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    #21
    Senior Member EndCredits's Avatar
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    Nice starter kit. You will get a heap out of that. If you go buy some bead board & some reflectors and some cinefoil you will be on your way.
    Get some of these and some rags for them, they are great: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...End_Scrim.html
    Add a pair of c stands, you will need c stands (probably the most expensive part you will have to get) and you will have a solid kit.

    My lowel kit, which I love to bits and is very versatile, is

    3 x Rifa 55 (want a rifa 88 but haven't got yet)
    3 x Omni light
    4 x Pro light
    4 x Tota light
    4 x c stands (Matthews as they were cheeper)
    In the cases are stands, barn doors, all sorts of clamps, frames for gels, dimmers, all sorts of things. I fit this stuff into 2 cases and its often all I need. The Lowel clamps and accessories are really cheep and very fun/versatile. I own quite a lot of lights including 1x1 Light pannels, 3 red head kits, a set of blondies, 2 kinos, some soft box fluro chinese thingys and a bunch of other things, and I have the most fun with with my lowel kits. I think a lot of them are for sale cheep as people don't want to use hot lights any more and the Totas require you learn light control, which a lot of people dont have time for.

    I picked up my Arri 2k's for $50!!!! 3 lights and a huge aluminum box!!!
    The red head kits were swapped for drinks. So much can be found if you ask around.

    If you have any questions or any thing I can help with, let me know. I'm always happy to rabbit on about lighting, its probably my favorite subject and one I love to learn more about every chance I get.
    Producer-Director at Jackson Speed PTY LTD. Media Production in Sydney
    Also, freelance DOP.


    Web Site: www.jacksonspeed.com
    Show Reel:vimeo
    FaceBook: Jackson Speed
    Blog: AnyCameraWillDo.com
    FaceBook: Any Camera Will Do


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    #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by EndCredits View Post
    Nice starter kit. You will get a heap out of that. If you go buy some bead board & some reflectors and some cinefoil you will be on your way.
    Get some of these and some rags for them, they are great: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...End_Scrim.html
    Add a pair of c stands, you will need c stands (probably the most expensive part you will have to get) and you will have a solid kit.

    My lowel kit, which I love to bits and is very versatile, is

    3 x Rifa 55 (want a rifa 88 but haven't got yet)
    3 x Omni light
    4 x Pro light
    4 x Tota light
    4 x c stands (Matthews as they were cheeper)
    In the cases are stands, barn doors, all sorts of clamps, frames for gels, dimmers, all sorts of things. I fit this stuff into 2 cases and its often all I need. The Lowel clamps and accessories are really cheep and very fun/versatile. I own quite a lot of lights including 1x1 Light pannels, 3 red head kits, a set of blondies, 2 kinos, some soft box fluro chinese thingys and a bunch of other things, and I have the most fun with with my lowel kits. I think a lot of them are for sale cheep as people don't want to use hot lights any more and the Totas require you learn light control, which a lot of people dont have time for.

    I picked up my Arri 2k's for $50!!!! 3 lights and a huge aluminum box!!!
    The red head kits were swapped for drinks. So much can be found if you ask around.

    If you have any questions or any thing I can help with, let me know. I'm always happy to rabbit on about lighting, its probably my favorite subject and one I love to learn more about every chance I get.

    For this project I feel like subtlety will be my hardest challenge. There will be a lot of "looks" to help tell the jokes, so figuring out to transition between a really stark light and a "regular" look is something I'll have to figure out.

    I'm going to try for pretty fast glass to help out as aforementioned, but I think there's going to be tons of creative space to experiment...


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    #23
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    I agree with most of the advice that people here have already given. But just want to add my take on it as well which might be different from some of the others. I was in the same situation one year ago. But no matter what...only you know what is the most important aspects to you and what time and money you are willing to spend. Take any advice in light of that.

    -The most important thing of all is to spend time on making the script as good as possible. When you sit there with the audience in that auditorium that day at the end of it all the quality of the script is what mainly will decide if they enjoy it or not. Make sure it is entertaining in one way or another. The last thing 99% of that audience will notice is if there is a little bit of noise in a dark corner of a scene you have graded heavily. Most of them will not even notice if the movie is nicely shot either. Be aware that people today have access to endless amounts of TV and movies. If you don't have something important or unique to say or your movie isn't special in one way or another (special could be as simple as the first comedy made in your small hometown, or that the audience knows all the actors personally) then use your time on something else, or just do stuff for yourself or your family. This project WILL take more time and energy than you ever imagined, so make sure it is worth it.

