Post Production

Are small LED panels good for filmmaking? | NiceFoto SL-120A Review

LED video lights have come a long way in the past five or so years. We’ve been looking for a replacement to our old 160 LED lights for a while. They aren’t very bright, they are made out of flimsy plastic, and they lack color accuracy.

NiceFoto SL-210A Review.jpg

Thankfully guys over at NiceFoto sent us their SL-120A just in time to try out. Let me show you some of the features of this bad boy and how we’ve been using it so far! Welcome to The Film Look.

NiceFoto SL-210A Review1.jpg

These LED video lights from NiceFoto are going for about $90. Let me show you what you get in the box.

Firstly, a bi-colour LED light panel, ranging from 3200K to 6500K in 100K steps. It has a CRI rating of 96+ so it's got a clean looking white light. You can change the power 5% at a time so it has lots of room to dial in brightness. And it emits 1300 lumens of light.

NiceFoto SL-210A Review2.jpg

It features a backlit screen on the rear so you can see your settings, buttons on the side for adjusting up and down, a button for switching between power and colour temp, and a power button which also puts the light to sleep at a click which is really handy if you want to do a quick on/off check on a monitor. Holding the power button down will switch it off altogether.

NiceFoto SL-210A Review3.jpg

It has three ports on the bottom; two for charging, a micro USB and a USB type-C, and a mini USB to plug in the provided output cable if you want to use it as a USB power bank.

NiceFoto SL-210A Review4.jpg

Unfortunately, you can’t use it as a power bank and a light at the same time. And the power bank can only charge 1000mAh. For context, my Samsung s8 has a battery of 3000mAh, so it won’t fully charge a phone...so really this feature is useless.


It’s got two ¼ 20 threads on the back and bottom to attach it to light stands or the provided ball head mount. In all honesty, the ballhead it comes with is very flimsy. This...is probably go in the bin.

NiceFoto-SL-210A-Review.gif

It's charged via USB. It takes about 4 hours to fully charge and lasts for 1.5 hours on full power.

NiceFoto SL-210A Review5.jpg

We’ve been using it mostly in dark scenes so we haven’t felt like it's running out of juice really quickly. Sadly, the charge cable provided doesn’t turn the light into a wired device. It will continue to lose power from the battery.

NiceFoto-SL-210A-Review2.gif

It does come with 2 modifiers; a diffuser plate and a grid, both of which don’t do their job well enough to use, to be honest. I would just chuck these straight in the bin.

NiceFoto SL-210A Review6.jpg

Finally, you get a neoprene pouch so you can carry your light with you on a shoot and look cool doing it. With most budget LED lights, you don’t get a carry case, so this is a good addition for the price.

NiceFoto-SL-210A-Review3.gif

So what is this light good for? Well, because its so small, it’s ideal for placing in low profile spots, such as:

Hanging from a ceiling as a hair light or top light. It only weighs 525g so you CAN hold it up with some tape!

Hanging from a ceiling as a hair light or top light. It only weighs 525g so you CAN hold it up with some tape!

NiceFoto SL-210A Review8.jpg
Using it to motivate a small practical light in a scene

Using it to motivate a small practical light in a scene

Or using it as an emergency light in your camera bag if you are trying to find something in the dark!

Or using it as an emergency light in your camera bag if you are trying to find something in the dark!

There are many different versions of a light like this on the market right now. We’ve also been testing out the Moman LED video light, which is a limited bi-colour light that’s a bit smaller.

What i’d say is, buy the light based on the size you are after. If you need something really small to use for placing in difficult spots, you might want to go for something super small.

NiceFoto SL-210A Review10.jpg

Personally, I really like the NiceFoto light. Without the useless modifiers, it does the job you’d expect. I won’t be using it as a key light any time soon, but it is a good addition to our lighting kit and we will continue to use it on YouTube stuff as well as films in the future.


📺 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

Aputure Mini-20 Light Review: https://youtu.be/Pa58MhaeLlo

LEDGO G260 Light Review: https://youtu.be/_ML9dFIoKEU

AL-360RGB Light Review: https://youtu.be/iUBJc4qeI98

Pre-Lighting and Test Shooting: https://youtu.be/ExnH2KJSJoo

🎥 This episode's kit/gear/equipment:

🇺🇸 US links:

NiceFoto SL-120A: https://amzn.to/2HcSlLt

Moman LED: https://amzn.to/30alcHY

🇬🇧 UK links:

NiceFoto SL-120A: https://amzn.to/2Jfwtlc

Moman LED: https://amzn.to/2JdFN9a

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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 Shoot a Moody Computer Scene at Night

Today I’ll show you how we setup a scene like this: a moody, high contrast night time scene in front of a computer screen with two subjects. I’ll show you the coverage, composition, lighting setup, and the tools and techniques we used to get each shot consistent in the scene.

Welcome to The Film Look.

We shot this short scene for an ad spot recently and you guys seemed to like the look of it, so we thought we would show you our approach to creating it, breaking down every step along the way.

Let’s re-create the scene!

Location

The first thing you need is a location. We will be using our studio.

There are two subjects in the scene, and each of them will be sitting at their computer desks for the majority with a short movement from each subject.

Computer-Screen-at-Night.gif

180

Because the computers desks are against the wall, we are limited to shooting on just one side, so the 180 degree line is drawn between each character, using the open space of the room as our shooting space.

Coverage

The script for this scene has the following beats:

  • Subject A on their computer, frustrated by a problem they can’t solve.

  • Subject B offers a suggestion, so subject A turns around and listens for a moment.

