Design, Art, Film, Ideas

Lighting Pucks

I found these lights at The Home Depot the other day. Hampton Bay White Under-Cabinet Linkable Fluorescent Lights (3-Pack) We actually used them in a shoot inside a van to add a little warmth to the shot. It also helped boost the glow from the dashboard.

Yes these fluorescent lights are a little on the warm color side but they came in pretty handy, their small and we use 12Volt DC convert to plug them in. Their 110 volt but because they are so small and fluorescent they didn’t use much power and they stayed pretty cool. But as you can see from the video they could be a used as a fill light in a pinch. This was shot with a pocket camera and we didn’t color correct.

You’ll have to come up with a clever way to mount them depending on your use but where we were using them, in a van. They easily stuck to doors and other surfaces with gaffers tape.

I’ll have another post where I’ll talk about their use when we post the final video.

Thanks Tony for being my subject!

My First Longtail


As a teen I spent so much at Radio Shack they offered me a job. I learned a lot about customer interaction and building a reputation. One of the most important lessons I learn back in 1986 was my first “Long Tail”.   I wish I would have understood the importance of that day back then.

I think back to what the 80’s brought us, that miracle technology that now fits into our pockets. That’s right the cell phone.  Some of you might not remember back then they were as big as cinder blocks and weighed as much.  It would have been hard at first to have envisioned what they would become.

So what does “The Long Tail” have to do with Radio Shack?  While my Manager spent the entire day working on a big sale. Know this, one cell phone back then that was a big sale. About $1500 worth. Not to mention the cell service, installation and all the add ons! Well, while my Boss was working on that sale he kept taunting me with the idea he was going to break the sales record that day. While I toiled away on the writing sales tickets for capacitors, solder and blank tapes and the occasional free battery, he was full of pride at what this sale was going to bring him.

Here’s where the “The Long Tail” comes in. While we sat there counting the days sales I had a very large number of tickets way more than usual. The whole time the boss was entering the data the taunts became less and less as those tickets started adding up…  Well…

Clicking away he soon realized that I beat him by about 20 dollars. I know that’s not a lot but by the end of the day I had made more connections with people and moved more items. While he spent the entire day with that one costumer. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. You have to nurture those good customers and hold their hands sometimes. That’s what keeps them coming back for the big ticket items.

But while I thought it was cool that I sold more, it didn’t really make an impression on me till about a 2 years ago when I read Chris Anderson’s book “The Long Tail” and I started using iTunes extensively to start consuming media that really focused on my interests.

As an artist and sometimes filmmaker I very much see the importance of this lesson. Back then in 1986 it was much harder for me to try to make an impression. I had to work the entire room to make things happen. That was very time intensive and a lot of hard work. But today it’s not that hard to work the room or the world for that matter. What’s hard is making a good or dare I say great product. But it’s not hard to get it out there at least not anymore. The more you can get out the more you will learn about making a great product.  This can be anything, photography, e-books, cartoons, films, webseries, insert name of your product here _____________.

To get my films out there back then I had to go through the system of gate keepers.  Now the system is wide open for content creators of all kinds any kinds.

One of my missions with this blog will be to convince other people like me, artists, filmmakers and the like to forget about the system. Sure it would be great if they see your talents and some how bring you into the fold. But I say forget it those day are fading away.

I had recently picked up an issue of IndeSlate. Which is a great magazine about the Independent Filmmaker.  I enjoy reading it. What I don’t like reading is story after story of filmmakers holding on to their films for years. I’m not talking 1 or 2 but 5 or 6 waiting for that right studio deal.  I got news for you it might not ever come but it’s well within your power to make it on your own with blogs, re-cutting your film to be a webshow, digital distribution through Amazon, Jaman or Hulu.  Soon it will be TIVO, Boxxy, your wifi enabled BluRay player. It doesn’t mean you will automatically or instantly make an impression with an audience.  But it’s got to be beater than setting in a box somewhere waiting for that right deal and run the risk of no one ever seeing it.

