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” »

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.

The success formula for Great Movies

The success formula for Great MoviesI had been to my aunts’ house last weekend. She is a great fan of the classic movies, especially the romantic musicals and lamented that they do not make such good movies nowadays. We were talking over dinner enjoying her delicious meatballs. She said that just like the meatballs that restaurants make nowadays, which did not have the flavour that hers had, cinema too has lost its charm now.

While I did accept that her meatballs were the awesome – she grinds the meat with one of her special meat grinder I did not think that present day cinema was bad. There were many movies, which go well beyond the good and touch exceptional grade with the performances, screenplay and music.

The conversation had me thinking on what changed a movie from a good one to a great one. A movie has to have at least a few important characteristics to make it a classic and great movie. Here are some of the vital components that make a movie successful

Topical

When movies are made on the current and happening news, the audience could relate well to the story and this made them successful. Good examples are Casablanca and Queen Christina released during World War.

In both the lead characters had to choose between desire and duty with varying results. While Queen Christina made during First World War gives importance to individual choices than collective decisions, Casablanca made during the Second World War highlighted how the couple sacrificed their love for duty. The topical nature of these two movies is what has made them evergreen even after so many decades.

Timelessness

Movies that centre on timeless values like love, relationships in the family, death etc. are always a hit with any generation of moviegoers. Relationships score the best always due to their timeless nature.

Performance

One key ingredient of a great movie is the great performance that the artists give.  There are many instances over the years of how the performance of a male or female artiste taking the film to new heights.

Guiding vision

Almost all great movies have some common thread that brings all the elements in the film together beautifully. A Hitchcock movie is a great example. You watch his films always dreading on what unfortunate turn of events are going to occur. But your fears will not come true for the first six or seven times and the eighth time it happens finally, which shows how he has made it riveting to watch.

Awesome scene

Almost all great movies have an amazing and much talked about scene. It is normal for people to talk about this great scene in the movie, and on how it had been taken incredibly. The scene will stay long after the movie fades away because of the way it was shot.

Great ending

Finally, movies that end with some amount of complexity strike a chord in the mind of the audience.

Although all of the above ingredients need not necessarily be present in a movie to make it a great one, some of these surely would help it be remembered for long like my aunt’s meatballs. I remembered this time around to get the recipe from her and she said that this grinding machine for the meat would help in making the recipe much easier and tastier too.

How to Successfully Host a Film Showcase

How to Successfully Host a Film ShowcaseHave you ever wondered how to host a film showcase? You can draw people’s attention for a specific subject or film genre by having a film showcase for people to enjoy. There are several things one must do in order to have this happen, but most importantly, happen successfully.

Pick a film that you feel is important to show people. If you want a horror-themed flick to play, then look into popular movies that will grab people’s attention. If you are trying to address a serious issue such as animal abuse, look into a documentary or a movie based on a true story. Before showing the film, you have to check to see if you need a license to show the film to your audience. Contact a movie screening company to be sure. It would help if you have watched the film before showing. It will give you an idea of what the audience will be viewing.  Make sure the film equipment is set. Be prepared for possible issues with the projector. Cinematic artists recently bought  Benq W1070 light bulbs for if a bulb gets dysfunctional.

Look into saving some money for the film showcase. You may be able to get a sponsor to pay for screening costs or any other hidden fees you weren’t aware of before. This will help add more to the audience. When having an audience, see what your target audience will be. If it’s a family film, for example, invite parents and the children to watch. Make sure you know the film’s rating (PG, PG13, etc.) before showing.

Find a good date and time to host the film showcase. See if it can be shown on a day that isn’t too busy for everyone. Weekends are helpful since people are usually working or going to school during the weekdays. Find a meaningful date if you would like. For example, a film on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would be perfect to show on MLK Jr. Day on January 19, or during Black History Month in February.

Select a place to host the film showcase. A proper venue such as a movie theatre, library, or other public spaces would work in favor. Make sure you have all the materials you need. Cinematic artists like to make sure the film runs smoothly. They recommend original projector lamps at this specialized website. Talk to the venue manager weeks in advance before the showing.

Promote the showcase by handing out flyers and posting on social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter. If you have your own website, advertise the event. Tell friends, family, coworkers, and anyone else who is interested or knows someone who will want to check it out. Newspapers and other forms of media are other great avenues to use.

Create a schedule for the event carefully and choose a speaker. The speaker will introduce the film to the audience and may open and question and answer discussion about the film. Come up with questions if you’d like. Make sure they as well as other people can act as moderators during participation. Last, but not least, have volunteers hand out information before or after the presentation. These tips hopefully will give you the chance to host a film showcase with success.

