Diy

5 Tips to STEP UP your Foley Game!

Foley is the dark horse of filmmaking. It turns your film from “pretty good” to “polished”.

After creating foley for the last 5 films on this channel, I’ve learned a few tricks which will help YOU record some great foley for your films. Welcome to The Film Look.

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Number one: footsteps are never alone.

If you’ve done any foley for your film, I imagine you’ve recorded or edited some footstep sounds. Footsteps are the most obvious run-of-the-mill sound effects to add into your scene, and usually I will tackle these first, but they always sound better when they are layered with other foley.

What I like to do is breakdown the possible sound elements associated with each character in the scene. Let's take this example called “Lost in the Forest” which we filmed for this foley series!

The character produces sounds from his footsteps, his coat, his backpack, and his map. These are all moving as he walks and they will produce their own sound effects, so if we record each of them and layer them into the scene, it turns it from this into this.

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Which brings me onto Number two: how to record clothing foley!

When I first started recording foley, I used to wear the clothing and try to move around and mimic the character on screen. This doesn’t produce a clear enough sound to layer in with everything else. I found you need to exaggerate the noise to be effective.

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So take off the coat and bunch it up into a loose ball in front of the mic. Instead of mimicking the actual steps, just mimic the swing and movement of the character.

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The clothing will produce some unique sounds depending on how you handle it, so experiment and try to find something which fits the scene.

Number three: accurate handling!

The next thing we need to record is the paper map. A prop like this can produce a million and one different sounds just by the way it's being handled. A map being crushed sounds very different to a map being folded, so this is where accurate mimicking comes in!

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If the character has the map out on display and is climbing down the hill, mimic that movement as close as you can by opening up the map and lightly bounce it up and down. If the character holds the map out and swings it, do the same thing. Don’t record generic foley; it never sounds good! Get particular and mimic the actions as accurately as possible.

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Number four: beefing up the props!

With something like a backpack, it would be easy enough to grab an empty rucksack and shake it around in time with the character on screen. This may sound okay, but it doesn’t sound at all interesting.

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Instead, you can beef up the sound of the prop by adding weight. This will help create a great sound when it swings around because of things like velocity and inertia.

That’s right - science is audible!

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Then, add some items inside it. For rucksack sounds, I like to take a set off mess tins and place them at the top of the pack. They will rattle around and add some extra dynamic kinetic audio.

And if the straps are producing an annoying flappy sound when you record, just tuck them in! Sound design is your choice, so if you find the sound can be annoying, chances are the audience will find it annoying too.

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Number five: environmental interaction

If your character interacts with the environment, nine times out of ten it will produce a sound, so don’t ignore these!

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In the scene “Lost in the forest” you can clearly see our character causing a bunch of dry leaves to roll down the hill as he steps down. Yes, we have footstep sounds, but the sound of leaves falling down a hill will produce something very different. So grab some dead leaves, dry them out, and record brushing and moving them with your hand. This subtle sound effects will really help sell the effect that the audio is real.

Number six (bonus): Don’t forget your atmos!

The final element to add into a scene to help ground in reality and trick the audience into believing these sounds were recorded on the day is the ambient noise from the location. If it’s inside you can use room tone, and if it’s outside, you’ll need some atmos.

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For the “Lost in the Forest” scene we recorded atmos at the location but it sounded horrible. That horrible droning wind is actually the sound of the cars on the motorway over a mile away. So instead, I found a track from https://freesound.org/people/bajko/

Adding atmos into the scene will help smooth over the otherwise moments of silence between sound effects.


🚀 https://www.thefilmlook.com/store - Step up your sound game with our FOOTSTEPS SOUND PACK. It features 200+ sounds, 9 surfaces, and 6 types of footwear, perfect for your next film project.

🎬 In case you missed it

How to Build a DIY Foley Pit: https://youtu.be/zO2hx7iToNY

$600 Mic vs $60 Mic: https://youtu.be/2VK6lYkK2AM

How to Mix Sound for a Short Film: https://youtu.be/7x5SnoftgUw

How to Record BETTER Footstep Sound Effects: https://youtu.be/vQ8bnF-OWSA

🎥 This episode's kit/gear/equipment:

US links:

The Sound Effects Bible: https://amzn.to/2sSWEUy

UK links:

The Sound Effects Bible: https://amzn.to/2DD9ZXc


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 Record BETTER Footstep Sound Effects

Last week we showed YOU how to setup a DIY Foley Pit for recording footsteps at home or in a small studio. This week we are showing you how to record them. Everything from microphone placement to mimicking the image for a perfect sync.

I suppose you can call this episode a step by step guide. Let’s record some footsteps! Welcome to The Film Look.

This episode was inspired by The Sound Effects Bible by Ric Viers. We aren’t being paid to talk about the book, we just think its a great resource for those who want to step up up their sound game.

US link: The Sound Effects Bible:   https://amzn.to/2sSWEUy    UK link: The Sound Effects Bible:   https://amzn.to/2DD9ZXc

US link: The Sound Effects Bible: https://amzn.to/2sSWEUy

UK link: The Sound Effects Bible: https://amzn.to/2DD9ZXc

So before we hit record there are a few things we need to do in order to prepare for recording footstep Foley.

The first thing we need to do is identify the sound source and its properties by looking at the edit.

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The scene we are referencing is this short sequence we filmed in a forest. By studying the scene, you can see that we need the following:

  • Packed earth for the foundation of the pit

  • Crunchy dried leaves and twigs to cover the packed earth

  • And a pair of walking boots to stomp in

To simulate the packed earth, we bought a bag of top soil and patted it down until it was nice and compact. Then we grabbed a bunch of dried leaves from the location and sprinkled them on top. Then we matched the footwear, selecting a pair of walking boots to record in.

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Now we’ve built up the surface and chosen matching footwear, we can think about sound-proofing our clothing so we only record the sound of footsteps.

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Quiet clothing is a must when you record foley. Sweatpants are the preferred bottoms, but you can also wear jeans as long as they don’t rub or make noise when you move around. As for your top; cotton t-shirts, wool sweaters, but nothing too loose as it might flap around and make a noise.

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Avoid anything made of vinyl, polyester, or nylon, as they tend to make crispy, rubbing sounds when you move. Strictly no jewellery, and if you have any zips or laces, get them taped down!

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And if your trousers rub against the ankle on a pair of boots, tuck them in or roll them up to minimise unwanted rubbing noise.

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Also, don’t turn up to a foley session hungry (or too full). Your stomach grumbles will be picked up by the microphone, and if you’ve eaten too much, you might...you know...fart.

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Next we have the position of the microphone. This is an important one, because if its too far away you may lose a lot of detail in the recording and pick up the acoustics of the room. The same goes if the microphone is too close; you risk kicking the mic during a recording, and you may end up capturing more toe than heel or even excess bass during a footstep impact.

The ideal position we’ve found for the microphone is in front of your feet, in the middle between each foot, around 1-2 feet away and 1-2 feet off the floor. This will give you a nice loud recording of the relatively quiet footsteps.

