Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Making of "Hostages"



Here's another "Making of" episode covering the short film I uploaded last week, "Hostages". While this movie is pretty short, I did learn a few things, which I share in the video. The greatest lesson this time out was to shoot in sequence if you're depending on the weather that day. I left out a shot, then couldn't shoot it at the end of the day, as the lighting had drastically changed (duh!). By the time the time the proper lighting returned (almost a week later), the car needed for the shot was unavailable. Live and Learn.

"Gunplay" font

Script and Storyboards (requires Celtx)

Script (.pdf)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Recap Q&A: Which Web Show is Best?



RSS readers: Click on the title to reveal the hidden video.

Blog: http://www.thefrugalfilmmaker.com
Facebook Group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/thefrugalfilmmaker
Twitter Feed: http://www.twitter.com/frugalfilmmaker

Zoom H1 handy recorder
http://tinyurl.com/7xzn9mj

Tascam DR-05 portable digital recorder
http://tinyurl.com/6w96u96

Tascam DR-40 portable digital recorder
http://tinyurl.com/7xzujdb

Audio-Technica ATR-3350 lav mic
http://tinyurl.com/74fdhse

Shotgun Microphone Shootout
http://www.dvcreators.net/shotgun-shootout/

Havard Nordgard's pan and tilt system
http://tinyurl.com/7cvapev

DIY pistol grip camera mount for $1
http://tinyurl.com/7hbxyl9

DIY Glidecam / monopod modification
http://tinyurl.com/7ked84w

Easy cut PVC DIY shockmount
http://tinyurl.com/83kotfv

Cinematography: Theory and Practice, second edition
http://tinyurl.com/7pb9jde

White paper lantern, 24" diameter - $7
http://tinyurl.com/7lrbjqj

Tascam DR-05 portable audio recorder case
http://tinyurl.com/6v4gqey

Short Film: "Hostages"
http://tinyurl.com/6s6kvu9

Make your very own demon
http://tinyurl.com/7n4veqp

Toy guns becoming a criminal offense?
http://tinyurl.com/6tlyqwf

YouTube Creator Playbook v2 now available
http://tinyurl.com/6rl6yen

Kris Kuhn's "Frugal Buggy"
http://tinyurl.com/7b3l9kl

16GB SDHC card - $14
http://tinyurl.com/7594vgq

Malbert Gansuen's DIY camera slider
http://tinyurl.com/7f5gect

Free Filmmakers and Acting Talent Network
http://tinyurl.com/82mznj6

DIY Filmmaker Bi-weekly contest
http://tinyurl.com/7uqhl3q

Vegas Movie Studio HD - $29
http://tinyurl.com/7ghe4pf

Gip Gippie's follow focus
http://tinyurl.com/82dm3jv

Gregory Cannon's camera bracket/camera rig
http://tinyurl.com/834p72h

Adrian Culda's DIY shoulder rig
http://tinyurl.com/6qzrfbr

7" Standard Def external monitor - $46
http://tinyurl.com/7pxhnyp

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Short Film: Hostages



Hostages is a (very) short film I wrote and directed last semester for my Previsualization & Digital Workflow class. No dialogue was allowed and we had lots of previz, including animated storyboards. I'll be revealing those, the script, overhead diagrams, and some behind the scenes photos and things I learned in a "Making of" episode next week.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Recap Q&A: Web Series or Feature?



RSS readers: Click on the title to reveal the hidden video.

Facebook Group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/thefrugalfilmmaker
Twitter Feed: http://www.twitter.com/frugalfilmmaker