    -Second....make sure the actors work. If they don't they will destroy your great script.

    -Third....make sure the dialogue is easy to comprehend and sounds good with not too much noise. If they cant hear what the actors say the film will not work.

    After you make sure that all this is in place then use the rest of the time and money to get as nice shots and picture quality as possible.

    -An external recorder is not worth the hassle of carrying it around. I tried one once (if i remember correctly it was the Atomos Ninja). The screen on it is much worse than the LCD on the camera and what little difference in quality it makes is probably not worth the money and hassle. The only point I can see in using it is that recording directly in DNxHD might make the editing process a little simpler (but as long as your not in a rush and have the time to let the editing system convert the material for you while you do something else then I would use the money on something else). If you dont have the need for other people to watch what is being recorded (a director, producer etc) you do not need an external monitor. The LCD on the AF100 is more than good/easy enough to make sure you focus correctly any scene. Just practice. If someone gets a little bit of red in the eye using the "red focus assist" it is in 100% focus. If you get a feeling it might not be in focus, it probably isn't....try again. If you are planning on lots of people moving around in the scene a monitor could be helpful, but then you would need an experienced focus puller as well. If you need people to move and are worried about focus then close the aperture a few f-stops down to be safe.

    -AVCHD is much better than its rumored to be. And 25 mbps is more than enough for most people/projects. I was worried out of my mind about this before I started using it for a movie/tv-series project since it had such a bad reputation, but watching it in all its 1080p glory after heavy grading/special FX work on a huge movie screen made me realise that it in reality looks stunning to 99,9% of the people including myself. So if you are not planning on selling it to Hollywood or some TV station/client that absolutely demands it to be recorded in at least 50mbps its more than good enough for this. If your main purpose was to make commercials where you have to totally pick the picture apart and keying it in all ways possible then consider another closer to lossless codec.

    -However....if you do shoot in very low light and push the codec to its very limits you WILL get problems with grading those shots. Lighting the shot properly will make you avoid this. So spend some money on some standard lighting equipment if you are going to shoot indoors in low light. This does not have to be expensive, how it looks is more up to the skills and creativity of the people placing the lights. Nice, creative lighting will add so much more production value to the movie than a nicer codec.

    -Use tripods ALL the time. Unintentionally shaky pictures will make your movie look cheap. And get a good enough tripod to last the whole shoot without falling apart. If you use a cheap/bad one it will make you insane after a while. If you want to speed up shooting then use one of the monopods that has three foldable small legs at the bottom (I have the one from Manfrotto). It will give you 99% the stability of a tripod (if used correctly), and will save you an incredible amount of time in moving around the tripod, and make it much easier to be creative with the shots. If you need to speed up shooting even more then buy a steadicam. I'm using a "pilot" but the new steadicam Solo (out this month) will work just as well for a camera like the AF100 with its own great LCD. And it only costs 499$. With arm and vest (which you need) it will come in at around 2000$. With this you can move around as fast as you would handheld but still get almost tripod stable shots. If you practice (just a little practice to get good shots, an insane amount of practice to get perfect shots) you can also do moving shots which will increase the production value a lot. You will also be able to use and enjoy this investment in the future.

    -Invest in a professional shotgun mic (Sennheiser etc) with a "dead cat" dress for it. This is the part where you should not save money. And a nice boom for it.

    -Record sound internally on the AF100. This will save you a lot of time in post-production. And the sound recording of the AF100 is more than good enough to record a dialogue. Use time and/or money on post processing instead (a good compressor will do wonders here).

    -If you could afford a second AF100 (used ones are going really cheap at the moment) it could do wonders for the dialogue scenes. If you have two cameras (one for each actor) it will save you a lot of time while shooting. If the actors improvise and nail a scene you have all the footage you need, and can really capture the spontanity of the acting. If you shoot with just one camera (particularly with inexperienced actors) they might never be able to repeat it exactly two times. But you will do nicely with one camera as well. Just wanted to mention it.

