What separates the amateurs from the professionals?  It has to be the equipment, right? This is not … [Continue Reading]

How to Frame A Shot

Without a doubt, cinema has changed.  New and old cinemas hardly have many similarities between each … [Continue Reading]

Old Vs. New Movies

Cinematography is the art of motion pictures.  It includes both the technique of shooting and … [Continue Reading]

Intro to Cinematography

How to Frame A Shot

How to Frame A Shot

Photographing Campfire

What separates the amateurs from the professionals?  It has to be the equipment, right?

This is not the case.  It is how one uses equipment that sets them apart from the rest.  Off course, no one is going to ask you to make a professional photo session, if all you have is a cheap disposable camera, but nevertheless, it is important to know that photography has plenty of science to it.

The most basic of principles for photography is called the rule of thirds.  It is the quintessential rule that all budding photographers need to know.  The rule of thirds is an imaginary grid that overlays the screen of the camera.  Now, imagine lines that break up the screen into thirds, both horizontally and vertically.  With this, you get nine equal parts.  It is divided up like a tic-tac-toe game.

This grid gives the photographer the most important part of the photo.  The four points in the middle where the lines intersect are where the human eye naturally goes when first looking at a photograph.   It is of best interest to place points of interest within these intersecting areas.  You then use the lines to guide the eye across the image. Continue reading “How to Frame A Shot” »

Old Vs. New Movies

Old Vs. New Movies

Rick Blaine Makes the Move

Without a doubt, cinema has changed.  New and old cinemas hardly have many similarities between each other in regard to plot and style.

Older film was of course in black and white, due to technological reasons.  It didn’t even have sound until the mid 1920’s; however, this is where the art was cultivated and grown.  Film was experimental and far different from anything anyone had ever seen.  We saw the rise of special effects and the artful stretch of the truth that we love to see; called special effects begin to grow.  The 1927 production Metropolis showed a fantastical world of camera illusion.  It was the first full-length science fiction film.

Films in the older days were much longer than most of today’s features.  Older films were two to three hours long; whereas, newer films are normally right around an hour and a half.

Back in the golden era of Hollywood, roughly between the 1920’s and the 1960’s, film had defined categories.  Some of the biggest genres throughout this time was film noir, musicals, westerns, and political.  Now days, some of the most popular genres are action, romantic comedy, horror, and thriller.

The people in charge of the making most of the older films were the producers or the suits.  Newer films are more controlled by the director (this is also called the auteur theory).

Older films relied heavily on their writing and the competence of the those involved in the production in order to make a great hit; whereas, newer film will use CGI and an over zealous amount of special effects. Continue reading “Old Vs. New Movies” »

Intro to Cinematography

Intro to Cinematography

Cinematography is an Art

Cinematography is the art of motion pictures.  It includes both the technique of shooting and development of film. From the flawless camera shots to the differences of movie styles, cinematography has plenty of components that need to be meshed together in order to make a proper film.

There are four basic elements of cinematography: lighting, movement, film versus digital, and perspective.

Lighting

In many people’s personal opinion, this is the most quintessential element for both photography and cinematography.  After all, without lighting, we would not have not have either of those mediums, but that goes without saying.

Lighting adds depth, tone and mood.  Noir films use low-key lighting to create a mysterious and dark setting to add to the tension that noir films love to build.  A lot of medical T.V. shows, like Scrubs or House, use flat light to convey a very sterile environment.  Sometimes, directors and cinematographers use a very creative light, like in Steven Spielberg’s 1977 production Close Encounters of a Third Kind, to convey something entirely different from out understanding.

The essential elements are Key light, back light, and fill light.  The key light is the main light directed toward the subject.   The fill light is off to the side of the subject; its goal is to soften the edges and to diminish shadows. The backlight is located behind the subject, normally hung above and out of the view of the camera.  Its goal is to create separation from the subject and the background. Continue reading “Intro to Cinematography” »

Three Great Fighter Films

Three Great Fighter FilmsWe really love our movies here so it shouldn’t be any surprise at all that we occasionally publish a list like this. It’s going to be short and sweet this time around, and to avoid any hateful mail or even “constructive” mail meant to explain to us how wrong we are on the topic, I’ll preface by saying the opinions contained herein are our own and not, you know, like universal fact. Movies are like songs or food or drinks – different ones will appeal to different people, and what one likes may be hated by another. We don’t have any of the following films though, not at all.

