Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Scott's willingness to provide links to valuable information, even if he isn't the author, speaks to his commitment to the independent film making community. The film industry is a difficult one to be in. By freely sharing information and working together, it might not be as difficult.
"One hand washes the other".
For some great DIY projects, and valuable tips and info on film making with a small budget, I strongly recommend checking out Scotts blog.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
On yesterday's shoot, we were short on C- stands, and some of the students couldn't figure out how to hang flags and scrims. Having worked on a lot of low budget gorilla shoots, I've learned how to do a lot with very little, so I grabbed some spring clamps and gaff tape. Admittedly, it's easier setting up for a shot when you have the proper gear, but at the end of the day you need to get the job done with whatever you have.
Every film course should require at least one low budget film assignment. They could call it the Film makers survival training. Groups of students would be given a camera and a tripod, and have shoot a short film with supplies they could buy at a hardware store or Duane Reade.
Working with professional gear is great, but depending on it is not. Unless you are one of the fortunate few who can transition from college into big Hollywood productions, then chances are your going to be working on indy films. No matter where you end up working, no one wants to hear "we can't get it done cause we don't have a C- stand". Everyone wants to hear "I can make it work". If you can get the job done with spring clamps, cardboard, gaff tape and clamp lights, imagine what you'll be able to do with proper gear.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
If you already own a Hoodman Loupe, or are thinking of purchasing one, fear not, here is my step by step tutorial, along with detailed instructions, on how to modify your Hoodman Loupe to securely mount to your camera, while still being able to remove it quickly. In the video I attach the finished loupe to a Canon Rebel T2i/550D, but it should work the same for nearly any camera with a 3 inch LCD screen.
If you found this tutorial helpful, and would like to see more like it, subscribe to my blog. Aside from reviews on films and products, as well as tips on indy filmmaking, I love building things, so you will definitely see more tutorials like this one.
If you have questions about this build, or suggestions for future builds, feel free to leave a comment down below, or see my contact list to send me a message.
Items you will need for this build:
Delkin 3" universal LCD pop- up shade- $10
Hoodman Loupe 3.0- $80
Tools used in this build:
Dremel rotary tool
Cutting disk for Dremel
Grinding wheel or sandpaper/file
Box cutter or dry wall knife
Two part Epoxy
- Once you have removed the pop-up shade from the packaging, you'll want to start by seperating the mounting bracket with built in protective screen (stays on the camera) from the pop-up shade plate. Gently move the two pieces in opposing directions (the shade section to the left, and the bracket to the right). Set the mounting bracket to the side, you'll come back to that later on.
- Your going to start by removing the shade flaps from the base plate. To do this, first tape down the inner, spring loaded flaps, otherwise they tend to get in the way. Start by removing the larger cover flap. Gently push the larger flap toward one corner, twisting slightly, and it should pop right out. Next your going to remove the smaller spring loaded flaps. If you look carefully, you will see that the hinges they sit in are slotted, so these flaps remove quite easily. All you need to do is push the corner in the slotted hinge out away from the center of the shade frame.
- Once you've removed the shade flaps, grab your loupe. If you look at the inside of the edge which makes contact with the LCD of your camera, you'll notice a seam where the outer rubber coating joins the inner plastic shell of the loupe. Using the back side of a box cutter, slowly and carefully start separating that outer rubber from the plastic. You want to try preserve the rubber shell, as it will come in handy later on. As always, be careful when working with sharp tools.
- Now that you've peeled back the rubber, go ahead and clean off and glue residue or pieces of rubber left behind. You can use a knife, sandpaper, or your fingers for this. With the clean plastic of the loupe expose, you'll want to take the shade frame, and see how the loupe fits into it. You'll notice that the width of the loupe fits into the shade frame perfectly, however, it is slightly too tall to make clean contact. Your now going to modify the loupe to fit cleanly and securely into the shade frame.
- What you want to do is grind, cut, or file down the longer sides of the loupe only as far as the line created in the molding process. If your unsure of where this line is, see the video above, I point it out. Slowly start removing plastic from the longer side of the loupe. Remember, it's not a race. If you go to fast, and cut too deep, it will be very hard to correct later on. You want to try and get those longer sides as smooth and flat as possible, as it will make for a flush contact with the shade frame.
- Once you have the longer sides flat and smoother, you will need to trim the shorter sides slightly. You want to remove the rounded corners of the short sides. In the same slow fashion as you removed plastic from the long sides, remove the rounded corners until they line up with the V shaped contour of the loupe body. Again, I point this out in the above video.
- You will also need to make some minor modifications to the shade plate. Set the loupe aside and grab the shade plate. Remember the little hinges that held the spring loaded flaps? Those are what you will be removing. They are a little more difficult to remove because the spacing is tight, so again, go slow, and do your best not to damage the surrounding frame. Be extremely careful when doing this, as it is easy to slip and catch a finger with a knife or grinder.
