Cinematography Tip: Why ‘Day for Night’ Is a Horrible Idea

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‘Day for night’ is the process of making daytime footage look like it was shot at night by either using a filter, post-processing, or both. While there are some examples in modern cinema of good day-for-night conversions, usually day for night will only give you poorly colored footage that isn’t very cinematic. Let’s take a look at why day for night is a bad idea and offer a few creative alternatives.

  1. You Can’t Shoot the Sky

One of the biggest differences between shooting at night and shooting in the daytime is the sky. Shocking, right? The daytime sky is, for the most part, almost always going to be overexposed — even if you are underexposing your subject. This means you will need to avoid the sky if you’re trying to shoot a nighttime scene during the day. It will be solid white, which will greatly reduce your creative flexibility. Sure, you could tint your footage to tone down the white sky, but a real night sky doesn’t work like that.

In most shooting circumstances, the sky at night will be brighter on the horizon and very dark in the actual sky. If you’re shooting day for night, there’s really nothing you can do to simulate this nighttime occurrence other than do a lot of post-processing which will take forever and likely look terrible. We’ll discuss this further below.

2.Shadows Will Look Off

One of the biggest problems with day-for-night conversions is the shadows. As you probably already know, shooting in direct sunlight during the daytime is generally a bad idea. Your subject will get some very unflattering shadows — specifically raccoon eyes. Moonlight normally doesn’t work like that. When it does, it still looks strange on camera.

There will be other weird lighting occurrences that happen in the daytime that don’t occur during the night, like harsh reflections and possible lens flares. On the flipside of this, you’ll also have to worry about portions of your subject being overexposed. You’ll have to crush the whites in post in order to fix this.

  1. The Color Cast Will Look Terrible

Color is really where day-for-night conversions start to fall apart. At its core, a day-for-night conversion is either a dark blue filter that’s put directly in front of the camera or a post-processing technique where you give your footage a dark blue tint.

However, no matter how you do it, dark blue footage is not what nighttime footage looks like. There are a lot of colors at night, not just blue.

  1. It Will Take a Lot of Time in Post

In light of all of the hurdles we’ve mentioned above, the biggest challenge to making day-for-night footage look convincing is the post-processing. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done to do ‘good’ day-for-night conversions. A good conversion will:

  • Do a blanket color grade/correction
  • Track and replace the sky
  • Rotoscope various silhouetted elements to avoid awkward edges
  • Selectively track and level distracting elements
  • Add the film’s specific cinematic grading features

Even after you do all of this, you’re still going to be hard-pressed to make your day for night look convincing. Even the best After Effects teachers out there have a hard time making convincing day-for-night conversions.

Just Light the Scene

Who said you can’t light a nighttime scene? Audiences are very easy to trick when it comes to lighting. Most people in the audience won’t ask where that soft fill light is coming from. Instead, they’ll focus on the content of film or video as long as the lighting is close.

By using a dim light and a sensitive camera, you can generally get good cinematic footage at night even if it doesn’t make a lot of sense. A simple battery-powered LED should do the trick in these situations.

Did we leave anything out? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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4 Tricks to Keep Track of Memory Cards on Set

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When working on a rushed shoot, it can become difficult to keep track of your footage. You need to know which cards have already been used and which memory cards need to be dumped/backed up. Keep track of your memory cards with these four easy tips.

The first thing you need to do before arriving on set is to make sure all cards are formatted and ready to go. Make sure you format them for the right camera as well. For example, on smaller sets with DSLRs, SD cards and CF cards should be formatted for the camera. If you are using a mix of cameras, make sure you format the card again before shooting.

Lock the Card

If this is an available option (usually on SD cards), you can easily lock the memory card after shooting. This is literally the easiest thing you can do — and yet many people never do.

The lock is actually a mechanical switch that prevents you from overriding any footage. Remember to turn the lock off after you have dumped your footage. You will not be able to use the card until the lock switch is pushed back up.

Mark the Plastic Case

If you are using single clear card cases to manage your cards, mark the back side of the case with an X.

Put the card in face up, and you can clearly read the size of the memory card. After you shoot, put the card back in face down so the X covers the face of the card. That will mark that the card has been used.

Use a Case and Face Cards in the Same Direction

One of the easiest and most-used techniques is to use a card case for all memory cards. Before arriving on set, put all of your cards face-up in a case. After shooting, simply put the card back in the case, this time face-down.

This gives an instant look at your available memory. Not only do you know which cards you have used with a quick glance at the cards that are still face-up, you will know exactly how many gigs you have left.

