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.


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” »

Making a Movie

greenbox-959843_1920There are few things which could either go so well that the public praises them, or so poorly that the same public would decry them instead. Movies happen to be one of these few things. Just think about it for a moment – you can probably remember the best movie you ever saw, or at least the one that moved you the most, or had the strongest effect on you.

It’s pretty much a given that you can remember the worst films you’ve seen too, considering people tend to remember the negative things in life better than the positive ones. There is a lot of work which goes into making movies though.

You know all those names you see when the credits roll at the end of a film? Of course you don’t, who pays attention to those things after the first few major actors and actresses have scrolled up and out of sight? There is much more to any movie than just a few pretty faces, perfect sets of teeth and good speaking voices though.

Just to name a few, there are gaffers who work the lights, makeup and hair artists to give the thespians their iconic looks, producers who spread word about the movie and directors who coach everyone along during recording.

That’s really just scratching the tip of a typical movie, still. Consider the sets for a moment. Sometimes crews will move to another location to do recording, and other times they will simply make sets of their own using materials on hand. The latter method is typically much cheaper and faster than flying to exotic locations to film.

Any wooden items on such a set will probably need to be treated with an industrial belt sander to make them smooth and get them ready for painting. Then there are floors, ceilings, decorations; sometimes building a film set is a lot like building a room in a house.

Nobody said making a movie was an easy thing to do. But making a good movie is even more difficult than what has already been outlined here. Great writers are necessary to draw up scripts which are believable and entertaining.

Then skilled actors and actresses must bring those lines to life without giving them too much or too little emphasis, especially during those tense dramatic, comedic or horrific scenes that really identify a film and burn themselves into the minds of its viewers. Unfortunately, no power tool such as this will help with this part.

Perhaps you have an interest in making films of your own. There’s nothing wrong with doing amateur work to get a handle for getting people to work together, or learning how to operate a camera or the different perspectives you could use for any given scene.

In fact, that sort of inexpensive, simple work makes great practice for later on, when trying to make the real deal. Have any of you created short films or other, similar content in the past? Surely our readers would love to see some of that if possible.

Pitch Perfect 2 Review

Pitch Perfect 2 ReviewThose who have watched the first release of Pitch perfect would have probably been very excited to hear the news that the creators had decided to work on a sequel. The first movie was quite entertaining and delved into an area that has not recently been explored by many people. That gave it a uniqueness that was quite refreshing allowing an avid movie fan to stray from the myriad of action movies that have flooded the screen of late.

The concept of an A cappella group taking the university scene by storm is one that seemed so original in its own way that coming up with a second edition could do no harm to the excitement of the idea. However in some cases monotony can set in quicker than one would expect and unfortunately for the producers of this musical based act fell into this trap much to the surprise of many including their own probably as well if they were to be honest with themselves.

No one was expecting a change in the main basis of the story which is the idea of an A cappella based rivalry between various groups of singers who take to the stage to try and outshine one another in front of adoring fans that I should mention were unrealistically large in number (an element that could be easily ignored by those who watched the movie however) and thus it cannot be said that the plot was exactly to blame for the failure of the sequel to bedazzle the audience in the same manner that the first one did.

The name was simple and there was no need for any extra additions with hyphenated sentences as the cast was pretty much the same and as mentioned earlier so was the design of the overall plot. Pitch Perfect can be seen as a decent water softener for the situation as a number of people may still thoroughly enjoy the movie due to the simple fact that they enjoyed the first one.

Though it cannot be said that the movie was absolutely terrible there is some truth in the statement that it did however leave anyone who with watched with a lot to be desired. This perhaps could be blamed on the unmitigated success that the first movie enjoyed garnering millions of fans all over the world not to mention turning some of the songs that were used in the movie into hits that were sung by millions of people around the globe. The cast gave a similar presentation of themselves in the sequel as they did in the first but it can be noted that certain characters had been accentuated in a manner in a bid to make them stand out.

The focus had also switched from a number of particular characters as was the case in the first movie to a more overall view of the entire cast in general. A number of star appearances such as the famous rapper Snoop Dog and even a brief feature of famed real live a cappella group Pentatonics strived to hold the movie together but to no avail. This is a movie to watch if you have time to kill and nothing better to do.

