Pocket Cinema: Is That a Movie Studio in Your Pocket or Are You Just Pleased to See Me?

iPhone on TripodThe promise of the HDSLR is the democratization of video and filmmaking. The idea is that, that new DSLR you just bought for stills can make amazing HD video files so why don’t you just start making a movie?

The reality is, before you begin you need to buy a new tripod and head, rail system, matte box, follow focus, video monitor, viewfinder, shoulder mount, sound recorder, microphones, lights, computer and software if you want to take it seriously. And that’s just the gear: there are new technical skills to learn and you can’t man all that gear yourself so you need help, plus you need something to work on worthy of all that expense and hassle and suddenly that promise of anyone being able to make a movie get’s paralyzed by the work and expense involved.

Which is why I was inspired when a friend suggested I listen to a BBC radio program on Pocket Cinema. Sadly the show isn’t available for you to listen to anymore but the nub of the show is what creative filmmaking people are achieving with the the most modest of gear; a Flip or their cell phone or, at the very most, a consumer camcorder. Little in the way of crew or gear or hassle – filmmaking in its loosest, cheapest most accessible form. Click for more

Plastic Fantastic HDSLR Shoulder Support

Let’s take it as read that the DSLR used for making HD video is a beautiful but flawed compromise. This statement is true of almost every aspect of the format but nowhere more so than the form factor which is especially obvious when you take the camera off your tripod and try to hand hold it. For taking stills it is perfect but when taking video without the optical viewfinder available it is clunky and awkward. So an exclusive cottage industry has been built around the idea of making your HDSLR feel more like a real, movie camera.

If you have an unlimited budget there are some beautifully engineered rod and rails camera systems out there. Industry professionals may be able to justify a shoulder support that costs as much as their camera, it may even seem cheap to them, but to the rest of us working stiffs, it is an expense that is hard to justify. So, like many other enthusiasts, I was excited when the Adorama Shoulder Support surfaced for $45. If I’d waited I would have been able to get the same thing for about $10 less from Cowboy Studios but even on my meager budget this accessory was more than worth taking a chance on. When it arrived about a year ago I played with it a bit but it has taken me many months of occasional messing around to get to the point where I’m happy with this rig. Click for more

Deciphering Craigslist Creative/Crew Ads

I’ve been trawling through the Creative and Crew Ads on Craigslist for the last couple of months trying to get attached to a cool project. Even though I’ll work for free for a project I believe in the signal to noise ratio is massive. I’m starting to understand how to filter out some of that noise; if you’re in the same boat here’s how I’ve learnt to translate the various ads so far:

  • Producer wanted = need someone to get money for us
  • Good for student, recent grad or enthusiast = you won’t get paid
  • Credit & copy = you won’t get paid
  • We don’t have much of a budget but this gig could lead to more lucrative work = you get paid now or in future
  • Wanted: camera operator with own gear = director/DP just found out how much camera package rental is and think they can get both you and your gear for next to, or absolutely, nothing
  • Wanted, editor to complete this project: 75% complete = we thought we could do it ourselves with a pirated copy of FCP but we’ve messed it up so bad we’ll never get it done
  • Ground floor opportunity = you won’t get paid
  • High profile festival potential = we’re submitting it to Sundance along with 25,000 others – they’ll accept it right?
  • Will be a great addition to your portfolio = you won’t get paid
  • Deferred Payment = you won’t get paid
  • Simple gig, 30 minutes tops = we’ll pay you for 30 minutes work, not your traveling time, prep-time, setup time, break down time, waiting around time – pencil in the day, here’s your $30 – now you will be editing that for us won’t you?
  • Experienced director = I’ve read The Idiot’s Guide and watched Extras

Your mileage may vary but I’ve sent out countless emails, for which I’ve only received a handful of replies, none of which have led anywhere. Bitter much? Yes sir, I am.

Editing Exercise: Vincent Laforet Edit Contest

If, like me, you’re relatively new to the world of film editing Vincent Laforet (yes, the person behind Reverie) and creativeLIVE have a great exercise and competition for you. It’s the “Complete the Edit – Win Vincent Laforet’s Redrock Kit” CreativeLIVE challenge. You download the takes you want created at a recent workshop Mr Laforet held – unfortunately, if like me, you’re not a Vimeo pro user you have a limited number of downloads available per day so assembling the footage you want can be the longest part of the process. You then edit the clips into a finished piece and submit them to the vimeo group. You could win some great Redrock Kit but real benefit of entering is the exercise of piecing together an edit from someone else’s footage (warts and all).

This is my first time editing anyone else’s footage but my own and was a lot of fun and very educational. It took a lot more time than I anticipated to even get a first assembly and then I spent even more time tweaking everything to get to a final cut (I’ve already re-uploaded my entry 4 times):

Click for more