimbal gives you the ability to achieve all 3. Next, let's shoot a chase scene with the gimbal.

Jimmy 9 Fingers is being chased by the police as he has just robbed a shop.

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The start of the gimbal shot is steady but as soon as we wanted to pan quickly to keep up with the movement of our character, the gimbal could not keep up with the speed of the motion.

By using the shoulder rig, the camera operator could quickly whip pan and follow the actor.

The footage does have camera shake, but we think this works well as it, again, links the style of shooting to the motivation of the character; fast, on edge, and scrambling down the stairs.

We did record a shot with the gimbal which worked, but we had to simplify it, and instead, used the gimbal like a crane, which is another advantage of the handheld gimbal.

Finally, we shot the scene on a tripod and covered it from a few different angles. This allowed us to bring up the pace of the scene and capture reaction shots of our character.

We do think it is possible to capture this shot on a gimbal, but it may require more crew to help keep focus and equipment like handles which attach to the gimbal.

The biggest limitation of using a handheld gimbal with this type of shot, is that we don’t have the ability to pan the camera quick enough, but someone who is operating the camera on a shoulder rig or tripod can easily keep up, as there is no fighting with the technology.

The final shot is simple; our character has just finished making a cup of tea. They walk over to the table, sit down, and are shocked by something they read on their phone.

It was difficult to keep this shot level when filming it on the shoulder rig, which is one of the main advantages of using the gimbal.

Filming this shot on a tripod, again, limits our movement, but the same story is being told.

If we had planned to shoot this shot on a tripod from the start, it would have saved us time as operating the gimbal took time to get the movement right.

These are just a few examples of how you can use a gimbal to capture shots for your film. We previously made a video about using the gimbal to capture a motivated camera move called “coming to a halt”, where our character and camera meet each other during a dramatic moment.

If you want to check out that video you can find it here or in the description below.

When we started to use the Zhiyun Crane Plus we were surprised how many new creative ways it allows you to move the camera and how accessible it is.

There is a learning curve, but it does not take much time before you can capture smooth looking footage.

So should you buy a gimbal to use on your productions? You will have a lot of fun using one and it is another tool which will open up new cinematic possibilities which you may not have thought about before using one.

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If you’ve had a gimbal in your shopping basket for a while we would definitely recommend getting one.

It can't be used to shoot everything and the camera movement should always be dictated by the drama that is unravelling in your scene.

Sometimes a tripod or a handheld camera will be better, so it’s about using the right tool for the job.

Thanks, again to Pergear for sending over the gimbal, it made it possible to make this video.


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24 Filmmaking Tips

With every film, we’ve always learned something new and when we made our short film The Asylum Groove this was definitely true.

In this video, we are going to share 24 filmmaking tips, tricks, or hacks which can help you, make your short film.

Let’s get straight into it.

1 - Use your character's costume to help tell the audience about their backstory. For example, clothes that don’t fit shows they can't afford new clothes and may have been handed down to them.

2 - The same goes for clothes that are unironed, this shows the character does not take much pride in what they are wearing.

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3 - Or it helps to show a turning point when your character has stopped caring about what they look like for whatever reason.

4 - Create a mood board from past films to help with how you would like your film to look. This will give you a direction to work towards when it comes to creating your film.

5 - It will also help others to see what you are trying to achieve.

6 - Don’t just use reference images from films, look at other pieces of art. Google Images can be your best friend.

7 - A good prop can introduce who a character is without any words of dialogue being spoken. If someone flashes a police badge we know straight away they are police.

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8 - The version of a prop you use is also important. A plastic mop and bucket are a lot more modern than a wooden mop and metal bucket. A vinyl record can also help to set the film in a particular era or shows your character is a little old school.

9 - Build your story around a pre-existing location you already have access to. This will give your set a bespoke feel with a lot less work.

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10 - The right crew is more important than the camera, chose that first.

11 - When casting an actor, let them read the whole script. Don’t be too precious about other people reading it; it might convince a great actor to accept the role.

12 - If your script doesn’t include many lines of dialogue, ask your auditionees to read a monologue which they think suits the role instead.

13 - Then once they have performed it, direct them to act the same monologue but with a new character motivation. If they can take the redirection now, it is a good indication that they can mold to your vision on set.

14 - If you have many different actors coming in to read for the same role, ask them to read from one particular scene. This will allow you to see many different versions of the same character.

15 - Record auditions so you can review them side by side later on.

16 - Use these DIY T-Brackets as t-marks so your actor knows where they need to hit their mark.

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17 - Gaff tape the DIY T-Brackets so they can easily be seen.

18 - Don’t underestimate rehearsals. The more time you spend with your actors, the more they will understand what you require from them before the shoot day.

19 - In fact, spend time talking to your crew before the shoot so everyone is working from the same plan.

20 - Create key phrases for each character’s emotional beats throughout the script and add them to the storyboards. This will help you give quick directions when on set.

21- When you need an authentic shock from your actor, pop a balloon next to them.

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22 - Use a door wedge to help level out your camera when it’s on uneven ground.

23 - Add tape your lens so you can set the focus marks you need to hit.

24 - When working with other filmmakers, find out which areas they are most passionate about, and take advantage of their skills.

If you want more filmmaking tip and tricks, check out our 100 filmmaking tips in 10 minutes video here.


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Some of these links are affiliate links, if you purchase gear via these links The Film Look will receive a small commission, but there will be no additional cost to you. Thank you!

Short Film Post-Production Workflow | Part 2

A well-planned post-production workflow, even as a zero budget filmmaker, will save you a lot of time and prevent any hiccups during editing, sound design, VFX, and colour grading.

Once you have a picture lock, it’s time to share the edit and work on sound, music, VFX, and colour grading; and for some, this can be done all at the same time by a team of collaborators.

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Last time, we spoke about organise and sync, first picture assembly, initial feedback, re-edits & picture lock.

So now you’ve made the decision to lock the edit. You are happy with the cut, and any other edits will be strictly for emergency changes. You’ve already gauged feedback from other filmmakers, you’ve made those changes, and now it’s time to move on.

This is where we can branch out. If you, alone, are the sound, VFX, music, and colour grading department, then you can follow these steps in a linear fashion. But if you are a team, it’s time to divide and conquer these tasks.

First, let’s talk a bit about VFX.

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This is the only department which may need access to footage BEFORE the picture lock. The visual effects in the film will influence the sound design, music, and colour grading. So if it is at all possible, visual effects should be the first to get their hands on the edit.

If you already know which VFX need to be added to certain shots, the visual effects department can begin working during the editing process, but please be aware that some shots might be cut. So this is a balance between getting in there early and not wasting time on shots that won’t make the final cut.

Next we got sound design.

