Thursday, March 31, 2011

Shooting Yourself Handheld

I think Knoptop has found a new level of microbudget filmmaking. While the rest of us might run solo operations using a camera fixed on a tripod, Dave has figured out how to get a handheld shot of himself without a camera operator. Whenever I've seen this before it's always been a self-aware tracking shot (the subject speaking into the camera), what they call a 'walk and talk' in the news biz. Dave's version is more traditional cinema--he acts like the camera isn't there, all while he's running it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

7" External SD Monitor for $44

Need an external monitor? Who doesn't! These are very handy to compose and frame your picture (way better than that tiny LCD) no matter what kind of camera you are partial to. Deejay shares a pretty thrifty find on DSLR Film Noob in the Haier portable TV that can also double as one of these bigger eyeballs. The price isn't as good as what I found mine for, but the Haier has a mounting thread (mine doesn't), standard RCA video inputs (mine doesn't) and is available for the said price (mine isn't).

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Power of the Insert Shot

This past weekend, my wife and I gathered our three young girls to watch Heidi (1937), a Shirley Temple film from the height of her popularity. They really liked it and so did I. It was a solid movie that all ages can enjoy.

One thing I really took notice of was the following sequence and the effect it had on my kids. Heidi (Temple) has been dumped on her unsuspecting grandfather (Jean Hersholt) who didn't even know he had a granddaughter. Needless to say, he ain't too thrilled. After slamming his cabin door in her face, the plucky Heidi follows him inside, determined to make friends with her new keeper.

Grandpa picks up a large knife and finding it dull, begins to sharpen it on the stone hearth.

Heidi touches her throat in worry.

Grandpa crosses to the other side of the room and shuts the door (perhaps to conceal the murder?).

He turns, knife looking larger than ever and continues to turn until the knife points directly at us.

Heidi closes her eyes in anticipation of what can only be a beheading.

When she opens her eyes, Grandpa is only cutting bread (whew!).

Now, I admit this is a bit heavy handed. Of course grandpa isn't going to do the ol' "knife in the face" trick, this is a Shirley Temple film! What I found interesting is while the adults in the room immediately pick up on a perceived threat from the first few shots, when the insert shot of the knife hits, my three little girls hit the roof. Even my three year old understood that Heidi was in danger and was afraid. The point is, the language of cinema (when done right) is very powerful, even to a small child.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Simple Matte Box Effect

One thing I really like about Knoptop, is his dedication to practical effects. On Quick FX this week he shows us one of the oldest tricks in the book: the binocular effect. This is achieved by placing a matte between the camera and the subject to mimic the "binocular" look. Back in the day, a slide would be placed in your matte box to simulate this, but Dave really makes it easy by just holding it in place.

As a kid, I remember the disappointment I felt when I finally looked through a pair of binocs and found they didn't really look like this. I also find it funny in movies when someone looks through a pair of these and can zoom in and out. Not possible, unless you have a camera with a zoom lens, of course.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Vince Ruffalo's PVC Stabilizer Big Rig

We just built the first incarnation of the
stabilizer. Here are a few pics with and without the hockey tape, both before adding padding on the rear arm. Since ours is considerably larger then yours, we are unable to carry it by the front handles. Instead, the rear arm can be placed at the shoulder and held like a rifle. We will send more pictures and potentially some video as we improve the beta build.

--Vince R.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Inexpensive Wireless Bluetooth Mic Setup

Now this is a great find. The DSLR Film Noob himself gives us a couple of videos demonstrating the results of plugging microphones into a low-cost (eBay, $35) bluetooth transmitter and receiver. In the first video he uses standard mics with good success. In the second he uses the same cheap Radio Shack lav mic that I use with mixed results (dangit!). I think it's pretty cool that Deejay came up with and tested this idea, as we can all benefit if we need a wireless setup with microphones we already own and use.

Be sure to read the accompanying blog posts as well. They will give you more details and links about the hardware Deejay is using in his demonstration. The first is "$35 wireless bluetooth setup, and it works great!" followed by "Bluetooth setup with a lavalier".

UPDATE: "More Bluetooth Wireless Audio Testing"

Monday, March 21, 2011

Weekly Recap Link List 3-21-11

From the files of Facebook and Twitter:

Cheap 1/4" 20 rail mount for your DSLR rig

Affordable 300 watt CFL lighting setup

DIY DSLR grip shifter follow focus

The secrets of indie film release strategy

My 5 favorite movies of all time - photographically speaking

Movie stiller stabilizes your iPhone footage

The secrets of YouTube success (Freddie Wong)

CFL stands for cool, frugal and luminous!

