Low Budget Filmmaking Archives - Blog
The cinematic film look is a mysterious and multi-layered aesthetic. Lighting, set design, costumes, camera and lens choice all factor in to try and achieve the elusive final effect.
Once you’ve finished shooting your footage on the set, only imagery can be manipulated. I have always tried to find creative solutions to technical challenges and to create presets and templates for myself that will give me the final aesthetic that I see in my head.
As an editor and colorist, I can create looks that focus on improving the captured image no matter what camera it was shot with. I previously released the VashiMorphic40 template which replicates the look of the Panavision 40mm anamorphic lens. Since it works exclusively within After Effects, I decided to make a new Premiere Pro Preset package that is resolution independent and offers real-time playback inside Premiere Pro.
Download Template (.zip file)
Download Template – 4K Version (.zip file)
Download Template – After Effects CS5.5 Version (.zip file)
Films shot in the Anamorphic process are instantly recognizable. They have a quality and resonance that other lenses can’t capture. Anamorphic films seem to capture an almost 3D quality onto film’s 2D medium. The process makes creative use of aberrations such as long horizontal lens flares, oval bokeh and highly curved corners that all add a sense of heightened reality.
Films are real but not necessarily reality…and the subconscious effect of Anamorphic lenses delivers an exaggerated look that is hard to replicate. This process is much more than just a wide aspect ratio..as demonstrated in The Ultimate Aspect Ratio Guide.
Films shot in the Anamorphic process include: Jaws, The Royal Tenenbaums, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Pulp Fiction, Die Hard, The Parallax View and countless others. Getting your hands on Anamorphic lenses is very difficult for the low budget filmmaker…so I created my own After Effects project template that replicates the look and feel of the Anamorphic process. If you drop your footage into the timeline…you will have access to 3 options that help you achieve the magical look without resorting to additional adaptors or lenses. This workflow has been optimized for cameras that capture 16:9 footage and for lenses between 28mm to 35mm (Full frame equivalent).
The Anamorphic lens that I chose as the holy grail to emulate is the Panavision Primo 40mm Anamorphic. It was the ONLY lens used on Roman Polanski’s Chinatown and used 95% of the time on Wes Anderson’s films Rushmore and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.
When editing any project, there are moments when a visual effect can be applied to help the story be told. These effects can emphasize something to make it more evident, subtly isolate a certain element or blend several assets into one shot. Sometimes these effects are added only as eye candy to add production value to a project. Ideally, you are not adding visual effects to hide mistakes or to cover up deficiencies in the story…but this has been know to happen. (Guilty as charged!)
In 1992 Francis Ford Coppola filmed Bram Stoker’s DRACULA with no CGI or digital VFX. He fired his Visual Effects team that said the shots he wanted could not be accomplished without modern digital technology. He hired his son Roman Coppola (only 24 years old at the time) and together they shot all the visual effects with either in-camera and on practical sets. The relied upon tried and true techniques that went back to the birth of cinema. The results were beautiful, organic and surreal while using every trick from the previous 100 years of filmmaking. What could have been done digitally was instead created practically by skilled craftsmen that are slowly becoming obsolete in Hollywood.
I hope that day never fully arrives.
Here are the practical techniques used to create the visual effects:
We discussed my journey from professional hockey player to editing 11 feature films in Hollywood and the creative process that spans both worlds.
I share how I starting shooting and editing films with a VHS cameras and decks in the 1980’s all the way up to working on: Deadpool, Gone Girl, 6 Below and Sharknado 2 and more.
Here’s the 16-minute video:
I have been editing film and video since the age of 12. Cutting footage, crafting performances and telling stories with VCRs, Steenbecks and NLEs. In 2003, I started expanding my filmmaking skill set and began experimenting with Adobe After Effects 5.5. The first time I opened it up…I expected to see explosion buttons, lightsaber buttons and muzzle flash buttons. Unfortunately not the case at all! This was a brave new world where everything had to be created from scratch so I dove in.
I designed a one-take shot in my apartment so I could practice my non-existent After Effects skills. With a locked off DVX-100 and some amazing acting skills (!) I filmed myself and imported the Mini-DV footage into After Effects. I grabbed some free explosions and sparks from Detonation Films and started compositing.
I present to you GOOD MORNING…a 35-second VFX extravaganza from 2003 for your enjoyment!
The Hateful Eight resurrects the glorious Ultra Panavision 70 format with the uber-wide 2:76 aspect ratio. The 65mm film used to capture the format combined with 1.25x anamorphic lenses creates the final wide image projected at 70mm. Most of us have never and probably will never shoot in the Ultra Panavision 70 format but that doesn’t mean we can’t replicate the aspect ratio.
In honor of the glorious return of the Ultra Panavision 70 aspect ratio…
I’ve packaged the 2:76 templates in all 8 resolutions for your next project.
These PNGs (HD/2K/3K/UHD/4K/5K/6K) will work in any NLE or VFX software.
Just drag and drop above your footage.
Until next time…
Keyboard shortcuts allow the film editor to cut faster and more efficiently. By mapping the most frequently used commands to specific keystrokes…the editor can focus on the storytelling and not waste time mousing all over the screen.
Editing requires repeating actions thousands of times a day so why not make it as easy as possible for yourself? All NLEs come with built in keyboard layouts but each one is different and none of them include ALL the possible commands. Thankfully, my good friend and Emmy-winning editor Dylan Osborn has created two FREE custom Premiere Pro layouts that cover all the bases! Read more…
Sometimes creativity can be triggered by one seemingly irrelevant thing. Sometimes that one thing can be right in front of you…hidden in plain sight. In my case that one thing was a stretch of winding road by my home that has thousands of reflectors on the median. I’ve driven this road hundreds of times. At night, the reflectors whiz by in a frantic blur and it suddenly reminded me of a video game I played as a youth…Atari’s NIGHT DRIVER. Read more…