Many kinds of photography require you to go out to a specific location to get your shot, such as landscapes, wildlife and architecture. But, there are a few styles that let you work from a controlled studio environment. Product photography is one of these styles that can be photographed in a spare room.
Any room can be turned into a studio given enough space. One of the largest benefits of working in your home is that you can control the environment. For example, choose a room where you can control the lighting through a window or with overhead lights. If it's possible, find a room in your home where there is enough space on either side of the window to take images comfortably. Having room on either side is important for being able to shoot multiple angles.
After you pick where your studio is going to be, it's time to start setting it up. The first item you need is a table to help you elevate your product. It also gives you a place to set up other equipment.
Next, you need to set up your background. Product photography often uses an infinite backdrop, which is a long piece of material with a curve instead of a corner. These backdrops keep shadows from forming behind the subject that can be distracting. The easiest material to use is paper because it is cheap and can be found in many different sizes. Cloth also can be used, but it has some disadvantages. Cloth is generally more transparent than paper in situations like these, so make sure to use fabric with a dense weave. Wrinkles are the other main disadvantage, and if you can see them, then your camera can pick them up, too. Ironing the cloth can keep wrinkles to a minimum; however, wrinkles can be used as an effect if that is the desire.
Once you have completed these steps, you need to focus on your lighting options. Your window can be used as the key or main light, which means you need to shape the remaining light to fit your needs. Keep in mind that you may need to manipulate the light coming through your window if there are any hard shadows. You can soften the lighting with blinds or drapes if shadows are a problem. Furthermore, if the product you are shooting becomes dark on one side or casts its own shadow, you will need to bounce in light. This is called a fill light, which can be made with another piece of white paper that is taped to a flat surface and can be moved wherever the light needs to be filled. Get this fill light as close to your subject as possible without it coming into frame to give the lighting across your subject a more even and attractive tone.
Finally, it's time to start shooting. Building your own studio is a lot faster and less daunting than most people think, and this is doubly true when photographing small objects.
The video below features my musings on the cyclical evolution of cinema. It’s the same as anything. A never-ending cycle of inspiration and innovation.
I spend so much of my time on this blog talking about how hard it is to make this web series. Bitching about scheduling, people’s schedules, finagling everyone’s personal calendars, and the scheduling of it all. That’s really the main thing I complain about. But I do it a lot. Because, clearly, everyone’s lives should revolve around the show, as the planets revolve around the life giving sun. So…
It’s nice to finally be able to tell you that I’m having a really good time editing the episode. I’m a cheerful little showrunner as I’ve watched the first fifteen minutes of the rough-cut come together. Even as I already plot to re-shoot a section of it and come to grips with a heaping amount of ADR we’re going to need to do (more on that later), it’s so validating to see the story unfold in a visually satisfying way with your friends giving hilarious performances before your very eyes. It’s one of those This-is-the-reason-I-do-it kind of moments, and it’s nice to feel that way.
As for why we have so much ADR to do, I’m going to let you in on it. Three main reasons, file them away as cautionary tales for your own productions.
1: We have a whole new system of sound gear: a wonderfully specific shotgun microphone to go in our old-as-the-hills boom pole and a brand new Marantz field recorder. We started learning to use these on the production, so there was a learning curve involved.
2: Our old tried-and-true sound crew is scattered to the wind. We had them some nights, but most of the time we were calling upon the ears of fresh volunteers. They did a great job for just picking up the equipment for the first time, and a fantastic job monitoring the levels, but if you’ve never had your head in the earphones before you can’t tell the difference between a microphone that’s pointed directly and one that’s pointed slightly indirectly. You’re not trained to notice the slight bass’y muffling around the edges of speech.
3: This one is on me. I’ve been choreographing scenes with A LOT of foreground/background interplay. I’ve been packing a lot of actors into tableau frames with a variety of depth and speaking levels. It looks great, but as I’ve said, we have ONE microphone and it is perilously specific. So, placing actors on either side of a room isn’t the best plan for getting great sound. Even a superstar boom op would have trouble landing this one.
In other news, we have a lot of kids to cast. I’ve put out a casting call to several Chicago agencies and I’ll get some auditions lined up in a couple weeks. Only waiting that amount of time because of the availability of the free audition space. I’ve put out a lot of lines to a lot of locations, and I feel like we’re finally getting to a place where we can start shooting the rest of the episode. All it takes is time and persistence.
So, there you go. Another week, another blog post. I have a lot of work ahead of me and I feel pretty good about it. Not a usual state of affairs.