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With an export of the edit, the sound department can start to work on Foley Art. Foley can be a long process as it includes re-recording all the run of the mill sounds in sync with the edit, and experimenting with sound effects libraries.

We’ve covered foley in a bunch of episodes in the past. There’s a card in the corner and a playlist in the description if you want to learn more.

In the meantime, a colourist can be working on the colour grade.

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Just as sound design only needs the edit for sync points, colour grading doesn’t affect the sound in any way as it’s all visual, so these two can be easily worked on at the same time and brought together in the end.

Then you’ve got music.

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A locked-picture will give the composer the exact timing to create and tweak the music throughout the film. Having the edit in front of them while they compose will also give them inspiration in the images.

There might be something in a scene which they want to harness and use as a musical device, so giving a composer the edit will let them work their magic to its full potential.

Visual Effects make this process of divide and conquer a little more complicated.

VFX is the only department that will cause the other departments further changes. If you are working on your own, I would suggest working on the visual effects before sound, colour grading, or music.

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Once the VFX have been produced, extra sound effects will be added to the sound design, gunshots and explosions and spaceships for example. The colour grade might need tweaking once the VFX have been applied also.

Basically, every department will produce a another draft of their work with the final VFX in mind.

Once all the departments are finished, it’s time to put everything back together. This brings us to quality control.

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Device testing and volume referencing are key contributors to a great looking and great sounding film. We’ve covered these topics in another video if you want to check it out. There’s a card in the corner and a link in the description.

Once you feel you’ve done everything you can with the film, it’s time for one last feedback stage: the 99% feedback stage.

Don’t say you are finished just yet! You might jynx it. Show the film to as many of your filmmaker friends as possible, or least the ones who give great critical feedback. You’ve already asked them but there might be something which they point out which nobody has before, so it’s worth doing one last check.

Make any last minute tweaks if the feedback requires it, then hit EXPORT. After this comes the hard part: convincing people to watch your movie!


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Short Film Post-Production Workflow | Part 1

Editing is a particularly interesting process. After long days of shooting, you are finally placing down the building blocks for your film, and you can begin to see how it all flows.

But with a lot of things to complete including the picture lock, sound edit, music, and colour grading, it can sometimes feel like a mammoth task, especially when working with a lot of footage and sometimes with multiple post-production collaborators.

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So today we are going to share with YOU some tricks WE’VE learned along the way which will help give you a smooth workflow and divide and conquer your post-production elements.

Everyone’s post-production workflow is a little bit different. Today we are going to share ours, but we’d also love to know your post-production workflows. If you have any useful advice, drop them in the comments below!

First things first, let's map out the whole post-production process:

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We’ll be covering organise and sync, first picture assembly, initial feedback, re-edits & picture lock, sound, music, VFX, colour, quality control, device testing, a 99% feedback stage, last minute changes, and EXPORT.

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You can see that this isn’t a linear process - as it is stackable in places. This is to accommodate multiple artists working at the same time. But we will get into that once we reach these stages.

Let's get the boring one out of the way: organise and sync

Have you ever been working on a film, then suddenly you are greeted with a message telling you it can’t find a bunch of footage?

Or, did you think that because it's only a short film you don’t need to put anything in folders, to then discover you regret the complex mess you’ve now made?

Getting organised before you edit will prevent any of these headaches from happening.

We’ve covered organise and sync in a previous episode.

One more thing we’d like to add to organise and sync is labelling usable takes.

On our recent short film The Asylum Groove, the 2nd AC Mr. Adam Opie, took note of every take from the shoot and noted down bad takes, good takes, and great takes, including if there were any particular things to look out for.

During organise and sync, we followed Adam’s notes and labelled each take using different colours. Red being unusable, orange as emergency spares, blue as good takes, and green as the best takes.

Next up we have the first picture assembly.

If post-production was compared to building a house, this would be laying the bricks. The first assembly is there to build a foundation on the timeline.

Take your footage, cut yourself an edit, and get it to a watchable standard, but don't start working on colour grading or VFX yet, as you may end up working on shots which will be cut short or cut all together during the next editing stage.

You CAN spend as long as you need on the first assembly, but just remember that the next stage is FEEDBACK, so don’t worry about working on frame to frame details just yet, and be open to your peers’ interpretations and opinions on the cut.

If you are looking for creative advice on editing check out the channel THIS GUY EDITS. He’s got plenty of educational and entertaining videos all about how powerful editing choices can be for your films.

If there was one mistake made by some of us zero budget filmmakers, it’s not letting people see the edit before upload!

This is the next crucial stage in post-production, initial feedback.

During the editing process for a short film, there may be some things which you don’t notice, and when you are looking at the footage for a long time, you start to become “edit-blind”. You start to anticipate the cuts and the edit no longer feeds you new information which means you are no longer watching the film from an audience perspective.

Find your filmmaker friends, buy them a coffee, sit them down, and ask them to review your edit.

Find a mix between people who know the story, such as the crew who helped work on the film, but also find some filmmakers who know very little about the project so they can give you a accurate first impression of the film.

And if you need to, ask your family to watch it. But just make sure they understand that this ISN’T the finished product, and ask them specific questions to gauge their feedback as they might not know what to say until you ask them.

Next up we have re-edits.

The first thing you should do once you have a list of feedback is step away from the edit. Step away for a few days and come back with fresh eyes and a fresh perspective.

When you come back, watch the current draft of the film and make notes. Then compare these notes to the feedback you were given and start to work on the next draft of the edit.

A lot of the time, you’ll be given technical feedback: “This could be cut shorter”, “This shot was jarring” “The montage was a little too quick.”. This is feedback you can use to help give the audience a better viewing experience.

You might also get feedback from a storytelling perspective. “I didn’t understand why this character did this”, “the character's motivations are unclear”, “why was he mopping?”. This is feedback which is harder to fix in the edit, but if you have enough coverage, you might be able to solve it by extending the length of a shot or placing that insert back in.

If you can’t solve it in the edit, and it’s a MASSIVE detriment to the film, please consider shooting some pickups and retakes.

We actually had this issue with our short The Asylum Groove. There’s a moment when the character trips over a bucket and hits the floor. We had coverage of the fall but no takes where we see our Actor Chris actually make contact with the ground, which made the edit very jarring.

Editing-Workflow-Part-15.gif

So we scheduled a day to return to the location and shoot it. Without it, it just looked weird, so shooting those pickups were worth the extra time and effort.

The feedback you get will be VERY subjective: sometimes it's invaluable, sometimes it is just a matter of different taste. But this is your film, and it’s your decision. If you wholeheartedly believe the cut works the way it is, then keep it. But, if multiple people point out the same thing, consider changing it up.

This leads us to the picture lock.