  • Subject A then turns back to their computer as subject B runs them through the solution.

  • Subject B approaches the computer and the scene ends when they execute that solution

This is bread and butter stuff. This scene can be applied to a lot of scenarios for your films, so just take what you need and adjust it to suit your movie. Next, let’s cover the shots.

First, we have a Wide Shot in Profile of the whole scene. We need enough room for the subjects to stand without cutting their heads off so we can position the camera quite low angled slightly up. This shot will establish the location and the distance between the two characters.

Next we have a Medium Close Up of Subject A, lacking nose room, fitting subject B in the space behind. This shot will put Subject A in a tight box around the frame, emphasising his frustrated situation.

This shot also doubles as a 2-shot at the end of the scene as they both look into the same screen. This shot will finish the scene, so shooting a 2-shot means we can receive both of their reactions to the success or failure at the same time without having to cut between single close ups. It also puts both characters on par with each other.

Then we have a Close Up of Subject A when they turn around to face subject B. This shot also includes a short camera pan to compliment the chair spin, giving it a overly-dramatic/comic feel.

We have Close Ups of each subject at their computers. These are your standard rule of thirds close ups with plenty of nose room in front of the characters.

And to finish it off we have an overhead angle of typing on the keyboard.

Overall, this gives us 7 different shots from 5 main angles, so the lighting setup alters only slightly between each angle, which we’re going to cover now!

Lighting

We are shooting this night time scene during the day, so we blocked out the sunlight by fixing a blackout curtain against the window.

E-_Work_Projects_The-Film-Look_YouTube_Tuesday-Show_One-off-Episodes_Computer-Screen-at-Night_Export_GIFs-and-JPEGS_MCU11.gif

We have a video about all the many different uses of blackout curtains here:

Key Light

Next is the key light on each subject. We are going for a dark and dramatic look so we lit only the short side of the subjects to add dark shadows to their faces. We used the available light from the computer monitors and loaded up a blank word doc to make it as white as possible. The white balance of the camera is set to daylight to make the light from the monitors appear more blue.

E-_Work_Projects_The-Film-Look_YouTube_Tuesday-Show_One-off-Episodes_Computer-Screen-at-Night_Export_GIFs-and-JPEGS_MCU_monitor_light.gif

With the monitors that are in shot, we pulled up a Photoshop window, which is dark grey, to prevent overexposure. We didn’t want a big block of white in the shots. This is something we couldn’t avoid in the wide but we fixed in the close ups.

Using photoshop in window.jpg

Hair Light

To add some colour contrast to the scene we added a warm hairlight using an Aputure Mini 20 set to 3200K shared by both subjects as they are facing the same direction for the majority of the scene.

Aputure.jpg

The only time we moved the hair light was for this shot here when Subject A turns around. We simply positioned it on the opposite side, behind subject A.

We closed the barn doors to create a long, sharp stream of light to cut the light from spilling onto the wall.

E-_Work_Projects_The-Film-Look_YouTube_Tuesday-Show_One-off-Episodes_Computer-Screen-at-Night_Export_GIFs-and-JPEGS_MCU_Barn_doors.gif

Background Light

To prevent the background from looking like a black void we clamped a small LED light to the lighting fixture, this one is from NiceFoto; its called the SL-120A. It was set to 3200K to match the hair light and bring up the background. The light it provides in the background also serves as physical motivation for the hairlight on the subjects, so it doesn’t seem like a random light coming from nowhere.

NiceFoto light.jpg

Exposure

To set exposure and keep it consistent between the shots, we firstly matched the exposure of the skintones for each subject. We used the false color function on our FeelWorld Master MA7 [we did a review here] to place the subject’s faces at approximately 70 IRE, which is a good exposure level for skin on pale faces. Using false colour, we were able to adjust the exposure settings until the subject’s skin showed this grey colour, representing 70 on the scale.

70 IRE.jpg

Using the same method, we could make sure the highlight from the hairlight wasn’t too hot, sitting at around 20.

E-_Work_Projects_The-Film-Look_YouTube_Tuesday-Show_One-off-Episodes_Computer-Screen-at-Night_Export_GIFs-and-JPEGS_MCU_false_color.gif

And the exposure of the background light was so low it didn’t even read on the false colour function. So we just eyeballed it, lighting it just enough to make a difference to the background.

Inserts

To light the inserts, we angled the computer monitor down towards the keyboard, and lit it from one side only, giving us some contrast and preventing it from looking completely flat.

Keyboard.jpg

Camera & Lenses

We shot this scene on the Sony a7s with a standard picture profile. We used a couple of vintage prime photo lenses; the Helios 44-2 which is a 58mm, a Takumar 35mm, as well as a Canon 24-105mm for the wide establishing shot.

24-105.jpg
Takumar.jpg
Helios.jpg

https://www.storyblocks.com/TheFilmLook - In this video, we show how to use a computer screen as a key light to help light a nighttime bedroom or studio scene. We talk through the process of setting up each shot, how we established the 180-degree line, and show all of the other lighting equipment we used to light the scene. We used an Aputure Mini 20c, Aputure Mini 20d, and also a small USB LED light from NiceFoto.

