Below I have collected answers and guidance for some of the sub's most common topics and questions. This is all content I have personally written either specifically for this post or in comments to other posters in the past. This is however not a me-show! If anybody thinks a section should be added, edited, or otherwise revised then message the moderators! Specifically, I could use help in writing a section for audio gear, as I am a camera/lighting nerd.
Topics Covered In This Post:
1. Should I Pursue Filmmaking / Should I Go To Film School?
2. What Camera Should I Buy?
3. What Lens Should I Buy?
4. How Do I Learn Lighting?
5. What Editing Program Should I Use?
This is a very complex topic, so it will rely heavily on you as a person. Find below a guide to help you identify what you need to think about and consider when making this decision.
Alright, real talk. If you want to make movies, you'll at least have a few ideas kicking around in your head. Successful creatives like writers and directors have an internal compunction to create something. They get ideas that stick in the head and compel them to translate them into the real world. Do you want to make films, or do you want to be seen as a filmmaker? Those are two extremely different things, and you need to be honest with yourself about which category you fall into. If you like the idea of being called a filmmaker, but you don't actually have any interest in making films, then now is the time to jump ship. I have many friends from film school who were just into it because they didn't want "real jobs", and they liked the idea of working on flashy movies. They made some cool projects, but they didn't have that internal drive to create. They saw filmmaking as a task, not an opportunity. None of them have achieved anything of note and most of them are out of the industry now with college debt but no relevant degree. If, when you walk onto a set you are overwhelmed with excitement and anxiety, then you'll be fine. If you walk onto a set and feel foreboding and anxiety, it's probably not right for you. Filmmaking should be fun. If it isn't, you'll never make it.
Are you planning on a film production program, or a film studies program? A studies program isn't meant to give you the tools or experience necessary to actually make films from a craft-standpoint. It is meant to give you the analytical and critical skills necessary to dissect films and understand what works and what doesn't. A would-be director or DP will benefit from a program that mixes these two, with an emphasis on production.
Does your prospective school have a film club? The school I went to had a filmmakers' club where we would all go out and make movies every semester. If your school has a similar club then I highly recommend jumping into it. I made 4 films for my classes, and shot 8 films. In the filmmaker club at my school I was able to shoot 20 films. It vastly increased my experience and I was able to get a lot of the growing pains of learning a craft out of the way while still in school.
How are your classes? Are they challenging and insightful? Are you memorizing dates, names, and ideas, or are you talking about philosophies, formative experiences, cultural influences, and milestone achievements? You're paying a huge sum of money, more than you'll make for a decade or so after graduation, so you better be getting something out of it.
Film school is always a risky prospect. You have three decisive advantages from attending school:
Those three items are the only advantages of film school. It doesn't matter if you get to use fancy cameras in class or anything like that, because I guarantee you that for the price of your tuition you could've rented that gear and made your own stuff. The downsides, as you may have guessed, are:
Seriously. Film school is insanely expensive, especially for an industry where you really don't make any exceptional money until you get established (and that can take a decade or more).
So there's a few things you need to sort out:
Don't worry about lacking experience or a degree. It is easy to break into the industry if you have two qualities:
In LA we often bring unpaid interns onto set to get them experience and possibly hire them in the future. Those two categories are what they are judged on. If they have to be told twice how to do something, that's a bad sign. If they approach the work with disdain, that's also a bad sign. I can name a few people who walked in out of the blue, asked for a job, and became professional filmmakers within a year. One kid was 18 years old and had just driven to LA from his home to learn filmmaking because he couldn't afford college. Last I saw he has a successful YouTube channel with nature documentaries on it and knows his way around most camera and grip equipment. He succeeded because he smiled and joked with everyone he met, and because once you taught him something he was good to go. Those are the qualities that will take you far in life (and I'm not just talking about film).
So how do you break in?
Alright, enough talking! You need to decide now if you're still going to be a filmmaker or if you're going to instead major in something safer (like business). It's a tough decision, we get it, but you're an adult now and this is what that means. You're in command of your destiny, and you can't trust anyone but yourself to make that decision for you.
Once you decide, own it. If you choose film, then take everything I said above into consideration. There's one essential thing you need to do though: create. Go outside right fucking now and make a movie. Use your phone. That iphone or galaxy s7 or whatever has better video quality than the crap I used in film school. Don't sweat the gear or the mistakes. Don't compare yourself to others. Just make something, and watch it. See what you like and what you don't like, and adjust on your next project! Now is the time for you to do this, to learn what it feels like to make a movie.
