Lens Distoritions – A guide to “lens whacking”

In the world of making music videos, preparation is key. However, sometimes the most surprising victories come from being spontaneous. One way to add a bit of spontaneity to your music videos is to try using live, in camera effects while shooting. I received a few email asking how make in camera light leaks and lens effects. Below are a few tips and techniques I’ve used to create these effects, I’ve also included links to where you can buy pre-made effects if you don’t have as much free time as I seem to have lately.

lenslreaksIn camera effects are a great way to change the look, tone, feel and style of your image permanently. Techniques such as lens-wacking are a good example, also hanging object in front of the lens to create interesting bokeh, is also another way to create interesting results. As you are recording live, these effects are a permanent addition to your project so there’s no going back from it. With that being said, some of your best looking work may come from these tricks. Today we’ll be focusing on “lens-whacking”.

Lens-Whacking To Create Light Leaks

Also know as, freelensing, performing this technique is relatively simple. However, mastering it may take a bit of time. Lens whacking involves detaching your camera’s lens from the camera body and holding it in front leaving a small gap. This gap will allow a bit of light to leak in (creating interesting bokeh’s and light leaks).

So how do you do it?

lens whacking light leaks1. Set you lens to focus to infinity and then set the aperture to it’s lowest number – this will give you your bokeh.

2. Hold the camera with your right hand and grab your lens with your left hand.

3. Create a small gap between the camera and lens. You can make a large gap or a small one, you’ll see the results instantly in your view finder or live view preview screen.

Warning. This is a great way to attract unwanted dust into your camera, so if you’re worried about that, don’t do it. You can try covering the gap with diffusion paper if you’re really concerned but this may make your process a bit trickier.

If you don’t have the time to perform these techniques but are still looking to give your films a vintage, lomo look, you can check out www.lightleaks.me. You can also find a ton of other light leaks by doing a google search.

Stay tuned for my articles on lens distortions – how dangles can give your films a new look.

Explaining Export Settings For Online Videos

Before you show your work to the masses you need to make sure it looks as good as possible – it’s why we spend all that time lighting, editing and colour correcting. Export settings can be a confusing world, however, to make it a little easier, here are a few of the basic’s you’ll need to understand.

Video Export Settings

oldcompressorCodec. There are a number of codecs in your editing programs and they all serve different purposes. The most widely used, and one I suggest you use as well, is H.264. This video compression format is used in all all Blu-ray Discs. It may sound familiar as well because it’s also used in the major internet video sites such as vimeo and youtube. In your editing program, whether you use final cut, premiere or even exporting from quicktime, you’ll see a setting for h.264.

quicktimeFrame rate. You should have your frame rate set once you import your footage into your timeline. With that being said, once you’re ready to export it’s important to make sure your frame i set correctly. The most common frame rates, and the ones most internet site accepts are  24 (or 23.976), 25, and 30 (or 29.97). You’re videos should be one of these settings. If you’re not sure you can always check your source material an timeline settings.

Bit Rate. When exporting, a common field you will find is the ‘bit-rate’. The Bit rate is in charge of the video quality and file size, the hight the bit rate the better quality the video will be. However, this will also mean the file will be larger as well. This process involved a bit of give and take. However as a rule of thumb you should set your bit rate to between 5,000 and 10,000 kbit/s for 720p HD. If you’re doing 1080p HD a bit rate between 10,000 – 20,000 kbit/s  should work really nicely. Stick to the lower end if you’re trying to keep your file sizes downs.

Post Production Effects To Spice Up Your Music Videos

So, it’s been weeks since the shoot wrapped and you’ve been working away in the editing room crafting your music video. (Hopefully you’ve managed to scrape through with only a few pages of notes from band members, band managers and record labels.) The next step is making your footage look sleek.

Post Production Effects

There are plenty of options available for making your footage look good. And I mean real good. From colour correction plugins to lens flares, no matter what program you are using to edit for your video, there is a solution out there. Below are a couple of my favorite programs, plugins and effects that I use for client’s music videos.

