Cooke lenses are one of the most popular lenses types in filmmaking, and they produce one of the most well-known and distinctive looks for filmmakers. But, what exactly does this mean?
Lenses are quite a subtle choice made by filmmakers when deciding on the overall look of a film. However, as lenses can have a critical effect on the end-product, their careful selection is crucial. Cooke lenses are known worldwide throughout the film industry and beyond for their distinctive look and effect on your shots.
What are Cooke lenses, and what is the Cooke Look?
Cooke lenses have made the film industry what it is, and have been used on countless films over the last century; they are an industry staple. Even with the huge number of lenses on offer in today’s modern market, Cooke lenses are still chosen by some of the best filmmakers in the industry.
The Cooke look began with the release of Cooke Speed Panchro Lenses Series I – III. These lenses produced a warm, cinematic texture with amazing skin tones and beautiful sharpness – this is what the Cooke look is: smooth, sharp, high quality cinematics.
Colour, contrast, distortion and bokeh are all important factors to consider when choosing a lens, and finding a lens or set of lenses with the perfect combination of these characteristics is not easy. But, if you’re looking for an industry-standard lens with an amazing reputation which has produced some of the finest work in cinematic history, look no further than Cooke lenses and get yourself that awe-inspiring Cooke look.
The modern Cooke Look
Today, the most commonly used Cooke lenses are known as the S4s. The first model, released in 1998, produce the classic Cook Look and feature a lightning fast 2.0 aperture.
Fast forward to 2009, and Cooke released their Cooke S4 minis as a lower cost and lower weight alternative to the classic S4s, and featured an aperture of 2.8.
The lens makers, Cooke, recently have introduced a line of lenses known as the S7, a set of anamorphic lenses, which pay homage to their vintage Speed Panchro range, due to a demand from die-hard filmmaking fans.
Cooke have produced some of the finest lenses in filmmaking history, and film fans have a huge amount to thank Cooke for. Cooke lenses have enabled many huge cinematographers and filmmakers to break ground and establish foundations in the industry. Cooke lenses have been at the forefront of filmmaking and cinematography from the earliest days, and the iconic Cooke Look will be around for decades to come, and beyond.
Want to learn about filmmaking online, find out some new filmmaking tips and tricks – such as using jump cuts – or just learn more about the film industry in general? Then log on to Quick Class today, where you can find a wide range of content, articles and videos which can tell you everything you need to know about filmmaking, and give you some great filmmaking tips.
It is quite common for filmmakers, even established ones, to fear the unknown or second guess their work, particularly when creating work who’s whole point is to be displayed for all to see. Fear, particularly for creative minds, can hinder artistic ability and destroy your filmmaking capability, leading to self-doubt and often the abandonment of a passion project. However, when your fear is debilitating, it is time to conquer it, so these tips for filmmakers are aimed to overcome your fears and give you a realistic, helpful process so you can keep creating.
Types of filmmaking fear:
First, let’s look at some of the types of fear that filmmakers commonly feel:
- Afraid of the unknown
- Afraid the film isn’t viable
- Afraid the audience etc. will dislike it
- Afraid you won’t do the subject justice
- Afraid you don’t have enough resources to get it done
- Afraid you’re underqualified or talentless
- Afraid of wasting your time
- Afraid of your work being unimportant
Sound familiar? This is obviously not an exhaustive list but you get the idea. So, what can you do about it when these less than encouraging thoughts start to creep in?
The best advice for filmmakers is that if you are starting to feel afraid, ask yourself these three questions and often, you’ll be able to identify the underlying cause for the fear (making it a lot less scary.)
- What is the direct result of this action/behaviour/route etc.? – Often, the fear of consequences can plague your decisions, particularly if you are prone to overthinking. Ask yourself if there is immediate or genuine danger to yourself, others or the project and then consider it rationally rather than spiralling.
- What are my motivations for doing this? – Remind yourself why you started this project and what led you This is easier if you have a memento or totem that you can look at, that acts as an intrinsic reminder.
- When did my fear start to manifest? – You’ll notice your fear building but many times there is a different reason that is being avoided. Is your fear directly related to what you are doing or has it built up from something else? Identifying it makes it easier to manage.
Fear is a natural part of life, it’s where the fight or flight response comes from and it is completely normal to be afraid, but it shouldn’t be debilitating. Accept that fears will pop up and that it’s healthy to be afraid as long as you keep going and you’ll find this is the boost for your filmmaking career you may have needed.