- Once you are satisfied with the modifications, it's time to see how they fit together. Carefully place the loupe into the shade frame, and make sure the loupe is making a sturdy, even contact all around. If it is not fitting into the frame evenly and securely, you may need to make additional modifications. To make sure the loupe is making flush contact with the shade frame, attach the mounting bracket from early and place the build against a dark surface, flat surface as if you were putting it against your LCD screen. Look through the view finder and see if there is any light leaking in. Don't worry about the notch cut into the shade frame, as much of that will be covered by the rubber shell of the loupe, and the glue holding the loupe to the shade frame. Once your satisfied, remove the mounting bracket and set it aside. You are almost ready to glue it all together.
- Before gluing, do one last final check of how the loupe is seated into the shade frame. You want to ensure it is making good contact, because once it's glue, it's not coming apart. If needed, make additional modifications. Once your happy with the fit, separate the loupe from the shade frame. I used a 5 minute set two part epoxy. The longer set epoxy will give you time to make final position adjustments before the glue starts to cure.
- Mix a generous portion of the two part epoxy, and apply a liberal coating to all the edges of the loupe. Carefully place the loupe into the shade frame, and ensure the edges of the loupe line up with the edges of the shade frame. Apply another generous coating of epoxy to the seam formed at the union of the shade frame and the loupe. The more glue the better. It will help to fill in any of the cracks that were leaking light, and will make for a stronger bond. The glue dries clear, and excess can be sanded down later on.
- Once you have glued the loupe to the shade frame, take too small rubber bands and wrap them around the loupe and frame from top to bottom as shown in the video. Once the rubber bands are in place, again, check to make sure the frame is lining up correctly with the loupe. Now set this in a dry safe place on top of a sheet of wax paper. Should any excess glue drip down, it will not stick to the wax paper. Let the glue cure for the full 24 hours.
- While you're waiting for the glue to cure, grab the mounting bracket, and your DSLR. Wipe the LCD screen on your camera free of any finger prints and dust, this will make for a stronger bond with the mounting plate. Remove the plastic from the inside of the mounting bracket, and again remove any dust or finger prints. Remember, once this is attached to the camera, it's not going to come off too easily, so make sure those screens are clean. Remove the wax paper from the adhesive strips on the mounting plate and carefully lay it over your cameras LCD, ensuring it is lined up properly. Once you are sure it is lined up properly, press down firmly.
- By now you should have the mounting bracket attached to your camera, and you have let the glue set on the loupe for 24 hours. Now it's time to see if all your hard work has paid off. Remove the rubber bands from the loupe and pull the rubber shell down over the seam between the shade frame and the loupe. This will help keep light from spilling in through any cracks you may not have covered up. Carefully attach the loupe to the mounting bracket. If you feel like your forcing it, check to make there isn't any excess glue in the way. If there is, sand it down.
- Once you have the loupe attached to your camera, again, look through the view finder and see if there is any light peaking in. If there is, don't worry, you can get modeling putty from a hobby shop, or bonding putty from a hardware store to fill in the gaps.
- Once your happy with the fit and finish of your loupe, flip on the camera, sit back and bask in the glory of a job well done. You've just taken an $80 Hoodman Loupe and a $10 Pop-Up shade and made a LCD viewfinder similar to models selling for double, triple, and even quadriple the price.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Here is the video I shot and edited of the Gay Pride Parade in New York City. I shot this completely handheld, using a Canon Rebel T2i/550D with a Sigma 18-55mm f2.8-4.5 and a Canon EF 28-105mm f3.5-4.5.
I've lived in Greenwich Village my entire life, and never once saw the Pride Parade take place. I'm not big on crowds, or loud music, but when my boss from T.C.I. College said that he was going to be marching in the parade with some students, I figured it would be a great event to film.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
I wasn't sure what to say to the man when I met him. Being a bit of a celebrity in my mind, I didn't want to being like a teenager at a Back Street Boys concert, so I did what I'm best at... made some jokes and got a chuckle out of him.
Our conversation pretty much ended at that, but what was nice to see is how light hearted he is. Watching him jump from camera to camera checking the timelapses, and seeing the smile when the shots looked good, reminded me of the reason I wanted to be a filmmaker in the first place. It's not about the gear, or the budget of the production, it's about the love of making films.
By some stroke of luck, the weather cleared up for us, only relapsing into a light drizzle for about 10 minutes. I got some really great shots of the sun coming down over the New York skyline, and there will be a video posted up shortly.
I met some really nice people at the event, and was surprised by how many of them came up to speak with me. Many of the conversations revovled around my camera support system which really surprised me. It's nothing special or fancy, but maybe less common among the DSLR users.
