Filmmakers of Kalamazoo

Filmmakers of KalamazooToday I attended the very first meeting of the Filmmakers of Kalamazoo group. I am so excited to be a part of this because it scratches an itch that I have had for a long time. By that, I mean I have never considered myself a creative person but I am a person in love with ALL things creative. I love creative art, music, and films and this feels like it could be the catalyst for my legitimate introduction into the creative arts world.

The group is just getting its start so it is hard to say where we will end up but if you are from the area and you are interested in any part of film making. I really encourage you to come to a meeting and see if it is for you.

The Filmmaker Group of Kalamazoo was started by Rhett Lawson And I  lifted the following from his about page.

An aspiring filmmaker with a strong background in digital media. In achieving a BFA in Cinema and Television Arts, I created content to help express and promote artists, activists, and organizations. Soon after, the pursuit of a MA in Interactive Media explored tools and theory behind interactive video, web development, and VR design.

I’ve had many opportunities to explore the production process throughout my academic career. EuropaCorp in Beverly HIlls, CA focused on covering TV and movie scripts, while in Leeuwarden, Netherlands there was a focus on production and onsite editing.

Since graduation I’ve worked with the documentary production company Thunder Mountain Media as a videographer, Exum Photography as a styling assistant, and Island Sound and Video as a videographer.

As I write this I cannot help but think of all the possibilities that now lay in front of me. Stay tuned for what happens next.

What’s New in DaVinci Resolve 15.1

Although there was a new update (15.1.2) released today. Blackmagic Design published a video about the new features (80+) in DaVinci Resolve 15.1 a couple of day ago.

I cannot stress enough that if you have even a small interest in video editing/production you should really check Resolve out. It is packed with so many features that I can’t even list them all. Just trust me. You will not be disappointed. See also DaVinci Resolve 15 Released.

You can download the latest version at Blackmagic’s support site under the latest downloads section.  If you don’t need the professional features and I would assume if you are reading this you don’t. Be sure to download the version that does not include Studio in the title.

DaVinci Resolve 15.1 Latest Downloads

You can see the list of all the new features included with Resolve 15.1 on the Blackmagic Design forum listed under the Release of DaVinci Resolve 15.1  topic.

DaVinci Resolve 15 Released

Last month Blackmagic Design released DaVinci Resolve 15. In this version Black Magic Design added their Fusion tool, a visual effects and motion graphics software package, into their already feature rich editor. With the addition of the Fusion tab you can now do most everything you need without ever leaving the DaVinci Resolve suite.

DaVinci Resolve is organized as a series of tabbed pages. The tabs from left to right are Media, Edit, Fusion, Color, Fairlight, and Deliver, which is supposed to correspond to the order of most traditional film and video post-production workflows.

  • The media tab is meant for importing and organizing media, syncing clips, adding metadata, and cloning camera original media.
  • The Edit tab contains all of the professional editing tools you’ll need to assemble add titles, transitions, and effects to your media.
  • The Fusion page is for compositing visual effects and motion graphics for your media
  • The Color page contains the color correction and creative color grading tools as well as keying, stabilization, and filter effects for your media.
  • The Fairlight page is a complete digital audio workstation that has everything you’ll need to deliver professional quality audio to go along with your media.
  • The Deliver tab makes it possible to export your finished media into any of the popular web formats, as well as formats that are optimized for professional quality release.

Blackmagic Design continues to make both minor and major improvements to Resolve as well as the ecosystem around it.  Earlier this week they released there own  raw codec.

Blackmagic RAW is a revolutionary new and very modern codec that’s easier to use and much better quality than popular video formats, but with all the benefits of RAW recording. Featuring multiple new technologies, such as a new advanced de-mosaic algorithm, Blackmagic RAW gives you visually lossless images that are ideal for high resolution, high frame rate and high dynamic range workflows. Incredible image quality, extensive metadata support and highly optimized GPU and CPU accelerated processing make Blackmagic RAW the world’s first codec that can be used for acquisition, post production and finishing. Blackmagic RAW is a totally new design, plus it’s cross platform, freely available and includes a developer SDK so anyone can add support for Blackmagic RAW to their own software.

