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Chris B

Film-making

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I remember someone else doing some film-making in here, but couldn't find it via search. I figure I'm not the only one who's started making films anyway - anyone else? I started about two years ago, and have been mainly taking part in short-film timed challenges, as a kind of personal film-school. So 36-hour documentary challenges, 48-hour challenges, etc. Next up is the 48 Hour Film Project, which is one of those where you're given criteria (genre, line of dialogue, prop and character) and have to write, shoot, edit and submit it in 48 hours flat. It's terrifying but exhilarating and just getting finished is an achievement. I'm still learning, but it's exciting seeing my stuff get better as I go.

If you make films, what do you use? I've been building up a little micro-budget pack of stuff - about £250 so far, with the plan to improve each bit of it as I go. 

Filming:
I mainly film on my phone, unless I'm collaborating with someone who has better equipment. Even then, outside of depth-of-field, the phones are surprisingly good. I use the Filmic Pro app, which gives you more options with frame-rate, ISO, etc while shooting than you have otherwise (on Samsung at least). A gimbal is my most expensive buy so far - £130, but makes for much smoother moving shots. One shot I had in an earlier film would have been lovely if it weren't for very minor shaking. It wasn't too noticeable at laptop/phone size, but blown up on a screen, it felt super-obvious.

Sound:
I bought this cheap-as-chips shotgun mic for less than £20. It's far from pro, but is so much better than not using one at all. Clip-mics for documentaries are surprisingly good too - under a tenner and we got asked how our sound was so good. The shotgun mic can be screwed onto a £10 monopod, and you've got a usable boom-mic. Little bit rattly where the connection is, but I've learned to work around that.

Lights:
I've got a few of these LED mini-lights. I've used more expensive ones, but the USB rechargeable aspect is a huge benefit. And they're pretty flexible. Have some others, but I love those little ones - a few on tripods makes it all look so much better. I've just ordered a cheap handheld ice light (kind of like a lightsaber) - I've seen an expensive one used and loved it for night-time lighting, but this is dipping my toe in.

Editing:
I use adobe premiere pro, as I have it for work - and since I'm doing work-based filming too, they're happy with me using it for personal projects.

 

How about anyone else? Any tips, stories? What do you wish you'd been told earlier? Or is it something you'd like to do and don't know how to get started?

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It's something I've always wanted to do but I have always used the excuse of not having the money for equipment to cover my crippling lack of self confifence. So after reading your post I can't use it any more! The video function on my camera is meant to be real good, so maybe I can utilise that and the iMovies software I never use on my Mac. 

Will be following this thread for tips and advice!  I've really enjoyed your films @Chris B and look forward to more.

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29 minutes ago, Keith Houchen said:

It's something I've always wanted to do but I have always used the excuse of not having the money for equipment to cover my crippling lack of self confifence. So after reading your post I can't use it any more! The video function on my camera is meant to be real good, so maybe I can utilise that and the iMovies software I never use on my Mac. 

Will be following this thread for tips and advice!  I've really enjoyed your films @Chris B and look forward to more.

Looking forward to when we see YOUR Nolan Batman films!

Edited by Carbomb

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I'll be following too. Not films as such but always wanted to try a music video for my band. Zero budget so phone filming, editing apps and then being able to chuck the audio track over the top. I know bugger all about lighting or anything either.

Bass player has a go pro. Better quality video than an iPhone SE camera I'd assume?

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30 minutes ago, cobra_gordo said:

 

Bass player has a go pro. Better quality video than an iPhone SE camera I'd assume?

The sensor will be about the same, but it will have a slight fisheye on the lense. 

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It might have been me that's mentioned it before and I'm pretty sure Sergio started an editing thread ages ago.

I've been working freelance in video production and design since i was 16, and full time for the last 15 years so have slowly amassed a lot of equipment, which is an even split depending on what i need to use it for.

Main camera for years was this beast and i still use it as a B camera, mainly because i can plug a wireless mic and a shotgun mic into it, record them on separate channels and sync and remix them after.

