So You Want To Be A Filmmaker

Film can be a very powerful medium, it combines both audio and visual, to tell a story. Watching movies can provide escape as well as excitement, while making a film yourself can be challenging, exciting and magical. Films have the power to affect emotions, they can make you see things from a different perspective, and discover new ideas, or simply create escape or fantasy. Film can make you laugh or cry and each film should have a purpose, whether it is to entertain or inform.

The important thing to remember about making a successful film is simple, it should tell a story.The best way to tell a story is with pictures. Film-making when broken into the components, is visual storytelling, in the shots that make up the scenes, and the scenes put together, make up the complete film.

There are so many different types of film and each serves it purpose.

Studio films are backed by film studios and usually have a hefty budget, averaging $70 million and as high as $300 million. Usually a major star will be featured. On the other end of the spectrum, are the independent films, which are often low-budget, because the money is raised by the filmmaker, without studio financing. Somewhere in between, there are independent divisions of the studio which is really a boutique, operating on smaller budgets but with backing of the studio.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both types. As an independent filmmaker, you have total control, and your film can be created exactly as you envision it, however you have no operating budget. A studio picture, with larger financial backing, and highly paid actors is determined by the studio for the best commercial success and creativity normally takes a back seat.

Your movie can be shot in many different formats. Filmmakers appreciate that the medium on which the story is set can elicit different audience reactions.Multiple choices include analog or digital video or high definition. The choice of film camera can go from super-8 which is an affordable format for beginners to 16mm which produces picture quality that may be adequate for television, or with studio production of 35mm motion picture quality, which is used for most television and feature films.

High definition usher in a new experience, with much sharper pictures, and in some instances it may seem closer to being live.

Great films are seldom made without a good story, and choosing the right material can be more important than anything else.Good ideas for films can come from almost anywhere, once allowed to germinate and blossom, a once nascent idea can develop into a full blown screenplay.

How to Make a Low Budget Movie - Bring Your Screenplay to Life

Feature length movies can be made for ten thousand dollars. However, they are more likely to be turn out better and be a success if you pay about five to ten times as much. There are exceptions of course, and some movies costing only 10 to 20 thousand dollars to make have made millions of dollars. If you want to make a movie on a low budget there are many things to consider besides just getting it made cheaply if you want to be a success. This article explains different ways that movies can be made at low cost, and the pros and cons to the different methods. It is primarily for someone with a screenplay or a movie idea who wants to see their idea come to life.

If you have a movie script or movie idea that you want made into a movie, it can be done, with difficulty, or with relative ease. And it can be completed under budget, or over budget.

To illustrate what I mean, imagine you have a house and you want to add two rooms to it and you have no building experience, but you know what you want. If you have enough money, you can explain what you want to an experienced builder, and have them do it all. If you want to save money, you may think about doing some of the work yourself. You might think, well I have a table saw and I can measure and I can pound nails, so I'll do the framing, and hire someone to finish it. When the finishing crew comes to finish it, they may find the rooms are a bit off square, and not quite level, and for them to finish it it will take lots of extra work because the basics were not done right. The total cost can then be more than if you had hired experts right from the start.

The same applies to making a movie. You have your screenplay, and maybe a camera and some of the equipment, and you know some people who will volunteer, and you have taken some workshops on operating the camera and practiced a bit. You shoot your movie, and then hand it to an editor to finish it. Like with the addition to the house, if the basics were not done right, the editor will have a lot more work to make it presentable, and may in fact not be able to make it totally professional looking because of errors that were made during shooting. It would have been cheaper to get expert help right at the start, and to only concentrate on directing and telling your story.

You might think well, what else can I do? I don't have the money to hire a big professional crew to make it. The answer is to find a very small professional crew, who are expert at shooting low-budget movies to do it. The cost will likely be less than if you tried to "save money" by doing jobs you were not expert at. You can still do a lot of the work yourself, but restrict yourself for the most part to doing the simple no brainer jobs, and let the experts do their thing. You can find filmmakers who have the experience and know how to bring your story to life, and all you have to do is find them. After all, what you really want is a nicely finished, professional looking movie that tells your story. Search, and you will find the people that you need, and be much happier in the long run.

Assyrian Art and the Lamassu sculpture

Recently I lectured to a group of students on Ancient Near Eastern Art and since then have been thinking about a work of art that generated quite a large discussion: the Lamassu.  The Lamassu were human headed winged bulls, sometimes with the paws of a lion, which were considered guardian figures to the king.

