5 Tips to Make Family Movie Night a Success

We say this a lot, but we think it’s worth repeating: It’s important to get involved in your kids media lives -– and your kids will love it too (within reason!). But helping them become critical media consumers can be easier said than done. What’s a sure-fire way to stay involved with your kids’ media picks and create an opportunity to discuss them? Host a family movie night!

Some tips for making it work:

Schedule it. Make it a regular date and time and don’t break it. Turn off cell phones and ban multitasking during the show.

Take turns choosing the movie. If you’ve got little kids, pre-select a group to choose from (to avoid watching Care Bears IV over and over again). If you’ve got teens, tell them you’ll watch anything they choose as long as they return the favor when it’s your turn. Enforce a “no complaining” rule.

Location, location, location. Hang a sheet in the backyard, rent a projector, and sit on beach chairs to celebrate a classic like The Wizard of Oz. Or take family movie night on the road during vacations or at the grandparents’ house (Singin’ in the Rain, perhaps?).

Make it a theme night. This can be simple or elaborate. Eat popsicles with March of the Penguins or make food art with Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. Dress in costume for A Princess Bride, or learn a few magic tricks before Harry Potter.

Talk about it. When credits roll or the next day, make time to chat about what you watched. Kids might be interested in learning more about animation or Hollywood history. Visit the library to follow up on interests piqued by the movie. Talking with kids about how movie characters handled fictional situations can be a subtle way to reinforce your family’s values or get kids to open up about their lives.

Have Your Commercial Video Created Via A Professional Video Production Company! Read more: Have Your Commercial Video Created Via A Professional Video Production Company

Making use of videos to promote a business has become a common trend these days. With no ifs and buts, commercial videos are a proven marketing method in spreading your promotional message to the targeted area or across the globe. Unquestionably, it can be sated that video marketing is an effectual branding tool. This is the reason that a number of businesses these days get in touch with a video production company to create their best commercial videos that can bring boom in the market.

Why To Hire A Video Production Company?

Giving a professional touch to your commercial video is of extreme importance as it is such an incredible technique that successfully points out the things you want to get across the mass. So, doing this crucial task yourself or leaving on an amateur’s shoulder is certainly not a wise choice. Always, count on the best video production company like “Sinema Films” to get the desired or the expected outcome. Yes, for hiring a trusted company, you may have to spend bucks in the process but the outcome is worth impressive. So, instead of try creating the video yourself, hire a professional video production company and be sure to get the best results.

How To Get The Good Value Of Your Money Or To Get The Best Video Made?

• Prepare A Brief-

If you want your video to content all the relevant things that you want your customers to be delivered, you must explain about your goals to the service provider. Thus, it is almost essential that your company prepares a brief of all the relevant points.

• Plan Your Budget-

You must plan your budget in advance keeping the brief in mind and thereafter look for a production company that fits well to both your requirement and your budget.

• Check The Reliability Of The Company-

Before making a final move and signing a contract with the production company, you should first check the credibility of the company as a reliable company always delivers outstanding outcome of the work within the set period of time and without crossing your budget line.

• Consider The Technology-

Make sure that the company you are going to hire has access to the technically advanced equipments that can help delivering an appealing touch to the video.

Stop Motion Photography!

Stop Motion animation is a popular form of filmmaking, for audiences and creators alike. However, there is a lack of quality seen in the works of almost all but the most professional studios. This article is directed at those who capture their frames via a higher-end camera connected to a computer.

It’s possible to achieve really nice looking results just by following a handful of tips- two handfuls, to be exact:

  • Tip 1: NEVER bump the camera

Even the slightest accidental nudge of the camera will stick out like a sore thumb and scream “amateur!” to your audiences. Tying your camera’s tripod down is a good way to avoid the effects of small bumps. Unless of course, you’re going for that “Kid’s stop motion” look. Personally, I’m not.. and if I were, I’d probably do it in After Effects. Having some sort of ‘video assist’, whereby you can see the frame you shot last over-layed on the current one can help you spot a camera bump earlier rather than later.


  • Tip 2: NEVER accidentally change the exposure of the camera

This is unavoidable with cheaper cameras with their auto-exposure shenanigans, of course, but for higher-end cameras with full manual control, there’s no excuse for this sort of thing happening. Setting the white balance correctly and consistently is also important. Indeed, keeping a log book of the settings you used for a shoot is a great idea.

  • Tip 3: NEVER accidently alter the focus of the camera

Again, modern lower-end cameras don’t offer manual focus, and these are next to useless for stop motion. If you want to pull focus (a la “rack focus”) then having a plan to do so is a great idea. If you’re able to numerically specify the focus setting for a camera, this also can be a great boon! In an ideal world, all of the camera’s settings can be controlled via the computer.

  • Tip 4: NEVER bump the subject or the set

A good stop motion animator flows around the set like a gentle breeze. A tip here is to choose materials for your puppets and your sets that are forgiving of accidental encounters. For instance, use foam latex instead of modelling clay. Avoid using real hair for puppets, unless you can be absolutely sure that you won’t flick it accidentally. This is why after making two stop motion shorts with ‘real’ hair (“The one that got away” and “The bun that got away”) I switched to felt for “The crumb that got away”. If disaster strikes and you do accidentally move a puppet or a set element, you can attempt to reposition them, using the previously captured frame as a reference.

  • Tip 5: NEVER accidentally change the lighting

The first thing to mention here is that natural light is your enemy, as lovely as it is. The problem with natural light is that it fluctuates over time. Clouds move overhead, and of course the sun is always in motion. The other thing to mention is that your own lighting setup shouldn’t change either. For fixed lights (such as overhead lights in your office) make a note in your log about which are on, and for moveable lights, simply leave them where they are. To give you an idea about how sensitive this is, here’s a quick anectote from the production of my last stop motoin short. I use a VNC client to monitor what my main computer is seeing when it’s capturing frames, and it can be in full screen mode, or else have some user interface elements at the top. These two modes were different enough to register in the frame! To emphasise, if you are forced to recreate the lighting for a scene, it must be EXACT.