Since I am new to everything related to video production I can’t comment on why any of that is important. But I can say I have read and seen a lot of excitement around what DaVinci has been up to lately. And I am glad that they are the company that I stumbled on to at the beginning of this journey.

Here is video going into the details of the DaVinci raw format

I can’t wait until this all make sense to me 😉

Free Media Resources for Your Film Projects

If you are looking for some free media resources to add into your film projects. You should take the time to browse these three sites for a large amount of media available to you (at no charge) . Canon Camera

Please check the licensing for your specific project but I think the vast majority of the content is free for non-commercial projects. On 12/31/2018 I added several to this list that are free and okay to use on commercial projects, So, again just check the licensing on the particular  resource that you want to use and film on…

  • BBC Sound Effects – The Sound Effects are BBC copyright, but they may be used for personal, educational or research purposes, as detailed in the license.
  • Coverr – Was a side project that we built in order to provide entrepreneurs like us with Free beautiful looking videos, for the products they were building.
  • Pexels – Offers completely free videos. All videos are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license.
  • Pixabay – Has over 1.6 million royalty free stock photos and videos shared by our generous community.
  • Sound Image – Has Free Music, Sound Effects and Images for Your Projects by Eric Matyas.
  • Videvo – Includes thousands of free stock videos, motion graphics, music tracks and sound effects, all in one place.
  • Videezy – Free HD Stock Footage & 4K Videos!
  • Zapsplat – Fee sound effects and royality free music.
  • Premium Beats – Download free quality assets and elements for video production and film making.
  • Filmstro – Download static versions of all our royalty-free music tracks for FREE. YouTube cleared. Explore the library and start creating!

FxHome Free Media ResourcesI am really new to film editing / making world but I have remained stunned at the amount of free or very low cost assets available to aspiring film makers. The amount of quality examples, samples and tutorials that you can find on You Tube and other sites is simply astounding. So far the most expensive part of this hobby has been the camera I bought. Everything else has been free or came in at a low cost to me. And speaking of quality tutorials it is hard (maybe impossible) to beat FxHome’s  comprehensive list of tutorials for their Hitfilm Express or Pro video editing suite, which includes getting started videos all the up to putting Hollywood level special effects into your own videos.

I will update this post if I find anymore and if you know of any that I don’t have please add them to the comments below.

I am an aspiring videographer

Admittedly the title of this post is a slight exaggeration. I am not really an aspiring film maker. I have, however, become obsessed with the process of film making and post production work. I have also invested a lot of time and a small sum of money to make it my favorite distraction. In this post I am going to talk about a few of the production tools, websites, books and equipment that I am using to get the full experience.

First of all I will talk about my favorite new shiny thing. I stumbled across Davinci Resolve, which was the gateway drug into video editing for me. Davinici LogoIt is a professional editing tool used in real Hollywood movies. They have a free version that has more features and possibilities than most of the boxed versions I tried before I landed on Resolve.

Next, I found The Definitive Guide to Davinci Resolve 14: Editing, Color and Audio on Amazon. If you are considering purchasing it from Amazon please click on the Davinci Resolve book image below. It will help support this site by passing a small part of the purchase to me.

From the Back of the book:

DaVinici Resolve Book CoverDaVinci Resolve 14 is the most advanced editing, color correction, and audio post production solution for feature films, television shows and commercials. Its revolutionary workflow lets you switch between tasks with a single click, so you don’t have to learn multiple applications or translate projects between different software programs. This official step-by-step training guide covers the basics of editing, color correction and audio so you can start creating your own Hollywood caliber film and video today!

Back to me:

I am about half way through the book and it does a great job of walking you step by step through the Resolve interface and feature set. It also provides a lot of tips and tricks for using the tool in a way that suits your style. At the time of this posting the Kindle version is only $9.99 (awesome deal). There is also a Kindle book for an older version of Resolve that can be bought for $2.99 (also an awesome deal). I have bought both of them and both are relevant to the current versions of Resolve.