The people attending the event seemed to be split into three distinct groups. There were the talkers, the doers, and then some people that floated in between the two. Some of the talkers brought gear, I met a few who brought nothing, and they just kind of floated around chatting about filmmaking, and gear, and the industry. Many people in this group talked alot about buying gear, but not very much about working with it. I got the sense that many of these people picked up a DSLR as a hobby.
The doers had their priorities straight, They came to film, not to talk, and although they paused for a brief conversation, they would go straight back to shooting. Philip was one of the doers, as well as Brian Russell. I had a very interesting conversation with Brian as things were winding down at the end of the night regarding the advantages of using DSLRs in small/location shoots, as well as ways to use youtube and a blog for marketing.
I fit some where in the middle group maybe closer to the doers. Upon arriving at the meet- up, I went straight to setting up my gear. I wanted to go down and shoot by the Brooklyn Bridge for weeks, so I didn't want to waste the opportunity chatting away. Once my gear was set up, I spoke to people as they approached me, shooting video in between the beats of the conversation. I think there's one factory that seperates me from the doers. They make a living as a filmmaker. I still haven't reached that point.
I think working a full time job is slowing down the process of becoming a full time filmmaker. Many of the professional cinematographers I spoke to dove in head first. They had enough money saved to not work a 9-5er, leaving a lot of time to make films, post them on the internet, build an audience, and find paying clients. I work on my projects when I get home from the day job, which makes it very hard to turn projects around quickly. With this schedule, it usually takes me 1-2 weeks to edit footage from a days shoot.
I never thought I'd say this, but I miss working at Metro Bicycles just for how much free time I had. I only worked three days a week which left me lots of time to work on film projects. With that schedule I could turn out two short films a week. Look at Brian Russell's awesome video from the event. He shot the footage, cut it together and had it posted on vimeo last night.
Well until I save the money, I guess I'll continue sleeping less and editing more.
Monday, July 12, 2010
Here is a trailer for the first independent feature film I worked on, "Juan and Emmet", directed by Alan Baxter. Due to some actors relocating and a lack of funds, the production was temporarily put on hold, but has recently resumed.
This film holds a special place in my heart for two reasons. While working as a gaffer for the bar scene (seen in the above trailer) I had one of those "Aha" moments, realizing that I would not be truly content until I was working in film. This was also the first project I was PAID to edit.
Although it was a small indy film, I learned a lot while working on it, and met a lot of great people. For those aspiring film makers who may be reading this, there's two things you should take away when you leave this page.
- Every experience you have working in production is a good one. No matter the size or the budget, you always stand to learn something and your always bound to meet other people in production.
- You don't need to have a lot of money to be a successful film maker. If you have a good script, and enough money to feed your actors and crew, you can make a film. Having a good script is even arguable. Your film just has to be good enough to sell it. Having just saw a preview for Piranha 3D, it doesn't seem like you have to do much to sell a film these days.
I just want to conclude by thanking Alan Baxter, AB productions, and all the people I am working with on Juan and Emmet. I've learned a lot and it's a lot of fun working with you all.
Apple has been setting the benchmark for technological advancements for some time now, but looking at the above video, it's clear, they have outdone themselves. The small crew that worked on the picture used some creativity, ingenuity, and an iPhone 4 to make a beautiful short film.
Now people have made films on their phones before, but there are two things to be considered. Firstly, this is not a clip of someone jumping off a roof into a pool of green jello, this is an emotional, narrative piece. Bringing us to the second point, this film was edited. Do you know where? Yep, on the iPhone. It was shot, edited and rendered on a CELL PHONE!!!!
I realise the technology isn't old, but to actually see it put to use, and done exceedingly well excites the heck out of me. I thought it was cutting edge to work my editing wonders on a laptop, but now that's old hat. I love technology.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
- He Brought Back the Original Music: One thing that ruins sequels for me is when a new director picks up the franchise, and decides to change the theme music. Terminator Salvation did it, as well as many others. Robert Rodriguez did not! The scoring in Predator, staring Arnold Schwarzenegger, worked. It brought you to the edge of your seat, got your heart pumping, and got you standing up to cheer for the good guys at the end. As the saying goes "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". Sitting in the theater last night and hearing that music, brought back all the memories and feelings from when I saw the first movie, which was an awesome feeling. Using the original score was a good choice.
- the Plot was True to the Original: Much like Predator, and Predator II, this film was about some badass guys, who while in the middle of doing their job, encounter some mean alien hunters, and now have to load up the big guns and kick some ass. Even though most of us aren't badasses like Arnold or Danny Glover, we can relate to a guy trying to do his job, and trying to save his life.