Put Gaff Tape on the Card

For larger memory cards that don’t have locks on them, simply put a piece of gaff tape over the connection points after you have used it.

Gaff tape is preferred because it won’t leave any residue on the card. It will easily come off, and the cards info sticker won’t be damaged.

All four of these simple tricks are incredibly easy to do and will save you so many headaches. Be sure you implement some sort of management system and make sure everyone handling the cards knows the protocol.

Also, be sure to use checksum verification when dumping your cards. Always make sure everything was copied properly. Don’t just drag and drop your footage. You can download DaVinci Resolve for free and use the clone tool to safely dump your footage.

Did we leave anything out? Tell us about it in the comments below.

For Additional Information and tools, Be sure to check out these resources.

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Tips for Traveling Filmmakers

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Being a filmmaker has its advantages and disadvantages. For instance, many filmmakers have the opportunity to travel, which is a plus. Of course, the downside to this is the fact that you have to pack a ton of expensive gear. With all of that that in mind, check out this list of handy traveling tips for filmmakers.

Also, before we get started… traveling as a filmmaker isn’t just flying from state to state or country to country. No way. Travel can also mean packing your gear into your car and heading out across the country. Because of this, we’re going to cover some tips for both flying and driving. So, buckle up. Let’s get rolling.

  1. Never Check Your Camera and Lenses When Flying

When flying, never trust the airport to handle your camera and lenses. Instead, utilize the ability for carry-on and bring these pieces of equipment along with you.

It’s okay to check in tripods and other gear, just be aware that if you use a Pelican case, it’s automatically going to get flagged at the airport. Be sure to leave enough time for this inevitability. Also, it’s wise to have a checklist of all your gear. A simple Excel spreadsheet will suffice.

  1. Be Sure You’re Insured

No, this isn’t a plug for State Farm or AllState Insurance, but it should be. In reality, no matter if you’re traveling or just filming locally, you need to have your gear insured.

For insurance, you have three lines of defense. The first is homeowner’s insurance. That’s right… if the equipment is yours and you own a home, then whatever is in that home is covered. Of course, there are loopholes in this and the insurance company will use them.

Next is to have insurance as a small business, especially if you own a production company — but this might not work for everyone.

Your third option is to go with a company like Front Row Insurance. Companies like this have been in the business of insuring gear for a long time. Just beware of imitators, and reach out to fellow filmmakers to find out who they’ve used and their experiences.

  1. Scout Your Location Ahead of the Travel Date

With the entire world readily available at your finger tips, it’s exceptionally easy to be completely prepared for a filmmaking trip. Use Google Maps and Google Earth to scout locations. Doing this in advance will save loads of time when you finally get on the ground.

Also, be sure to know your environment and what you are shooting and then plan accordingly. Understand the lay of the land before you arrive and the distances between locations. Utilize available public transportation instead of renting cars. Your bottom line will thank you.

  1. Bring Extra Batteries and Storage Media

Be sure to pack extra storage options and batteries. Sometimes the closest town or village ends up being an hour away — and even then the local stores might not have what you need. Plan ahead and be overly cautious. Don’t count on there being a Best Buy nearby.

  1. Make Sure Your Documents Are in Order

While this tip is primarily for those traveling abroad, it’s of vital importance to every filmmaker. Your passport is key to you becoming a filmmaker abroad. But you also need to be fully aware of the travel alerts and warnings of your final destination, as this may require a little more documentation from you. This documentation may include, but is not limited to: passport, travel visa, immunization records, and medical information.

Did we leave anything out? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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Tips for Shooting a Period Piece on a Shoestring Budget

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It’s tempting for many filmmakers to write scripts that take place in a completely different time period. After all, period pieces open up so many possibilities for telling new stories that just wouldn’t be relevant or possible when set in modern times. Unfortunately, many of these same filmmakers are hit with a big wake-up call when it comes time to actually produce their film, as they realize just how expensive it’s going to be.

When you’re crafting a period piece, everything is more expensive. Not only do your hard costs skyrocket (wardrobe, locations, set Dec, etc.), but a lot more time and effort is needed in other areas of the production as well. During pre-production for example, you (and probably your art director/production designer) will need to thoroughly research the time period in which your film is set in so that you can portray it accurately.

Even in post-production, things can get tricky. Depending on how good or bad your locations, you may need to do set extensions or other VFX work to help sell the setting that you’re trying to emulate. Not to mention, more extensive and specific color correction is often required to really help craft the feel of your world.

