Thursday, May 30, 2013

Review: Fotodiox Macro Extension Tube

I've never done much macro (extreme close-up) shooting, but I still think it's pretty cool.  When Fotodiox offered to send me an adapter that would make any of my lenses into macro lenses, I jumped at the chance.  At only $10 (for the Sony NEX version), it's a steal. It's definitely not perfect, but the low price more than compensates for the hoops you may have to jump through to get it to work properly.

gives you uber-cool extreme close-up video

is only effective with manual lenses (no electronic pass-through)
adds weird tilt to camera (when used with Fotodiox lens adapter with tripod mount)
need long lens for practical use (only a con if you don't have one)

Fotodiox Macro Extension Tube
Macro Slider Rail

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Tip: Sci-fi Hockey Puck Prop

In a scene from my upcoming thesis film, a certain device is described in a very specific way--hockey puck shaped.  Even though I wrote the script and had a pretty good idea about what I wanted, I went looking anyway. Who knows what better ideas I could stumble across with a little legwork?

LED Puck Light
Light Strike Mini Target
Palm Touchstone Induction Charger

P.S. If you need to turn your PDF screenplay into a JPG so you can insert a page into a video (as I did here), pdf2jpg will do it for you online.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Recap Q&A: Make a Better Teaser Contest!

Didn't like the "Collection Day" teaser? Make your own!

Collection Day 4: First Teaser and Some Marketing

Collection Day Facebook Page

Collection Day Twitter Feed

Kevin MacLeod's "Darkness is Coming" music track

DIY Steadicam - Krotocam review

Redhead cheap light kit review

This 12-year-old girl can kick your butt (at making movies)

How to get started with Magic Lantern RAW video on your Canon

How to build a "bag of tricks" you can pull from in a pinch

16 recommendations for filmmakers for a sustainable creative life

Sony MDR-V6 and Tascam TH02 monitor headphone review

DIY CFL lighting kit

$1 multi clamp

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Collection Day 4: First Teaser and Some Marketing

Things are chugging along for my grad thesis film, Collection Day, and that includes some marketing moves. Last week we launched (thanks to associate producer Stephanie Stephens) an official Facebook Page and a Twitter feed. There isn't much content as of yet, but we did recently post the first of three audition notices.

I also registered an official, easy to remember domain name ( that, as of now, redirects to the Facebook page. I'm sure there will be a better use for it in the future, but a domain name is cheap and good to have for easily directing anyone interested to more information.

I also created a short teaser video. Even though no one has been cast and not one frame has been shot (we've only had one meeting!), a teaser video can be a good way to create interest and dole out information. Here, I reveal some key points to the story in every piece of text. I slightly animate the text to create drama (except for the title itself) and for the tagline at the end, it moves in the opposite direction (more drama!)

Of course, what really makes the teaser (if it is made at all) is the music. I used a royalty free selection ("Darkness is Coming") from Kevin McLeod over at his great site I think the piece fits really well and reminds of the score from John Carpenter's The Thing (1982), which is something I want in the final score of my film.

So what do you think? Does the teaser effectively pique your interest?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Recap Q&A: What Remote Monitor are you Using?

Facebook Group:
Twitter Feed:

Watch "Frugal Shoulder Rig"

Watch "The Frugal Floater (DIY Steadicam)

Digital Prism portable 7" TV

Tip: External SD Monitor Battery

The 180 degree rule

YouTube user who asked about "The 180 Degree Rule": The P-Cult!

7 lessons for startups from the film industry

Professional, organic, practical fx for 'The Fountain' & 'The Tree of Life'

Glidecam vs Flycam

DIY spider trax dolly track

17 things about the film biz that should influence your behavior

Visual FX pionneer Ray Harryhausen dies at 92

10+ steps to becoming mega successful in video production

Execute your video content strategy in 8 steps

$10 budget: Watch, Stylus, Army Men!