Ian Fleming's frugal crane / jib

Universal rubber lens hood for $5

How to achieve million dollar sound without a million dollars

Quick release puck (plate) for $8.68

$20 PVC Snorri cam rig

Time to declare war on the shaky camera

Friday, March 18, 2011

Quick Release Puck (Plate) for $8.68

Recently there was a comment on YouTube concerning the PVC Stabilizer Rig. This comment spoke of a modification using a universal quick plate system that didn't cost very much. That comment lead me to this post at Frugal Photog, which detailed the system and praised its use. I was so sold on the idea that I bought 6 of these and integrated them into all of my rigs. Now I can move my camera between rigs quickly and I save wear and tear on my mounting threads.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Universal Rubber Lens Hood for $5

Knoptop didn't have a new video on Quick FX this week, but this one from a few weeks back is a good one. The idea is to pick up one of these large, collapsible, inexpensive lens hoods from ebay and make it fit on your camera with a step-up ring. If you're a DSLR user, follow Dave's directions. If you're a video camera user (like me), wouldn't it be nice for the lens hood to fit your wide angle lens as well as your stock lens?

My Canon HFS100 has a 58mm thread on its stock lens. When I want to go wider, I use the Raynox 6600, which has a 58mm thread on one end and a 72mm thread on the other. To make the lens hood more useful, it only makes sense to get the 72mm lens hood and a 58-72mm step up ring. Now I can use the lens hood whether I'm shooting wide or not. Only costing a total of $5.10, this is an excellent deal. And a practical one.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ian Fleming's Frugal Crane / Jib

Thank you so much! Your YouTube channel is simple, refreshing, and innovative. I love it.

I just got around to building my jib. I don't have the weights attached yet and the tilt control is jerky but it'll all be fixed soon. As you can see in the photos my brother and I did modify your design a bit and it ended up costing about $50. I shoot a D7000 with heavy glass so we needed a bit more strength.

Anyway, thanks a lot. --Ian Fleming

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

CFL Stands for Cool, Frugal and Luminous!

Deejay returns with a very current DSLR Film Noob that covers some very affordable next-tier lighting. I call it "next tier" because it does cost a little more than my clamp and work lighting, but runs cooler, is more energy efficient and looks more professional. It also puts out a lot of area light suitable for just about any small location. For more details on the specifics of this gear, be sure to click on Deejay for the skinny.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bed, Bath & Beyond DSLR Focus Assist

Knoptop chimes in on Quick FX today with one of my favorite types of DIY goodness: actual retail products repurposed for production use. This time it's a jar opener that's made to be zipped shut over any sized lid. It's also very good at zipping shut around the focus gears of a lens. This provides a nifty handle for the operator to easily grab to manipulate focus. No modding required. At $2.50 you can't beat it.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tom Blizzard's Work Light and Stand

I just finished installing the screen as a safety precautions for my work light mod. I painted everything low-luster black. Yes, even the $5 PVC light stand. I used heat resistant paint.

Thanks for the safety tip, now I have a great looking $135 light for only $16.

--Tom B.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Crop Sensor Focal Length Primer

What do all those focal lengths written on your camera's lens actually mean? Today we find out exactly what they mean on DSLR Film Noob. Deejay takes us through the paces and shows the differences when shooting the same subject from 10' away. Which lens do you need to give you the look you seek? You should know a bit better after watching this.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Weekly Recap Link List 3-7-11

Secrets of Netflix distribution and revenue

Tiny amp adds audio features

The secret art of slating: 25 tips to help you slate like a pro

DSLR vs. camcorder: which is right for you?

DIY lighting - It's easier (and cheaper) to light your film than you might think

Lanternlock: the paper lantern solution

Awesome security camera prop for $6

Glasses for your fixed focus camera

Nady SGM-12 is the lowest priced boom mic on the market

Exposing a basic lighting and grip kit

Cordless tool batteries: solid DC power packs

iPad 2 - good and bad news for mobile filmmakers

Super cheap dolly right for DSLR (and anyone else with a tripod)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Glasses for your Fixed Focus Camera

Knoptop returns with a cool trick this week on his web show, Quick FX. If you own a camera that only has one focal length (like the Flip, a cell phone, or Dave's Kodak Zi8), things will get blurry if you shoot too close. All it takes is some "stick-tack" putty and a trip to the dollar store. The rest is easy. Also notice the custom dead cat windscreen on the Kodak. It's another inexpensive mod that will come in handy for those with this type of camera.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Awesome Security Camera Prop for $6

Every time I pass this thing in Harbor Freight Tools, I want to come up with a story where I can use it. It's a simple dummy camera to scare off intruders, but would be a great addition to any "we need to break into (or out of) where ever" story. Not only does the thing look authentic (in an old school way), but it oscillates back and forth and a little red LED will come on when it detects motion! There's another, more modern looking dome version you can also get, but that one doesn't move, and this one is $4 cheaper. And more fun.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tiny Amp Adds Audio Features

Deejay has another great tip this week coming from his blog, DSLR Film Noob. He talks about using the FiiO headphone amp to boost audio coming from your DSLR camera to your headphones. This is especially handy if you are using an external monitor like Deejay. I also like the use for this little gadget for non-DSLR users (like me) that turns your XLR box from a passive to active device. This basically gives you an external mic preamp that will take the load off of your camera's internal (and noisier) audio electronics. Very nice.


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