The answer depends mostly on your budget and your intended use. You'll also want to become familiar with some basic camera terms because it will allow you to efficiently evaluate the merits of one option vs another. Find below a basic list of terms you should become familiar with when making your first (or second, or third!) camera purchase:
This list will be changing as new models emerge, but for now here is a short list of the cameras to look at when getting started:
Much like with deciding on a camera, lens choice is all about your budget and your needs. Below are the relevant specs to use as points of comparison for lenses.
This is all about speed vs quality vs budget. A zoom lens is a lens whose *focal length can be changed by turning a ring on the lens barrel. A prime lens has a fixed focal length. Primes tend to be cheaper, faster, and sharper. However, buying a full set of primes can be more expensive than buying a zoom lens that would cover the same focal length range. Using primes on set in fast-paced environments can slow you down prohibitively. You'll often see news, documentary, and event cameras using zooms instead of primes. Some zoom lenses are as high-quality as prime lenses, and some people refer to them as 'variable prime' lenses. This is mostly a marketing tool and has no hard basis in science though. As you might expect, these high quality zooms tend to be very expensive.
Below are the most popular lenses for 'cinematic' filming at low budgets:
Lenses below these average prices are mostly a crapshoot in terms of quality vs $, and you'll likely be best off using your camera's kit lens until you can afford to move up to one of the lenses or lens series listed above.
Alright, so you're biting off a big chunk here if you've never done lighting before. But it is doable and (most importantly) fun!
First off, fuck three-point lighting. So many people misunderstand what that system is supposed to teach you, so let's just skip it entirely. Light has three properties. They are:
Alright, so there are your three properties of light. Now, how do you light a thing? Easy! Put light where you want it, and take it away from where you don't want it! Shut up! I know you just said "I don't know where I want it", so I'm going to stop you right there. Yes you do. I know you do because you can look at a picture and know if the lighting is good or not. You can recognize good lighting. Everybody can. The difference between knowing good lighting and making good lighting is simply in the execution.
Do an experiment. Get a lightbulb. Tungsten if you're oldschool, LED if you're new school, or CFL if you like mercury gas. plug it into something portable and movable, and have a friend, girlfriend, boyfriend, neighbor, creepy-but-realistic doll, etc. sit down in a chair. Turn off all the lights in the room and move that bare bulb around your
victim subject's head. Note how the light falling on them changes as the light bulb moves around them. This is lighting, done live! Get yourself some diffusion. Either buy some overpriced or make some of your own (wax paper, regular paper, translucent shower curtains, white undershirts, etc.). Try softening the light, and see how that affects the subject's head. If you practice around with this enough you'll get an idea for how light looks when it comes from various directions. Three point lighting (well, all lighting) works on this fundamental basis, but so many 'how to light' tutorials skip over it. Start at the bottom and work your way up!
Ok, so cool. Now you know how light works, and sort of where to put it to make a person look a certain way. Now you can get creative by combining multiple lights. A very common look is to use soft light to primarily illuminate a person (the 'key) while using a harder (but sometimes still somewhat soft) light to do an edge or rim light. Here's a shot from a sweet movie that uses a soft key light, a good amount of ambient ('errywhere) light, and a hard backlight. Here they are lit ambiently, but still have an edge light coming from behind them and to the right. You can tell by the quality of the light that this edge was probably very soft. We can go on for hours, but if you just watch movies and look at shadows, bright spots, etc. you'll be able to pick out lighting locations and qualities fairly easily since you've been practicing with your light bulb!
Honestly, your greenscreen will depend more on your technical abilities in After Effects (or whichever program) than it will on your lighting. I'm a DP and I'm admitting that. A good key-guy (Keyist? Keyer?) can pull something clean out of a mediocre-ly lit greenscreen (like the ones in your example) but a bad key-guy will still struggle with a perfectly lit one. I can't help you much here, as I am only a mediocre key-guy, but I can at least give you advice on how to light for it!
