Web, Books, & Software

Websites:

  • IndyMogul on YouTube – Some of the best DIY props, prosthetics, and more for the filmmaker on a budget.
  • Video Copilot – Phenomenal resource for After Effects training by guru and saint, Andrew Kramer. Start with the free “After Effects Basic Training,” then enjoy hundreds of free or for-sale After Effects resources. This is also the home of the Action Essentials collection, which is an awesome value if you don’t have the resources to make a few hundred pre-keyed explosions, fires, muzzle flashes, exploding dirt, etc. on your own. Which I don’t. It’s cheap enough to be a birthday present.
  • Simple Calibration & Detailed Calibration – Calibrate your monitor with these thorough resources
  • Sound Effects:
    Freesound.org – Download and share sound effects; remember to familiarize yourself with Creative Commons licenses when using shared content
  • Music for video: All of these sites have some royalty-free music, but some have a range of different licenses. Always check the license for any song you download to use in your films!
    Incompetech.com – Check out Kevin McLeod’s “creative commons” music collection. This guy is a hero.
    Bensound.com – A small, but excellent bank of music, great for corporate and commercial videos
    Mobygratis.com – A small collection of music from Moby (yes, that Moby). You have to write to get permission to use these songs, but they respond relatively quickly.
    Freemusicarchive.org – Another bank of music, much of which is royalty-free
    Musopen.org – Royalty-free recordings of classical music from different recording artists
  • Blogs/Forums:
    Socialsounddesign.com
    AaronWilliams.tv – This guy has a great blog on color correction; his tips have helped me out a lot.
    The Frugal Filmmaker – DIY builds and tips, the Frugal Filmmaker shows you how to do what you need to do without breaking the bank.
  • On Films and Filmmakers:
    DirectorsNotes.com
    ZSnowFilmNotes – Blogger and personal friend Zach Snow shares notes on films and directors from over a dozen top film lists

Books:

Whether it’s production technique, cinema history, or just inspiration, any filmmaker should have their own mini-library at their fingertips. Some of these I bought for college and continue to reference, some I discovered on my own, all of these are staples on my bookshelf. The Amazon links below support me and Filmmaking: Unedited:

  • Voice and Vision by Mick Hurbis-Cherrier
    • This is my never-leave-home-without-it guide to every step of the filmmaking process. Whether you’re shooting a fictional story or a documentary, need help with writing your script or lighting a dramatic scene, this book has it all. On top of that, it’s one of the few books from college I’m not trying desperately to sell on Amazon. Because it’s a more recently published book, the anecdotes and tips are relevant to filmmakers working on digital formats with small equipment loads.
  • The Independent Filmmaker’s Law and Business Guide by Jon M. Garon
    • Even the smallest scale film projects should consider or be aware of legal issues related to location shooting, copyright infringement, and actor release forms. For the more advanced, Garon touches on business structures and taxes, getting music rights, and handling ownership of your film when the time comes to distribute or sell.
  • 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die by Steven Jay Schneider
    • If you’ve ever wondered where to begin, this is it. A chronological collection of 1,001 film essays describing each film’s back story, cultural impact, influences, and innovations, Schneider’s carefully curated list is as much fun to “check off” as the movies are to watch.
  • Color Correction Handbook by Alexis Van Hurkman
    • After weeks and hours of online research I finally turned to an actual book to teach myself the dark art of color correction. I spent a summer teaching myself the craft, and Van Hurkman’s book was the best written and most thorough of anything I found.
  • Painting With Light by John Alton
    • Originally released in 1949, this thorough guide from one of Hollywood’s master cinematographers is the first book of its kind to be published. While some of the camera technology is outdated, the basic principles of shooting are the same now as they were when Alton wrote his informative, and occasionally humorous, guide to lighting and cinematography. This one can be rare to find at a good price, but you might check a library near you to borrow it.

Software:

Everyone has their software preferences when it comes to multimedia production, but here are some handy programs you can acquire free and legally. I hope this makes a small portion of your life easier:

  • Audacity – Freeware audio editing/recording; (remember to download lame_enc.dll if you want to save mp3 files)
  • Monkeyjam – Great frame-by-frame animation software for drawings, stop-motion, etc.
  • Gimp – A freeware alternative to Photoshop
  • Dropbox – If you’re collaborating on a film (or on anything), Dropbox is an invaluable tool for sharing and backing up small files

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