Video Studio Sound and Lighting on a Budget

November 18th, 2016

Here are some of the basic tools that we first acquired as a startup working with limited financial resources:

Continuous lighting is the term used to describe a constant light source to light your subject, meaning that your lights will stay on during the entirety of your photo shoot. This is essential for the videographer. Fluorescents or LEDs stay cool even if left on for hours. We started with a set of these…

Cowboystudio 4-Piece Continuous Photography /Video Studio Digital Lighting Kit with Umbrellas and Background Lights



Being able to focus and direct ambient or direct light sources when you need some extra fill lighting under any circumstances, is easy to do with a set of reflectors. In a pinch, I have made them using tin foil stretched over cardboard or simply used a sheet of white, foam board for even softer fill lighting. Now, I always carry along one of these inexpensive Neewer reflectors:

Sound quality is vital to any filmmaking project and there are lots of inexpensive ways to avoid muffled or indistinct vocals.

With the leap in pixel level of typical smartphones, having a video camera is no longer a reason not to make high quality videos but that tiny, little input mic remains a weak point. You can fix that problem by adding a small shotgun mic, made to fit the audio jack on your phone.

The Rode VideoMic Me Directional Microphone for Smart Phones is a compact and lightweight, high-quality directional microphone that connects directly to an iPhone/smartphone’s TRRS microphone/headphone socket. Its flexible mounting bracket accommodates a wide range of smartphones and allows the microphone to be fitted for primary camera or front camera (‘selfie’) use. A 3.5mm headphone jack on the rear allows for play-through of audio while recording (app dependent) as well as easy playback of your videos without having to remove the microphone. The VideoMic Me includes a deluxe furry windshield for shooting outdoors or in adverse weather.

 On a wire…

The Audio-Technica ATR-3350 Lavalier Omnidirectional Condenser Microphone is one of the best, inexpensive solutions for improved sound quality. It is a direct wire plugin that comes with a 20-foot cable, terminated with a 3.5 mm (1/8-inch) mini-plug. The mic also includes a tie clip, battery and a foam windscreen, which I often use indoors or outdoors. It’s probably a good idea to order a 10-pack of MAXELL AG13 LR44 357 button cell batteries.

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Danny Strong on the Art of the Hollywood Pitch

October 29th, 2012

“I actually don’t think there’s a ton of luck in the writing game because writing is one of those things where you’ve got a script, you know, it’s 120 pages, or 30 pages for a TV show or 60 pages for a TV show …and it’s either good or it’s not good, and it doesn’t really matter whose name is on that cover page.”

Actor Danny Strong has established himself as a screenwriter, specializing in political dramas. The first script Strong sold was to HBO, based on the Florida 2000 election battle. Recount, was eventually directed by Jay Roach, and produced by Kevin Spacey, who also stars in the film. It premiered on HBO on May 25, 2008.

“You really need to get the person you’re pitching to see the story; to get them to be able to see the movie as clearly as possible. And sometimes that means being extremely detailed, and sometimes it’s a matter of having specific details that take them into the world of it and then having sort of more of a general discussion than having the entire thing, you know, beated out moment for moment. So it varies from project to project.” – Danny Strong

Recount went on to win three Emmy Awards in 2008:

  • Outstanding Made for Television Movie
  • Directing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Dramatic Special (Jay Roach)
  • Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Miniseries or Movie
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