Editing-Workflow-Part-16.gif

At some point, you have to make the decision that you can’t do any more to the edit! A picture lock is a promise NOT to change the edit. This is so departments such as sound design, music, VFX, and colour grading can begin to work.

I say “departments”. I imagine most of you, and us included, are just a bunch of people trying to make cool films. But officially, these are “departments”, so let’s stick with that.

All of these departments will need a finished picture to work with. And by “locking” the picture, it means each department is working from the same source, which means when they are finished, they can simply plonk their work into the edit.


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Add Impact to your Edit with Sound Design

“Sound effect” is a broad term. You’ve got hard sounds like gunshots, foley sounds like footsteps and clothing, and background sounds like wind and city streets.

And finally we have sound design elements. These are sounds that tend to be used to aid the edit and give plot points added drama.

Sound-Design-to-Aid-the-Edit-2.gif

Today we are showing you how using sound design elements can give your film extra impact and a smooth but pacey edit. 

We’ll be using our film The Asylum Groove as a reference, so if you haven’t seen it yet, there will be a card in the corner and a link in the description.

In this scene, our character Sam is about to pour water over his head which causes him to wake up from his daydream and suddenly slip into a nightmare.

Sound-Design-to-Aid-the-Edit-21.gif

In its current state, the scene feels lacklustre. This moment is supposed to aggressively transport our character from his happy place to a dark place and invoke a strange mix of false realities, so we can start to layer up some sounds which will get us there.

Firstly, let's grab a punchy sound, and add it onto the cut mark.

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If we place this on the cut mark, it should give us that instant BANG which we need. 

Sound-Design-to-Aid-the-Edit-24.gif

Okay, this is getting us somewhere! But there are a few missing elements.

At the moment, the sound is sudden, and it almost feels like it's trying to be this cheap jump scare. So we need to include some suspense. We can add a sound element which will hint to the audience that something dark and mysterious is about the happen.

We need to add a crescendo, which is a sound which rises in volume or intensity.

Sound-Design-to-Aid-the-Edit-25.gif

We can create a crescendo from our existing impact sound. If we duplicate the that sound, then reverse it, it transforms from an impact into a slow rising crescendo with a strong punchy tail. 

This is a lot closer to our final desired product. Now all we need to do is find a few more sounds which we can use for layering and add them in. 

To help give the moment even more impact, I have added a few more sounds. Firstly, I layered in a low rumbling impact. This is similar to the first one but has more low end for a crunchy bass tone.

And to compliment the first crescendo, I used a hissing impact sound which I reversed.

And I also added a very short-attacking high frequency sound; a mouth click, recorded in a large room with lots of reverb.

This sound is supposed to represent the exact moment of change for the character. To me, it feels like when a magician snaps their fingers and puts someone under a spell, for our character, he is snapping out of it.

The only thing left is adding the music and manipulating it, and we have the finished scene.

You can find some great sound design elements online: checking out websites like freesound, sonniss, and 99sounds. Look for free samples, get them downloaded, and experiment.

🎹 Sound Design Resources:

https://freesound.org/
http://99sounds.org/
https://sonniss.com/


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Enhance Your Dialogue with Sound Design

A film is 50% picture and 50% sound. But the sound of your film is not just there to simply compliment the picture. When harnessed correctly, it's a powerful tool to drive the plot and help deliver the story in a really creative way.

Dialogue-Manipulation.gif

Today we are talking about how YOU can use creative sound design with dialogue to make your film more immersive and unique.

Dialogue is self-explanatory. It’s a conversation between two or people, and its sound that delivers that conversation. In film, dialogue should be clear, loud, and audible so the audience can understand what the characters are saying throughout the film.

But this rule doesn’t always have to apply!

A really simple and creative sound design technique is the manipulation of dialogue.

Let’s use one of our films, Backstage, as an example. I’ve altered the scene to help the concept. The Medium is lecturing The Flyswatter but The Flyswatter is so preoccupied that he completely zones out of the scene.

The first thing we can do is muffle the sound of The Medium’s dialogue. We can achieve this with a plugin called a LOW PASS FILTER.

Dialogue-Manipulation1.gif

This plugin cuts the high frequency and leaves only the bass, and can be adjusted for taste. It generates a sound which seems like someone is speaking on the other side of a wall. We can fade in the effect just as The Flyswatter loses eye contact, that is our cue.

A classic sound effect we can add to this shot is a “shell-shocked” buzzing tone. We can add that in and slowly raise the volume to emphasise the moment even further.

Dialogue-Manipulation3.gif

Now we are starting to get in the realm of preoccupation. He isn’t just tuning out of The Medium, but his mind is generating a numb tone.

Lets go one step further and compliment the high-frequency tone with a rumbling cinematic bass.

Dialogue-Manipulation4.gif

And the last thing we can do to help smooth out the cut to the next scene is grabbing a cinematic impact sound effect, reversing it, and placing it at the end of the scene as a crescendo.

Dialogue-Manipulation5.gif

Something as simple as some dialogue manipulation and a little bit of layering is a powerful storytelling tool. We went from the character simply staring off into the distance to BEING inside his mind.

We want the audience to feel what he is experiencing, so by numbing the sound of The Medium and adding some uncomfortably noise, it feels like we are really jumping into his head.

If you are new to sound design, it’s definitely worth checking out our Indie Film Sound Guide to get caught up with all the basics of sound for indie short films.


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Get Cinematic Sound with LAYERING

Foley Art is the process of recording everyday and run of the mill sounds and adding them BACK into the film.

You may think Foley is just recording everything you see in the film and trying to sync it all up. Well...it is, but it CAN be a very creative storytelling tool with a technique called LAYERING.

Foley-Art-&-Layering.gif

Without Foley, a film will feel unnaturally quiet. If there was one element of sound design you NEED in your film, it’s foley. It’s definitely worth the time and effort and will get you closer to achieving the film look.

Foley-Art-&-Layering1.gif

Layering is quite easy if you categorize sounds into different groups:

First of all, you have sounds which are low frequency: bassy, rumbly, dark sounds. Then you have mid-frequency sounds; clear, audible, and comfortable for the most part. And finally you have high-frequency; squeaky, buzzy, and sharp.

The idea of layering is to fill out the soundspace by choosing some high, mid, and low frequency sound effects and place them on top of each other. This will give the sound effect a richer tone and extra punch.

Lets use our film The Asylum Groove as an example:

We have a moment in the film where our character Sam, played by Chris, runs, kicks a bucket, trips over, and hits the ground with a thud.

When we filmed this scene, Chris jumped and landed on a pile of cushions, so we are actually starting from scratch.

Foley-Art-&-Layering2.gif

We are going to scrap all the production audio, other than the grunt from Chris, and build it up from scratch, starting with the impact with the bucket, then the impact with the floor.

The first thing we want to do is add a bassy impact sound.