Also, my last video update was embedded on one of my favorite film craft sites, Filmmaker IQ, this week. They liked what I was saying enough to include it in their articles. Good week.
Thanks for reading.
The video below is all about how much presentation matters.
In similar news, I’ve begun wearing ties everyday. It’s like an adventure.
As I gear up to try and get us back on a post-holidays
shooting schedule, I realized that I never broke down shoot nights 14 and 15 of
episode 9 for the blog here.
Saturday, December 13. 6pm-11:30pm. Many people were very
ill. Suede, our resident bad guy looked like death between takes. Eliza was our
main sound operator and she was nearing the peak of a terrible cold. I put it
up for a vote where we should get dinner from and the Damon Team actors banded
together to make Chipotle happen. I think I may have an irrevocable line-cross
in one of these scenes. For those who don’t know, crossing the line is when
actor’s eyelines don’t match between edits. If one actor is looking to the left
of camera while having a conversation, their scene partner should be looking to
the right of camera in their shot. Having shot one scene over the course of two
nights, a little blocking got changed and one side of the eyeline changed. I
tried reshooting the other side the following night, but wardrobe had changed,
so I’ll probably have to go with the eyeline stumble. We rocked through our
shotlist, getting some really great performances and shots, stacked our gear in
the back, and called it a night.
Sunday, December 14. 5pm-10:30pm. Again, people were very
sick. Eliza came in at the beginning solely to bridge the gap until I had a
last minute sound team replacement show up in the form of our occasional helper
Miguel Franco. Nice dude. We had much less to shoot this night, got dinner from
a fantastic greasy grill place called Michael’s Hotdogs, where Eliza and I
allowed ourselves to have fried chicken fingers and melted cheddar with our
fries. Neither diet nor disease could hinder our high-caloric revelry that
night, my friends. We had much fewer pages to shoot that night and wrapped a
half hour early. It took me a little over an hour to get everything loaded up
and out to the car. I dropped the footage into our main and back-up externals
and glanced through some playback. This episode is going to be great.
One of the things holding me up from scheduling shoot days
since we’ve returned from our holiday travels is how much I still need to
locate. I need to come up with 12 new locations, of which I’ve so far found 2,
and 23 new actors for very small parts, of which I’ve so far cast 4. It’s just
a lot to think about. I think I’m going to call upon our network of actors to
see if anybody has leads on enthusiastic potential participants and location
loaners. I feel like I’ve already almost exhausted my knowledge of places I
know. But I’m slowly working on it.
In the meantime I’ve been editing a little bit. There’s a
really long glidecam shot that I’ve been wishing was steadier, so I tried
running it through an After Effects stabilization process called Warp
Stabilizer. Did not do a good job. It’s usually pretty good, but this time
there’s too much motion in too many directions. So I’ve been going through and stabilizing
it myself. It’s a long process, but I think it’ll look a lot better at the
other side of it.
Thanks for reading, y’all.
The video update below is an annual Year in Review video my wife and I do every year, reflecting on our favorite entertainments of the year.
So, I’ve been off the blog for a couple weeks. It usually happens this time of year. I get whisked down the holiday hole, and for a couple of shining weeks my ambition takes a backseat and I hang out with my wife and various configurations of family and friends. It’s really nice.
Now, it’s the beginning of a whole new year, so let’s take stock of what happened over the last year.
We won the Studio 360 #scaryshorts competition with our short …JACK and I got to talk to Wes Craven, a personal filmmaking hero of mine. It was a project with a quick turnaround, which we were able to accomplish because of the skills and equipment we’ve gathered over the years for the show. It was a thrilling beginning to 2014.
We launched episode 8 of PoPS in the middle of the summer with the shortest time yet between completion and release. I finished it, put up aTRAILER announcing the release in 3 days, put up an awesome 30-second PREVIOUSLY ON the day before, and launched EPISODE 8 the day after. The reactions were overwhelmingly positive and immediate. It was a thrilling week of reading comments and I never expected so many people to think it was the best episode yet. Awesome.
We traveled to GenCon in Indianapolis to attend our Best Series of 2013 screening. Though we only had about 10 people turn up for the screening, it was a lot of fun watching it with them, handing them PoPS buttons and cards afterward, and it turned out to be an absolutely pivotal moment for the production of episode 9. We also just had a fantastic weekend exploring Indianapolis.
Then, Project Greenlight comes back. Just like with ...Jack, I come up with a quick script, we go out and shoot WHOOPS over 3 weeknights, and, in a competition with thousands of entries, make it into the top 200. In that same period of time, PoPS gets nominated for Best Indie Series for the Streamy Awards. So Eliza and I spent an insane 3-day weekend driving around shooting a BIO VIDEO for Project Greenlight and a CAMPAIGN VIDEO for our Indiegogo campaign as we set out to raise funds for episode 9 of PoPS. I got those edited and put up just in time to head to LA to attend the Streamy Awards. I love getting the chance to go to LA and roll around in the sunshine, the landscape, and the feeling of being in the beating heart of the entertainment industry. We didn’t win the Streamy for Best Indie Series and I progressed no further in the Project Greenlight competition. It felt like a double smackdown, and I entered a period of time when I didn’t feel much like doing anything creative.
However, our INDIEGOGO CAMPAIGN was a huge success, thanks to the arrival of our largest donor ever. After first seeing PoPS on a whim at the GenCon screening, he donated $6,000 to help us reach our fundraising goal. We shall be seeing him in person pretty soon as we fly him out to actually appear in episode 9. Outstanding.
My annual October nightmarathon this year was a 21-hour endeavor watching all 12 films currently in the FRIDAY THE 13TH FRANCHISE. It was a lot of fun to put together—these always are—and this time we ended up getting featured on several horror blogs and the Friday the 13th-the franchise website. It was a blast.
We spent the last two months of 2014 neck deep in production of episode 9, Eliza spent the last week trying to pay a lot of people out for the first 20 evenings of filming before the end of the tax year, and now we just need to focus on shooting another nine pages of tiny, one-off scenes in a ton of different locations. It looks daunting right now, but as soon as I sit down to hash out the scenes one at a time, it’ll all come into focus.
That’s a look at my video-year. 2014 had a lot of ups and downs. But all of it has given me a pretty good perspective as I head into the last two episodes of the series. Pulling off all 10 episodes of PoPS will be quite an accomplishment. It hasn’t turned into the springboard-to-Hollywood that I always hoped it would be, but it’s brought me so much more success in ways I’d never imagined. And even when I’m down on how hard production gets, it’s nice that the on-set rush of it all coming together still makes it feel imperative.
Thanks for reading, and for another great year.
As the professional photography and videography industry gains notoriety, amateurs and professionals alike are taking more extreme measures to capture the footage that suits their latest projects. A necessity in many photo and video enthusiasts' toolbox is the GoPro camera. A favorable review from PCmag.com refers to this little gem as an inexpensive and compact camera, durable enough to navigate white water rapids but powerful enough to produce a professional-grade end product.
Whether you are already a fan of this lightweight, versatile camera, or you are considering joining the masses who already use them, read on for five tips to take your photo and video projects to the next level.
The new night photo mode on the GoPro boasts a variety of different exposure settings for those hard-to-capture low lighting images, allowing users to capture nighttime images in brilliant color and detail like never before. Additionally, GoPro offers software and an app with purchase of a camera, enabling the user to use the latest associated software, making the total experience beyond user friendly.
The GoPro App allows you to control your camera remotely using your phone or tablet, view and share your content, watch “best of” videos on the GoPro Channel and create videos that can be shared on a global level. Not only can you make better videos than ever before, you can share them with like-minded individuals.
Accessories are a must-have if you are looking to combine the best of your old camera with newer software and features. GoPro offers the 3D HERO system, which enables you to convert 2D video into a 3D format, allowing you to combine material from previous shoots with current work. This way, you can remain on top of your competition, even if some of your material was shot in a different format.
Depending on what type of footage you are hoping to capture, GoPRO has thought of it all. Mounts of every shape and size are available—from helmet mounts and chest mounts, to tripods and rolling mounts, the selection is vast. You can even capture video as you surf or ride a dirt bike, with pristine studio quality. Using a mount will allow you to produce work that provides a unique perspective and angle to your shot. It will also give you the freedom to move where the action is, without compromising the quality of your footage. GoPro cameras and mounts are available at the powersports specialty store BikeBandit and at major retailers, too.
Another excellent accessory that you can take advantage of is the Dual-Battery Charger and Battery, useful to have in case you run out of juice in your current battery. Along the same lines, you can maximize your battery's life by charging as you travel with an easy-to-use car charger, so that when the right shot comes along, you're more than prepared. Having your battery charged and ready, with a few backups is key, especially when you are looking to capture candid moments. You don't want to find yourself witnessing the perfect image, only to find a dead battery in your camera.