Body building in Movies

Body building in MoviesFilms create iconic images and even iconic people that everyone looks up to and wants to imitate. This is especially true regarding body image and perceptions of attractiveness. Often this can be negative, as stars are held to unreasonable standards of beauty that are simple not attainable without money, a designer wardrobe, good lighting, and airbrushing. Sometimes, however, stars can be a positive influence on people if they inspire them to become healthier and more active in their own everyday lives by serving as positive role models and advocates and y living healthy lifestyles themselves.

Movie stars can do this not only by portraying healthy and balanced characters on screen whenever possible but by using their platforms as public figures to serve as responsible advocates for health issues in the real world. One of the best ways of doing this is by speaking up about having a positive body image while also emphasizing the ways in which physical activity can benefit people. This is especially true as our culture is becoming more and more sedentary and orientated toward staying indoors. Numerous studies and even more anecdotal evidence has shown how detrimental his can be to all of us, and yet many of us are still very complacent in the face of the facts and continue down a path towards ill health.

Good films can offer teachable moments, and one of the things that they can teach is that we all have a story to tell and that we should value ourselves, our own stories and our bodies. Many people have been inspired to work out more in an effort to achieve more and hold themselves to a higher standard. Maybe they take up ice skating, football or surfing or maybe they but a a power rack to keep in their garage so that they can work out at home. There are so many ways to go about this, and films often serve as a way of discovering the path that best suits each person. The power of a good film can inspire someone who is not necessarily the most physically fit person to strive for something more if they want to do so. On the other hand, films can also create unrealistic expectations, and it is important that both filmmakers and the general public be responsible in their choices and remain aware of where fantasy ends and reality begins.

Very few people will ever reach the fitness levels of Arnold Schwarzenegger or look like Megan Fox, not should they. That is not at all the point. The idea is not to strive to be someone else, but to be inspired to do something more with what is unique to each of us. Movie star can work to help us to learn this by continuing to portray genuine characters and to be open and honest. On the screen, good storytelling can bring out the idea of striving to achieve, and this is one of the reasons that we need more good storytelling in the cinema.

Boxing and the Big Screen

Boxing and the Big ScreenSports movies are a certifiable sensation in modern cinema. And, of all the sports that these movies feature, it seems that boxing is the king. It’s really no wonder why, boxing represents the ultimate challenge of man versus man. The story lines often feature the archetypal struggles of underdog boxers against a big, bad world as represented in their ultimate opponents. It is a film that movie makers return to again and again, from the recent Grudge Match to Raging Bull, Rocky, Million Dollar Baby, The Cinderella Man and many more. These films have often become classics in their own right. This blog post will look at some of the ways in which these movies have influenced the actual practice of boxing and how screen and ring are different.

One of the things that sports movies have done is create an aura around boxing and boxers. Entire generations of young moviegoers have grown up watching these action stars overcome challenges on the big screen. As a consequence, boxing is experiencing new heights of popularity. Young men and women are learning to box at clubs and gyms in an attempt to look like their favorite movie stars. Of course, there is time, effort and expense in doing so, but it is worth it for many. Most films in the genre emphasize the dedication needed in practicing, but they do not fully explore the planning and financial commitments that boxing (and other sports entail). Besides the enrollment fees for training at a gym, most of the expense comes in finding the most valuable boxing gloves and other training equipment. After this initial expense, the hard work comes in the actual consistent training and preparation that is so necessary to succeeding in boxing.

The importance of good training cannot be overstated. Boxing movies devote time to this issue, and there is often a montage of the main character training, but the time spent on this aspect is shortened to fit the story arc and run time and the preparation all seems to be in service to the big fight. This is simply not the case in real life where there are often months and years of practice before a boxer can even begin to think about a serious match. The need for patience and dedication is supremely important  to any serious boxer and is the basis for success in the ring.

Boxing movies are an adrenaline rush in their own right and are even more so if the become the impetus for actually becoming involved in the sport. The only thing to remember is that life does not always imitate art and the road forward can be far harder than ever depicted on film. So, whether living vicariously through a legendary character or as actual inspiration picking up boxing gloves to fight, these iconic movies can be a portal to a new world and a new way of thinking and moving, and there is a good reason boxing movies are so beloved.

“Polishing” Your Film; The Importance Of Good Styling In Filmmaking

“Polishing” Your Film; The Importance Of Good Styling In FilmmakingNo matter how small your filmmaking budget, talented and skilled makeup artists, stylists and even professional nail technicians is an important investment. These professionals are truly artists who will help elevate the overall visual appeal of your film as well as give your characters a certain coolness factor and image hard to attain otherwise. Just as costumes and sets create the backdrop to tell your story, skilled cosmetologists and makeup artists can transform an actor’s appearance that turns a cast member into a believable character. Thiswill help give your characters image and personality and will help tell your film’s story and make it memorable.

It may be that a character needs to come off as polished and perfectly coiffed or may need to be seen as disheveled and disorganized. These artists understand the importance of details in a person’s appearance, and how small things can create an overall look that will be understood by the audience.