Surround Yourself With Support
When working on your film, create an excellent support network that you can confide in and bounce ideas off. Support can make you feel less alone and avoid the negative thoughts from impacting you too greatly, and talking about fear can help to quell them somewhat. Just ensure they are people whose opinion you can trust so that when they tell you not to be fearful, you’ll believe them.
Don’t Shy Away
Fear works best when it mounts, chipping away at you a little each day until you feel like you can no-longer complete your project. Don’t let this happen to you, show up each day and make your film despite your fear and you may well find it’s a better end result because of it.
Engaging with your fear and making sense of it makes it less scary so take these filmmaking tips on board to conquer your fears and avoid it putting a halt to your projects and career in the future.
Jump cuts, done in the wrong way they can look obnoxious and amateur making your filmography feel flat. However, they are one of the traditional film editing techniques that budding filmmakers can utilize; do them correctly and you’ve got a way to streamline film, create dramatic effects and sequences or cut out useless footage easily. We look at the good, the bad and the ugly of jump cuts and how to use them the right way for awesome films.
What Are Jump Cuts?
Essentially jump cuts are an editing technique that cut two shots together transitioning from one aspect to another. It seems fairly simple but this could involve scenes or subjects, for example using a cool jump cut editing trick to increase suspense in a horror film or simply to speed up time across a relationship in a romance movie.
Where Can You Use Them?
You can use jump shots anywhere as they are surprisingly diverse, from TV interviews and music videos to full-length movies or an Instagram short!
Issues To Avoid With Jump Cuts
Continuity – One of the first film editing tips given to young filmmakers is to consider their continuity in a film and this is where jump cuts can make it tricky. When using more than one subject or the complex way a shot is set up, it can be easy to make a mistake in continuity that isn’t immediately obvious (except to the viewer) which can lead to glaring mistakes. Overcome this by ensuring that jump cuts are used to keep things simple or to focus on showing time changes instead of changes to a scene.
Confusing Message – As a jump cut can be quite quick for the viewer, particularly going backwards and forwards it is important that you don’t make the scene too busy otherwise key elements can be missed. Focus on a single character, their reactions and subtle changes that are done over time rather than a lot of things happening at once which can confuse the message you’re trying to get across.
Things to Consider:
Change Shot – When using a jump cut in filmmaking, it makes changes of the background scene stand out which is not good if you’re trying to remove poor or lengthy footage that includes scene changes or differences part way through. For example, during an interview, jump cutting 3 minutes out if the subject moves can be glaringly obvious and create a jarring end result however by cutting to different shots such as a close-up to medium or wide it can show intentional transitioning making it look more professional.
Time Transitions – Another Jump cut editing trick is using them to show time passing or alternatively create a faster sequence, this is where they really come into their own.
Comedic Timing – Use a jump cut to inject some comedy into your film by jumping to close-ups of faces to see reactions or as a slapstick travelling method for traditional humour.
Jump cuts can be an excellent tool for your next film, just ensure that it benefits your storytelling and is used in the right way otherwise it may not have the impact you are looking for.
Recommended Steps for a Learning Exercise:
- Describe and explain what a jump cut is as well as its applications
- Have students attempt to create short 5 minute films of an interview with a subject including changing shots
- Ask them to cut it down to 2 minutes and make it more interesting by using jump cuts.
Making the most out of college as a student filmmaker can set you up for life. Whether it’s finding the future partners that you’re going to collaborate with or getting noticed and financed for your first film, it’s a crucially important time in your career. While learning filmmaking tips and tricks, you’ll also need to balance your projects and new creations alongside your friends and maybe (occasionally) get some sleep. Here are some tips to help student filmmakers make their film school experience worth it:
- Work Together
You’ll often find yourself collaborating on short films or projects, after all most filmmaking can’t be done entirely on your own, but do try to work in bigger groups. Aside from making the project more interesting and intricate it can introduce you to a larger network of people you can draw on and these could be lasting friendships in the industry. They will help you get through the experience together, understanding the needs of a filmmaking career and may even lead to each other’s success in the future. Plus as a bare minimum, the more involved in the project, the more friends, family and wider network that it can be marketed to.
- Get Your Credit
You may be taking extra courses or projects to learn filmmaking online alongside your other curriculum or you’ve decided to create a project entirely by yourself according to your interests. Regardless of where or how, try to get this counted towards your overall scores and many institutions will. It may be that your outside project earns you a higher mark or qualifies towards coursework that will bump your grades up. Or it could be demonstrative towards an initial idea for your final exam or a piece to show your teacher what you’re capable of. But if it’s teaching filmmaking and you’re putting the time in, make it count academically, (every little helps.)