How you mount the microphone is also important. If you are recording in a bedroom or small studio like we are, it’s likely you are standing on some form of wooden floorboard. Because floorboards are a little bit bouncy and hollow underneath, they can produce rumble.

We have the microphone on a mic stand supported with a shock mount. This will greatly reduce the rumble effect and give you a cleaner recording.

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In the last episode we also spoke about padding under the foley pit. We use a stack of EVA foam jigsaw panels to pad out the floor underneath the tray. They are firm but bouncy so they soften a hard step just enough to prevent unwanted shock, rumble, and noise.

Next up we have levels. Get your microphone in position and try walking on the spot. Set your levels so each step hits around -6dB, also known as recording warm. -6dB will give you a little bit of wiggle room in case a step is louder than usual. It’s loud, it’s clean, and it’s safe.

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Once you are ready to record, make a note of the following:

  • Your footwear

  • The surface

  • And the project name

When you hit record, you will want to very clearly state each of these. For example, “Walking boots on packed earth with dry leaves. Footstep Foley for project: LOST IN THE FOREST”.

Like using a clapperboard for syncing production audio to the film, this is called “Slating the clip”.

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With video, you have the use of thumbnails and can jog through a clip to see what it is. With audio, you don’t have the luxury of a thumbnail and scanning doesn’t really work, so instead you must preface each clip with clearly state information so you can organise your clips with ease.

After listening to a hundred recordings, you will be happy you didn’t mumble or waste time at the start of the clip.

Now it's time to hit record and mimic the image. For project specific foley, you will want to set up a copy of the edit playing back in front of you. We like to have the edit looping on a laptop.

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You can begin the foley session by mimicking the entire scene, I call these “Run-Throughs”. Run through’s will get you warmed up, it will help you practice mimicking the pace of the subject and match the strength of the impact.

With headphones on, you will also be able to hear if you need to adjust the way you step to create the right sound.

I tend to record 5 takes of run through’s for each character in each scene on every surface, trying my best to match their footsteps.

Next are “singles”. Now you’ve warmed up, it’s time to record a lot more footsteps. Only this time you won’t be mimicking the subject in the scene.

Recording singles is easy. You take a single step then wait for the sound to decay into near silence. Then you take another step. And another...and another hundred until you are completely bored of the sound.

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Then change how you step. Step harder, step lighter, step with a slight shuffle, go heel to toe, stomp, jump! With each version of these footsteps, try to record at least 60 seconds before changing your stepping method, and try to separate the sound out so you can cut around the silence later on.

By this time, you will have burned off your dinner, so you won’t regret the meal you wolfed down in order to stop your stomach from grumbling!

You will notice that the way you step will drastically change the way a step sounds. When you start mixing, you may notice a footstep doesn’t sound quite right in the scene. Maybe it’s too hard or too quick or needs a shuffle.

This is why you record a ton of singles. You can think of these like footstep b-roll: emergency footsteps which can replace anomalies in the mix, and can be added to your sound library for future projects.

There are three main parts which will determine the way a footstep sounds: the surface you stand on, the type of footwear you choose, and the way you perform a step. Everything else is formatting, etiquette, and quality assurance.


🚀 https://www.thefilmlook.com/store - Step up your sound game with our FOOTSTEPS SOUND PACK. It features 200+ sounds, 9 surfaces, and 6 types of footwear, perfect for your next film project.

🎬 In case you missed it

How to Build a DIY Foley Pit: https://youtu.be/zO2hx7iToNY

$600 Mic vs $60 Mic: https://youtu.be/2VK6lYkK2AM

How to Mix Sound for a Short Film: https://youtu.be/7x5SnoftgUw

🎥 This episode's kit/gear/equipment:

US links:

The Sound Effects Bible: https://amzn.to/2sSWEUy

UK links:

The Sound Effects Bible: https://amzn.to/2DD9ZXc


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 Build a DIY Foley Pit

Today we’ll show YOU our DIY foley pit for recording footstep sound effects. This is something that requires no big tools or heavy building experience, all the parts can be purchased online or found around the house, and can be assembled in less than 30 minutes.

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Let’s setup a DIY foley pit! Welcome to the film look.

With every film project we’ve made, we’ve always recorded footsteps on location. After the shooting has wrapped, we head back to the location on another day with a copy of the edit, setup the microphone, watch the scene, and mimic the movement of the actors.

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But this doesn’t always work. A noisy environment isn’t the ideal location for recording footsteps, and if your shooting location is busy, loud, or now inaccessible, this is where a foley recording studio setup comes in.

So we thought it was time to build a foley pit!

Because we have such a small studio, we needed the foley pit to be cheap, easy to clean, and quick to assemble and disassemble. And because we know a lot of you guys are young filmmakers, we wanted to make something which didn’t require any heavy tools or building experience so you can set one up at home too.

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The first thing you need is a quiet room. A clothing closet, a bedroom, or a small room with a carpeted floor will work best. Carpets are important because they absorb sound, and we want the footstep recordings to sound as dry as possible; we don’t want any excess echo or reverb in the audio because we may want to add some in to match the scene later.

You can find out which room will work best by standing in the centre and clapping. You’ll notice a small room with carpets and furniture will absorb more sound than a big staircase exit.

We will be using our studio which thankfully has carpeted floors.

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There are a few free mobile apps which help you get an idea of how much echo a room produces. I have this one downloaded called RT by AppAcoustic. You simply place the phone on the ground, hit start, give a strong clap, wait a moment, then hit stop. The readings aren’t 100% accurate but are certainly a starting point.

So try out a bunch of rooms in your house and see which one will give you the best results! Just look for room acoustic apps on your app store.

Next thing we can do is acoustically treat the room. This sounds fancy, but it doesn’t have to be. The first thing you can do is switch off any electronic devices. TVs, computers, speakers; basically anything which might hum or buzz. Then find a load of curtains, duvets, blankets, towels, even couch cushions, and find a way to hang them up in the room, covering your walls, doors, and windows.

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We have a bunch of black out curtains which did the job, so we made a blanket fort with the help of some C-stands and some clips.

Basically, anything with a flat surface will reflect sound, and that’s what we want to avoid, so make sure you cover any flat smooth surface with some rugs, blankets, or even a pile of clothes.

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In order to see what I’m about to do next, I’m gonna take the blanket fort back down for the rest of the episode. Just try to imagine it's still up.

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So, the pit itself. We can start with a gardening tray. This one is 60x60cm so its large enough for footsteps, it has a short 7cm lip which means it won’t cause any reverb (preventing the sound you’d get if you stuck your head in a bucket), but is high enough to contain messy materials, and it is made out of tough plastic so it's waterproof, lightweight, and easy to clean!

If you are recording upstairs on wooden floorboards like we are, you will want to cushion underneath the tray to prevent any excess rumble during recording. We picked up a pack of these EVA foam jigsaw panels to pad out the floor underneath the tray. They are firm but bouncy so they soften a hard step just enough to prevent a Godzilla-sounding footstep.