Matrix effect with a ceiling fan and a GoPro

Collection Day 3: First pre-production meeting

Speed up renders in Sony Vegas and most editing programs

TED Talk: The key to success? Grit

The history and science of color temperature

Friday, May 10, 2013

Collection Day 3: First Pre-Production Meeting

This past Wednesday, the core crew for my grad thesis film, Collection Day, got together to go over a basic production timeline and discuss how we're going to get this project made. Producer Scott McEntire had already broken down the script and had a list of characters, locations and props.  He is very thorough and had lots of questions for me, which is great. Movies don't get made in a vacuum and there needs to be interactions between the producer and all the department heads to make sure things get rolling.

We also talked about the uber-important (and often neglected) marketing aspect and how we plan to raise the money for this mini-monster. Our associate producer, Stephanie Stephens, is not only an accomplished makeup fx artist (which will come in handy), but also a graphic artist (she's the one that came up with our first teaser graphic). She is wise to the marketing ways of Facebook and Twitter and was placed in charge of the upcoming Kickstarter campaign.  Smaller productions often have people wearing many hats and Collection Day is no exception.

It's in print, so it must be real!
We established some very important dates and deadlines, especially auditions. I'm a big fan of actors and really want to find some great ones to fill these roles. Our lead is a complex character and will need to have a certain range, both physically and emotionally, to be convincing. I know we can find her, but don't yet have any idea of who she might be.  Auditions and callbacks will remedy this.

Another important landmark we set was the month of shooting.  While it is still too early to set specific dates, it looks like the coming October will be when the camera starts rolling.  It seems like a a long time from now, but so much has to happen in the meantime, that it will be upon us very soon.

I say something "relevant", while co-producer Michael Carpenter looks on.
This meeting was very productive. Everyone had good input, important dates were agreed on, and we all parted with confidence that not only will the movie get made, but that it will be a good movie, worth watching.  Okay, that's how I felt when the meeting was over.

*Special thanks to Eric White for taking the meeting photos.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

$10 Budget: Watch, Stylus, Army Men!

Today I roundup a few items from eBay, Dollar General, and (of course) Dollar Tree.  I've been looking for some near-future props for my thesis film Collection Day, and have been very interested in cheap digital watches from China.  They have some interesting designs and some could easily pass for wrist-worn communicators, which is exactly what I want.

Also in the show, I spend not much on a bunch of plastic army men, cowboys and indians, and buccaneers.  While it may seem like I'm just a giant child (which is very possible), I actually think we could use these for actor blocking and quick and dirty storyboards.

The last item is just a cheap pen/stylus you can use on your smartphone.  I find that trying to use my finger when trying to draw anything, just doesn't work.  Using your whole hand with a drawing instrument works much better.  Even though the pen on this combo device is terrible, the stylus will come in handy if you do any sort of diagramming (such as overheads) on your phone.

Mayday!  Mayday! 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Recap Q&A: Where was the Episode Last Week?

Facebook Group:
Twitter Feed:

XLR to 1/8" audio adapter cable

Zoom H1 Handy Recorder

Tascam DR-05 digital audio recorder

Tascam DR-40 digital audio recorder (with XLR inputs)

XLR-PRO dual channel XLR adapter/mixer

Budget Light Kit

Audio Crate

Soderbergh: Studios only gamble on openings, not filmmakers

5 sci-fi gadgets (props), really everyday objects

How to carry a DSLR slider in your pocket

Best DIY slider on the planet(?)

Minolta MD mount lenses on Canon EOS

Collecton Day 2: Early Teaser Graphic

Proaim MB-600 mattebox review

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Collection Day 2: Early Teaser Graphic

Next Wednesday night is our first pre-production meeting for my grad thesis film: Collection Day. Our associate producer, Stephanie Stephens, is also a graphic and effects makeup artist. On her own, she came up with the above teaser graphic which incorporates several elements from our sci-fi action drama.

She also had a wonderful marketing idea of creating temporary tattoos that we could pass out and use as a form of advertisement. By that time we should have a registered web address that will either lead to our web site or Facebook page. She even speculated about creating a tattoo with a QR code that could be scanned by a smartphone for similar results. All good ideas.

Anyway, the meeting on Wednesday will feature all main department heads, with the goal of creating a timeline leading up to our shoot in September. Producer Scott McEntire sent an email to everyone with the prediction "everyone will walk out of this meeting with something to do".

I think I like where this is going.


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