Foley-Art-&-Layering3.gif

We recorded hitting a cushion with a broom handle in the location. This sound will give the impact some weight and intensity because of the low-frequency thud and the long echoey decay.

Next we need a mid-frequency sound.

Foley-Art-&-Layering4.gif

We recorded myself jumping onto a cushion. Originally I thought this would provide a bassy sound from hitting the cushion but the noise is actually coming from my boots hitting the floorboards.

In sound design there are no mistakes, only new discoveries! And the last thing we need to complement the low and mid frequency sounds is a high-frequency sound!

Foley-Art-&-Layering5.gif

As the bucket is a metal, hollow container, it will provide us with a tinny, high pitched sound effect. So we recorded picking up and handling the bucket.

One sound effect which will really bring the shot home is adding some sound for the post-impact. This will change depending on the shot you are working on, but for this shot, we used a sound of the bucket being kicked and rolling along the floor.  

Foley-Art-&-Layering6.gif

This is very likely the first sound effect you’ll record if you want a “bucket kicking” sound effect. But layering them together definitely gives the impact more cinematic punch! And this is good proof that using the obvious first choice isn’t always the best!

Once we fill in the scene with more sound effects, it really starts to give this shot life. 

With some simple layering, we have given this scene emphasise. It’s an important part of the plot and character development, so giving it some extra OOMPH helps tell a better story.

When layering, try not to add too many sound effects of a similar frequency because you will start to muddy the audio and won’t be able to recognise each sound.

And remember, you don’t ALWAYS have to fill the sound space. Sometimes two or even one sound element will do the trick.

Sound design is all about experimenting, so try things out and see what works.


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Sony to V-Lock/D-Tap Adaptor

In our review for the PD Wireless Follow System we used this to power the follow focus which is a cheaper option to buying a V-Lock battery.

The PD Wireless follow focus needs to be powered by a battery that has a D-Tap connection.

A D-Tap connection is widely used to power cameras, lights, and other filmmaking equipment and is found on a V-Lock battery.

D-tap.gif

The problem we had with buying a V-Lock battery is they are very expensive. We don’t have a cameras or lights that need to be powered by V-Lock batteries, and since we are only going to use the follow focus on a few projects a year,

And having a battery sitting there for most of the year which is worth over £150 is not really a option.

After some research we found this alternative battery source to solve our problem. It is still a V-Lock battery and it has a D-Tap output, but it uses Sony NP batteries to power whatever is plugged in. Since we own loads of NP batteries this saved us a lot of money, and it works great.

D-tap1.gif

The next problem is mounting the power source to the camera ring. There are 15mm rod rail mount system you can buy for a V-Lock Battery, but again they are very expensive. In Fact they are more expensive than the batteries, and you still have to buy a battery.

So we attached this 15mm rod mount we have laying round which is from a company called SmallRig.

Links to everything will be in the description below.

At first we attached it to the bottom of the power supply and mounted it like this to the rods. We soon realised to save space it would be best to mount it like this. It also meant you can still attach it to a V-Lock mount and power a piece of equipment with Sony NP batteries, not just via the D-Tap power connection.

Having it mounted to the back of the shoulder rig like this also helps to balance out the rig as there is more weight on the back of the rig.

There is another solution to our problem and that is to buy a cable which converts the PC barrel cable that connects to the motor of the follow focus to a DC cable instead of a D-Tap connection.

With this you will need a DC power supply which is similar to the one we use to power our camera, which you can find links to here.

This cable was not out when we purchased the first option, but works out about the same price once you purchased all of the parts.

V-Lock Batteries have there place, and are very much needed. They are super reliable and give you enough power to run your camera, monitors, and lights all day.

 


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Do you need a Follow Focus? | PD Movie Remote Air 3 Review

It doesn’t matter if you are shooting on the sharpest camera and lens, if your shot is not in focus, it’s not going to look very good.

Shooting retakes because of inconsistent focusing will cost you time which you should be putting to better use.

There are 3 tools, at different prices, which you can buy to help keep your shots in focus, and they all have different levels of accuracy when focusing.

90% of the time we focus by rotating the barrel of the lens with our fingers, and 90% of the time this works just fine.

Follow-Focus-with-Tape.gif

If you are shooting a film where your actor is moving from position 1, to 2, back to 1, then to position 3, keeping the movement and focus consistent will be very difficult to pull off.

To help add a little more accuracy when focusing, you can add tape to your lens which represent the different focus marks you need to hit. This will dramatically improve your accuracy and is a great budget option.

The only problem is you will have to stick tape to your lens, replace it after every shot, and because your fingers are touching the lens, you will be restricting the movement of the camera and may cause micro jitters from your fingers.

The next option is to buy a follow focus that mounts onto 15mm rods. You can set and easily wipe off the focus marks, it gets your hands away from the lens, and it makes it easier for someone else to operate.

Follow-Focus.gif

A follow focus will certainly improve your focus accuracy over the tape method.

When it comes to shots which have a lot of movement such as handheld shots, and shots using steadicams and gimbles, a wireless follow focus is preferred as the weight needs to be perfectly balanced, and someone holding onto the follow focus may throw off the balance.

PD Movie sent over their Remote Air 3 Wireless follow focus to review, but before we reviewed it, we used it to shoot our short film The Asylum Groove. We used it for shots which were static on a tripod, handheld and steadicam shots, and also shots on a slider.

There are two main advantages we found when using the wireless follow focus.

Firstly, it helps to improve the accuracy and consistency of your focus as there is someone whose sole job it is to set marks and pull focus.

This person will be the 1st AC, and if they nail focus on every take, it’s going to save a lot of time on set.

The technical side of shooting will be accurate and consistent, meaning fewer re-takes caused by technical issues, such as over-shooting focus in a shot.

This follow focus system comes in two parts. First, you have the focus motor which attaches to 19mm or 15mm rails. In our case, we attached it to our 15mm rail setup.

Depending on your lens, it may or may not come with gear rings. Our’s don’t, so we attach gear rings to the lens so we can line up the Remote Air 3 Motor with the lens.

The focus motor is then powered via a d-tap connection which you can find on a v-lock battery.

We have a video coming out on Sunday about the alternative d-tap power source we used, so if you haven't already, consider subscribing to find out about it.

Next you can attach the mini antenna to the motor which wirelessly connects to the second part of the follow focus, which is the controller that has an internal battery and can be charged via USB.

To connect the controller to the focus motor you must set them both to the same channel.

Then if you hold down the focus, zoom, and iris button for 3 seconds, it auto calibrates and finds the focus end points on your lens.

PD-Movie-Remote-Air-3.gif

This means when you turn the focus wheel, it will turn the lens no further than infinity, and to whatever the minimum focus distance is on your lens.

