Going Indie

Today we have an insightful guest post which comes from the talented Dan Bernard of the The Reel Life. TRL is a reality series that focuses on the triumphs and struggles a little production company named “The Division” enjoys and battles with.

Going Indie

I can’t do it unless I have… I hear that nonsense a lot in the video production world, and I couldn’t disagree more.

So you don’t have an amazing camera, lights, or money, but WHO CARES!

I know many talented people who can (and did) do a lot with very little. There is something inherently charming and rewarding in working with only what you have available to you, and doing it really well.

I’d like to share a number of tips that I’ve learned over time that will help any fledgling director with a story to tell get great results.


So, you don’t have 50 cars to smash up during your epic car chase idea, so what, right? Anyone can make a chase scene intense and powerful using clever camera shots and angles.

The guys over at FilmRiot did a review of the new GoPro Hero3 camera, and shot a crazy action packed chase scene. Do you need a GoPro to do this? NO! Any kind of small inexpensive camera like a Flip Camera, or even an iPhone can be used. The chaotic, crazy shots and angles are really what sells the suspense in the scene.

Don’t try to make your scene over complicated, stick with a simple concept and story and do it really well!


When working on a project, play to your strengths. Know your abilities and organize your project and team around everyone’s talents and skill sets.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a really good VFX artist. I love LEARNING about VFX and motion graphics, but my strength is in video editing.

So what does that mean? It means that when I’m working on a project, I’m going to devote my time to an area that I know I can handle comfortably, and do a quality job at.

“Water Time” (embedded below) created by Hapstance Films is a great example of a simple concept that didn’t use any fancy VFX and was edited together flawlessly to make for a great watch!


Friends, Family and Free.

Use them all to your advantage, and use them wisely. Having a team of friends and family will make a world of difference when developing your video production. Get some people you know excited about your project and let them know how important they are to you.

Never, I repeat, NEVER, underestimate the power of food. Need some talent for your shoot? Look to your friends and family, buy them a delicious lunch and let them know how much you value their involvement.

Check out this short film (below) from director Slobodan Gajic entitled “The Ally”. This entire film was shot on the production managers family’s property, with only friends and family starring, and producing. This is the kind of quality one can attain by effectively utilizing the relationships one has for free!

There are some amazing DIY channels out there on YouTube that are dedicated to production. One channel in particular belongs to The Frugal Filmmaker. This guy is pretty amazing considering half of his gear was purchased from the local Dollar Store.

I also hear a number of people talking about how they can’t afford quality editing/compositing/sound design software. Yeah, you don’t have to tell me that the stuff is expensive, trust me , I know, but there are some pretty sweet alternatives if you don’t feel like dropping a mint on the newest NLE.

Speaking of NLE…Adobe has a really great offer through their Creative Cloud service. You can get a monthly subscription to ALL of the full, desktop versions of products like Premiere, After Effects, Photoshop, and Audition for a very reasonable price. Adobe also offers free monthly trials for almost all of their products.

If you’re SUPER cheap and don’t feel like going with the trial version route, you might want to check out some open source resources like Blender (3D modeling/Video editor) Gimp (Image manipulation) and Audacity (Audio editor).


Don’t shortchange your locations. Nothing says “Epic” like a sweet backdrop in your scene. Yeah, it might not be Lord of the Rings, but it will add a whole new level of production value to your project if your locations are beautiful.

Locations can make or break your films atmosphere and quality. If your location doesn’t match your films feel or context, you are essentially sabotaging your production. Corridor Digital recently posted this great insight on to how to score some really sweet locations near you.

Get creative with the environment in which you show your characters. Know a friend who has some property in a rural area not too far from where you are? Have a buddy who owns a car body repair shop? Do you work at a restaurant that could hook you up with the location after hours? Consider everything when you’re tapping your script for locations!

Of course, you can always go with the alternative route of just building your own location. Use programs like Mocha by Imagineer Systems to track your footage and “paint” a new location into your shot. We use mocha all the time, AND it seamlessly integrates with After Effects, so it’s well worth the investment. Double Prizes!

There are lots of great training resources out there for techniques like this, but I’ve always gone with the tutorials done by Andrew Kramer over at Videocopilot.

The proof is in the pudding, and we all LOVE pudding!

When it was all said and done, our total financial cost to make the Tetsuji’s Shadow trailer (below) was… drum roll please… $60!

We used ALL of the tips listed above and got some results that we are all pretty darn proud of. We put this trailer together to really give an audience a conceptual idea of what we can do with very little, and hopefully convince enough people that we are good enough to get funded and give this project the quality it so rightly deserves! Please check out the trailer and contribute what you can to our IndieGoGo campaign!

We have a number of behind the scenes videos over at The Reel Life Vlog channel, so be sure to check those out too!


Your ideas and story should be kept simple so that you can really focus on the important stuff. Keep your goals reasonable, and don’t box yourself into a corner. Keep growing and expanding your ideas as you develop your skills and tools.

1) Keep it simple – Don’t over complicate your production.

