Monday, December 28, 2015

Review: $10 Camera Quick Release System

I'm always on the lookout for the perfect piece of DIY kit to help me in my quest to build the perfect camera rig. A large part of this is a quick release system which allows the fast removal and attachment of cameras, recorders, and other accessories to whatever rig I've constructed.

In the past I've covered the Sima Quickonnect and the Manfrotto 323 clone, even featuring both of them in their own head-to-head video. While I like both of these and continue to use them, they weren't without their faults. I go into this more in the video, but when I came across a newer generic model of quick release, I was intrigued.

In the end I wasn't that impressed (and can't see giving up the Sima or the Manfrotto clone), but I was glad I found something unique that actually addressed issues of my first two choices, even if it doesn't quite work for me.

Featured quick release system (eBay : Amazon)
Manfrotto 323 quick release clone (eBay : Amazon)
Sima Quickonnect (eBay)

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Q&A: Can you show me a TV show setup?

Today we look at rehearsing, green screens, foley, TV show setups, and why I slouch on camera.


6x9' muslin green screen
What is foley?
The 180 degree rule

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Q&A: Should I record my own sound effects?

Today our questions cover render settings, what films to watch, creating sound fx, car mounts, and the real reason that gold reflector is in my window.


A Better Way to Use the Short Film Idea Deck
Video4YouTube (free Sony Vegas plugin/script)
Sony Vegas: Import text file to credit roll
Ben Burtt wiki
Suction Cup Camera Mount
32" 5-in-1 collapsible reflector (Amazon : eBay)

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Sony Vegas: Import text to credit roll

Making a scrolling credit list can be a laborious process. While I like the simple credit roll format made available inside of Sony Vegas Pro, it still has a form that is not fun to fill out. There must be a simpler way, right?

I've been shooting ballets and ballet recitals for the past three years. One thing I always dreaded was entering the extensive credit list for the roll at the end. I recently discovered that you can import a text file into the Sony Vegas Pro credit form, and if the formatting is correct, it will save you a lot of work and time.

The trick to doing this is two fold. One is to get your credit information into a text file. If you have a copy of your project's program in a PDF file, you can go to a site like ExtractPDF and it will rip out the text for you. If it's your own project, you can prepare the text in a word processor (much easier than inside the editor) an export as a text file.

Next, you'll need to format your text properly. The basic credit roll generator allows for three simple formats: titles, subitems, and two columns. Titles are designated with a space before the text, subitems have no space, and dual columns are separated by a tab. See the video for more clarification.

Once I figured out how to do this, I was amazed how easy it was to get the credit roll set up. While tweaking of the properly formatted text is still important, it is so much faster and less of a chore than manual entry. I just wish I knew about it three years ago.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Q&A: How do you light a low-lit scene?

Today we talk my first cold weather shooting experience, lighting low light, finding outdoor locations, vintage lenses, crowdfunding and Frugal Filmmaker Trivia!


Holiday Gift Guide 2015
A better way to use the Short Film Idea Deck
Abandoned Arkansas
Five Things I Learned Using Kickstarter

Friday, December 4, 2015

Holiday Picks 2015 (gift guide)

It's the holiday season and if you're looking for a gift for any frugal filmmaker (such as yourself), here's a short list of choices you may find beneficial. These are all items that I have reviewed in the past year and I am still using them all.

You'll find more details in the the video, but here is the list given listed from most expensive to most affordable.

5. Seagate 5TB hard drives (video : Amazon)
4. Audioblocks (review : website)
3. Aspen lav mic (review : Amazon : website)
2. 7' light stand with compression collars (review : Amazon : eBay)
1. Large 1/4-20 knobs (review : eBay)

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Five Frugal Turkeys: Learning from bad videos

When you are trying to post a new video every week, there may be times when some bad ones slip through. Every thing you publish isn't going to be great and some may be downright awful. The good news is that you can learn from your mistakes and make your next video better than the last.

That's what this video is about. I've chosen five videos that had something bad about them that I learned from. I state what I think is wrong with each post, followed by the lesson learned. Hopefully I'm not the only one that benefits.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Q&A: What about camcorder filmmaking?