  • Tip 6: ALWAYS attempt to shoot a scene in one session

A number of the issues mentioned above can be avoided by following this tip. Ideally when you embark on shooting a scene, you should be uninterrupted for as long as it takes to complete it. If you do need to stop for any length of time, (remember to eat, drink, and go to the bathroom!) then leave everything running. If you can only do so much in a single session, check that you’ve recreated the same conditions the next time before you start shooting in earnest, by capturing a test frame and comparing it with the last frame you shot.

  • Tip 7: ALWAYS shoot more frames than you need

You can always delete frames, but creating them out of nothing weeks later is not so easy. An example of this is making your characters blink. I generally will add my eyelids to my character and capture a frame even when it would be too much to include them all. It’s nice to be able to make that decision editorially, later. Another example of this is to take extra frames of the set without your characters, so that there’s a ‘blank field’ to use later should you wish to remove a part of your character for whatever reason.

  • Tip 8: ALWAYS try and capture things ‘in camera’

Don’t get me wrong-I LOVE computers and the synthesis of imagery, but the reality of stop motoin is that if you have to ‘fix’ something in post, you’ll need to do it fo many frames. It’s almost always worth spending the time beatifying your characters and your set beforehand.

  • Tip 9: ALWAYS shoot as hi-res as possible

More pixels equals more options- you can choose to ‘zoom in’ on a part of your scene later, and of course when it comes time to producing the hi-res poster of your work you have more options. Also, you might only be making your stop motion film for Internet distribution now, but further down the track you may change your mind and decide that a hi-res digital projection is more your scene.

  • Tip 10: ALWAYS test your setup before embarking on a shoot

For anything but the simplest of shots, it’s a good idea to do a dry run-through, testing that the mechanics of the set and your characters are as you expect. Shooting stop motion photography can be like driving down a one-way street- there’s no turning back!

5 Tips On Making A Short Film as Powerful as a Feature

Arguably, features and shorts are different creatures entirely–the feature being a longer, often more complex journey and the short being an anecdote along that journey. Of course, one of the biggest obstacles facing independent filmmakers is financing their feature film, so making a short film seems more plausible. But how can you cultivate your ideas for the length of a short film, and still make it as complex and powerful as a feature? These four filmmakers from Filmmaker Magazine’s recent annual 25 New Faces screening night at the IFC Center, provide some advice below:

1. Nail down the most relevant shooting locations. They will make your short all the more authentic.

“I shot ‘Immaculate Reception’ entirely in Pittsburgh–inside someone’s Pittburgh home, all of my lead actors being from Pittsburgh, including all of the extras. This takes place in a really pivotal time in Pittsburgh history, where the Stealers finally become this winning football team in the 1970’s, and for the story I wanted to tell I really wanted this piece to be as authentic as possible to honor that.” – Charlotte Glynn, “Immaculate Reception”

2. Utilize any and all costuming resources. You never know who or what will come in handy.

“We used our own clothes, our friends clothes, thrift stores, and Good Will stores for the shoot. The 70s’ bra, however, we got from an Eastern European bra store in a slag heap in Western Pennsylvania, which we had to do a lot of research to discover was there, and this bra was really important for our character. For the rest of my costumes, however, my friend whom I worked with at this other unrelated job was able to come in and save me when I had already lost three costume designers, not to mention we were already ten days away from shooting. She had even just come off of ‘Foxcatcher’ but becasue we had worked together before, she was willing to come in and dress all thirty of my extras at the last second.” -Glynn

3. Utilize any and all equipment resources that can improve the production of your film.

“I’ve made both of my big movies in film school, so that gives us a lot of access to equipment. And with ‘Afronauts,’ there’s this guy whose dad worked for NASA who was stationed in the same place as our shooting location in Zambia, and he made money in the tech industry so he was our biggest executive producer and he was able to provide us with equipment as props for our actors, which was really really lucky.” – Frances Bodomo, “Afronauts”

4. Embrace the art of the short film, don’t produce it solely for the purpose of previewing your feature.

“I love the short film as its own form, and I love how it allows directors, no matter how big or small they are, to at least experiment or at least try it out because I believe as a director you need to fail a lot of times in order to make something you are proud of. For example, last year I was on a festival tour film that wasn’t going to become a feature, and this year with a film thats going to become a feature and there’s a huge difference in that audience members still see the short form as a prequel to a feature. Because I made ‘Afronnauts’ a strong short on its own, that has given me a lot of opportunity for make a stronger feature.” – Bodomo

5. Remember: Kickstarter isn’t the only way to finance your film or help with paying people to work on it.

“I worked as a production designer and art director for five or seven years before I made this film, so I have a lot of favors from friends from working for free, so that helped get them to come onto my shoot. I also made connections from paid to work from other people–so all the money I had saved throughout the years and the friends I made came through in the end for my short.” – Robert Eggers, “Brothers”

10 Tips on Turning Your Short Film Into a Feature

The last five years for first-time feature director Gillian Robespierre have been pretty amazing — she managed to develop her  small short feminist romantic comedy into the award-winning feature, “Obvious Child,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, was later acquired by A24 Films for national distribution and became an indie sensation when it was released this summer.

Yesterday on a panel at IFP Independent Film Week, Robespierre and “Obvious Child” producer Elisabeth Holm spoke about the process of adapting Robespierre’s short into a feature.

“It was an introduction to a whole new world of ‘Obvious Child’ because it is so different than the short; the heart is still there, the beginning, middle, and end are still there, but everything around it that makes it the feature is nothing like the short, and it was really exciting to participate in and manipulate that brilliant transformation,” said Robespierre.

Robespierre and the film’s producer Elisabeth Holm shared the following 10 tips for filmmakers who want to turn their short into a feature:

1. Meet people who like your film.

“Mixers in general seem to be a little awkward, but I went and I had a lot of wine and a lot of sliders! Liz and I started talking about growing up in New York — we gravitated towards each other without discussing films or why we were at IFP — we were talking like regular human beings who happened to make films and that led to a more legitimate film/dinner/date where we solidified the idea of doing a feature ‘Obvious Child.’” – Gillian Robespierre

READ MORE: IFP Independent Film Week Is Not Just for Filmmakers Anymore.

