Friday, October 31, 2014

Clamp Light 2.0

Something I like to do is revisit the old, good ideas and update them. Some things will always be useful and inexpensive, but upgrading those ideas with new technology or tweaks can be very helpful. This time out, the clamp light gets an overhaul.

There is nothing really wrong with the old version of the clamp light and the cheap PVC light stand that held it up. I recently acquired a more professional light stand and wanted to migrate the clamp light over to it, while improving the functionality and how it looks. The above video is the result of my efforts.

I throw a lot against the wall in this episode and don't completely address everything. One thing I mention but haven't really tested yet, is using a portable power pack (like the one used to jump start your car) to power these LED lights in the field. Since these lights consume much less power than their incandescent counterparts, I want to get one of these battery packs and see how long they can power at least three of these lights when no wall outlet is available. Definitely a future episode.

One might argue that with the advent of cheap, battery powered LED lights, that there is no real reason to use LED bulbs in a clamp light. I would argue, however, that if you already have the clampies, why not reconfigure and keep using them? Time will tell, but here's the information anyway, just in case you find it useful.


Spring Clamp
Fotodiox 6.5' Light Stand
Generic light stand
Mini ball head
1/4-20" Threaded stud rod end with ball (x4)
1/4-20 male to male adapter
SAE (English) tap and die set

Cree 75w equivalent LED bulb
"Daylight" color temp (5000K)
"Tungsten" color temp (2700K)

5-in-1 Power Pack with dual AC outlets
3 Point lighting tutorial

Music is "Show Your Moves" by Kevin MacLeod

Monday, October 27, 2014

Q&A: How Do I Make Money?

A question on a lot of minds is how to parlay this whole YouTube thing into a viable income stream. Personally, I would love for YouTube filmmaking to be my full time job. Until that dream happens I work full time (not making videos), and tinker to try and figure out how to make money from the wild-west known as online video.

In this Q&A, I explain exactly how I'm making some money (it's no big secret, really) and the different entities that involves. Size does matter in this case, and the more regular eyeballs you can get on your content the more money you make. I go into more detail in the video, but that's the stripped-down version.

If you have a question you'd like to see answered on this show, please email me at thefrugalfilmmaker(at) I'll try to answer you in person as well, but email is the best way to make it onto the show. Thanks!


Suction Cup Camera Mount
Newwer CN-90F Follow Focus Fix
Collection Day (featuring Rachel Van Hampton)
The Making of Invader
Frugal Crane 2.0

Friday, October 24, 2014

Tip: Spider Gripper (audio recorder holder)

It seems like there is always something interesting not made for making movies that you can twist around for a filmmaking purpose. While looking for a way to make my cell phone more "poseable" so it could sit or hang while I watched a video, I found this $2 spider thing. It has eight spindly legs and a rubberized surface and you can slap your phone into it and put it into all kinds of positions.

Like the spring-loaded cell phone tripod mount before it, this gizmo is easily repurposed to hold other things, most obviously smaller audio recorders like the Zoom H1 Handy Recorder. It can hold other items as well (like power supplies attached to tripod legs--see the video), but it seems really disposed to wrapping around a recorder for more mounting options than afforded by the 1/4-20 plastic mounting threads found on the back. In fact, if your threads are shot, who cares? Use the spider.

If anyone has other productions uses for this "Spider Gripper", I'd love to hear them. Please comment below! Everyone can benefit from your contribution.


1/4-20 Flash Hot Shoe Mount Adapter
Metal Camera Quick Release Assembly
Gorillapods (and clones) on eBay

Music: "Kick Shock" by Kevin MacLeod

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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