Universal iPhone tripod mount - $2.19
http://tinyurl.com/7nzoffm

2.7" LCD camcorder hood
http://tinyurl.com/6m5zb9l

Alternative Zoom H1 hard case
http://tinyurl.com/8yldph7

Donald Wren's double shoulder rig
http://tinyurl.com/82vfcox

Donald Wren's Camera Jib / Crane
http://tinyurl.com/7o7oj74

Zoom H4n Handy Portable Digital Recorder - $272
http://tinyurl.com/7q73g2v

ART USB Dual Pre 2 Channel Preamp - $79
http://tinyurl.com/82zvqx7

Work lights from Lowe's with PVC extensions
http://tinyurl.com/7h2lz9z

Gentrit Bajrami's paintball camera mount
http://tinyurl.com/7h2lz9z

James DeRuvo's refurb Canon camcorder on PVC FigRig
http://tinyurl.com/7rm6vp6

James DeRuvo finds PVC FigRig stand
http://tinyurl.com/88rrzpb

G-rar Vdb's PVC stabilizer rig
http://tinyurl.com/6oh94gg

Best time to publish videos to YouTube
http://tinyurl.com/84o969x

Free sound effects
http://tinyurl.com/7u35p6g

David Curtis' chromakey test
http://tinyurl.com/7nxhe7o

Growing Your YouTube Channel
http://tinyurl.com/888lpac

David Stembridge's DIY Steadicam (in progress)
http://tinyurl.com/89bg5gr

DIY Squib - Making a bullet blast effect
http://tinyurl.com/74trm3w

Joseph Puente's inexpensive gels
http://tinyurl.com/7k2gqot

DIY DSLR viewfinder
http://tinyurl.com/7gxx2md

Gip Gippie's DIY follow focus
http://tinyurl.com/7pokl5m

Henry Feige's PVC shoulder rig
http://tinyurl.com/7h6473g

24" paper lantern for cheap soft light - $7
http://tinyurl.com/7w9a9l4

Sean Scarfo's DIY slider
http://tinyurl.com/7o9urrw

Gip Gippie's DIY LCD viewfinder
http://tinyurl.com/7ftjuk4

David Curtis' DIY lav mic windscreen
http://tinyurl.com/7budkbx

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Growing Your YouTube Channel



Since this was one of the few times I've actually written a script for my video voiceover, I thought I would just publish the entire thing for your perusal.

The first thing you need to do is come up with a good brand name. This name should be clear and to the point, completely explaining what your content is about. It’s very important that you get this right, as once your brand name is out there, it won’t be easy to take it back. I liked The Frugal Filmmaker because it clearly says that this content will be about microbudget filmmaking. YouTube will let you search for names to see what is available. “Frugal Filmmaker” was taken, so I added “the” on the front, and I had a channel.

Next, I set up a mini distribution network to launch different forms of media. This network is a group of free websites that each provide a specific service. I have a YouTube channel for video, a Blogger blog for written posts, a Facebook group to invite members to and share links I find from around the web, and Twitter to repeat those links and microblog about filmmaking tidbits. The most important thing about this network is that it constantly refers to itself, making it grow.

When I create a video, I post it on YouTube. I then embed the video on my blog. I post a link to the blog post on Facebook and Twitter. At the end of the week I take all the links that have accumulated on Facebook and publish the list on the blog and in the description of the weekly Q&A video. It constantly comes full circle.

A word about the Facebook Group. When I first set it up, the purpose of the group was to post links and promote my videos and blog posts. Now the thing has taken on a life of its own and has become a thriving forum. There, links, advice, answers to questions and video critiques are commonplace and the responses quick. The members are knowledgeable and friendly and there is a ton of great information constantly changing hands. It’s become totally self-sufficient.

Anyway, back to YouTube. The question everyone wants answered is: how do I get more views and subscribers? While there is no “magic bullet” that will guarantee you anything, you can be sure of one thing: content is king. Make good content and people will follow you. Know your niche and make videos people are searching for.

YouTube is the number two search engine in the world and you should know what your audience wants. In DIY filmmaking, terms such as dslr, crane, jib, dolly, slider, stabilizer, and shoulder rig are all hot search words. If you can, try to do something first. If it’s been done, do it better or add a unique spin. Separate yourself from the pack.

My most watched video is the PVC stabilizer build. There was nothing like it on YouTube at the time I posted it. Now that design is everywhere. Even on topics that may be well covered, your fans will want your take anyway, and you should give it to them. I’ve learned this lesson over and over.

