Panasonic Gh4

Jan 212014

Before you even start reading this article, please click on this link and download Hitfilm 2 Express for free. It’s free until February 4th!

Hifilm 2 is advertised as having a $150 MSRP. Is it worth $150? No!! If February 4th comes around and you missed out on this deal, you can go on Amazon and purchase Movie Studio Platinum Visual Effects Suite 2 for $99.

Sony’s Movie Studio Platinum Suite for PC and Mac includes:
  • Movie Studio Platinum 12
  • DVD Architect Studio 5
  • HitFilm 2 Express

So you get 3 pieces of software for less than Hitfilm 2′s advertised MSRP of $150. Would I recommend paying $99 for the suite? No. If you want to do visual effects, you should use After Effects. After Effects is fairly simple to learn, and has a giant community that will help you create awesome 2D and even 3D effects. It is the perfect software for starting out with in visual effects. However, if you cannot afford to pay for software, then the current deal for HitFilm 2 Express is hard to beat.

Adobe Creative Cloud

Adobe has moved to a subscription based service. You do not own their software anymore, instead you rent it on a per month or per year basis. If you are used to pirating software, then this obviously sucks for you. Also if you do not have an internet connection this will suck for you. But if you have internet and pay for software legally, Creative Cloud is pretty awesome:

  • Software bugs are fixed much faster
  • More frequent updates
  • If you don’t use the software often, you can subscribe for a month or two and only pay a fraction of a normal purchase price

If you are a student or teacher who is affiliated with an institution that is partnered with Adobe, then you can get Creative Cloud Suit for as low as $16.67 a month. Can you imagine owning Photoshop, Light Room, Speed Grade, After Effects and Premier for only $16.67 a month? Not bad if you are a student or teacher.

If you are not a student or teach at an affiliated institution, you will have to pay a bit more. But you can always opt for individual plans (you only get to rent one piece of software, not the entire suite). So you can get away with paying $20 a month for subscribing to After Effects (or any other single app of your choice).

Is paying $240 a year for After Effects a better value than paying $100 for HitFilm 2 Express? Yes, for an extra $140 a year you will be able to create professional effects. If you are a student or a teacher using Adobe Creative Cloud is a no brainier. If you don’t qualify for the student or teacher discount, and you are tight on money see if you can buy an older version of Adobe software (such as Adobe CS5.5 or CS6) so that you will have professional grade software that will last you many years. (Adobe CS5.5 and CS6 are not subscription  based). And keep in mind, you can get a free 30 day trial of Creative Cloud. That is an awesome deal.

Reasons To Download HitFilm 2 Express For Free:

  • Its free, so you don’t need a reason
  • You don’t have much money to spend on After Effects
  • You have never done any serious video editing
  • You are a beginner and want to learn how to edit video
  • You need basic special effects and so After Effects is overkill

Click on this link and download Hitfilm 2 Express!!

Dec 182013

Indy Mogul
Apr 16, 2007 – Dec 16, 2013

If you don’t know what IndyMogul is, it is was the most popular DIY Filmmaking channel on Youtube. It still exists, so using past tense to describe it may be inappropriate, but the gist of the situation is that new content will no longer be produced. I am truly an OG of IndyMogul. I must have discovered the channel when it was three or four episodes deep. So every week I would tune in to watch. The show really matured over the past year as it went from DIY prop building to more DIY filmmaking. What really made the show rock was the enthusiasm and hard work of Griffin Hammond. Griffin is so clever and optimistically motivated that he is a great role-model for anyone who is interested in making their ideas become reality. So the loss of new content from Indy Mogul (particularly from Griffin and Russel) really sucks.

The Top 10 DIY Filmmaking Channels on Youtube

1. Film Riot

I think Film Riot captures the spirit of what Indy Mogul was about. Ryan Connolly is a more cinematic filmmaker than anyone on Indy Mogul ever was. The guys on Film Riot cater to a crowd that is focused lesson on prop building and more on filmmaking. It is my favorite channel on YouTube (Indy Mogul was a close second).

2. Dave Dugdale (LearningDSLRVideo, drumat5280)

Okay, calling Dave Dugdale’s channel a DIY channel is a bit of a stretch, but I just have to give him mad props because he is so awesome. If you shoot video on a DSLR, Dave will teach you a ton of stuff (while simultaneously explaining that he is not a expert on the matter). He focuses more on gear performance, DSRL tests, lens tests, and post production. It’s arguably the most useful channel on Youtube if you want to increase your knowledge about gear, software, workflow, and random DSLR stuff. I’m also an OG when it comes to Dave Dugdale. I literally was one of  his 1st subscribers on Vimeo. I’m awesome aren’t I…

3. Knoptop (Dave)

While FilmRiot captures the spirit of the “new school” Indy Mogul, Knoptop captures the spirit of the “old school” prop building. In my opinion Knoptop is the best true DIY channel out there right now because his builds are highly unique and include props as well as gear. I only wish he made videos more often. Once again, I was a bit of an OG when it comes to Knoptop, I Must have discovered him via the Indy Mogul channel or something. Anyway, I remember back when he had about ~700 subscribers. Now he is up all the way to 30,000+. Basically he is very clever and crafty with his DIY builds, and has an awesome personality.

