Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Just What Time Does the Future Get Here Anyway?

Once in a while you have to take a spin on the cheesy side, and for the end of the year I made a short video of predictions for 2011, all the while playing the part of the Amazing Criswell.

Who is Criswell you ask? Really?
If you've ever seen that great classic movie "Plan 9 From Outer Space" then you'll know Criswell as that guy in the tux at the beginning that went on and on about the future.

Yeah, that guy.

Anyway, a good friend that goes by the name StonedCommander on YouTube put out a call for predictions in video form and I couldn't resist.
So take a few minutes and see the future, because it is in the future that we will all live our future lives...or something

Happy New Year to one and all!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Keep Shooting

If you watch my videos, you know I always punctuate each one with the phrase; "keep shooting".
If you plan on being a filmmaker, it's the only way to hone the craft.
I just finished a short, in fact very short, piece I planned to enter in the CanonFilmMaker's 30 second film festival.

Well it didn't work out like I intended, I managed only to get the thing down to 40 seconds, and I love to cut.

The idea was to make a parody of a movie released in the last 18 months, so I went after the king of them all, Cameron's Avatar.

Mind you, I haven't seen Avatar, and likely never will, but I wasn't going to let that stop me from poking fun at it and also to pay homage to one of my all time favorite characters; Edmund Blackadder.

So go ahead, spend 40 seconds, and enjoy "Blackadatar"

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

"My God, it's full of dust!"

Since dealing with a DSLR is something new for me, and I'm sure new for a lot of other film makers coming from a camcorder background, the idea of dust on the sensor is new too.
I got hit between the eyes with some dust motes when I was out shooting airplanes against the sky recently, and couldn't believe how awful the shots turned out.

That got me to looking for a solution, and to the discovery of just how fragile the sensor really is.
It's definitely a "no-touch" little gizmo and the best way to clean it is with a simple puff of air.
No, that doesn't mean blow on it, that can be worse. And it doesn't mean to crank up the 5hp compressor out in the shop and give the sensor a blast.
Instead you get a little rubber bulb that is made for the job and give the sensor a puff until the offending dust goes away.

I've had it suggested to me that one of those little squeeze bulbs you'd use on an infant could work and it just might.
The main difference between those and the ones made specifically for cameras is the way they get their air in the first place.
The grocery store bulbs draw air through the same opening that they expel it and the camera ones draw air from the bottom. The theory apparently being that the air drawn in isn't contaminated with the same dust that was just blown off the sensor.

And there's about an $8 difference in price, so the choice is yours.

I ordered a bulb from an Ebay seller that is designed for camera use and when it comes in I'll post the second part of the video below showing how to use it.

And now the blower has arrived and it works like a charm! See the following for details:

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Defeat the Sunlight!

I just got through with a DIY build for an LCD viewfinder that worked out better than I had hoped.

Homely but effective

I would love to be able to afford one of those cool Zacuto rigs that you see all over the place, but the $340 plus price tag has been keeping me at bay.
Unfortunately, one day out in the sun with the T2i trying to see the damn LCD was almost enough to make me crack the sacred credit card open and order one, but then I figured I could make one for myself.
As "Top Gear's" Jeremy Clarkson puts it; "How hard could it be?"

Actually not that hard at all, it was mostly a matter of finding just the right parts and I was able to make the whole thing for under $40

I believe now that by replacing the $10 37mm lens hood with some sort of square pill bottle the price could easily go below the $30 mark which is still a good bit cheaper than the lowest priced knockoff on Ebay that runs somewhere between $80 and $100

It's not the prettiest attachment in the world, but do you think the audience will care about what the gear looks like when they watch your masterpiece?

Here's the whole thing as posted on YouTube:

It's in 4 parts for the sake of convenience, I think it's a lot easier to go through a short video looking for a specific point rather than a long, drawn out one.

Enjoy! I'd love to hear about variations and improvements everyone can come up with

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Get the Glue Gun!

One of my good friends on YouTube by the name of "StonedCommander" put out a challenge to other users to make some kind of prop gun. Not just any old gun but something really worthy of filming.

I couldn't resist that one!

Here's the planning stage:

As you can see I'm all about careful preparation.

Here's the finished product:

As soon as I get a short movie put together with it I'll post it here.

Before I forget, here's StonedCommander's original challenge video:

Check out his videos, they are well worth a watch!

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Slow Boat from China

It took almost a month, but the adapter to mount the Canon FD lenses to the T2i arrived today, and I was tickled about to death trying out the big zooms.
Today I just played with the Tokina 28-200mm f3.5 and there's a view of the result below.