Jurassic World Movie Review

Jurassic World Movie ReviewAt a time when the Hollywood film industry is virtually dominated by science fiction movies ( such Avengers and Transformers). The fourth installement of the Jurassic Park movie series was a welcomed change of film diet for all Hollywood movie lovers. By becoming the third highest grossing movie of all time, Jurassic World has surely lived up to its pre-release hype.

The film is based in the same fictional island of Isla Nublar, twenty two years after the events of Jurassic Park. Two brothers (Zach and Gray) are send by their parents to tour the park under the care of their aunt, Claire; who is also the operations manager of the park. She however delegates her personal assistant to take care of the boys due to her busy schedule.

The park management feel that dinosaurs are no longer the wonder they need to generate profitable incomes from the park. They therefore set out to develop something bigger, scarier and with more teeth. They create the Indominus Rex, which is basically a fusion of several dinosaur predators genes and some modern day animals genes. This genetic make up is however kept as classified information.

During a security check of the Indominous holding shelter by Claire and Owen Grady; who is an ex-navy soldier hired to train the park’s Velociraptor pack. The Indominous which is highly intelligent fakes her escape and ends up escaping from her shelter into the park.

Due to her being raised in solitary and her violent nature; she goes wild attacking and killing every other dinosaur she encounters. Meanwhile Zach and Gray have given their guide a slip and wandered deep into the park. They met the Indominous but luckily escape without being hurt and are found by their aunt and Owen.

The Indominous outwits the park’s Asset Containment Unit and kills all of them before attacking the Pterosaur aviary and unlashing the Pterosaurs on the touring crowd. Meanwhile Vic Hoskins (head of park security, who is obsessed with using the Velociraptors for military purposes) forcefully takes command of the park and orders Owen to use the Velociraptors to hunt the Indominous. Owen has managed to successfully train the raptors to follow his commands and they therefore see him as their alpha.

The climax of the movie begins with perhaps the most iconic scene – Owen haphazardly riding a bike without a helmet (perhaps he should have checked this out) leading his pack of raptors (Blue, Charlie, Delta and Echo) to corner the Indominous rex. But it turns out that she has Velociraptor genes and communicates with the raptors to attack Owens team instead.

The raptors corner Owen, Claire ,Zach and Gray, luckily Owen is able to reestablish the alpha bond with the raptors and sends them to attack the Indominous rex. The battle is won when the park’s Tyrannosaurus rex joins the fight and force the Indominous rex towards the lagoon housing a Mosasaurus. The Mosasaurus attacks and drowns the Indominous rex with a single bite, marking the end of an Expandables-like dinosaur action.

Labeled as the highest grossing 2015 movie so far, this movie is an epic animal-action thriller, you have to checkout.

6 Tips for Better Sports and Action Photography

6 Tips for Better Sports and Action PhotographySports and action shots are some of the most challenging yet very exciting subjects. Sports photography requires skill and preparation. Limited access, lightning-fast action, poor lighting conditions, unpredictability of subject and weather can make taking sports shots even more difficult.

It is very important to know what, when and how to take the best picture. Basically, the secret in action and sports photography is anticipation. You have to anticipate where actions will most likely kick off and want to position your camera at this vantage position. Once you are on the right spot, you’ll most likely get better, action-filled shots.

Here are six tips for better sports and action images.

Use fast shutter speed camera

Use a camera with faster shutter speed. The faster the shutter is, the better. If your camera is not fast enough, don’t be surprised to find blurry or bad shots. For most sports, a shutter speed setting of 1/500 of a second is good enough. Take sample shots before the event to see how sharp the images are. Periodically check your shots. If there is any blurring, adjust the shutter speed.

Pan the action

Pan the action with the subject in focus. This blurs the background while keeping the subject sharp. The blurry effect adds motion and speed to the shot. To do this, keep your base grounded and steady in a single spot. Twist from your waist up while following the movement. Then, click the shutter button halfway while continuously tracking the subject. Make sure the subject is within the viewfinder’s frame throughout. Once you have a good shot, fully click the shutter button.