- Be An Intern
Teaching cinematography and filmmaking is a lengthy and elaborate process with complex elements that can only be understood properly when seen in action. Often, making mistakes yourself or watching how professionals operate in a true setting can give you more insight and inspiration for your own projects and makes learning interactive and fun.
Many internships are paid but even those that aren’t can offer value and teach you the skills you’ll need for your filmmaking career, so they]re worth looking into. Plus, working in a live setting can expose you to new filmmaking technology that may not be readily available at college yet, setting you apart from everyone else and giving you the edge (particularly if you’re given the chance to use it.) Just make sure that you’re able to balance your time and make it count towards your grades.
- Don’t Be Afraid To Market
Unfortunately, most films (regardless of their quality) are not going to become well known and award winning on their own. You need to tell people about them and the best way to do this is to tap into their platforms on social media and use it to market to them. With more people on smartphones and devices this is a cost-effective way to filter to your demographic as well as reach out and network to others (plus it’s an excellent place to put the call out for film extras.)
Student filmmakers have a lot to consider and do during their studies whilst at film school but hopefully these tips offer more insight into how to make the very most out of the experience.
Alfred Hitchcock’s filmmaking techniques are just as relevant today in the age of Virtual Reality as they were prior to these technological advances. Although he was wrong when he guessed that the virtual reality elements wouldn’t be possible until the year 3000, he believed that eventually audiences could be transformed into characters and experiencing entertainment for themselves as if they were there, which is exactly what is developing in the VR filmmaking industry today. His progressive style combined with respect for the audience’s experience meant that he was ahead of his time and using the beginning elements that would develop into the 360 video viewing experiences that filmmakers have access to now.
He first dipped his toe into the VR filmmaking experience with his 3D adapted stage play called “Dial M for Murder” in 1954 but without falling prey to the artificiality of having items “leap” out to the audience. Instead he used the technology to draw in the audience and make them feel present in the moment and more committed to it, therefore enhancing the experience. Alfred Hitchcock was a filmmaking legend with a long and adaptive career and some of his filmmaking tips that you should consider when adapting to VR filmmaking include:
Develop the Story
Hitchcock was a firm believer in making a situation realistic and preserving the experience rather than compromising it just to do something specific with technology. For example, don’t create elements for the sake of having something floating out of the screen and if something doesn’t make sense don’t create a “rollercoaster sequence” or jump scare when the subject turns around in the 360 viewing if it doesn’t make sense. While you want to look for opportunities to enhance your filmmaking through virtual reality, first work with the story and develop it organically, you should be able to integrate it into the medium you are using rather than change it to suit.
Follow Real Time
The 360 views of virtual reality can ground the audience and create an atmosphere of suspense or drama in the moment so it is important to savour it. The difference with virtual reality is the tone and depth you can get across rather than short, quick shots you use in traditional filmmaking so you should use your time wisely, aiming to use real-time speed in scenes and adapting the long take, something that Alfred Hitchcock was very fond of.
Virtual reality viewing can be ruined with unrealistic music with no source as it can pull the audience away from the moment, so you might want to avoid this. Hitchcock noted this in his own filmmaking and instead looked for ways to incorporate realistic sounds from the scene or use the silence itself for impact and effect to avoid the subconscious questions of the audience that are raised by artificial sounds placed unnecessarily.
Use the Subjective Camera
Everyone’s first response for using virtual reality effectively is: turn the audience into a character and shoot everything from their point of view but this creates the opposite effect and creates a detachment between this character and the rest. By not exploring this character you are creating this third-party detachment that usually doesn’t succeed and Hitchcock believed that mastering subjective shooting can allow you to turn the audience into a voyeur instead. Doing this makes characters more relatable and only enhances the virtual reality by adding extra depth and layers.
Although virtual reality is far from the “mass hypnotism” that Hitchcock dreamed of, his enjoyment of the viewing experience and skill in creating films should not be ignored, particularly when working with virtual reality that so closely works with these ideals.
Most people get a little excited by the Winter holidays approaching and get into the spirit by decorating a Christmas tree, sticking a wreath on the front door, and heading out for a bout of present shopping…
A small minority get really excited though. We mean REALLY EXCITED.
The Halliwell family of Fairfield, Connecticut take things to a whole other level by annually decorating their house with over 350,000 bulbs and a variety of Christmas figures and scenes.
Hats off to them for drawing 30,000 visitors a year, but probably NOT the approach you’ll take to lighting your next set, right?
Regardless of your kitsch tolerance, try to enjoy the spectacle… and be thankful a) this doesn’t last all year round, and b) you don’t live next door to the Halliwells.