Here's what you're looking for when lighting a greenscreen:
OK! So now you know sort of how to light a green screen and how to light a person. So now, what lights do you need? Well, really, you just need any lights. If you're on a budget, don't be afraid to get some work lights from home depot or picking up some off brand stuff on craigslist. By far the most important influence on the quality of your images will be where and how you use the lights rather than what types or brands of lights you are using. I cannot stress this enough. How you use it will blow what you use out of the water. Get as many different types of lights as you can for the money you have. That way you can do lots of sources, which can make for more intricate or nuanced lighting setups. I know you still want some hard recommendations, so I'll tell you this: Get china balls (china lanterns. Paper lanterns whatever the fuck we're supposed to call these now). They are wonderful soft lights, and if you need a hard light you can just take the lantern off and shine with the bare bulb! For bulbs, grab some 200W and 500W globes. You can check B&H, Barbizon, Amazon, and probably lots of other places for these. Make sure you grab some high quality socket-and-wire sets too. You can find them at the same places. For brighter lights, like I said home depot construction lights are nice. You can also by PAR lamps relatively cheap. Try grabbing a few Par Cans. They're super useful and stupidly cheap. Don't forget to budget for some light stands as well, and maybe C-clamps and the like for rigging to things. I don't know what on earth you're shooting so it is hard to give you a grip list, but I'm sure you can figure that kind of stuff out without too much of a hassle.
Great question! There are several popular editing programs available for use.
Your choices are essentially limited to Davinci Resolve 14 (Non-Studio) and Hitfilm Express. My personal recommendation is Davinci Resolve. This is the industry standard color-grading software, and you will have free access to many of its powerful tools. The Studio version costs a few hundred dollars and unlocks multiple features (like noise reduction) without forcing you to learn a new program.
Ask your questions, no matter how big or small, and the community will answer them judgement free!
What are the benefits of using a preamp such as saramonic smartrig+ instead of a recorder such as tascamdr60? I am trying to decide which one to use to make short films and videos, some solo shoots as well so not having to sync in post would be beneficial.
Not sure if this is the right subreddit so sorry in advance but... For years I’ve made films just for the pure love of the media format. I’ve always bartended as a full time job, but 8 years later I’m 27 and feel I need to make changes to ensure my thirties don’t pass the way my 20’s seem to have. So I’ve begun looking for Production Assistant work, I live in Vancouver, British Columbia, so the industry is quite robust here. I’ve contacted the couple people I know in the industry asking for advice, and I’ve read all the online Union information. As I understand it I need 30 days of non-union work amongst other things to apply to the union, the people I’ve asked said the best way is to join a couple well known Facebook groups, but I’ve seen to either gotten lost in limbo or they aren’t as active as they once were as my requests have been pending for a week now. So I’ve gone out on my own and googled production companies with active ongoing productions in Vancouver and the surrounding area and as an experiment emailed 5 or 6 of them with my resume and a short blurb explaining why I am emailing them and despite lack of experience expressing to them that I feel I have skill sets that would be of value to them and their company. I’ve also gone on Craigslist and Kijiji looking for commercials as I understand those are easy for non union work but not finding much.
So my question is, am I doing the right things in order to procure work, am I missing anything?
New TV episode is being shot with an ipad, iphone, and bigger than 17 inch monitor as reference monitors: they need some guidelines they can put on and remove easily throughout the shoot.
What would you recommend as the material for the guidelines/method of getting them to stick on and then come off?
Thanks so much
This may not be the correct spot to post this but just wanted to get some insight from ya.
I (26/m) recently finished my degree in Media & Communications and immediately after completing my studies got an internship at a big media agency. To be honest, I wasn't entirely sure what a media agency did and started to realise I was in the wrong sort of media I'm truly interested in.
I was offered a job at the end of the internship but so far have had a very hard time trying to find the work interesting with my team leader even saying I don't seem "all there" and warned me to show more initiative. The type of work I'm currently doing is Media buying/tracking and I'm more fascinated in Media Production (Content creation, YouTube, Film, Music Videos etc.).
I just wanted to know what some of your jobs are in media and what are they like? Also what are some jobs I can potentially go after and research if I want to get into more entertainment side of things?
Hello community! I am a Film and Digital Media major at my college. I’ve been struggling with feeling like I’m not doing enough to gain experience in the industry or learn about it outside of my classroom. I am a full time student with a full time work schedule accompanying it. I was curious if anyone had any advice on what they did throughout their college careers (if applicable) and could possibly give insight or advice to help me gain more. I wonder if I’m just being silly or that I should do more to better myself. I’m feeling somewhat unmotivated when I have free time because my other time is spent taking care of my apartment, doing assignments, or working. Thanks!!
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