Producer Tips

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If you are a budding video producer in need of a little assistance from your ol’ pal Cody, look no further!  Every week I will give you a tip, a trick or advice on how to make the best production you can.

If you have any tips you would like to share, email us and you may see it here!

 cody-cmc Cody D. McLaughlin
Volunteer Development Coordinator


Producer Tip #20: DIY 3-Point Lighting

CMC Tips and Tricks, News/Blog, Video

You have a plan, a background, a camera, a chair, and a person to put in front of the camera! You have everything you need and then you go to film… and the lighting is horrendous. It is just terrible! So you fire up google and search for 3-point lighting, only to find that good lighting is going to cost at least $1,000! And as much as we would all like to say, “$1,000?! That’s pocket change!”, in reality, most of us will be saying, “$1,000?! I barely have enough money to buy myself some chipotle.” But do not fret! I have found a video, by Adam Shearer, teaching you how to make DIY 3-point lighting for a whopping $26! So let’s get into it.

Here is what you’re going to need:

1. Workforce 250w Work Light

2. Laundry Basket

3. Aluminium Foil

4. Tape

5. Sheer Curtains

6. Leviton Outlet to Socket Light Plug

7. White Poster Board

8. Light Bulb

9. Scissors

10.Extention Cord

After you have acquired these super inexpensive 10 things, you are ready to build your key light, fill light, and hair light!

Key Light:

Step 1: Take your laundry basket and roughly cut a work light sized hole in the bottom. This is going to be your soft box.

Step 2: Un-screw the casing of the work light and put it throughout the slot you cut. Then screw the casing back on.

Step 3: Line the inside of the basket in aluminum foil and tape it in place. This is going to control and reflect the light.

Step 4: Cut up the curtains in order to fit the front of the basket. Tape them to the top. You can do several layers in order to be able to be flip up layers  and create a dimming ability to your DIY light.

Step 5: Place this light to in front of you and angled toward one side of your body.

Your main source of light is done! 1 down, 2 to go!

Fill Light:

Step 1: Prop up(with a chair, wall, box, etc.) the white poster board opposite of your key light. The light is going to bounce back and reflect onto the opposite side of your face filling in the shadows.

Easy! One more light to go until your lighting will be on point.

Hair Light:

Step 1: Put your light bulb into the Leviton plug.

Step 2. Plug it into your extension cord.

Step 3. Place it behind and above you(of course, out of frame) to light your head up and give some dimension.

And there you have it! You’re dirt cheap 3-point lighting to make any video look like a professional video. If you want to watch a video tutorial, then check out This give you an in-depth tutorial of how to construct the lights as well as a guide on where to place them.

Producer Tip #19: Thirds

CMC Tips and Tricks, News/Blog

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No… We aren’t going to cut a person up, but we are going to use the rule of thirds to shoot a fantastic interview. If you are not a professional interview conductor, but you want to interview your neighbor, or anyone else, for a project, be sure you use the rule of thirds in order to have the correct amount of head room and lead/looking room. You don’t know what that is you say? Well luckily this post is going to help you! Lets get started.

What is the Rule of Thirds?

It is when you split the screen into 9 boxes. It is a grid like a tic-tac-toe board that you can use to correctly place your subject.

What is head room and lead/looking room? 

Head Room: The space between to top of your interviewees head and the top of the frame.

Lead/Looking Room: The subject should be angled to one side of the camera or the other in order to appear to be having a conversation. The lead room or looking room is the amount of space between the subjects eyes and the side of the frame in which they are angled.

How do I use the Rule of Thirds in order to have the proper amount of space for head room and lead/looking room?

Head Room: Place the subjects eyes on the top or 1st horizontal line in the thirds grid.

Lead/Looking Room: Determine the direction they are angled.

Left-If they are angled to their left there should be more background showing their left side. Now look at the grid on the camera and line up their nose with the left or first vertical line.

Right: If they are angled to their right, there should be more background showing to their right.So when looking at the grid on the camera, their nose should be lined up with the right or second vertical line.

There you go! Now you can set up your interview to look just as professional the experts!

Producer Tip #18: Location

CMC Tips and Tricks, News/Blog

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You’re ready to start shooting. You have a flawless script, detailed storyboard, extra SD cards and batteries, but where are you going? Location shooting is a tricky task that takes a lot of preparation. Scouting locations before dragging all of your equipment and crew members there can save you tons of time and frustration, and maybe even your shot. Bill Fisher from compiled a list of 11 Tips for Location Scouting to help you find the perfect location. Here a few of them

  • Scout at the right time – check your location on the day of the week and at the time you plan to shoot. Several factors can change depending on time of day, day of the week, and time of year, such as automobile traffic or tourists.
  • Follow the sun – Note if spots are in full sunlight, partial sunlight, or full shade. Bright sun can be harsh on faces and make it easy to overexpose light colored surfaces. Shaded locations or an overcast day can produce smooth results.
  • Check for power supplies – is there a place to plug in your camera, lights, or other equipment? Are you sure all the power won’t blow a fuse? Be prepared with several batteries if needed.
  • Listen – Use headphones to listen through your camera’s microphone. Different microphones pick up different sounds at different distances. Good sound quality makes a video standout from the ordinary.

5 Things to do before you shoot

CMC Tips and Tricks, News/Blog

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One of the most important things to do in producing or being a part of any video production is planning. Planning is a pretty broad term so let me tell you which part of planning that I am referring to; checking your equipment.

So here you are. You have finally done the impossible! You have successfully written or obtained a wonderful script that could be the greatest thing needing to be put to paper since your episode of gastrointestinal distress from fish taco night at Sheetz. Congrats! (About your script, not your poor life choices leading to a mad dash to the commode) But once you have your script at the ready, there are still some things that you should do before heading out to shoot your masterpiece. Between the combination of our own experiences from producers at the CMC and the input from the kind Chuck Peters from video, here is a great list of 5 things to do before you shoot


5 things to do before you shoot

  1. Prep your media- Make sure that your SD Card is clean or your tapes are bought (if you still use tape).  This will save you some time out there on the shoot.
  2. Check your audio- PUT THE HEADPHONES ON.  You may think you are getting the right levels, but it could be an air conditioner hum or static that may mess with the audio in your scene.
  3. Test your gear- Test everything before you take it out with you.  Nothing worse than having to panic out on the shoot for a backup to some broken piece of gear.
  4. Plan your shoot-  If you have good time management and plan out the time you have to shoot properly, you will not be wasting good sunlight or wasting time during the “magic hour” (this is the hour before the sun completely sets or the hour during sunrise)
  5. Check your focus- Always double and triple check your focus before pressing the record button.   You do not want the thing to wreck your shot to be something with a simple fix like checking your focus.

Video Credit: Vitoria Castro

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