Streaming Film Studies Podcast

I started a film studies podcast with a few friends.

Streaming Film Studies

I always wanted to go to film school, and now so many great movies are available streaming from Netflix or Hulu plus with the Criterion Collection.

Join Scott Yoshino, Kent Takamoto, Koji Yakamura, Aaron Stewart, and my lovely wife Kirsten Kemper along with myself for deep discussions about films.

Subscribe in iTunes and please rate and review.

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Episode 15 – Tax-Free Time – Stop Motion Animation

This is a short movie I did for a competition. It features stop motion animation using istopmotion for Macintosh OSX ($49). This entire movie was done in 48 hours from idea to final edit, including sound effects and foley, voiceover, and an elaborate title sequence done with a still camera and quicktime pro in a technique similar to the time lapse episode. The lighting is right out of episode 2, all work lights and diffusion. So here is an example of my ideas at work.

AOS – Acquisition of Signal

Sorry I have been dark for quite some while. Much has been happening in the background. Much like a voyage to some far away place, I have been working diligently on projects that will be seeing the light of sun soon. I did another movie challenge in February for the A3f (Almost Famous Film Festival). This one was a 48 hour challenge and I decided to challenge myself even more this time out by trying my hand at stop motion animation. The results turned out very well. My usual group of actors (friends) were not available so I starred in this short. It is called Tax-Free Time. It is viewable on fluxydoodle.com. I will post it in a more public place soon. (any ideas as to a good site for indie short movies?)

On the Music front, I have finished mixing my new TripNet CD and it is called “Acquisition of Signal”. Again named far the period of absence of signal since the last CD. If you want to check it out some new tracks will be posted online. I will update this very soon with links. The previous CD is still available on iTunes and I have found it on the Last FM website where you can listen to it. I posted my Kantele music video on there as well.

I have joined a few social networks if you are interested in befriending me.

Twitter – soundorphan
Facebook – Chris Bailey
MySpace – TripNet
LastFM – soundorphan
and of course YouTube – creativitytospare (I will link all of this soon, trying to get this post started before teaching class today)

In fact just yesterday I was featured on the How-To page on YouTube. The description is not by me and is a bit misleading, but being featured is good none the less.

In Photography, I received a 50mm fixed lens for my Nikon and I’m very happy with the results. I will be getting my act together and putting some shots on flickr. I know I know.

Now to this site. I hit a bit of wall at the end of the year in deciding where to go next, so I’m still open to suggestions. (hello is this thing on?) I have an idea of posting my short movies, one by one and talking about all the production techniques I used and learned through making them. Lots of little tips and tricks in each. Thanks again for checking out my site.
Chris – Chief Creative ADHD individual.

Episode 14 – RockBand Drums Controlling GarageBand

I got Rockband for my Birthday. Someone knows I’ve always wanted to drum. So here’s how you can use the Xbox360 version of the Drum Controller with Garageband. It involves to small pieces of software and just a couple of seconds of configuration. Here are links to the 2 pieces of software you need. They will be installed into your preferences. Both of these programs are shareware so donate if you like it and will be using it. Rock on!

Xbox 360 Controller Driver for OSX

GamePad Companion for OSX

Episode 13 – Avoiding Bad Audio

How many videos and short movies are ruined every day from bad audio? People will forgive mediocre video. If it is slightly out of focus, handheld, dim lit or whatever. But they will hit the stop button, change the channel, or grit through their teeth with bad audio. How important is it? What do you pay for on a airplane flight? They give the picture away for free, without the audio you don’t have the story, the emotion, the mood. Maybe I’m just an audio engineer, but I enter my work in a lot of film challenges and man is it a challenge to sit through most of these movies because the other movie makers neglect the sound.

So you bought a cheap camcorder with a built in microphone? Is there anything you can do to make this situation better. I will show you a few really fundamental tricks, while featuring the bad audio moving toward the good.

If your camera has an 1/8″ input for a microphone, purchase a small stereo mic that will sit on the hot shoe. Even the $30 to $50 units will improve your audio quite a bit. Get that mic closer to the talent, with an extension. It’s the same kind of cable that a pair of headphones uses. Get a microphone stand and mount the mic above the talent’s head pointing the microphone at their mouth. Turn off the A/C and any really noisy appliances. Listen to the sound coming from the camera with headphones, make sure it sounds good.

Links for XLR to 1/8″ mixer.
http://www.juicedlink.com/index_files/CX_camcorder_XLR_microphone_adapter_audio_mixers.htm
or
http://www.fullcompass.com/product/240770.html

Podcamp AZ –

Hey everybody, I went this last saturday to Podcamp AZ. It was great. I met a bunch of really cool people and learned a whole lot about social media. Changes and updates to my site soon. Check it out here.

If you have any suggestions on future show topics let me know. In the pipeline: an interview on how to start a record label, the New Logic Studio, simple tips for better sound. I’m thinking of adding voicemail comments to the page

Episode 12 – Free Public Domain Footage

I’ve always been a fan of old movies and commercials. Such as all the movies used on MST3K, or the footage in Queen’s “Under Pressure” video. When I would see other media producers putting this old media into their movies I wondered two things. Where do you get all this great old footage and is it free to edit and use in my own movies without copyright concerns? I’ll discuss both issues.

In the past, I have found services that warehouse old footage and will convert it to various media formats for you, but it would cost hundreds of dollars. But today we have an excellent source for public domain footage and it is free. It is the Internet Archive Movie Archive. It hosts over 100,000 moving images online, from old commercials, and short films, to feature length movies. One of my favorite collection is from the A/V Geeks by Skip Elsheimer. And did you know “Night of the Living Dead” is public domain, it didn’t include a copyright and after a few years it became PD.