2. Hunt for grants.

“It was very encouraging for me what people has said about the short film, so I applied for several grants and finally got one from Rooftop Films, which actually led me to IFP.” – Robespierre

3. Keep hunting for grants.

“We got a very cool grant from the San Francisco Film Society that gave us the opportunity to participate in Off the Page. They flew us [and cast members] Jenny Slate, Gaby Hoffman and Jake Liebman out to do a table reading and workshop of the script. We got to run through the bullet point list of things that Jenny would discuss on stage. She would improvise them and we would record them, and [Robespierre] really incorporated them into the rewrite. it was the first real rehearsal other than during production on set.” – Elisabeth Holm

READ MORE: Sundance Review: “Obvious Child” Takes on Love, Abortion, and Stand-Up Insecurity

4. Get your story in front of as many people as possible.

“I also learned how to get your short out there. When you put it on Vimeo, that doesn’t mean you’re going to get 40,000 hits. It also doesn’t mean that all the great blogs out there are just going to pick it up — we wrote to them, and the editors, and the people who write articles that we really like, and said ‘Hey we made this movie!’ I think that helped tremendously when we were going into the feature. And we had a short to show which was excellent for our Kickstarter Campaign.” – Robespierre

5. Kickstarter, Kickstarter, Kickstarter.

Following up on point No. 4, given that Robespierre already had a short film to share, Kickstarter was an ideal way to raise funds for a feature. The campaign for “Obvious Child” exceeded its $35,000 goal. But crowdfunding didn’t only help financially. It also helped to get the word out about the film.

6. Work with close friends.

“We don’t have any barriers between professionalism and friendship. I think Gillian and Jenny [Slate] are incredibly trusting and respectful of each other and each others voices — the way they are similar is really beautiful. However, in a lot of ways the boundaries of roles are very fluid; there are things that I do that are directorial and things that [Robespierre] does that are producorial and we both write. Making a project is intensely collaborative. With collaboration comes the grey area of roles not being perfectly clear. I think we all have similar voices in the piece, but we also challenge each other and are not afraid to disagree. I think we are really lucky.” – Holm

7. Use your actors personalities to develop your characters.

“In the short, Jenny’s character is a freelancer. She doesn’t have a job, and so while writing more and for Jenny’s feature role it felt natural to make her character a stand-up comedian, especially since that is who she is in real life. When [Hoffman] and [Liebman] were signed on before we got equity, we basically wrote their characters for them!” – Holm

8. Be ‘fun-to-run’ people who meet every weekend to work on the script.

“We are both fun-to-run people who don’t like idle time. We both, at the time, had day jobs. Our relationship oganically grew into what it is now from the Saturday summetime meetings and making the consensual decision that this is what we wanted to be doing, making this film. We didn’t want to go to barbecues, we wanted to make this movie and we weren’t lazy about it. We both had crazy work ethic. We would meet on weekends and even email throughout work days!” – Robespierre

9. Keep your feature simple and concise.

“Yes, we were maniacs working sixteen hour days, but we kept it simple. We weren’t taking on anything we couldn’t do and I think with telling our story we were just trying to keep it genuine and true to our motto. With every trick in filmmaking — it’s not really a trick, it’s something that someone else has done before that we followed the lead of. We learned from films and filmmaking styles that came before us.” – Robespierre

10. When you finally complete your feature, remember that it doesn’t have to be perfect.

“While there are some known actors in it, I am a totally unknown person, first time director here. [For Sundance] we wanted it to be polished — with sound, color, for every song to be perfectly mixed- that is how we were going to apply. But we learned as we went that we didn’t really need to have a polished film, we just needed a really good edit, time to tell a story and to get the jokes right — not to overload the first act with so many fart jokes — but to bring fresh eyes to the edit to ensure that it was tweaked in all the right places.” – Robespierre

5 Obvious Tips For Writing About/For The Movies

Want to be a film critic/blogger or screenwriter? Devin has five tips that could change your life. Or won’t. Probably won’t, if we’re being really honest here.

I am sometimes asked to give advice about becoming a film critic/blogger or a screenwriter. My first bit of advice is always the same: don’t do it. Don’t become either of these two things. If you want to work in the movies, become a director or producer, as you’ll be paid better, will get to boss the screenwriter around and will be more respected. If you want to become a film critic or blogger, consider instead taking on a job that will be more helpful to society, like being a McDonald’s employee. That job probably pays better as well. Whole Foods has nice benefits, I understand.

The only people who should aspire to these jobs are the poor souls who are driven, who feel like this is their calling, who have the sense that the universe dealt them a bum hand and they’re stuck with it. If that’s you, I have five golden bits of advice that you should study and learn. But first, two things you must already have:

– An ability to communicate. Don’t learn how to communicate your thoughts on the job. Come prepared to write properly, to write with style and to write with verve. The end goal of writing is to be read; be prepared to be read.

– Something to prove. This is what drives you. Whether you want to write to impress a girl or you want to write to prove detractors wrong or you want to write because you think you’re the most correct person in the world and everybody else needs to hear your thoughts, you must have a reason to be writing.

With that out of the way, on to the Five Golden Tips:

Tip #1: FAIL.

Fail early, and fail often. Good writing is about sharing yourself – your thoughts, your opinions, your feelings – and that makes you very vulnerable. You cannot embark on a writing career if you’re not ready for rejection, dismissal, unkind internet comments and general failure. It’s like boxing – you have to get punched in the face to get over your fear of being punched in the face.

Not only does failing early in life prepare you for future (inevitable) failures, it adds to your ‘Something to prove’ prerequisite. When I failed out of college and found myself unloading trucks at a department store at 5am every day, I knew I needed to take serious action to change my situation. Failure is an excellent motivator.


Write what you know, they say, and most people don’t know shit. Experience is key for a writer; meeting people, getting to know their stories and points of view, having strange encounters and testing your own boundaries are exactly the things any serious writer MUST do.