Since I already had a green screen on hand I was interested in doing some chroma keying (green screen) in Resolve, which with a little help from You Tube was able to do in less than 10 minutes. While browsing for green screen and other special effects tools I stumbled across another AMAZING video editing tool called Hit Film Studio
Hit Fil Studio Logo
Hit Film also includes a free version (Hit Film Express) that includes most of the features of the paid version. Hit Film’s makers also make it very easy to start out at a very low price point and buy parts and pieces as you need them. From my understanding its strength is in the special effects area. Although it appears, from my brief use of it, that it is a very capable video editor.

The creators have provided a lot of free video content stepping you through doing just about anything you would ever want to do with a video editor including adding special effects to it.

For good measure I bought a few books from Amazon to help round out my education in amateur film making. Of the three I have only finished the one but I will do a review of that in another post a little later as I get closer to finishing all three.

In the Blink of An Eye Book   Shoot Video That Doesnt Suck Book   Green Screen Made Easy Book

Last of all I bought a Canon VIXIA R80 Camera (Camcorder). It’s not a camera meant for cinematography nor is it a DSLR but it is a pretty decent camera for what I am trying to do.

All that is left is to make a movie, which can’t be that difficult. Can it?

Two more tools for the digital arts

Back in October of last year I created a list of creative tools that are either free or come in at a very low cost for people looking to get started with creative projects in technology, which from now on I am going to refer to as the Digital Arts.

Recently I added two more to the list, which are OBS Studio and OpenShot. I have not had the chance to get into OpenShot yet but it looks promising and possibly a simpler version of Davinci Resolve. At some point in the near future I will open it up and play with it some so that I can do some type of review of it. I have, however, spent a fair amount of time in OBS Studio and plan to do my first instructional video soon covering how to setup and deploy green screen streaming with it.

Open Broadcasting Studio Logo OBS Studio or Open Broadcaster Software is an open source tool that makes streaming video through platforms like Twitch, Mixer, and You Tube simple. You can literally be up in running in less then 10 minutes.

Green Screen Test for my YouTube Channel

So after seeing Jeffrey Fritz do a live code stream using a green screen I was inspired to give it a try. Luckily he also provided a Live Stream 101 page that detailed his setup. So last week I downloaded the recommended software, upgraded my webcam and went to Walmart to purchase a temporary green screen, which literally was a green piece of construction paper that I scotch taped to a window screen that I leaned up against the back of my chair. I spent way to much time adjusting it to cover my entire background (It was about an inch or two too short to use it like I intended). Anyway after spending about twenty minutes trying to get that setup just right I was ready to do my First Green Screen Test for my YouTube Channel, which is what you see below.

So the first lesson I took from this test were get a real green screen, which I did. Well I have ordered the cheapest one I could find on Amazon that included a support stand. I will do a review on this one Green Screen from Amazonlater after I have had a chance to use it some. If you are thinking about ordering the same screen based on this post or my upcoming review please use the Amazon affiliate link at the bottom of this post.

The second thing I learned is that lighting is extremely important. As you can see from the off color square around my head in the video. (I think) I was pushing too much light onto my green screen, which caused it to appear a little washed out. As I said this test consisted of using construction paper taped to an object leaning against my chair so it wasn’t the best environment to do a lot of adjusting before hand and impossible to adjust while the recording was going on.

The last thing I learned from this test is that “good enough” is good enough. I must have started and stopped this recording 20 times trying to get through what I wanted to say without stuttering, tripping over my words or pausing for a second or two to arrange my thoughts between sentences.  After what must have been the 20th time I just decided to run though it one more time and be okay with any imperfections in my spoken word. – much like I do with my written word in the posts on this blog.

I will continue to update this blog with any new videos I post and with the new things I learn as I do more and more of it.  And, finally, as a reminder I am including a link ad to the green screen I ordered below. Clicking on it and ordering from Amazon will help support this site.

