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Production Tips and Tricks
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Tip #16

Another tip for using your camera...

If you're new to using a high-end camera - check into the white balance features and options. White balance is important to ensure your camera picks up colors consistently with the environment. You normally white balance a camera by zooming in on something in the environment that's white and simply holding down the white balance button.

Be sure to re-White balance the camera if you move into a room that has different lighting or if you go from inside to outside or vice versa. You'll notice considerable changes to how the camera is interpreting color.

Tip #17

When working with a program like Final Cut Pro, Premiere, etc. Be sure to copy a backup of your project files to a seperate drive or to CD-rom. The point to that is if your computer crashes or you have to wipe the drive clean, you'll have backups of the project files and won't have to start editing from scratch.

But be sure you place the backups on a different drive!

Tip #18

When shooting in an evironment that has flourecsent lights - keep an eye on your viewfinder, flourecsent lights can cause a strange color cycling effect and mess up your shot. I've had this happen to me and it's a nightmare to try to color correct! If you have a black and white viewfinder you may not see this happening! Try to run your camera through a color monitor before you shoot, this is NOT something you want to deal with in post!

To compensate for the problem while shooting - change the shutter speed on your camera. Certain shutter speeds don't pick up on the interference the flourecsent lights create.

Tip #19

If you're working with actors that have a lot of dialog, it can be tough for an actor to try to memorize huge paragraphs of speaking lines...

One trick is if the actor is at a place where they're sitting, you can hide the script so they can still read from it if necessary. If you angle the camera the right way, you won't catch the script in your shot.

If they're at a desk, tape the script to a computer monitor and shoot from behind the monitor. Or, if the character looks like they're working, have them just hold the script and act like they're holding some sort of work document.

I had an actor reading from a script he was holding, but he was jotting down notes on it during his monologue so it looked like he was holding an important document of some sort.

Tip #20

If you're working on an indy movie, pay attention to what your actors are wearing or what they're going to wear.

If there's a logo on someone's shirt, you may have to blur it out in post, which can be a pain and also ruin the look of your shot.

Make sure that the actors don't wear white or clothing with a lot of stripes. White clothing can throw off the color levels in certain circumstances and patterns can cause a distracting effect onscreen as well.

Tip #21

If you're shooting against a blue or green screen for color keying - pay close attention to lighting! Lighting is the key element here, the lighting needs to be flat and even to produce a clean key, shadows or uneven lighting create sloppy keys.

Also, make sure your actors aren't wearing any clothing that's the same color as the blue or green screen, unless you're going for an invisible man kind of thing.

Tip #22

Don't rely just on for finding cast and crew. Be sure to check out other Websites such as and There is a filmmaker's forum on MySpace too but it gets bogged down by a lot of crap posts from people goofing around...

In terms of actors, be sure to post on the Phildelphia Film Office Website, they also have a casting hotline for people to call.

Tip #23

Here's a tip for supplying food to cast and crew...

Try to find some local businesses that would be willing to donate food in exchange for credit and promotion. It's not always easy, but if you can make friends with people that own a restaraunt, like at a local pizza place, they may donate a few cheese pizzas for some publicity.

I recently worked on a shoot with David Greenberg and he was able to make such an arrangement. He had a local bakery donate some pastries for breakfast and a pizza place donate some pizzas for lunch. He had to make a lot of phone calls to set this up but it paid off!

Color correction is a big issue these days. This is especially true if you're shooting with different make/model cameras for your project. Each camera will have it's own way of interpreting color and each one will be different.

Lighting environments will also have an impact even if you're using just one camera as the lighting environment will change if you move from one location to the next. So even though you're using one camera, you'll still need to pay attention to skin tones.

Get to know your software's color correction tools...No matter what program you're using (Final Cut, Premiere, Avid, etc.) there will be a Help section to the program. Open up the help section and research Color Correction. Look up and get to know the tools and filters that deal with Color Correction such as the 3-way color corrector in FCP and the video scopes that you'll find in each program.

Learn how the tools work and you'll save yourself a lot of time down the road and keep the look of your project consistent.

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