🎥 This episode's kit/gear/equipment:

🇺🇸 US links:

Aputure LS-mini Kit - https://amzn.to/2XCcujw

Aputure LS-mini 20D - https://amzn.to/2UJkjCo

NiceFoto SL-120A LED - https://amzn.to/2GxDwBK

FEELWORLD Master MA7 Monitor - https://amzn.to/2GxebIi

🇬🇧 UK links:

Aputure LS-mini Kit - https://amzn.to/2UGbIAe

Aputure LS-mini 20D - https://amzn.to/2UJkjCo

NiceFoto SL-120A LED - https://amzn.to/2IWk7gw

FEELWORLD Master MA7 Monitor - https://amzn.to/2XIGWZo

🎬 In case you missed it

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

Pre-Lighting & Test Shooting - https://youtu.be/ExnH2KJSJoo

10 Ways to use Blackout Curtains for Filmmaking - https://youtu.be/nf2Cxz8H4CU

Our YouTube Presenting Setup - https://youtu.be/hEjDyw_aimw

🎧 Listen to our Podcast!

iTunes: https://goo.gl/hikhGF

Android: https://goo.gl/fmsp4s

📞 The Socials

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Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheFilmLook

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

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

(#filmmaking #tutorials #lighting)


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!

Do you NEED to shoot Log?

Today we’ll find out if shooting a flat image like Log is worth the extra effort or just a waste of time. Welcome to The Film Look.

For those who are new to flat picture profiles such as log, let me give you a quick rundown.

Dynamic range is the name given to the number of steps between black and white. More dynamic range means more shades of grey between black and white, which in photography equates to an image which retains more detail in the shadows and the highlights at the same time.

For a colour image, you have red, green, and blue channels, and they all have a range between black and white, so it works for colour too.

Shooting-Log.gif

A “flat image” retains more information in the highlights and shadows - the shadows are lighter and the highlights are darker, giving you an image which lacks contrast, it looks “flat”.

Episode.00_01_28_02.Still004.jpg

So if you are shooting an image with harsh sunlight and dark shadows in the same frame, a flat picture profile will help the image retain information on both ends of the spectrum, giving you more room to expose both the shadows and highlights correctly.

On most cameras, zebras will tell you when you’ve gone too far. If you are seeing stripes on your monitor, you’re capturing nothing but a block of white - no information - no detail - that is something which can’t be fixed in post.

Episode.00_01_54_03.Still007.jpg

For our short film The Asylum Groove, we shot in Cine4, which is a flat profile.

We were having trouble battling the overblown windows whilst also trying to expose for the subject, so we switched to a flat profile in order to protect the highlight information, and we brought in some large soft lights to correctly expose the subject.

Out of the camera, a flat image looks milky; it lacks contrast and colour and doesn’t look very cinematic. This is where grading comes in. Because you’ve shot the image “flat”, you need to give it some contrast in order to make it pop.

But this begs the question: “why bother shooting flat if you are just going to put contrast back into the image later on?”

Well, this is because of the extra information you get. The final image may not present ALL of that information in the end (like if it’s been heavily graded), but it's still there if you need it in post-production.

Think of it like bonus information at the back of a book: you might not even read it, but it's there if you desperately need it.

Shooting a flat picture comes with extra work and you may even need extra equipment to handle the workflow.

Log is a VERY flat picture profile which retains a hell of a lot of contrast information in the image.

Log is so flat it can become difficult to properly judge a shot because you are looking at something which looks so milky and lacking in colour.

In this instance, an external monitor will help.

Episode.00_03_16_09.Still014.jpg

With an external monitor, you can adjust the settings to simulate a graded contrast-heavy image and use it as a shooting reference while capturing flat footage on the card.

On higher-end monitors, you can install LUTs, which are fancy image filters that give you a range of cool and colourful styles. Pick something which you think suits your film and use it as a guide when capturing a flat image.

Image Courtesy of Joshua Martin Studios:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChrlpVf3YqafEkYBtbWDN-Q

Image Courtesy of Joshua Martin Studios: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChrlpVf3YqafEkYBtbWDN-Q

You may also find that log profiles will increase the minimum available ISO so in order to expose correctly in bright light, you need an ND filter if you want to keep a 1/50 shutter and a fairly shallow depth of field.

Shooting-Log2.gif

Alternatively, you may want to choose a different flat profile which doesn’t affect the ISO so drastically, such as Cine4 which is on the Sony a7s. It’s not as flat as Log but only pushes the minimum ISO from 100 to 200.

Episode.00_03_51_16.Still018.jpg

There are LUT packs found online which are designed for specific picture profiles. These LUTs can be applied to your LUT-capable monitor and used in post-production. They do a good job bringing your flat footage back to reality, reducing the milky colourless image, and getting it ready for applying a funky colour grade.

So if you need the dynamic range when shooting, LUTs are the best starting point if you don’t have a lot of experience with grading.

If you shoot in S-Log on the Sony, check out these Phantom LUTs by Joel Famularo.

Phantom LUTs:  https://www.joelfamularo.com/colour   Use discount code “TFL” for 20% off at checkout!

Phantom LUTs: https://www.joelfamularo.com/colour

Use discount code “TFL” for 20% off at checkout!

He’s got LUTs for a bunch of Alexa Looks and a Film Looks on his website, and all of the graded S-Log footage in this episode has one of his phantom LUTs applied. Joel has also supplied us with a 6-month limited discount code if you want to buy them.

But this doesn’t mean to say you NEED to shoot a flat picture profile in order to get wicked-looking footage.

Episode.00_05_26_16.Still024.jpg

You may find it easier to capture a good-looking contrasty image straight out of the camera, or your camera may not have the option at all. Shooting without a flat profile is actually what we do with our YouTube videos. We usually shoot under controlled lighting, so we so we very rarely have to battle blown out highlights or shadows.

