Instructables

How to make a movie... For cheap

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 For years, I've been making videos with a group of friends using camera phones, cheap camcorders and webcams. These are great for playback on other cheap mobile phones and MP4 players but now video hosts like Youtube are allowing for better quality internet video. And so, being this sad, I decided to set about making a film. On a super super low budget.  
 

If you're interested in my work can click HERE to open our page in the iTunes store and watch our show for free (Mainly because no one would pay for it)

That done, Let's go make a film! 

Note: This instructable is not as good as it could have been. I'm working on a new one.

 
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Step 1: Camcorders

The first thing is, when making a film DO NOT use webcam and camera phones. There is no need for me to explain. Now, on to camcorders.

Camcorders are great. They are relatively cheap, light weight and easy to use. There are some drawbacks though:

1. Sound quality; Small cameras with internal microphones pick up the sound of wind and the mechanisms inside.

2. Shaky footage; Without a shoulder mount, it is difficult to steady a camera, and tripods restrict movement.

3. Old tech that is an ass to use; DV tape camcorders get magnetic interference, and take time to rip to a computer.

4. Cheap digital camcorders with crappy PC suite software; Cheaper camcorders save to stupid formats that won't open in most video editors so editing must be done in the bundled software. 

5. Low quality; Must camcorders do not shoot in widescreen or HD
DasFitz2 years ago
will a standerd digi camra work i dk how the sound quality is?
Shoulder mounts ARE available for the 7D. I worked on a film back in December where one was used. And the ability for interchangeable lenses and external accessories is one of the reasons they make television series like "House" on the 7D.
j_wo3 years ago
It's just personal preference, but I would use this method for making a camera dolly: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LyguAKPaTP4

And this is the best gunshot tutorial out there:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ANXcNihpiwY&feature=related
jlms4 years ago
Aligning audio with video is very tiresome. If you are buying a new camera check if it can accept an external mic, it will save you endless trouble.
Actually, its not. All you need to do is either A) Buy a clap board or B) Clap your hands together. Then in your editing software, you just align the two spikes and then you're in bussiness
connorbennett (author)  Future filmaker3 years ago
Also, some clapperboard apps exist for iPhone, 'Movie Slate' automatically logs clip info on a clapperboard and syncs the TimeCode to other iDevices and to your equipment. Very cool.
 Agreed... Clappers make it insanely easy. I clap on camera to make sure not only the onboard audio but the ext. audio get the same tracking. I believe beside using audacity to level and pan your audio there is plenty of sync software out there for audio.
Rhamkota3 years ago
you can make a crane for around 20-40 bucks
cornboy34 years ago
 Check out IndyMogul and Film Riot as they are both great shows on learning filmmaking on a budget. BTW The guy in the first vid isn't bad but he needs an HD camcorder and a decent cromeakey filter (eg. good lighting, and good color of green screen).
Chromakey is a pain to get right. In a recent highlight video I made, the most time spent on any one clip was trying to get a blender sequence to key right in FCP. It still isn't perfect.
what mic is that and can you put it on a t1i?
For help with Final Cut, Look up the site http://www.larryjordan.biz/. another great editor is Adobe Premier Pro.
For all of you college film students, also consider getting something for nothing. I found this site that allows you to set up your videos to sell. Check it out at https://www.createspace.com/pub/l/video_value.do?rewrite=true&ref=292345&utm_id=5019
Mac is where it's at!!
jlms4 years ago
There is software specifically for scriptwriting, the one I have seen that works best is Celtx (which is open source and free), no need to use Word or other generic software.
You beat me to the punch. that is what I was going to suggest!
jlms4 years ago
"If you can in-line skate, do it holding a camera".

No, don't do this.

As you said you have to use your imagination to simulate this in order to maek the shoot safe.

You may be doing movies in the cheap, that does not mean you have to be unprofessional ;-)
connorbennett (author)  jlms4 years ago
 They've used this idea in loads of films. Crank 2 was one that stood out for me. For fast dolly-like shots they used skates.
hm. fast moving dolly on cheap, makes me think of like 3 skateboards nailed together and a tripod on top.... :D
also im sure you know this, but in crank 2 the used "consumer grade" cameras, ranging from 800-3000 dollars, and brian taylor said "moving the camera in outrageous ways and being able to destroy cameras without blinking an eye is more important to us than, you know, sort of having this filmic image.” and the part where they mention using skates, is that its on a rail but the camera man has skates to keep up to speed with the track, not doing tricks holding a camera.

if they did do that, they most likely destroyed some of the camera's in the process, making it a very expensive endevor relatively cheap tho for them, when they have at least a 50 million dollar budget
Yes, the idea can be used if you have a controlled set or location, but you have to pay for either, which would defeat the stated aim of the instructable.


If you do stunts, and you adhere to the law (in most localities, if you film in location and are using stunts, you have to pay for a permit and make the area safe, otherwise you may be endangering passers by) it is not going to be filming in the cheap.

 I have the same lens :)
polird4 years ago
And if on linux, Cinelerra is great!
polird4 years ago
As part of the amazing quality videos, their sensors are several times bigger than normal video cameras, even the several thousand dollar ones. They are almost equal to the RED. Adds a good film look to it, especially the shallow DOF. An example of the DOF these cameras have that i made with my T1i
http://www.vimeo.com/10647384
caseyC0884 years ago
hey man excellent instructable love the clip!!! 10*
democratese4 years ago
 Also most tripods you can buy for cheap have a handle that you can makeshift steadycam. Radioshack has a tripod for $16 that can be useful for this. I had to use it in a pinch for a hallway scene and it steadied the camera perfectly. 
Jawa8884 years ago
 Are you t from t barnsly t
connorbennett (author)  Jawa8884 years ago
 t no t
 Were you from then
jlms4 years ago
Forgot to say that there ar professional film makers using DSLRs that added video as an afterthought.

Actually £500 for a camera capable of producing decent video is an authentica bargain.
jlms4 years ago
Put the mic close to the actors, not on top of the camera :-)
jlms4 years ago
Tripods exist for a reason. If you are starting to make films put the camera in a tripod.

Once you learn to use it there, then try something else.

Profesional filming uses tripods all the time, so you can do so as well.
generally seem like good basic info on shooting films, im curious, is this all just from personal experience?

for tracks and such you can use things as simply as setting the camera on a skateboard a person laying/siting in a shoping cart and such.

adobe premier pro is very similar to final cut pro, slightly different which leads to you having to relearn a whole new program but just as effective if you cant afford a mac, final cut pro is the best tho, pricey but the best, also generally keep all footage for editing on an external drive, back up raw footage/rough cuts on external, internal is generally faster for rendering and such
its some what hard to find in areas, but, atleast here in california, there are usually stores you can find fairly close that will rent out filming equipment, booms, mikes, tripods and even high quality payments, that are fairly inexpensive, compaired to buying a video camera and the other supplies, just dont break them)

script wize, alot of the script guidlines and such, if you are just making a film for youtube or your own pleasure, with friends or non profesional actors, it doesnt need to follow perfectly to the structure, its more if you want to sell your script that you need to do it correctly

a major pitfall for people starting out making their videos is going crazy with the special effects, i mean the cheesy ones like spining the image out and stuff like that, stay away from em unless its purposefull, it seems cool and fun since you just learned how to do it, but generally a nice fade in/out is much better

your green screen on should be fun to see
davee52uk4 years ago
Superb.

Why don't you try and get into films or adverts or something?  You have real talent beyond the technical skills of making this clip.


Well those were...interesting. Nice documentation.
 
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