Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Boom Box: The ART USB Duel Pre Preamp



The DSLR Film Noob is at it again, finding versatile gear at affordable prices. Today he shares his findings about the ART USB Dual Pre, which allows XLR and 1/4" mic inputs, adjustable volume, phantom power, USB connectivity and lots more. For a reasonable $79, this is a great deal. The caveat is that it's not made to connect to any kind of camera rig, but Deejay shows a simple hack (he drilled a hole in the case) to remedy this.

I'm still using my XLR-PRO converter box, but the ART Preamp is light years past the XLR-PRO in features and at almost half the price. If you need something like this (which is probably closest to a $299 Juicedlink CX231), it's definitely worth your time, especially if you don't mind the easy mod to make it mountable.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Review: The Machine of Death Monologues



Recently I was contacted by Grace Knight, Artistic Director of Orpheos Productions. She informed me of a new web series her company was producing and asked if I would review the first few episodes to help get the word out. While I'm not normally in the habit of reviewing anymore, I told her I would and thanked her for the opportunity.

The Machine of Death Monologues is an eight part series that starts today, with short episodes (about ten minutes each) being released two times per week. Each part centers around a different character, all of whom are affected by the "Machine of Death". When a person is tested by this device, it reveals how you will die, but not when or where. You can imagine the internal turmoil this would cause within a person, let alone a society.

Let me just start by saying these episodes are very well produced. The lighting and cinematography are professional, the acting is strong, the sound is solid and the editing is crisp. Grace told me the entire budget for the project was around 1000 British Pounds ($1600 US) and it all looks like it made it to the screen. This show is a tribute to microbudget artists who have strong technical prowess. Kudos to all involved.

My only "complaint" is the format. The Machine of Death Monologues falls into the "videoblogger" genre with the episode's sole character speaking directly into the lens. The first episode sets up the idea that the main character is creating some sort of video journal. We see the camera and we know she is operating it. The next two shows follow the same idea, but the camera is never seen again. Do we assume these different characters are creating a similar video journal? We don't know. Also, each episode appears stand alone, not so much connected to the others. I wish there were cliffhangers to bind the episodes together and provoke me to watch the next one.

I liked the fact that these shows have been created with nice video camera and not a DSLR. Notice the deep focus and snap zooming, evidence of a traditional video camera. It's a good example of using what you have to it's fullest extent.

I also like the fact that Orpheos has a nice website and a solid release schedule. This shows forethought and planning, as does the artistic director contacting me. They could have just slapped it up on YouTube and hoped for the best, but they apparently know better. They have a plan.

I recommend you check out the compellingly-themed Machine of Death Monologues. If the format doesn't stop you, you may just discover an interesting show with a great hook. I would love to see this idea fleshed out into a traditional narrative. Orpheos?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Peter Ayala's PVC Stabilizer Rig

Hey Frugal Filmmaker,

Okay, so i completed the rig and it looks amazing! It took longer than I expected because I didn't have all the tools that were needed. But once i got hold of them, it was all downhill from there. I went ahead and "pimped" it out and put the hockey tape and bicycle handles you suggested and it looks awesome.

Anyways, my Rebel T3i fits perfectly! My biggest concern before I started building was whether or not the camera would be too big for the rig, but i was wrong. Even the LCD screen pulls out with no worries!

Maybe my only concern about the rig is the hockey tape that i wrapped around it. when i was wrapping it, the tape didn't seem to cooperate, but i did find ways to work around it. Every once in a while I would find a little flap of tape sticking out and I just rubbed it back into place. I tried looking for gaffer's tape but didn't find any at local stores. The nearest photo shop close to me is like 20 minuets away going on the freeway (north and south). ill try next time i head out there to grab a roll. but what do you think, would the gaffer's tape work better than the hockey tape?

Besides the tape, everything turned out great and I cant wait to use it on one of my next projects. Thanks a lot for posting that video, looking forward to seeing more DIY videos from you guys.

Scott says: I think hockey tape is better than gaffer's for this application. Hockey tape is a lot less expensive and has a more grippy surface. That's why hockey players use it on their sticks. I also don't like the problems associated with painting PVC, making the black hockey tape a nice alternative.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Monopod Madness!