Its no secret here at Quickclass, we’re a digitally saavy bunch, constantly searching for and developing tools and features to improve the lives of educators and accelerating their learners’ mastery of their subjects.
This doesn’t mean to say that we don’t recognise the importance of ‘pre-digital’ skills like writing, building sets or performing… all of which have existed for thousands of years before the advent of the digital gadgetry that’s pervaded our modern lives.
In fact filmmaking, from its earliest days, has always been a necessary marriage between the very latest technology of the day and skills that came from theatre and more traditional trades stretching to the dawn of civilisation.
One skill that can not be overstated in importance on a practical level is the ability to tie a KNOT! Yeap, that’s right, the skill to manipulate ropes in ways that can bind remote objects, support bulky weights, hold things in place or host things into the air are ESSENTIAL on any filmset of minimal sophistication.
The gurus at Premium Beat filmmaking site have taken the mystery and complexity out of 4 essential and extremely useful knot configurations for our viewing and learning pleasure. From the Bowline, to the Trucker’s Hitch, via the Clove Hitch and the Double Sheet Bend, the four knots you have to know are not only described for their individual uses, but are demonstrated for you to easily copy and learn them yourself!
So, arm yourself with millenia-old technology that can do just as much to enhance your set craft as knowing how to operate a camera or direct an actor’s performance. Solid knot skills will definitely spill from filmmaking into many unexpected other areas of your life, so learn something new on Premium Beat’s excellent tutorial below!
It is an often-shared ‘fact’ that modern smartphones have more computational power than NASA did when they landed a man on the moon. This is clear from Moore’s law: that computational density doubles every two years. This relentless, radical change has affected all aspects of society, including the role of filmmakers (we’re already seeing the slow decline in practical effects).
Technological advances ranging from Machine Learning to Computational Photography, are poised to revolutionise filmmaking. We’ve already witnessed this in past revolutions spawned from new technology in the film industry, ranging from 3D cameras to CGI. Currently, the future points to Computational Photography (CP) (creating a single photo by integrating multiple images) and to machine learning techniques called “Generative Adversarial Networks” (GAN). Perhaps we will soon discover a new form of filmmaking that equally balances photography and digital image creation, which some are labelling “Computational Filmmaking”.
How does this differ from ‘ordinary’ filmmaking? Simply put, in ordinary filmmaking there’s always one phase for live-action photographed and another distinct phase for digital effects. In the Computational Filmmaking all of this happens at once, on the fly as it were.
So over time how has technology changed the film industry and where are we…
The iPhone has been able to do CP with its HDR camera function for a while now. With the iPhone 7, Apple also added a second camera that can be used for optical zoom and for a Computational Photography technique called “Portrait Mode”. This simulates, in some way, having a larger sensor and a bigger, more expensive lens, hence allowing the iPhone to do what your DSLR does, but with much less hardware!
In the foreseeable future:
At Adobe MAX 2016, they unveiled ‘SkyReplace’ – in a technology demonstration that showed just how many post-production jobs could be replaced by AI. Sky replacement is nothing particularly new, it’s been done by artists on every single print ad, film, commercial and TV show you’ve ever seen, and for a long time, frame by frame, by hand. SkyReplace is poised to automate this usually manual job through Machine Learning.
In the unforeseeable future:
GAN (Generative Adversarial Networks) is a statistical probability model that can generate realistic looking images – sounds amazing right?
This means you show a neural network millions of images of a tree, and then it can recognize a tree when it sees one, but more interestingly, it can generate original tree images all on its own – let that sink in – original images. This is still in early days, so the images are small, but as Moore’s law has shown, it’s only a matter of time before this becomes powerful new software and widely available. How long until a photorealistic image can be generated just by typing a sentence, or by writing a script?
Adobe’s ‘Voco’ and DeepMind’s ‘WaveNet’ are both ‘neural network’ systems that use text and audio samples (just like GAN uses images) to produce speech indistinguishable from actual human voices. One possible application to filmmakers might be that the software could compose its own, original music!
Dubbed ‘Photoshop for audio’, whilst this is still a demo, it will likely be available to consumers soon. Maybe you’ll be able to use Morgan Freeman or David Attenborough to narrate your own movies.
In the near future, filmmakers might be able to tell their computers what they want their movie to look like, what mood it seeks to portray, and the plot. The computer, using all the newest CP and GAN technology, will generate a watchable result.
The real world that cameras are capturing will begin to be merely a starting point – soon computational filmmaking could really revolutionise the way we think about and approach film and the whole creative process.