Having this function makes it quick and easy to set up different lenses.

Next you can set the strength you want the motor to turn the focus wheel on the lens as every lens will require a different amount of torque.

This 50mm lens we have rotates by using very little pressure so it would require less torque to turn.

These vintage lenses require more pressure to turn so you can set the motor   to a high torque.

You can put your focus marks on the focus rings on the controller which are rubber.

When you need to reset markers you can simply rub the dry wipe pen off, or replace it with the other focus ring that comes with it.

The motor and the controller are built really strong, and every cable and attachment is very high quality.

The controller is not too heavy but has a slight weight to it, and the modelling of the unit is slim and has lots of quarter threaded screw mounts so you can attach it to a light stand or to the lanyard that comes in the box.

The wheel rotation of the controller has a nice resistance to it when turning and again it feels very much like a premium product.

Like with everything, using a wireless follow focus will have a learning curve, and this is definitely something you have to get used to with the Remote Air 3.

The menus and UI can take a while to understand and you will definitely want to keep the manual close at first.

There are lots of indicator lights on the controller which mean different things depending on their colour.  

The control unit status indicator lights have 4 different colours. Red means the unit is powered on.

Green means it is powered on and synced via bluetooth, which will only happen if you use the app, Blue means the unit is changing, and Cyan means the unit is synced via bluetooth and is being charged.

If you need to change the settings for focus, you need to use a combination of button presses. If you want to change the speed of the motor, you have to press the button on the bottom of the motor 5 times.

There is a little graphic on the motor which tells you how many presses you need to do, which is great because it saves you time looking in the manual.

When you want to enable the auto calibration function you have to hold down the focus, zoom and iris button for 3 seconds, which is a little bit awkward to do.

This is not a big problem and once you get familiar with how it works it will just become normal.

One thing we did have a problem with was the follow focus no longer responding during different setups.

We were unsure how the problem occurred, maybe a button was pressed and a setting change. This held up the shoot but we managed to get it working in a couple of minutes.

Becoming more familiar with the unit and the menus would help to solve this problem.

We only really use the wireless follow focus on bigger projects like making short films.

When you have someone whose sole job it is to keep focus throughout a whole film, it will help you save time as this technical side of filmmaking will have a higher level of accuracy.

Not everyone can afford a wireless follow focus like the PD Movie Remote Air 3, but it is definitely worth considering when you can. The timed saved vs the price you pay is something think about.

If using a wireless follow focus saves you an hour a day for example, that is an extra hour you have to improve other aspect of your image or do more takes to make the performance the best it can be.

That hour could also save you money in other areas of the production too.

If you are renting a location which requires you to pack up at a certain time, or a member of your cast needs to leave early, that hour you’ve got back could save you from having to rent the location again or getting the actor back for another day.

If you need to keep doing retakes because you kept over and under shooting focus, your actor may have delivered a better performance in one of the out-of-focus takes.

The three options we’ve spoke about to help keep focus all work, but have a different level of accuracy, so chose the one you need for your production.

Before we got the PD Movie Remote Air 3 we did not expect how much it would improve the quality of the final image, and how much time would be saved by using it.

If you’ve never used one, go and check out the PD Movie website.

They have lots of different wireless follow focus systems, and lots of information about how they can improve your production.

In this video we did say you need a 1st Assistant Camera to operate it, so if you like to know more about the role of the 1st AC let us know in the comments below and we’ll make a video about it.

If you want to help this channel grow give us a thumbs up or down if you don't, hit that orange lens cap to subscribe, and remember achieve it one shot at a time.


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Don't be Afraid to use Reference Material | Behind The Scenes

Getting inspiration from other works of art, whether that's films, TV shows, or paintings, will help you focus the way you want your film to look, sound, and feel.

Even the biggest and most successful filmmakers use google images for reference material: so just remember - it's not cheating!


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5 Tips for Directing Actors

Today we are talking about directing the performance and some tricks and techniques we used to direct our latest short film The Asylum Groove. If you want to watch the film, you can find it right here:

Rehearsals

It might sound silly to even include rehearsals in this video on directing tips but sometimes when you make a short film you have to make sacrifices, and rehearsals are one of the first things which are cut out of the schedule, but DON’T underestimate them!

Episode.00_00_25_03.Still002.jpg

Rehearsals with your cast, and even technical rehearsals with your crew, will save you a lot of time during the shoot and get you A LOT closer to achieving the film look.

First of all, it helps you practice the performance and mold it into something great. But it also helps you work out the kinks. A lot of times, the lines on the page and actions written down don’t perfectly translate when performed, so they need some re-working.

It’s worth rehearsing through everything and seeing what does and doesn’t work, blocking out the scene and cleaning up the movement between beats, trying lines, and experimenting. Your cast and crew are members of your band; it’s worth having a few jamming sessions before you go on stage for the gig.

Just remember not to rehearse the scene to concrete. Give it some breathing room and be ready for changes on the day. A good rule of thumb is working up to 90% in rehearsals and going 100% on the day.

Keywords

Adding keywords to your storyboards and will give you the chance to really think about the meaning of your shots, what those shots tell the audience, will help you connect the shots to the story.

For The Asylum Groove, we wrote down key phrases for every shot in the film. Whether this was just an insert or a cut away, every shot had a title which gave it its purpose. Job, work, impress, caress, showing off, fear, terror, hate.

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On set, this meant Chris was prompted very easily. Instead of rambling on about this, that, and the other, try to boil the shot down to something simple and let the actor do the thinking. During the take, you can always give redirection and mold it into something perfect.

You don’t always need to explain the shot with an essay.

Emotional Beat Map

The Asylum Groove revolved around a single piece of music which was sourced online. One way you can emphasise emotion in a song and connect it to the emotion in the film is by creating an emotional beat map.

Listen to the song and try to image the film playing out. Fit the emotional beats of the film into the song and use the different parts of the song to pinpoint an emotion and tie them together.

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Then you can label emotional beats to the music. You can play the music on set, and let the actor feel the music during the scene.

Obviously you can’t play the music if you are recording dialogue, but you can use the emotional beat map when editing to make your music choice sound like it was written for the film!

Character Music Playlist

Once you and your actor have talked about the character; their traits, characteristics, and their journey through the film, ask your actor to create a playlist of music which the character would listen to.

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You can select music which resembles the purpose of the scene in the film. This can give the actor some time to themselves, to get into the zone, and may heighten their emotions for an amazing performance on screen.

Using music can also give the actor a cue back into their character if they have taken a break, for instance.

Sometimes You Just Can’t Fake It

You really can’t fault a great actor and their ability to pretend to be someone else on screen. But there are a few things which are very difficult to get looking genuine, and those usually revolve around involuntary reactions.