The One, starring Jet Li as the film’s protagonist as well as antagonist strangely enough, may not feature the most intense fight scenes found on film today. However, it presents a unique concept and, given that, an unbeatable foe. See, Li stars as a sheriff’s deputy who keeps running into these alternate versions of himself, like people from other universes. With each of these that he kills, there is another alternative version which becomes stronger, leading up to a penultimate fight between one very strong, fresh version of Jet Li and the tired, beaten down version which exists in this reality. Thrilling stuff.

There’s nothing elegant or beautiful about the fighting in the movie Fight Club. The film features knock-down, drag-out fights with people getting their bodies broken and losing teeth to fists repeatedly bashing them in the face. It’s bloody and visceral and for that reason alone it deserves a spot on many top fight movie lists. But for those who haven’t seen the film before, it features some of the best unexpected twists to be found in the fighting movie genre. Maybe some of these guys should have practiced with a grappling dummy first to keep from permanently injuring each other?

What list about fighting films would be complete without an entry from Jean Claude Van Damme? It’s hard to pick any single one of his films for this spot, but as a big fan of Blood Sport, I’m willing to drop that name right here. Unlike Fight Club where the fights stop when one person is too beat up to keep going, the fights in Blood Sport go until one of the participants finally drops dead. It’s definitely more intense, even if it doesn’t make as much use of blood or other special effects to paint a pretty picture. This one is infinitely better than watching some fool beat up a COMBAT SPORTS DUMMY.

These are truly three great fighter films and you could make an afternoon out of watching them all in a series if you so wished. They are varied and different enough that they wouldn’t be boring by the end since these three films all feature different plot elements, characters, directors and other aspects. They’re similar, yes, but also very different, which is great if you’re looking for a bit of variety from your fighting films. What are some of your favorite fighting movies? Feel free to share your feelings on the subject below.

4 Greatest Living Actresses

4 Greatest Living ActressesThey might not be the most beautiful and might not spend a lot of time taking care of their hair, nails and skin, but they can certainly act! Here is the list of my favorite actresses that are alive today.

  • Meryl Streep

By many critics considered as one of the greatest living actress, she has been nominated for the Academy Award 19 times and has won three of them. Streep graduated from the Yale School of Drama and entered the movie business in a grand style when she got a role in the movie Julia in 1977. She gave an outstanding performance. The following year, Streep earned her first Academy Award nomination for the performance in The Deer Hunter. She continued to delight the critics and the audience in her roles throughout her career, having played in numerous famous movies such as Silkwood, Out of Africa, Ironweed, The Bridges of Madison County and many others. Known to be a perfectionist in her performance and preparation for the roles, Meryl Streep is indeed one of the greatest living actresses.

  • Glenn Close

Another great diva undoubtedly is the actress Glenn Close. Born in 1947 in Greenwich, Connecticut to an upper-class family, until the 1980es Close worked mainly on Broadway. In 1982 she got a role alongside Robin Williams in a movie The World According to Garp. For this performance she received an Academy Award nomination. The next year she continued in the exact same successful way, receiving an Oscar nomination again for the best supporting actress in the hit comedy Big Chill. Her third movie was, again, great success. It was the movie The Natural, one of the greatest sports films ever made. Once again, Close was nominated for an Oscar. In the career that followed, she rose to be one of the greatest female actors, receiving six Academy Award nominations, three Tonys, three Emmys, two Golden Globes and many other awards and acknowledgements.

  • Cate Blanchett

She was born in Australia in 1969, graduated from Australia’s National Institute of Dramatic Art in 1992 and started her career in theatre. Cate’s talent was almost immediately recognized and acknowledged in 1993 when she won the Newcomer Award. After a few years, she made her debut on film, in a 1997 movie Paradise road. After that she went to England to play the title role in the movie Elisabeth, for which she won numerous awards, including the Golden Globe. After that, she was an international star. Blanchett won two Oscars (Aviator, Blue Jasmine) and several more Academy award nominations.