And this what happens when you post a video on YouTube, a holiday hits, and you forget the accompanying post on your blog! Sorry about the delay for those who read the blog and don't subscribe to the YouTube channel.

Today we talk about tripods, vintages lenses, external mics, and the Frugal Endgame.


Technique: Camera Panning and Tilting

Vivitar Series 1 lens info (a good place to start)


Sunday, November 22, 2015

Technique: Camera Panning and Tilting

While it may seem super basic to describe the camera pan and tilt, it's still an important shot that every filmmaker should know how to pull off. If you have never heard of this camera move, the pan (from the term panorama) is to move the camera left and right, while the tilt is to move the camera up and down. Very simple stuff, but that doesn't mean you should be lazy when using it.

What I find interesting about the pan and tilt, is that it's one of the few shots that mimics the movement of the human head. When we need to look around we pan or tilt our head, just like a camera on a tripod. A tripod which also has a head, arm, and legs. Interesting.

In the video I show some examples of pans and tilts (sometimes solo, sometimes in tandem with other shots) from my short films. On the surface it seems like the simplest of moves, but like all camera moves, it can be as simple or complex as you want. The pan and tilt are revealing shots that hold back critical visual information until the move is complete. It's one of many storytelling tools you have at your disposal.

A fluid head on your tripod is a must when performing a pan or a tilt. The oil bearing in a fluid head will give you buttery smooth pans and tilts right out of the box. You'll still need to practice, of course, but you'll never regret getting a fluid head on your sticks. Conversely, trying to do a pan or tilt on a still camera tripod (with no fluid head) is a nightmare. Spare yourself the misery and don't do it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Q&A: How frugal are you?

Today we cover spring clamps, filmmaker frugality, a snow shoot, generic audio monitors, my ten minute time limit, and poop!


Creating a Small Studio, Part 3 - Tabletop Shooting!
Spring Clamp at Home Depot
External Camera Power
External Camera Power 2
Review: Fotodiox ND Throttle 
Variable ND Filter (Amazon : eBay)

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Creating a Small Studio, Part 3 - Tabletop

If you're like me and you do any kind of videos about the making of anything, you've probably shot on a table, counter top, or desktop. There's been an evolution over the years concerning how I've done these shoots, but they have always had to involve setup and tear down. I longed for the day I didn't have to set up lights and a camera, and I could abandon the kitchen all together as a DIY location.

As I've mentioned in Part 1 (better sound) and Part 2 (lighting) of this series, having any kind of studio space can make you more efficient and allow your creativity to expand. Since I also do a lot of tabletop shooting, I also needed some kind of always-ready surface I could shoot my DIY builds on. Today's video covers how I do this.

I'm really happy with my "Laundry Room Studio". Sure, it may be small, but it addresses my needs of dedicated space with little to no setup needed for the majority of my online video work. I don't miss the kitchen one bit.

32" 5-in-1 collapsible reflector (Amazon : eBay)
11" articulating camera arm (Amazon : eBay)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Amazon Portal: A Free way to Support The FF

If you visit this blog regularly (what? you don't?), you probably noticed the new box in the upper right hand corner, which features the Amazon logo and a swirly super nova, black hole thingy. This I've dubbed the "Amazon Portal" which is just a link to the Amazon home page using my Amazon affiliate ID code.

Being an affiliate is a great way to make a little money from purchases made by others. Most of the time I simply create a product link to something that I'm making a video about or something that I mention. If you go through one of those links and buy anything, I get a small percentage (Yay! Thanks!). It's a nice, passive way to be supported by those of you who seem to like what I'm doing.

The difference with the Amazon Portal, is that I'm not telling you what to buy. Many people ask me how they can support me directly, and I really don't have an answer beyond the PayPal donate button also found on this blog's sidebar. So, the Portal is my indirect direct approach.

Whenever you need something from Amazon, come to the blog and use the link. Even better, copy the link ( or bookmark it, so every time you feel the need to spend money on Amazon, you can also spending a little to keep the Frugal Filmmaker humming along.

I'm always grateful for all the kind support and comments, but it does take more than good will to keep this channel afloat. That's why I really like affiliate programs. Viewers can make a monetary difference with no hit to their wallet, allowing them to spend more money on their films instead.