High speed sports such as skating and long boarding are perfect way to try your sports photography skills. If you want to try long boarding, you can find reviews of some long board brands at Longboardingmafia.com.

Adjust camera to suit the lighting

When photographing movement, lighting is an important consideration. A bright sunny day is favorable, as it helps you take better shots but if it is cloudy or you’re shooting indoors, you should adjust your ISO and White Balance. Take test shots and adjust setting until the image color looks crisp. Although cameras have auto-adjustment settings, such as setting

for Incandescent or Fluorescent, it would be great if you can set up a custom white balance that perfectly suits the location.

Turn flash off

Since you will not likely get any closer to your subject, your flash is practically useless. This is also the reason why pro sports photographers use such long lenses. Moreover, flashes can distract players so better turn it off. It would only drain your batteries.

Use burst mode

Expect sports and action subjects to move quickly, thus it may hard to keep up with the action. It is best to put your camera on burst mode which allows taking continuous shots (usually 6 shots at a time). The more shots you take, the greater the chances of capturing better images. Just be sure to bring extra memory card.

Be always ready and act quick

As I’ve mentioned earlier, sports subjects move quickly so you also have to be alert. Keep your reflexes up and be ready to capture the best moments when they happen.

Capture great sports and action images with these six tips. Along with these tips, always remember the major aspects of photography: timing, focus, lighting, a steady hand, and most importantly – practice.

5 Secrets Every Filmmaker Should Know

5 Secrets Every Filmmaker Should KnowIn an era that is dominated by high-budget films, aspiring filmmakers can easily feel daunted and intimated. But movies like Paranormal Activity (2007), The Castle (1997), Blairwitch Project (1999), Once (2006), and many other low-budget films that have made big in the industry are very encouraging. These movies prove that you don’t need millions to produce cinematic masterpiece that will also do good in theaters.

Here are a few secrets that can help make your feature film look better without extra cost.

  1. Less light, tighter shots

Medium Close-up and Close-up shots effectively compensate for low-budget production design or film sets. Shooting tight makes feature films look more expensive. Tom Hooper has effectively used this technique for some of his films.

  1. Fill up the background

Empty spaces make your film look low-budget and cheap. Add detail, or perhaps clutter, in dead spaces. Items such as stuffed animals, blankets, furniture, etc. add color, depth, characterization and value to the image. Woodworking tools come handy for the creative team as it can be used to create different wood items for the background. Perhaps, a good investment would be a wood lathe. I was looking for a wood lathe online and came across WoodLathePro.Com. The site has a good number of reviews that compare different wood lathes.

  1. Maximize camera movement

Add life and energy to each scene by moving the camera. Movement with jibs, cranes, dollies, etc. can make your feature film appear more pro. Even mainstream movies use constant camera motions for their movies.

  1. Background music in every scene

Music helps convey the tone and mood in each scene, and pushes the story forward. It invisibly connects scenes together and makes transitions flow better. Musical score masks dull scenes, mistakes, or abrupt edits, ultimately creating a spectacular output. Many low-budget movies could have been better had right music been laid onto it.

  1. Add depth

Create visually pleasing images by adding depth to each scene. Avoid placing your actor directly in front of the wall as this creates a dull, uninteresting shot. Instead, add depth by using a variety of hues and lights in the background, mid, and fore. Putting items to the walls also adds depth.

  1. Remove unnecessary scenes

One very helpful technique is to cut the fluff. Stick with the story plot. If a sequence, dialogue, or action is not essential for the story, lose it. Keep the viewers hooked to the plot by making it concise, cohesive, and full. You do not want a lengthy movie that has no meat.

  1. Light on a pole

This is an essential lighting tool that is light, portable, and quick. It is very versatile and can be used for different lighting needs, either for back or fill light. An extendable pole is even better as it can be adjusted to suit the situation.

Finally (and most important of all) have fun! While your goal is to deliver an awesome film, you should not forget to enjoy the moment. After all, it’s the reason why you’re behind the lens, right?

As a certified film buff and art patron, I’ve always believed that it is how a story is told using light, framing and motion that makes a movie great. The best films are those that stir the imagination, engage the mind and touch the heart, and never the price tag.