The standard picture profile on the Sony is actually a little bit flat. It’s mostly just adding contrast and balancing the images in the sequence, which takes about 5 minutes per episode.

So, shooting flat is not a hard and fast rule - it's a technical choice. If you need the safety of capturing more dynamic range or love the look you get from colour grading flat footage, go ahead and shoot it flat.


🚀 https://artlist.io/artlist-70446/?artlist_aid=TheFilmLook_370&utm_source=affiliate_p&utm_medium=TheFilmLook_370&utm_campaign=TheFilmLook_370 - Click this 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

Joshua Martin's Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChrlpVf3YqafEkYBtbWDN-Q

Feelworld Master MA7 Review: https://youtu.be/TEjwlnNKE4U

Get the Film Look with the Aputure 300D: https://youtu.be/FWThzBtyvsA

Upgrade Your Camera Battery with the Power Junkie: https://youtu.be/UZZ-UA4r3js

🎧 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 Syncing Your Footsteps FASTER

Syncing footsteps can be a pain. Let’s be honest, they aren’t the most exciting part of sound editing, but you can’t deny how vital they are to an immerse film.

Let me show you a quick trick which will help get YOUR footstep sounds in the right place much quicker. Welcome to The Film Look.

I’m going to be using Adobe Audition today but this trick can be achieved in any sound editing application which uses markers.

Foosteps Sync.jpg

I’ve imported a shot from one of our films BACKSTAGE, and I want to begin by adding some footsteps because the production audio is noisy and unclear, have a listen…

I’ve also imported some footstep sound effects from our FOOTSTEP SOUND PACK. Here I have “Sneakers on Pavement” which should work well with our character walking in an exterior car park.

The shot I’m working with today actually has decent scratch audio to aid syncing footsteps. But let's pretend we don’t have that luxury. I’ll go ahead and delete it. What do we do now?

This is where markers can come in handy.

Foosteps Sync1.jpg

In audition you can place a marker on the timeline using the M key. We can use markers as a guide for cutting and placing in our footsteps.

Foosteps-Sync.gif

If you notice someone walking or running, they tend to keep a steady pace if they are moving for more than a second or two. We can study their pace, find their rhythm, and literally tap out the markers along with their stride.

Foosteps-Sync1.gif

I like to tap out the footsteps on my desk while watching the clip. I’ll do this a few times until I can roughly predict the rhythm. Then, once I’m ready, I hit the M key and add markers to the pace of the character on screen.

Foosteps-Sync2.gif

Once we have some markers on the timeline, we can zoom in and do some fine tuning. Most of the markers should be in-sync, but we can always go frame by frame and adjust any markers which are obviously too early or too late.

Foosteps-Sync3.gif

A footstep sound effect is made up of two major parts - attack and decay. The attack is the actual step sound itself and the decay is the tail end which fades out.

With all the markers set to the rhythm of the footsteps, we can grab our footstep sounds, trim them down, and place the attack right on the marker.

Trim the decay of each sound before it hits the next marker and then go ahead and place in the next footstep sound. Do this for all of your footstep sounds on each marker.

As you place in the sounds, make sure to extend the left side of the sound effect, known as the pre-attack, and cross-fade it into the decay of the previous sound. This will smooth over each sound effect and prevent any hard stops.

Next is fine tuning the sync; this is done mostly by your eyes and your ears. We have placed in our ground work using the markers, so we can delete these as they are no longer needed. Now it's just a case of watching the shot, listening to the footsteps, and looking out for any late or early steps.

This will take some tinkering, but if you do happen to have a scratch track from the video file with the original production audio, you can always listen to the take and try to match them.

If you can see the character’s feet, find the moment they make contact with the ground, and try to match each footstep sound to the image.

But, I find this doesn’t always work. Sometimes it’s better to just watch the edit and follow along. You’ll probably notice when a footstep is too early or too late.

Foosteps-Sync4.gif

You also might notice some footstep sounds are too strong or weak sounding for the step in the image. This is a simple fix. Just look for a step which has a stronger or weaker attack sound and replace the ill-fitting step.

Obviously right now the footsteps themselves don’t sound very realistic. They are very tappy. You can add a bit more grit to a footstep by adding a very subtle shuffle sound underneath.

Our FOOTSTEP SOUND PACK includes shuffle sounds on every surface using most footwear. Links in the description.

Foosteps Sync2.jpg

Here you can see I have essentially layered the shuffles under the footsteps. This will stop the footsteps from sounding so tippy tappy and will give us a sense of rubble or grit on the ground in the car park.

To quickly finish off the scene here, I have added a touch of reverb to the footsteps, added some street noise, a car door sound, and mixed it together.

Let me know if you found this video helpful in the comments below. I will be producing more episodes like this one in the future, so get subscribed if you haven’t already. 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.

🎬 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

🎧 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!

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.

DIY-Foley-Pit2.gif

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.

Recording-Foosteps2.gif

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.

5-Tips-to-STEP-UP-your-Foley-Game!1.gif

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.

5-Tips-to-STEP-UP-your-Foley-Game!.gif

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!

5-Tips-to-STEP-UP-your-Foley-Game!3.gif

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.

5-Tips-to-STEP-UP-your-Foley-Game!4.gif

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.

5-Tips-to-STEP-UP-your-Foley-Game!5.gif

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.

Recording-Foosteps13.gif

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.

DIY-Foley-Pit8.gif

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!


The Key to Editing Suspense

The order you arrange the shots in your edit is fundamental in film editing.

The structure of your sequence could hold back information from your character, but not your audience. Or, have your character know before the audience does.