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We recorded some samples based on a scene we shot in a forest. This is how it sounds.

A lot of ideas for this video came from The Sound Effects Bible by Ric Viers. We aren’t being paid to talk about the book, but think its a wicked resource for budding sound artists who want to set up their game. There’s an affiliate link in the description if you want to buy the book and help out the channel.

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A setup like this can also be used for recording other foley work such as clothing movement and prop handling, which we will be talking about next week! So if you are looking for more sound advice, hit subscribe, hit the bell, and remember to achieve it one shot at a time.


🚀 https://www.thefilmlook.com/store - Step up your sound game with our FOOTSTEPS SOUND PACK. It features 200+ sounds, 9 surfaces, and 6 types of footwear, perfect for your next film project.

🎥 This episode's kit/gear/equipment:

US links

Gardening Tray: https://amzn.to/2SXPSIt

EVA Foam Mats: https://amzn.to/2MALywk

The Sound Effects Bible: https://amzn.to/2sSWEUy

UK links

Gardening Tray: https://amzn.to/2QT0eY1

EVA Foam Mats: https://amzn.to/2Sa9pbr

The Sound Effects Bible: https://amzn.to/2DD9ZXc


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!

FOOTSTEPS SOUND PACK is here!

Need footsteps for your next film project? Look no further!

The Film Look FOOTSTEP SOUND PACK features over 200 sounds, on 9 surfaces, in 6 types of footwear, giving you a plethora of available sound types to choose from when mixing the sound for your film.

All sound effects have been recorded in a low noise environment giving you a clean, loud sound for every single footstep. They have also been recorded as dry as possible, meaning there is no reverb baked into the sound so you can add reverb in the mix to replicate the scene on screen perfectly.

These sounds have been exclusively recorded as “singles”, meaning each step is completely individual so you can cut in and match up the steps without having to worry about creating more space between the sounds.

Every single set of footwear of every single surface has multiple performance types: light, standard, heavy, heel-to-toe, shuffles, and jumps. These have been created so you can match the performance of the actors on screen.

Is your character walking? Standard is all you will need. Are they running? Maybe go for heavy to match the high impact!

As well as creating this pack, we have also create a short series of videos showing you how we setup and recorded the footsteps, so if you want to create your own library of footsteps, go ahead!

The first video in the series shows you how to setup a DIY Foley Pit: a small pit for dumping your surface materials so you can record in messy stuff in a clean way!


Every Boom Operator Needs This! | Rycote PCS-Boom Connector Review

Today I want to talk to you about the PCS-Boom Connector from Rycote, and why I think every boom operator would be a fool not to have one!

I’ve been known to have trouble screwing my boom pole to my shock mount. So much so that I chewed up the end and broke the whole system...twice!

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To fix this problem, I was looking for a quick release system for my boom pole. I did find a budget option which did the job; the Triad Orbit IO-R...I did a review on it a while back.

Then the guys at Rycote saw that video and wondered if i’d be interested in reviewing their quick release system, so here I am. They also sent me some free swag.

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I’m gonna put these two boom connectors against each other. You have the budget option, coming in at around £20, and you have the premium option, coming in at about £80. So the Rycote is 4x the price of the Triad Orbit, but is it 4x better?

Weight

Let's start with the weight. If you are booming for long periods of time, the amount of weight you add to the end of the pole will matter a lot. You already have a microphone, shock mount, and possibly a blimp on the end, so any more weight will only cause more fatigue.

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The Rycote weighs 53g.

The Triad Orbit weighs over 220g. That’s over 4x the weight of the Rycote.

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After having both of these in my hands, I can really feel how light the Rycote really is. This thing weighs less than 3 AA batteries. The Triad Orbit is over 12 AAs.

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Strength

Both appear to be really strong. To test the strength I setup both on C-stands and hung sandbags from the tips. I can’t image you’d put any more than 2 sandbags on the end of your boom, so let's call this one a tie before I break something.

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Release System

If you are purchasing a quick release system, the thing you want the most is that it can be attached and released with ease.

Attaching the Rycote is satisfying: it locks into place using the grooves on the tip, and its tapered design makes fitting it into the hole really easy. It also has a very satisfying click. Releasing the tip is even more satisfying because it's spring loaded, so you can release it one handed.

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The Triad Orbit does a similar job, but everything is a little more tricky. The tip is hex shaped and lacks any taper so you need to feed it into the system more carefully. Not a big deal, but every second counts.

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Design Extras

Both feature mount locking systems to secure them onto a boom. The Triad Orbit uses a Hex key design like the Rycote, but the Rycote wins with its rubber shielding to stop you damaging the tip of your boom.

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One genius thing the Rycote does that the Triad doesn’t, is the hole they have milled out of the tip which is perfect for using your allen key and getting the tip rock solid on the end of your shock mount. It’s a clever little addition which shows that Rycote has thought about it from a user standpoint.

The Winner

So who is the winner? The Triad does the job, and would be perfect for musicians, for example, who have a bunch of mics on different stands and need to hotswap a setup. But honestly, if you are concerned about weight, like a boom operator would be, the Rycote is the best option, even for the premium price tag.


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!

Still The Best First Lens to Buy | Canon 50mm F1.8 Review (6 Years On)

Is the Canon 50mm F1.8 or the nifty fifty any good in 2019?

Well, we still use it even after 6 years and think it is still the best first lens to buy, even if you are not using a Canon camera.

We have been using this lens for about 6 years now and first used it on the Canon 600D, but this lens has actually been out for 28 years. It was first introduced in 1990 a couple of years after Canon brought out the EOS mount system.

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The one we have was probably manufactured 7 or 8 years ago, but the design and build are the same as the ones from 1990.

After moving from a crop sensor Canon to a full frame Sony, we adapted all of our Canon lenses to Sony mount with a commlite adaptor.

There aren’t too many new Canon 50mm F1.8 mark 2s out there, but you can pick up a second hand one for around £50.

When you shoot at F1.8, the centre of the lens isn’t that sharp and looks out of focus, as you can see when we’ve shot straight against a flat wall. When you look at the edge of the frame the image has started to become more out of focus from what it is in the centre.

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This happens with a lot of lenses when you shoot wide open, but when you start to change the F-Stop to F4 or F8, the focus naturally gets sharper from the centre of the frame to the edge.

You’ll find the Canon 50mm sharpness sweet spot is around F4 and F5.6.

But shooting at a lower F-Stop like 1.8 will give you that sweet looking bokeh which we all love, so there is a trade off.

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When you are shooting between 1.8 and 2.8 you will get a lot of lens flares and your image will be milky if you are shooting in situations where there is a bright and direct light.

This is a cool effect if you want it, but to avoid it you can simply shoot at an f-stop of 2.8 or higher. This will give you a cleaner image.