You’re thinking, ‘But I just want to be a film critic. None of this applies to me.’ This applies to you, and almost doubly so. One of the cardinal sins I see committed by younger film critics is that they attempt to filter everything they watch through their own limited, boring experience. How can you really understand a love story if you’ve never been in love? How can you really feel for a character on the edge if you’ve never been on the edge? If your whole life experience is comfy, middle class, college-educated boringness, you’ll always be at a distance from the other experiences you find on film.

That doesn’t mean you can’t understand a movie about a drug dealer if you’ve never been a drug dealer. What it means is that the broader your personal experiences, the more you’ll be able to project yourself into what you’re watching. Obviously a good filmmaker should be able to make any character, however extreme, in some way understandable to an audience, but as a critic you will need to be doing heavier lifting. And that lifting will be easier if you have lots of human experiences under your belt. A nice side effect is that having lots of human experiences under your belt will also make a better, more interesting human.


No duh, right? You’d be shocked at how many screenwriters and film critics disregard this. It’s especially bad for critics, but it’s just as dangerous for screenwriters.

As a film critic your job isn’t to give people a consumer report about a movie. You’re not managing their movie-going budget. You’re offering readers three things:

– Informed opinion
– Context
– Entertainment

Every review should hit all three of those. Even if a reader has never heard of a movie/will never see a movie, they should be entertained by what you write. Even if a reader already has seen a movie, they should find your opinion interesting and well-argued. And even if a reader is deeply familiar with a movie, they should get deeper understanding of the movie after reading your review.

You’re on your own with entertainment value – that should be packaged in the ‘Ability to communicate’ prerequisite – but the other two can be earned by watching lots and lots of movies. If you see a tracking shot in a film and your only frame of reference for great tracking shots is Old Boy, you don’t have enough context. If your knowledge of film only extends back to the 80s, or is bounded by the limits of a specific genre, you won’t be able to really have an informed opinion.

As a film critic you should know more than the average reader*. There’s zero value in reviews written from a ‘Joe Six-Pack’ perspective, and I find the recent fad of reviews written by neophytes (“I’m watching black and white movies for the first time!” “I’m showing my cousin Star Wars for the first time!”) to be tedious. I want to read something I didn’t know or find an opinion I didn’t have, not watch somebody learn how to walk. There’s a reason we watch professional sports on TV and not local pick-up games. This doesn’t mean you must have seen every movie ever made before writing about film – everybody is always playing catch-up with the long history of cinema – it just means you should be making a real effort to see as much as possible.

Screenwriters should be familiar with a broad swath of films because the answers you seek often lie in the past. While style and fashion has changed drastically since the first motion pictures, the basics of storytelling have not. Some screenwriter in the past has faced the same problems you face in your current script; knowing how it was solved (or how it was screwed up) previously will help inform you now. Don’t be afraid to stand on the great big pile of screenwriters who came before you. The movies that were already made are Hollywood’s greatest institutional memory.


Let me immediately contradict that by saying OF COURSE you should read other reviews and screenplays. But you need to read a lot more than that.

One of the prerequisites at the start of this article was ‘An ability to communicate,’ but being able to communicate doesn’t mean you ever stop getting better at communicating. As a writer you should be absorbing other writing as much as possible so that you can be exposed to new words, turns of phrase, thought and general knowledge.

As a film critic being well-rounded (see Tip #2) is key. You should have an understanding of history and art and politics if you hope to write intelligently about film. You should know something about different religions, because metaphors for them creep into movies all the time. You should know great literature, because that stuff gets referenced a lot. You should be familiar with philosophy, because that’s all going to feed into how you read films.

As a screenwriter inspiration waits on every page. One of the purest, and best ways to defeat writer’s block is to read. You’re filling up the mental gas tank in the simplest way possible, by absorbing other words and ideas.

Most of all reading makes you a better writer. There’s no impetus to improve your own writing like reading something exquisite and realizing how shitty you are. Don’t be discouraged by better writers, be inspired. At the very least get really competitive and vow to show them who’s boss (seriously, having a bone to pick will make you such a better writer).

One last thing: read a lot about the making of films. Truly great film critics will not just have seen lots of movies, will not just know lots about art and history and philosophy, they will also know about the technical aspects of making movies. They will understand what editing is and how it works. They will understand how different lenses change what we see. They will understand acting techniques and the concept of mise en scene.

In other words, being a film critic is more than watching a movie and saying whether or not you liked it.


Everything that comes before this is useless if you don’t have something to say. You may have the ability to communicate, and you may have the drive to do the communicating, but if you have nothing to actually communicate, what’s the point?

The point, you might say, is to make money and to get access and to be involved in the Hollywood dream factory! If that’s your attitude, you might already be fucked. You’ll end up writing garbage for money and attention, but you’ll soon discover that even with all the money and attention you’re getting some jerk-off agent is making more money and getting more respect than you are. And you’ll find out that this is a pretty hollow and gross way to make a living, because you sold out for much less than you’re really worth.

But if you have something to say, and you say it in your writing, you’ll be much more fulfilled than the jerk-off agent. Much poorer, and getting laid way less, but much more personally fulfilled. And you’ll make more of a difference. A great film critic serves as a champion for great movies, and supporting art with your own art is a wonderful feeling. A great film critic also serves as a guide, leading readers places they might never otherwise go. The best responses I get from readers tell me that I turned them on to a movie that’s now their favorite. What’s more, and this is something I’ve only learned now that I’m old, is that great film critics can influence the next generations of filmmakers. There’s something weird but ultimately satisfying about meeting a filmmaker who tells you that your writing made an impact on him.

It’s may be even better for screenwriters. Yeah, directors get the respect and actors get the adulation, but it’s the imagination of the screenwriter that sparks it all. It’s the themes and ideas put on the page that blossom into movies. A screenwriter with a point of view and something to say about the world can easily impact the lives of millions of people who don’t even realize they’re being impacted. A terrific screenplay can entertain and also move people and also make them think differently, feel differently, see the world differently.

I don’t really have any tips for finding something to say. That’s got to come from within you. I saved it for last, though, because I think once you’ve taken all the other advice (vague as each tip is) you’ll figure it out for yourself.