2) Stick to your strengths – You know what you’re good at, don’t overload yourself.

3) The three F’s – Friends, Family, Free.

4) Location, Location, Location – Give your project the backdrop it deserves.

I hope this gives all you filmmakers, directors, and producers some encouragement and inspiration for developing your next video or film project!

Need collaborators and partners for your next video or film project? Then get a free Spidvid profile and launch your project now! And be sure to subscribe to this blog if you don’t already!

3 Ways To Have More Fun When Creating Videos

video production fun

Creating entertaining videos can at times be a tedious, frustrating, and non-pleasant activity. There are ways to have more fun while creating videos with your team members, and I’ve outlined 3 of them below.

1. Build your team carefully – Anything in life is more fun when you are around individuals that you get along with, who share your values, and who have an engaging personality. Every time one of my friends tells me that he or she hates their job, it almost always comes down to dis-liking their co-workers. Associate with solid people, build teams that possess good chemistry, and you will have more fun while getting better video production results.

2. Have the right tools, equipment, and software – Have you worked with video cameras, sound equipment, lighting, or video editing software that sucked before? Not too much fun is it! If you don’t have the products needed to get a video project done smoothly and successfully then attract team members who can contribute what’s needed.

3. Choose your projects wisely – Time is such a precious commodity in today’s fast paced digital media age. So why waste time on video projects that are doomed from the start, are clearly going to be no fun, and even if completed will get next to no views or tons of thumbs down as ratings. If you are a video creator please be sure to start with solid ideas, concepts, and scripts. If you can’t get excited about the project you want to develop, then how do you expect to inspire anyone else to?

Have more fun creating videos by using our Spidvid platform and leveraging our community.

Have a 4th way to add that will offer more good times when creating videos? The comments are yours below!

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Professional Video Sound Effects

Transformers on set

I wanted to share this video of the audio production design team behind the Transformers 3 film that was recently released. They show you how simple instruments such as an electric guitar and odd tools like dry ice are used to create alien-like sounds for their feature film. Creating your own sound effects for video can be highly effective and budget friendly, or just plain downright interesting.

Check it out:

Director Michael Bay and Producer Steven Spielberg return this summer for the third film in the Transformers franchise, Tranformers: Dark of the Moon. The amazing visual effects in this film are complimented by the talented efforts of the sound team including Re-recording Mixers Greg Russell and Jeff Haboush, and Supervising Sound Editor and Sound Designers Ethan Van der Ryn, and Erik Aadahl.

This is the first 3D film of the series and will also be presented in regular 2D, Real D 3D and IMAX, featuring Dolby Surround 7.1 sound.

For more exclusive videos check out SoundWorksCollection.com
Join the SoundWorks Collection Vimeo Channel

If you like this post by guest blogger, Zephan Blaxberg, founder of RookieVideoPro.com please visit our website, the online source for video production tips, tools and gear. Follow Rookie Video Pro on Twitter at@rookievideopro for the latest updates and information.

An Online Video School

Did you go to film school? If you didn’t you may want to check out Vimeo’s new Video School series which is a collection of how to videos that will help you create better quality videos. And hey, if you did graduate from film school you may still want to check out some of the videos to refresh your memory on how to do specific production things.

Topics in Vimeo’s Video School to date include choosing camera gear, shooting, lighting, sound, framing and composition, storyboarding, editing, everything DSLR, effects, and other useful elements to improve your production value.

You may want to start with the 3 videos below, and go from there. These videos cover the basics that every filmmaker needs to have.

Choosing a camera

Shooting basics

Editing basics

Is there something you need help with to create better quality video entertainment? Post your needs in the comments below, and we will try to help you out and get you on your way! Or you can contact us if you want to have a private conversation.

3 Elements For Improving Your Video Entertainment

We offer useful tips and resources on regular basis on our Facebook and Twitter pages to help video creators in our Spidvid community to consistently produce better quality entertainment. With that, we have taken common elements that we see time and time again and summarized them below.

3 Key Elements For Improving Your Video Entertainment

1. Team – Quality individuals make all the difference when it comes to any kind of production project. Each team should consist of diverse talent, there needs to be some leadership to drive everything forward, and perhaps most importantly everyone needs to get along to ensure project success. Our community has lots of quality members who can help with your next video project.

2. Story – Viewers want to watch videos that tell a story they can connect with, or relate to. You can have the greatest actors and team of all time, but without a story that grabs and holds an audience’s attention, you have nothing. Paying close attention to the script before the shoot happens is so vitally important, and can’t be underestimated. Selling the team with a remarkable story to get everyone on the same page early on is key.

3. Production Value – This element may not matter quite as much as it used to, but quality resolution, sound, and lighting matter. Quality cameras matter a lot, but lighting and especially sound matter just as much, if not more. If your production value needs improvement and you can’t afford the equipment to make that happen, then be sure to attract individuals who have the resources needed.

Have a 4th element to add? Be sure to comment below and let us know how video entertainment production can be improved, or enhanced.