Saturday, January 30, 2016

DIY: Frugal Fattener 2 (Camera Grip)

If you've got big gorilla hands like me, you have probably become frustrated with modern super-small digital cameras. Sure, they produce great images, but they are like a toy in your hands. If they are not in a rig, they can be hard to just hold, to say the least.

This problem led me to create the original Frugal Fattener, which gave my tiny camera some much needed girth and added a nice soft foam handle as well. The problem with that version was that I had issues changing the SD card and battery (forcing me to remove the camera from the Fattener), and setting the rig down meant resting the lens on something.

The Frugal Fattener 2 addresses these problems by raising up the camera for better battery and SD card access, and placing a metal stand that juts out in the same direction as the lens. Assembly is a very easy and requires no drilling or cutting.

I really like the Fattener and it allows me to easily and comfortably use my camera for shooting stills. I now have firm grip on the thing, can change out needed parts easily, and can set it down without worry.

Metal flash bracket
Angled piece from C-bracket (a second flash bracket could also be used)
2x Manfrotto clone quick release systems
Foam handle camera grip (blue/black)
2x Large 1/4-20" knobs  (knobs from the flash bracket(s) could also be used)
small 1/4-20" knob (taken from flash bracket)
Cold shoe mount (or use one from the flash bracket)
2x rubber or neoprene washers (hardware store)

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Q&A: Do you actually use all this DIY stuff?

Today we talk about a frugal blooper reel, my next short film, a pvc camera rig flashback, PVC shame, and whether or not I was hit by the Alaskan earthquake.

My Director's Reel
Original PVC camera rig video
PVC ratcheting cutters (Amazon : eBay)
Flash brackets are the new PVC
Review: cheap light stand


Saturday, January 23, 2016

My Director's Reel (Trailer?)

A few weeks ago I had a question on the Q&A show asking about how to create a better reel to show off your work. Sometimes called a "sizzle reel", this trailer-esque presentation puts all the best of your stuff into one quick and yummy snack.

I know that reels are not supposed to exceed three minutes, but mine came in way under that.  I feel like I have a decent amount of material, but also didn't want to overstay my welcome. As a result, the clips are very brief and the whole affair lasts just over a minute.

I also broke the tone up into two parts, drama and action. The first half has a somber piano for a soundtrack, while the back half is throbbing drums, with clips matched accordingly. I'm hoping this shows the range of what I can produce (though comedy isn't represented very well) and brings enough "sizzle" for those watching.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Planting the Audience Seed

Every artist (with very rare exceptions) wants to show their work to the world. We filmmakers dream of having a large audience with our movies splashed across global screens. While getting theatrical distribution is still a very tough nut to crack, the worldwide audience is very much within reach of us all. But it has to start somewhere.

Audience building is critical to getting your work seen, and I submit that it should be just as important as any film you endeavor to make. After all, if you make an awesome film that no one knows about, will anyone care? If done right, not only will the results be beneficial, but exponential.

With the internet and social media tools at our disposal, the world is your oyster. Sure, you still need to put the full-time hours in to succeed, but success is possible and largely based on how well you market yourself and your work. What? You'd rather focus on filmmaking rather than marketing? To get people to watch your films, you'd better get busy at both.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Q&A: How can I shoot a frugal car chase?

Today our questions cover DIY instructional how-tos, help finding a crew outside of film school, demo reel creation, vintages lenses, and cheap car chases.


Tip: Repurposing Drink Koozies
Creating a Small Studio Part 3, Tabletop Shooting
Frugal Feeding (cooking show format featuring Hilah Johnson)
How to set up OBS, the FREE screen recorder
Vintage Lenses for Video

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Tip: Repurposing Drink Koozies

One of my favorite things to do is take something meant for one purpose and twist it all around to suit my filmmaking needs. Such is the case this week's tip video, where I take ordinary drink koozies (those foam aluminum can holders) and find alternative uses for them.

The best place I've found for Koozies is your local dollar store, or Walmart, where they are even cheaper. They tend to be more expensive online, but I found a deal on Amazon that will get you koozified for $2 apiece, but you have to buy six. If that seems like overkill, it isn't. I promise you'll find all kinds of good uses for these little beauties.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Saturday, January 2, 2016

DIY: Remote Controlled "Recording" Light

If you're like me, you don't live alone. When I first started making these videos, it was almost exclusively at night when everyone was asleep. I never had to worry about anyone making noise that might spoil an audio recording. They were always out cold.

These days, I make more videos during the day which means I might have to compete with people talking in other rooms. Even when I tell them what I'm doing, they forget or get distracted and the volume level goes back up. This can be very frustrating when I need to record audio and just can't.

TV and radio stations all have lit signs that warn passers-by that a recording is taking place and to be quiet. Why not have the same system at home? Though a full-blown sign may be overkill (and an unnecessary expense), a simple red light can do the same job and cost a lot less.

I wasn't satisfied with just one red light, however. I wanted several of them placed in strategic locations around my home so everyone would know what I needed no matter which room they happened to be in. I also wanted a remote way to turn them on and off, so I could have full control of the warnings without having to leave my studio. Sounds expensive, right? Not at all.

There are remote switching modules available that plug right into any wall outlet, allowing you to toggle power to whatever is plugged into them. Plug a socket adapter into one of these and a red bulb into that, and you have an easy way to spread red light around your house, warning the inhabitants to shush when you are recording.

The video goes into a little more detail, but I think this is a very affordable way to let those you live with help you when you have to record that ever-important audio.

Remote controlled wall module(s) and remote (Amazon : eBay)
Light socket to plug adapter (Amazon : eBay)
Red LED light bulb (Amazon)
"On Air/Recording" signs (Amazon : eBay)


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