The Lamassu figures are a very interesting example of Neo-Assyrian Art.  For several hundred years (934-609 BC) Assyria was the most important and influential empire in the Mesopotamian region.  The kings at this time used art as a way to make certain everyone knew of their importance.  The figures at the Metropolitan Museum of Art measure 122.5 x 24.5 x 109 in. (311.15 x 62.23 x 276.86 cm), which means they stand over 10 feet (3 meters) tall and would have been quite an imposing presence for visitors.  At the same time they were meant to protect the kingdom from demonic forces.

Neo-Assyrian Gateway Human Headed Winged Lions 'Lamassu' from the North West Palace of Ashurnasirpal II in Nimrud, (883-859 BC) British Museum
photo- © Mujtaba Chohan/ public domain, via Wikimedia Commons  

The Lamassu Guardian figures were sculpted in pairs so that they were flanking the entrance to the king's throne room.  There are many pairs of these sculptures that are still in existence including those in the British Museum (London), Louvre (Paris) and Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York) as well as several in Iraq.

Even though each of these come from different centuries in the Neo-Assyrian period, the style of these sculptures doesn't change much.  The examples seen here are either from the reign of Ashurnasirpal II (883-859 BC) or Sargon II (721-705 BC).   Let's first look at those from the British Museum from the reign of Ashurnasirpal II.
"These composite creatures combined the strength of the lion (or in this case, the bull), the   swiftness of birds indicated by the wings, and the intelligence of the human head. The helmet with horns indicates the creature's divinity."*

The sculptures were meant to be seen in one of two ways- from the front looking directly at the face, or from the side as the viewer entered the king's throne room.  Therefore the figures are sculpted with five legs- two that can be seen from the front view and four that can be seen from the side.  This would indicate that the figure was a four legged beast, but the extra leg was added so that the side view made visual sense.

Neo-Assyrian Period, reign of Sargon II (721-705 BC)
Khorsabad, ancient Dur Sharrukin, Assyria, Iraq

photo- © Luidger/ public domain, via Wikimedia Commons  

This version of the Lamassu has the hooves of a bull rather than the paws of a lion.  Interestingly enough the pair from the Metropolitan Museum of Art (also from the reign of Ashurnasirpal II) each has a different set of feet, one with paws and one with hooves.

The figures were carved in relief, that is they were not free standing sculptures but rather only part of the figure was carved and they needed a wall to support them.  Stylistically they are a mix of realism (note the careful portrayal of the legs) and flattened abstraction (such as the stylized portrayal of the wings and the hair).

The Lamassu in the British Museum are followed by many relief panels of the king's lion hunts.  These relief panels were also a mix of realism (seen in the lions) and stylized art (usually seen in the human figures).

For more information I posted a link to the Smart History/Khan Academy website (Jan 6 blog posting) with a short and informative look at the Lamassu sculpture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  I recommend watching it, it is just over 4 minutes long and quite interesting.

*quote taken from the British Museum's website

Learning the Electronic Keyboard

There can never be a human who hates music. Each individual has his own tastes in music, and some individuals develop their taste into passion by trying to learn a musical instrument. However, they get confused when it comes to choosing an instrument. Today, we see a host of people selecting instruments such as the guitar, piano, flute, saxophone, drums and so on to fulfill their musical needs and undergo rigorous training to master their chosen instrument. In this article, a special emphasis is made on learning the most popular instrument, the electronic keyboard.

Learning this instrument requires a great deal of patience, as finger dexterity is a prerequisite. Although the electronic keyboard resembles a piano,it is not a piano in reality. It offers a host of other features such as playing with accompaniment, a repertoire of in-built styles and instruments and many more. Anyone who wants to learn this instrument has to get himself enrolled with a tutor who has vast experience in the same. Learning through various 'easy to learn' books may be only of little help, as only a tutor can teach the nuances of handling the instrument. Initially, one has to start with understanding the instrument's structure and the various techniques as to how to handle. Remember that the instrument must be handled softly, as harsh handling could cause the instrument to malfunction. Another important thing in learning is practising what you learn. To master any instrument, practice is absolutely necessary. Practising your lessons with the help of your tutor will show great results. Once you practise the exercises (scales and arpeggios) taught by your tutor to improve your finger dexterity, you can very well start learning and playing solos and songs on your own, as you get familiar with the different styles and techniques. Learning the electronic keyboard is also fun, as one gets to enjoy and explore various sounds and instruments. A keyboardist is sometimes referred to as a 'one-man band'. One can also use the instrument to connect it to their personal computer and record their solos for future listening, and this would always bring a huge feeling of happiness.

