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Posts Tagged ‘video’

Hipster Videography 101: The Art of Lens Whacking

When future film students start writing papers creating virtual reports about the visual styles of the 20-teens, those kids are going notice a whole lot of lens flares and light leaks.  Right now, that dreamy, home movie-esque, Instagram-y look is all over the place.  Most hipster photographers and videographers just slap some filters on their photos and videos and call it art.  But you’re no poser so if you want want flares and light leaks, you should lean how to create them for real by “whacking” your DSLR’s lens.  posted a great tutorial about the Art of Lens whacking and the site describes the practice thusly*….

Lens whacking, also called free lensing, is a method of shooting with the lens detached from the camera body. It allows light leaks, creates a tilt shift focus effect, and adds a dreamlike, vintage quality to your footage.

Here’s what a lens-whacked video looks like.  If you can master this little trick you should be able to create some seriously cool looking footage:


from on .

Vimeo says that entire video was shot with the lens detached from the camera.  Here’s how the trick works:

Normally the only light that hits your camera’s sensor is filtered through the lens. When you remove the lens, light can hit the sensor from many different angles. If too much light is let in your image will be over-exposed and hard to make out – but if you let just a bit in, you’ll get some lovely lens flares and light leaks.

Now that you’ve read these descriptions you probably already understand how to whack your lens.  Basically you just detach your lens from your DSLR and then hold it in place while you shoot.  If you tilt it a little, light will leak in through the opening.  Vimeo does a very thorough job of describing how to correctly whack your lens so to read the full tutorial.

*Please note, “thusly” is not exactly a real word.  So every time you say it, stuck up people will think you’re dumb.  But screw those pretentious jerks because “thusly” is a fun word and you should use as much as you want.


Folgers announces their 2013 Jingle Contest winner

Folgers’ annual jingle contest doesn’t usually get much attention but it’s actually one of the biggest video contests in the world.  In 2011, the contest received more than 3,000 entries.  Now that I think about it, this year’s Crash the Super Bowl contest only got about 3,000 submissions.  So it’s very possible that the 2013 Folgers Jingle contest was BIGGER than the 2013 Doritos contest.  That’s kind of surprising since Doritos literally offers millions of dollars in prizes in “The Crash” but Folgers only gives out one prize of $25,000.  Folgers probably gets so many entries because their contest is so easy to enter.  You don’t have to hire actors or write a script.  All you have to do is perform your own version of the classic “The Best Part of Waking Up…” jingle.  Oh my God.  Can you imagine being a judge in that contest?  I’d never want to drink a drop of coffee again after hearing thousands of people perform the same song over and over and over.

The judges that didn’t go insane selected and announced a slate of 10 finalists back in March.  Then there was a month-long public voting period.  But…votes didn’t actually determine the winner in this contest.  The judges made the final pick and contests just got a few extra points if they did well in the voting.  The winning musician is named Sawyer Frye and he’s from Carthage, NC.  Here’s his video:

Folger’s Grand Prize Winner.  Prize: $25,000:

Holy crap.  Wait a second, that was sort of amazing, wasn’t it?  I just now realized that I recognized the guy who won that contest.  Last fall I did a blog post about a music video he did that won a contest sponsored by FireHouse subs.  His FireHouse entry was so good that I said something like “If this guy keeps entering contests he’s going to make a fortune.”  Guess I was right about something for a change!

Folgers really milked this contest and they made all of the finalists appear in little biographical videos.  If you want to watch any of these or if you want to see the other nominated jingles, head here.


A Go Pro + some helium balloons + fishing line = cheap aerial photography

Last year I bought a little GoPro camera and I sent it up into “space” using a weather balloon.  The footage from 100,000 feet up was really cool but the best stuff was recorded right after take off.  Since my little space balloon adventure I’ve wanted to see if I could send a GoPro up just 500 feet or so and get some overhead shots.  It looks like I’m not the first person to have that idea because today I found a tutorial that explains how to do aerial photography with a GoPro, some party balloons and a fishing pole:

The footage that the guy in the video shot is pretty hazy but it did look steady enough to be usable.  One of these days I’m going to set up a rig like this and get some areal shots for a video contest entry.  Contest judges love crazy camera tricks!  No seriously….they do.  Judges always like it when it’s obvious that someone put a lot of thought and work into their entry. If you slip a cool overhead shot into one of your videos, someone is going to be impressed with your creativity.

AND NOW, A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT:  Helium is a non-renewable natural resource.  It’s the most abundant element in the universe but it’s very hard to come by here on earth.  Most of it has to be extracted from pockets of gas in underground caverns.  The human race is using helium at an absurd rate and we are on track to exhaust the Earth’s Helium supplies in less than 30 years.  Scientists estimate that if the government sold helium at an appropriate market rate, a single “Happy Birthday” balloon would cost about $100.  In the next few years we’re going to be hearing a lot of stories about our diminishing Helium supply.  So if you want to send your GoPro up in the air, you better do it soon.

FireFox Flicks’ Winners

Man, you really should have entered the FireFox Flicks video contest.  Actually, I guess I should have too.  They were offering a butt-load of cash prizes but for some reason they didn’t get many decent entries.  I think maybe the premise behind this contest was a little too abstract.  Contestants were supposed to create short films that “told the firefox story.”  I love Firefox and I’ve been using it for as long as I can remember but even I couldn’t figure out how to make a short film a bout a web browser. 

