Monday, October 20, 2014

Q&A: Why Do I Make These Videos?

The Q&A continues (two weeks in a row--what?) and hopefully I answer questions without looking stupid. Jump cuts help, but I'm often flabbergasted about what to say. Something comes out anyway, and I hope it's helpful. If not, I apologize now.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Review: Versa-Brella (tripod umbrella)

When I posted my DIY Monitor Hood video, there was a great comment which asked me why I didn't just use an umbrella as a shade, which would also shade the operator and protect the camera from rain. The short answer was that I just wasn't that smart. It was a great idea and I began poking around the web for ways to attach an umbrella to my tripod.

The first thing I found was a device that allowed you to attach an umbrella to bicycle handlebars. It was cheap, so I ordered one thinking I could easily adapt it to a tripod arm. It didn't work so well. Next I found an umbrella with a clamp on it, but it had a straight shaft, so I couldn't adjust it to block a moving sun. Finally, I came across the Versa-Brella and it looked just right.

The Versa-Brella has a universal clamp that will grip anything of any shape that is 1 1/2" or less in size (like a tripod arm or leg). It has three articulation points, so the thing can be positioned just about anywhere. It has fabric that is 50 UPF to prevent sunburn and it has safety tips so no one gets hit in the eye with the pokey parts.

When I found the Versa-Brella, I immediately emailed the company that makes them, Sport-Brella, and requested one for review. This is a fairly new product and none of their promotional materials catered to filmmakers or photographers. I knew I had to have one to let the frugal community in on this. They sent me one and the above video is my review.

Synopsis: If you shoot lone wolf in direct sunlight, you're gonna want one of these.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Q&A Returns!

It's been awhile, but I feel like it's time to bring some kind of Q&A show back to The Frugal Filmmaker, so here it is! I as I explain in the above video, the reason the show came to a halt before was that my portable studio (my car) lost its timing belt and was put to rest. Not only that, but my schedule changed in such a way that it became impossible to produce the show the way I had been doing it. I needed some kind of reboot, and after kicking around a few options, feel like I can start doing it again.

While I will still produce a "normal" show every Thursday, the Q&A will come out every Monday morning. I think this is a very important time slot for a show that is really made for anyone who is an avid follower of what I have been doing and might care about my opinion on this or that. It is not a show filled with metadata that can be searched, but one for viewers who want to start their week with an injection of Frugalness! I hope this show is successful in doing that.

I used to shoot and post the show very fast on the same morning that I would upload it, but now my workflow is a bit different. These shows will now be shot on Saturday, which will give me time to edit them and add some extras, which I never had the luxury of doing previously. I hope this will lead to a more interesting video experience and allow me the time to juice the show withmore creative flair than before.

What do you think?

Friday, October 10, 2014

Tip: Alien Blood Makeup for $1

Now here's something I really want to find an excuse to use. It's the same chemicals used in glow sticks, only in a more controllable package--the Glow Glove! I found this oddity in Dollar Tree (while shopping for fake human blood) and quickly took it home to be dissected. It's a clear, dopey looking plastic glove-within-a-glove with the aforementioned glow stick juices. Pop the inner packets and they mix together to give you a luminescent hand!

A better use for this is alien blood, of course. When Arnold Schwarzenegger injures the extraterrestrial Predator (1987), it bleeds glow stick. When I cut it apart, the glow glove had the chemicals needed in nice separate packets that you can combine later. The result is the same as cutting open a glow stick, only here you have way more control over the mess.

Of course, you don't have to use this as alien blood. It could be contents of a test tube in a mad scientist's lab or the big reveal of a victim's blood under a black light. You can do all kinds of stuff and let's face it, glowing practical effects are freakin' cool!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Frugal Cage Fixes (Camera Cage)

When I shot my short film Invader awhile back, I was able to fully test the Frugal Cage, using all the goodies that I had acquired with it. Things went really well, but like all field tests, there were some minor things that needed improving.

The episode above are the implemented improvements. Two are very simple and the third is a bit more complex. The resulting changes make the unit function a lot better (I know changing lenses and batteries will be much easier now) the next time I use it on a film.

If you'd like to watch all the videos (and blog posts) associated with the Frugal Cage, here they are:

The Frugal Camera Cage
External HD Monitor Review
$37 Follow Focus Review
Camera External Battery Power
Battery Cradle Switch Hack
Camera Lens Bands
Monitor Hood
Camera Quick Release Showdown
Camera Grip Handle

There may be more of these in the future as I think this gadget performs very well and can easily accommodate other small cameras over the years as I upgrade.


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