  • Kate Winslet

Famous for playing various peculiar characters and avoiding the straightforward pretty girl roles, Kate Winslet has built up an interesting resume. She was born in 1975 in England in the family of actors and has been performing from an early age. When she was twenty she got her first big role, in Ang Lee’s movie Sense and Sensibility. The role that transformed Kate Winslet into an international star was the one in Titanic. After Titanic she continued to impress both the audience as well as the critics, has been nominated for Oscar six times and won the Academy Award for the best actress for her role in the movie The Reader.

5 Great Movies About Native Americans

5 Great Movies About Native AmericansYou may know and respect Native Americans for a lot of things – their rich culture, interesting traditions, the fact that they invented the kayak (a long boat like the ones here), etc. I absolutely adore movies about Native Americans, and here I will present you with a list of my favorites:

  • The Last of the Mohicans

Filmed after a novel, the story of The Last of the Mohicans is set in the middle of the 18th century, during the French and Indian war. The French and the British were fighting for the control of North America and both had some Indian allies on their side. The story follows officer Heyward and the last chief of the Mohicans, his son and an adopted white son, called Hawkeye. They are trying to get two daughters of a British colonel safely to their father. Praised by both the critics and the audience, the film is one of the most famous Native Americans themed movies in all time.

The movie is an adaptation of a 1988 book and one of the epics of westerns. Directed and produced by Kevin Costner, who also starred in it, the movie won several awards, such as an Academy award for the best picture and a Golden Globe for the best motion picture. Today it is considered to be one of the classics of westerns.

The story takes place in the 1860es and follows a white man, a soldier on the side of the Union in the American civil war, posted in a remote fort on the western frontier. He enjoys the solitude granted to him, despite the closeness of the Indian tribes around him and rebuilds the fort. Occasionally coming into minor conflicts with the Sioux Indians who keep trying to intimidate him by attempting to steal his horse. With time, Costner and the Indians get closer and he starts living with them, enjoying their culture and way of life more than the civilization he came from.

  • Smoke signals

A story about two young Indians that gives us insights into the Native American culture in a humorous way. Victor and Thomas are two different Indians living in a reservation. While Victor is firm and strong, Thomas is a nerd boring everybody with the stories nobody wants to listen to. When Victor finds out about the death of his father who left him years ago, the two boys hit the road to collect his remains.

  • Powwow highway

Being a Native American nowadays is more than building a fire, fishing in kayaks, and worshipping nature. This is one of the best movies about the real struggle Native American people living in reservations face. The struggle with the living conditions, with the treatment by general public and/or the authorities and the struggle with their own identity. The story follows two friends with different characters on their journey to save the sister of one of them. A journey on which they will learn a lot about and come to a better understanding of themselves.

  • DreamKeeper

A movie about a young Indian man and his grandfather, a Lakota Indians elder, joined on a trip across the country to reach the Native Americans’ gathering in Albuquerque. While on the trip, grandfather tells his grandson mysterious Indian stories and legends about friendship, love and magic to help him understand and embrace his Indian identity.

6 Best Movies About Nursing

6 Best Movies About NursingBeing a nurse is one of the most underappreciated occupations today. Nurses’ jobs are as difficult as doctors’, maybe even more so. They have to stand around all day (for which they need special shoes like those at http://nicershoes.com/), know a lot about medicine, and have a great bedside manner. But fortunately, the movie industry produced quite a bit of awesome movies about nurses and nursing. Here are my favorites:

  • The English Patient

A 1996 romantic drama, based on a novel by Michael Ondaatje, received twelve Academy Award nominations and eventually won nine of them, including the ones for the best picture, best director and the best supporting actress. The story takes place in an Italian monastery somewhere in the Sahara Desert, close to the end of the World War II. A young nurse Hana takes care of a badly burned man who got out of a plane crash and does not remember his name. As story unravels, we learn more about the man’s story and Hana heals her own scars by helping the patient.

  • One flew over the Cuckoo’s nest

A 1975 American drama movie, based on a book of the same name written by Ken Kesey. Starring several famous actors such as Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito and Christopher Lloyd, One flew over the Cuckoo’s nest was the second movie in history to have won all five major Academy Awards and is listed in American Film Institute’s among one hundred best movies of all times.