Monday, November 9, 2015

Q&A: How do you waterproof a lav mic?

Today I tackle questions on keeping mics dry, adapting vintage lenses, my current camera, YouTube mail, and what exactly is in that spray bottle on my window sill?

Congratulations to Will Fastie for getting the correct answer on last week's Trivia Monday question!


Tip: A Better YouTube Trailer

ATV sounds courtesy
Arctic wind sounds courtesy

Tip: A Better YouTube Trailer

If you have a YouTube channel, an important element of marketing is your channel trailer. This a video you can select to autoplay every time a unsubscribed visitor shows up to check out your wares. YouTube instructs you to keep this brief and to give an overview of your content, but I think their advice isn't very effective.

I used to have a brief trailer, which lasted on my channel for a couple of years. It was short, sweet, and to the point, but I wasn't featured (just my old intro) and it quickly got old. Every time a potential subscriber came for a look-see, that same old trailer would play. It really needed an update and was always on my to do list. But wouldn't it quickly get old as well?

I'm of the belief that, like a website, your YouTube channel should always have fresh content. This would mean a fresh trailer every month or so, right? Wrong! Some channels just use their most recent video as a trailer, and while that does take care of the requirement to have new stuff featured, I don't think it's always the best idea.

The best YouTube channels have a variety of content, not all of which would make a good trailer for the unsubbed visitor. I post reviews, tips, Q&As and short films, but none of them really represent the main thrust of my channel: DIY filmmaking. My DIY videos are the best representation of what I am all about, so that is what I now use as my trailer. I rotate these into the trailer position as I make them, so the content stays fresh. It also gives a view boost to those vids that have already had their initial run.

In this way the trailer will never become stale and a visitor will never see a talking head telling them what the channel is about. The trailer will actually show them what the channel is about, with an actual video. This removal of an extra step of engagement for them (if you like the trailer, click below for more!) should help promote what you are really all about and get you some new regular viewers in the process.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Q&A: Is there a frugal drone? (Trivia Monday)

Today I discuss light sockets, carry cases, drones, matte boxes, and the Frugal Filmmaker lecture circuit! It's also Trivia Monday, so check the video for the question, be the first to answer by email and you'll win your very own Frugal Filmmaker Short Film Idea Deck!


Three light kit w/stands and umbrellas (eBay : Amazon)
Husky Storage Crate/Tote
Perfect Storm Lightning Simulator
Review: Aspen Lav Mic (unbalanced)
Creating a Small Studio, Part 2: Lights!
Tip: Stealth Camera Bag for $6
DIY Lens Sun Shade

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Review: Aspen Lav Mic (unbalanced)

Every time I sit down to record a YouTube video, I use a lav mic. This is a small microphone that clips to your clothing, near your mouth, that allows you to easily capture sound from the person it is attached to. It is much easier to use than an boom mic and you don’t need an operator (or stand) to implement it properly. It’s a perfect microphone for one-man-band YouTubing.

The microphone I’ve used ever since starting the Frugal Filmmaker has been the Radio Shack Tie-Clip mic, probably because it used to be so easy to get one (especially before RS closed half of their stores). It was an affordable $30 and produced decent sound for an unbalanced (non-XLR) microphone. It has been happy partners with my Zoom H1 Handy Recorder for some time now.

Aspen Mics recently contacted me and asked if I would review one of their lav mics and I agreed. Similarly priced, I was curious to hear the difference between this new mic and my old one, and looked forward to doing an A/B comparison.

The above video is a finding of my results. The Aspen is a well-made mic that sounds identical to my Radio Shack model, but needs no batteries. It’s a good looking mic, with a great cord length for mounting to a concealed recorder. It’s about $12 more expensive than the RS version, but that may be negligible when the price of batteries are added in.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Creating a Small Studio, Part 2 - Lights!

In continuing the short series about turning small spaces into "usable" studio space (last episode was about improving sound), today's video is all about simple area lighting. One of my goals for any sized studio was to have lights preset and ready to go, no matter when I needed to shoot. Creating even lighting was an issue, as was a window in the room.