Today on Quick FX, Dave takes a monopod into an empty field loaded with bugs. There he gives is the run down about a very common (an inexpensive) piece of gear that has some uses you may not have thought of. He also shares an easy-to-build PVC version that can also come in handy and cost you a lot less money. Also take note of Dave's custom thumbnail for this episode (one benefit of YouTube partnership). There is no question about what we are going to get.

If you like Knoptop's stuff, you should also be aware of the Quick FX page on Facebook. He often posts videos exclusive to that page. They are quicker & dirtier that what comes to YouTube, but always useful, interesting and entertaining.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Zoom H1 Shockmount Adapter



Deejay and his Makerbot are at it again! This time he comes up with something really great that a lot of people could use and afford. It's a shockmount that can hold these new, narrow portable digital audio recorders like the Zoom H1 and the Tascam DR-05. These little recorder bodies are very sensitive sound magnets and will pick up even the tiniest operator noise. If you are using the on-board microphones, a shockmount is a must.

Deejay sent me one for beta testing and I'm working with him on improvements. It's very exciting and I look forward to having the final product available for everyone. For the planned $10 price tag, you really can't go wrong.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Coming Soon: Sub-$100 Recorder Roundup!

Recently I was bestowed product review powers by B&H, with whom I am affiliated as an affiliate (pun intended). This allows me to make requests for products I would like to review for the blog. After purchasing a Zoom H1 and making an episode all about accessories for it, I began to wonder what else was available for the same price.

I perused B&H's catalog and discovered the obvious Tascam models (like the DR-05) as well as some I'd never heard of before. Could there be a great deal of a recorder that could compete with the Zoom H1 and maybe give me buyer's remorse? I put in my request and it was granted! I now have a group of recorders to put through the paces for the next thirty days.

Stay tuned to this blog for the next week or so to discover my findings.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Other Filmmaking Websites - Sharing the Love



Knoptop shares some of his favorite filmmaking websites along with a cool browser trick today on Quick FX. There is something else going on here, however--more subtext! Dave seems to be a master at making a video about one thing, while another percolates beneath the surface. In the above video, he talks about other websites, but what he is really doing is showing off effective network marketing.

Dave mentions my site in the his video that I'm embedding in my blog and adding to the Facebook Group and tweeting on Twitter. Dave mentions DSLR Film Noob and Deejay mentions me (and often has a link on his videos to me). I feature both these guys in my video sidebar and in my blogroll. They do something similar. Make sense?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Budget Light Kit



After several videos concerning lighting, I thought I would share how I keep everything together in a basic light kit. This video is pretty simple and plays like a "greatest hits" compilation with lots of annotated links to previous videos. There is new stuff as well, especially where lighting accessories are concerned.

I usually light my kitchen table with the two 500w halogen work lights, featured at the bottom of my box here. A friend lent me some lights and I ended up using a Lowel Omni and Lowel Tota, both bounced off of my ceiling, just like my frugal setup. Interestingly, the prosumer Lowels ran hotter than my modified work lights. I'm not sure of the exact temperature, but I could literally feel the difference. I think I'll do a temperature test while I still have the Lowel kit.

I also must give credit to those who inspired me for my own kit over the past year. Check out Walter Graff's "Building a Compact Lighting Kit" and Scott Spears' "Low Budget Lighting". Both of these articles are excellent and pointed me in the direction that I am currently following.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Juicedlink DS214 review and Makerbot Parts!



DSLR Film Noob gives us a very thorough review of an audio box made to resolve some of the audio issues found in Canon DSLR still/video cameras. Deejay makes a lot of great observations here, like this hardware really isn't necessary if you already have Magic Lantern installed (which isn't available for the 7D, which he is using here), or how the AGC defeat feature isn't foolproof. I also like what we learn when he drops the clip into his video editor.