With all that said, there are ways to make great period pieces even when dealing with limited budgets. Your options certainly won’t be as extensive as they would be if you were working with Hollywood level funds, but that doesn’t mean it’s not doable.

If you’re willing to take into account the five tips outlined below, you might just be on your way to making your next period piece.

  1. Choose Simple Locations

The look of your film will ultimately be determined by the locations that you choose. If you choose the right locations, your work is going to be a lot easier both on set and off. However, if you make less than desirable choices, you might not be able to pull off the look you’re going for and the entire project could fall short.

My rule of thumb with locations on low-budget period pieces is to always go simple. If you’re shooting an exterior shot at the beach, on a farm, or in the forest, chances are there isn’t a whole lot of set Dec that will need to be done. The same can be said about a vintage home or train station (that hasn’t been restored).

These are just a few examples of course, but the point is that you need to look for locations that work for you “as is.” Chances are you don’t have the budget (or research) behind your project to create something from scratch, so look for locations with no discernible giveaways of modern times and you’re off to a good start.

  1. Get Your Wardrobe Sponsored

Wardrobe is one of the best ways to add production value and realism to your period piece. At the same time, it can be very costly. Vintage wardrobe items can be really rare and hard to find and the price can be prohibitive for many filmmakers. That said, if you’re willing to knock on some doors, you might just get it for free.

If you team up with the right stylist, they might just be able to work some miracles for you. Typically stylists have relationships with brands and can pull some really amazing options for you, usually at no cost (since the items are loaned). Rather than spending your wardrobe budget on actual items, invest in a good stylist and it can pay off big time.

  1. Props Are Everything

Without some key props, you won’t be able to create a realistic world to set your film in. The good news is that you don’t necessarily need a lot of props, but just a few key props that can become focal points. For example, if you have the budget to rent a vintage car for a couple of days and can use it to capture all of your driving scenes, your production value just went up immensely. Much like the wardrobe solution above, you don’t always need to spend an arm and a leg on props. The car example might be somewhat costly, but many other vintage props can be bought or rented for very little if you’re willing to do some digging around.

  1. The Right Music Is Critical

Your locations, wardrobe, and props will get you most of the way there when it comes to production, but post is really where it all comes together.

One of the easiest, most effective, and inexpensive ways to add to the realism of your period piece is through the use of authentic music. By licensing some period specific music (not just for the score, but also for background music, radios in the scene, etc.), you can really shape the tone of your film and compliment all of the visuals.

  1. Learn How to Color Grade

Color grading can be a very expensive part of your process. In many cases, it should be left to a professional.

With that said, if you have a knack for color and are willing to do some of the legwork yourself, you can make a huge impact on the visual feel of your film with color alone. In the same way music will add a layer of period-specific polish to your film, so will the color. Whether you’re doing something obvious (like black and white) or more specific (like a 60s technicolor look), the color grade will truly bring all of the elements of your period piece together and will inevitably make it feel far more authentic.

Did we leave anything out? Tell us about it in the comments below.

For Additional Information and tools, Be sure to check out these resources.

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How to Adapt Your Feature Idea Into a Short Film

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One of the most common approaches to feature film development today involves writing a feature length screenplay and then shooting a short film based around it. The idea behind this approach is that the short film will act as a proof of concept and essentially show potential collaborators what the director/producer team is able to do stylistically, even on a small scale.

Although many filmmakers seem to understand the importance of adapting their feature-length material into a short, many of them aren’t able to actually execute in an effective way. The reason being that features and shorts are in some ways completely different art forms, and an idea that works well as a feature doesn’t always work as well as a short film… Or vice versa.

  1. Tell a Small Story Within the Greater Story

The optimal length for most short films is 10 minutes, which means you have very little time to tell a complex story or explore a lot of character detail. The number one mistake that filmmakers make when it comes to adapting their material, is trying to cram way too much information into a ten minute short. Having just developed a feature length screenplay idea, many filmmakers feel very close to their material and it’s hard for them to leave out important moments, characters, or ideas from the short version of their story. But the reality is you need to lose 90% of your feature in order to make an effective short.

Rather than thinking of how you can trim down your 110 page script into 10 pages, think about one of the small stories that you can tell within the larger story at play. Maybe you want to tackle the catalyst moment from the first act, or show the first time that two characters meet. You might even want to shoot a short prequel that would take place before the first scene of the film. As long as the slice of the story that you are telling can be executed in ten pages or less, you’re headed in the right direction. But the second that it feels like you are forcing a bigger story onto the page, it’s time to rethink your idea.