Remember to tag properly. When you upload your video, you have four places to optimize your search results. These are the video file name, the YouTube title, the description and the tags. Fill these boxes with lots of hot terms so people will find you. Only use terms that apply to your channel’s theme, however, or the video itself. Don’t use generic hot terms so you’ll get lots of landings on your page. You don’t want disgruntled people spreading bad press about you.

Next, create a regular release schedule. This is one of the most powerful tools in audience growth, but also the hardest to pull off. I saw a doubling of my daily subscribers and views when I committed to a consistent release schedule, Mondays and Wednesdays. When you create anticipation, people will show up to watch. This takes a lot of work, so be prepared to work hard and put in full-time hours.

Something else you can do to market yourself is to make alliances with other YouTubers who have similar numbers. Deejay of DSLR Film Noob came to me and wanted to network. He now posts a link to my channel in his videos and I post his videos on my blog. I do the same thing with Knoptop and his show Quick FX. We all have a similar audience, but none of us have the same show. It’s a mutually beneficial situation that lets us spread the word and grow our channels together.

It’s important to engage your viewers in conversation. All the venues I participate in allow for two-way conversations via commenting and emails. Take advantage of this. Respond as often as you can. Viewers appreciate it when you take time to answer their questions and make them feel like their voice is important, which it is. Eventually, you can make shows specifically for your fan faithful. The Recap Q&A is a perfect example of this. No one is searching for the content of that show, but people who like what I’m doing will tune in. It’s just one more way to connect.

Finally, use the analytic tools at your disposal to discover trends and important facts about your viewership. YouTube will not only give you numbers and demographics, but allows you to see inside each of your videos and find out which parts people are watching and when they are tuning out. Sites like Socialblade and VidStatsX let you look at trending subscriber numbers, views and projections of future numbers. All these tools can help you make adjustments to keep your channel growing or correct mistakes that may be setting you back. They are incredibly valuable—and free.

Also check out Freddie Wong's "The Secrets to YouTube Success". It should be considered mandatory reading on this topic.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

DSLR Film Noob Returns (with a review)!



After going AWOL for a few months, Deejay has returned to the YouTube airwaves and is back with a typically thorough review. This time he takes a good look at the Samson Airline Micro, a wireless lav system that costs $300. That's a lot of money (though much less than the Senneheiser model he compares it to) and though it sounded pretty good, I really didn't like the clunky way you were forced to program the transmitter/receiver combo. If I had to do some limited range wireless audio, I think I'd go with Deejay's bluetooth discovery he showed us awhile ago.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Recap Q&A: How's the New Format?



RSS readers: Click on the title to reveal the hidden video.

Facebook Group: http://tinyurl.com/7b3l9kl
Twitter Feed: http://tinyurl.com/7xgvan5

Raynox HD-6600 Pro 58 wide angle lens
http://tinyurl.com/7jputvf

Canon Powershot with video mode and manual features ($79)
http://tinyurl.com/7x4q6f2