What tips and secrets have you got there? Share your thoughts with us, we’d love to learn more from you!

7 Most Expensive Movie Sets of All Time

7 Most Expensive Movie Sets of All TimeFilmmaking is both art and business – a huge business. From pre-production to post-production, every single step requires budget. Many blockbuster hits cost millions but that does not always guarantee a movie’s success.

A great part of the movie’s budget runs to the movie set. Yes, it is one of the most crucial aspects in creating a cinematic masterpiece that majority of movie-viewers often overlook.

While some movies are set in just a simple room, a building, or a remote location, others necessitate constructing big-budget film sets to bring the story to life – and most producers are willing to make the gamble. But whether the huge price tag is worth it, it’s ultimately for the audience to decide.

Here are 7 of Hollywood’s most expensive sets ever built:

Waterworld (1995)

In order to create a fictional post-apocalyptic world in the midst of the vast ocean, the Kevin Reynolds-directed adventure picture went over budget (about $75 million dollars), mostly for building a 1,000-ton floating atoll somewhere in Hawaii.

With well over $100 million in production cost, this Kevin Costner-starrer was hoped to hit blockbuster level. Unfortunately, the multi-million dollar production didn’t bode well with the audience and has sunk as one of the most notorious flops in Hollywood.

Full Metal Jacket (1987)

The actual cost of this epic war movie was never actually released but the re-creation of the Vietnamese town of Hue was estimated to cost millions (about $30 million at that time). Stanley Kubrick, along with his creative team, reproduced the WWII’s aftermath in a sprawling abandoned dockyard and gasworks that was originally due for demolition. And to make it even more realistic, they brought in a collection of Westland Wessex helicopters and M41 tanks for the set.

Titanic (1997)

Not many viewers know that this mega blockbuster hit movie actually cost over $100 million just for the movie set. The reproduction of the “the unsinkable” cost a staggering $30 million while the 17-milion gallon tank where the ship was housed cost over $40 million. With its unprecedented success, James Cameron could be no happier.

Stalingrad (2013)

Although the set could be easily produced using computer, director Fedor Bondarchuk went the old fashion way to rebuild the World War II city of Stalingrad. Armed with framing nailers, jackhammers, and other power tools, an army of 400 workers aided by a creative team meticulously recreated the war-torn city for over 6 months. With the building equipment alone, one can expect a huge production cost. I’ve checked this site and discovered the cost of different framing nailers. Now, I really wouldn’t wonder why the lavish setting cost a whooping $4 million.

Intolerance (1916)

D.W. Griffith set the bar in production costs in his 1916 epic film – Intolerance. For the movie, Griffith invested millions in building a colossal replica of the Great Wall of Babylon. The 300-foot movie set took up over four city blocks. It was one of the most expensive, grandest movie sets for a long time.

Ben Hur (1959)

This Charlton Heston-starrer is a masterpiece. Alongside its impeccable script, great acting, and revolutionary cinematography was the massive movie set which helped made a larger-than-life movie. The film had over 300 sets which were located in an extensive 148 acres and nine sound stages. At a time when power tools were not yet as efficient as today, carpenters and artists had to painstakingly work on 40,000 cubic feet of lumber and million pounds of plaster to build the largest and most expensive film set at its time. The appreciated cost is estimated to be over $8 million in today’s economy.

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-2003)

Recreating the settings, such as Hobbiton and Helm’s Deep, in J.R.R Tolkiens’ legendary fantasy novel comes with a huge price tag. The total production cost is estimated to be around $281 million, making Peter Jackson’s LOTR trilogy the most ambitious and most expensive in Hollywood today. New Zealand did a great decision of investing (co-producing) on this project as the movie set has turned into a profitable tourist attraction even after the shoot.

It can’t be denied, the film set has a lasting effect on the overall appeal of a movie but it’s also not the defining factor. The story and cinematography is still king. How about you, what films do you think have the most expensive set? Would love to hear your thoughts.