First of all, you can’t fake out of breath. At least, you don’t need to. If you actor is out of breath in a scene, have them jog around the block for a few minutes to get their heart rate up, their face red, and their brow sweating. It’s looks and sounds a lot better than pretending.

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Another thing which is difficult to fake is being startled, and involuntary facial twitches. To create a genuine reaction of sudden shock from our actor Chris, we popped a balloon beside him. We didn’t count down or give him a warning: that way he didn’t know when it was coming, so when it was popped, he was genuinely startled.

This is the same technique Ridley Scott used to frighten the cast in Alien during the chestburster scene. The cast had no idea it was about to pop out of his chest, creating a genuine reaction.


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How to Give Your Film Visual Rhythm

Sometimes as a filmmaker you just have to experiment with an idea and hope it will work.

One thing we wanted to test out with our latest film The Asylum Groove was using shot patterns and symmetry within the sequence to see if it would help drive the story forward.

Today we are going to talk about giving your film visual rhythm.

We’re breaking down our latest short The Asylum Groove. So if you haven’t seen it yet, you can find it right here:

First and Final Frames

A lot of our previous films have been open ended, have involved cliff hangers, or have just finished abruptly. With the asylum groove we wanted to improve on that - we wanted to make something which had a clear start and a clear end.

A piece of symmetry which a lot of films incorporate is the connection between the first and final frame in the movie. These can be mirror images, clones, or a perfect opposite, and they help give the film clear bookends with distinct contrast from the start and end of a character’s journey.

We connected the first and final frame of The Asylum Groove with the use of curtains.

The film begins with Sam cleaning the assembly hall for the bedsville disco, so by having him literally open the film by drawing the curtains, we hoped it would give the impression that he is inviting the audience into the world, kind of like the curtains opening at the start film or a play.

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The final shot in the film is when he is about to be electrocuted. The curtains close and we are left with his mother’s hand pressed against the window before it slowly fades to black.

At the end of the film, we see a different side to Sam: his rage. At this point we wanted the audience to distance themselves from the character and flip their perception of him from a protagonist to an antagonist. This is why we placed the camera on the other side of the glass.

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We hoped using symmetrical first and final frames would give the audience a clear indication that the film has started and ended. No cliffhanger, post-credits sequence, or teaser to the sequel.

The Rule of Three

Another principle we wanted to incorporate to help drive the story, retain the pace, and create visual rhythm was the use of the rule of three.

The rule of three is a writing principle which suggests a sequence of exactly three is the smallest amount of information needed to create a pattern. This is a way to keep the information short and snappy but to also help emphasise the point being given.

The rule of three is used all over:

  • The slogan “Stop, Drop, and Roll” or “Blood, sweat, and tears”

  • The Three Little Pigs

  • The Three Musketeers

  • A feature film usually uses a three-act structure

  • And photography composition often uses the rule of thirds

We wanted to experiment with the rule of three by incorporating it into the film.

Each shot during the opening montage, after the curtain shot, is grouped into sets of three.

First of all you have the TASKS. We wanted the audience to know he was cleaning straight away. Instead of a single shot of him cleaning we used THREE to solidify the information while keeping the shot count to a minimum.

Episode.00_02_52_21.Still005.jpg

Anymore than 3 shots would be boring. Any less might not emphasise his TASK enough.

Next you have the BLUE shots. Blue balloon, blue paint brush, brush dipped in water.

These THREE shots show that the work he is doing is not JUST moving furniture around. He’s painting and hanging up balloons which gives the audience clues to the party and the disco.

Again, anymore than 3 shots would be a waste of time, any less might feel random.

Episode.00_03_07_14.Still006.jpg

We bridged the furniture shots with the painting shots by including blue paint on his fingers in the final furniture shot. This was to help bridge the gap between the sequences and help it flow.

The last set of THREE are the shots of the record player. Again, we included a bridging shot by using the jar of blue water in the first shot of the record player sequence to help with pace and continuity.

So with the record player sequence you have: pulling out the record from the sleeve, placing the record down, and the needle slowly falling into place.

Episode.00_03_38_06.Still007.jpg

The last shot in the montage, the slow fall of the needle, was chosen for a few particular reasons.

We wanted the fast pace of the montage to slow right down in order to match the pace of the character as he walks to the mop and bucket.

The needle falling onto the record player, and the long cross dissolve between the two shots, gave a smooth transition between the speeds and would hopefully give a clue to the audience that the rule of THREE has come to an end.

Episode.00_03_58_18.Still008.jpg

Using techniques like First and Final Frames & The Rule of Three aren’t something which will instantly give your movie The Film Look.

Things like casting, camera, costume, lighting, set, and story line are the most important parts of making a great film. But once you have those, its worth experimenting with alternative and subconscious tricks for your film and see what comes of it.


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Technical Blocking using T-Marks & Tape

Blocking a scene is an essential part of filmmaking, but to help keep your shots consistent and make sure your actors and camera are hitting the correct marks.

You can use some inexpensive tape and t-marks to allow you to work more efficiently on set.

Blocking is the process of working out where your actors need to stand and move throughout each scene of your film to help tell the story.

Some questions you need to ask yourself when blocking a scene is: Where are the actors in the scene? Do they move? Where do they move? Is the shot achievable?

We have a video that goes into more detail about the theory about blocking here if you want to check it out.

Blocking is done in three different stages. Firstly, you can pre-block the scene before the shooting day. This will allow you to work out if the location is suitable to shoot the scene, and if it is, work out the best way to use it.

If you can not get into the location before the shoot, don’t worry. Most blocking is setup on the day and is one of the first things you should do when you turn up to set. This is also the second stage of blocking.

Depending on the length of your scene, you can walk through the whole scene with your actor and DOP so they know how it is going to playout.

This will allow your actor to know how they need to move physically throughout the scene and where they need to be when delivering certain lines of dialogue.

It allows your camera team to know where the camera and lighting equipment needs to be, but also flag up any issues they have regarding where they can place the camera.

This also allows for others to have a creative input about the blocking.

The first two stages of blocking are there to work out the general movement of your actor and camera, but the third stage of blocking is where you set the specific marks for where you need you actor, camera, and focus to hit in order to capture the footage.

Our actor had their starting point and moved towards the camera, keeping the position of his feet on frame right.

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The camera tilts down whilst the 1st AC keeps the focus tracked on the feet. The actor lands on his end point and places the mop down.

This may not look like a complicated shot, but there are a lot of points for both the actor and camera team to hit.

To achieve this shot, we placed the camera low down on the floor and asked our actor to perform the action from point 1 to 2. Then we asked the actor to stay at this position as we adjusted the camera angle, and placed a number of different marks on the floor.

Firstly we placed a blue piece of gaff tape at the bottom of the frame to indicate if the shot has over-shot the tilt of the camera.