In 1963 a criminal Mac McMurhy convicted for rape and serving a sentence on a prison farm, arrives at the mental institution for evaluation. Although not mentally ill, he hopes to avoid hard labor at the farm and serve his sentence in this mental hospital. Soon he realizes that the head nurse runs the hospital with an iron fist, abusing the patients, over-medicating them and putting them through electroconvulsive therapy. And he decides to rebel.

  • MASH

The popular television series of the same name that we have all heard about was launched after this 1970 successful series. The story takes place during the Korean War and follows three army doctors, and the nurses who accompany them.

  • Nurses: If Florence could see us now

A documentary about the reality of nursing. As nurses play an important role in our health care system and, if it comes to that, enter our world in intimate and difficult moments, this movie gives us a glimpse of their perspective. Filmed in ten American states, presenting interviews with almost one hundred nurses, this movie gives an accurate and inspiring view of what nursing is today – endless shifts consisting of standing on your feet all day (for which they have special shoes), a lot of medical knowledge and unending compassion.

  • Florence Nightingale

The movie, named after one of the most famous nurses in the world, tells the story of Florence, from the early days, through her nursing career in the Crimean war. In this television film, the actress Jaclyn Smith portrays “the lady of the lamp” in an in-depth story about development of modern nursing.

  • So proudly we hail!

Based on a book written by a real World War II nurse, the movie is about a group of nurses who share their fresh experiences of combat and love on their return from the war in the Philippines. Appointed to Bataan, Philippines, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, young and untested nurses suddenly find themselves in a situation of a raging war, dealing with daily bombardments, overwhelming numbers of wounded and romantic entanglements with the soldiers.

Common Amateur Movie Mistakes

Common Amateur Movie MistakesThere are good movies that linger in your mind long after you have watched them and then there are the bad movies, which leave you with an awful feeling. Some movies feature passionate storylines but often do not have as equal a commitment to the production aspect. However, even if the production is not good, you can get by, if you have a good story and concept.

However, this is a rare occurrence. If you are into learning the basics on movie making, you need to learn to master it skillfully.  Just as a writer hones his skills or an artist learns to blend the colors or textures to get the perfect effect they are looking for, a moviemaker too does need to pay attention to the pertinent aspects of filmmaking. Granted you cannot excel in any type of skill overnight. You may have a creative vision in you, but you need to learn the ropes first, before you can apply your creativity and make it work.

So to excel in your art you need to master it, get acquainted well with the tools needed and work on it with passion. The video technology available today is simply amazing and helps film showcase effect take on a surreal quality easily. Everything is set up perfectly, so even a beginner can learn to make a film easily. The cameras today are affordable and give excellent quality at affordable prices, which you would not even have thought of a decade ago.

But although the technology is sound, you also need to be knowledgeable and committed to the work. For instance, imagine you are working on a documentary for over a year and get into deep debt for all the lighting, camera and other tools and borrowing from friends and family, and taking chances on things working out in the end, but which turn against you because you did not pay attention to the details of filmmaking. It can be quite devastating.

Therefore, here are a few common mistakes that I frequently see which will help you avoid them in future.

Bad audio

This is the first defect I see in most of the bad films. And this is one thing that you need to remember. Even if your camera comes with an inbuilt microphone, it is not necessary to make use of it for the filming. The mic is for ambient sound like traffic noise and for cases where you are interviewing and the interviewee is doing the talking right into the lens. Other than these and a few other rare occurrences, using the mic is detrimental to your film.

For getting the audio right, use a fish pole, shotgun mic and soundman. Ideally, a soundman will be hidden from the camera, but hold the mic strategically within close distance of the subject. In some cases, you may need just a lay mic. In other multiple mics will be required. It is always safe to have two or more mics, if you want the film to have good sound quality.

Autofocus

Autofocus is something you should not try except in very, very limited instances. This is because almost all autofocus modes are weighted in the center. This makes the focus target the middle part of a frame. If you place the subject in middle with the autofocus and pan off a little to refine your composition, the focus shifts, which will spoil the effect.