XF305_Default_tcm14-941753.jpg

 

DSLR wise i use a Canon 1D, 2 x Canon 6D and a Canon 5D mk 111. I also have 2 canon 600D hacked with magic lantern if needed (If anyone is thinking of shooting with DSLRs, serious have a look at getting one second hand and using magic lantern, it'll totally change how you do things.)

Mic wise i have a few Rode NTGs and a couple of Rodelink lapel mics, which are fantastic. and once you start using them you'll never go back.

For lighting I usually use a mix of big halogen bulb constants and LED panels, depending on the size of the lighting needed. Although for value you cant beat those little LED panels for how much you can do with them.

I've got cupboards worth of stuff at home and in the office so can go into waaaaay more detail but it'll send you all to sleep.

 

Editing wise I'm a full on Adobe geek. I've used Premiere and After Effects since i started and between them there's not much you can't do,  and after effects is just the greatest thing ever, the image stabilization to get rid of wobbles has saved me so many times. 

 

The one tip I always tell people when starting off is not to ignore sound. It's 50% of the story you're telling and so many people treat it as a second thought.

 

2 hours ago, Keith Houchen said:

It's something I've always wanted to do but I have always used the excuse of not having the money for equipment to cover my crippling lack of self confifence. So after reading your post I can't use it any more! The video function on my camera is meant to be real good, so maybe I can utilise that and the iMovies software I never use on my Mac. 

Will be following this thread for tips and advice!  I've really enjoyed your films @Chris B and look forward to more.

Your camera can churn out stuff way better than you can imagine. Get yourself a 50mm 1.8 and there's no stopping you.

Edited by chokeout

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4 hours ago, Keith Houchen said:

Will be following this thread for tips and advice!  I've really enjoyed your films @Chris B and look forward to more.

Thanks, @Keith Houchen - I'm making another one this coming weekend for Halloween. I'm a little unsure of my ability to pull off what I'm trying, but we'll see how it goes.

4 hours ago, cobra_gordo said:

Bass player has a go pro. Better quality video than an iPhone SE camera I'd assume?

@cobra_gordo Depends what you're looking for. GoPro, as @Rey_Piste said, gives this curved, fish-eye look. It can work for some shots, but might be horrible for others. Some assume that the higher resolution the better, but for the majority of what you're putting online or even in smaller cinemas, it's not going to make that much difference. I tend to put stuff out in 1080HD, and I've not had any criticisms about the resolution yet. Your iPhone SE might have more options and look better, faster. I use Android, so I don't know iPhone as well, but I'd recommend downloading Filmic Pro, as I said above. 

@chokeout - Damn, dude. I'm jealous just reading about that set-up. Totally agree on the sound, too. The recording equipment I'm using might be cheap, but it's such a step-up from going without.

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1 hour ago, Chris B said:

 

@chokeout - Damn, dude. I'm jealous just reading about that set-up. Totally agree on the sound, too. The recording equipment I'm using might be cheap, but it's such a step-up from going without.

And that's the main thing. Can have all the equipment in the world but doesn't mean you'll get a decent end product. Creativity and what you do with it all (and sometimes not having all the equipment you want makes you waaaay more creative) is what matters. If you've never read it try and get hold of Robert Rodriquez's 'Rebel Without a Crew' Some really great stories on him doing everything himself from funding his films through medical trials, to burning himself because he made actors fire blanks directly at him.

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The majority of my stuff is corporate videos/design/photography so talking head pieces, motion graphic animations or event production. The sad reality is that the jobs that pay well are usually the dullest ( 8 hours of filming green screen videos for correct bin usage in social housing!) 

ive done all the in house design, video and photography for a few charities and social enterprises for the last 10 years and they give me free reign over how I do things, which is always fun.

After Effects really is a love of mine. There's so much template work doing the rounds now ( all the NXT entrance videos being a great example) but actually getting into it all and making those bits never gets old for me. 

We basically live in a golden age of film making. I'm only in my 30s but film making has totally changed. Everyone has access to amazing quality video equipment and can edit on a phone! 

