This past month, I’ve been putting a lot of work on the greenscreen training book that I’m co-writing with Michele Yamazaki for MWP. While it won’t be out until next year, its deadline coincided with this new issue. While it might seem like that would prevent me from noticing new trends happening that effect the low-budget community, it actually has caused me to open my eyes even wider.
As I’ve worked on the book, I’ve seen a number of filmmakers create amazing greenscreen films using common low-budget cameras like the DVX100 and HVX200 cameras. I mean, we’re talking some folks who managed to create amazingly Sin City-like effects on a true shoestring!
At the same time, this month we reviewed the brand new Red Giant greenscreen keying software, Primatte Keyer 4, which makes extremely precise keying much, much easier on non-Hollywood quality cameras. (ie, any of the cameras any of us can currently afford!) Technical writer Tom Stern here at MFM directed and is currently doing the editing on Second Person, an entire film shot in greenscreen with the HVX200 which utilizes these new improvements for the complex post procedures.
Again, all of these are with current affordable cameras. We can’t even imagine the impact the RED Scarlet 3K with its RAW color space could have on all of this come next year! (If you missed my multiple commentaries on this last month, be sure to go back and check it out!) Of course, even more than the color space, I’m personally excited about the Scarlet’s 120-180 fps slow-mo abilities for low-budget filmmakers. While most of my readers probably think that’s just because I’m a bit of an action junkie, the truth is that slow-motion has the most capability for surrealism and getting inside a protagonist’s head. Plus, there is something just fascinating about slow motion footage that compels the eye to watch. (If you doubt this, watch the recent 3 Doors Down video, “It’s Not My Time,” which showcases slow mos of a man running and jumping over things. Although he’s not chased by anything, you are mesmerized throughout the video by the beauty of motion itself!)
Beyond these improvements (or potential future software improvements from folks like Adobe and Maxon), there’re also some trends that are changing in our society that could have benefits to low budget filmmakers. Bands that are signed to record labels are starting to find situations where they can essentially put certain tracks or albums into the public domain. In all probability, these are tracks or albums that their record label felt wouldn’t be marketable and gave the artists permission to do whatever they wanted with them. While some artists have simply released their album free of charge to the populace, such as when Stereo Deluxx released their “Pretty Little Time Bomb” album a few years back, others have released them with almost all of their rights removed. In this latter category, I refer most recently to Nine Inch Nails. Their “Slip” album was released free of charge AND virtually all legal restraint. As such, if everything is as it appears, any of the songs of that album could be used in any film legally without compensation. (Obviously, this may change in the future, so make sure to check the information made available by NIN or other bands who do this sort of thing before using any of their music.) Even though the songs on “The Slip” aren’t as good as some of the other NIN albums on the market, the creative filmmaker can use a part of any song on the album and advertise his film as having music by Nine Inch Nails, which gives additional credibility to his film. If more bands follow suit, then this could be an awesome trend for low-budget filmmakers!
As always, keep your eyes open for new trends in technology and society that can be successfully utilized by the low-budget filmmaker and you might just find something that will allow you to make the next great stride in microbudget filmmaking! (Just don’t forget to tell your fellow filmmakers about it so they can take advantage of it, too!)