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When you first get this lens you will likely shoot everything at F1.8 because it looks cinematic, but you will soon realise that shooting everything at F1.8 can make your footage look amateurish if you can’t keep your subjects in focus.

When we first got the canon 50mm 1.8 we shot everything at 1.8, mainly because it’s fun and we had the ability to do so.

But we soon realised that the depth of field at 1.8 will be from the person's eyes to the tip of their nose. This is fine if you are shooting a static subject as you can focus on the person's eyes and they will stay in focus throughout the shoot.

If your subject is moving around however, you will find it very difficult to keep them in focus when shooting at f/1.8.

So when shooting on a 50mm try shooting at F2.8 or F4.

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This is where the Canon 50mm performs the best. You get a sharp image with some nice shallow depth of field, but it keeps the focal plane a lot more manageable when focusing on a moving subject.

50mm on a full frame camera is known as a standard field of view as its roughly the field of view as your eyes, giving your image a very natural and pleasing look.

The Canon 50mm does give you the ability to shoot in low light situations because of that F1.8 aperture. This comes in very handy when we were shooting on the Canon 600D as you could not push the ISO past 800 before the image becomes too noisy.

Shooting on newer cameras like the Sony A7s has changed that. In a low light situation, we can shoot at F8 with an ISO of 5000 and the image is still clean.

So depending on the camera you have and the situation you are shooting in, work out a good balance between shooting at a low F-Stop and bumping up ISO so you have a manageable shot and a clean enough image.

The construction of the Canon 50mm lens is all plastic, but this has not really been a problem. We’ve been using it for 6 years now, there are a few marks on it but that is just general wear and tear. Even after all this time, we’ve yet to drop it. The glass is still clean, and there is even a video of someone taking a hammer to the glass and it doesn’t break.

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Links to that video can be found below but I wouldn’t recommend doing this, especially to the body of the lens.

The focus ring on the Canon 50mm lens is its biggest downside as it is very thin. There is not a lot of room to grip onto the focus ring when manually focusing. It’s not very smooth and it doesn’t sound great when you turn it.

Most lenses we have used have a long focus throw which is simply how much you have to turn the focus ring to go from macro to infinity focus on a lens. A long focus throw gives you the ability to do fine focus adjustments and be a lot more accurate when focusing.

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These manual vintage lenses have a very long throw, and if you have even seen cinema lenses, they have a massive throw and are extremely accurate.

The Canon 50mm has a very short throw, so when pulling focus, it is very difficult to be accurate and hit the same focus marks consistently.

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It does take practice to get used to the small focus ring and it might just take a couple of more tries to nail your focus when shooting.

When shooting a short film, we use a wireless follow focus which is operated by a 1st AC. Unfortunately, you’ll find it very difficult to use this lens with a follow focus because the focus ring it too thin to attach a focus gear properly.

But this isn’t really a problem for most people, especially if you are just starting out.

We have used the Canon 50mm 1.8 on Canon and Sony Cameras, and we would definitely recommend picking one as they are so cheap.

We’ve never used one on a GH4 or GH5, but if you have, let us know in the comments below about what you think about the lens. We’d love to give people advice about using this lens on that camera system.

If you are just starting out I would highly recommend getting this lens. It will allow you to learn about shooting at low F-Stops, focus, image quality, and also get your images looking like a film with the shallow depth of field and the natural, pleasing look you get from a 50mm lens.

Yes, there is a lot that goes into making your image feel and look like a film; you need props, costumes, locations, lights, good sound, and a solid performance from your actors. But when you are just starting out, and you just want to shoot some cool looking footage, this lens will allow you to do that whilst learning all the other things.


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!

Cheap RGB Light | AL-360RGB Review

For 5 years now we have been using these 160 LEDs. The technology in them is old, the colour of them isn’t great, and the battery connection has started to go. So it was time to upgrade.

We have reviewed two AndyCine products in the past and they reached out at the right time to see if we wanted to review their new 16W LED light which is also RGB and has 360 different colours to choose from.

We obviously said yes, and that’s what we will be reviewing in this week’s video.

CHEAP RGB LIGHT  AL-360RGB REVIEW 1.gif

The AL-360RGB light has a max output of 16 watts. You can cycle from 3200k to 5700k, with the brightness staying at around 16 watts throughout the different colour temperatures.

When using the RGB mode on the light, most colours look like they use the full 16 watts of power, which is very impressive for a light of this size and price. Some colours look a little darker but this is just down to the shade of the colour.

You can change the brightness of the light a percentage at a time, all the way down to 10% and the colour temperature can be adjusted by 50 Kelvin at a time.

To access the RGB mode you simply press in the CCT/HUE button and use the dial to go through the 360 HUE colours.

CHEAP-RGB-LIGHT--AL-360RGB-REVIEW-2.gif

When turning the dials to control the brightness, colour temperature, or RGB colour, you can turn the dial one notch at a time to change the setting slowly. If you want to make a big change to the settings you can turn the dial quickly.

This is a nice feature to have so you are not spending a lot of time cycling through the settings if you know the one you are looking for.

There is a little screen on the back of the light which is quite dim and isn’t the clearest, but it does have a battery indicator and all of the settings information. It’s a nice little feature to have on such a small and relatively inexpensive light.

CHEAP-RGB-LIGHT--AL-360RGB-REVIEW-3.gif

The light can be powered via NPF batteries or via an 8.4v DC cable. One of the main uses we’ve had for this light is to add a coloured edge light when shooting product footage for this channel. Sometimes we can be shooting for an hour or two with the light always on, so having the ability to run the light directly from the wall is a feature we have been taking advantage of.

If you use one of these 970 NPF batteries you will get a run time of around an hour and a half with the brightness staying consistent until the battery hits about 10%.

In the past, we have used coloured gels to get different coloured edge lights. It’s worked well in the past, but with this new light, we have the ability to choose between 360 colours with a turn of a wheel. No need to faff with cutting and attaching gels.  

Each colour has its own reference number displayed on the screen. This allows you to record the colour you have used for future reference or have the ability to dial in the same colour on multiple lights.

CHEAP-RGB-LIGHT--AL-360RGB-REVIEW-5.gif

If you are shooting in a dark situation or have complete control of the light that’s in your scene, you could use this light as a key light. Most of the time this light would be used as an edge or hair light for a subject, and also to paint coloured light on a product or a background.

RGB LED lights are the next trend in lighting with lots of companies bringing out big expensive RGB lights. We have this one from LEDGO which we will be reviewing soon.

In the box you receive a light stand mount which allows you to tilt the light with ease. It is made out of plastic just like the rest of the light, but with the light being super lightweight it should last a long time.

One downside to this light is that it does not come with a battery or a DC cable to power it. It’s an extra expense you will need to make if you are thinking about buying this light. You can’t use it straight out of the box, unfortunately.

I’ve linked to an article in the description below from someone who has taken this light apart and tested it to the max, check it out if you are into that kind of stuff.