Bad composition

This is what differentiates an amateur from a pro. Giving too much headspace, perpetually centered subject and too much of foreground give away the fact that you are new to the job. You need to polish your skills more. Read books on composition, watch movies, analyze cinematography as well as positions of the camera. Know when to use higher angle and low shots.

Auto iris

This, like the auto focus, is something that should be refrained from, if you want to master the formula for great movies. It can be the worst nightmare for any editor, if you try auto iris. For instance, you pan off from the subject; the iris moves and opens up 3 stops to give a dark background. Alternatively, if you move with the subject when he nears a window, the iris stops plunging the scene into darkness. And another worst case scenario is you have a dark car pass through the scene, when the iris changes to accommodate the dark car and shifts back quickly. You will need to apply exposure correction or apply color every time there is an exposure twitch in the scene.

One way where you won’t be in trouble using the auto iris is while shooting a neutral reflectance type of subject in zoom like a light blue hued shirt, gray card of 18% etc. A good eye for costume design and color would also help to get it right.

While you get good auto iris feature in the cheaper cameras, these are only for the amateur home moviemakers and definitely not for a professional. These may be used for TV news, but otherwise avoid them.

Auto shutter/auto gain

This causes a problem similar to what you get with auto iris. With auto gain, you can see the picture go grainy and soft.  High gain should not be used except in cases like when you are shooting for TV news or want a particular effect. If you do need to use the high gain, execute it manually instead of using the auto mode. This applies to the shutter too. Although it takes time to control the lighting and other things to your satisfaction the end product will be more consistent and of good quality.

Auto mode in audio gain

The issues discussed above apply to the audio gain too. The automatic functions present in camera are for certain specific uses only and not for serious filmmaking.  Even if the auto feature is very good in your camera, it won’t get you great quality.

Zoom

This is another glaring defect, which gives away your amateur status, head on. When you want to alter focal length during an interview, do it in the pauses or ensure that you have the cutaways or will get them to cover for the zoom. A music video is one place where you can use quick zoom.  If you know any other common mistakes, feel free to share them with me.

Taking The Best Forest Photographs

Taking The Best Forest PhotographsBeing in natural surroundings makes you feel more connected to yourself. The natural scenery whether it is the towering mountains or dense woodlands can inspire you into taking some wonderful shots that excite and please you endlessly. While coming across an awesome forest landscape shot I often wonder how the photographer has managed to convey the colossal appeal of nature in the images.

I recently met up with a photographer friend of mine, who owns a timber shop. He uses some advanced tools to cut timber, which makes his work easier and efficient. Although timber is his family business, he took to photography quite early on, as he is crazy about it. Here are some tips he shared with me on capturing the essence of woodlands perfectly.

  • Woodlands are generally very chaotic in nature. You will at the outset find it a bit cluttered and lacking focus. This will make your initial shots look very amateur and not what you had expected of them.
  • Forests possess an exquisite appeal in all seasons. The photographic potential they present is endless. You need to just know the right way to capture every nuance present. When you have the basic skills for forest photography and plan well, you are certain to get the right shots.
  • As I said before, forest photography can be done during all seasons. It is not just the autumn that gives the forests their special allure. Winter, summer and spring too have their own attractions, so don’t miss out on these seasons.
  • Lighting is a key factor that influences the image quality. When you know how to use the natural light effectively, you can take the best shots easily. My friend had taken an image of wood being split using the high quality gas log splitter, which had come out quite beautifully, blending in the man, machine and nature. This was mainly due to the proper use of lighting.
  • Direct light is best for open woodland areas and for spaces where you have solitary trees. This gives vibrant images with high contrast.
  • For taking the best shots, either you should select late afternoon or early morning as the light at low angles is best for illuminating tree trunks, so you get dramatic shadow effect.
  • On the contrary, direct sunlight in dense woodlands should be avoided, as it casts dark shadows, which would not look good in the photographs. Low contrast lighting is best in such areas.
  • In case you have difficulties with sunlight like flares, it is best to hide it behind tree trunks
  • Overcast light gives richer detail and hues in dense woodlands.
  • Rain may look as a deterrent but actually, the trees look vibrant and fresh, due to the rain and increase the color saturation of the woodland plants, tree trunks and foliage.