Area lighting covers your shot more evenly (and thus, flatter) than something like three-point lighting which provides more modeling and nuance. The trade off is that area lighting can be very simple and much easier to setup, giving you decent lighting for little cost.

As shown in the video, the main component for my setup is the frugal "bug light". This consists of a light stand, compatible light fixture with standard socket, dual socket "Y" adapter, and two LED bulbs that are close enough to daylight color temperature. I go into more details in the video, but it's safe to say that these work just fine for small studio purposes.

I have two of these units raised off of the floor (they are sitting on other objects), which brings them pretty close to the ceiling. Placed in opposite corners of the room puts them in optimal positions and the white surfaces they are near help to reflect light back into the studio. The dual LED bulbs on each stand not only provide plenty of light, but also run cool to keep the "laundry room studio" from becoming an oven.

All in all, I'm pretty happy with my new lighting. The best part is that it completely eliminates almost any setup/teardown time required when I had no space at all. It's functional, frugal, and fast.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Q&A: How do I control that work light glare?

Today's questions cover topics such as my accidental mirror image in the last video, project organization, the "to 4k or not to 4k" question, DIY fails, and glare caused by the hacking the old hardware store tungsten work lights.


Top 5 Camera Rig Parts
How to turn one camera into two angles
Lowel Day Blue Lighting Gel Set
What is a cucoloris (aka "cookie")?

Friday, October 9, 2015

DIY: Top 5 Camera Rig Parts

As you may be aware of, I've built a lot of camera rigs in the past. In the process I've found myself using the same parts over and over when I go to attach things to said rig. In the above video I go into more depth about these parts, but below are listed all said parts for your quick perusal. I hope they can help you affordable build your own camera setups in various configurations.

mini ball head
1/4-20" to camera shoe adapter (male)
camera shoe receptacle
1/4-20" coupler (female-to-female)
combo camera shoe adapter/coupler deal
1/4-20" male-to-male adapter
neoprene fender washer (1/4" hole) - hardware store
7" magic arm clone
11" magic arm clone

Friday, September 25, 2015

Split Video Archive (DIY NAS)

After producing videos for The Frugal Filmmaker for the past five years, I've accumulated a lot of video. I've been wanting some kind of archiving system so I could gather all my video in one place, have easy access to it, and have it constantly backed up in at least two places. My first attempts at this was to back up select videos to Blu-ray discs, but what if I wanted to archive everything?

Some YouTubers commented on that video and asked if I had ever tried Network Attached Storage (NAS). I had never heard of such a thing, but quickly discovered what they were and how they were a step closer to my archival dreams. Essentially a big box that connects to your computer, an NAS will not only act as a big fat drive to store video, but will also automatically mirror that stored video into a second drive contained within. If one drive goes bad, you replace it and the contents are restored.

I liked this idea but didn't like the expense, or the fact that both drives could be taken out in one swift stroke from a disaster like fire, flood, or theft. My solution was to get separate external drives and spread them over a local area network (LAN). Hopefully, anything bad that would happen to one wouldn't happen to the other due to this physical separation.

The above video details my setup as well as the software (Karen's Replicator, Bvckup 2) that I'm using to automate the backup process. Now, when I create a new project folder on my laptop, the contents are backed up to the first external drive and later the archive copies the new contents to the second external drive separated across the network. Both these actions can take place immediately (if I activate them manually) or in the middle of the night (via timers) while I sleep.

I really like this new setup and it gives me some nice peace of mind. No longer to I need to scatter all my projects across a bunch of "small" external drives and when I need older project footage, it's there. If one drive fails, I replace it and copy all the contents from the drive that didn't. Simple.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Creating a Small Studio, Part 1: Sound

When I moved to Alaska recently, I was excited to finally get a room that I could use as a small studio. In the past I would always have to set up every YouTube shoot from scratch, which could take anywhere from twenty minutes to an hour. I looked forward to the day when all I had to do was walk in, turn on the lights, put on a mic, turn on the camera and press record.

That time is now, when I inherited our new laundry room as convertible studio space. My excitement was a bit dampened when I walked into the near-empty room, said a few words and heard my voice echoing all over the place. Some serious work was going to have to be done, but as usual I didn't have much money to spend and had to mostly use what was laying around. I did both and the result turned out pretty good. Watch the video to see what I'm talking about.