The greenscreening was done within Sony Vegas, I would have used CompositeLab but it would have taken a while to render even though the results would likely have been much cleaner.

Anyway, tomorrow I'll be trying out the Canon 100-200 zoom and we'll get a first hand comparison of the two zooms.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

More T2i Stuff

Earlier on I posted some of the T2i videos I've been making for YouTube, and since I don't have anything clever to put up right now, I'll just post a few more.

Here's a few more "T2i for Regular Schmoes" videos.

More to follow

The Ebay Double Edge

I'm a cheapskate, no two ways about it, I make Jack Benny look like a major philanthropist.

And I like to buy stuff on the cheap, so naturally I turn to Ebay for deals. If you are a careful shopper there's some great deals in fact.

But a lot of stuff comes from the mystical land of the east and it can take a while to get here.

Back on June 30 I ordered an adapter for some dirt cheap Canon FD lenses I scored so I could mount them on the T2i and now, half a month later I'm still waiting on delivery.

Mind you I'm not complaining (ok, just a little) because the price for shipping was certainly right; free. But it's weird how some items can arrive from Hong Kong in something like 4 days and others can take up to a month.

Sort of like my posting schedule here.

As soon as the adapter arrives I'll have some tests of the telephoto lenses I bought, but until then the lenses are just sitting there staring at me with those big unblinking, long range glass eyes.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Canon T2i; the Ongoing Series

Ever since I got my T2i, I've been amazed at the clarity and controllability of the camera.
Although it's quite a bit different than operating a camcorder, as you learn the ins and outs of all the manual controls on the thing you appreciate what's been going on with filmmakers for the last century or so.

In an effort to help fellow novices with this terrific camera, I've begun an ongoing series of semi-tutorials, more of a journey of discovery, that I've called "Canon T2i for Regular Schmoes"

There's a lot of technical information out there that's as vast as it is complex, and for someone like me that doesn't know an f-stop from a truck stop, there has to be some means of finding the information that the casual hobbyist or filmmaker wanting to get the best images possible can understand and use.

So here are the first six, not necessarily the best info on the net about the T2i, but I hope it's some of the more entertaining.

You can follow my exploits on YouTube by clicking here.

Oh Look, a Movie!

What's the point of being a movie maker if you don't make movies?

For the most recent Statesboro Film Festival, I entered this little tidbit, it's my take on the great TV classic; Captain Video.

It won "Best Editing" and came in 2nd overall in the "People's Choice" categories.

It was a fun day of shooting in front of the greenscreen, and I had help from a friend in the UK that shot his own footage and sent it to me.

Is Glory of Soviet Technology, No?

The DSLR revolution has brought things to the filmmaker's table that no one would have even conceived a decade ago.

Once the shock of having a camera with amazing capabilities like the T2i has worn off a bit, I started searching for accessory lenses that would add some improved appearance to my movies.

The first thing everyone says a filmmaker needs; a 50mm prime lens for that really cool DOF.

Canon makes a pretty nice one for around $100 and it seems to do the job well, but there are rumblings amongst users (see reviews at Amazon.com) that the plastic mount can become stuck to the camera and Canon's response is generally; "Wow, that stinks, wish we could do something but we can't".
That's not an indictment on Canon, just a warning to look elsewhere for a more robust lens.

And I found it.

Cheap too.

A quick visit to Ebay's Cameras & Photo section turned up two nice primes from the former Soviet Union.
The first is the MC Zenitar 50mm M42 and the other is the Helios 44-M2 58mm M42.

M42 refers to the type of mounting system the lenses use and will require an adapter to mount on your modern DSLR, but those are available all over ebay for around $15.

Here's a look at both:

The lenses may be heavy as lead but they give up some beautiful images.
Personally I like the retro feel of the things, and will probably be adding several more Zenit, Helios, and Jupiter lenses as I go.

Here's the first test I've done with both lenses. Sadly it's a failed experiment since I didn't have the Zenitar 50mm in perfect focus.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Moviemaking is all About Content, but the Gear is Fun Too

Even as a low-tier moviemaker I'm always seeking that "next best thing" that will improve the overall quality of my pictures (please don't suggest a writing class).

Of course all of this has to be on a strict budget, the closer to nothing the better, but once in a while you have to spring for the cool stuff...and I did.

I'm now the proud owner of a Canon EOS T2i (550D) and am slowly learning my way around it.

So far the images are spectacular, and now that I've learned a few settings by watching DSLR guru Philip Bloom, those images are just getting better all the time.

I've started a series on working with the T2i for first timers called "The Canon T2i for Regular Schmoes" and I'll start posting them here.

In the meantime, here's my first day with the little beast: