Digital Film Production Tips

No amount of free filmmaking software is going to help you learn the ins and outs of digital film production. How many people out there have had a friend or relative with a digital camera and free digital editing software show them a terrible movie they made? The screening is usually in someone’s living room. Friends and family gather around eating movie popcorn to show support. Nobody says it while they watch, but they are thinking, “what a POS.” When the end credits mercifully appear a few people will offer up half-hearted words of support. Freelance storyboard artist are individuals who take a script/concept and turn it into a visual story.

Poor digital film production technique should only be seen in personal sex tapes and really bad wedding videos. Having digital film production equipment and software is worthless unless you learn the skills on how to use them like a savvy indie filmmaker. If you put in just a little effort and time to learn the basic core principals of digital film production your movie will be far better off for it. Like most areas of life, the more effort you put even the greater the results. For the short time I have your attention I am going to share with you some digital film production cornerstones that will make you a better filmmaker.

No matter if you are going to film your movie with a iPhone or Canon XL H1A Camcorder practice using them before the first day of shooting. Nothing worse then trying to learn how to use a camera on set. Cast and crew will lose patience causing frustration that leads to sloppy work and performances. Unavoidable technical problems can be forgiven while they are worked out. Lack of know how on your part won’t be. Cast and crew will turn on you quick. Even if it is an all volunteer production team they expect you to respect their time and not waste it.

Most indie filmmakers use shooting locations they have access to. It’s smart filmmaking to take your script to your locations and decide where you want the camera positions to be. In straightforward movie making talk this can be done with simple camera shot sheets and storyboards. In general a shot sheet is a sequential list of what you want the camera to film during a certain scene. Think of it like directions to get some place. In this case the some place is the end of your scene. Storyboards are based on the same idea, but illustrations are used instead of only words. Knowing where you are visually going before you get on set greatly increases the odds your movie will get completed and not be a POS. Plus having a filming road map allows you more chances to be creative with your shots because you’re not lost wondering, “where do I go next?”

If you have to beg or borrow an external directional microphone (shotgun mic) for your shoot do it. Bad audio will turn people off to your movie faster than microwave popcorn can pop. Two common mistakes many aspiring filmmakers make is they do not pay enough attention to mic placement during shooting and they do not bother to make notes on possible audio problems at certain locations. You would be shocked how much difference good mic placement adds to audio quality. Even if your only armed with one so-so shotgun mic you are way better off than only relying on built-in camera mic. With an external shotgun mic you have freedom to find the best place to pick up audio. During one movie shoot we realized we got much better sound quality by capturing dialogue from below the actors as opposed to above them. Our rock n roll sound person went from standing on a step ladder to lying flat on their back. It worked awesome for audio.

Do not get hung up on how cool a location looks if it has audio problems. Avoid locations near busy train tracks, airports, or high traffic areas if there is important dialogue that needs to be recorded during a scene. Most indie film budgets cannot afford the cost of automated dialogue replacement (ADR). Go in thinking any audio you record on location is what you will have when you edit your masterpiece.

There is much more to digital film production then what I was able to cover for the limited time I have had your attention. But I’m confident these tips will make you a more savvy indie filmmaker. If you are serious and hungry for more detailed information on how to make a successful movie joint the list for Movie Biz Coach. I’ve signed on as a regular contributor and have tons to share on making movies from screenwriting to distribution.

For those people out there happy making personal sex tapes, really bad wedding videos, or POS movies this is where we part ways as friends. I only hope you use one of the digital film production cornerstones I’ve shared with you to improve what you like to watch. Believe it or not it will make whatever you are shooting better. This is Sid Kali typing FADE OUT.

Slice of Americana Films [http://www.sidkaliflicks.com/] is a tight-knit crew that produces indie cinema and video on demand programming. Founder and filmmaker Sid Kali is best known for his hard-hitting urban movies that feature authentic characters, sharp dialogue and provocative story lines.

Movie Biz Coach [http://moviebizcoach.com/blog/slice1] is a revolutionary film making resource that will give you creative focus, clarity and direction. It will help you get started and move towards accomplishing your personal entertainment goals.

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