You can see all of the FireFox Flicks winners here. There actually were a few stand-out entries. For example, here’s the perfect little video that won the US “30 Second Spot” category and went on to win the $10,000 USA Grand Prize:

click to view

Another weird thing about this contest; it was open to people all over the world and prizes were set aside for winners in each region (USA, Europe, Asia/Africa/Australia, and Latin America.)  Video contests just aren’t very popular outside of the US. Consequently, some not-so-hot films won $5,000 prizes simply because there were almost no other entries in their particular category.  I’ve actually seen this type of thing happen in a few “international” video contests before….you know, maybe I should pull an Eduardo Saverin, renounce my US citizenship and start shooting my contest entries in Asia.  Ha!  I’m a genius!  See you in Beijing, suckers!


How to shoot decent video with an iPhone

The people who set up video contests always want to get as many entries as possible.  Even if most of the entries aren’t very good, a ton of submissions just makes the contest look more successful.  So sponsors usually go out of their way to encourage people of all skill levels to submit videos.  And that’s why you’ll see a lot of contest announcements that include lines like this:

“You don’t need a big fancy camera to shoot an entry.  Just grab your flip cam or iphone and have fun!”

What the sponsors fail to mention is that if “production quality” is part of the judging criteria, the little video you shot with your cell phone probably won’t stand much chance against the slick entries that were shot with DSLRs or HD video cameras.  But as I learned from the video I’m about to post, you actually can get pretty decent footage out of an iphone if you follow a few simple steps.  This tutorial was shot for the youtube channel which is filled with lots of helpful how-to videos.  If you have an iPhone, this video is definitely worth checking out.  But take note: It does start with a lot of yelling and some cheesy but realistic gun play.  So you probably shouldn’t watch this one while at work or while babysitting.


DSLR FRIDAY: Nikon’s D800 vs. Canon’s 5D Mark III

DSLR Friday was a feature I used to do from time to time but it just sort of petered out.  But March 2012 turned out to be a huge month for DSLR fans so I thought I’d ressurect it.  About a week ago, Nikon released their new D800 and Canon released the 5D mark III.  Both are being billed as the new top of the line DSLRs and both really do sound pretty amazing.  If you’re interested in learning the basic stats for these two cameras, a company named Pictureline made this video that compares them to each other.

I’ve seen a handful of mediocre videos on youtube that compare the video quality of the D800 and the Mark III but none of them are worth posting.  Like I said, both cameras were released about a week ago so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised there’s not more test footage online yet.  But if by chance you actually bought (or have access to) the D800 or the 5D Mark III let me know!  I’d love to feature a guest review of either camera.  For more info about doing a guest post, e-mail me at .

Oh hey, I just noticed that the company that made the above video is doing a sweepstakes and the prize is a 5D Mark III.  It looks like you earn more entries by doing a bunch of dumb stuff on facebook.  I just entered but one entry is enough for me.  If you want a shot at the camera, head here.

eHarmony “Viral Video” contest winner

Man, I must be slipping.  EHarmony’s Viral Video contest is just the sort of contest I like to enter.  They wanted wacky short films about eHamorny rather than traditional ads. But somehow, I totally missed this one.  Judges picked four finalists and then the public chose the ultimate winner.  The video that won the popular vote is amusing and pretty well done.

Eharmony’s First Place Winner. Prize: $8,000:

The winning filmmaker, Steven Huffaker actually shot two entries for this contest and his non-winning submission is so weird I had to post it too.  As a short film, I think it’s pretty good but as a video contest entry, it’s totally insane.  There is no panel of contest judges with balls big enough to put their company’s stamp of approval on a video that points out that Jesus’ death on the cross maybe wasn’t such a big sacrifice since he knew he was the son of God and that he’d be resurrected.  Yes…for serious.

UPDATE: Hey now, the director of these two videos left a comment last night and said that the he shot the Jesus ad just for fun. It wasn’t actually a submission. That actually makes me like that video even more than I already did since it was just a crazy short film and not a contest entry.

Ok seriously, Hoverboards ARE Real!!

Last August I did a post about the amazing video that won Tongal’s “Stuck on Duct Tape” contest.  It was entitled “Duct Tron” and it featured some incredible stop motion animation and ridiculously brilliant surprise ending.  Well the director who made that ad, David Brashear just won another Tongal contest and once again is work is extremely worthy of a blog post.  Here’s his first place entry in Tongal’s BodyArmor contest.

BodyArmor’s First Place winner.  Prize:  $7,500:

Pretty damn good, huh??  The thing that I love about that video is that it’s almost certainly based on a 20 year old urban legend.  Back when I was in grade school, I can remember kids talking about the hover boards that appeared in Back to the Future II.  The rumor was that the hoverboards in the movie were real but they were illegal in America because they were too dangerous.  Just a few years ago I learned that this hoverboard myth came directly from the film’s director, Robert Zemeckis.  According to Michael J. Fox, Zemeckis got tired of explaining how the hoverboard special effects were done in BTTFII so he just started saying that Hoverboards were real.  He went so far as to declare in some Back to the Future TV special the hoverboards were a real thing but toy companies couldn’t sell them because parents groups wouldn’t let them.  You can read a whole lot more about this weird story here.  That page includes a video that Zemeckis produced as “proof” that hoverboards existed.  Watch it closely and you’ll see that the director of the Body Armor video probably drew a little inspiration from it.

A dozen (!) other videos won prizes in this contest ranging from $3,000 to $500.  A lot of them are also pretty good so you might want to check them out.  Actually, you might want to just head over to Tongal so you can take a look at some of the contests they’re currently running.  I’m really impressed with how that site has grown in the last year.  They keep announcing one huge contest after another and the prize amounts keep going up and up.  I just checked and it looks like almost all of their current contests offer top prizes of at least $10,000.  So…that’s pretty nice.  http://tongal.com/projects

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