    -Shoot as much as you can with limited depth of field. This is the one thing (apart from lighting) that will make your movie look great. Even a flat lit scene can look quite good with limited depth of field. No matter which lens you choose make sure it has a fast enough aperture to do this. I ended up using the Lumix 12-35mm lens most of the time. It is wide enough for the large shots, and if you go all the way to 2.8 and use the full tele (equal to 70mm) it will give you nice bookeh and make the actors look good. Absolutely love this lens. If you have time and money I am sure you could get better results with a lens with even faster aperture, but if you could afford only one lens, or dont have the time to change lenses all the time, then I can think of no other that covers all that you need.

    -Grading does wonders. If your not experienced I would recomend something like "magic bullet looks" that is much more intuitive to learn and be creative with than just adjusting numbers and settings.

    Here is an equipment list:
    -1 AF100 (or two)
    -Good tripod
    -12-35mm lens
    -At least 3 standard 650W lamps.
    -Professional shotgun mic with boom

    With this you could make a great professional looking move. This equipment will not hold you back. It only depends on your own creativity and skill.

    Good luck with the project. Any questions then just message me. Will be happy to help with what little wisdom I can offer.


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    #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by trorvik View Post
    I agree with most of the advice that people here have already given. But just want to add my take on it as well which might be different from some of the others. I was in the same situation one year ago. But no matter what...only you know what is the most important aspects to you and what time and money you are willing to spend. Take any advice in light of that.

    -The most important thing of all is to spend time on making the script as good as possible. When you sit there with the audience in that auditorium that day at the end of it all the quality of the script is what mainly will decide if they enjoy it or not. Make sure it is entertaining in one way or another. The last thing 99% of that audience will notice is if there is a little bit of noise in a dark corner of a scene you have graded heavily. Most of them will not even notice if the movie is nicely shot either. Be aware that people today have access to endless amounts of TV and movies. If you don't have something important or unique to say or your movie isn't special in one way or another (special could be as simple as the first comedy made in your small hometown, or that the audience knows all the actors personally) then use your time on something else, or just do stuff for yourself or your family. This project WILL take more time and energy than you ever imagined, so make sure it is worth it.

    -Second....make sure the actors work. If they don't they will destroy your great script.

    -Third....make sure the dialogue is easy to comprehend and sounds good with not too much noise. If they cant hear what the actors say the film will not work.

    After you make sure that all this is in place then use the rest of the time and money to get as nice shots and picture quality as possible.

    -An external recorder is not worth the hassle of carrying it around. I tried one once (if i remember correctly it was the Atomos Ninja). The screen on it is much worse than the LCD on the camera and what little difference in quality it makes is probably not worth the money and hassle. The only point I can see in using it is that recording directly in DNxHD might make the editing process a little simpler (but as long as your not in a rush and have the time to let the editing system convert the material for you while you do something else then I would use the money on something else). If you dont have the need for other people to watch what is being recorded (a director, producer etc) you do not need an external monitor. The LCD on the AF100 is more than good/easy enough to make sure you focus correctly any scene. Just practice. If someone gets a little bit of red in the eye using the "red focus assist" it is in 100% focus. If you get a feeling it might not be in focus, it probably isn't....try again. If you are planning on lots of people moving around in the scene a monitor could be helpful, but then you would need an experienced focus puller as well. If you need people to move and are worried about focus then close the aperture a few f-stops down to be safe.

    -AVCHD is much better than its rumored to be. And 25 mbps is more than enough for most people/projects. I was worried out of my mind about this before I started using it for a movie/tv-series project since it had such a bad reputation, but watching it in all its 1080p glory after heavy grading/special FX work on a huge movie screen made me realise that it in reality looks stunning to 99,9% of the people including myself. So if you are not planning on selling it to Hollywood or some TV station/client that absolutely demands it to be recorded in at least 50mbps its more than good enough for this. If your main purpose was to make commercials where you have to totally pick the picture apart and keying it in all ways possible then consider another closer to lossless codec.

