7 Key Lighting Concepts You Should Learn Before Shooting Your Next Film

Struggling with lighting? This video sheds some much-needed light on important concepts that you may not know much about.

Lighting is one of the most difficult aspects of the craft to get right for many filmmakers, regardless of their level of experience, due to its dual nature of being technical and artistic. If you're looking at your scenes, feeling as though the lighting is off, but aren't exactly sure about what you can do to make it better, you might want to take a look at this video from Caleb Pike of DSLR Video Shooter. In it, he goes over seven key concepts and techniques that he routinely gets asked about online and offers explanations and demonstrations of each of them so you can light your next project with more confidence. Check it out below:

Obviously, there are tons and tons of tips and pieces of lighting advice that we could talk about in a post like this, but Pike does a great job of covering some of the biggest concepts and techniques that seem to trip up many of those who are just starting out. Here is a quick overview of what he talks about in the video:

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This Is Why You Should Always Carry Something Reflective With You on a Shoot

This practical effect will cost you zero dollars and is perfect for b-roll.

Whether you're creating a transition between two scenes or adding some emotional depth to your subject's performance, b-roll can often be a place where you can let your creative freak flag fly, and experimenting with practical effects is one way to do just that. In this video, filmmaker Zach Ramelan shows you one technique that you can pull off with any ol' reflective surface you have lying around in your gear bag. Check it out below:

So, if you've got some sunglasses, an ND filter, or even your smartphone just sitting around not being put to good use, bust them out and get to work. All you have to do is zoom in slightly with your lens (or just make sure foreground elements are satisfactorily out of focus), and play around with the placement of your reflective surface until you get the desired result. By manipulating the surface, you can produce interesting reflections, flares, or bokeh balls that create simple, stylish, and unique in-camera effects that require less time and money than purchasing and editing stock assets in post.

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Tutorial: Shoot Underwater with This $10 DIY Periscope

This DIY periscopic device allows you to capture what's going underwater with virtually any camera.

Since cameras don't take to liquids very well, getting shots below the surface of water requires dedicated underwater camera housings. Problem is—these things usually require a significant financial investment, oftentimes costing upwards of $1500. But what if you're like this YouTuber, Alex from I did a thing, who just wanted to take a quick peek at the frogs swimming around in his pond? Well, then you might want to do as he did and build yourself a makeshift periscope out of $10's worth of supplies that lets you get some pretty sweet shots underwater.

Alex walks you through the steps in the tutorial below:

If you're interested in taking a crack at this build, here are the materials you'll need:

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5 Common Mistakes of New Filmmakers (and How to Avoid Making Them)

Sometimes it's better to learn from other people's mistakes instead of your own.

As it is with anything, your first few years of filmmaking is going to be a little rocky, making some pretty big, messy, and even embarrassing mistakes left and right. However, you do have the option of making far fewer of them, that is if you know what they are and how to avoid them. In this video, Jay P. Morgan of the Slanted Lens teams up with filmmaker Kenneth Merrill to go over some of the most common mistakes beginner filmmakers make when they first start shooting, as well as what you can do to ensure that you don't fall into the same traps. Check it out below:

Okay, so the craft of filmmaking is bursting with opportunities to make a misstep, so suffice it to say that this little list barely scratches the surface about what to expect when you first get going. However, it does give you a pretty good idea of the kinds of techniques and concepts that often go unnoticed by novices, from camera movement to sound recording.

Let's quickly go over the tips Morgan and Merrill talk about in the video:

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BlacKkKlansman DP Chayse Irvin on Shooting with Expired Ektachrome and the Spike Lee Dolly

Early in Spike Lee’s collaboration with Chayse Irvin, the venerable director asked his cinematographer if there was anything special he needed for BlacKkKlansman. Irvin answered, “a third camera”—an extravagance on a low budget movie, but one Irvin believed would allow him “to take massive risks on every scene, whether it be a unique angle or the freedom to use a lens that was flawed.” Irvin embraced that self-imposed mandate for boldness by employing imperfect vintage lenses, “flashing” the image with a contrast-reducing filter and dusting off long-expired film stock. Never one to wilt in the face of risky choices, Lee […]

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No Film School Reader Wins TIFF Audience Award 2018 and Shares 5 Tips for Film Fundraising

“From the Coen brothers to anyone making their first film, the approach is similar: determine EXACTLY what you require, and no more."

