Posts Tagged ‘film production’

Video Production Lighting Adopts LED Technology

Friday, March 9th, 2012

Camera technology is constantly changing in the video production industry. It can be difficult to keep up with new image sensors, codecs, image sizes, frame rates, etc. and you can easily break the bank trying to acquire all of this new gear. Small to medium-sized production companies, as well as independent producers, need to pick their battles when it comes to the purchasing of new gear. However, it IS exciting to witness the continued evolution of this industry and how the tools of motion picture storytelling continue to improve.

One bit of technology that’s impressive is new LED production lighting. Everyone is familiar with LED (Light Emitting Diode) in one way or another. For years it was used for small indicator lights on all kinds of electronics and appliances. Only within the last 5-8 years, however, has LED become a serious alternative to traditional incandescent and tungsten lighting. LED fixtures are now being used in architectural spaces (offices, commercial, etc.), residences, and theatrical applications. And now LED is being used in video and film production lighting.

There are several advantages to LED that should cause any production company to take a serious look at using it for their next project.

Fewer Watts Used – Video and film production crews are accustomed to using fixtures that use high wattages in order to get the proper picture exposure. 650w, 300w, 1000w are common for interior locations. For exteriors one might see 1200w, 2000w, and even 5000w. However, LED production fixtures use much less wattage, but will emit an equal amount of light. So, instead of using 650w, an LED equivalent might use 80w.

Fewer Circuits Needed – One of the considerations that must be made while shooting on location is knowing how to patch in all of your lights to avoid overloading one circuit. This can be especially dicey when working in older buildings. LED production lighting features DMX control, which allows the gaffer to daisy chain several fixtures together, then load all of those fixtures into one outlet.

Daylight and Indoor Color Temperatures – If the video production crew is set up for an exterior location with a light kit consisting mainly of indoor-balanced lamps, the gaffer must compensate for this difference in color temperature by placing gel over all of the indoor-balanced lights. This is quick and easy to do, but you also lose light output in the process. For exterior shoots, this loss of light could be unacceptable for the Director of Photography. You could use a fluorescent light bank with interchangeable daylight and indoor bulbs, but this might not give you the punch you need for exterior applications. LED production lights can come with interchangeable arrays, so you can quickly change from interior to exterior color temperatures without sacrificing light output.

No Heat – Every production light we have ever worked with, even a small 300w fresnel, produces an enormous amount of heat. That’s due to the infrared wave lengths that are emitted when the light is working. Up to ninety percent of a 2000w fresnel output may be heat. Once a shoot wraps, grips must either wear gloves when handling the lights, or wait until they cool down. This is why television studios are kept at a very cool temperature. LEDs, by contrast, produce almost no heat, because they operate with far less wattage than traditional tungsten sources. Think of the energy savings for production and TV studios. Less wattage means a reduction in energy consumption. Less heat from the light fixtures means that a studio doesn’t have to cool the studio as much, resulting in a significant reduction in utility costs.

Retrofit options are also available for studios who have a large inventory of fixtures.

There are several good reasons for using LED in video production. In the coming months and years this technology will continue to have an impact on the lighting industry.

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‘A Changed Man’ Teaser Trailer

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

As mentioned in a previous post, our short film, A Changed Man, has been accepted into this year’s Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival. A Changed Man will screen in the Local Shorts #2 block on Saturday, August 27th at 7:20pm at the Hill Event Center. Many wonderful people donated their time and effort to produce this film, which is a testament to the love the people of Birmingham have toward the film production industry. Enjoy the teaser trailer for our film. We hope to see you at this year’s Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival.


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How to Make Confident Casting Choices

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Casting for a TV commercial or corporate video is an important step in pre-production. When you hire the right actor for a particular role, everything on screen seems to click. However, the auditioning process can be challenging, especially when you see a lot of talented actors. Sometimes it’s difficult to narrow the list of choices down to that one actor who fits the bill. Here’s how you can make more confident casting decisions.

First, HOLD AUDITIONS. Don’t simply cast someone based on a headshot and resume. Get them into your office. Meet with them. Talk with them. Get them on camera delivering lines from the script. An actor’s headshot may look perfect, but the performance may be lacking.