CHEAP-RGB-LIGHT--AL-360RGB-REVIEW-4.gif

Seeing the rapid RGB technology filter down into a budget light this small is really good to see as it makes it super accessible for low budget filmmakers like us.

I really like this light; it gives you the flexibility to switch between colour temperatures and is an upgrade from our older 160 LED lights, but the best feature is the RGB mode. Having that feature in such a small light gives you creative freedom with ease. We will not be messing around with gels for much longer.

🎥 This episode's kit/gear/equipment:

🇺🇸 US links:

AL-360RGB - https://amzn.to/2ChD74f

🇬🇧 UK links:

AL-360RGB - https://amzn.to/2H7yyze


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!

$600 vs $60 Mic | Rode NTG3 vs Rode VideoMicro

The Rode NTG3 vs the Rode VideoMicro. One is $600. One is $60. One is 10x the price than the other - but is it 10x better?

Mic-Battle.gif

Today we are going to find out! Welcome to The Film Look.

We are giving each microphone a like-for-like comparison in some quintessential sound recording situations.

First up, our presenting setup.

When we present an episode, we boom a microphone overhead and plug it straight into the camera. We use the NTG3, and we have an SmartRig XLR phantom power adapter to convert it and plug it straight into the camera.

Mic-Battle3.gif

The VideoMicro on the other hand, uses a 3.5mm jack, so it doesn’t need an adapter, just an extension cable.

When you compare the sound of these microphones side by side, it is clear the NTG3 sounds more full and clear whereas the VideoMicro sounds a little tinny. But considering the VideoMicro is only a tenth of the price, it’s holding up really well.

To give the VideoMicro a fighting chance, I’m going to tweak the EQ and attempt to match it to the NTG3. Let me play those clips again.

Mic-Battle4.gif

This is sounding much better. In all honesty, now the VideoMicro sounds just as good as the NTG3 in this setup.

But what about if we are shooting a wide shot?

Mic-Battle5.gif

Booming the microphone in the same position as earlier will place the microphone in frame, so we must move the microphone further back. Let’s see how both mics handle booming from a distance.

Positioning the microphone from a long distance is the worst way to record sound; you get a lot of noise, low levels of dialogue, and it picks up a lot of acoustic tone in the room. From my ears, both microphones sound very similar. And similar being, both pretty rubbish.

So what about setting up a plant mic?

Mic-Battle6.gif

Because the VideoMicro is so small, it can easily be hidden in the shot, such as in a car, taped to the sun visor.

You just need to get creative and find a place to hide it close to your subject.

The NTG3, on the other hand, has a harder job of being so sneaky.

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We have a video about different ways to record dialogue in a wide shot if you want to see some more methods.

Next up, we have foley.

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We will record some clothing foley in a quiet room with the microphone really close. The environment needs to be silent and the microphone needs to pick up the nuances in the sound.

I’ll be recording in sync with our film Backstage, recording clothing foley for the Medium.

Mic-Battle9.gif

The NTG3 is an obvious winner. The higher sensitivity means it can record subtle noises a lot louder than the VideoMicro. So when the volume is balanced between both mics, the VideoMicro introduces a lot more noise into the sound.

NTG3.jpg
VideoMicro.jpg

So to conclude: The NTG3 is obviously a better microphone, that comes with the obvious higher price tag. It is more sensitive, so it records a cleaner and more well-rounded sound. It's perfect for recording high quality sound on short films.

But the VideoMicro also has its place. We use it when recording behind the scenes because it's so easy to set up on top of the camera.

Mic-Battle10.gif

It also wins in the “not breaking the bank” category, so if you are looking for a budget option, you CAN still record good sound for a short film with this microphone.


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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!

6 UNIQUE SHOTS using a Clamp Rig!

Lately, we’ve been experimenting with crab clamps.

Clamps1.gif

Our latest DIY invention is the lightweight clamp rig: it involves combining a clamp, a magic arm, and quick release plate so you can mount a light weight camera to strange and creative places.

Clamps2.gif

Today we are showing you 6 different ways you can get creative with the clamp rig to help you with your next film.

Let me preface this episode with a quick note: these clamps can be tightened very easily, so just make sure you attach them to something strong. You don’t want your camera to fall off, or even worse, damage the surface you are clamping it to! So just be cautious.

Clamps3.gif

Car Cam

The first place we tested out the clamp rig was inside a car to get some driving shots.

We found the headrest rods were a perfect diametre for the crab clamps, and because we had a magic arm attached, we were able to distance the camera from the clamp and get closer to the subject’s eyes.

Clamps4.gif

We drove around and the camera rig stayed in place. It did shake a bit when we hit some bumpy ground, but this could look like tasteful if you were shooting a scene with some fast paced action or drama.

Once we were driving on a flat, smooth road, the shot turned out silky.

Clamps5.gif

We also shot a set of french-overs. With this setup, you would actually be able to shoot 2 cameras at the same time because the headrests, and the clamps, aren’t in shot.

You can get the same type of shot with a camera op in the backseat, but if you have limited crew, this is a good option.

The last shot in the car was a 2 shot from the front. My car is old and cheap, so the dashboard is made of some sort of shiny plastic which made attaching the clamp difficult. So we stuffed in some extra rubber tape to keep it secure.

Clamps6.gif

Bookcase Cam

The next thing we tried was using the clamp rig on a bookcase.

We attached the clamp rig to the top shelf of the bookcase and positioned it looking into the room. With this shot, you can simulate a CCTV camera. This would be difficult to achieve with a tripod because of the lack of height and its spread out legs, so the clamp actually made this shot possible.

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Then we pointed the camera looking straight to the floor, achieving a very high, top down frame. This is a very strange type of angle, so using this type of shot in the film would work great if you wanted the audience to pay extra attention to something.

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Plate Cam

We wanted to go a bit weird with this next one.

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Similar to a snorri-cam setup, we attached the clamp rig to a moving dinner plate. When coupled with the journey from the microwave to the table, this shot becomes quite interesting.

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There is a lot of tell about a character by the type of meal they eat. So if you are using food to give a character or scene thematic emphasis, you can give the shot extra presence by turning it into a plate-cam!

Guitar Cam

The next thing we tried was attaching it to an instrument.

Clamps13.gif

This is a perfect shot for an interesting live session or music video. As the musician moves around the stage, the guitar seems to stick to the frame, giving us a shot with, again, a lot of presence.

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Just a quick note, before you attach the rig clamp to a guitar, ask the guitarist if it's okay, and try to pad out the clamp to relieve the pressure on the guitar to prevent any damage. We clamped the rig to my guitar, and unfortunately, it did leave a little groove in the wood. The crab clamp clearly isn’t the right tool for the job in this instance!

Clamps16.gif

So here’s a question for you guys: to achieve this shot without damaging an instrument, how would you attach the camera to it?

Toilet Cubicle Cam

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In one of our previous films, Backstage, some shots were inside a toilet cubicle. To pull of the shot we had to swap the tripod for a monopod in order to get closer to the door, and stand on an apple box in order to get the correct height.

