Directing

Get Cinematic: Add MORE to Your Set

Today we are talking about how you can actually make things look more cinematic by adding some mess to your set.

We’ve been watching the latest season of Stranger Things and we’ve been inspired to create something that gives off a messy, lived-in, retro vibe. Let’s break it down.

We began with the bare essentials of the scene. In the script, it reads:

“Rob is sitting playing video games”.

So we grabbed Rob’s NES, we hooked it up to an old TV, and sat him down on a beanbag.

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But clearly, there is something missing from this scene. The shooting space is just too bare. It doesn’t look real. There’s not enough stuff!

So we grabbed everything we had which looks old, retro, and domestic, and started layering things into the frame, starting with the background.

The bookshelf is a good start already, but we re-arranged the visible shelves, placing a foam finger, a super 8mm camera, and a picture frame from The Breakfast Club, making the shelves look a bit more informal and hitting that 80s vibe.

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Then we needed to put something on the bare wall. We grabbed a poster from one of our films, Backstage, and stuck it up. Thankfully, the poster is already designed to look like it’s from the 1980s, so this was an easy one.

We popped a floor lamp in the background to light up the poster and bookshelf, and it also comes in handy for the lighting setup. 

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More on the lighting setup down below!

Lastly, we needed to hide the door to our editing room. So we wheeled over our costume rail and literally just placed it in front of the door. 

We decided to bring the costume rail into the mid-ground on an angle. This closes the space a bit more, making it feel cosier. 

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We also piled up some plastic crates on the other side of the subject. This fills the space, but it also hides the extension cable and the light stand in the shot.

If you are struggling to keep your equipment out of shot, the next best thing is to hide it with props and set dressings!

We had a pile of magazines laying around so we threw them into the frame (from a distance they look a bit like comic books), and we even topped the stack of magazines with a few old cigarette boxes to make it feel even more lived in.

We placed in the phone, a necessary prop in the script.

The last mid-ground set dressing was a Persian rug. We wanted to give the floor some colour and texture, so this worked really well.

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In the foreground, we had the TV on one side, so we placed in a stack of old suitcases, and an NES box on the other side to give us a natural vignette and a nice frame to shoot through.

We included a pizza box, and we stacked up the NES game boxes and another controller for even more mess.

Obviously, when you dress a set for a film, everything you pick should relate to the character, story, or scene. We have an episode on that:

Next up, we have the lighting.

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Our key light in the scene is from the old TV. In order to manage the exposure levels, we motivated that light with a small LED FX light, set to a slow pulse. We set the exposure levels to the 70 range on the subject’s skin when the light is at its brightest.

That practical floor lamp we placed in the background earlier meant we could add a few extra sneaky productions lights into the scene using the floor lamp as the motivating source. 

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We used an Aputure Mini 20 to give the subject a hair light, and we pointed our Astora LED panel towards the ceiling to bring up the ambient light in the scene.

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Floor lamps are great to place in a scene if you do intend to bounce light off the ceiling because the direction of the light between both sources looks very natural. If you do add light into a scene, it’s always better to accompany it with a practical source to ground it in reality. Think to yourself “Where is this light coming from?”.


This video will show you how adding more mess and clutter into a frame can actually make it look more cinematic. By the end of this video, you will have an understanding of what you will need to dress your sets to gives your movies the film look.

📺 How to support the channel

🚀 bit.ly/artlistfilmlook - The music you heard in this episode is from Artlist. Click the link to receive 2 extra free months on when you purchase an Artlist subscription!

🎵 https://www.joelfamularo.com/colour - Use discount code "TFL" at checkout to get 20% off your LUTs purchase!

🎬 In case you missed it

How to use the 30 Degree Rule: https://youtu.be/Sud_wMH7L18

Backstage BTS: https://youtu.be/tSBta8DFwww

Action Hero Entrance: https://youtu.be/5C05jf4VQTU

Get the Film Look with Art Direction: https://youtu.be/6AUmcvAyTKU

How to Use False Colour: https://youtu.be/nncazai0Ei4

🎧 Listen to our Podcast!

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Android: https://goo.gl/fmsp4s

📞 The Socials

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Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheFilmLook

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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!

How to Use the 30° Degree Rule

Today we are showing you how to use the 30-degree rule. A fundamental rule of filmmaking used to prevent jarring and jumpy cuts during an edit. Welcome to The Film Look.

If you are new to filmmaking, the 180-degree rule is used to make sure characters in a scene will always face the correct screen direction in relation to each other by drawing an imaginary semi-circle on set and not stepping over the straight line.