There is more to add, and in a future episode I will be sharing some visual elements of converting this small room into a micro-studio. This includes lighting and camera angles which not only cover shooting my talking head on screen, but also a preset method of doing my tabletop videos.

This new setup looks to be really good and fast for me, and if you are thinking of doing the same thing, there might be some valuable information here you can use as well. The best part is the complete removal of all setups starting from scratch. That alone makes me thrilled and will help me produce videos a lot more efficiently.


Acoustic foam squares (12"x12"x2")
Radio Shack clip-on mic (#33-3013)
Zoom H1 Handy Recorder (Amazon : eBay)

Monday, August 24, 2015

A Better Way to Use the Short Film Idea Deck

Some of you have probably heard me babbling on about The Frugal Filmmaker Short Film Idea Deck (you can buy one here), if for no other reason than I keep offering it as a prize to Trivia Monday at the first of each month. I've always liked the idea of gaming/filmmaking crossovers, especially in story creation, and blogged about it a long time ago.

The Idea Deck is a product of that philosophy and when I created it awhile back, my instructions on how to use it were pretty vague. I've been wanting to post an update for awhile now, and this is it! It's nothing revelatory, but if you've used the deck or wanted to get one, this video may clarify the potential that the deck can have to help you craft a short story or film.

I also would like to point out how I shot this episode, as I'm in my new Alaska digs and am still figuring things out. In the past I've always shot my "tabletop" episodes at an angle, tilting everything on the table to make it look straight on camera.

This time I shot directly over my shoulder by attaching the Eventpod to my tripod's quick release plate, attaching my camera to a mini-ball head on the end of the modified monopod. I used my backpack as a counter weight and spring clamps to keep the sliding keyboard tray in place. If you're wondering why there is a comforter balled up in front of me, it's to absorb my voice and keep it from bouncing all over the room.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

I'm in Alaska! Now what?

Well, I finally made it. After a long transitional period that landed me in Utah, I was finally called up to the largest (and coldest) state in the Union. I'm now located in a remote corner of Alaska and am finally getting settled. Now the fun begins.

While I sort of had a game plan before, I'm restructuring a bit to adjust to my new situation. Some things are clear and some are not, but I have a better idea about what I want to do here and what I can do here. Not all roads lead to Nome, er, Rome it would seem.

1. The Frugal Filmmaker now lives in the most non-frugal place in the country. Coming from one of the most affordable states (Arkansas) to one of the most expensive (Alaska), has been an eye-opener. Sure, I knew it would be costly, but you're never really sure what you've done until you buy groceries. Everything here costs about two to three times as it does in the "down states", which really limits to what you can buy. A gallon of milk for $10? It really makes you examine your priorities.

The good news is that I can order most of what I need online. Amazon Prime works just fine in Alaska, and I can get plenty of stuff when I need it (with maybe an extra day or two wait). My other favorite source, eBay, also works quite well unless the vendor refuses to ship here. The Chinese sellers are just fine, but there are some U.S. companies that refuse. I find this strange since USPS Priority Mail costs the same as it does to any other state in the States and ships just fine up north.

2. There are no big box retailers in my remote corner of the state. I'll admit it, I'm going to miss Dollar Tree, Home Depot and Wal-Mart. I found all kinds of useful stuff in those stores and appreciated the immediacy at which I could obtain materials for various DIY builds and props. Those stores were always good in a pinch and readily accessible.

While there is an ACE Hardware here (the only real chain store), my future is going to be online. The good news is that I do a lot more web shopping than I do in brick and mortar stores, so I'm going to be okay. When I need some tool or part right away, I'll have to pay through the nose, but if I can plan and think ahead, nothing really changes.

3. There is a data cap on all broadband internet usage. Yep, you heard right. Where $50 in the continental U.S. would get you decent unlimited broadband, here it will cost $150 and you'll only have 30-40 gigs of downloading. This means normal web usage is fine, but my days of binge watching on Netflix are over.