The time you took looking for investors, distributors and the right deal you could be looking for an audience. Today those are your investors.  They are the ones that will keep coming back to buy your product.  Just like the relationships I built when I worked at The Shack. Those people came back.  Back then customer services meant something if you know how to treat people.  It’s the same with audiences.

What are you waiting for now?

If you want some FREE advice and ideas I suggest you go here and download the audio book you’ll find in the right hand margin entitled what else?  FREE

The Future of ENG and EFP

This is just like “2001 a Space Odyssey”. Not sure if you remember the scene with the reporter taking pictures. But his camera was very small, well guess what the future is finally hear. I love using my Kodak Zi8. It’s actually a nice little production camera.

Stephen Knapp in the photo. Photo taken by Tony Gasbarro

I think all filmmakers, content creators and bloggers should have one in their bag of tricks. Well filmmakers should have 2. Why should a filmmaker have two? I’m sure there’s many times you have extra hands on set helping you out. This is a perfect time to hand them a camera and have them get behind the scenes footage or do a quick interview.

It could be used in your extras, blog or promotional material. The image quality will come closer to the look of the film you are shooting. Plus it won’t look like a completely different format which tend to make extras look like a after thought. IMHO

If you’re a hyperlocal news person or blogger this camera and future cameras like this will be the future ENG/EFP cameras

What makes this camera a great ENG/EFP camera?

  1. HD Video, already off to a great start with full 1920×1080 HD resolution.
  2. The mic input. With this adapter you can plug in any kind of microphone. Like a reporter type mic, shotgun(that’s the one I use), even a Lavalier mic (you could even plug that in to a wireless system). Don’t forget any extension cords you might need depending on what kind of mic you pick up.
  3. Replaceable battery. If you do a lot of shooting you’ll want extra batteries. Get at least one extra but 2 are always a better bet. Here’s a charger for when the camera is in use. Want REALLY long life? Check one of my earlier blog posts.
  4. SD Cards. Need more recording time pop in another card, up to 16 gigs!
  5. Still images. Check out these, at 5 megapixel they are great for any broadcast situation

Macro setting


This one was aided with a wide angle lens, more on that in a later post.

Here’s a tip need to do a V.O.? Set the camera to a lower video resolution and use your external mic to do your V.O. That way you get a make shift audio recorder since you don’t need the video track it will just make it more manageable.

Kodak the only bit of advice I have is make the door easier to use to get the card out and you can drop the USB port. I’d never dangle that thing from my computer unless I was desperate.  Oh and maybe make an audio mode.

Free Laurels, get your free Laurels here…

I like free stuff. So here’s something free that every filmmaker can use. Your done with your film and you’ve entered it into some film festivals and you got IN congratulation!

I’m sure the last thing you want to do is make more art work to promote your film. I wanted to show off the festivals I was accepted at but I found most Festival didn’t have their own Laurels to hand out. So I made some, now I figure other filmmakers can use them too.

Just click on the image or here to download your customizable PSD file. Yes you will need Photoshop to use this.

In the PSD you’ll find a black version and a white version.  But you can make these any color to match your website.  Here’s how use can use them.

  1. Click on the text layers to change the name of the film festival, it’s subtitle, and year.
  2. Then select all the text layers and recenter the text so they fit in the Laurels nicely.
  3. Set background color.  There is a black and gray in there now but you can set those colors to anything you need.
  4. Transparent background.  Turn off the background colors, then select “Save for Web” in Photoshop and select the PNG file format.  Then you won’t have to worry about color.

I tried to make the psd a nice size so it could be scaled down to any size for web and it should still be okay for print on posters or DVD cases.

Let me know if you find them useful.  If there are questions leave a comment.


I’ve added Print size file formats.  PSD, AI and EPS versions of this file.  Please feel free to download and share these files.

Print size 300 dpi PSD .psd file

Click on these files to download!

PSD Laurals All layers to make a Black or White version

AI Just Laurals No TEXT

AI Laurals Print Ready

EPS File Works with most graphics programs.

PSD, AI, EPS In 1 Zip File