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” »

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.

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 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.


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.