We are going to start with a little history lesson. In 1920 a filmmaker called Lev Kuleshov performed an experiment to demonstrate that, depending on how your shots are assembled, the audience will attach different meanings or emotion to them.

Kuleshov Effect 1

Kuleshov cut three different sequences together. The first shot was always an expressionless close up of Ivan Mosjoukine who was a Russian actor. The shots that followed shows the actor reacting to a child in a coffin, a bowl of soup, and a woman laying on a sofa.

When you watch each sequence separately, you get a different meaning and emotion. The first is sadness, the second is hunger, and the third is lust.

We’ve created 3 different sequences with Richard. Let us know in the comments below what emotion you get and what you think Richard is thinking.

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Kuleshov Effect 3.jpg

This whole experiment is called the Kuleshov effect. I’ve put a link in the description of this video if you want to learn more about it.

This was the early days of editing, and a lot has been learnt and edited since 1920, but his experiment and the effect it has on the audience is still important when making films today.

Now let's expand on this. Instead of changing the shot, let's change the order of the shots in a sequence.

We have created a short scene which takes place in a back alley. Police Officer Rusty Johnson, is investigating crimes that have happened in the area when he hears glass smashing.

Example 1

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This sequence of shots is a question and answer sequence. It’s one the audience can easily follow along with and anticipate the outcome.

Shot A is of the Police Officer walking down the alley and asks the first questions: “where are the bad guys?” And “what was that noise?”.

Shot B asks a new question: “What has the Police Officer found?”

And shot C give us the answers. The Police Officer has found a bad guy committing a crime.

Example 2

Now let's change the order of the shots and put shot C after shot A and see how that plays out.

Shot A still asks the same question “where are the bad guys?” And “what was that noise?” but by changing the order, the context of the scene has changed and shot C becomes the answer to shot A “the bad guy is over here”. Shot C also asks another question, “will the bad get away before the Police Officer gets there?”.

The final shot of the sequence which is now shot B answers the questions, The Police Officer has found a bad guy committing a crime.

The order of this sequence allows the audience to share the information with the filmmaker by allowing them to know what the Police Officer is up against before the Police Officer does. By editing the sequence in this order it creates suspense because we know the Police Officer is getting closer to the bad guy, unlike the first example where we did not know the geography between the two characters.

Example 3

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Let’s change the context of the scene again and have shot C first.

By showing the bad guy committing a crime at the start of the scene, a suspenseful situation is established for the rest of the scene, and again, the audience knows something the police officer does not.

When we cut to shot A, the tension is raised because we know the police officer has heard the bad guy and is close. Shot B now asks another question “has the police officer got there in time to stop the bad guy?”

By changing the structure of the sequence in these 3 examples, it allows us to change what the viewer knows and when.

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to the order of the shots in a sequence, it all depends on the type of film you are making.

Placing your shots together is obviously done in the edit, but you can start to think of how each shot connects to each other in the storyboard and even when writing your script. Making the decision in the script and storyboard stage will allow you to plan and shoot for the editing.

If you start to change the sequence of shots for the first time in the edit, you may not have all of the coverage needed to do so. But the 3 examples we showed all worked and give the audience a different context to the scene, and it was all done in the edit, so it really just depends on the type of film you are making.

There are a couple of things you can think about to help you work out which is the best structure for your film.

Do you want to hold back information from your character but let the audience in on the secret?

Or have your character hide information from the audience and reveal something big in the end?

Think about the best time to reveal the bad guy to your audience. Revealing this early will create suspense and have your audience screaming at the screen telling your character not to trust them, but having it early might spoil the surprise.

In a murder mystery, where your character is finding clues about the killer, it might be best if the audience just goes along for the ride. Which is example 1 from the 3 that we spoke about.

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A lot of the information for this episode was taken from the book Film directing shot by shot Steven D. Katz. I would highly recommend picking it up as it goes into a lot more detail about this subject and a bunch of others.

Film Directing Shot by Shot

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2T87GQZ

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2sLbSe8


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!

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!


This video was Sponsored By

🎵 http://bit.ly/tflpb-devotedtoyou - Click here to download this episode's track. Check out Premiumbeat.com to discover a huge range of exclusive royalty free music!


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!

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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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.

Editing-Workflow-Part-16.gif

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.

Editing-Workflow-Part-2.gif

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.

Editing-Workflow-Part-21.gif

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.

Editing-Workflow-Part-22.gif

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.

Editing-Workflow-Part-24.gif

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.

Editing-Workflow-Part-27.gif

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.

Editing-Workflow-Part-28.gif

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.

Editing-Workflow-Part-1.gif

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:

Editing-Workflow-Part-12.gif

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.

Editing-Workflow-Part-13.gif

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.

Sound-Design-to-Aid-the-Edit-22.gif

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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DIY Equipment Cart

We’ve all been on set were all of your camera equipment is spread out on the floor in various black camera bags, hidden in a side pocket, or out of reach.

To solve this problem we have made a DIY equipment cart which can be used in a studio or on set.

The cart we used can be found on amazon: it is 75cm long, 70cm tall, the width is 35cm, and has 3 shelves. The wheels that come with this cart work for the amount of weight we are going to store on it, but you can always add some heavy duty wheels if you want.

We added pieces of carpet to each shelf, creating a softer surface for our equipment to be placed onto, and so it wouldn’t roll around.

We kept the top shelf of the cart clear so when setting up our camera rig we had a place for all of the pieces of equipment to go, whilst we assembled the rig on a tripod.