Blocking with T-Marks and Tape

Next we placed a t-mark just off screen to the left of frame. This shows the actor where his end mark is and where his feet need to line up with and where he need to place the mop down. This also allows the 1st AC to set their focus marks on the follow focus.

The reason T shapes are used is because it tells your actor how far left and right they need to be, but also how far forward or back they need to be.

You can place t-marks down by making them out of tape or by using these metal t-shaped brackets you find in DIY shops.

1.gif

Then you can use gaff tape to tape them up so they are nice and bright so people can see them. You can now reuse them, and place them on surfaces like concrete where tape would not stick.

The last mark we added was a focus mark which was just off camera right. This mark was set halfway between point one and two so the 1st AC could see the halfway point and determine the speed the focus.

We used t-marks and tape throughout the whole shoot, sometimes for the actor to know where they need to stand or mop to and others for focus marks.

Having T-marks and tape helps to improve accuracy when shooting as the actors, camera and focus puller know where they need to be to hit their marks. If you need to do many takes, the technical side of the filmmaking will be consistent and it will help save time when shooting.

Check out our video on blocking if you want to find out more information about it. If you want to help this channel grow give us a thumbs up or down if you don't, hit that orange lens cap to subscribe, and remember achieve it one shot at a time.


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Our Filmmaking Camera Rig

We’ve had loads of comments asking about the camera rig we used to shoot our short film The Asylum Groove.

In this video I am going to break down the rig. If you haven't seen the short film yet you can find it here.

The camera we used was a Sony A7s mark 1, which is the camera we use to shoot all of the film look videos.

We shot the film in 1080p using a cine 4 flat picture profile to give us a little more dynamic range.

Everything was contained in a Tilta cage, the one with the wooden handle which makes it easier to press the record button.

The camera is powered by our custom dummy battery setup, which gives us about a full day’s worth of power.

If you want to find out more about the battery we have a video about it here.

For the film we used a set of vintage lenses. We had a 35mm, 58mm, and 85mm.

The entire film was shot at F8 as we wanted people to see everything that was in the background as the location helps to tell the story. If we opened up all the way to F1.8 the background would have been a lot softer, losing the detail you get at shooting at F8.

Shooting at F8 was a decision we made after looking at the reference images from films like Thousands Cheer and one flew over the cuckoo's nest both which have a deep focus.

To help keep focus we used a PDMovie wireless follow focus system which was powered by a D-Tap battery.

We have a video review coming very soon all about the wireless follow focus and how we powered it. 

Everything was mounted via the Titla rail mounts to a pair of 15mm rods. The camera was mounted as far back as possible to help balance the weight, and the rig rested on this Small Rig shoulder mount.

Sticking with the shoulder rig, we had a set of handles mounted to the front, which were also from SmallRig.

Small Rig are not sponsoring this video we just really like their products, but we DO have a video all about SmallRig here.

This setup was very versatile. I used it on my shoulder, low down resting on the floor, also on a slider and a tripod. Everything worked so we did not have to take anything apart during different setups.

We had a PerGear 7 inch monitor mounted to the camera via a magic arm so we could quickly adjust it depending on the setup.

We also have a full review about this monitor here.

The main reason we used this monitor was because it had an HDMI out. This meant we could take the feed from the camera to the monitor, then backout to another monitor which was used by our 1st assistant camera, Rob. This stand was set up with an Atomos Shogun monitor and used to pull focus with the PD Movie follow focus controller.

I’m not going to take credit for setting up the camera on the shoot, this was done by our 1st and 2nd ACs, Rob and Adam. This was made possible by communicating with the camera team before the shoot so they knew exactly what I needed from the rig.

We also used a mixture of other people’s equipment like a Konova slider, a steadicam and various grip and AC equipment.

We haven't always had all of this equipment, we started off shooting on handy cameras, then moved on to shooting with a Canon 600d with one lens, and the same shoulder rig we used on this film.

We’ve built up what we used over the past 6 years of working on many different jobs, and a lot of the equipment we used on the film was borrowed from others who worked on the film.

Not all of this equipment allowed us to capture a better image, a lot of the equipment we used simply let us save time, like the wireless follow focus as there was someone dedicated to that job. Any equipment that can save you time during a day and a half shoot is super valuable but your most valuable asset is your crew, so chose them before your camera.


DISCLAIMERS:

Some of these links are affiliate links, if you purchase gear via these links The Film Look will receive a small commission, but there will be no additional cost to you. Thank you!

Using ONLY Aputure Lights to Make a Film

The final two shots in our short film The Asylum Groove were inspired by this piece of art which we randomly found online when looking for inspiration for this film.

In this video we are going to talk about the setup and how we lit those two shots.

Both shots were filmed in the same location as the first scene of the film. The location was 16.2 by 7.5 meters and had 6 windows which were 1.2 by 3.2 meters high.

To start, we positioned the electric chair in the spot we wanted and screwed it to the floor. Our actor would be strapped into the chair and wouldn’t be able to get out without assistance.

For his performance, we wanted him to to try and force his way out. Screwing it to the floor meant the chair would not tip over.

To make it as comfortable as possible for our actor, we made some soft straps for his wrists and ankles so he could pull as much as he liked and he would not be hurt.

Having so much natural light coming through the windows worked great for all of the other shots in the film, but for these two shots, we needed it to be completely dark.

Unfortunately, we could not shoot the scene at night as we could not get access to the location later in the day, so we shot it during the day. We made the location as dark as possible in two ways.

The location was a old school hall which had a lighting rig built in and had large blackout curtains. The curtains had been damaged over time and did not cover all of the windows, but it was a good start. We also used some of the curtains to block out the entire background for both shots.

Next we used the law of physics and something called inverse square law, let me explain.

The closer your light is to the subject, the brighter it will be, and the fall off will be harsher. The further away your light is from the subject, it decreases in brightness and the fall off is a lot more even.

The sunlight coming through the windows was further away our key light, which was about 1 meter away from our subject.

When we correctly exposed the camera for the closest and brightest light, this made all over light darker.

We have linked to an article from Petapixel and a video from a youtube channel called Wolfcrow which goes into a lot more detail about the inverse square law if you want to check it out.

For the shot we hung an Aputure 300d from the lighting rig that was all ready in the room. We did this by using a rail clamp which was attached to the bars of the rig. Attached to that was a C-Stand arm so we could bring the light further down, getting it about a meter away from our subject, and it also meant we could easily adjust the angle if needed.

We also attached a safety harness to the light just encase the clamp decided to fail. You can never be to careful.

One advantage of using the Aputure lights was the remote it came with which lets you wireless control the brightest and switch the light on and off.

As the light was up high, having the remote meant we didn't have to get the ladder back out to adjust it, which saved us a lot of time on set.