A Review Of Captain America The Movie

A Review Of Captain America The MovieThere are a large number of movies that have been produced over the years and their reception has been varied depending on the marketing that has been placed in it during the months of its oncoming introduction. Sadly the kind of movies that are in production today have meant that more is taken in on hyping the project than actually coming up with something that is worthwhile in terms of watching.

This is why when a movies such as Captain America comes into production, the need to recognize its attributes other than the usual flair that is put into the making of all superhero movies is paramount for those who may consider themselves to be certified movie buffs. Whereas in most cases, movie reviews are based on elements such as the storyline and the graphics that have been used to make the film, the need to look for other means of measuring the quality of the movie is also necessary if one plans on delving into the underlying story that and qualities that the movie aims to serve up to its viewers.

Captain America is one of the oldest superhero characters that can be found in the Marvel collection (a company that specializes in the production of these kind of stories) and as such he is considered to be one of the more popular characters by those interested in the world of superheroes. The story behind Captain America came to fruition around the 1950s when its creators wanted to offer the public a rallying point behind which they could find pride in their country and the characters that its people resemble. This led to the birth of Captain America, a small bodied boy with a big heart who’s only wish is to serve his country in battle. Unfortunately due to his frail nature and weak status, he is rejected by the army until he comes across an opportunity to take part in an experiment that will enable him to change his frail status.

Though the actual story of Captain America cannot be considered to be unattractive on its own, the most impressive part about this tale is the qualities that it represents. These qualities are found in the actual characteristics of the individuals who are featured in the story with Captain America taking the lead point. The story itself is the usual good versus evil that goes on in most stories but the manner in which the victories are approached is quite delightful to watch.

Captain America attempts to prove that a man does not need to visit the gym on a daily basis to be brave or neither does a girl need quality protein powder for women like those here to build up their strength in character but what really matters is the person’s individual strength with regard to their mentality. Captain America forces on the determination of a character rather than their actual physical strength.

The movie attempts to bring out a sense of morality and the value of doing good over evil. Unlike most superheroes, one does not have to believe in Captain America because of the powers he possesses but instead it is due to the character of the individual.

Tips for Making a Good Amateur Nature Documentary

Tips for Making a Good Amateur Nature DocumentaryIf you want to make a good documentary or record anything at all with a decent level of quality, the first and most important consideration you need to make is lighting. If there is no scene to be filmed then you’ve got nothing, but you could have the most amazing thing in the world going on right in front of you and if there wasn’t enough light to see it, it wouldn’t matter one bit that you recorded the event. Lighting is crucial to any quality film and photography, and working with plenty of bright, natural light is best when possible. But you probably want more specific tips than that, right? Well keep reading.

Before starting the list, I want to explain something which I feel doesn’t really need an explanation. Tips that will work for professional level documentaries will also work for the amateur level ones. While an amateur might not have access to the funds or the equipment of a professional, that is really the only difference when it comes to tips which can improve either. This brings me to my first tip, which is to learn more about equipment and actually acquire a few items before you start recording. Microphones, cameras, lights and other items are all crucial to filming.

You definitely want to read first and purchase second, or you’re going to end up with items you don’t need. Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal, but photography is not a cheap hobby to get into. You could spend a thousand dollars or more on a decent setup and that’s actually looking at this from a pretty conservative angle; you could spend much more. The angles of your shots are important, perhaps more so in forest photographs than any other type of photography, because your view will be limited by the medium you are trying to photograph. Learning the best way to look at things will take some time.

Editing is an important part of creating film, which is kind of funny since you don’t really notice editing at all in films where the editors have done a good job. Learning how to cut out bad takes and mix together a string of good takes to create a seamless product is another thing which will take some time. More than that though, you’re probably going to need some sort of software to help you edit your work. Some of this stuff can be expensive enough that you might wish we were back in the days of chopping up reels and splicing them together, but editing is an unavoidable aspect of filming.

Becoming more familiar with your subject is important for photographers of all kinds. You need to read about what it is you plan to photograph, maybe see related photography from other people, maybe learn the living habits of your subject even, like if you’re planning a nature documentary. Since you’ll be looking for the best angles, shots and opportunities while out in the field, you could consider getting the perfect picture of an animal to be just like hunting that animal.

