I just started reading Stu Maschwitz‘s book The DV Rebel’s Guide: An All-Digital Approach to Making Killer Action Movies on the Cheap and had to share some small excerpts with everyone. Since Stu Maschwitz’s background is special effects, a large portion of the book centers around working with Adobe After Effects. However it still has plenty of useful information that applies to other aspects of film-making.
- Sound Quality - “Without a doubt, the single most important factor in conveying production value to your audience is audio quality, particularly in dialog recording… We live in a time where out-of-focus shots or grainy footage could be considered a valid artistic choice, but this will never be the case for difficult-to-hear, reverberant dialog.”
Working in the visual side of production it pains me to say it, but sound, truly, is half of your movie. Not even the most beautiful lighting and camera move imaginable can distract the audience from the fact that the characters sound like they are talking through a water bottle from across the room. Don’t make half of your movie an afterthought.
- Don’t Make Shots, Make a Movie – “…the truth is, what makes a movie a movie is much more style than substance. Blade Runner is Blade Runner not because it was shot on film or because it was expensive, but because Ridley Scott’s directing is so damn stylish.” Continue reading
Most young guys/girls coming out of college have already learned the basic tasks on set like wrapping cables, properly staging stands, etc. but few have experience working with professional talent. In college it is far easier to use fellow students in the acting program than it is to bring in professionals to star in your college projects. For that reason, the most common mistakes young crew members make are in their interactions with talent. To help you out, here are six tips to keep you looking like a pro:
- Keep a positive work environment- Acting is the most difficult and mentally taxing job there is on a film set, so it is important to keep them feeling comfortable. Things like a simple wave or “hello” as they arrive on set each day can go a long way. However, they may be already going over lines or getting into a certain mood for the first scene so do not disturb them if they appear to be doing so.
Imagine walking into a party where you don’t know anyone. You would feel far more at ease if people you walked by greeted you with a friendly hello instead of everyone pretending you didn’t exist. Continue reading
Now introducing the gel pocket guides! What these include are:
- Color Temperature Orange, Straw, and Blue gels’ product numbers, MIRED shifts, and common Kelvin temperature changes
- Neutral Density gel product numbers and f-stop changes
- Minus/Plus Green gel product numbers and CC filter values
- List of common diffusion gel and their f-stop reductions
- MIRED equation and Kelvin to MIRED conversion chart
- Separate versions for both LEE and Roscolux products
- Both mobile and wallet sized paper booklet versions
Preview of paper version
Best of all, these are all brought to you completely FREE! Right click and save the appropriate link below to get your free version now. (If you love using these booklets or want to see more of it’s kind, feel free to click the donate button below. All money donated will be put back into generating new content and upkeep of the website.)
LEE Mobile Gel Pocket Guide
LEE Paper Gel Pocket Guide
Rosco Mobile Gel Pocket Guide
Rosco Paper Gel Pocket Guide
While the Kelvin scale is useful for determining the color temperature of a light, it becomes quite messy when you introduce color correcting gels and filters into the mix. For example, when you place a 1/4 CTB (Color Temperature Blue) gel on a 3200K light, it will raise the color temperature 400K and bring the light to 3600K. However, if you placed that same 1/4 CTB gel on a 5600K light, it would raise the color temperature 1400K to bring the light to 7000K. To understand this visually, here is the Planckian locus marked off in degrees Kelvin.
As you can see, the values move exponentially along the graph. For this reason, the MIRED (micro reciprocal degrees) scale is used. It was observed that the difference between two colors of light was based on the reciprocal of their temperatures, rather than the temperatures themselves. These reciprocal values were so small that a new unit was introduced, the micro reciprocal degree. Hence, the formula for determining a light’s MIRED value is: Continue reading
Whether you want a better understanding of the differences between mattes, alpha channels, masks, and blending modes or you want to learn how to effectively use mattes to improve green screen keying, add video to a television screen, or remove a light switch from a wall this great tutorial has all of that information and more. (For a specific category check for the timecodes below the video)
For green screen skip to 13:30
Adding a prop to the scene skip to 20:45
Removing a light switch from the wall skip to 28:15
Adding bloom to a light skip to 37:53
And finally adding video to a tv screen skip to 45:19
At the end of the day, one of our main jobs as crew is to make sure the actors look good. Maintaining the talent’s trust and keeping them happy with your work is vital to your success in the industry. However, keeping them looking perfect becomes increasingly difficult as digital media’s resolution scales higher and higher. Without using proper techniques, a close-up at 4K can be quite unflattering as every wrinkle, scar, and blemish becomes strikingly noticeable. Luckily, we still have multiple tools at our disposal to hide imperfections even at high resolutions.
When it comes to making a flattering close-up (or portrait), soft lighting is your friend, especially for female subjects. In short, a light is ‘soft’ when it’s large and close to your subject. It’s all about relative size. The softest possible light comes from a completely overcast day, because the light is so big it’s literally everywhere, producing extremely gradual fall-off to shadow. In lieu of perpetually overcast days, use big, soft-ish lights, preferably cool lights like large Kino banks, then break-up the light with a filter. Filtering of this type makes your light source less directional, and increases secondary bounces to your subject. For cool lights, you don’t even need to use standard film gels. In a pinch, a quick trip to a local fabric store will yield a shimmery, translucent sheet that can easily be fixed onto a gobo arm, to place in front of your Kinos or LEDs. If you only have hot lights, use film-grade diffusion and keep an eye on it, because it will burn. Or you can bounce the light off an actual bounce board, a flex-fill, a wall or ceiling. Soft lighting doesn’t really reduce detail, but leads to a more sculpted image and flattering portraiture, which can provide a good base for the following recommendations.
While the video below offers a very simplistic explanation of color temperature, it is critical to have a firm grasp on this concept if you wish to pursue a career in either the camera or lighting department.