  1. Focus on Character.

Although you might not be able to explore the extent of your feature idea in a short, you can explore your characters very deeply. Characterization and character in general can be conveyed far more quickly and effectively than plot through the use of powerful imagery and short concise visual scenes. You should be taking advantage of that when making any short film (but especially one based around a feature), because you are trying to show potential investors, collaborators, actors, etc. what the characters are made of.

So rather than focusing too heavily on plot, ask yourself what short film you can make that will give insight into who the lead character of your story is on a fundamental level, and everything else will fall into place.

  1. Show Off Your Style

One of the best opportunities that you have as a filmmaker is your ability to show off your personal and artistic style in a short film. In many cases, this is far more important than plot (at least in the context of a proof of concept), and can benefit your overall process immensely. Chances are, if you’re chatting with development executives, producers, talent, or anyone else that you might want to involve on your film, above all else they want to understand your style and abilities.

Story is always important — but they will probably already know the feature-length story you want to tell to an extent, and may have already read your screenplay. The short film gives you an opportunity to really show them what you’re made of and let them start to visualize how your script will translate to the screen.

  1. Be Careful About Adapting a Single Scene

The most common solution that filmmakers come to when adapting feature length material is shooting a single scene from their film. Rather than creating a short film that can stand on it’s own, filmmakers will often pick one of their favorite scenes from the screenplay and just go out and shoot it.

The truth is that any scene is part of a greater sequence, and that sequence is part of an act which has its own arc, and is part of the greater story as a whole. For that reason, most scenes don’t have a concrete beginning, middle, and end to them in the same way that a sequence or act would in a film, and therefore don’t translate that well as is to the short format. They might be fun to shoot and a good experience for your actors, but the goal of really representing your film as a whole can get lost when going down this path.

Final Thoughts

Short films are challenging enough to create as it is, but the process is even more arduous when you’re adapting feature material. Almost every filmmaker at one point or another falls into the trap of attempting to tell a story that is way too big for a short format. The end result always suffers from excessive dialogue and exposition, unfocused scenes, and a general lack of style and tone.

Shorts should never be thought of as an abbreviated version of their feature counterparts, but rather as supplementary material to them. You want to be able to approach collaborators with your feature script and a short film that gives a glimpse into the style, character, and tone of the project. But at the same time, you don’t want to overwhelm the viewer with so much information that it turns them off of your project entirely.

Did we leave anything out? Tell us about it in the comments below.

For Additional Information and tools, Be sure to check out these resources.

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Three Reasons You May Want to Forget About Film School

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From a very young age, the importance of receiving a formal postsecondary education is ingrained in us. We’re told that by going to school and specializing in something, we’re going to land better jobs and make more money. Unfortunately, this type of advice is often coming from people who aren’t even remotely in touch with the entertainment industry. They don’t necessarily understand the benefits of choosing a different path.

With filmmaking, your level of formal education may have no bearing on your level of success. In fact, some of the most successful filmmakers didn’t attend film school or dropped out to get a head start in the industry by working from a very young age. Count James Cameron and Christopher Nolan as two of the greats that never sat in a film school class.

That said, there are some personality types that benefit from a more structured creative environment and who are best served by going to film school. It could be argued that they are the exception, not the rule. A lot of creatively minded people learn best on their own terms – by actually getting their hands dirty and learning the ropes in a real world environment.

Probably the biggest benefit of going to film school is the fact that you are able to meet peers who may later be collaborators. Outside of that, anything you can learn in film school can be learned on a film set (and then some).

Even if you’re volunteering on a film set, you’re a heck of a lot better off financially than you would be if you were spending thousands of dollars in tuition fees. The reality is that film school will not get you a job – networking will. If you want to reap the benefits of film school as a means to network, then certainly go for it.

But if you’re on the fence about film school in general, be sure to read through these three reasons why film school may not be the right path for you.

  1. Film School Can Give You a False Sense of Confidence

In film school, you can truly be led to feel that you can do no wrong. This obviously differs from school to school and is largely dependent on your instructors. But for the most part, recent grads often have a hard time adjusting to the real world of filmmaking based on confidence alone. While in film school, you’re going to be writing/ directing your own projects all the time, and although this may sound great, it doesn’t represent what real life is going to be like.

“The real trouble with film school is that the people teaching are so far out of the industry that they don’t give the students an idea of what’s happening.” – Brian De Palma, Director of Scarface

It’s a harsh reality check when you go from directing your own work consistently to becoming a PA on a large set, where your opinion is not typically welcomed. A lot of filmmakers have a really tough time in their first working year after graduating film school as a result of the false confidence they developed in themselves.