One thing we did attach to the top shelf was a flat headed screwdriver so anytime you need to add or remove the tripod plate you don’t need to be searching around for a coin in your pocket. Also, we added a bunch of Allen keys we use for our camera rigs.

Most equipment on the cart can be accessed from both sides, but we have made one side the front and one the back.

We’ve done this so everything will be setup in the same order, and if you are in a small place you can park it up correctly so you still have access to everything.

The second shelf is where most of the action is happening. On the right hand side we have all of the chargers we use which are connected to a extension cable that hangs off the side when not being used.

The main charger we use is for our Sony NP batteries as we use them to power our camera via a dummy battery, which you can find a video about that here.

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The charger we has a battery level percentage which comes in very handy.

The box behind has extra batteries and chargers that we do not use often, and it is also used to store the batteries and chargers when in transport.  

Once a battery is fully charged they move to a section on the left hand side.

We divided this section up with some white backing card, but cardboard would do the same job. Having it divided clearly shows were the charged batteries go.

Next we have a small section for the lenses we are using on the shoot. For our short films we switch between a 35, 58, and 85mm and having them on hand in a safe place saves time finding them in a bag. When a lens is being used, the caps from the lens are left on the cart, so they don’t go missing.

Since camera batteries and lenses are the thing you will will change the most, having a dedicated space allows everything to be stored correctly and safely.

It’s also a lot easier to direct someone to one place when changing a battery or lens, instead of them trying to find a battery in the pocket of a camera bag.

On the second shelf we also added LED lights so when it gets dark we can still see where everything goes.

The bottom shelf is where we store small equipment cases, as these normally still have power and audio cables, clips, and extra accessories inside which we might still need.

Next we have a place for our tool bag which is always handy on set, and the final box is where the flat batteries go when all of the charges are being used. Having this on a separate shelf makes sure the flat batteries do not get mixed with the charged ones.

On the front of the cart we have a plastic tube which holds our coloured gels, a velcro tape holder, a tin to store pens. These are all connect via bolts and wing nuts so everything can be easily removed if needed.

We also have a place for all of our metal clips and pegs to go. These are clipped on a piece of card so when in transport they can all be taken out of a camera bag and clipped to the cart.

This cart works well for us in our studio or on our short films. We already had some of the materials we used for this cart like the carpet and bolts, but we have estimated it would cost around £60 to make it from scratch and you can just keep adding to it until it suits you.

A professional equipment cart can cost over £1000, but this is because they are being used on films which has camera equipment that are much heavier and can cost hundreds of thousands pounds, so you will probably want to use a cart that costs thousands.

We still have a few things we want to add to this cart and we would love to hear your suggestions.

🎥 This episode's kit/gear/equipment:

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Get Better Looking Gunshots in the Dark

Gunshots: one of the most popular visual effects techniques used on YouTube. Getting gunshots to look great can take some tweaking - and achieving a realistic gunshot effect in the dark is even more difficult. But there are some things YOU can do to help achieve a realistic gunshot in the dark.

Shooting gun.jpg

A gunshot is essentially a small explosion. And an explosion primarily produces light and sound. The sound part of this technique is pretty straight forward. You download a gunshot sound effect, sync it to the muzzle flash, tweak the sound a bit, and away you go.

If your gunshots are sounding too similar and you are starting to hear some repetition, we have a video about how to make them sound better:

The explosion from the gunshot produces a massive amount of light in a split second, and in a dark scene this will be amplified.

You CAN add some fake light spill in post-production for your daytime shots. You can do this by duplicating your layer, mask around the subject where you want it to brighten, brighten it up with something like a curves or exposure adjustment, and feather out the mask to blend it all together. It only shows for a single frame so it works well enough. But this won’t work for a dark environment because you simply can’t fake a realistic fall-off of light.

fake light.jpg

In this case, you’ll need to produce a real-life flash during the gunshot. This is what we learned from the process:

Using a Flash

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The initial idea was to use a portable camera flash. It has a button on it to test the flash so the plan was to hit the flash whenever the subject fires. After trying this out we soon realised that because of the small differences in shutter speed, frame rate, and rolling shutter, the flash was giving us shutter interference, resulting in a frame that looked like this. No good.

Gunshots in the Dark.00_01_45_21.Still001.jpg

Flashlight

flashlight.jpg

Next on the list was a flashlight. This was getting us closer to the result but it simply wasn’t bright enough.

Aputure LED panel

LED panel.jpg

Finally we tried this LED panel from Aputure. The great thing about this light for this effect in particular is that it has a light switch separate from the intensity dial. Some cheaper lights have a dial which clicks on then turns up. But if you can get a light which switches on and off with a simple click, it will make this effect a lot easier. 

Gunshot in the Dark.jpg

Our findings

So the light must be super bright. You want it to highlight your subjects face and light up some of the background for maximum effect. We dialled it in so it didn’t completely blow out but produced a very hot highlight.

Now the most important part of making this effect look good are the steps you’ll take to capture the light flash.

A muzzle flash from the gun happens directly after pulling the trigger, but BEFORE the recoil from the explosion. The recoil is the pressure of the gun jolting your wrist back, so the steps are very important to make it look realistic.

LED wide.jpg

Pull the trigger, then freeze in place. Flick the light on, then flick the light off. Then simulate the recoil. Rinse and repeat.

In your editor you will make a cut on the frame the trigger is pulled. Then go to where the light is at its brightest, make a cut, delete the footage in between and join it together. Then scroll along and find the moment of recoil. Make a cut and take out the gap here too. The light should be on screen for only a single frame, and this is where you will add your muzzle flash and smoke elements.