Second, HIRE PROFESSIONALS. I know that your production budget may prevent you from hiring professional talent, but if you can afford it, do it. Professional actors are accustomed to being on a set. They are comfortable on camera. They take direction well. They can deliver the same lines in a variety of ways, which will give you options when you get into post-production. Non-professional actors may require a lot of extra direction, which can cause the production to fall behind schedule. If you have to cast amateurs, you definitely need to adhere to tip #1 on this list. It will also help to hold a few rehearsals with your amateur cast before the actual shoot.

During the actual audition, you will want to do the following:

  1. FILM EVERYONE’S AUDITION. You can use the footage as a reference after the audition is over. When you are going back through everyone’s headshot and resume days later, it can be easy to forget how they performed. Also, seeing an actor perform live is different from seeing them on camera. Having video footage of an actor’s audition is an excellent way for you (or you and your client) to evaluate his/her on-camera presence.
  2. ASK THEM TO PERFORM THE LINES IN DIFFERENT WAYS. If an actor’s initial interpretation comes across too weepy, ask them to do it with a more angry feel. If it’s too “bubbly,” or “perky,” ask them to perform it with a more reserved and subtle joy. This will give you a sense of an actor’s range, and it will also give you an idea of how they respond to direction.
  3. DIRECT THEM TO STAND AND MOVE AS THEY DELIVER THE LINES. I realize that this tip really depends on the nature of your project. For example, if your commercial takes place inside a car, you won’t need the actor to stand. However, if the script requires standing and/or moving, get the actor up on his/her feet and ask them to move around as the script directs. Someone may look and sound great while seated, but they may move awkwardly when standing or walking.




And when evaluating the auditions, examine the following:

  1. Did the actor provide you with enough vocal variety when reading the lines?
  2. Did they respond to your direction well? Did they deliver what you asked them to do? Or were they slow to comprehend and deliver?
  3. Do their facial expressions and body language convey the emotion you are looking for? So much of an actor’s on-camera performance is non-verbal. Did the actor communicate the feelings of the character without saying a word? Or, did his/her face remain relatively unemotional?
  4. How did the actors look when up and moving around? How did they carry themselves? Was it natural and believable or forced and stiff?
  5. How was the actor’s overall appearance? Sometimes someone may have a great presence and an excellent delivery, but he/she may just not have the right look for the part. Who just “looks right,” in your opinion? When following up with actors with whom I have auditioned, sometimes I have to tell them that they are extremely talented and did a great job during the audition, but ultimately, just didn’t look right for the part.




Taking time to weigh your casting options will definitely have a positive impact on the final video.

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Cinemek’s Storyboarding iPhone App

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

While in college, I majored in film/video production and minored in art with a photography concentration. When it comes to sketching/drawing, I am capable, but by no means am I an expert. That’s why, when it comes to storyboarding my projects, I am much more comfortable writing out a shot list with simple diagrams. Drawing storyboards is just too time consuming for me.

Pre-visualization is an excellent tool for any video/film project, including marketing/promotional videos for a client. To have the ability to show a client what your vision is (rather than describe it) is a huge plus. That’s why my eyes almost popped out of my head a few months ago when I ran across a storyboarding app for the iPhone. It’s called Hitchcock and it’s from Cinemek. The app allows you to create professional storyboards by using the phone’s camera. Simply take a photo, add in camera directions, and lay it on your timeline. You can even insert music and other audio if you’d like. Once the storyboard is complete, you can export it as a pdf and email it to your client or others on your crew. Take a look at the demo below.

Hitchcock in action! from cinemek / Hitchcock on Vimeo.

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DIY Sound Effects – Punching

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

punchFor video production, it’s always helpful to have a collection of sound effects at your disposal, but sometimes you need to create something from scratch. Perhaps you can’t find the right sound effect in your library, or the effect itself sounds too electronic or campy. There are a number of resources across the web that can provide you with great DIY tutorials on creating authentic sound effects. Years ago, I came across a tip on how to create an authentic punching sound effect for fight scenes. All you need is a stalk of celery, a pillow, and a stick or baseball bat. Place the celery on the pillow and then hit the celery with the stick. The pillow provides you with a nice, muffled “thud,” mimicking the sound of a fist making contact with someone’s stomach. And the celery provides a nice bone-crunching sound effect. There are some variations to this effect, like using raw meat instead of a pillow, and cabbage instead of celery, but with a few household items and some experimentation you can create some nice authentic sounds.

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