Tips, tricks and shortcuts for making movies on your mobile Part 2

11. Insert title cards

Title cards are another area where WeVideo proves its worth, and you’ll see one inserted for you at the start of every video project you create in the Android app. Tap on the Title card to edit the text, then use the Theme button (which looks like a magic wand) to choose a style for your title cards to be applied throughout the project. The iOS version of WeVideo isn’t quite as advanced, but you can always export a basic project to the Web app where all of the editing features and file formats are available.

Adobe Premiere Clip

12. Go hands-off with automatic projects

Clip is the stripped-down, mobile version of Adobe’s heavyweight desktop video editing application, and it’s available for both Android and iOS. One of its most useful features as far as casual filmmakers are concerned is the automatic mode that appears as an option whenever you create a new project and import some clips: choose to go automatic and the Clip app customises your footage based on a music track and speed chosen by you. It’s the perfect halfway house between sharing your raw video unedited and spending hours poring over every detail of the sequence.

13. Create motion from photos

Clip includes a more advanced freeform editor too, and one of the tools available in it is Photo Motion: this enables you to add photos to your movies while keeping some kind of movement so your project doesn’t grind to a static stop. Tap the cog icon at the top of the freeform editing screen to open the project preferences, then toggle the Photo Motion to the on position. You can’t control the zoom focus or speed, unfortunately, but it makes your project look more fluid if you’re mixing video clips and photos together in the same timeline.

FiLMiC Pro

14. Tweak focus and exposure

If you’re serious about mobile moviemaking and you have a few pounds to spare, FiLMiC Pro is one of the most professional iOS filming apps available. You get access to a wealth of settings that most apps wouldn’t come close to thinking about, including live focus and exposure settings: drag the focus reticle (a square) or the exposure reticle (a circle) around on the camera view to set these values based on one part of the shot. The icons to the lower left lock these settings in place and prevent FiLMiC Pro from making adjustments on the fly.

15. Tweak white balance and contrast

More options become available in FiLMiC Pro after you’ve recorded a particular scene on your smartphone. Tap on the video clip icon to see your existing recordings, then tap the slider button to adjust exposure, contrast, white balance, saturation and tint using simple sliders, with the results previewed in real-time. The reset button on the left lets you undo all of your changes if you need to go back. Additional options on the same set of menus enable you to trim and downsample clips should you need to, before they’re ready to be exported to a video editor.

VideoFX Live

16. Blur videos

Installing the VideoFX Live app is like putting a fully featured editing suite inside the confines of your iPhone: from artistic titles to coloured overlays, there’s plenty to explore within the app. Some of the overlays and filters are aimed at a younger, social media-savvy crowd but there are a lot of genuinely useful ones too — such as the adjustable blur tool that you could use for anything from a dream sequence to a pre-credits intro. The blur effect is one of many you can get in the Cinema Pro Pack, a paid-for add-on to the app.

17. Add flames and explosions

There are a plethora of ways you can use VIdeoFX Live on your iPhone, covering green screen effects, frames that border your video and so on, but the flame and explosion filters are some of the most dramatic tools. Via another premium add-on pack you can have flames rise from the foot of the screen, or have sparks, bangs and phaser effects flit across the screen in line with the movement in the frame. Of course the end results aren’t quite as slick as those produced by Hollywood studios, but they’re very impressive for an inexpensive smartphone app.

Stop Motion Studio

18. Create your own stop motion animations

From Wallace and Gromit to Fantastic Mr. Fox, filmmakers continue to explore the potential of stop motion animation, and you can emulate the professionals using Stop Motion Studio (available on Android, iOS and Windows Phone). The app features overlay and grid modes to help you get each of your frames perfectly aligned, and everything can be compiled on your mobile device — there’s no need to switch to a computer editor to finish off your project. There’s also an automatic mode where images are snapped at regular intervals, saving you having to press the shutter button each time.

19. Add in green screen effects

Stop Motion Studio supports the use of green screen effects, a tried and trusted movie technique where a coloured background (usually green, hence the name) is swapped out for a different image or video. By using a blank coloured material behind your actors (whether real or cut out of cardboard) it’s possible to replace the background with a couple of taps of your finger. The only downside is that the green screen feature is one of the premium paid-for add-ons in Stop Motion Studio, but it’s well worth the investment if you’re going to be using the feature regularly.

Hyperlapse from Instagram

20. Stabilise shaky video footage on iOS

Hyperlapse from Instagram is a spin-off of the photo filtering app that offers two key features: timelapse capture and video stabilisation. If you want to shoot clips that are smooth and cinematic even while you’re on the move then Hyperlapse is one of the best ways of going about it (for those using iOS devices at least) — capture your footage with the main shutter button and then choose 1x as the playback speed to end up with a finely stabilised clip which is saved to your photo gallery. Instagram and Facebook sharing options are also available.

Microsoft Hyperlapse

21. Stabilise shaky video footage on Android and Windows Phone

If you don’t have an iOS device then there’s an alternative app from Microsoft that does essentially the same thing — confusingly, it’s also called Hyperlapse. There are more speeds to choose from (1x to 32x) so you can choose video stabilisation or a timelapse effect, and another feature available here that’s not in Instagram’s alternative is the ability to import existing videos. Neither of these Hyperlapse tools have any advanced editing features to speak of, but you can use them to stabilise (or speed up) clips and then export them to other applications on your phone.

Tips, tricks and shortcuts for making movies on your mobile Part 1

Our resident mobile-auteur guides us through ten film-making apps, including iMovie, Hyperlapse and Kinemaster, revealing some of their cleverest features.

Native apps

1. Ramp up the resolution… or not

Owners of an iPhone 6S or an iPhone 6S Plus can record video footage in glorious 4K (that’s a frame size of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels), and it’s also supported on some flagship Android phones. However, it can take up a serious chunk of room — roughly 375MB per minute on your device’s internal memory. For those occasions when ultra high-definition playback isn’t important, or you’re just running out of space, dial down the resolution: on iOS, find the Photos & Camera option in Settings, and on Android open up the Settings panel in the stock Camera app.