One downside to this effect is that we were only able to produce it from a static camera angle. We tested a few different ways to simulate the light in a moving shot: one by shooting a take without the light, then shooting a take with the light on, and trying to match up the takes. But unless the takes are near identical, the cut looks far too jarring. So if you guys think you have a solution for producing this in a moving shot, let us know in the comments below, or better yet, show us how you did it in a video!

Visual effects work most effectively when they EMBED into the physical scene. Compositing effects onto footage without ANY physical interaction will result in tacky-looking VFX. So if you want your visual effects to shine, think about what those effects would produce in the real-world and try to replicate it.


This video was Sponsored By

🚀 http://bit.ly/tflrs-ricochet - Give your action scenes extra impact with RocketStock’s muzzle flash and gun smoke VFX library, Ricochet. This high-caliber pack features over 450 stunning elements.

🎵 http://bit.ly/track-rollthedice - Thanks to PremiumBeat for providing the music for this week's episode. Check out Premiumbeat.com to discover a huge range of exclusive royalty free music!


🎥 This episode's kit/gear/equipment:

US links: 

Aputure HR672S: https://amzn.to/2s15wY2

UK links:

Aputure HR672S: https://amzn.to/2GICoJu


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!

Match your Audio to a Hollywood Film

Before you hit the final export, there are some things you should be doing to make sure your film’s sound is audible, clear, and comfortable for your audience. Let me show you TWO tricks that will help your sound stand out from the crowd! 

Just like testing the picture of your film on a bunch of different TVs, phones, and computer screens, you should also be DEVICE TESTING the sound before you export the final mix.

If you are in the recording, editing, or mixing process: check out our indie film sound guide here for all the basics of sound. 

First of all, try listening to your mix on the best quality audio device you have access to. In our case, this is a set of studio audio monitors owned by our friend Jordan, a musician and producer. But not everyone has the space to set up an acoustic-proof studio with mega expensive equipment.

Jordan Miller

For most of us, and that’s us included, a set of headphones is what we have access to for the majority of the sound editing and mixing process.

If you are serious about your sound, it’s worth investing in a strong and great-sounding pair of headphones which give you great dynamic range, rich tone, and are built to last.

For Rob, this wasn’t the case. I bought these headphones 15 years ago and gave them to rob when I upgraded 3 years ago. They’ve lasted, but the audio quality isn’t great and they are quite literally falling apart.

Rob's dodgy headphones

The team over at 1more heard Rob’s cries and have sent over their Triple Driver Over-ear headphones for us to try out.

After using them for sound mixing, listening to music, and watching films, myself and Rob both pretty much said the same thing “It’s not like it makes things just louder or even just more clear, you can literally hear sound which you can’t with other headphones”, which is funny when we found out that 1more’s tagline is “hear more”.

1more triple driver headphones

But honestly, they’re a great bit of kit: sound great, built really well, comfortable, and at a price which a zero-budget filmmaker can actually afford.

So if you are on the market for a new set of cans, follow the link: 

 

So once you’ve listened to and are happy with your your mix on the good sound kit, it’s time to work your way down the audio-clarity scale.

Think about where your film is going to be listened to the most. If you’re putting your film on YouTube for example, you’ll want to listen to your film on a phone, a laptop, through earbuds, and on a TV. These are the most common devices used for watching YouTube videos, so cater the sound mix to the majority of your audience.

Laptop phones earbuds TV.jpg

You may find that some sound effects or lines of dialogue that are clear using headphones aren’t being picked up on a TV, for example.

Go back to your mixing application and boost the sounds you feel have been washed out, but don’t push it so far that it sounds bad on your default headphones. Try to find yourself a happy medium.

Another mistake we zero-budget filmmakers can make is exporting the film without VOLUME REFERENCING the sound.

We came under this problem with our last film, Backstage. The audio was mixed so the sound effects, foley, dialogue, and music were working together and were clearly defined in their own soundspace, but when we played it on a TV, we had to push the volume up a lot more than usual.

So even though everything was mixed together correctly and sounded loud enough on the PC through headphones, it was simply too quiet on everything else.

Mixing Backstage.jpg

In order to make sure the loudness of your film is matched with that of TV shows and films, you can do something called VOLUME REFERENCING.

For a quick and easy way to accomplish this; find an episode of your favourite TV show or Film on Netflix or a Blu-ray, set your volume to a comfortable level you’d usually set it to and listen to it for a few minutes.

Then pause the film and listen to your own film. If you needed to grab the remote and turn the volume right up to match the previous film, your mix is simply too quiet.

By doing this, the volume of your film will match (to a decent degree) that of films and TV.

When you are mixing audio on one device it can sound as loud as needed. But until you reference your film’s audio to something else, you might not realise it's too quiet or sometimes even too loud.

The audience shouldn't have to adjust the volume of the film mid-way through. It’s not like you have a remote in your hand in the cinema! And if you are planning on taking your film to festivals, you don’t want YOUR film to be the one which nobody can hear!

Match your Audio to a Hollywood Film

This video was Sponsored By

🎵 http://bit.ly/track-rollthedice - Thanks to PremiumBeat for providing the music for this week's episode. Check out Premiumbeat.com to discover a huge range of exclusive royalty free music!


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!

4K Video Editing PC 2018

4K Video Editing PC 2018

My computer is lagging, crashing, and just general zapping away my creativity. It’s time for an upgrade!

MSI, the sponsors of this episode, have heard my cries and sent us their brand new X299 SLI PLUS motherboard along with a bunch of badass components that go into their new 4K Video Editing PC.