While taking forest photography, try to keep the image as simple as possible. Using telephoto lens gives a better perspective and helps you shoot the small sections effectively to get a better photocomposition. Wide angled lens helps to exaggerate the trunk lines, while overhead sunlight gives good backlighting for the leaves and also gives you bright blue background, if it is a clear sunny day.

Great Hunting Hollywood Movies

Great Hunting Hollywood MoviesHollywood movies have featured some great adventure sports over time, but rarely ever do you see any movie with hunting as the key plot. Even if such movies do sprout occasionally, they do not capture your attention, as it is meant to be. Although finding the few good movies is like searching for a needle in a haystack, I’ve collected a few memorable movies in the past four of five decades that have hunting as the main theme. This list is for all hunting enthusiasts who still see it as the ultimate thrilling adventure.

The Deer Hunter

While this film features war, as prominently as it does hunting, this surely is a memorable film on hunting. This 1978 film offers good introduction into hunting. Mike, the ace deer hunter in the film played by Robert DeNiro uses his hunting skills to survive in the Vietnam War. The film had won many Academy Awards in 1978, including the Best Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actor awards. This movie is the best ever-hunting film to be produced in mainstream Hollywood movies.

The Ghost and the Darkness

Though this movie is not critically acclaimed as the Deer Hunter, it is a sure staple in the best hunting films genre. The movie set in Kenyan forests features a pair of dangerous lions, which had killed over 30 workers during the railway line construction between Mombasa and Uganda. This movie unfolds into a thrilling, stirring and at times horrifying perspective of how dangerous hunting of exotic game can be. While the movie is mostly fictional, it is appealing nevertheless. Val Kilmer and Michael Douglas make it a memorable hunting trip.

Escanaba in de Moonlight

This hunting comedy movie released in 2001 is adapted from a play with the same title. Featuring the Upper Peninsular Michigan region, which is known for its long hunting traditions, the movie ridicules many of the superstitions and traditions that prevail in hunting, and at the same time manages to pay homage to hunting. The movie certainly has some hilarious moments and special hunting moments, which will make you love the sport more.

The Mountain Men

This is an old hunting adventure film of a conventional type where you see the main players trapping beavers more than doing any actual hunting up in the mountains. However, it is definitely a hunting film as the others listed above. The movies pictures outdoors entirely and is so into the hunting apparel and culture that all hunting fans are sure to enjoy the film fully. The typical western scenery along with Charlton Heston can be enjoyed in this movie.

Moby Dick

This 1956 classic is an adaptation of Herman Melville’s novel. Many consider it as a film about fishing, when you take it account the attractive Whale in the film. Nevertheless, what truly catches your eye is the hunting expedition undertaken by Captain Ahab.   The hunting journey takes you on a path of persistence and obsession, that are the aspects, which hunters would identify to in their search for the right prey.

Movies That Spark The Traveler In You

Movies That Spark The Traveler In YouMovies are capable of inspiring you into doing things that you would normally consider impossible. They drive you to think innovatively. Sometimes movies have the power to make you question your actions and take a better perspective of your life or even go a step further to help you envision your future too.

Even if we have outgrown our childhood fantasies and dreams, there lies the child in us who is easily entranced with the wonders that life reveals. I’m not an outdoor person basically. The very little travel that I had done was mainly work oriented and not for leisure. But these movies certainly had me wishing I used more of my free time travelling. Here is the list of movies that would inspire anyone to take to travel like fish to water.

Tracks

This is a movie adapted from a memoir of Robyn Davidson. It is about the 1,700-mile trekking she had done in the West Australian deserts, with four camels and her dog for company. Though this may not sound like your cup of tea, sometimes it is necessary to be lost in your surroundings to get back on the right footing again. When you think that you don’t have it in you to try any further, watch this movie to get inspired and gain the confidence you need to survive.

Wild

This is adapted from another true story authored by Cheryl Strayed. This movie takes you on a long and lonely journey in a no man’s land with just nature for company. You are sure to get the right perspective, if you want to get some hibernating time away from civilization. Bonding with nature will certainly look an attractive prospect after this movie. Such was its impact that I donned on my hiking boots and set off on my first solo hiking trip after seeing it.