One of my favourite products in the Red Giant Color Suite. This bundle of different programs gives you the ability to remove digital noise and perform a number of colour correction task with a range of programs. Magic bullet looks is also included in this package, this gives you the option to quickly add a professional looking color grade to your videos.

borisfxIf you’re using premiere pro you should seriously consider getting a hold of the native premiere pro plugins, specifically the Boris Continuum Complete. This all in one set gives you over 200+ plugins filters and is regarded as the ‘Swiss Army Knife of Visual Effects’. From particle generators to transitions and optical stabilizers, there is certainly a tool in this box for your needs. It’s even great for creating unique and customizable color correction looks.

If you’re looking to give your films a vintage feel or add a extra bit of color into the mix, it’s worth checking out www.lightleaks.me You’ll find a fantastic set of HD colour transitions ,light leaks, film burns and lens flares. The effects are easy to add into your editing program or motion graphic projects. Here’s a video showing how it works:

Stay tuned to the blog for plenty more tips and techniques for getting cinematic looking films without breaking the bank.

5 Tips For Making a Music Video On A Budget

Cameras. Getting your hands on a good piece of hardware isn’t as difficult as it use to be. Remember, most cell phone cameras are better quality than most prosumer cameras 7 years ago. With the influx of DSLR cameras that are available to you, getting a high quality camera isn’t as hard as it use to be. The more cameras you have, the better. This allows you to capture the performance or story from a few different angles. The more B-roll you have the better!

music video shoot

Location, location, location! Finding a location that will be suitable for your music video is important. Not only does the location have to be perfect for the story you’re trying to tell but it also has to be able to house a small crew. If it’s through the woods, across a stream and down a hill it may be perfect but your team will find it difficult to get there. Finding a location that logistically works with your vision is important. Sometime you may need to sacrifice a few things creative to get capture you video appropriately.

Food! Although you may be on a budget, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be feeding your actors and crew. People working on a empty stomach are going to be less likely to cooperation, compromise and innovate. Make sure you feed your crew food that isn’t going to put them straight to sleep. Pizza may seem like a good idea but it may invite people to take a nap. Fruits, veggies and dips are a good snack to keep around along with lots of water.

Storyboarding! You don’t need to be an amazing artist but having a clear and concise vision of how you want your video to play out is great. This prevents you from over-shooting, staying on schedule and giving the other members of your team a better idea of your vision.

Backup! So, the shoot is over, you’ve gone through your footage and found your selects. Before you start editing it’s always a good idea to backup your original media files. Put them on a harddrive and put it somewhere safe. You’ll be happy you did! Trust me, I’ve learned the hard way.

image by david torcivia

Music Videos We Heart

Music video, like people, come in all styles.

The Drake song, “take care”, featuring Rihanna, is directed by a musician and filmmaker named Yoanne Lemoine. That name may not ring a bell as he normally performed under the name Woodkid. He made ways in the music video industry with his first video that he directed for his own release. You can see the video below for the song Iron. He’s seemed to have mastered the use of black and white, it compliments the dark characters and definitely takes you too an unfamiliar world.
So how does this related to Drake’s video? Well, watching the two videos back to back you’ll certainly be able to see why he was contacted for the job. With a bigger budget, Lemoine is now able to control and even shift his lighting in the shot, going from light to dark, yet still exposed within seconds. See the two videos below:

Similar to buying property it’s all about location. Having the perfect location for a music video can make or break it. In fact, the location can become a character it itself, another member of the band. Aussie band Temper Trap travelled to Havana, Cuba to film the video for their song “trembling hands”. The video follows an acrobat’s struggle to prove herself. The only member of the band in the video is lead singer Dougy Mandagi, however his perfectly timed cameos make add to the fly-on-the-wall glimpse into a athlete’s life. Here is the director’s cut of music video:

The use of visual effects is nothing new to the world of music videos. However, with better integration over the years, CGI can really enhance a location, character or story. The music video for Bon Iver’s, “Towers” is a good example of subtle visual effects enhancing a piece. Adding intrigue and a certainly mysticism to his work. Here is the music video, you may have to skip to about have way through to see the CGI, however, it’s quite hard to miss those massive towers.