Canon S100: Best P&S for video right now
http://tinyurl.com/7nlxjbb

Zoom H1 Handy Recorder
http://tinyurl.com/7t7z5bf

Tascam DR-05 Portable Digital Recorder
http://tinyurl.com/7od376g

Canon RF200 (mic input, manual audio, headphone) $289
http://tinyurl.com/84qnrqa

Sony Vegas product comparison
http://tinyurl.com/3mosumt

Canon EOS T2i (body only)
http://tinyurl.com/7pe8fsr

Dave Dugdale's DSLR lens picks
http://www.learningdslrvideo.com/gear/

Stu Maschwitz' DSLR lens picks
http://astore.amazon.com/prolost-20

Getting better as a director: gaining trust
http://tinyurl.com/73t9zm4

David Curtis finds a spring for the stabilizer rig
http://tinyurl.com/6sy4u6h

David Curtis' triple-camera rig
http://tinyurl.com/6m83kxy

Wayne Poe's PVC stabilizer rig with three lights
http://tinyurl.com/7w8jt4p

Karen Foster's PVC stabilizer w/Zoom H1 shockmount
http://tinyurl.com/83yutba

Color correction gels 4/$7
http://tinyurl.com/77an4y8

David Curtis and spotlight diffusion
http://tinyurl.com/7atjsxv

David Curtis' DIY steadicam test
http://tinyurl.com/6rhj986

Havard Nordgard's crane/jib mount
http://tinyurl.com/6uhpnad

Refurbished Canon Camcorders
http://tinyurl.com/7e92fb2

$1 Budget: cases and a headset, oh my!
http://tinyurl.com/8yn3bzs

Joseph Puente's FigRig
http://tinyurl.com/7u67fn4

Efrain Sabino's PVC stabilizer rig
http://tinyurl.com/7lj5wjl

Macro tubes: getting closer on the cheap
http://tinyurl.com/7l6t7z4

Gregory Cannon's Opteka LED light review
http://tinyurl.com/7n5sr6s

Importing AVCHD footagage into FCPX
http://tinyurl.com/7bqadyo

Adrian Cerchia's PVC steadycam test
http://tinyurl.com/6rkehqe

Sean Scarfo's cheapy follow focus
http://tinyurl.com/6lrrryf

Joel Thomas' PVC cap substitute
http://tinyurl.com/7uyyvsq

The proper use of jump cuts
http://tinyurl.com/77gxhjq

Alex Soares' PVC stabilizer rig
http://tinyurl.com/7db3afy

Adorama flash bracket vs generic flash bracket
http://tinyurl.com/6rlchsd

Sean Scarfo finds hand grip and shoulder pad material
http://tinyurl.com/89jdjcc

Samson Airline Micro wirless mic UHF system review
http://tinyurl.com/7ah2mgz

David Curtis' PVC table dolly
http://tinyurl.com/793ehjn

Sean Scarfo finds 150, 200, 300 watt equivalent CFL bulbs
http://tinyurl.com/7oxg652
http://tinyurl.com/723ww2e

Sean Scarfo finds 300w equivalent LED rechargeable work light
http://tinyurl.com/8xshqqj

Scott Davis' DIY shoulder rig tutorial
http://tinyurl.com/7ktsmuk
http://tinyurl.com/879qd3q

Thursday, February 9, 2012

$1 Budget: Cases and a Headset, Oh My!



This is the first installment in what I hope is a long-running and informative series. The idea is simple: what filmmaking tools can I get for a buck? Once a month I plan to share three of these ideas that can be had in any brick-and-mortar store. I will share online ideas if I find them, but the chances of finding stuff for one dollar online (with no shipping costs) are pretty slim.

In my first episode, I share how I used a cell phone case as a home for a Zoom H1 Handy Recorder, a point-and-shoot hard case for my lav mic, and a cheap non-working headset as a cool prop. I think the potential for these kinds of finds is huge, so I hope to share many more of these with everyone.

I'd buy that for a dollar!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Recap: Questions Anyone?



RSS readers: Click on the title to see the hidden video.

Facebook Group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/thefrugalfilmmaker
Twitter Feed: http://www.twitter.com/frugalfilmmaker

Zoom H1 handy recorder
http://tinyurl.com/72sgqq3

Tascam DR-05 digital recorder
http://tinyurl.com/7od376g

Sony Movie Studio HD, $36
http://tinyurl.com/7otw529

Audio-Technica ATR-3350 lav mic
http://tinyurl.com/8x477wz

Sima Quickonnect - $8.03
http://tinyurl.com/7kryxps

NHL Hockey Tape
http://tinyurl.com/7dsq4yt

Mini ball head
http://tinyurl.com/8xgggjy

Sean Scarfo finds cheap counterwieghts
http://tinyurl.com/6pecwc7

Sheena Vaught's frugal dimmer
http://tinyurl.com/7xo58ww

Sean Scarfo's modified fig rig
http://tinyurl.com/77mhysq

Feeling nervous on day one? 5 Steps to curb your anxiety
http://tinyurl.com/7g3qt8j

Weathering props: fake moss
http://tinyurl.com/7djpsrl

$1 windscreen for Zoom H1
http://tinyurl.com/77mr2sf

Dave Albin finds 27 LED worklight - $5
http://tinyurl.com/7fu54zt

DIY steadicam Smoothee mod
http://tinyurl.com/7rcnyeo

Dave Albin finds 20 LED worklight with flexible tripod arms - $6
http://tinyurl.com/6vrul6j