At the end of the day, your goal is to tell a story of sorts through your pictures and videos, so if you’re no good at formulating a tale it won’t matter how much of a nature buff you are. You need to develop some basic skills, skills every photographer and media person needs to have. Being able to see a story in your work, pull it from the imagery and then articulate it in a way your audience can understand is paramount, and an understanding of your subject is somewhat secondary to this. If the story you’re telling involves a lot of traveling to different locations, a supporting narrative might be a good idea.

Getting some hands-on experience is another great way to learn more about the ins and outs of creating film. For this, simply make a film. Record anything at all. It could be you going through your morning routine of shaving, brushing your teeth and getting your hair ready, or whatever else you want. You’ll be learning how to interact with your equipment, what works for you and what doesn’t. It’s all valuable experience that you won’t get from reading any book, so don’t shy away from just filming whatever.

On the same token, you need to be ready for your first works to be crappy. There is a serious learning curve to creating quality film – something that you won’t overcome after just a day, no matter how dedicated you might be. You’re not going to make a masterpiece the first time you pick up a camera, so don’t even try to do that. Creating your first bad film will give you more intimate knowledge about where and what you can improve than a hundred books about photography. Only you know where you’re proficient or lacking, and the only way to learn this is through doing.

One of the greatest things you can do with your camera is to show viewers something they could never see with their eyes. You can do this in a number of ways. One very expensive way is to record places people simply can’t go, like the bottoms of oceans or other natural spots which are impeded for some reason. This requires a lot of equipment, so let’s talk about the other method, which is to become intimately familiar with your camera. Through slow motion film and an understanding of your shutter speed, exposure length and other factors, you can show viewers things the naked eye could never see.

These are just a few solid tips for making a good amateur nature documentary. I know there are things I’ve failed to mention here, but that’s the beauty of photography in a sense – two different people can look at the same thing (or concept in this instance) and come away with different experiences. I’m sure some of you have tips I didn’t even consider, just like I have tips viewers wouldn’t have thought about on their own. Feel free to share your knowledge on the subject below.

Lights, Camera, Action

Lights, Camera, ActionIf you’ve ever watched any “Making Of” or behind the scenes videos about your favorite movies, plays, films and other recorded media, then you’ve probably heard a director somewhere spout out the famous film phrase used as a title here. It’s really quite apt since without cameras rolling there’s no need to put people through the motions of putting on a scene, and without decent lighting so you can actually see what’s happening, there’s no need to turn the cameras on in the first place. Quality talent, direction and script are all important to something that’s fun to watch, but so is the lighting.

The use of dynamic lighting has literally made scenes in some movies in the past, but it has also lead to others which looked plain ugly or didn’t seem to have the sort of setting which seemed appropriate to them. You can’t really see much of it in the old black and white films, though Nosferatu is an exception which made brilliant use of lighting effects in a number of scenes. Because we do occasionally produce some media of our own, we’re all very keen on learning the proper ways to implement lighting to get the best possible recordings.

Now, most people would say that just flooding a set with light should be enough to make everything visible, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Lights create shadows, and too many lights coming in from too many directions can cause a lot of feedback because of all the shadows they create. Different lights with different strengths are actually a good thing for highlighting certain aspects of a scene, or really illuminating a single character while leaving everybody else visible without really calling attention to them. It’s an interesting topic and there’s still more to say about it too.

Some of the best directors actually incorporate lighting into a set, to make it seem like a part of the scene rather than something on the outside of it. If you’re looking for some sort of futuristic setting or something like that, you could plaster LED bars like these all over the place and they wouldn’t seem out of place at all. Or I guess they’re kind of commonplace these days – nothing futuristic about something you can see at any office supply store, am I right? There was a time when today’s common technology was something simply hoped for in the future.

The bottom line is, lighting plays a huge role in the production of film. Whether it is used from outside of a scene to brighten up the place or actually implemented into the scene in some clever way, the face remains that proper lighting is important if you want people to actually be able to see the scenes you are recording. You could spend a small fortune on a lighting system that would make any gaffer happy and you would still only be scratching the surface of what it costs to produce a quality movie. Keep that in mind the next time you find yourself considering the cost of a movie ticket.

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.