Vasan Bala’s The Man Who Feels No Pain made history twice this past week, the first for being the first Bollywood film to be admitted to the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)’s Midnight Madness section and, secondly, for being the FIRST Bollywood film to win a TIFF Audience Award. As for the film itself, it’s uproarious.

The Man Who Feels No Pain is like a highlight reel from our favorite action movies of all time. From Enter the Dragon to Big Trouble in Little China to Die Hard, the film is a love letter to all of those unapologetically over-the-top spectacles driven by a pounding heart beneath layers of muscle.

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“The Episodes Generate Their Own Lives”: John Peter Kousakis on Directing the “No-Rules” NCIS: Los Angeles

John Peter Kousakis began his career in 1979 as a production assistant on the television mini-series The French Atlantic Affair, which led to work as a second assistant director on CHIPS. From there Kousakis worked as an AD on some of the most popular series of the era, including The Greatest American Hero, The Fall Guy, and The A-Team, but he caught the directing bug during his first foray into features, working as a second AD on the Burt Reynolds-Hal Needham car chase extravaganza Cannonball Run II. Since then he has moved back and forth between production management positions and […]

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The Pros and Cons of Vertical Video and Working with Constraints

Can vertical video have more of an impact than the landscape aspect ratio?

Since the birth of the smartphone, a battle between horizontal and vertical video has been taking place. Instead of rooting for one side, however, I think it’s worth noting that both have its pros and cons and both have areas to live and thrive in in this video age.

Let's talk about vertical video. Before you criticize it, however, let me tell you that I used to hate when someone was recording a video on a smartphone holding it vertically (in most cases, I still hate it). But when I think about it now, it's not always a cliche. After a decade of using these devices, the vertical aspect ratio has its own style and feel to it.

I recently met with Kelsey Brannan (aka Premiere Gal) in Warsaw, Poland to get to record a few videos together. We ended up tossing a coin to see if either I would defend vertical video or if Kelsey would. Below is our discussion where we pinpoint some advantages and disadvantages of both video orientations.

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‘Keep Shooting and Be Humble’: ‘BLAZE’ DP Steve Cosens on Advice for Young Cinematographers

"When you first start your career, it's inevitable that you're going to try to emulate films that you've seen."

It may be about Outlaw Country music, but DP Steve Cosens was tasked to lens Ethan Hawke’s latest film with the philosophy of an improvisational jazz musician. Cosens was more than up to that task. “I was game to work that way, and it was exciting and wonderful from day one,” he told No Film School about working on the film about largely unknown Texas legend Blaze Foley who inspired the careers of Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard.

BLAZE, which opened in Texas last month and is playing in NYC and Los Angeles this week, is a film that would test any Director of Photography, from maintaining a fluid approach during production while pulling off lighting extremes that reflect the dichotomies of the artist in the film. Watch some selects of Cosens's cinematography in the film here, and check out the trailer below:

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GoPro Rolls Out HERO7 Cameras with Its Best Image Stabilization Yet

The new GoPro HERO7 Black improves video stabilization on an impressive level. See it in action below.

GoPro announced three fresh cameras to its HERO7 lineup—HERO7 Black, HERO7 Silver, and HERO7 White—with the Black being its flagship touting Hypersmooth, an image stabilization feature that produces some fantastic results from its shakier predecessors.

Hypersmooth is said to make "gimbal-like stabilized video without the expense or hassle of a motorized gimbal," which is a big claim. Bigger yet, it works under water too as HERO7 Black is waterproof up to 33ft (10m). The pocket-sized camera has a 2" touchscreen (with zoom touch) and capable of supporting 4K60 video, 8x slo-mo, 12 megapixel stills, voice control, a "wake on voice" feature, metadata, and is both Protune and Karma compatible. All this is powered by a new GP1 chip.

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