While this may sound like bad news, it really isn't. Not having any streaming options (outside of YouTube) just means that I have more time to develop content for the channel and spend more time making films. Binge watching is really just time-wasting anyway, especially when it involves stuff you've already seen. I am also changing my account from streaming back to DVDs in the mail, so I can still watch newer films as they emerge.

4. There is no obvious film community. A town as small as the one I live in means no film commision and no local arts program to cull talent from. There is no local theatre to find actors and I appear to be the only one here even who shoots video with any regularity.

The good news is that  there is a satellite campus here and it looks very likely that I will be teaching an introductory video production class.  This will not only give me valuable teaching experience, but also contact will people who want to make films. This may not help me when looking for a hair and makeup person, but it does open up crew possibilities. And then there's that guy with a drone...

5. I have no idea what kind of movies to make up here. Living in the lower states gave me a lot of options for making almost anything I could dream up, but that's not the case here. I'm in a small (basically fishing) town with limited locations and extreme weather in the coming months. It's got me perplexed, to say the very least.

Clearly what I need to do is reverse engineer whatever film I do next. Mark Duplass spoke about this recently in his excellent SXSW keynote address, but it's nothing new. Roger Corman did the exact same thing for decades: take inventory of what you have access to, and make a film using all of it. This includes the indigenous population. This may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me, to make movies that will look and feel like nothing I've ever done before. I can't waste it. And if the weather proves to be a problem, I can always shoot in the summer. They are beautiful up here.

There is no doubt in my mind that living here has many challenges. I can whine and complain about it or take stock it what I can do and make the most of it. There's really only one option, and I look forward to seeing the end result.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Shooting in the Rain (DIY camera rain bag)

I don't think anyone likes to shoot in the rain, but sometimes you have to. When that time arrives, you'll need to take precautions to protect your gear. In very basic rain conditions, I'll just use my Versa-brella, but sometimes a camera rain bag or sleeve is a better idea. As a filmmaker, your camera is the most important piece of gear, so don't let it get wet!

Audio is also a concern. The rapping of even tiny rain drops on or near your microphone can create unusable sound (see the video for an example) and must be addressed as well. The very popular non-lubricated condom can really help here, especially when you need to water-proof your boom mic.

Whatever rain situation your find yourself in, you need to address it. Water can be fatal to your electronic gear, but the good news is that it's pretty inexpensive to repel it.

DIY camera rain bag parts
plastic bag (large enough to fit your entire camera
paper/plastic/styrofoam cup
rubber/hair band

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Q&A: Laptop or Desktop for Editing?

If you would like a filmmaking question answered, send me an email to thefrugalfilmmaker(at), comment below or send me a message on Twitter @frugalfilmmaker.


Midnyte (web series)
Sony Vegas: Recording Sound Directly into your Timeline
Samsung 500gb SSD drive (a little more expensive than quoted)

Friday, July 31, 2015

DIY: Fuzzy Lav Mic Windscreen for $2

Wind noise sucks. Nothing will alert a viewer to an amateur production faster than bad audio, and wind blowing on your mic sounds terrible. While a fuzzy windscreen (or "dead cat") is more commonly seen on boom mics, there are also smaller versions for lavs that do the same things for interviews or videoblogging.

Shooting outdoors can give you all kinds of challenges and audio is no different. I've been using a temporary setup recently, where the only possible place for me to shoot is outside. I haven't had any wind issues until recently, and then found that my foam windscreen was less than up to the task. I knew fuzzy windscreens were better, with their awesome sound-trapping capabilities, but I didn't want to shell out $20.

In the past I remember a YouTuber using a fuzzy glove to insulate his Zoom H1 audio recorder from the wind and felt that that glove could be put to the same use for lav mics. I found a cheap pair on eBay and gave it a try. Not only did it work, but it gave me nine other windscreens to use on other mics or to have as spares. Not bad for a couple of bucks.

As shown in the video, these little sound protectors can really tone down (notice I didn't say eliminate) the obnoxious wind that can blow on your mic when shooting outside. They can be a lifesaver and can make the difference in your production looking professional instead of shoddy.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Using Socialblade to Analyze Other YouTube Channels

If you decide to really go for it and create a robust YouTube channel with content that adheres to a single theme, you should always be aware of who else is doing the same thing. I believe that most YouTube "competition" tends to be friendly, especially since collaborations are very common and YouTubers appear to help each other out.

