Need that perfect effect to get your story across? Here are a few favorites:
Does your movie need a snowfall? Try instant mashed potato flakes. Frame a close-up of your hero, and have a crew member sprinkle the potato flakes just above the shot, near the lens. Is it a blizzard? An electric fan on an off-screen table makes an instant blizzard! Substitute dry leaves for the potato flakes if it's fall. Change the wind by moving your fan closer or farther away. Watch those fingers!
To show snow on the ground, don't waste all those potato flakes. Shoot winter scenes in the winter and summer scenes in the summer. Work with what you've got is the key to happiness and staying sane in moviemaking.
Put lots of things on a table. Have a few people crouch down and shake the legs while the camera operator shakes the camera very slightly. The actors should stumble around as if they feel the floor under them quaking. This is how they shoot the battle scenes in science fiction movies. It's low budget and it really works.
Wind, hurricane, tornado, breeze
Use a fan. Don't cut off your fingers. Period.
Aim a garden hose in front of the camera so that the camera does not get wet. Or hold a colander above your scene where the camera can't see it. Then pour water into the colander. The effect should look good. Keep the camera safe and dry or you'll be wringing out your piggy bank.
After the rain, driveways and sidewalks look slick and dramatic when they're wet. The wet surfaces catch the light for great effect. (The lone hero always makes his final exit on a wet street.) Use a garden hose to wet the driveway or sidewalk - NOT the kitchen - and don't give control of the water to the wrong kid or you'll be hosed!
Nighttime in daytime
Need night but need to see? Use the manual exposure control to make your picture look dark. Also use the manual white balance to make the picture look blue. How? Read the manual. To make it look more convincing, shoot on a cloudy day or just after sunset to avoid hard shadows. This technique is called day-for-night shooting.
Gone and back
How do you make someone (or something) vanish? Put the camera on a tripod or completely steady surface and record your scene. At the director's hand signal (no noise, please) all action freezes and the camera operator pushes the pause button. The actor, (or thing) disappears. You can also add people in the scene in the same way. This will need a little practice.
For some reason, modern filmmakers need to make movies about characters whacking each other with solid objects. If you must go after each other with weapons, make them out of Styrofoam and color them. (When you buy a TV or computer or microwave, there's lots of good Styrofoam.) DON'T use actual hard objects, OK??
Car chases! Kung fu moves! Jumping through a glass window! Picking up a piano and throwing it - while someone is playing it! Want to do these stunts? Here's all you have to do: drink a nice warm cup of milk, have a nap, and dream about them. Did you think the authors were going to tell you how to do anything even remotely like that? Stick with the Styrofoam.
Attack of the Killer Video Book covers everything your young director needs to know. From writing to planning, sound effects to final touches this book will make your budding film maker a success.
Excerpted from Attack of the Killer Video Book by Mark Schulman and Hazlitt Krog. Copyright 2004 by Mark Schulman and Hazlitt Krog. Excerpted, with permission by Annick Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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