We know music can make a movie. You can hear a piece of music and instantly link it to a film. Those iconic pieces of music make a film memorable, but how do you get that music into your film? There are lots of things to be considered when it comes to music licensing for film, and selecting your music is the tip of the iceberg.
There are some really important things you need to know when you’re choosing your film’s soundtrack. You need to be aware there are two rights for every song. There are “publisher rights” and these are held by the person who wrote the song. There are also “master rights” and these are held by the person who recorded the song. For instance, Justin Bieber sang Love Yourself, but did you know it was written by Ed Sheeran? In this case, Ed Sheeran holds the publisher rights and Justin Bieber holds the master rights.
If you’ve found a song or a piece of music you want to use, you need to figure out who owns the publishing and master rights. Once you have found out who they are, you need to contact each of them and ask for permission to use the song in your film. The more people you have involved at this point, the longer it will take and the more difficult it can be. If you’ve selected a song which has four publishers, you’ll need approval from all four writers and the musician.
You can’t use the music until everyone has said yes, if one person says no, or if they don’t respond, you can’t use the song. One of our top filmmaking tips is to select a piece of music where the publishing and master rights are held by the same person. This not only saves you a load of time, but saves you a load of money too.
That brings us nicely on to the monetary aspect of music licensing for film. How much do music rights cost? Excellent question, and a hard one to answer! It depends on the kind of music you’re after and what you are going to be doing with it. Some songs used in advertisements can cost well in excess of $200,000, but there are also times where music is free to use. If you have music in a scene – let’s say you are in a coffee shop and a tune is playing in the background and no one is paying it any attention – this could cost you nothing.
As a standard, you can purchase the rights for a song for around $1500; that’s $750 for the master and $750 for the publishing rights. It’s worth remembering that these fees can be negotiated. If the artist you are talking to likes your film, or wants their music to be in it, you might be able to negotiate a better rate (and you know we love to cost-save).
Now you’re well on your way to securing music rights for your film, it’s time to start thinking about sound mixing and editing. Take a look at our article on Sound Mixing Vs Sound Editing to brush up your skills, and remind yourself of Filmmaking Trends of 2017 whilst you’re there too.
So, what’s is a micro documentary anyway? It’s a short film in documentary style, which is anything from a couple of minutes in length, up to ten minutes. They get to the point quickly and are impactful, making them a great way for documentary filmmakers to quickly and effectively communicate with their audience.
How are they changing the face of digital documentary filmmaking?
Gone are the days where consumers have time to sit and watch hours of documentary on one subject. Granted, feature length documentaries still have their place, but watching one is a big investment of time, and people don’t have that time anymore. Micro docs are taking over when it comes to information delivery; they give you what you want in five minutes. People have five minutes – they don’t have an hour. They are used to consuming information in short, snappy packages. They can be watched over a tea break, on a train or on the toilet. In this day and age, where we are so time poor, being able to get the information you need in your five minutes of dead time, is important and critical to understand if you have a story to tell.
Micro-docs probably feature more in your life than you’ve realised. If you scroll through your feeds on Facebook and Instagram, I guarantee you will come across one. They are becoming more and more prevalent as a tool for marketing as well. Consumers in 2017 don’t respond to direct and aggressive marketing. We no longer want to be told to buy something. We want to be given information; to be informed and excited about a product, so we can make our own decisions. Micro documentaries are an excellent way of marketing products, marketing brands and marketing lifestyles, and more and more organisations are using them as a tool. They give you the information, and you make the decisions.
How do they grab our attention?
How many times have you started watching a video on Facebook and then scrolled past it because it didn’t get to the point quickly enough? Yeah, we do it all the time too. If you’re going to dedicate minutes of your life watching a video, you need to suspect it’s going to be worth it. Micro-docs grab our attention right away. Within the first few moments, they’ve given us enough information to decide whether we want to keep watching. They pump you with information right from the get go, so you are hooked and you carry on viewing. They pique our interest. Because of their nature, they make excellent learning materials. Take a look at our post on Introducing Documentaries In The Classroom.
What does this mean for documentary filmmakers?
This new way of digital documentary filmmaking gives greater freedom to filmmakers. It means a film can be as long as it needs to be. There is no need to flesh out a short documentary to make it up to feature film length, and this new way is giving the green light to filmmakers to produce films at their natural length. It also means documentary filmmakers need to think more carefully about their content. It needs to be engaging, it needs to move fast and it needs to deliver. Just as much thought will go into producing a six-minute documentary, as goes into a sixty minute documentary. Remind yourself of our top Documentary Tips if you are feeling a bit rusty, or are thinking about your next documentary project.