Clamps18.gif

This is where the rig clamp comes in!

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We copied the shot from Backstage but this time we attached the rig clamp to the cubicle door frame and locked off the shot. It does mean you can no longer pan and tilt when the clamp is in place (unless you figure out how to attach a tripod head to it!), but now it’s safely up a height, pointing down, and best of all you can now open and close the door, so you won’t have to lock your talent in the loo anymore.

Discrete Shots & Timelapses

The last few things we tried were based on shooting vlogs. When a gorillapod won’t secure and a tripod is too bulky, you can use the rig clamp to attach it to things like railings if you wanted to get a shot of walking through the frame or even if you wanted to talk to the camera for a moment.

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Lastly, we tried attaching the rig clamp to a table while we wrote the script for this very episode!

The camera is secure and out of the way: it can’t be knocked off the table during a timelapse, and there’s no chance of someone walking along and kicking one of the tripod legs.

And if someone tries to steal it, they will have a lot of trouble getting it disconnected!

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This WAS a bit of an experiment. The rig clamp isn’t perfect, we know that. But it certainly opened up some possibilities for shooting. The parts we used can be found in the description.

If you want to see more videos just like this one, hit the orange lens cap to subscribe, and remember to achieve it one shot at a time.


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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!

Light up your Camera Bag for less than $16 (or £16)

Today I’m going to show YOU a really cheap and simple way to add LED strip lighting to your camera bag without glue, tape, or nasty adhesives.

Instead we are going old school - we are going to grab a needle, some thread, and hand sew the lighting strip into place!

Finding equipment in your camera bag at night or in a dark environment can be difficult - especially considering everything is pretty much painted black. We’ve toyed with spray painting things bright colours in the past, such as our infamous orange lens caps.

But when you’re on a night shoot, something even as bright as this can get lost in your bag. So what can we do? It’s time to customise.

Lights-for-your-camera-bag-With-LED-lights.jpg

You can pick up a battery powered LED strip light on amazon for £7 (or $7.89 for our american cousins watching). And grab yourself a hand sewing kit while you are at it for 8 quid (or 8 bucks for the yanks). You can find links to the items we used in the description below.

This is all you’ll need to start, now just pick the bag you want to light up!

I’m going to be converting this Porta Brace camera bag as it’s always the bag which seems to create a dark void of oblivion.

First of all, work out where you want to attach the LED strip.

Choose somewhere in your bag where it doesn’t puncture the outer surface, such as an inner ridge or seam where a sewing line is already visible, like this spot here. This will avoid spoiling the outer protective surface of the bag, especially if it is waterproof.

Lights-for-your-camera-bag

I found that sewing 10 loops around the strip at a time, then moving an inch along and repeating the process worked pretty well. It was secure whilst not blocking the light from the LEDs. Find a pocket or sleeve for the battery pack to sit and you are all done!

By sewing the strip in rather than gluing it in place or using something like velcro, it just means you won’t get a horrible residue in your bag. It also means you can simply cut off the thread if you want to remove it.

Now you won’t have to hunt for your torch or use your phone as a light. Simply flick the switch to see inside your bag at night. And if you really want to, you can always activate disco mode.

Lights-for-your-camera-bag-With-LED-lights1.jpg

This video was Sponsored By

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Equipment Links

🎥 This episode's kit/gear/equipment:

US links:

LED strip: http://amzn.to/2fQ67ZF

Sewing kit: http://amzn.to/2yo1Rbz

 

UK links:

LED strip: http://amzn.to/2xRGHSq

Sewing kit: http://amzn.to/2fPUlP7

 

Light up your camera bag

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!

Silence your Footsteps and Props

So it’s time to record dialogue for your next scene. But footsteps and prop noise keep getting into your dialogue takes. What can you do? This is your answer...neoprene and some double sided tape.

A video from our indie film sound guide is all about minimising noise so you can record clean dialogue whilst actors are delivering lines. Nothing is worse than a coffee cup clinking when someone is speaking because you can’t unbake those sound effects. I’ve put a link down below if you want to learn more.

So what can we do to prevent footstep noise from cast and crew and suppress the noise of props being handled during delivered dialogue?

There is actually a product online called Hush Heels that do the trick. They are pre-cut selects of neoprene material that you can attach to the soles of the cast and crew’s footwear to dampen the noise of footsteps. Easy to use but they are a bit pricey as they only come in packs of 10 for £35.

This got me thinking. Surely neoprene isn’t that expensive! With a pair of scissors and some strong double sided tape, can we whip up some custom sized DIY noise pads?

I looked on ebay and found this A4 size sheet of neoprene for £3.05. Obviously, the bigger the piece you buy, the better value it gets. Together with some double sided sticky tape for £2.50 this has come to a total of £5.55. As we are only using 15% of the whole roll of tape, the cost of materials is closer to £3.43.

Now that we’ve got maths out of the way, let's see if they work!

I taped over the back of the neoprene and drew out some templates based on one of Rob’s fancy shoes; for the heel and the ball of the foot as this is where the foot makes contact with the ground.

minimise-foot-steps

Rob is going to strut his stuff with and without the neoprene pads on a few different surfaces. I’ll place the Decibel metre on screen beside it so you can hear for yourself how well they work.

Obviously, they aren’t silent but they certainly make a difference. When the boom is aiming towards a person's mouth and not their feet, it’s going to be really quiet!

It works with props too.

  • Footage, cups, plates, and pans, with and without the neoprene pads.

Again, we are seeing a big difference in loudness which is ideal if you need a silent set to record super clean dialogue!

  • Footage, cups, plates, and pans, with and without the neoprene pads.

Silence-your-Props-With-Neoprene-Pads.jpg

They work if you need stealthy crew members too. Just add the neoprene pads to their feet and away you go!

The downside to our DIY method is the time is takes to prepare, cut, and unstick the bits from the back of the tape. It’s quite tricky to remove it, and this may waste precious time on set.  

If you need emergency pads of neoprene for the rare case of silencing footsteps and props, take the DIY method. You can always give the backing of the tape a dog-ear for easier peeling during the shoot.

But, if you’re a professional who needs a dozen pairs of heels hushed in just a few seconds, the professional option is probably better in the long run.


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Silence your Footsteps and Props

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!

Animated Duct Tape Titles

Today we are going to make some animated duct tape titles just like these using a green screen, some duct tape and a pen, and a window. 

We’ve created stuck-on titles in the past for an episode of our Sunday show, The Film Look vlogs; we used them as lower thirds. The setup worked, but we’ve found a much easier and potentially cheaper way to execute this technique.

Previously we had strung up a green screen, lit it, then shot against a mounted plate of glass on an angle to prevent any reflection. It worked well enough, but sourcing a plate of glass this large is time consuming and can be expensive. Then there is the difficult task of mounting it for shooting!

So what is something most people already have access to that will work just the same? How about a window?

Find yourself a window with a view to outside. The trick to a good key from a green screen is to light it as evenly as possible. If you don’t have the right kind of lights, this can be tricky, so putting the green screen outside is the next best thing. Just make sure whatever location you do use, it is getting caught by even sunlight, or in our case, an overcast day.

Green-Screen.jpg

We don't have a collapsible green screen, but we do have these green sheets! So we pinned the sheets to our collapsible backdrop with pegs to remove any creases.

If you have the cash, a proper collapsible green screen is going to help a lot more than our method. We just used what we had access to, to demonstrate the technique.

To avoid any reflections of ourselves and the camera against the glass we took a large piece of cardboard and cut out a hole for the lens. We did this in order to create a consistent reflection which removes background details.

With a studio setup you would have the camera in total darkness to avoid reflection on the glass but since we are shooting during the day inside a house, we found this to be a cheap and effective alternative method that most people can do at home.

Frame up the camera so the green screen covers the whole frame and expose the image of the subject, in this case it's the duct tape titles, and set it a stop under over exposure so you don't blow out the white tape.

Okay, so here’s a rundown of the setup! Green screen outside, pinned out so it doesn’t have creases. The window is in front where we are sticking the duct tape titles, the camera is behind this with a wall of cardboard to create a blank canvas of a reflection.

Green-Screen-Setup.jpg

Now it’s time to hit record and stick them to the window!

We recorded a bunch of titles including monday to sunday, thanks for watching, and subscribe, sticking them on the window and then pulling them off. So now that we have the footage, let's get it on the computer and keyed out!

Duct-Tape-Titles.jpg

Not everyone has the same programmes on their computers, so I won’t get application specific. I’m using after effects, but I do believe you can achieve this in a range of different editing and visual effects applications.

Firstly, apply the key plugin. I’m using KeyLight. Grab the eyedropper tool and click on your green screen. If you have an even screen, so no creases and an even light, it should get rid of 90% of the green on the first click. There are jog bars you can play around with if you need to tune your key in, and use masks to get rid of large portions which are never touched, such as this corner here.   

With a bit of fine tuning and toying with the parametres, this is the final result.

Duct-Tape-Titles1.jpg

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Animated Duct Tape Titles

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Store your Light Stands using Bungee Cords

Light stands. We have more than we need, and certainly have more than we can comfortably store in our micro-sized studio.

We needed a way to utilise the space, storing the light stands so they aren't taking up much room while keeping them on-hand and easy to grab.

We came up with a pretty good solution.

As you can see our studio is pretty small. Because of this, we have tried our best to not buy anymore bulky storage shelves like this one here.

The-Film-look-Studio.jpg

Piling up light stands in the corner is messy and they usually fall over. Lining them up against the back wall behind the door does use that space effectively but we would knock over the light stands whenever we opened the door.

So we needed a way to brace them against the door. How about bungie cords? They are strong, elastic, multi-functional, and come in a bunch of colours and sizes.

By drilling in a strong wall plug and screwing in hooks on each side, we can string the bungie cords across the wall and give the light stands a wall support.

Store-your-Light-Stands-using-Bungee-Cords.jpg

The hooks stand no further out of the wall than the light stands so they aren’t intrusive, they are tight enough to hold them in place without them falling over, and elastic enough for easy access to the stands.

We liked this setup so much we added another one on this wall here (ref: on screen). We use it to store mic stands, tripods, gel bags, pretty much anything that is long and thin.

Something like this keeps our micro-studio tidy and just that little bit bigger.


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Store your Light Stands using Bungee Cords

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!

Hand Drawn Animated Lower Thirds

Some lower thirds can be a bit slate. We wanted something a bit different for the vlogs, so I grabbed a whiteboard, a pen, and used a little post-production magic.

Firstly you’ll need a whiteboard. Place it somewhere it is going to get a lot of light, or if you have some lights, blast them at the whiteboard as evenly as you can.

Animated-Lower-Thirds.jpg

We want to overexpose the image of the whiteboard until it goes completely white. When we invert the footage in post-production it will go completely black which means we can utilise blending modes that turn the black pixels transparent, revealing the layer beneath it whilst retaining the pen strokes.

Because we are inverting the image, you will have to take into account that all of your colours will invert too. A black pen will turn white, a red pen will turn green, etc. etc.

You can find out which colour you will need by searching for complementary colours and finding the inverse.

Then it’s a case of hitting record and drawing out what you need.

In the editor, layer your whiteboard art clip above your footage, invert it, and then change the blending mode to lighten, screen, or colour dodge. Have a play about and find the right blending mode for your project.

Animated-Lower-Thirds-Blend-Mode.jpg

This can be used for lower thirds, title cards, transitions, and loads more. You don’t always have to shoot video – you can even do it with stills if you wanted something static.

There is a link in the description where you can download all of the samples I have made to use in your projects.

Simple stuff really, but if you want something a bit more practical and different, it’s a pretty cool visual element that we certainly going to use in our vlogs and even offer our clients.

You can download these Lower Thirds from our store for free.


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Hand Drawn Animated Lower Thirds

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!

DIY Overhead Shooting Rig


Nearly every video we shoot for this channel uses our top down shooting table in some way. We use the setup when we are trying to explain something on the white board, to show something we are building, it helps when you need to be hands free or just as an extra table to work and shoot on.

The Table

Let’s start off with the table, the top is made out of MDF which has been varnished so it can be easily cleaned. The best thing about the table is that is folds away into the wall when we need more space.

The legs are on hinges and have a magnetic catch, so they fold away under the table and stay in place. The table top is also connected to the wall by hinges and folds flat against the wall.

This comes in handy as we can put our big pop out back drop on the wall when we are taking head shots for example.

DIY-Overhead-Shooting-Rig.jpg

Backdrop

Since the colour of the table is not the best, we have a few different backdrops to use depending on what we are shooting. The backdrops roll off a metal bar we have setup and clip on to the edge of the table. We also us a white board so we can write and draw, also we use one of these cutting mats as the green gives a nice contrast.

DIY-Overhead-Shooting-Rig-Backdrop.jpg

TV Table Mount

The way we mount the camera is using a monitor stand that you would normally use on your desk. We modified it by connecting a quick release plate to a piece of wood, the one we used is a Manfrotto 323 RC2 Quick Release Adapter. Then we attached this to the monitor stand just like you would if you were attaching a monitor to the stand.

Since the cameras we use on the shooting rig are small mirrors cameras, there is no weight issues as this stand is built to hold monitors that are much heavier than our cameras.

With the arm you can adjust the height, move it backwards, forwards, and tilt it left and right to adjust the framing of your shot.

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Monitor

After testing we worked out which settings are best to use on your camera when shooting on the table. So we can see what we were shooting we use our feel world monitor mounted onto the shelf.

DIY-Overhead-Shooting-Rig-Monitor.jpg

Lights

Lastly we use 2 soft boxes which have 5 115w bulbs in each of them, at a colour temperature of 5500K. 

