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.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Q&A: What camera/sound rig do you use?

Send your questions to thefrugalfilmmaker(at) or comment below or message me on Twitter @frugalfilmmaker!

Tip: Using Socialblade to analyze other YouTube channels

Frugal Camera Cage
Frugal Cage 2.0

Radio Shack Clip-on mic #33-3013
Zoom H1 Handy Recorder

External Battery Power
External Battery Power 2

Color Psychology

Celtx (older, non-cloud version)

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

Monday, July 6, 2015

Q&A: Horror Movie Tip?

It's the first Monday of the month which is Trivia Monday! Watch the video for the trivia question, send the correct answer first via email and you could win your own copy of The Frugal Filmmaker Short Film Idea Deck! Just what you've always wanted!


Tip: Using the Windows Snipping Tool in your videos
The Babadook

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Tip: Using the Windows Snipping Tool in your videos

I've always used various programs to grab full or partial screen grabs for use in my videos. These can be the entire screen (which you can then add a digital effect) or smaller grabs useful in shows like my Q&A where I feature the actual message from a viewer. It's an easy way to add reference to whatever you happen to be talking about that features web content.

For the longest time I never knew that one of these programs are built right into the Windows OS. Simply called 'Snipping Tool', it is very basic but also very useful. As shown in the above video, you can capture your full screen or just custom sections that suit your needs. You can then easily drop these captured sections into any editor for further manipulation.

If your interested in a great, free screen recorder that records video of on-screen actions instead of just stills, check out Open Broadcaster Software. It's excellent.


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