4. Tom Antos (Polcan 99)

I don’t know how to classify Tom’s channel. Basically, he does everything. And he is highly intelligent and methodical. When you watch his videos you can instantly tell that he is an experienced professional. He is very similar to Film Riot in that he discusses production, directing, DIY builds, and everything else that goes into filmmaking.

5. The Frugal Filmmaker

Scott has an awesome channel dedicated to frugal filmmaking. Basically he goes out and buys/hacks/builds stuff with a micro budget. This is truly a wonderful channel if you want to see what you can get away with for very little money. I feel like I am cheating when I watch his videos; the stuff he achieves on his tiny budgets seems like it should cost much more.

6. Curtis Judd

Curtis produces very similar content to Dave Dugdale. He produces videos regularly and they focus on audio and lighting. If you enjoy Dave Dugdale’s videos you wil enjoy Curtis.

7.  Krotoflik

Chad, like Dave Knoptop, focuses on DIY builds. His builds are very well thought out and very budget oriented. Chad does not feature as many props as Dave, focusing more on DIY stabilization gear. He is most famous for his DIY Jib known as the KrotoCrane.

8. DSLR Film Noob (Onelonedork)

DeeJay is a very cool guy. His specialty is hacking and gear reviews with budget in mind. He will teach you how to increase your production value for very little cost. His channel discusses very little on actual film making, focusing mostly on hardware/gear talk.

9. Video Copilot (Andrew Kramer)

Video Copilot is the best gateway there is into post production special effects. Andrew is a true professional who has worked on many projects for Hollywood, and the fact that he takes time to create these special effects video tutorials is awesome. So while this does not really qualify as DIY channel, I figure it should be included because it is the most accessible free channel for post production special effects tutorials. Check out Andrew’s site, its has much more content than his YouTube channel.

10. BrandonJLa (freddiew2)

This is the behind the scenes content for Brandon and Freddie’s main channel: FreddieW. Though recently Brandon has tried to make this channel more useful for filmmakers by providing tutorials on 3DsMax. If you enjoy Video Copilot, you might want to take your special effects to the next level by watching Brandon’s 3DsMax videos. Anyway, if you are not into creating 3D objects,  this channel is more for entrainment than learning.

Feb 102013

The other day I was bored, so I decided to have a gander at the top ranked films on IMDB. I was just curious to see if there were any cool movies I should check out. What struck me was how overrated a bunch of films were. Honestly I feel if the list was called top 250 most overrated films, it would be an amazing list. Anyway, this silly article of mine is not picking on IMDB or its users. I just want to think out loud here and voice my opinion on film lists and the word “greatest”. Let’s take a look at some films from the IMDB top 250 (in order):

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Pulp Fiction (1994)
The Dark Knight (2008)
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
Fight Club (1999)
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
Se7en (1995)
The Usual Suspects (1995)
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Léon: The Professional (1994)
Memento (2000)
American History X (1998)
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
The Departed (2006)
Gladiator (2000)
The Green Mile (1999)
The Prestige (2006)
Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
Snatch. (2000)
Inglourious Basterds (2009)
The Avengers (2012)
Heat (1995)
Sin City (2005)
Jaws (1975)
No Country for Old Men (2007)
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
Trainspotting (1996)
The King’s Speech (2010)
Into the Wild (2007)
Black Swan (2010)
The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
The Artist (2011)
District 9 (2009)

I stopped @ 203 with District 9. The reason for my premature stoppage was that once I came across the following series of:

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
Ip Man (2008)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)

I realized that having a list extend to include the entire top 250 won’t prove my point any better. The point is this: If you are looking for some good movies to watch, and are using IMDB top 250 as a point of reference, you will have a bleh you must weed through. Furthermore, you will not get many old or foreign movies to choose from. “Bleh” is a harsh phrase, I suppose. “Movies that should not be listed in the top 250″ is a more sensitive way of conveying what I mean.