DIY-Overhead-Shooting-Rig-Lights.jpg

This shooting table comes in handy for many different things and there are many different ways you can set up a shooting table just like this, just work out what is best to the space you have.


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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!

Upgrade Your Camera Battery


The Sony a7s is a mirrorless camera with some great video capabilities. We’ve been using them for about a year now and would recommend them to anyone who is considering buying one.

The problem is, with it being a camera primarily built for photography, the batteries only last about 40 minutes. If you are shooting all day, you’ll need a hand full of these batteries to last the whole day.

So we needed to find a solution to this problem. It’s time to customise.

So this is the standard Sony a7s battery; the NP-FW50. It’s nice and compact to fit in the small form factor of the camera, and has a charge of 1020mAh.

This is plenty if you are shooting photos, but for video, it sucks the juice out in less than one hour.

Compare that to this, the Sony NP-F750. This has a charge of 5200mAh, over 5x that of the standard a7s battery. These are the batteries we use to power the LED panel and the camera monitor.

Sony-a7s-Battery-life2.jpg

So finding a way to use this battery to power our cameras will give the most compatible solution to our kit. This is what we did.

Firstly, we bought a Sony a7s dummy battery. These can be found online, we picked this one up on eBay for a few quid, and what it does is allow you to plug in an external power source into the camera by using a dummy a7s battery on one end, and a female jack on the other.

Secondly, we picked up a battery plate adapter for the Sony NP-F750, the big guy here. So by connecting the parts together and putting in the battery, it all seems to work!

Sony-a7s-Dummy-Battery.jpg

The voltage difference between the original battery and the big sony battery is only .2 volts, so this will be safe to run your camera.

Lastly, we needed a mounting solution. We already have cages for the Sony a7s, so by utilising the 15mm rod mount on the top, we bought a cheese plate, a small 15mm rod, and a strip of Velcro to mount it onto the camera.

Tidy up your cables with a rubber band or some tape, and you’re all set!

We have shot using this solution for months now, and using this battery works just fine. We also have a larger battery, the Sony NP-F970.

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This works too, but every now and then the camera likes to stay idle instead of waking up. We haven’t figured this issue out yet, so we suggest if you do plan on hacking your Sony battery, stick to the F750.

On an all-day shoot, we have got up to 6 hours out of this battery.

Another advantage of this external mount is being able to replace the batteries incredibly easily when it is on a tripod. Sometimes taking the original a7s batteries out when it is locked on a tripod can be difficult as it is accessed from the bottom. This rectifies the issue.


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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!

DIY Light Diffusion


Diffused light (or soft light) is one of the easiest lighting methods to help achieve the film look. It’s a straight forward technique that you can use to reduce those hard shadows. We have a few ways to get diffused lighting on the cheap, so let’s talk about them.

One of the main lights we use here at Film Look HQ are a set of 800 watt lights. They are super bright and you can even dim them! Problem is, they produce a very powerful hard light.

800w-Lights.jpg

After buying these, I knew straight away the light needed to be softened. This is usually where diffusion paper comes in, but have you seen how expensive this stuff is!? For what is essentially just paper!

At this point I needed to find something that did the same thing but for a fraction of the price.

Easy, printer paper! I have a stockpile for my printer, the light can shine through, and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. But wait…those 800 watt lights get hot, REALLY hot! We have to use gardening gloves to touch these lights when they are on, and sticking paper to the front of them was just playing with fire…literally!

So printer paper was out of the question. What I needed was something cheap, easy to get, but something that also withstand a lot of heat. Grease proof paper! It’s made to be used in an oven, so it’s perfect. I picked up a roll for £1.

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Cut it to shape and peg it to your lights. If you have to replace it, it only costs pennies. Just remember to get the white grease proof paper, not the brown stuff. I made that mistake.

So how well does grease proof paper work? Well here are 3 examples of using it in front of 3 of our lights.

Firstly, the 800 watt light. Here it is without…and here it is with it.

With-and-without-Diffusion-800w-light.jpg

Next is the a 70w blub. Again, here is it on its own…and with the greaseproof paper.

With-and-without-Diffusion70w-blub.jpg

Finally, our little 160 LEDs.

With-and-without-Diffusion-160LED.jpg

Another way we use it is to cover windows in your scene. If you have bright direct sunlight coming through, it can sometimes give you trouble in terms of dynamic range and exposure. If your window is out of frame or out of focus, you can throw some greaseproof paper on the window panes with some sticky tack to soften the light.

Here at The Film Look we often give our equipment nicknames. So what do we call this stuff? Over to Richard.

It’s greaseproof paper. There is a musical and a motion picture called Grease. The main character in Grease is called Danny Zuko. So how about Dannies? “Can we throw a Danny on this!?” Yeah, that’s work.

So what if you need to diffuse a lot more light? The paper isn’t massive, so we have a few other cheap DIY and super low budget methods.

If you don’t already have a 5 in 1 reflector panel, get one. They are really cheap and can be used in a million different ways. It has: White fill, negative fill, silver sheen, and Hip Hop Video Mode.

In terms of diffusion, if you remove the cover you have a large translucent panel. With something bigger you can create distance between the light and the panel, which makes the light even softer.

We also use a blind from Ikea. You can peg it to a light stand or a mic stand, like we do. This one is super lightweight and always in my lighting bag.

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If you need something even bigger, a shower curtain is the way to go. This one is frosted so it works really well. It does need a bigger area to setup, but you can easily fit 3 800 watt lights behind it and blast soft light into your scene.


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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!

Customise Your Lens Caps


Lens caps not the most exciting pieces of camera crew equipment but still important. I always seem to misplace mine so how to find a solution for this. It's time to customize.

First thing I had to tackle was the colour. As all film equipment is black so I chose a bright colour that really stands out and for me that's always orange.

Camera-Equipment.jpg

I didn't want to spray the original lens caps, so I bought some cheap ones or maybe I took them apart, sanded them down, so the paint would have something to hold on to.

Then spread them apply multiple coats after each layer dried, then I put them back together so I could start using them.

Orange-Lens-Cap.jpg

The first attempt didn't actually work and the reason for this is because I sprayed all of the different sections of the lens caps. This caused them to stick together as there was not enough room for them to move around.

Thinking about it I should have known this and it's pretty obvious this would happen. So I decided to start work on Mark 2.

I ordered more lens caps, took them apart, this time I masked around all of the edges that touched each other, sanded them down, spread them with a primer and give them multiple light coats with the orange.

Once dry, I took the masking tape off, but them together and hope this time it would work.

Working-Orange-Lens-Caps.jpg

My first impression was they look pretty cool they definitely stand out, but most of all they work

To further customise the lens caps I added labels to each of them so I will know which lens they belong to. Then I add a strip of Velcro to each of the cups so it would stick to this section of my bag.

Now on the lens caps are visible, quick and easy to find. So let's see if this stops me from losing them.

Customise-Your-Lens-Caps.jpg

Customise Your Lens Caps.jpg

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!