One of the main reasons we rented the Aputure 300d was because you can attach different mounts to the front of the light creating many different types of light sources.

For the first part of the film we used the space light attachment which we spoke about more in last week’s video.

For this shot, we attached a Fresnel lens which helps to focus and create a beam of light. The light was set at 75% brightness, angled just in front of our actor Chris, creating dark shadows on his face.

Before we filmed the shot we got someone to stand in for Chris, so our 1st AC Rob could get focus marks with the PD Movie Wireless Follow focus we were using.

It’s best to do these technical things with a stand-in. That way your actors aren’t standing around in front of lights all day as well as giving a performance.

We had to film this shot a couple of times because we had some technical issues with the straps not being tight about, causing it to fall of Chris’s head during the take.

One decision we made early one was avoid giving our actor an eye light for this shot. This was because we wanted his eyes to look dark and dead, unlike the previous scene where it was very light. In retrospect, this is actually something we would like to change because you can't read his reaction as well because you can’t see his eyes.

The last shot of the film was this one.

Taking inspiration from other films

We took the inspiration for this shot from this image we found online. We knew straight away this is how we wanted the film to end with the reflection of people watching him from the observation room.

So we built an observation room. We randomly had access to a window which was big enough and mounted onto a stand which was already in the room. Then we built a blanket fort around the window with the help of the blackout curtains, c-stands, more blackout material and lots of clips.

Now we had a room which was facing the chair and was completely blacked out all the way around, apart from the window. We did this to help emphasise the reflection of the people. By blocking out the background, this meant we would only get their reflection and nothing else.

To achieve the reflection of the people in the window we used an Aputure 300d with a space light and set it to 100% brightness which is around a 2k light. This was placed outside the fort, shining through the window, as we could not fit it in side.

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Then we boomed an LED panel into the fort as the main key light for Emily who was playing the woman’s hand in the film. For Ed, who was playing the executioner, we had an Aputure M9 light just to bring him up a little.

We are not sponsored by Aputure - we just really like their lights.

One thing we learned from this shot was just the sheer amount of light you need to add in order to achieve a bright enough reflection to see the subjects.

Another thing we decided early on which helped seeing them in the reflection was dressing them in white. And because I was in the fort operating the camera, I made sure to wear black to avoid being picked up by the camera.

With the camera being in the fort on a slider, the reflection was so strong we could see it in the window. So to combat this, any part of the camera that reflected light, was gaff taped up and it solved the problem.

The final part of the shot were the curtains falling which was achieved by clipping blackout material to the outside of the window and having two people let go on action.

These two shots did take around 4 hours to setup and the footage in total lasts for about 40 seconds, but we think it was totally worth it and without the crew, it wouldn’t be possible so big thanks to them.


Equipment Used

🎥 This episode's kit/gear/equipment:

🇺🇸 US links: 

Aputure 300D - https://amzn.to/2L7JZI2
Aputure Space Light - https://amzn.to/2NK8QA8
Aputure Fresnel Mount - https://amzn.to/2mfuOhD

🇬🇧 UK links:

Aputure 300D - https://amzn.to/2L8CnSe
Aputure Space Light - https://amzn.to/2Lctas0
Aputure Fresnel Mount - https://amzn.to/2LcLaCL

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DISCLAIMERS:

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Making a £8000 film for £500

Short films cost money to make, but how much money do they cost?

In this video we are going to break down how much it cost to make our short film The Asylum Groove. If you haven't seen the short film yet you can find it here.

The film is just over 3 minutes long, we shot it over 2 days, and had a crew size of 9.

We are going to break down the cost of the film into a few different areas. First will be the things we spent money on like equipment rentals, props and costume. Second will be the cost of the equipment we already owned or borrowed from other people, and finally the cost of people's time.

Set - £35.09

The location we used for the film we were able to get for free, but we did spend money on dressing the set to help tell the story. We created the Bedsville Disco sign, pinned up balloons, bought and weathered the record player and added signs to the doors.

Costume - £52.98

The main cost for the costume was from the scrub set and also the elbow and knee pads which our actor wore during the tripping shots. We also bought the dust rags which hung out of the character pockets and we also bought a bow tie for the executioner to wear.

Props - £71.94

Props that we had to buy for the film were the mop heads, wood to build the chair, the head sponge and chair straps.

Music - £23.99

The music for this film was such an important part in the film, it helps to set the tone and mood. We started off with about 20 tracks we found on various different sites, but settled on this one from audio network.

Food - £27.61

Feeding your cast and crew is super important and if it is the only thing you spend money on do it.

Travel - £30.00

We didn’t want any of our cast and crew to be out of pocket travelling to and from the location.

Equipment Rented - £242.39

For this film we had to rent 3 Aputure 300d lights as we did not have any lights that would be suitable for the production.

Total cash spent was £484

The total cost to make this film was £484 which is actually £24 more than it cost to make our last short film Backstage.

The equipment we used to shoot the film was equipment we have been building up for the past 6 years, and it is the same equipment we use on a day to day basis to make these videos. If someone wanted to go out and shoot this film on the same equipment we used, we have worked out it would cost around £4,850. Now making the total cost of the film £5,334.

This total cost only includes the equipment we owned. Rob our first assistant camera and Opie the second assistant camera both brought their own kit which we used. This included C-Stands, tripods, a steadicam and many other pieces of equipment and lots of tape. We have worked with them a number of times and they bring what they think we need to make the production the best it can be.

To put a value on this equipment we have said it would cost about £500 to rent the equipment that we did not already own. Now making the total cost for the film £5,834.

But that’s not everything, what about people's time? For everyone who worked on the film they did it in kind. Hopefully one day we will have the budget to pay everyone, but we have estimated if we paid everyone a standard filmmaker’s rate in North East England, the total cost of the film would be £7,834.

This is a scary number to us and is something we simply can’t afford.

This film would have been impossible to make at that cost, but getting to know people over time who want to help, building up your equipment little by little, and making sure you cater for everyone who works on your film, then it makes it possible to make a film for £484.

You don’t need all of the equipment we used to make a film, not all of the time anyway. We shot our short film Corpse on a Canon 550D with a 24-105mm lens, and on the same shoulder rig we used to shoot this film and we still think that film looks good.

Go out there and make films on whatever equipment you have, and we hope this video has helped people understand how much it can cost to make a short. It is something we did not know until we started to make bigger films.

Let us know in the comments about your experiences of making short films and the things you’ve spent money on to make your films better, give us a thumbs up or a thumbs down if you liked or disliked this video, hit the orange lens cap to subscribe, and remember achieve it one shot at a time.


DISCLAIMERS:

Some of these links are affiliate links, if you purchase gear via these links The Film Look will receive a small commission, but there will be no additional cost to you. Thank you!