Now let me point out that the above list I have compiled is not a list of crappy movies. I would consider many of these movies as being amongst the best in their genres. I would even consider some of the movies as the best movies ever made. So why do I consider these movies over rated? Well, because whether or not something is overrated is a function of how people rate it. So if something is ranked as being the best, but in reality it is the second or third best, then it is considered to be overrated by one or two spots. Obviously when we are dealing with something as subjective as movie rankings, there is no true number one or number three, and so the thought of meticulously quantifying how overrated something is can be quite miserable. And assigning a number of spots by which a movie is overrated is even more miserable if there is no true master list.

Now that we have gotten the obvious points out of the way, I will say that The Shawshank Redemption is overrated by 87 spots. Okay, maybe it is not overrated by 87 spots. But lets be honest, that movie is most defiantly not the greatest movie ever made. And here is the one line in this post that contains my honest, non sarcastic opinion; If you include foreign films in a greatest of all time movie list, I doubt The Shawshank Redemption would even crack the top 100. Why am I so confident that it is not the greatest movie ever made? Because it has not been around long enough. By my criteria a movie that is considered to be “modern” cannot mathematically be the greatest movie ever made. That’s right. I brought math as well as my personal criteria this, but hear me out for one second. One thing that must be understood is when I’m talking about the “greatest”, I am not talking about “most enjoyable”, “most entertaining”, “best executed” or “best shot”. When I talk about greatest, I am primarily talking about “most important”. My criteria for evaluating the greatness of a film relies on its technical legacy. Style, camera work, sound, pace, lighting, cutting, editing… all that type of stuff gets lumped into a film’s technical legacy. Then once all those elements of the film are accounted for, one can address the story, plot, and whatever else there is to address. Even though the story, characters, and whatever else there is to address are afterthoughts in my criteria, they are still very important. After all, without those elements, we would feel quite detached from films.

In other words, how would erasing this movie from filmmaking existence change the course of filmmaking? Honestly, I doubt removing any one movie from film history would impact the progress of filmmaking in a significant manner. But surely some movies are more important than others. It isn’t until you define the criteria in this way that you understand why many boring (by our modern standards) films get ranked so high. So the crux of my argument is this; most greates film lists have a different set of rules they play by. If you want to get into debates about film greatness, you should adopt logically conforming criteria. My “importance” factor is just my take on it. There are plenty of ways of ranking the greatness of films. Just make sure the criteria is not the same as the criteria you use for ranking your favorite movies, otherwise your “greatest films” list is just a favorite films list.

So what is the greatest film of all time, since it is not The Shawshank Redemption? I don’t know. Rashomon, Citizen Kane, Metropolis, etc… take your pick from an “important” oldish film. I think Citizen Kane is a safe choice.

One thing that is clear; the IMDB top 250 list is not a list of the greatest movies of all time. It is a list of the highest rated movies. In other words, it is a list of movies that received a lot of high scores, and few low scores. I see the list as a list of movies that are hard to dislike. If someone ordered me to watch all the movies on this list over the course of a year I would be satisfied.

So why are the movies listed above so overrated? Because people are not rating movies based on how great they are, but based on how much they liked the movie. After all, this is how I rate movies on Netflix and this is why I rated The Nutty Prefessor Two: The Klumps a solid four stars. Anyway, I realize criticizing IMDB’s list is stupid, and I was just using it as a reference for finding overrated movies. But it got me wondering, do people have two separate movie ranking lists like I do? I have two lists that I obsess over, my all time greatest film list and my all time favorite film list. I think the former list is a good way of paying respect and appreciation to classic movies. It also encourages you step away from your opinions and try to analyze the movie in an objective way. It’s a way of “getting” a movie even if you don’t like it.

Rewatchability is a nice word. Oh, hey speaking of the word rewatchability, I also have a desert island movie list which obviously favors rewatchability. Basically the list is such: If you could only watch 10 movies for the rest of your life, what would they be? This desert island list is great for figuring out whether or not you should buy a movie. For instance Dumb And Dumber is worth more to me than Amadeus even though I may rank Amadeus as a better film because I can watch Dumb and Dumber over and over again.

When I was scanning through the IMDB top 250 list, I was trying to be fairly conservative in what I highlighted and copied on to my notepad thus deeming it as overrated. Despite my leniency I think I was too harsh towards some movies. Like maybe The Shawshank Redemption (1994) and Pulp Fiction (1994) are not as overrated as I think they are. Maybe I am being harsh on Jaws (1975). But really that is it. Those few movies are the only ones I feel have a case for being omitted from the list I have compiled. I was actually quite shocked with how low Blade Runner is listed on IMDB. I guess, people I know personally tend overrate Blade Runner, while IMDBers don’t? Personally, it’s one of my favorites, and I genuinely believe it is one of the greatest films of all time.

If you want to see some of my movie lists, check out the Greatest Films of All Time and My Favorite Films of All Time.

Film Brute