2. Get creative with timelapse movies

You too can create one of those gorgeous-looking timelapse videos that regularly crop up on YouTube, presuming you don’t need to move your phone for a few hours. On the iPhone, you’ll find the timelapse mode by swiping through the modes above the shutter button inside the Camera app; on Android, your options vary depending on your phone. Some handsets (like the Samsung Galaxy S6) support a timelapse mode out of the box but if your phone doesn’t have it you can use a third-party app such as Framelapse or Lapse It to do the job for you.

3. Invest in some extra kit

There’s now a whole host of kit out there for the budding smartphone moviemaker: tripods, lenses (such as the Olloclip), microphones and more besides. From making sure audio is picked up correctly to widening the field of view, these professional add-ons are more than just gimmicks and can make a real difference — if your phone is a popular flagship model (especially an iPhone) then you stand most chance of finding some suitable accessories, but it’s worth investigating what’s available. Any existing photography kit you’ve got to hand (such as spotlights) can prove useful for your movies too.


4. Rotate and mirror clips

Kinemaster is one of the most powerful and polished video editors you can get for Android devices, and among its features are a bunch of effects you can apply to the clips in your timeline. Tap on an individual clip, choose Rotate/Mirroring and you can flip a particular section of your footage or rotate it in 90-degree intervals: if you’ve somehow shot your video in the wrong orientation or the wrong way up (not that difficult if you’re importing from multiple devices) then this feature can get everything looking like it belongs in the same movie.

5. Create picture-in-picture effects

Another area where Kinemaster excels is in its use of photo, video and audio layers, enabling you to combine multiple files together in the same frame — for use with picture-in-picture effects, for example. Tap the Layer button from the main dashboard, choose Video or Image (note the former will require an in-app purchase), and you can drop in a new clip or picture as an overlay on top of the existing footage. Stickers and text can also be inserted as additional layers, while the picture-in-picture effect is available as one of the transition options in Kinemaster too.

6. Adjust video colours

If you’ve ever wanted to apply Instagram-style colour filters to your video clips, you’re in luck: that’s exactly what Kinemaster lets you do. Tap the video clip in question on the timeline, then choose Colour Filter to see what’s on offer: a wide variety of filters and colour casts are available, which can be applied with a tap. Alternatively, select Colour Filter from the previous menu and you get three sliders enabling you to change brightness, contrast and saturation levels on the fly. When you’re happy with how your footage is looking, tap on the tick icon.


7. Pinch to crop your footage

iMovie for the iPhone and iPad is designed to be as straightforward to use as possible (you don’t have a mouse and keyboard available, after all) but one clever feature unique to the mobile apps is pinch-to-crop: using the well-established two-finger pinch technique you can zoom into a clip you’ve recorded and then chop out the extraneous borders. Tap on a clip in the timeline, tap the magnifying glass that appears and then pan and zoom around the current video frame as required (of course the latest 4K formats give you a lot more pixels to work with).

8. Start on your phone, finish on your laptop

In case you hadn’t noticed, Apple wants to make it as straightforward for you as possible to switch between iOS and Mac OS X for every task, from email to photo editing. This philosophy extends to iMovie too, so you can start creating your movie masterpiece on an iPhone or iPad and then seamlessly export it to iMovie on OS X to finish the job: from within the iMovie mobile app, tap on the Share button and then choose the AirDrop or iCloud Drive option. You can then use the desktop application to open it and continue editing.

9. Slow down (or speed up) scenes

Another handy feature in iMovie for iOS is the option to slow down or speed up particular clips. With one selected in the timeline, tap the speed adjustment icon (which looks like a car speedometer) and then drag the slider accordingly — the app lets you go from 1/8x speed all the way up to 2x speed, and because the effect can be adjusted from clip to clip you can create some impressive results. To apply the effect to one part of a clip, split it into segments first (tap the scissors icon to see the Split option).


10. Add a soundtrack

WeVideo’s impressive suite of apps cover the Web, Android and iOS, and come with all the key features you’d expect to find in a video editing tool — including the ability to add music to your clips. The right soundtrack can really turn your road trip movie from good to great, and the WeVideo Android app lets you drop in a track from its existing library or choose one of your own. With one of your clips selected, tap on the musical note icon and then select a track from those shown (or switch to the My Music tab).

How to Be More Creative With the Camera: Film and Video Tricks

Think about some of the most creative shots you’ve ever seen in a movie, television show, or video. What made them stand out to you? The composition? The movement? Chances are it wasn’t a standard locked-down shot of a talking head, right?

The reason these shots stick out is because they’re different. They’re creative. They were designed to invoke a feeling and make you remember it well after the fact. That’s where creative use of the camera comes in. Whether you’re mounting it in an interesting spot, using a specialized lens, or adding a little bit of handheld shakiness, it’s all a good way to get people to remember your work and enhance your storytelling.

Put the ‘Move’ in Movie

Adding movement to your shots is one of the easiest ways to apply some creativity to your cinematography. While some movements require specific rigs, others can be done with little to no investment at all.

The single most important factor you think about is, “Do I need movement in this shot?” A well-executed camera move means nothing if there’s nothing motivating the move. You can convey a tone or emotion, foreshadow, reveal or hide something in the frame, move between locations, or even force the viewer’s eyes to a certain area on the screen, all just by moving the camera in a certain way.

Once you become adept at moving the camera, you’ll see endless creative possibilities with your storytelling

A Glass Menagerie

The type of lens you attach to your camera is very important to the look and feel of your project. There are certain specialty lenses you can use to spice up your video — lenses like a tilt-shift, lensbaby, macro, or fisheye vary in price, but all add something different to the scene.

Another way to get interesting footage without actually having to buy any new lenses is by trying a few different techniques. Try rubbing vaseline on a UV filter attached to the lens (NOT DIRECTLY ON THE LENS!), pull some stockings or other sheer material over the lens, or try a technique called “lens whacking,” where you hold the lens just in front of the open sensor and distort the image with light leaks and selective focus to get a dreamy feel. (Always use caution when you try this!)

The Right Angle

Much like adding movement to the camera, changing up your camera angles can drastically improve your cinematography. But keep in mind that this also needs to be motivated. Experiment with your camera by varying your angles and utilizing the equipment you have available. Put your tripod at its lowest or highest setting, mount your camera anywhere it will securely fit, or get on top of a building or somewhere with a really high viewpoint.