Into The Wild

This is a survival movie by Sean Penn adapted from Jon Krakauer’s nonfiction book of the same title. The movie has the protagonist Christopher McCandless travelling all over the northern America, especially in the wild Alaskan region. It gives you much more than being on your own in wilderness. It helps you to rediscover yourself.

The Motorcycle Diaries

This biopic dwells on the Journey of Ernesto Guevara, on whose memoir it is based on. Guevara was 23 when he had written the memoir. Guevara later on came to be known internationally as the Marxist revolutionary commander Che Guevara. This movie is however not about Marxist principles, but on how much adventure and fun you can have in a trip and the changes it brings in your life.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

This is adapted from James Thurber’s story of the same title. While this is not what you expect from a travel movie, it shows in a candid way in which a monotonous and dull life needs some adventurous trip to get back to appreciate our life for what it is. The movie has some great shots of Iceland that you should not miss out on.

Tips to make an Amateur Action Movie

Tips to make an Amateur Action MovieMy friend, an amateur film director, is an ardent fan of action movies and wishes to make one. I get irritated as he is unable to finalize the method he will adapt to shoot and edit an action movie. Every movie involves intensity and some action. An action movie is a genre including a range of challenges such as fight scenes, frantic chases and violence. I decided to learn about action films and give my friend some tips to help him in his venture. So here are some of the tips I learnt and shared with my friend.

Visual Style

A cinematic style is the epitome of the creative expression of a director. A great film is distinguished by its distinct style and gives a memorable experience to the viewers. An action movie involves path-breaking scenes that are against the physics’ laws and attract the audience. Visual storytelling is an essential element of filmmaking along with the characters, dialogue and plot of the movie. For instance, the distinctive style of Tim Burton’s Batman, released in 1989, involves action sequences of incredible creativity that redefines the gothic visual appeal and engages the audience.

Bullet Time

A trademark of Warner Bros., the term is also known as focus time or big freeze. It is a slow motion visual effect achieved photographically using numerous still cameras around the visual subject. Single frames of each camera are displayed as an arrangement to generate an action that is frozen at a particular time. The concept of bullet time became popular through the action scenes of the Matrix. For example, Neo dives back to avoid the bullets in a fight scene using bullet time effect. Bullet time is a revolution in the field of virtual cinematography.

Music

Although an important aspect of filmmaking, film music goes unnoticed by the viewers. The absence of music in a film makes it dull and does not create the effect of tension and emotion. A musical score can be more effective than the actual lines of a dialogue.

For example, the theme of the Superman involves bombastic and heroic sounds to create the greatest film music in the history. Music creates an emotional connect with the audience and narrates the thoughts of the filmmaker effectively. Electronic tracks with breaks along with a background score of a powerful bass and a tremolo violin incites aggressive moods of an audience watching an action film.

Shoot more scenes

A good filmmaker will shoot ten times more than the actual video footage to be included in the final movie. However, do not shoot randomly, as that may waste time in making the final movie. For example, you must shoot a raw footage of about ten minutes to make a 1-minute video.

Shot coverage

There are three options of shooting various scenes for a film. A wide shot refers to the large view of the subject. A medium shot gives a closer view of the activity. Close-up refers to the close view of the activity or subject.

Motion

You may actually move the camera while the shooting is under process. A filmmaker can choose any one of the four options: Zoom is used to alter the camera’s focal length to get a close view of an object placed at a farther distance. The zoom function of a camera must be used smoothly and at one speed. Changing zoom speeds distracts the viewers. Rapid zoom creates blurred images and slow zoom takes longer to complete the scene.

You must avoid using the digital zoom option in your camera. Pan changes the camera’s view across scenes. Usually this feature enables the camera move from the right side to the left side, or vice-versa. The tilt option moves the camera vertically to shoot a scene from bottom to top or vice-versa. ‘Dolly’ moves the camera along with the subject or activity.

Two-Shot Rule

You must shoot a minimum of two shots per scene that you want to include in a movie. For example, you may shoot a subject from at least two frames, close-up and medium. You can also shoot from two angles, one from behind and the other from right side of the subject.

