Monday, April 29, 2013

Recap Q&A: How do you Stealth Shoot?

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Suction Cup Camera Mount

Cheap suction cup mounts on eBay

The Frugal Floater (DIY Steadicam)

CCTV lenses for consumer cameras

How to install ProRes codecs for Mac and Adobe Media Encoder

Sky replacement/enhancement in After Effects

GoPro Hero 3 protective slip on lens

Turn a window in a cool background for less than $5

Why you should create content with a hook

Roger Deakins to aspiring cinematographers

Frugal Shoulder Rig

Collection Day 1: First Sketches

Laing P-03 stabilizer/steadycam review

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Collection Day 1: First Sketches

Collection Day is my MFA thesis film, which I plan on shooting in the fall of this year.  A sci-fi action drama, it follows near-future government agent Taylor Glass and her awakening to who she really is and what she does to stop being that person. The film is my favorite type of movie: well-drawn characters and an interesting story, all in a genre wrapper.

While the core crew is mostly assembled and very basic pre-production has begun, I really wanted a concept artist to work with me and come up with character designs that I could show the other departments instead of trying to explain everything.  After some inquiry, I found college Senior Haley Tynes, a theatre major with costume design experience.

After an initial meeting to go over what I was looking for, Haley came back with the above sketches.  We had discussed a comic book style (with possible scene renderings), which explains the Manga look, though I’ve asked her to change it to a more realistic version in the future.  This is why you have meetings and give notes.  You tell your people what you want, let them breathe their talent into it, and then you make suggestions.  Repeat until you get what you are looking for. 

For me, this is a very exciting first step.  I love seeing what other people (and their expertise) can bring to something I have written.  Shooting in the fall is not that far away, so continue to tune in for updates and news concerning Collection Day, a project that should be the best thing I have ever produced.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Frugal Shoulder Rig

Probably the most requested item since the Frugal Crane, a DIY shoulder rig seems to be at the top of everyone's list. I know these things are everywhere and I still wasn't sure I wanted to make one (after putting it off over and over), but after making the Frugal Stabilizer II, I caved. Building nice looking rigs out of flash brackets is just stupid easy and requires no tools. A shoulder rig seemed like a perfect fit for my recent building spree, so I submit this one for your approval.


Frugal Stabilizer II
Dual straight flash bracket
2x Small camera grip handles
large camera grip handle
22x 1/4"x2" fender washers
1x 1/4" bolt or screw 2" in length
1/4" thumb nut (regular nut works also)


Sennheiser ME66 shotgun mic
Sign Video XLR-Pro XLR interface/mixer
$10 mic shockmount review
Zoom H1 Handy Recorder
Mini ball head
Frugal Fast Release
Nanguang video light review

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Frugal Fail? Prop Rifle Recoil Simulator

For my upcoming thesis film, Collection Day, there is some gunplay involved. One scene features a shootout involving an assault rifle and I wanted to add some realism to this scene. Though I won't be using blanks (I don't want the danger or the noise), I still wanted more from the rifle than just the "actor shakes the prop" effect.

To attempt this effect, I first tried installing a vibrating motor into a smaller prop gun as a test. The above video shows this attempt, which was only sort of successful. In my opinion, the gun doesn't vibrate enough and this lends to problems when I try it on a heavier, full scale G36c replica.

I would still like to pull this off, but need some suggestions.  Any ideas?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Frugal Friday: Vivitar VT4 Tripod Steady

While I do have several larger episodes in the works, sometimes the crush of life just won't let you get them out on time! That's why I'm going with a quickie today under the moniker "Frugal Friday". Since my normal episodes come out on Thursday, Friday is a good day for a light snack just before the weekend.

I'm starting the series with a look at the Vivitar VT4 Tripod Steady, which is currently on sale on Amazon for $5. It's a handy little device that gives you a little "tripod" (actually closer to a stand) whose legs fold up into an angled pistol grip. The 1/4-20" thread lets you attach your camera, audio recorder, lights, shockmounts, or anything else that fits on this standard thread size.

Yesterday, while shooting stills with my tiny Sony NEX 5n, I found an altogether new use for it. Press play to find out what that was...


Monday, April 8, 2013

Recap Q&A: What Do You Want in a Shoulder Rig?

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Frugal Stabilizer II

Frugal Filmmaker now in other languages

Growing your YouTube channel

Secrets of YouTube success

The YouTube Snowball

Light socket and umbrella holder for $5.45

Free iPad Final Cut X controller app

How to make an LED "ice light"

Mini DSLR shoulder rig camera stabilizer

How camera angle affects body shape

Targus monpod for $9.99

$10 Budget: Handle Mustache Wheel Level!

Quick release system for smaller cameras

Frugal Filmmaker now in other languages

iPhone 4s 72mm wide angle lens

Waste basket matte box

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Frugal Filmmaker now in Other Languages

Always pondering over how I can increase the reach of my ideas, I recently came across an idea that should have been obvious a long time ago. With a growing international audience for this information, why am I not translating everything into other languages? In the past, the answer would have been "I don't have those kind of resources", but now there are many forms of automatic translation that can easily be integrated into your blog and YouTube uploads.

The first thing I tried was Google's translation widget that you can incorporate into any Blogger blog. It was okay, but any one who doesn't speak English maybe wouldn't know what it was when they saw it. That was a problem, as was when it was used, it would strip all the page formatting. After a quick search (on Google ironically), I found GTranslate which provides HTML code easily integrated into your blog, no matter what platform. It does the same thing (a dropdown menu that lets you pick another language), but has a graphic of international flags (which tips off the reader) and keeps the formatting of what it translates. Nice.

The second thing I tried was captioning on YouTube. I understand the importance of captioning to the hearing impaired (which is another audience you can reach), but considering you had to upload a script, I wasn't very enthused. I ad lib most of my shows, so creating a script to upload meant transcribing--not interested, thank you.

Now, you can go into your settings and click on "captions" which lets YouTube create a script from your audio and generate captions for you. Of course it's riddled with typos, buy you can download the script, make corrections, and re-upload. Once captions are activated, you can click on the "CC" button on the bottom of the playback window and change the captions to another languages. Perfect!

So this is what I've done. The GTranslator is active on my blog and I've turned captioning on every one of my videos.  Almost all are still in the messed-up initial translation (except one), but it's a start. I now have the Herculean task of fixing most of them (I'm going to leave the Recap vids the way they are and tweak everything else), which will take awhile.

I think this is an important step. Now anyone speaking a language other than English can take part in learning about micro-budget film, which may have been out of their reach previously. It's exciting to reach more viewers, but even more exciting that the goal of reaching a global audience (something the internet always promises) is that much closer to reality.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

$10 Budget: Handle Mustache Wheel Level!

Ten dollars can go a long way, right?  This month I gather up a bundle of stuff that could help hold your cold shoe accessories, roll your camera on a table, check the balance of your floating stabilizer and make you look older.  What are these mysteries you ask?  Press play to find out!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Recap Q&A: How Would You Do an Aerial Shot?

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Simply Scripts - unproduced shorts

Cheap shotgun mic on eBay

Audacity - free audio software

SocialBlade - The Frugal Filmmaker YouTube channel stats

De-click your manual still lenses on a budget

The process of crowdfunding to help you run a successful campaign

Cool hazy/light leak effects with a sandwich baggie

EOS to NEX adapter with aperture + autofocus + stabilization

Tip: lav mic tricks

Slider to bowl mount adapters for fluid heads

EOS transcode utility for Windows

Lumix LX7 - a tool for beginner filmmakers


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