    -However....if you do shoot in very low light and push the codec to its very limits you WILL get problems with grading those shots. Lighting the shot properly will make you avoid this. So spend some money on some standard lighting equipment if you are going to shoot indoors in low light. This does not have to be expensive, how it looks is more up to the skills and creativity of the people placing the lights. Nice, creative lighting will add so much more production value to the movie than a nicer codec.

    -Use tripods ALL the time. Unintentionally shaky pictures will make your movie look cheap. And get a good enough tripod to last the whole shoot without falling apart. If you use a cheap/bad one it will make you insane after a while. If you want to speed up shooting then use one of the monopods that has three foldable small legs at the bottom (I have the one from Manfrotto). It will give you 99% the stability of a tripod (if used correctly), and will save you an incredible amount of time in moving around the tripod, and make it much easier to be creative with the shots. If you need to speed up shooting even more then buy a steadicam. I'm using a "pilot" but the new steadicam Solo (out this month) will work just as well for a camera like the AF100 with its own great LCD. And it only costs 499$. With arm and vest (which you need) it will come in at around 2000$. With this you can move around as fast as you would handheld but still get almost tripod stable shots. If you practice (just a little practice to get good shots, an insane amount of practice to get perfect shots) you can also do moving shots which will increase the production value a lot. You will also be able to use and enjoy this investment in the future.

    -Invest in a professional shotgun mic (Sennheiser etc) with a "dead cat" dress for it. This is the part where you should not save money. And a nice boom for it.

    -Record sound internally on the AF100. This will save you a lot of time in post-production. And the sound recording of the AF100 is more than good enough to record a dialogue. Use time and/or money on post processing instead (a good compressor will do wonders here).

    -If you could afford a second AF100 (used ones are going really cheap at the moment) it could do wonders for the dialogue scenes. If you have two cameras (one for each actor) it will save you a lot of time while shooting. If the actors improvise and nail a scene you have all the footage you need, and can really capture the spontanity of the acting. If you shoot with just one camera (particularly with inexperienced actors) they might never be able to repeat it exactly two times. But you will do nicely with one camera as well. Just wanted to mention it.

    -Shoot as much as you can with limited depth of field. This is the one thing (apart from lighting) that will make your movie look great. Even a flat lit scene can look quite good with limited depth of field. No matter which lens you choose make sure it has a fast enough aperture to do this. I ended up using the Lumix 12-35mm lens most of the time. It is wide enough for the large shots, and if you go all the way to 2.8 and use the full tele (equal to 70mm) it will give you nice bookeh and make the actors look good. Absolutely love this lens. If you have time and money I am sure you could get better results with a lens with even faster aperture, but if you could afford only one lens, or dont have the time to change lenses all the time, then I can think of no other that covers all that you need.

    -Grading does wonders. If your not experienced I would recomend something like "magic bullet looks" that is much more intuitive to learn and be creative with than just adjusting numbers and settings.

    Here is an equipment list:
    -1 AF100 (or two)
    -Good tripod
    -12-35mm lens
    -At least 3 standard 650W lamps.
    -Professional shotgun mic with boom

    With this you could make a great professional looking move. This equipment will not hold you back. It only depends on your own creativity and skill.

    Good luck with the project. Any questions then just message me. Will be happy to help with what little wisdom I can offer.
    Thanks for the tips!

    2 cameras would be a dream, but I feel like that money can go towards other things. I use a Cartoni tripod with a fluid head, and I feel like for my needs it will suffice well.


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    #25
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    Well, I have lights and a mic on the way, plan on borrowing a mixer from my sound guy.

    I still have only a Nikon 50mm prime for a "go-to" (along with the good ol' Lumix 14-140)but I'm keeping my eyes peeled for excellent deals on lenses.

    My key location (interior apartment) is going to be empty by monday, and my script editor and I are rushing through trying to polish the story/jokes... Progress!

    I'm most anxious to set up lights/sound and start shooting test footage.


    Here's another important question:
    I had planned on hiring a local artist to storyboard for me. These boards would also serve as "giveaway" art for collectors-edition DVDs etc in the event that the film winds up being marketable. Is this a good decision, or am I better off shooting still jpgs and putting together a storyboard with adobe?

    My main motivations were that I cannot draw, and shooting that many photos/editing that many shots adds a ton to my plate, and also that the physical storyboards can be used as mentioned above as physical artwork. The pro to hiring someone is that (presumably) the quality would be higher, but the drawback is budgetary. Will that money be better suited elsewhere? Anybody have any experience?