A cousin to the 180 is the 30-degree rule. It's there to make sure you don’t have a strange jarring jump when cutting from one shot to another on the same subject in a scene.

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If we shoot a scene from this angle here, then decide to shoot a little bit further along, these two shots will not cut together very well because they are too similar.

Less than 30 degrees

Less than 30 degrees

It causes the cut to jump out on screen. To avoid this, you can make sure you always move the camera 30 degrees, orbiting around the subject.

More than 30 degrees

More than 30 degrees

This rule applies for different shot types too. So when you are cutting from a wide shot to a medium close up, if you keep the camera in the same position it can actually look like a strange zoom effect, rather than a cut.

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Orbit the second angle more than 30 degrees around the subject and it will prevent the weird zoom effect.

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But you can go too far with this as well!

A wide shot from here cutting to a wide shot from here will be very disorientating to the audience. Again, causing a strange jarring effect, and really just unnecessary coverage of the scene.

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And cutting from an extreme wide shot to an extreme close up can look strange too! Unless of course you can match the motion of the subject and cut on action. 

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We will do an episode about cutting on action very soon so get subscribed!

But, in all honesty, you could cover the whole scene in this tight close up if you really wanted to. It all depends on the type of project and your filmmaking style.

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So, basically, the general rule of thumb is to just cut to something significantly different. Preferably, something which gives the audience a better view of the action or drama happening on screen. Just make sure that it's more than 30 degrees. 


This video will show you how to use the 30° degree rule when shooting a film. By the end of this video, you will know how to apply this rule to your films so you will have a smooth and good-looking edit.

📺 How to support the channel

🚀 bit.ly/artlistfilmlook - The music you heard in this episode is from Artlist. Click the link to receive 2 extra free months on when you purchase an Artlist subscription!

🎵 https://www.joelfamularo.com/colour - Use discount code "TFL" at checkout to get 20% off your LUTs purchase!

🎬 In case you missed it

5 Tips for Nailing the 180° Degree Rule: https://youtu.be/Fs24DBoT-C8

Centre Frame Your Shot for MORE Impact: https://youtu.be/b_913ksaKq8

🎧 Listen to our Podcast!

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📞 The Socials

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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!

The Action Hero Entrance | Motivated Camera Moves

Here at the film look, we love motivated camera moves. They look great, they are fun to pull off, and they connect the cinematography to the story. This is why today we are talking about a motivated camera move we like to call “The Action Hero Entrance”.

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It’s probably the most bad ass way to introduce a character on screen - but it’s also much more than that.

Let me show you why this camera move is one of the best ways to introduce a character in YOUR film. Welcome to The Film Look.

The camera move itself is actually quite simple. It begins on the floor as the subject arrives in their car. As they exit the car, the camera slowly pedestals up until it finishes on a medium close up on the subject’s face. They deliver their line then exit the frame.

The shot doesn’t need to involve a car or any dialogue as there are many variations to this camera move but we thought we would go full-on action movie style!

What’s so special about this camera move is actually how much information it delivers without ever needing to cut to another shot.

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At first, we have a wide establishing shot of the scene. In this case, it is clearly a back alley. And we’ve all seen enough films to know a back alley is a sketchy place to be. It sets the scene. 

A car rolls in. But what type of car? If it was a Lamborghini, you’d guess the character was a bit of a playboy. This car...is a little more modest.

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The character steps out and we see a glimpse of their costume - their footwear. In this case, we have a pair of black boots. They mean business. If you replaced the boots with flip flops, it would be a completely different story.

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Then we get a little character detail. A cigarette thrown on the ground. Why is the character smoking? Maybe to calm their nerves? But they also discard it, so whatever they plan on doing next, they need to be 100% focused.

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Then we’ve got a gun and vest - Police. 

We reveal their face. A young cop - detective Rusty Johnson. And he looks nervous!

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So with a single 20 second shot performing a very simple pedestal from feet to face, we give the audience an entire character bio without having to resort to any expositional dialogue, on-the-nose cut aways, or title cards.

We give the audience just enough information to want to know more about the character and the scene. But what if we changed some details?

Let’s make the location sunny this time. We can change the costume a little bit, and alter the character’s attitude. We can keep the main beats of the scene and keep the dialogue.

Let’s see how this changes an audience’s perspective of the character.

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We’ve transformed the scene from something like True Detective to something more like Narcos just by re-working a few things in the frame.

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And this is why this camera move is so powerful: it captures an intriguing character on screen, it grasps the audience’s attention, and sets up their expectations.