My favorite thing, however, is Deejay showing off his Makerbot 3-D printer. This device is simply awesome, as it will allow the creation of anything you can design in a CAD program. You can then print out said design from a hunk of plastic. Here we get an adapter so the Juicedlink will sit better in the camera's hot shoe and give a cold shoe adapter on top of that. Very nice.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Weekly Recap Link List 5-16-11










From the files of Facebook and Twitter:

5 video lighting technique videos
http://www.nextwavedv.com/5-video-lighting-technique-videos-from-ryan-e-walters/

Emilio Espinosa's PVC lighting
http://filmflap.blogspot.com/2011/05/emilio-espinosas-pvc-lighting.html

How to control light
http://dvrebellion.com/2011/05/how-to-control-light/

Facebook marketing: the key to independent film marketing?
http://workbookproject.com/newbreed/2011/05/10/facebook-marketing-the-key-to-independent-film-marketing/

Free faux fur for mini windscreen projects
http://filmflap.blogspot.com/2011/05/free-faux-fur-for-mini-windscreen.html

Harbor Freight sawhorse skateboard slider
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150193513187612&set=o.334368756043&type=1&ref=nf

PVC/IKEA cutting board camera rig
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150192013997612&set=o.334368756043&type=1&ref=nf

Convert a $7 IKEA cutting board into a video shoulder rig
http://www.diyphotography.net/convert-an-ikea-cutting-board-to-a-camera-video-rig

Making a quick & dirty (nasty?) superhero
http://filmflap.blogspot.com/2011/05/making-quick-dirty-nasty-superhero.html

DIY inexpensive camera slider
http://www.vimeo.com/15891760

20 techniques for organizing your Vegas Pro workspace
http://www.sonycreativesoftware.com/organizing_your_vegas_pro_workspace_pt1

James King's PVC stabilizer rig
http://filmflap.blogspot.com/2011/05/james-kings-pvc-stabilizer-rig.html

An awesome location I have to use
http://filmflap.blogspot.com/2011/05/awesome-location-i-have-to-use.html

Steve Spielberg on the importance of studying classic films
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdoC-5OI2xY

Free production music
http://dvrebellion.com/2011/05/free-production-music/

Zoom H1 and Tascam DR-05 shockmount
http://www.dslrfilmnoob.com/2011/05/14/zoom-h1-tascam-dr-05-shock-mount/

Friday, May 13, 2011

An Awesome Location I have to Use

While out feasting with the family on some corn dogs today, I happened onto the above setting. In the rear of a local Weinerschnitzel, there were some (presumably old) outdoor tables positioned nauseatingly close to a garbage dumpster. It looked almost surreal.

Those tables must be headed for the scrap heap, right? Or is this overflow from the inside of the restaurant? Surely the Health Department would not approve, would they? Do you think the employees would serve me if I sat at one of these tables? Maybe it's the break area, perhaps?

Whatever was going on here, my first thought was, "How do I get this bizarre location into a movie?"

James King's PVC Stabilizer Rig

Scott,

My film rig design is very similar to yours, Though I made some pretty major mods not noticeable at first glance, Here's a few pics but the greatest detail will be noticed by checking out my instructable.

Thanks for the inspiration!!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Making a Quick & Dirty (Nasty?) Superhero



On Quick FX this week, Knoptop shares some tips on creating a superhero on the cheap. It's no secret, but using your local thrift store as a costuming resource can be huge. I've worked with several costumers who take the cast to one of these stores and find great stuff to make the characters look right. I also like Dave's tip about the crafting foam-into-logo trick. I've never seen that one before. It's a great idea.

Oh, and if I ever saw Snot Rocket Boy coming my way, I'd run in the other direction. He has to be one of the grossest superheroes ever. I'm glad he's on the side of good.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Free Faux Fur for Mini Windscreen Projects

A few months ago when I was gathering information for my Zoom H1 Accessories episode, I was looking for cheap DIY 'dead cat' windscreen fur that I could use on said digital recorder. I didn't find anything that would effectively offset the $15 Furryhead that I ended up getting, but I did stumble upon a free resource of excellent mini-fur that costs nothing.

Premium Furs Inc. is a web retailer that sells very expensive (over $100/yard!) faux fur. The cool thing was that they offered up to three free samples that they would mail to you AT NO COST (remember the free gray card?). How could I resist that?

Learning from a forum that the Tissavel brand was the best for making dead cat windscreens, I went to the page for that brand. I found three I thought I'd try and took note of colors and item numbers. I then went to the contact us tab, where I entered all my shipping information and the sample information in the request/comment box. The samples I chose (pictured above, left to right) were Kentucky #207, Australuni #2482 and Vanoise #9629.