They reckon it’s the bee's knees. Let’s see what it’s all about.

CPU

The X299 SLI PLUS supports the newest Intel X-series CPUs. In here we have an i9 7900X which has 10 cores - perfect for a beasty 4k workflow.

Power phases on a motherboard control and regulate voltage. The X299 SLI PLUS has made these completely digital which aids the motherboard in controlling the voltage more precisely, giving you a more stable CPU. This results in a longer system lifespan and lower operating temperatures.

To give the CPU a test we threw up some 4k footage into Premiere Pro,, added a heavy grade, overlaid the footage with some 4K film grain, added a bunch of transitions between the clips. It didn’t drop a single frame.

We also loaded up CineBench and it gave out a reading of 2193.

CPU Cooling

4K Video Editing PC - Cooler Master.jpg

Editing can use a lot of CPU power which means that the processor is going to get hot as hell under a stressful edit. To combat this, the PC has been installed with a Cooler Master MASTER LIQUID 240.

It combines liquid and air cooling in one closed system. It’s super quiet, is unaffected by moisture, and its fiber-reinforced polymer construction resists a broad range of chemicals.

Strapping this to the CPU will stop it from overheating and thermally throttling, which is one of the main causes for your editing programme to lag and crash when you need it the most.

Graphics Card

4K-Video-Editing-PC

The graphics card inside this machine is an MSI 8gb GTX 1080. Editing programmes tend to favor the CPU but that doesn’t mean we video editors stick to just one programme.

In most video projects I am importing compositions and artwork from Photoshop and After Effects, which can favour the GPU over the CPU. Your editing programme can also benefit from GPU acceleration, giving you another bump in performance and improved export times.

We also tested the GPU in CineBench giving a readout of 154 frames per second.

It’s also wicked for playing games, so if you’re an editor as well as a gamer, you may as well build a system that can do both.

Memory

4K Video Editing PC - 32 GB RAM.jpg

Memory is what loads up video previews in your editing application. In order to preview at full resolution without dropping frames, a 4K system will need a lot of it.

The X299 SLI PLUS has 8 slots for DDR4 memory supporting up to 128GB of RAM. This system has 32GB of Hyper X Predator memory for butter smooth 4K editing.

Memory performance can get affected by signals from components on the motherboard. This motherboard has DDR4 BOOST TECHNOLOGY which creates an isolated circuit area so the memory isn’t affected by foreign signals.

SSD

4K Video Editing PC - M.2 SSD.jpg

Installing your OS on a SSD over a hard drive turns start up times and application loading into seconds rather than minutes.

M.2 SSDs are the fastest drives currently out available. The X299 SLI PLUS features two m.2 SSD slots for this exact reason. One slot has an m.2 shield with a thermal pad for improved heat dissipation. Installed in this machine is a 256GB Intel 600P.

We timed the start up of the PC at 31 seconds including POST menus and BIOS logos.

USB

Whether it's external hard drives, card readers, or simply peripherals, the USB port is essential to an editor.

The motherboard in this system has two LIGHTNING USB 3.1 Gen2s, one Type A, and one new Type C. These are the fastest USB ports to date and will eventually become the norm, so you’re covered in terms of future proofing. The X299 SLI PLUS also has 10 USB ports on the back panel ranging from USB 2.0, 3.1, and 3.1 Gen 2.

I use a graphics tablet for drawing in Photoshop as well as a USB keyboard and mouse so having a bunch of extra USB 2.0s just for plugging in peripherals is a well thought out addition.

Not to mention the four ports on the front of the case: two USB 2s, and two USB 3s.

The motherboard even comes with X-BOOST software which boosts USB speeds for mass transfer.

Dual Intel LAN Ports

The motherboard also has two Intel LAN ports. This is great if you are connecting to the internet as well as a internal server. The connections won’t interfere with one another, so you won’t ever have to compromise on download and upload speeds.

Hard Disk Drive

Videos take up a shed load of storage space. But worse than running out of storage is having a hard drive failing to spin or corrupt your precious footage. This is why this build has a 8TB Seagate BarraCuda Pro, the fastest 3.5 inch drive on the market, and specifically designed for creative professionals. This hard drive comes with a 5-year limited warranty and a 2-year rescue plan.

Case

4K-Video-Editing-PC-MSI

There are three things which make a great PC tower: cool, clean, and classy.

The CoolerMaster MasterCase H500P features two 200mm RGB fans at the front, giving superb airflow to keep core temperatures at an all time low and it’s grill-less front design is incredibly sleek. It has a tempered glass side cover which is easy to remove and lets you show off the parts inside. And it even has cable management covers for a sleek cable-less look.

4K Video Editing PC 2018.jpg

PSU

This build also features a Cooler Master v750 compact power supply. It’s small, quiet, fully modular, and has more than enough juice to power this machine.

Outro

When you make 2 videos a week for YouTube, shoot and edit short films, and run a video production company, every minute you can save is a massive improvement in productivity.

This PC might not be in everyone’s price range, but for a video professional, it’s a necessity. Don’t let your equipment stop you from making something great.

MSI Vegas Pro Offer

If you do decided to go for a build like this, MSI is offering customers a 60-day trial of Vegas Pro if you buy a Z370 SLI PLUS or the X299 SLI PLUS. You just need to register the product on the MSI website or follow the link below.


This video was Sponsored By

https://msi.com/to/edit-video-uk-film... - Thanks to MSI for sponsoring the episode! Check out their new 4K Video Editing Build for a PC which won't let you down.


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!