You can also try shooting “through” objects to give a unique look to your project. Shoot through a window at your subject to make them look vulnerable. Try shooting through the flames of a fire or a candle to give viewers a sense of danger, or through someone’s angled leg to create one of the most iconic scenes in film history. (Wait, it’s already been done?)

Using interesting angles in your productions ensures that you not only get coverage of your scene, but also provide some variety, while telling your story in new and different ways.

Add a Filter

The most common way that lens filters are used these days is for simply protecting your lens, but there are specific reasons you may want to use a filter to improve your shooting creativity. A simple UV filter will cut down on the “haze,” or dust in the atmosphere, that can degrade your image. A polarizing filter will reduce reflections from water, help increase the visibility of clouds, and even boost the saturation of your images. And an ND filter will drop the brightness of your image a few f-stops, allowing you to keep your aperture open and giving you a more shallow depth of field without completely blowing out a bright scene.

These are the most common filters, but there are also filters that completely change your colors, give you optical effects (more on that next), or even an infrared look. You can have a lot of fun with filters while you’re shooting; be careful with these, however, because you may not be able to “fix” anything in post-production if it doesn’t quite work. It can actually be easier to add these effects and adjust your colors digitally in post, so keep that in mind.

Filters typically screw on to the end of your lens and run anywhere from $15 for a cheaply made, basic UV filter to several hundred dollars or more for high-quality, specialty filters.

Snap Into Focus

Depending on the tone and style you’re going for, you can do some pretty creative things just by changing your focus settings. Obviously you can experiment with basic techniques like “pull” or “rack” focusing, but you can also shoot at the widest aperture setting possible for a more shallow depth of field (DOF), creating a sharp difference between your in-focus subject and the rest of the frame. A shallow DOF puts more emphasis on your subject and will give your composition more layers, creating a cinematic feel. Just keep in mind that a more shallow DOF means more work when you or your subject are constantly moving.

On the other end of the spectrum, you can close your aperture down to its smallest setting and shoot in “deep focus.” This is marked as the infinity symbol on a lot of lenses, and is good (also necessary) for very bright scenes, or landscapes that take up the entire frame.

A very common deep-focus technique in films is called split focus, using a split-focus diopter. This optical effect filter will enlarge one portion of your image, while the other portion stays the same size. However, since you have a deep focus, everything will still be able to be seen clearly. It creates a different feel and look for your frame, but is a wonderful technique if you can master it.

It’s Okay to Be Jittery

Along with changing up your focus, you can adjust your shutter speed/angle and create some different looks for your project. Normally, the shutter is set at double your frame rate (or 50 on some DSLR cameras), but depending on what you’re shooting and the look you’re going for, you may want to try increasing or decreasing your shutter speed. Anything that’s high-intensity or fast-moving (sports, action sequences) can benefit from an increased shutter speed, allowing your eyes to see more clear, “jittery” imagery.

Slowing your shutter speed down is quite the opposite. It makes your footage more “dreamy” or blurry, and is good to use in low-light situations, or when you want to portray confusion or disorient the viewer. Think of a scene where someone is drugged, intoxicated, or tranquilized, for example.

To Shake or Not to Shake

When you think of shaky camera movements, you tend to think of found-footage films, horror films, or… found-footage horror films. What makes them stand out though, is the creative ways they shake the camera and still keep it (mostly) coherent and easy to follow.

You can implement a lot of the same creative techniques from these types of movies while going handheld (or on a shoulder rig). Move the camera around and get close to your subject, because it helps the viewer feel more immersed in the story. Explore your space and shoot different angles with the freedom that comes with handheld shooting. However (this is a big however!), going handheld without a proper shoulder mount or rig can be troublesome, especially if you’re inexperienced behind the camera, so be sure to practice. Having shaky footage because you’re bad with a camera is vastly different from having intentionally shaky footage because you’re shooting a fight scene in close quarters.

On the other hand, putting your camera on a tripod is the easiest way to avoid unusably shaky footage. You’re limited with movement, but if you aren’t planning on moving during the scene, it won’t matter. The basic moves are pans and tilts, but you can step it up and try a whip-pan if you’re feeling adventurous. And if you’re feeling even more adventurous and have a fairly steady hand, you can try using the tripod as a dolly: shorten the forward-facing leg and hold the camera so it won’t fall, then simply move forward or backward, adjusting the tilt on the camera to keep it steady. You can do this in any direction, really, as long as the camera is faced the right way.

Using these techniques appropriately and effectively can really put your viewers in the middle of your project, conveying a feeling or tone that will add to the end experience. Once again, the biggest factor with anything you’re doing is making sure that it’s motivated. Would your story benefit from your shot being from a bird’s-eye view? Would it make sense to have a dolly shot at that moment? Only you can answer those questions.


10 Zero Budget Filmmaking Tips

Firstly, independent fimmakers can make films much more cost effectively than the majors. Secondly, because the budgets are relatively modest, independent filmmakers can afford to make a movie that fails (unlike the majors). And finally, in this brave new movie world, everyone wants in – the studios want in, the websites want in, traditional TV want in, the gamers and app builders want in, the big banks, the big brands and hedge funds want in. Everyone wants in. The studios and distributors, websites and television broadcasters all have the hardware to play movies. What they lack is the software – the movies. And if you are able to make compelling content, you will make money.

Let me show you ten ways to make compelling content for next to nothing.

1. The Story Is Everything

Nothing glues you to the screen more than a good story. If the story is there, does one really care about the budget of the film?

Stories and screenplays have four main elements:

Firstly, your story must have characters with a specific goal. A specific goal is one that can be measured, so at a point in time we can see whether or not the character achieves or fails to achieve the goal. For example, if your character’s goal is to move out of London – this is a weak goal. We all want to leave London. It’s dirty, expensive and increasingly dangerous. But if the goal of your character is to leave London by noon tomorrow, or else… then we have a goal that is easily measured.

Secondly, your story has a setting. The setting can be usual or unusual.

Thirdly, there are the Actions of the main characters and finally what they say, or Dialogue.