A character’s appearance doesn’t stop with hair and makeup application; nails are also important and can add to the overall image of a character. In the 1994 movie Pulp Fiction, Uma Thurman plays the character Mia Wallace who wears a dark red nail polish called Rouge Noir by Chanel. The popularity of that film, and the image of that character, kicked off a craze for blood red dark nails and lips throughout the 1990s, with many young woman copying Mia Wallace’s manicure. The trend continue even now: makeup lineUrban Decay recently debuted a Pulp Fiction-themed cosmetic line, including lipstick and nail polish,that is inspired by Mia Wallace.  Thurman, by the way, nabbed an Oscar nomination for the now-iconic role.

“Audiences go to the movies to see a great story, but also to see characters who are visually interesting and project an image of cool,” said Michelle, a stylist and nail technician who has worked on independent films and photo shoots. “Hair, make up and nails are all an important part of a character’s image, so don’t underestimate the value of investing in those services – it will help your film achieve ‘the look’ you are hoping for.”

She advised that it’s important to get quality experts – just as you should choose professional makeup artists you also need to choose professional nail technicians who are trained and know what they are doing under pressure. If you are interested in finding professional nail technicians or in becoming one yourself, click here.

Not surprisingly, the popularity of nail polish is also linked to film, specifically the introduction of Technicolor in 1922. Films filled with bright and vibrant color made the characters come to life as never before on the silver screen, and viewers, especially the females in the audience, watched these films with stars like Rita Hayworth and her quintessential red lips and nails and decided to replicate it themselves. An extensive line of polishes quickly emerged and female finger tips have never been the same – at home or in the movies!

“Part of the reason we love movies is we love watching beautiful people do extraordinary things.”  Michelle said. “We all want to attain a piece of the coolness factor that our favorite stars have. A good movie will inspire trends that you can literally see on people lips and nails.”

Using Bullet Time To Amp-up Your Films

Using Bullet Time To Amp-up Your FilmsWhat would-be filmmaker or cinematic aficionado doesn’t remember that super-cool scene from the first Matrix movie, where Neo does a slow-motion backbend to dodge a series of bullets? It’s such a popular scene and so revolutionary when it first came out that it has become part of pop-culture and has inspired many to use the technique in their own films.

Want to know how this awesome technique works and maybe try it out yourself? While it took pioneering filmmakers a boatload of money, time and effort to create this effect in the Matrix, thanks to their prodigious work we can find easy and cheap ways to copy this technique.

To understand how bullet time works, here’s a bit of background: Normally film is projected at about 24 frames per second. In order to slow it down, you can use a technique of forcing more images into each second of film, from 24 frames per second to 120 (or more) frames per second, and then playing it back at normal speed. This allows you to capture the finest details of movement so it can be observed by the human eye.  In a nutshell, this is how you produce super slow motion effects commonly known as bullet time, which the Matrix and other movies made so popular.

Using bullet time, you can capture events that transpire in milliseconds such as the gases and projectiles escaping from an air rifle, an event that would be impossible to witness with the naked eye otherwise, but you can capture in exquisite detail using this technique. A classic example would be shooting an air rifle and piercing an object like an apple or piece of fruit. In bullet time, you canwitness not only the bullet piercing the fruit, but also the shockwave it produces propagating through the apple, destroying it.

Some do-it-yourselfers have found ways to use a ceiling fan, a GoProvideo camera, and a handful ofother bits and pieces tobypass the need for thousands of dollars worth of multiple cameras and rigging, and computer-controlled timing equipment. So we thought we’d give this a try using a slightly differently setup. My colleague, John, happens to have a Ruger’s Blackhawk .177 caliber air rifle. He is an excellent marksman and agreed to help us on our little project, which included setting up the rifle to shoot precisely through a lit candle to try to shoot the flame out. John assured us this is possible because air rifles are very accurate but not as powerful as a regular gun so you can get a great deal of precision without destroying a small object like candle.

We set up the candle in an enclosed space with a dark background so it would stand out on film. We used four cameras, but the more you can use, the better. We aimed one camera on the rifle to capture the bullet being shot, and we set up the remaining cameras on the candle itself and position one from above it to capture it at various angles.

It took some work to get the proper camera settings for recording, and then convert the footage for smooth playback. But the overall effect shows that a well-planned, well-placed slow motion shot can take ordinary footage and turn it into something remarkable that can be used to create drama, or add a “wow” factor to your film. Give it a try. One thing is certain, things just look cooler in slow motion!

A Look At The Importance Of Music In Filmmaking

A Look At The Importance Of Music In FilmmakingMusic plays an integral part in setting the tone, emotion and mood of the movie. Legendary producer Irving Thalberg once stated, “Without music there wouldn’t have been a movie industry at all.”Close your eyes and listen to the score of any popular movie and you immediately know this is true.  Try watching a horror movie without the music and you likely won’t be as scared, but listen to the music alone and you’ll probably still get chills.

