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Why Aspiring Filmmakers Should Watch Films Without Sound

Those who are familiar with my filmmaking pedagogical philosophy know that I advise all filmmakers to achieve full mastery of film editing. I have explained why in some detail in my posts on the requisite qualities of filmmakers and film editing techniques. The key components of that learning process are study and practice. I covered

Essential Editing Techniques and Exercises for Filmmakers

Quality filmmaking is first and foremost about skills. It is the development of those skills that adds value to a filmmaker; technical skills, aesthetic skills, communication skills. The pursuit of these skills is the intelligent filmmaker’s foremost priority. This article describes a number of editing exercises that you can do with equipment you already have

Directing TV Commercials: Practical Tips and Advice

Directing TV commercials involves more than just shooting a 30-second movie: there are some critically important issues that normally do not arise in feature films. In this post I will share some tips that are specific to shooting 30-second commercials or any film/video project that must have a short and very specific length. You must

A Detailed Breakdown of a 30-second TV Spot (with diagrams)

In this post I will provide a detailed breakdown of a 30-second Public Service Announcement (PSA) I made in 2005 for a competition. We shot the spot on a bitterly cold night in November 2005 in Oxford, UK.  The spot is set in an exterior night location and we therefore had no choice but to

The Top Three Skills that a Film Director Must Have

“What are the top three qualities that a director must have?” A reader asked me this question yesterday on Twitter and it made the wheels turn inside my head – even better than coffee! I always tell people that filmmaking is a sublimely difficult art at which to excel, because it encompasses many art forms,

10 Lessons I Learned in 10 Years as a Filmmaker

June 17th, 2012 – Today is exactly 10 years since the first day of principal photography on the first project I directed. I will celebrate by sharing 10 lessons I learned in 10 years as a filmmaker. 1. The director’s reel is king The one thing I am glad about is that I started on

How to optimize your computer for video editing

This article deals with optimizing your computer for digital video editing. Editing digital video places very high demands on your computer’s RAM and processing power. It therefore needs all the help you can give it in terms of freeing up resources. You can do this by tweaking your hardware and software configuration in such a

Videography and Digital video tips

Some videography tips to improve your digital productions (you should also check out some YouTube video ideas): 1. Use manual focus All cameras have automatic focus, but you should avoid using it if possible, because you will inevitably get “focus hunting”, with the camera constantly switching focus from one plane to another. So, switch the

How to Make a Music Video: Planning, Shooting and Editing

Shooting the music video 1. Record the track that you are playing back on set as you shoot. This scratch track will help you synchronize the shots with the clean track in post-production. 2. Instruct the singer to sing properly – no half-hearted singing or, worse, miming. If they mumble or mime, it will not

Non-linear digital video editing tips

Video editing was revolutionized by the invention of digital video and FireWire. FireWire is a cable (also known as IEEE 1394) that connects DV cameras to your computer for the purpose of transferring data from the DV tape to your hard disk. The beauty of FireWire is that the data transfer is lossless. This means

RED camera review: my experience with the RED camera

I shot three spec TV commercials with the RED camera and this is my report of the experience. Here are the spots: 1. About the RED camera The RED camera was released in 2007 and satisfied a desperate need for a digital camera that can truly rival the look of 35mm film. It shoots in

Movie editing techniques – With pretty pictures!

Hone your understanding of film editing until you are dazzlingly brilliant at it. The very best directors have a comprehensive understanding of film editing. They plan and direct shots in such a way that they can be cut together smoothly and coherently. Ambitious filmmakers would therefore be well advised to learn film editing. You should

Filmmaking Tips and Advice for Ambitious Filmmakers

“A free online film school summary for aspiring filmmakers” Jump to a section: Screenwriting Lighting Camerawork Camera movement Zooming Sound Casting Continuity Production Design Film editing 1st AD Directing   1. Write or obtain an awesome screenplay Without a dazzlingly awesome screenplay you are dead in the water. Beautiful lighting, creative camerawork and smooth editing

James Cameron and Steven Spielberg direct the best battle scenes

James Cameron is a modern-day Leonardo da Vinci — a genius in the truest sense of the term. James Cameron and Stephen Spielberg are the only directors on this planet who are able to direct a battle scene that actually makes sense, as opposed to being dull and pointless. Every other director — including one