Three Rivers Area Creative Computer People

Next  year (January of 2018) I would like to start a Creative Computer People user Group for the Three Rivers area. In the beginning I am thinking that we would start out with the basics, which could be as basic as getting the various programs installed on the attendees computers. Next we could pick one of the programs and work with interface to become comfortable with the application and then build a basic project with it.

Ideally, for me anyway, I would like to start with Blender 3D because once you get the basics of it down working on Unity or Fusion will make more sense to the users. It is also a very powerful program that you can do some amazing projects with in a short amount of time. The major barrier in the beginning is the user interface, which is where we can put a lot of the focus in the early stages.

If you are unfamiliar with blender take some time to check out the site by clicking the logo below.
Blender LogoAlso be sure to check out the Open Projects site to see some of the amazing animations being made with this tool.

If  you have any interest in joining this group and you are in the Three Rivers Area please email me of leave a comment on this post. If I can at least two more people to commit to coming I will see about getting a room at the community center in Three Rivers.

Check out My Creative and Budget Friendly Toolbox List post to see all the tools that we could potentially work with in group meetings.

My Creative and Budget Friendly Toolbox List

Creative Tool ListFirst of all I am not an artistically creative person.  However I do aspire to be one, at least, in the digital world. And not being a creative in art, but loving the idea of doing it, has always made it hard for me to justify the cost of the tooling for “dabbling” in that world. Recently I have discovered several tools that are either free or have a very lost cost of entry, at least in the dollar sense. So if you are a creative person who would like to get into digital art but can’t afford tools like the Adobe Suite. Here is my creative and budget friendly toolbox list with a brief description of that the tool will help you get done.

  • Davinci Resolve A professional quality video and sound editor. There is a free version available, which contains a ton of great features and is probably enough for most people who are just getting started in digital creative.
  • Davinci Fusion A program for creating visual effects, 3D, VR and other motion graphics. Free and pay versions are available.
  • Blender A free and open source 3D creation suite. It supports the entirety of the 3D pipeline—modeling, rigging, animation, simulation, rendering, compositing and motion tracking, even video editing and game creation.
  • Unity A cross-platform game engine used to develop video games for PC, consoles, mobile devices and websites. See the Unity 3d site for use restrictions but at the time of this post it is free if you company makes less then 100K in annual gross revenue.
  • Snagit A lightweight tool for capturing screen shots and doing screen casting. It is not free but the cost is very reasonable.
  • Visual Studio A tool for building desktop applications, websites, and mobile applications that run on all the major platforms. There is a community version that is free for small teams.
  • VS Code is a streamlined (cross platform) code editor with support for development operations like debugging, task running and version control. It aims to provide just the tools a developer needs for a quick code-build-debug cycle and leaves more complex workflows to fuller featured IDEs.

Edit 10/27/2017: A couple of days after I put this post up I was made aware of three more open source creative applications (for people on a budget). I haven’t used any of these three, yet, so I won’t comment on them but they do look like a good fit for this list.

  • Gimp is an acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed program for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring.
  • Inkscape is a professional quality vector graphics software. It is used by design professionals and hobbyists worldwide, for creating a wide variety of graphics such as illustrations, icons, logos, diagrams, maps and web graphics.
  • Scribus is an open source page layout application with professional desktop publishing features.

Edit 11/6/2017 One more to add. It is an audio editor that I haven’t had a chance to use yet but a good friend of mine uses it all the time to edit audio files.

  • Audacity is a free, open source, cross-platform audio software for multi-track recording and editing.

Edit 1/2/2018 I have two more to add today.

  • OBS Studio (Open Broadcast Software) is a free, open source, cross platform software for video recording or live streaming.
  • OpenShot is a free, open source, cross platform video editing software package.

Edit 1/5/2018 Adding one more to the list.

  • Daz 3D is a Powerful 3D Composition & Rendering Software that create photo realistic results.

All of these with the exception of Snagit can be overwhelming for people who are just getting started. So if you are someone who would like to collaborate on these tools and the type of projects that you can do with them. Please contact me. I would love to create a community of digital creative types (especially but not necessarily around the South West Michigan area). A Creative Tool User Group, so to speak.