As far as rights to use this material, it says in a side bar. “This collection is free and open for everyone to use. Our goal in digitizing these movies and putting them online is to provide easy access to a rich and fascinating core collection of archival films. By providing near-unrestricted access to these films, we hope to encourage widespread use of moving images in new contexts by people who might not have used them before.” I would still check to make sure it says Public Domain in the Creative Common license field.

Once you find something interesting you can preview it in MP4 format and then download it if you like. I suggest downloading this stuff at the highest quality you can choose, usually mpeg2. It will be large depending on the length, but it will look and sound the best. Most editing software will not allow you to directly use mpeg2 footage so you will have to convert it. I have used QuickTime before with mixed results, but a great utility for Mac OSX is Visual Hub. It is only $24, and is a great solution for all your conversion needs, from ipod, psp, DV, DVD, or to Final Cut. Just drag and drop the mpeg2 footage into the window and choose the output format. In my case that would be a DV stream and I also check the box for prepare for Final Cut. A few minutes later its ready to go. Have fun.

Video Converters for Windows

http://www.madzsoftware.com/universal_video_converter.htm

Episode 11 – How to Do Time Lapse Photography

There are several ways to do Time Lapse Photography, my favorite involves using a Digital Still Camera and a controller. Once the photos are taken, I demonstrate how to to stitch the photos together into a finished movie. You could also use a Digital Video Camera with controlling software to do Time Lapse.

You will need a digital still camera, a Tripod or other alternative, And it will help if you have software within the camera menus or as a separate program in a computer to control the timing/interval. I use a Nikon D-100 (I just realized I said the wrong thing in the video / I was talking into a Canon doing a handheld self interview, oops). I purchased for my camera a Controller called the MC-36 also from Nikon. It will let me set an interval and also set delays and how many pictures up to 999 or until I stop it. This is a much better solution than I used to use. You can manually control this by pressing the shutter button or use some other remote cable, but it will be long and difficult to keep the timing even. My friend Victor has done this method and I have seen some other stop motion animations which are similar to time lapse.

My previous rig was a Laptop with Nikon Capture Control software. It had it’s benefits, like being able to see how the shots were turning out as they went and also remote control of all the camera functions such as Aperture, Shutter Speed, ISO and when should it focus. But it had a few big problems, one was hauling around a laptop and leaving it attached during the whole shoot. The battery life of the laptop could also be problematic. The other major problem was in that the camera had to download each photo down slow old USB 1.1 to the computer. This would add a lag in the sequence.

The advantages of the new rig is portability, battery life, and no lag in the sequence, it will store right to the memory card and as long as the camera buffer can keep up with the rate. I’ve tested it down to 1-fps(the quickest rate on the controller) and it did fine with fully charged batteries at Normal quality and Small picture size. If I increase the quality I would have to slow the rate.

There are many new cameras that have Time Lapse built in. The Nikon D-200 and several of the smaller Point and Shoot Nikon Cool Pix cameras and Canons. I would prefer having all the individual frames instead of having the camera stitch the movie into a .MPG for me, which is something a few new cameras might do. What the feature might be called is just Interval. Having the individual frames will allow you to choose the size of the output movie up to a very High Definition size depending on the Megapixels of the camera. Also you can select the Frame Rate: Movies are shot at 24 Frames Per Second and Video is at 29.97 FPS.

Once you transfer the images into your computer into a separate folder, you will need QuickTime Pro. Which is $29.99 for Mac OSX. Once in there you will go to file and open image sequence. Select the first image in the sequence, and the FPS. You might not be able to play back the resulting file smoothly depending on it’s size and how fast your hard drive is. Don’t worry, you now will select export quicktime movie and select the Codec. The selection will depend on what you want to do with the footage, if you are bringing it into another editor than you may want to match the quality and codec of any other footage. Now you can open and play the finished exported file.

Another route to go is with a Digital Video Camera and controlling software. I tested out Boinx Software’s iStopMotion for Mac OSX. You can try the program out with a free 1 week license on their site. It worked fairly well. I’m disappointed at the huge price jump for High Definition output. It goes from $49 for Standard Definition to $499 for HD. And the quality of the sensor in most Video camera’s can’t match a Digital SLR. But in good lighting it is fine. The program really shines for Stop Motion animation which is something I’m going to explore sometime in the future.
For Windows you could try Stop Motion Pro which is also available with a free trial.

Here are some more resources for those interested in really pro rigs.
The Mumford Time Machine
Harbortronics high end controllers

And here is a music video done with my D-100, QuickTime Pro, and Final Cut.

Episode 10 – Even Cheaper and Cooler DIY Lighting

Continuing on with budget lighting, we explore using Fluorescent and LED lights, along with using available light, bouncing it with a reflector. These setups will work great for interviews, video casting, vlogging, and the like. These lights use less power and also generate much less heat then big halogen work lights. And the price can’t be beat. We also show the benefits of adjusting White Balance on your camera, with lots of before and after shots. If you are shooting independent movies, stay tuned at the end where we show lighting for shots using the interior of a car.

The LED lights are from Costco and are the LUMEN brand item#170530- 2 Wireless LED under cabinet lights for $12.95. They also come with 6 Duracell AAA batteries in the package. I just taped them together for the cast, but I plan on buying some more and modding them to be a panel with 40 LEDs or so.

The Fluorescent lights are from a suggestion I saw from Walter Graff, who mentioned buying inexpensive Flo’s for interview lighting. I bought 2 Utilitech 18″ Under Cabinet Lights for $8.95 each, from Lowe’s Item#240193. And for mounting I bought a 5 Tool Holder for the garage, the type for holding brooms and rakes. I cut the metal strip into 5 pieces, attached them to the back of the lights in a temporary fashion using Velcro and used the 5 clamps to snap around very inexpensive mic stands. It works great.