The shot literally looks the character up and down.

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The equipment in this shot, we feel, is quite important. You CAN do this shot handheld, but something smooth and steady will raise the production value and won’t distract the audience from what is happening on screen.

We shot both of these scenes using a Sony a7s Mark 1 with a Takumar 35mm vintage prime. The camera was rigged up on a Zhiyun Crane 2 with a set of spring-action handle grips from Digital Foto.

We will be reviewing these spring-action handle grips in a video very soon, so get subscribed if you haven’t already. 

If you are interested in more motivated camera moves, we have a bunch on the channel. Most of which we found from this book called Master Shots by Christopher Kenworthy. It’s a great book for figuring out what types of shots you can implement for moments in your film.

I’ve put links to the book down below - we get a small kick back for every sale on Amazon, so purchasing it will also help support this channel. Thanks for watching, and remember to achieve it one shot at a time.


This video will show you how to pull off the "action hero entrance" motivated camera move for your next short film. By the end of the video, you'll know what the camera move is all about, how and when to use it, and what equipment you will need to execute it.

📺 How to support the channel

🚀 bit.ly/artlistfilmlook - The music you heard in this episode is from Artlist. Click the link to receive 2 extra free months on when you purchase an Artlist subscription!

🎵 https://www.joelfamularo.com/colour - Use discount code "TFL" at checkout to get 20% off your LUTs purchase!

🎬 In case you missed it

Slowly Building Tension: https://youtu.be/WCbTHnanYkY

Coming to a Halt: https://youtu.be/dqdxPcSr1V8

Sony a7s Review: https://youtu.be/Zez-mTmtAO8

Takumar 30mm Lens Review: https://youtu.be/YhPgrN5FtCE

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

🎥 This episode's kit/gear/equipment:

US links:

Sony a7s: http://amzn.to/2DrEdLb

Zhiyun Crane 2: https://amzn.to/2XLyBYA

Master Shots Volume 1: https://amzn.to/2tcPMlo

UK links:

Sony a7s: http://amzn.to/2DrEdLb

Zhiyun Crane 2: https://amzn.to/2XlGcbX

Master Shots Volume 1: https://amzn.to/2ln4ZMv

🎧 Listen to our Podcast!

iTunes: https://goo.gl/hikhGF

Android: https://goo.gl/fmsp4s

📞 The Socials

Website: http://thefilmlook.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheFilmLook

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheFilmLook

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thefilmlook


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!

1 Tip for Filming a Genuine Performance

Faking it is what filmmaking is all about, but one of the things you can not fake is your actor being out of breath.

This might seem like a strange thing to talk about but stick with me.

Welcome to The Film Look.

If you have a scene or a moment in your film where your actor needs to look and sound out of breath, flustered, or red-faced, you need to get your actors up and moving around before the shot so you can capture something which is genuine.

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We learnt this from our actor friend Liam R. Angus, but it wasn’t until after the shoot and looking at the behind the scenes footage.

In our short film Keep the Change, Liam's character Stu had to deliver a pizza, but his car had just broken down. If he doesn’t get it there on time, he is going to lose his job, so he decides to run there.

He gets there in time and goes into the building to deliver the pizza.

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Let’s pause the film there.

If you haven't seen Keep the Change, I’ve just spoiled it but you can find it right here if you want to watch it.

Inbetween these two shots where he runs into the frame, and this shot where he approaches the door and enters the building, there was about 15 to 20 minutes of setup time.

This meant our actor was no longer out of breath, therefore breaking the continuity between the two shots.

This was not actually the case because of what our actor Liam did. Right as we were setting up the shot, messing around with the camera and lights. He was running around, keeping himself active, so he could run straight into the scene out of breath.

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As I said, I did not realise he was doing this because I was so concentrated on setting up the shot, so without him and this BTS footage I wouldn’t have learnt this lesson.

And this is still one of my favourite Film Look behind the scenes shots.

This goes for if you are recording foley sounds as well. To sound realistic, before you start to record those out of breath sounds, do 20-star jumps, or 50 if you’re in better shape.

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This will sound better than if you try and fake it. Faking it requires you to think about what it should sound like, when you could easily just record the real thing.

This might seem simple or obvious, but we feel it’s another thing worth knowing. It’s one of those things you could easily forget about when shooting because of all of the other things that you have to do.

So if you need your actors to be out of breath, ask them to jog around.

Let us know in the comments below of something of the simple but effective things you have learnt whilst shooting a film. I’m going to sit down now after all of those star jumps, but remember to 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!