It is always a good idea to be aware of what other people are doing and how successful they are in doing it. Socialblade is a website that will let you peek at basic stats (among other things) that other YouTube channels are racking up. Just type in the name of the channel and it will give you a breakdown of subscribers per day and month (with averages) and views per day and month (with averages). While it might not be as eye opening for your own channel (because you already know), it is very interesting to see how good or bad others in your niche are performing.

In my case, there are really only a handful of Tubers posting regular content about filmmaking and even fewer that post regularly about DIY filmmaking. This is good for me, but also proves there is lots of room for other voices and angles, even when covering similar material.

It's always good to know how many eyeballs are watching your competition. Check out the channels that are doing better than you are. They are doing something right, and you should definitely find out what it is.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Low Maintenance Outdoor Shooting

If you do any amount of videoblogging, the day may come when you have to do said videoblogging outdoors. Like any outdoor location shoots, there are many challenges to overcome. One of the largest is to reduce your setup time to streamline the process of creating the exact same shot on a regular basis. That is what I've done, and this video outlines ways you could do the same thing with little effort and only a small amount of planning.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

TBT: The ARKOFF Formula for Genre Films

Lately I've been rummaging around old posts on this blog and I've found a bunch of broken links that used my old domain name, (remember that?). Like a dummy, some of my old links used that custom domain name instead of the ubiquitous blogspot address. This meant that when that old domain name lapsed, all those old links were broken. I'm in the process of resurrecting some of those articles, many of which I'm proud of and re-sharing them here.

The first is an elaboration on a post I read from pulp expert and aficionado Bill Cunningham. He shared an interview in which genre movie producer (some would say Z-grade movie producer) Samuel Z. Arkoff shared his formula (based on the letters of his last name) for making genre-based fare. I was really inspired by this formula and wrote a six post series sharing my opinions and elaborations.

Now that the links have been restored and can all be accessed, here is the series in its entirety:

A is for Action: Action Them 'til They're Dizzy
R is for Revolutionary: Revolutionary Scenes Get Talked of
K is for Kill: Kill Colorfully and Often
O is for Orate: Tell the World About Your Picture!
F is for Fantasy: Fantasy is what Audiences Spend Money for
F is for Foreplay: Foreplay is as Important in Dramaturgy as in Bed

Even if genre film aren't what you want to make, there is still a lot of good ideas here coming from Mr. Arkoff (despite the now out-of-date social media references). Being familiar with all forms of film can only help you when you go to make your specific brand of them. Let's get to it!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Frugal Filmmaker Makes Chris Winter's Top 10

Here's something I'd like to do more often. In the past The Frugal Filmmaker has been mentioned on a website or two, which I always seem to find out about. What I fail to do (and would like to remedy starting now), is to give those who are gracious enough to mention my blog or YouTube channel some link love in return. I'm always very grateful whenever anyone thinks what I am doing is worth something, and even more grateful when they go public.

The most recent example is YouTuber Chris Winter, who included me on his Top 10 Best DSLR & Cinematography Channels video. He gives me some nice credit for filmmaking on a shoestring as well as getting the basics right. I'm glad I got a mention even if I only came in ninth place (I'll have to work on that)!

You can also do yourself a favor by checking out the other nine mentions, who are all very worthy (and you can probably guess most of them), but make sure you check the videos on Chris' channel. He seems more into photography than filmmaking, but he has lots of good reviews and tips, his videos are produced well, and he's a very charismatic, honest sounding host with lots of valuable things to say.

Thanks Chris!

Friday, July 10, 2015

5 Reasons to Use YouTube Cards

Keeping viewers watching your videos on YouTube is imperative, which is why embedded links to your other videos (via annotations) is so important. When YouTube rolled out the new "Card" feature, I was a bit skeptical. Yes, it allowed YouTube link-clicking on mobile devices, but I felt the look and options were a bit restrictive. Was it really any better than the older, more flexible annotation system?

After using YouTube cards for a few months now, I am totally sold. While it does simplify (some may say dumb-down) annotations, there are five huge benefits to this new system that can't be overlooked. Why isn't everyone using them?