We all know that learning is a continuous process and does not stop abrupt. Therefore, to take their learning to the next level, one can also enroll, under the guidance of their tutors, with various musical exam boards such as Trinity Guildhall, Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, Rockschool and many more to hone their skills and to get an accreditation. This gives a sense of achievement. To conclude, learning this instrument is more of fun and not difficult at all. Anyone, be it a kid or a grown-up, can learn and improvise based on what they learn. There is no age bar no special skills required. The only thing that is necessary is the passion and will to learn.

Learn to Make Your Own Dubstep Music

There have been huge advancements in both technology and recognition when it comes to music that happens to be engineered digitally. Dubstep music has exploded and is turning out to be more popular as the recording industry is reacting to what plenty of people are dancing to in night clubs around the globe. Dubstep performers such as Skrillex and Deadmau5 are even performing at and winning Grammy Awards. What is huge about this music is that you can generate it in the enjoyment of your house with just a computer.

There are many software platforms which can be purchased and downloaded that enable you produce the best Dubstep music of all. Your very own. Never before has it been so easy to create the kinds of music which you love. Much of the best Dubstep can be made without any of the fancy computerized gear you find in a recording studio.

DubTurbo 2.0 is the best Dubstep software available for the starting music maker. It contains all the comprehensive music making attributes currently available on the big Digital Audio Workstations (DAW's) for a small fraction of the cost. You can design your own personal beats and multi-layered tracks in minutes of getting the software because of the simple to use and intuitive interface.

If you have been wondering in precisely what the best software for Dubstep is, then look no more. You will be amazed at the type of sounds you can develop and what a great artist you can transform into. The music that you've been following and love can be crafted by you tonight. Imagine the feeling of composing your genuine tunes and coming up with your own different sound. You can also produce re-mix's of some of your very own favorite songs.

You are in a nutshell only restrained by your imagination. This Dubstep making software makes possible you to add together a number of tracks and sounds into a single track and then export it in the most advanced file forms to ensure that you don't lose sound quality. You can easily import your own personal sounds using free 3rd party recording tools to really get the customised sound you desire to have.

It is a very cool time if you desire to generate your own music. By no means has it been a great deal easier to generate higher level music for such a discounted price tag. I would recommend any person that is a supporter of Dubstep to have a look at the dubstep software that is available on the market today. It is obvious that the best Dubstep software is DubTurbo 2.0.

The Violin - How To Set Up The Bridge

I recently had a friend call me saying that he had bought his daughter a violin, and it had arrived through the post with the bridge not set-up. He had looked on the web, but the information was a bit confused and he was still not sure how to do it. This post deals with a seemingly easy topic, but as you will agree, something that is essential for the novice violinist.
Here are the steps to follow to set up your bridge.

If you already have strings on the violin, loosen them so they don't have any tension, and are slack enough for the bridge to fit under. Pull the strings into the centre of the finger board and check that there is enough space to fit the bridge. The violin has two "F" holes and if you look carefully at them you will see a small notch cut into each one. The bridge should sit between these two notches to give it the perfect distance for optimum sound. Please note that the bridge of your violin does the same as the bridge of most other stringed instruments such as the guitar or cello; It raises the strings from the resonating chamber and also transfers the energy of the strings to give you the sound. If you bow the violin close to the bridge, it will give you a different sound to what you will get if you bow further away.

The bridge has two distinct sides to it. It has a straight side, and a side with a slight curve to it. The straight side must be facing the tailpiece, and the curved side facing the finger board.

Place the bridge flat against the surface of the violin, making sure that the bottom is aligned with the "F" Hole notches, and that the curved side is face down on the wood.

Very gently lift the bridge up until it is vertical. Adjust the position so that it is straight and exactly between the two notches.

You will notice that at the curved top of the bridge there are four notches, and you must now place the loosened strings into each of the four notches.

Very gently begin to tighten the strings. Do not fully tighten one, but put a little tension on each, until your bridge is held in place by the tension with the strings. Tighten again each string until you are close to being in tune, and then if you have fine tuners, use them to complete the task.