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    #26
    Senior Member hscully's Avatar
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    It sounds like an ancillary benefit to why you'd want storyboards in the first place which is to pre-visualize and organize your shoot.


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    #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by hscully View Post
    It sounds like an ancillary benefit to why you'd want storyboards in the first place which is to pre-visualize and organize your shoot.
    Correct! The primary reason would be to plan my shoots, but I'm thinking about getting an actual artist to put a little extra oomph in, making some high-quality copies, and then using them as promotional/incentive products


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    #28
    Senior Member hscully's Avatar
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    That's an interesting notion. I could see where it would be a great perq in an online drive. Kind of like Argo!

    As with any budget you have to decide which things get the bucks and which don't. For instance, I think it's important to budget for hair and makeup, not just so that looks are consistent and the actresses look good and like their hair, which is important, but because hair and makeup is a valuable transitional place for the actors. That is an ancillary benefit but I think it's valuable. I has been for me, as an actor so it kind of sticks with me when I'm producing.


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    #29
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    Had a good sit-down conversations with one of the godfathers of audio in the American sound industry... I gotta' say, my mind was blown.



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    #30
    Member Jon Hout's Avatar
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    You've got some great advice here from all of the other guys, especially EndCredits - that stuff is gold!

    I won't repeat everyone else - it sounds like you've got your lighting and audio advice covered, but I do want to echo what hscully said. I can't tell you how many times I've run into people who treat Hair and Makup, as well as Art Department in general, as last priority. You could not make a bigger mistake! Make sure you put emphasis on finding a proper Production Designer to dress your sets and make sure your locations look fantastic. It's impossible to make a bland, boring location look good - no matter how good your camera and glass are - and this makes the Production Designer the DP's best friend!

    Also, since you're still researching glass and you might want to hold onto it after the shoot wraps, you'd do well to look at the Contax Zeiss still primes. It's old glass, but very sharp and it looks quite nice. My owner/operator set consists of several of these lenses, and it's been an absolutely fantastic investment. If you do look into them though, make sure you get the MM versions (not AE), as the bokeh looks much, much better on that version of the lens. Just in case you haven't found it yet, www.keh.com is a great resource for buying old still glass.

    As for low-light situations, you'd be surprised with how far you can push the AF100 with the right camera settings, and that's probably my biggest piece of advice: run camera tests. Try every available setting, and find out the limits of the camera. I've personally found that setting both Detail and V.Detail to -4, and using the B.Press gamma with the NORM2 matrix is very, very effective in low-light scenarios. Also, I've found that a DRS (Dynamic Range Stretching) setting of 1 can produce acceptable footage, but I'd not go any higher than that. These settings will let you go up to 1600 ISO only a very small bit of noise in the blacks. I once shot a close-up of someone's face this way lit only by a Zippo lighter in the actor's hand, and the lens we used only opened up to an f/2.

    All that said, making the camera more sensitive to light (either through fast glass or camera settings) is no substitute for actually lighting the scene with a proper amount of light. If your narrative lighting skills aren't that strong, I'd definitely try to hire someone to do it for you - at least on the more complicated parts of the shoot. Also, try to choose locations that play to your equipment's strengths. For instance, if you don't have the lighting muscle to compete with the sun, then don't frame the shot with a giant picture window in the background. Seriously though, try to keep your subject at least a stop or two brighter than your background - it's a good rule of thumb that'll make your footage look much better in the end.

    You've got a wonderful camera in the AF100, and it sounds like you're doing all the right research to get ready for your feature! Let us know how it goes - happy shooting!

    - Jon
    www.jonathanhout.com

    Panasonic AG-AF100
    Panasonic GH2

    Lens Kit

    Contax: Zeiss 28mm f/2.8, Zeiss 50mm f/1.7, Zeiss 85mm f/2.8
    Panasonic: Lumix 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6
    Nikon: Tokina 11-16 2.8; Nikkor 28mm f/2.8; Nikkor 55mm f/2.8
    Minolta: Celtic 35mm f/2.8; Rokkor-X 45mm f/2; Rokkor PF 55mm f/2


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