This isn’t always going to be the case, but it’s a fairly common issue for filmmakers who want to try their hand at climbing the ladder on large-scale productions.

  1. On-set Experience Is Far More Valuable Than Classroom Training

Some film programs offer some really great in-class training with regards to directing, cinematography, editing, and other aspects of the craft. That said, no matter how good the training may be in any given school, it will likely never come close to the training you will pick up on a real film set.

There are so many intangible skills you can learn on a real set (including how to deal with people and how to handle problem situations) that you simply won’t be exposed to in a controlled environment.

Don’t think that just because film schools might simulate film sets for you that it comes close to the real thing. It doesn’t. One way or another, you’re going to need to learn by doing — and by making mistakes on a real set.

It’s up to you whether or not you jump in with both feet right away or give yourself the buffer of film school before playing in the big leagues.

  1. You Can Spend That Money Making a Movie

Many film directors (Quentin Tarantino included) have stated that there’s something to be said about skipping out on film school and using that money to make a film.

When people ask me if I went to film school I tell them, ‘no, I went to films.’ – Tarantino

It’s not uncommon for a film school to cost more than $20,000 per year, plus the cost of room and board if you’re living out of town.

Assuming you are in a three to four year program, you may be talking about $50 to $100k in overall cost, which may just land you a PA job at the end of the process. Imagine what would be possible if you were able to spend that money on a film instead. In a far shorter amount of time, you would be able to learn by doing – and end up with a finished product which can be used as an asset for your career.

There is no substitute for making your own movie as a means to develop your craft. When you do it in the real world, as opposed to within the comfortable confines of a film school, you might just be able to do it a whole lot better.

Did we leave anything out? Tell us about it in the comments below.

For Additional Information and tools, Be sure to check out these resources.

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How to Shoot Dynamic Video Interviews

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Shooting an interview can be one of the most challenging aspects of the filmmaking process. As video producers and filmmakers, we’ve grown accustomed to controlling every aspect of the filmmaking process, but an interview setting contains a lot of uncontrollable variables that make it somewhat unnatural to shoot.

If you’ve ever wanted to take your interview skills to the next level check out the following tips for shooting dynamic interviews.

  1. Research and Preparation

Good research is the key to getting a great interview. Anticipate what direction you’d like the interview to go – do research on your interviewee and be well-versed on the interview’s subject matter.

Through your research you’ll learn what you don’t know. Surprise responses may be the interview ‘gold’ you need to make the story compelling and unique. What has the on-screen talent said in the past about the subject? What have they not said?

Similarly, you should find that asking open-ended questions will elicit better, more interesting responses.

  1. Outline

While there is definitely an uncontrollable element to every interview, it’s important to have a solid outline for what you need cover. It doesn’t need to be complex, just enough to help you get an idea for how you want the story to progress.

One interview tactic is to start the questioning with safe and easy questions. This will make the interviewee more at ease and create a “safe” interviewing environment.  Wait to ask the “hard” questions once the interview cadence and atmosphere has been set.

  1. Location Scout

As with any film shoot, location scouting is critical. Yes, this means physically going to the location ahead of the shoot date. What type of lighting does the environment provide? Is there electrical power? Is there any ambient noise? What other problems can you anticipate? You don’t want to have any surprises on the shoot day.

  1. Pack Extra Batteries and Memory Cards

There’s no way to know exactly how long an interview may run. You don’t want the limitations of your batteries or memory to cut an interview shoot short, so make sure you pack plenty of both.

  1. Communicate With Your Talent Before the Shoot

Communicating with your talent before the day of the shoot is a great way to minimize surprises on shoot day. You don’t want to show up on set the day of the shoot only to find that your talent has worn a bright green striped shirt. It’s for this reason that I always send my talent a checklist with what to expect, clothing considerations, and contact information.

  1. Pick a Style

You need to define a creative style for your production before you can pick the right equipment and questions for your interview. Will the interviews be flatly lit or have dramatic lighting? Will the interviewer be seen on camera as well?

Whether you’re emulating a style you’ve seen or coming up with your own style formula, you need to make sure that the look is clearly defined and communicated to the rest of the crew before the camera rolls.

  1. Use a Professional Sound Recordist

Bad sound is a quick way to lose the attention of your audience. Have a person on your crew who is solely responsible for recording and monitoring on-set audio. The audio is arguably more important than the video in an interview setting

  1. Questions

Just as you should have at least a rough outline of how you’d like the interview to proceed, you should also come up with a list of possible interview questions.