When I started I was still working on tape to tape editing and adding graphics with Duluxe Paint 3 on the Amiga and there was barely and resources outside of school to learn it. Now the internet and YouTube have opened up an industry to everyone ( it's also devalued the skills but that's another story...) 

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5 hours ago, chokeout said:

Your camera can churn out stuff way better than you can imagine. Get yourself a 50mm 1.8 and there's no stopping you.

I've got a Canon 600D so will have a look at what it can do.  It's a second hand one so I'll have a look at that magic lantern thing!

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10 minutes ago, Keith Houchen said:

I've got a Canon 600D so will have a look at what it can do.  It's a second hand one so I'll have a look at that magic lantern thing!

Very random clip ( and I think this was a quick render test clip) but the close ups on this were a 600d

 

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I work in video production for a sports press agency and I love it - we've just launched a non-sporting arm soon so I'm really hoping we can get into doing some funky non-corporate stuff and put some documentaries together amongst other things given the option. The filming element is fun but post is definitely what I prefer. I like the challenge of someone giving me a load of footage to work with (or lack thereof!) and putting together something from it. A lot of my stuff involves working on events and getting clips together really quickly for news turnarounds and distributing that out, but also putting together highlights packages and overviews from the events, the latter of which allows me to get a little more creative, which is nice! 

Camera: My weapon of choice is a Canon C100 MKII. Gives you an excellent image but also shoots in broadcast quality, and it's versatility means I take it on virtually every job I go on these days, whether it's shooting content for social or B-Roll to send on to broadcasters. Shoots in 50fps which allows me to throw a cheeky bit of slow-mo in once in a while. Also fantastic in low light - the range for that is outrageous. We've also got a couple of Black Magic Ursa mini pro's which also look the business, although not always the most practical for us when it comes to massive file sizes (shooting in 4K) and speedy turnarounds from a news perspective. 

Editing: Unlike you dirty Premiere Pro heathens, I use FCPX. Which I love because I feel like I know it inside and out by this point (we're talking ten years strong), but the majority of the industry now ask for Premiere Pro and After Effects experience when it comes to new vacancies (and to be fair I've seen first hand how well those two programmes work together side by side. The integration is brilliant. I'm in the process of re-learning Premiere to expand my skillset and also After Effects, along with DaVinci Resolve (which is mainly a colour based programme but works really well) and Audition for audio mixing - which is probably my weakest point. 

It is amazing now though how much can be done with much smaller, more affordable equipment. I covered the European Championships in Glasgow recently. I had a camera, tripod, two lights plus a rucksack with my laptop, spares etc. This Danish guy walks in with a GoPro that fits in his pocket and cheap LAV Mic. Mixed zone is already well lit so he doesn't even need a light. There's me with all my shit, and this guy rocks up with virtually nothing. Sat next to him in the press room, checked his stuff, looked amazing. He was a lovely chap as well. The cock! 

I'm finding it a bit difficult learning After Effects. I can adapt existing templates but creating new ones from scratch is proving a challenge. There's a good training website called Lynda.com which has a load of beginner courses for different programmes - some of the trainers doing the voice over are beyond dull, but the actual courses themselves are quite good, so I think I'll stick with this open and hopefully that'll get me to a point where I'm much more confident with it. 

I got the chance to visit my old college last week and talk to some of the current crop of students. When I was a student, the number of talks from 'industry experts' I sat in where people talked down about the industry was pretty disheartening. I deliberately tried to be a positive as possible and point out that actually, through the boom of social media, YouTube etc and with good deals out there for various pieces of kit, being able to shoot stuff on phones etc, there's never been a better time to get into it, whether it's for film, music videos, documentaries, wanky corporate shit like mine, etc. It's still not the easiest thing to get into but that shouldn't discourage people. It's a great time to jump in, either for work or just for funsies. 

 

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Lynda.com is great. You've probably already seen them but creative cow Is just as good and video copilot is just the best. Really engaging host, free templates and great plugins as well (Orb, element 3D, lens flare)

im really not sold on 4K just yet. Like you say huge file sizes but the codecs to cram the info onto SD cards means they are horrible to edit and render and transfer. 

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