For instance, if you listen to a highly recognizable movie score, like the Emperor’s March from the Star Warstrilogy, it will immediately set a tone and heighten drama. Or if you hear just the three notes on a digital piano from Close Encounters of a Third Kindit will evoke that sense of wonder of extraterrestrials and otherworldly advanced technology(This is a movie I happen to be a big fan of and always takes me back to my childhood.)

I was recently discussing movie music scores with my friend Julianne, who is a classically trained pianist and also has a background in film and cinema. She gave me an interesting insight; she said some composers prefer to create their scores the old-fashioned way, writing notes by hand, while other composers write on computers using sophisticated music composition software. She herself prefers the method of writing by hand and playing songs on a piano – in her case she prefers a digital piano as it’s smaller than a regular piano and offers features that make it easier in the development of soundtracks or movie scores.

If you look at the history of music in film, it’s quite fascinating. It turns out pianos have been used in films since the dawn of motion pictures. Before 1927, movies didn’t have sound, but live musicians, often an organist or pianist, would accompany the film in order to create drama, create character emotion and move the plot along. At first, these “talking pictures” followed the same model as the silent films, and used classical music, but as time went on directors began seeing the importance of creative original scores to fit their films. Max Steiner wrote the first completely original score for the movie King Kong in 1933, a movie which still lives on in pop culture and has been remade a number of times.  From then on, the popularity and importance of movie soundtracks grew, and now it’s a main component in how movies are produced.

But even as time goes on, the piano is still one of the most common and popular instruments used in movie music. Many classics utilize piano heavily in their scores, including: Forrest Gump, Chariots of Fire, Titanic, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, and On Golden Pond, to name a few.

Whatever method you choose to use in making your soundtrack, just remember that music is hugely important when creating the mood, tone and drama you are looking for! There are many options out there to help you, and technology is on your side, but never underestimate the importance of a beautifully played piano (whether it be a “real” piano or digital piano) in creating that the right music to fit your movie.

How To Start Filming The Great Outdoors!

How To Start Filming The Great Outdoors!Looking for a bold and courageous topic to film? Why not start with the great outdoors! We have friends who love getting out for a weekend, or even a week, to enjoy the great outdoors and go hunting, fishing, and practice archery. As any avid outdoorsmen will tell you, there are a number of cable channels and shows that focus programming on an adventurous outdoor lifestyle. Watching some of these shows inspired us to try some outdoor filming ourselves because it’s a great way to highlight the bold, enterprising and courageous lifestyle that some of us city folk aren’t as familiar with.

Many outdoorsmen and hunters dream selling their footage to a show or have grand plans of starting their own show (look at the popularity of shows like Duck Dynasty, how hard can it be?).  But it does take a few steps to prepare for capturing great action footage. We decided to follow along on a hunting trip from our friend Jon, who is a real hunter and uses both rifle and bow in his hunting methods.

The first step in getting great footage is to find the right setup. To begin, the setting must being conducive to both a good hunt and good footage. Not being able to see the buck until a split second before it enters a shooting lane might be fine on a normal hunt, but won’t do you any favors on film. Viewers want to see the star of the show, so you will need ample footage of the deer or whatever game your hunt is focused on.

John, who is the real hunter of the bunch,was integral in helping us set up the shot and give us insights into hunting with a bow — which is his preferred method of hunting because he like the challenge and he feels it’s a cleaner shot than a rifle. We found that it’s important to capture ample footage of the deer in order to build up the drama and excitement of the hunt. So it’s key to make sure you set up in areas where they’ll have the opportunity to capture lead footage of the animal before the shot occurs. We were able to find a great location in an open area with abundant food sources and good vantage points for shooting (both camera and bow), all surrounded by a beautiful wooded area. We also found that it’s also easiest to use autofocus as trying to do both focus and zoom while tracking an animal is difficult to say the least.

Finally, after hours of watching, the moment we all had waited for! We spotted a buck coming in to the clearing. Having already anticipated its route, we hit the record button and easily centered the animal in the frame. While tracking its progress, John lined up the shot with his bow, a PSE Coyote Recurve. The buck slowed and stopped for a moment, hovering near a thick of wild flower plants that Jon said it would like to nibble on. He was able to take out the buck with a swift, clean shot, with we were able to capture the whole thing on film.

As our excursion showed, there are huge advantages to getting your intended target on film for a period of time before the actual hunting takes place.  This is a chance for viewers to learn something, to see the story of the hunt. If it goes too fast, then there is no drama – nothing to hold the viewer’s attention.

These techniques can be utilized for a number of different outdoor filming expeditions, so go explore and have fun!