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Do You Have Questions About Lighting?

Get the lighting and Production information you've always wanted by telling me what you need to know!

I'm planning a series of lighting and production articles. I've already posted a few, so look around and let me know what you think.

The last thing I want to do is spend a ton of time building articles and tutorials for things you don't care about. I want to answer the questions nobody else is answering for you.

Use the form below to email me your lighting questions and I'll use them as the foundation for the articles and tutorials that get added to this site.

Don't forget to sign-up for automatic email updates so you'll be notified when the new content gets posted on the site.

Feel free to ask any other film and video related questions you might have (I'll answer, but might not make a full blown article or tutorial.)

Showbiz Jokes: You’re a Producer, Aren’t You?

Recently I was digging through some old papers and found this funny little joke that a friend emailed me back in early 2001. I meant to put it up on one of my production websites, but it got lost in the shuffle. Now it has a home.

You're a Producer, Aren't You?

Image of hot air balloon - Photographer Kris RandeA man in a hot air balloon realized that he was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted a woman below. He descended a bit more and shouted to her, "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am."

The woman below replied:

"You are in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You are between 40 and 41 degrees north latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west longitude."

"You must be a Production Manager," said the balloonist.

"I am," replied the woman, "How did you know?"

"Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I am still lost! Frankly you haven't been any help at all."

The woman below shouted back, "You must be a Producer!"

"I am," replied the balloonist, "how did you know?"

"Well," said the woman, "you don't know where you are or where you are going. You have risen to your lofty position due to a large volume of hot air. You've made a promise which you have no idea how to keep, and you show up expecting me to solve your problem. The fact is, you are in exactly the same position as before we met, but somehow, now, this is all my fault!"

This was one of those anonymous email forwards, so I don't know the author. But I get a kick out of it everytime I read it!

The Go-To Guy!

Great Pre-Vis 3D Software

By: Andrew Seltz

I've used a bunch of 3D software packages over the years. I started out with Imagine on my Amiga 2000 system and have Blender 3D (a great open source software package) and Animation:Master today for my occasional 3D needs. I've played around with a number of other packages, including some of those 3D Home Design packages, in an effort to create some quick models for design visualization and shot planning. Today I found my dream 3D software!

SketchUp is an amazing 3D package whose claim to fame is exactly what you'd imagine - sketching in 3D. I downloaded their free version today to test it out. (In partnership with Google they have a free version for personal use.)

It's as close to sketching with a pencil on paper as I've ever found!

Within seconds of loading it up, I was happily building a 3d set. Not only was it easy to push and pull the shapes around, but the measuring tools ensure precision when it comes to capturing details. I wish I'd had this a few weeks back when I was drafting a floorplan for the theater set I built for Angels Fall. I used Visio and it took me a long time to make what I wanted and with no ability to visualize in 3D!

I was attracted to the software because of it's reputation for designing sets for movies and creating storyboards. You have to pay up for the full Professional version to get all the tools for choosing camera lenses and animating storyboards, but it would be money well spent. It's so easy and fast to use that I could imagine previsualizing the entire movie before beginning production. This would save a ton of time on set (and time is money) and free you up to experiment with lots of different approaches to a scene. In the mean time, you can create sets and experiment with the free version and go Pro when you get your funding together. You can save all your files in the Sketch format with the free version - just no exporting of models.

As the name implies, the output from this program looks like a sketch. It doesn't try to make photo realistic images. This is a good thing when you're experimenting as it keeps you from falling in love with the pictures and losing perspective on the process. But, you can export the models you make (Pro version only) to all of the major 3D programs for refinement and rendering (I see the beginnings of the next Sin City).

I've wish I'd had this on my first movie. I could have worked out a lot of problems ahead of time. I'm already looking forward to using it on my next project.

Check it out!

DIY Skate Wheel Camera Dolly Instructions

Skate Wheel Camera Platform DollyIndie filmmakers spend an enormous amount of time and energy attempting to make their low-budget films feel like big budget productions. An essential difference in how big budget films differ from low-budget indies is the way the camera moves.

In a typical Hollywood film the camera floats, flies, and follows the actors with smooth precision. Your typical low-budget movie is either an 'all-over-the-place' hand-held affair or the camera feels like it has been bolted to the ground. Continue reading