Although many producers/filmmakers choose to share interview questions with the “talent” ahead of the shoot, we warn against it. If the interviewee has the exact questions before the shoot, they’ll likely pre-formulate their responses. This can quickly make an interview feel uninspired and boring. Instead, just send over a broad list of topics you’d like to discuss.

You’ll likely want to record the interviewers questions as well, even if they won’t make the final cut. This is useful for the editor who can use this audio to know what each question is about. It’s also a good idea to mic up the interviewer. If this isn’t possible, having the sound of the questions recorded to the on-camera mic is better than nothing.

  1. Repeat the Question in the Answer

Try to have your talent repeat the question in their response. For example if you ask, “What is your favorite color?” and their response is “green,” it doesn’t give the editor much to work with.

A better response would be “My favorite color is green.” Then the editor has a complete thought, which makes the story easier to craft.

  1. Control the Pace

Thinking of your interview as a conversation is a great way to make your subject at ease, but there are definitely some dissimilarities between an interview conversation and a normal conversation.

First and foremost, in a normal conversation humans tend to talk over one another. While this may work for normal conversations, it is incredibly difficult to edit an interview if the host is talking over the subject.

It’s also important to control the pace of the interview, as subjects tend to rush their answers when being filmed. Control the pace by setting the pace. Talk in a calm and slow voice and your subject will be more likely to mirror you.

  1. Decide on Eyeline

Will the subject being looking at the interviewer or the camera? Make this a conscious choice and relay it to the interviewee before shooting. It can be very distracting to have the subject’s eyeline change throughout the interview. If you want the subject to look at the person asking the question, it is important for the interviewer to maintain eye contact throughout. This will force the interviewee to keep this connection. If you would like the subject to look into the camera, there are several products that will superimpose the interviewer’s face over the lens. These devices are designed to work like a prompter and can make the interview conversation more natural. One of the more popular models is the Eyedirect.

12.Multicam

If you can, shoot with more than one camera. Having at least two cameras will make editing much easier. For example, if your subject has to pause a sentence to sneeze, you can cut the sneeze out by switching to the other camera at the edit point. Shooting multicam will also protect you if one of your cameras fails.

  1. Don’t Stop Recording

It’s best to keep the cameras rolling to catch any candid comments that might be useful in the final edit, even after the interview is over. At the very least, it gives you a little pre/post roll so you can more easily edit.

  1. Interview B-Roll and Nat Sound

It’s always a good idea to record quick b-roll type shots of your interviewee, in case you need them to cover up edit points. If you are only working with one or two cameras, you can capture this footage at the start or end of the interview. Typical pick-up shots include asking the interviewee to nod on camera (good reaction type shots), as well as getting close-ups on hands.

Be sure to grab a minute or two of the natural sound of the room before shooting (without anyone talking). This is important for covering up edit points. Record the natural sound again if the sound in the room changes throughout the interview.

  1. Communicate with the Interviewee

Don’t simply start picking up and saying goodbye at the end of your interview. Communicate what your are planning to do with the interview footage and when they can expect to see the final video. I’ve even heard of some people watching the interview with the guest after the interview is complete. It’s a good way to find out if all of the questions get answered.

Did we leave anything out? Tell us about it in the comments below.

For Additional Information and tools, Be sure to check out these resources.

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Tips You Must Know Before Shooting a Multicam Production

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While the thought of setting up a multicam shoot can be daunting to producers and directors who have never done it before, knowing how to do it right has some massive benefits. Not only do multicam setups help keep costly time on set to a minimum, they can also provide creative freedoms that aren’t otherwise offered by single camera environments.

For instance, if you are directing a comedy and want to allow your actors to improvise, a multicam setup would be ideal so that you can catch all of the spontaneity, while also having enough coverage to cut together the scene cohesively in post.

Whether you’re interested in shooting multicam as a means to keep your budget down, to give you actors more freedom, or you simply have no other choice, let’s go over a few considerations for getting started with multicam shooting.

Camera Placement

The very first thing you need to address with your multicam set up is the placement of your cameras themselves. If you want to achieve professional level results with your shoot, you need to make sure that you are optimizing your coverage. In other words, if you are shooting a scene with two actors and you have three cameras on them, you probably want a close up on each actor, and then a wide/medium master shot. Obviously you can get creative with your multicam setups… just make sure you’re never doubling up on coverage, regardless of the creative choices that are made.

Lighting

The manner in which you approach your lighting setup also needs to change drastically from what you may be used to in single camera situations.

When shooting with one camera, your setup naturally only matters for the particular angle and take that you are executing. When you go in for coverage you can make small adjustments to your lights (such as walking in a key or fill) as needed. Everything changes with multicamera lighting.

The easiest way to get the look that you’re after while maintaining visual consistency is by setting up your lights much in the same way that a stage play or a sitcom is set up. To clarify – we’re not suggesting that you make creative choices that will make your final product look like a play or sitcom, but rather that you make rigging and logistical choices in that same way.

For example, lighting from above (by rigging lights to a ceiling or grid) would be hugely preferable over lighting using traditional stands. The reason of course being that when rigged to the ceiling, the lights are completely out of the way and you can shoot in nearly any direction that you want. Lighting your set this way will inevitably take more time up front — so be prepared for some extra time pre lighting — but in the end it will completely balance out, as you’ll save loads of time once you start rolling.

Matching The Cameras

The problem of mismatched cameras is one of the most common issues on multicam setups, particularly on low budget indie films.

In many instances, small productions don’t want to rent two or three identical cameras, so they mix and match various cameras that they have access to in order to supplement their multicamera setup.

Mixing cameras can lead to serious problems. In an ideal world, you want every camera to be the exact make and model, or at the very least the same brand. For example a Canon 5D MK II and a Canon 7D will match a lot better than a 7D and a Lumix GH4, since Canon and Lumix use completely different firmware and color science.

Even if you are shooting on identical cameras, you still need to be extremely diligent when it comes to your settings (camera profiles, shutter angle, and white balance). Any slight difference in your camera settings can cause some big headaches in post.

Final Thoughts

Shooting multicam isn’t right for every project, but when time is of the essence and budgets are low, it can be a fantastic way to save money and allow you to move quickly without sacrificing quality.

In order to do it right, you need to place your cameras strategically, have a rock-solid lighting setup, and make sure that you are using cameras that match as closely as possible.

Did we leave anything out? Tell us about it in the comments below.

For Additional Information and tools, Be sure to check out these resources.

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Honing Your Craft: Find Your Voice as a Director

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If you watch enough movies, you should be able to tell the work of Aronofsky from Spielberg simply based on their directorial style and the trademarks that they leave on each scene.

These are filmmakers that spent decades honing their craft and understanding what they wanted to say and how they wanted to say it. They found their voices long ago, and ultimately their work has become extremely identifiable as a result. If you (as a director) want to get the most out of yourself creatively, one of the most important things you can do is develop your directing style so that your work can speak for itself.

While it might take a long time to get where you want to go creatively, in this section we’ll explore three powerful steps you can take to find your voice as a director.

1.Watch More Movies

One of the biggest red flags of a director that hasn’t found their own voice is when their taste in movies is all over the place. Don’t misunderstand wrong – there’s nothing wrong with binge watching movies across every genre; You can learn something from any movie no matter how far off from your own taste it may be.

Nonetheless, if you simply like watching movies, but aren’t particularly drawn to one genre, director, or style – then that may be the first sign that you haven’t found your vision or style as an artist.

If this sounds like you, watch loads of movies (one or two a day) for as long as you can. Completely saturate yourself in films. After a short while, some of them will get stuck with you. There will be those films that nag at you, that you want to go back and watch, or that inspire you to make something yourself.

Chances are, whatever films are drawing you back to them will be in a similar genre or will deal with similar subject matter – and that may very well be the first step in identifying the films that you are best suited to direct and that you really want to make.

2.Understand How to Tell a Story With No Dialogue

Everyone wants to be the next Tarantino or Sorkin. A lot of indie films these days are busting at the seams with heavy dialogue, yet there is often no substance to what is on the screen. There is no distinct style in the way the dialogue is being delivered.

While you might be more inclined to direct heavily dialogue-driven films, you need to challenge yourself to tell stories without dialogue if you want to maximize your talent. This may seem counterintuitive, as your strength may be as a writer. But the fact of the matter is you aren’t doing yourself any favors as a director by resting on your laurels as a writer.

If you really want to develop your directorial style, trying shooting a test scene or a short film with little to no dialogue at all. When you go back to your heavily scripted material, your work will improve dramatically.

Imagine a musician that isn’t very good at playing guitar, but can write great songs. This person would always be held back by the fact that they can’t express their art form to the fullest, much in the same way that a director is held back when they don’t know how to direct with images.

Just remember, filmmaking is a visual medium. And as the adage goes – show, don’t tell. It’s in the subtleties of camera movement, framing, and other visual choices that your directing style will really come out. Be sure to embrace that as much as you can.

3.Tap Into Your Music Taste

There are a lot of similarities between film and music. It’s no coincidence that the type of music that filmmakers love is often in the same vein as the films they create. Take Tarantino for instance. It would be hard to deny that his musical influence isn’t obviously put front and center in so many of his films. As a result, the tone of his movies is largely centered around his taste in music.

The Tarantino example might be the most obvious, but the same could be said for nearly any auteur that has really found their voice. It’s why Spielberg has worked with John Williams for so long and why Fincher has stayed with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.

A big part of developing your style as a director is understanding your taste in music. After all, 50% (or more) of the viewing experience is dependent on the audio. Music guides the viewer’s emotional experience.

And by the way… if you aren’t a big music fan, that doesn’t mean you can’t find your voice. Perhaps your style is simply best served with sound design or natural backgrounds. Whatever the case may be, understand yourself on a creative level (musically speaking) as it is very much related to who you are as a storyteller.

Did we leave anything out? Tell us about it in the comments below.

For Additional Information and tools, Be sure to check out these resources.

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Tips for Being an Awesome Production Coordinator

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Thriving under pressure, being able to multitask, and playing well with others are just a few of the necessary skills you need to succeed as a production coordinator.

It’s a demanding job and certainly not a perfect fit for everyone. But for those that work well in this type of environment and are heavily self-motivated, working as a production coordinator can be an excellent career move.

It’s the natural progression away from PA-ing and into AD-ing, and eventually into producing. If you’re considering a career move and think you’re up for the challenge (or already work in this demanding position), these tips will make your life easier both on the set and off.

1.Communicate Impeccably and Lead Your Team

Communication and the ability to take charge and lead are the most critical qualities for you to have as a PC. Throughout every phase of the filmmaking process (and especially during pre-production and production), you are the point of contact for most of the crew – and that is a massive responsibility to have.

Having likely come from a PA background, you may be accustomed to feeling like you should simply do your job, stay quiet, and get out of the way. This mentality needs to change drastically as you step into this new position, as your role is now more in line with that of a producer than it is a production assistant. And just like a great producer – communication and leadership are key.

2.Stay Organized and Stay Ahead

Your ability to organize and stay a step ahead of things is what you were hired for above all else, so make sure to prioritize these aspects of your job. It’s often assumed that producers do most of the dirty work on and off set, but in reality, it’s often the production coordinators doing a lot of the heavy lifting – even if they aren’t getting credit for it.

The bottom line:organization is key. Even the slightest organizational misstep can lead to disaster during production. If you’re filling out the call sheet, a single typo that places a talent’s call time later than it should be could ruin an entire day on set — and cost the production thousands of dollars in overtime or reshooting expenses.

There are an infinite amount of issues that could arise as a result of poor organizational skills, so always be sure to stay detail oriented and triple check everything you do before sending it out to the team – otherwise you could be out of a job.

  1. Know your Role

A production team is naturally set up as a hierarchy, and it’s crucial that you know exactly where you stand in the chain of command. Although I mentioned earlier that being a production coordinator in many ways is like being a producer, you still need to make sure those lines aren’t blurred. Many production coordinators make the mistake of overstepping their boundaries during production as they grow to realize their importance on set.

As production coordinator, you report directly to the production manager, while also taking the lead on overseeing the production assistants and assistant production coordinators. For those of you that have already worked in this capacity, you understand that there’s a lot of juggling involved to do this well, and you are often required to wear many hats.

There are times when you need to take on roles that are outside of your usual production coordinator responsibilities, and that is perfectly okay — as long as you are being guided to do so. In other words, if you need to handle something that the production manager is passing off to you, that’s great – just don’t overstep your boundaries and do it before it’s asked of you or it will reflect very poorly on your set etiquette.

Final Thoughts

Not everyone is cut out for the role of production coordinator. It is a demanding, high-pressure job that requires a very particular set of skills, namely the ability to execute tasks with just the right balance of patience and tenacity. Over and above a concrete knowledge of film production from A to Z, you must be a great communicator and leader, remain ahead of schedule and completely organized at all times, and understand the boundaries of the role in which you work.

This can sound like a difficult position to fill, and truthfully it is a big challenge for many. But if you’re willing to stick with it and make yourself a productive member of the team, things start getting easier very quickly.

Did we leave anything out? Tell us about it in the comments below.

For Additional Information and tools, Be sure to check out these resources.

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