1) Cards can be clicked on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. I cannot overstate how important this is. The mobile audience grows daily and if you exclude this ever-expanding portion of your watchers, you will miss out on views. I'm constantly frustrated when I get to the end of someone else's video (on my smartphone) and want to watch more, only to be denied. No amount of mobile device clicking will work on a video annotation. Just add the Card! You don't even have to delete the old annotation, but by neglecting the Card option, clicks to your next video(s) are lost.

2) Cards are super-fast and easy to implement. One thing I've always hated about annotations (and especially end-of-video animated links) was that I had to not only create them in post production, but then go in after the video was live and draw "spotlight" annotations around the video boxes I wanted to link. This takes a lot of time and I really like the speed at which I can implement a Card. Two clicks, select one of your videos and click again. The only thing I wish was all your videos were listed for selection. Right now only a certain number of the most current videos are available and the rest you have to access by pasting a link (why?). Still, it saves a ton of time.

3) Viewers can access all Cards at any time. When you see the encircled lower case "i" in the top right of the screen (just mouse over the video to reveal it), you know there are YouTube Cards to look at. A real plus is you can see all the cards featured in a scrolling list, not just when you set them to pop up as a text suggestion. Listing all links was never an option with annotations and should increase click-throughs, since the viewer may spot something they like, even if they don't watch the whole video. This is doubly important when you realize that typical video annotations occur at the end of your video when most people are gone. Check the audience retention graph in your analytics if you don't know what I'm talking about. 

4) Cards use thumbnails from your videos as picture links. While I admit this is restrictive as to what Cards look like, proper thumbnail creation will help you get clicks inside your video just like they do outside your video. Of course, you need to be a YouTube partner to create custom thumbnails (the only real privilege left to being partner), but it's a worthwhile goal for this very reason.

5) Cards allow easy linking to your website. This is the most custom option of the Card feature, as you can determine what the pop-up text suggestion says, the text under the thumbnail, and the thumbnail itself, which must be uploaded (every time, unfortunately). This a is great way to promote your website or blog and a link of this type should be included in every one of your YouTube videos. Also, be aware that this offsite link must be previously verified in your YouTube settings for it to work (just like it had to be setup for annotations).

I am really surprised when I watch heavily trafficked channels that are ignoring YouTube Cards. Every viewer is important and much of your time as a YouTuber is spent getting people to keep watching. Cards help a lot with this goal, especially on mobile devices where annotations are invisible/useless. Cards are still imperfect (that five Card limit needs to be lifted), but so beneficial, it should be a mandatory part of any YouTuber's endgame.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Igus Responds to the Itsy Bitsy Camera Slider

Not too long ago, I posted a video about the Itsy Bitsy Slider, which took a free slider sample from Igus and made into a working camera slider. It was a very high quality sample which made for a great little slider, even with the very short travel distance. Afterwards, Igus was so swamped with free sample requests they asked me to take their link down, which I did out of courtesy.

Now Igus project manager Matt Mowry (who had contacted me about the link), has sent me a response video with a lot of great information (which I've posted above). If you have the Itsy Bitsy Slider or any slider that uses Igus parts, you owe it to yourself to check out this video. It has info I  never would have known had they not shared it.

This is video is also proof about the power of a cultivated audience. While I certainly don't get Itsy Bitsy Slider views on everything I post, when I hit the right topic, there are not only views, but viewer response. It's always interesting to see what happens when I post something that can be responded to and tracked. My Kickstarter campaign was an example of this, as was the reported 3,000 requests for the Igus free sample. It's influence that can't be denied and a testimony that your audience will not only respond (especially when there is something in it for them), but support. In fact, their response is a show of support.


Igus Quotation/Discount Code = D650625REV1
Call 1-800-521-2747
(Discounts only good in North America)

Guide Rail (This is the rail the Sleeve Sample is based upon)
1pcs WS-10-40S at 1000mm (39.4") Was $50.01, is now $40.00
1pc WS-10-40S at 500mm (19.7") Was $25 is now $20

Carriage Set (works on rails above)
WW-10-40-10 (100mm (4") long plate and 4 bearings) Was $40.35, is now $32.28ppc


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