- The CGI was Tastefully Done: One of the most amazing things about the original Predator was how real everything was. With the exception of the predators cloaking device everything was real. The monster was a tall guy in a well built rubber suit. The explosions where actual explosions, and the guns fired blank rounds. It was immersing because there wasn't anything to remind you that you were watching a movie. Many times CGI can be in your face and distracting. This was not the case in Predators. There are some moments when the CGI is apparent, but they are few and far between, and blend well with the movie.
- Callbacks to the Original: A lot of modern sequels are starting to include the iconic/now cliche one liners from the original. For example, Terminator Salvation's use of "I'll be back" and "come with me if you want to live". Some times it's cute and funny, most times it's causes everyone in the theater to proclaim "ugh!" Predators makes similar callbacks, but with less cliche lines. It reminds you of where the film has come from, without making you think "Arnold said it better"
- Adrien Brody vs. Arnold: There's no denying that Adrien Brody has nothing on Arnold in terms of body build. Although Arnold was savvy in Predator, there's no denying that being built like a refridgerator was is main advantage. The character development for Adrien was brilliant. To make up for his lack of muscle, he is very witty, and one step ahead of the game. Well, it seems that he's done some bulking up too, but it's his wit that is his best tool, not his strength.
Conclusion: See this film. It will not disappoint. The interplay of the characters is well done, and often humorous. If you were a fan of the 1987 movie, the soundtrack will delightfully remind you of the Arnold setting boobie traps and covering himself in mud. The CGI is present, but not overwhelming. Adrien Brody sets the bar for the new class of hero; steroid free, lean, fast and intelligent. All and all, a great movie going experience, which is so rare these days.
If you've seen the movie, let me know what you think in the comments down below.
While browsing the web today I saw that Zoom is releasing the new H1 at the end of the month. Being that I'm not a super cool tech reviewer, I haven't gotten my hands on one yet, but from reading the specs on it, here's my two cents.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Firstly, I wanted to thank the people who read my blog. I know there aren't many of you at this early stage, but I do sincerely appreciate it. Knowing that other people read what I write will hopefully encourage me to make more interesting posts, rather then running on and on about the technical specs of the new toy I want to buy. Please feel free to ask me questions, tell me my writing is terrible, or suggest things you would like to read more about. Anne, thanks for checking me out. I know your a photo head, so I'll try and throw some stuff in there about shooting stills as well as all the video banter.
Now, on to business. I've got quite a few things on the burner. I've shot all the footage of the BoCoCa Arts Festival, so, in the near future you can expect to see another promo video, as well as a short documentary on the event. Here is the original BoCoCa Arts Festival Promo which ran before the show started.
I've started editing the footage from Gay Pride, so that should be up soon as well. I got some really great shots, and looking over the clips made me smile, for the simple fact that every one involved in the parade is happy and enthusiastic.
I'm also planning on doing some techi videos. One just showing what gear I'm using for those who are wondering, and some video reviews of some key pieces of gear. When I purchased some of these things, there were no video reviews available, and it would have been a big help in making an informed purchase to have seen some. So that I have the gear, why not make a review about it.
Thursday, July 1, 2010
I have been shooting almost non-stop since I got the camera, and I love it. When I've logged a few more hours of filming, I will put together a review, but here are five reasons why you should buys this camera.
Five Reasons to Buy the Canon Rebel T2i
- It's cheap!!! The camera with the 18-55mm kit lens can be found for well under $900 leaving you extra money for accessories like lenses, memory cards, bags, and whatever else you might need.
- Interchangeable Lenses. Unlike a point and shoot still camera, or a consumer grade camcorder, you have the ability to switch lenses. If you want to take close up shots, and then take landscape shots, you can switch from a telephoto to a wide angle lens respectfully. It makes the camera that much more versatile.
- It's Small and Light Weight. This camera is smaller then many of the cameras in the EOS lineup, so it's very easy to travel with. Being lighter as well, you can keep it around your neck for hours, and not feel it the next morning.
- Using SDHC Cards. The camera uses SDHC/SD cards, which are small, light, affordable, and durable. If your shooting live events, it can be a real hassle lugging around a bag full of blank tapes. I spent $80 and got two, 16gb SDHC class 6 memory cards which usually covers me for a full day of shooting.
- Image Quality. When looking at the specifications of the camera, you'll see that in terms of video recording, it shares nearly all the same internals with it's big brother, the Canon 7D. Now while the 7D has some advantages over the T2i (mainly for taking stills), you still can't beat the T2i at it's price; nearly half that of the 7D. Once you learn the functions of the camera, you can still take some amazing still photos as well, so don't count it out of the running.
Once I've spent a little more time with the camera, I plan on doing a more in-depth review, but I thought I'd share this list. It's a top notch piece of gear, and I have no regrets regarding my purchase.