The trick of a good storyteller is to weave these four elements together so the seams do not show. When a writer achieves this, we say they have mastered the craft of storytelling. But not necessarily the art of storytelling.

2. Location Location Location

There are two expensive components to a film shoot. Image capture (camera) and the locations.

Moving a cast and crew from location to location is time consuming, and expensive, regardless of your budget.

If you can reduce the amount of location moves, or eliminate them altogether, then you are a huge step closer to reducing your budget.

Locations in this scenario suddenly have a huge impact on the script. To learn how, we need only to look at some of the most interesting films of the last few decades: Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, Kevin Smith’s Clerks, Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It , Orin Pelli’s Paranormal Activity and George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. These films have one thing in common: limited locations. In fact, they would each make excellent stage plays. The trick, it seems, is to take a bunch of actors to a limited location and chop them up. When you do this, you will essentially be filming a stage play. But a stage play filmed as a stage play is boring. Turn your limited location script (which is essentially a stage play) into a movie successfully, and you will have, what the moguls in Hollywood call, Talent.

3. Image Capture

Choosing the camera that suits your script and your budget is simpler than ever before. Most likely you will be shooting on a digital camera. Two elements of any camera you should look out for are: compression and lenses. Remember that all digital cameras generate the same signal. What influences the image quality are the lenses you film through and the numbers of pixels per frame (compression).

Since the shooting of the Sundance sensation, Tangerine, shooting on cell phones is becoming commonplace. We’ve been championing cell phones as cameras since the early days of 2004 when we created the 15 Second Shorts competion with our partner Nokia.

The ultimate no budget camera trick is use a little known fact of British law: security camera footage can be recovered if you have been the victim of a crime. The UK is covered in security cameras, some private and some publically owned. By law, if you suffer a crime, the police will request a copy of the tape from the camera owner.

Recce the CCTV cameras in your neighbourhood, write a screenplay, re-enact a series of ’crimes’ and presto – you will have your movie shot – for absolutely nothing.

4. Sound

It isn’t the look of skin on skin that turns you on in a sex scene. It’s the sound of skin on skin. Professional filmmakers spend much of their time considering and creating the sounds that go with their pictures.

It is a fact too that our brains are wired in such a way that when we need to strain to hear what the actors are saying, the picture goes dim. Good clean sound with interesting effects added in is the quickest way to make your images, even those shot on your mother’s humble video camera, look great.

5. The Bucks Are In The Music

The fact of film revenue and distribution is that the main revenue streams are from the sound tracks for your film. This is because the musicians unions are much stronger than the actors, writers and film unions. After you film leaves the cinema (if it was lucky enough to get there in the first place) the main revenue streams a movie generates is for the mechanical copyright royalties for the sound track.

Filmmakers are usually the last to understand how music royalties are decided, registered and administered. Explaining music copyright law is something that falls outside this short article.

Briefly, filmmakers can get cheap or free scores by composing and performing it themselves. Remember that there are three music copyrignt streams: composers, lyracists and performers. Or, by getting an unsigned band to perform, or to acquire the movie rights to an existing band by contacting them through their agent, or estate if deceased. Research the track you are interested in through http://www.ppluk.com/

6. Get Organised

Nothing is more disheartening than showing up to help out on a mate’s shoot only to spend an hour looking for a screwdriver. Disorganisation is totally unforgiveable and easily preventable by advance planning. Make sure you know where everything is, and make sure everthing and everybody shows up at the right place at the right time. If this is not within your organizational ability, partner with someone who is.

7. Your Friends Cannot Act

It is always tempting to get a few friends together to make a movie and use them as actors as well. This usually leads to peril because your friends are not trained actors. They may have spent hours and hours with a video camera in front of the bathroom mirror, but they will not know how to act in front of a camera on a set. When your friends think they are acting well on set, you will probably be so shocked at their hammy performances that you will be unable to direct them without running the risk of destroying your personal relationship.

Far better to advertise for actor/collaborators at local theatre and acting schools, hold rigourous auditions until you find a stellar cast of talented unknowns than use your friends.

If you have a suitable script and some money, you can approach a casting agent who will then pimp your script and your project out to established actors who might be willing to do it for nothing if they like the script, their role, and have been offered a suitable cut of the profits.

8. Build A Following

In the good old days (pre-Valentines Day 2005) filmmakers would submit their films to a series of film festivals and tour with their film building the hype for their film until they received sufficient distribution offers to finance their next project. By making and touring film after film, a filmmaker was able to build up a loyal fan base which would guarantee them and their producers a predictable revenue stream.

The explosion of social media has changed the landscape and created two types of filmmakers: those who loathe and abhor social media, and those who embrace it.

Contemporary filmmakers can use social media to create a following of people eager to sample and appreciate their latest work. Astute filmmakers employ two producers: one who deals with the traditional production work flow, and one who deals with social media.

A first step for any filmmaker is to register the domain name for their production company and film title, as well as Facebook and Twitter profiles. Often these are sold on to eventual distributors, as was the case with Paranormal Activity.

One way to build a following is to attend industry events, like the Raindance Film Festival, or our monthly drinks, Boozin’ N’ Schmoozin‘.

A great way to build your list is to comment on relevant articles, like this one. You can comment below.

9. Are You a Filmmaker, a Content Provider or a Communicator?

Whatever your goals are, remember that you need to decide what it is you are doing.

Filmmakers make films and hope to cruise the festival route until they are discovered and become festival darlings.

Content providers are professional filmmakers who deliver movies whether dramatic, corporate or documentary at a price per minute.

Communicators are filmmakers and content providers who have something to say using the power of moving images with excellent sound, well crafted stories and good sound tracks. Communicators will also consider a host of different mediums including short two and three minute episodes for mobiles (mobisodes) or internet (webisodes). Gaming and phone apps also provide interesting storytelling  possibilities with a host of different strategies for monetizing current content being debated around the world.

10. There’s No Such Thing As Luck

I believe that luck is earned through a combination of hard work and karma. If you maintain your integrity and your passion, success will surely visit you.

It’s A Wrap

Nothing is as powerful as a good movie. And by using the medium of cinema you are able to influence and change lives. It is people like you that can make a difference and make this world a better place.