A week later, they showed up. The samples are smaller than I had hoped for (note the quarter in the picture to show scale), but can still be useful. While too small for my original idea of creating a dead cat for my Zoom H1, they can still be used to create windscreens for onboard camera mics or even lav mics. The fur will cut down on nasty wind noise and make audio capture that much more useable.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Emilio Espinosa's PVC Lighting

Hello Mr. Eggleston!

Let me begin by telling you how much I have enjoyed and appreciated The Frugal Filmmaker blog! I'm actually a professional producer, editor, and motion graphics designer, but I don't have a lot of gear of my own. Your blog has given me countless ideas that I have put to use in creating gear for personal production work in video and photography.

As a way of saying thanks, and maybe giving something back to the community, I want to share my gallery of images of the various tools I've created both based on your tutorials and on tutorials you've shared along with modifications I've made.

The gallery is available on Flickr and has full explanations of each piece: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gmvfx/sets/72157626663349436/.

In addition to the pieces I'm sharing with you here, I have also built your PVC camera stabilizer rig and PVC Table Dolly that I have not yet photographed.

Again, thank you so much for all of the inspiration and instruction, it has enabled me to do things I didn't think I could do on my own.

Scott says: I'm glad I could inspire Emilio, but to be fair, many of his lighting ideas are waaaaaay beyond mine. I advise everyone to follow Emilio's link to his Flickr page. Lots of fantastic stuff to see there.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Weekly Recap Link List 5-9-11






From the files of Facebook and Twitter:

Well, I was right, "message all members" has been dropped as a built-in option for new Facebook Groups. Here's how to do it anyway (if you're an admin)!
http://mynewtricks.blogspot.com/2011/05/how-to-message-all-members-in-new.html

Another video of a pro photog shooting with cheap gear
http://fstoppers.com/another-video-of-a-pro-photog-shooting-with-cheap-gear

Technicolor and Marvel DSLR picture styles
http://filmflap.blogspot.com/2011/05/technicolor-and-marvel-dslr-picture.html

Using popular television to boost your knowledge of classic lighting
http://tinyurl.com/3nbbvay

Camera support for all multi-shot photography
http://tinyurl.com/3jpuy57

"Los Angeles won't make your movie!"
http://blogs.indiewire.com/tedhope/archives/Guest_post_Christropher_boghosian-los_angeles_wont_make_your_movie/

Using baking powder as a macro tube
http://www.diyphotography.net/using-baking-powder-as-a-macro-tube

Television ownership drops in U.S., Nielsen reports (as online viewing increases)
http://nyti.ms/lbq0Hl

CIS fair use legal experts answer questions about YouTube
http://youtube-global.blogspot.com/2011/05/cis-fair-use-legal-experts-answer.html

Using what you've got
http://filmflap.blogspot.com/2011/05/using-what-youve-got.html

Kick your creativity up a notch
http://www.digital-photography-school.com/kick-your-creativity-up-a-notch

DIY DSLR stabilizer + DIY slider
http://cheesycam.com/diy-dslr-stabilizer-diy-slider/

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Using What You've Got



Knoptop is back! It's been a few since Dave posted new material, but I'm glad he's returned--I really like his work. Today on Quick FX he's posted a video about "Outdoor Lighting Tips", but there's a better message hidden (okay, not really) within the frames of this video that that is really important. Dave mentions that you don't need expensive equipment to get really good footage, just proper usage of whatever may be available to you. I totally believe in this and highly recommend that you don't wait for that "special piece of gear" to begin making movies--just begin making them.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Technicolor and Marvel DSLR Picture Styles



Deejay returns today (okay, so he never really went anywhere) with a DSLR Film Noob that many DSLR users will appreciate. Here he compares two color "flat" styles that you can import into your camera for a nice look that also makes color grading in post easier. This is a nice comparison so you can see what is possible before taking your own time to run a bunch of tests. Deejay has already done it for you!

For the rest of us using camcorders, check out this post from Eugenia's blog (which everyone within the sound of my voice should be following) that addresses some similar looks that you can achieve the old fashioned way--in post (using Sony Vegas).

If you're curious about a little history, here's a big wiki about the original Technicolor film process. This procedure made colors pop and gave people a reason to go to movies instead of stay home and watch entertainment on the latest (colorless) technology: television.

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