Composition and Rule of Thirds

The framing of the subject is called composition. According to the rule of Thirds, when you shoot a scene, you must mentally draw a grid having three rows and three columns over the picture and place the subject on the gridlines to choose the best option.

B-Roll

It refers to a video footage that may not appear on the actual shot list but is useful for other visual storytelling techniques.

Light

The important ingredient of filmmaking is the appropriate light while shooting. Light determines the color of the scene and sets the typical mood as desired. The best lighting option for filmmakers is termed as the ‘golden hour’. Usually it is the period between sunrise in the morning and an hour afterwards. In the afternoon, it is the period between an hour prior to sunset and the time of sunset. The silhouette effect is created by a backlit subject. You must keep light behind you to prevent you subject appearing dark.

Avoid camera shake

You should use a tripod or a monopod to shoot a film. The monopod is flexible and gives low stabilization effects. A tripod has three legs and an apex to mount the camera. The head of the tripod is locked to avoid any movement.

Shooting a fight scene

You must rehearse the ideas before actual filming of the movie. The actors should go through a dry run For instance, if the scene requires two actors involved in a fist fight, they may rehearse in order to shoot from a perfect angle. Use the minimum set-up for shooting a fight sequence and shoot every set-up twice.

Edit Quickly

The final stage of producing a movie is the editing. You must edit the film with shots in tight frame. You can edit to close-up shots to produce a heightened effect.

I hope my friend utilizes these tips and achieve success in making an action movie.

Top musicals that still tug at your heartstrings

Sing your favorite SongMusicals have a magical quality about them that makes them alluring even to present day generation. The secret of their evergreen success is the use of song and dance routine, which enhances the storyline and attracts the audience largely. The whole package works because of the choreographer and director. Watching musicals always gives you a good feeling and invigorates you.

Even today, the musicals are more popular among the young and old alike, and you can see these songs being the favorite in the karaoke sing along parties. I have my own karaoke machine at home. Whenever we have a party or just few of us get together, we try out all the old and new songs in the machine.

Musicals date back to many centuries. The Roman Amphitheaters are examples of how musical performances were held in ancient times. The Romans had actually taken the Amphitheater concept from the Greeks. These structures were made in wood and metal chips were added to improve the dancing sound. I suppose that this was how the tap dance originated. Over the years, there have been many hit musicals, making it hard for me to pick a few top ones, but I have tried to choses the best five.

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

This 1964 musical is vivid with dazzling neon lighting and blazing colors making it a colorful and joyous presentation. The film’s score by Michel Legrand is full of melody and the most alluring part is the songs are actually dialogues that are set to music. You can find casual conversation being in song form. Catherin Deneuve the female lead has great beauty and poise and makes you sing automatically along with her.

My Fair Lady

This musical by George Cukor is an adaptation of Pygmalion released in 1964. Audrey Hepburn plays the beautiful Eliza Doolittle. The lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and score by Fredrick Loewe give wonderful life to Shaw’s play, which had the sculptor creating a stunning statue, which comes to life and is so entrancing that he falls in love with her. Rex Harrison as Henry Higgins is hilarious and the film with its socialistic theme and romance was a huge hit.

Grease

This 1978 movie was a big hit even when the trend had changed from musical genre. The film despite featuring 30 year olds as teenagers and having the pop songs of 50s went on to become the highest grosser in the United states till date. John Travolta showed that he was indeed showbiz material and the reigning dancing superstar.

Singin’ in the Rain

This is one of the best musicals in the history of cinema and the title song became even more popular after it was repurposed in the murder ballad of A Clockwork Orange. The movie is also one of the best musical comedies and was a great hit, as movies were making a change from silent to talkies during that period. Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor held a dynamic charm and stunning appeal that made the film memorable. The lilting music and great lines make them still one of my favorite pieces in my sing along parties.

Cabaret

This is the best of all musicals. Released in 1972 the seductive and satanic musical choreographed and directed electrically by Bob Fosse pierces right through your heart. It brings to mind Nero’s fiddle drenched in decadence, cynicism and despair. Moreover, the music reminds you of the Germany of 1930s.