Monday, November 30, 2015

Q&A: Ever made a crash mat for stunts?

Today we talk teleprompters, camera lenses, rig part storage, continuity and crash pads!


Five Frugal Turkeys: learning from bad videos
Frugal Cage Teleprompter
Camera Lens Bands

Fotga Minolta to Sony E-mount adapter (Amazon : eBay)
The Rokkor Files (great Minolta lens reference)
Minolta MD 28mm Rokkor-x f/2.8
Minolta MD 50mm Rokkor-x f/1.7
Minolta Celtic 135mm f/2.8

Fishing tackle boxes on Amazon

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


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