Heikki O. Laukkaen's 3D-rig
http://tinyurl.com/8939av6

Sean Scarfo finds $5 eye loupe
http://tinyurl.com/6ny2rvz

Tip: remote screenwriting
http://tinyurl.com/7mrph55

Sean Scarfo attaches $3 LED light to camera rig
http://tinyurl.com/734yora

Sheena Vaught's frugal light stand
http://tinyurl.com/7p2l8ol

Sheena Vaught's frugal jib
http://tinyurl.com/7sadhfz

Sean Scarfo's shoulder rig w/lights
http://tinyurl.com/7ethu38

Tamara Stampone's PVC stabilizer rig
http://tinyurl.com/7qo2zxv

David Curtis' PVC stabilizer
http://tinyurl.com/87tc6vf

Aerial slider product shoot BTS
http://tinyurl.com/7woqb8x

Justin Leyba's DIY slider test
http://tinyurl.com/857nugj

Adam Davis' PVC stabilizer rig
http://tinyurl.com/7v5ofn3

Sean Scarfo's DIY LCD viewfinder
http://tinyurl.com/6s9tlye

$10 DIY camera slider
http://tinyurl.com/7d6w846

Sean Scarfo's DIY shoulder rig
http://tinyurl.com/7qbx8f9

Marcus Seelig's DIY shoulder rig
http://tinyurl.com/6tl76cr

Alan Collins' PVC stabilizer rig / shoulder mount
http://tinyurl.com/86fjgjp

Benjamin Duncan's shoulder rig plans
http://tinyurl.com/72ax2nw
3D render
http://tinyurl.com/86vzhk8

Alex Grooff's DIY shoulder rig
http://tinyurl.com/7yc7afo

Knoptop delves into DVD-Rs
http://tinyurl.com/76yvgey

Cam Pagan's Frugal Crane
http://tinyurl.com/7cu2quy

Wayne Poe's stabilizer upgrade plans
http://tinyurl.com/6mpjf9c

Scott Davis' DIY shoulder rig (and video)
http://tinyurl.com/89qgnj7
http://tinyurl.com/73kezxe

Chris Butterfield finds pulleys for Frugal Crane
http://tinyurl.com/7tstav6

David Curtis' test of ring camp light
http://tinyurl.com/7n9jq8g

Benjamin Duncan's FigRig design
http://tinyurl.com/7axjlns

Friday, February 3, 2012

Knoptop Delves into DVD-Rs



Dave is back with another installment of Things You Didn't Know You Didn't Know, this time covering some cool facts about recordable DVDs. Despite the fact that we are moving into a VOD world and DVDs are becoming obsolete, this is good stuff. I still enjoy authoring a disk, as you can get pretty creative with the right program. Dave uses Adobe Encore, I like the lesser-known (and now no longer supported) DVDlab.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Tip: Remote Screenwriting



Modern technology can sure make life easier. With computers, smartphones and the internet your world is wide open to possibilities. Take screenwriting. In this tip episode, I share an easy way to work on your script whether you are at home, on the road, or even at work. And while you may need specialized software to finish, you only need the simplest kind to get started.

Celtx screenwriting software
http://celtx.com/index.html

Fade In screenwriting software
http://www.fadeinpro.com/

Dropbox online storage
https://www.dropbox.com/

Prolost: Screenplay Markdown Lives!
http://prolost.com/spmdlives

DV Rebel's Guide
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0321413644/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=t...

Screenplain
http://screenplain.appspot.com/

Test Script:

INT. SMALLISH APARTMENT - DAY

A tall and lanky SCOTT EGGLESTON (40s), sits at a cluttered countertop feverishly pecking away at his laptop. A small cell phone with a cracked screen sits next to the computer.

The phone vibrates and begins a slow creep toward the edge of the countertop. It falls and is caught in mid-air by a bony hand.

SCOTT
(into phone)
Yello! No, I'm not here. Call me back and leave a voicemail, k? I'm right in the middle of something.

The phone hits the counter with a crack. The typing resumes.