Keeping Busy with Filmmaking At Home

Tl;dr - Lots of time and no work. What should one do? Build a business!
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What a Strange Time, Am I Right?

I’ve officially been at home way longer than I was expecting at this point, but I’m trying to make the most of it!

Prior to all of these world events, I had made the decision to practice my editing. That was great, I completed a few different courses in that.

But recently, I have done something else new….

A New Endeavor

My wife, Bri, is a NASM certified personal trainer, former physical therapist aide, and group class instructor. Not only that, but she’s pregnant! (Yay!)

All great stuff. But being pregnant means that she is in a higher-risk category for the virus that shall not be named. Plus, the club that she works at has been closed for months now.

So! We decided to join forces – work together – to create something during this “stay-at-home” time.

We created a series of high-intensity interval training workout videos that can be done at-home with just a pair of dumbbells. Then, around these videos, I created a website and an online business where we sell access to the classes in an on-demand and “semi-live” format for $5.99 per week.

The Videos

When starting out with this project, I knew we wanted to do 2 things:

  • Streamline the video creation process
  • Keep the videos relateable yet high quality

With these things in mind, I decided that we wanted to use only one camera. And, we want to use only one camera angle.

Why?

Well, to me, by keeping it with one camera angle, it eliminates the need for excessive editing and cutting back and forth to different angles.

Plus, in my opinion, it has more of a “home grown” feel, as if Bri set up the camera and is filming herself.

It also means that every time she talks to the camera, she’s talking right to the viewer. There are no other angles, so it’s like the viewers are there watching her.

Then, to make the videos slightly higher quality, I added some graphics for transitions (so we COULD actually edit together different segments and she didn’t have to do the whole thing all the way through in one take), and some graphics for a timer for people following along with the workouts.

And, I opted to use some slightly more professional gear and lighting setups so that it looks as good as it can!

The Gear

Camera

The camera I used is my trusty GH5s. I chose it, quite frankly because it’s the only option I have between “my phone” and a big professional cinema camera.

But, it does the job perfectly. You can read my review of the GH5s in a previous post and discover why I chose to buy it in the first place.

Audio

For audio, I knew I didn’t want to just use the onboard microphone, so I opted to get the Rode Wireless Go lavalier system.

These things rock! They are just little wireless mic packs that are quite literally plug and play.

You turn them on, plug them into the camera, and they just work. I love that in gear.

I decided to get the actual lav mic to go along with it, plus the new magnetic back that makes it easier to mount the pack securely on a person (who is jumping and doing burpees).

Lighting

For lighting, I wanted to keep it as simple as possible. I only use 2 lights.

A DeSisti LED Fresnel is my main light.

I bounce it off the white wall behind the camera to create a big, soft source, simulating the same effect as a big softbox right over the camera.

This is kind of a standard “beauty light” placement.

Because it’s a pretty bright light and the source is so big, it really wraps around and fills in the shadows.

I place this light on the same side as a big window. So really it’s supplementing the natural sun light that comes through the window and helps to create a somewhat more consistent look.

The second light I use is an original Litepanels bicolor 1×1 panel.

This is my back light. I set it to full daylight color balance and full power and place it behind Bri, off camera-left.

Again, this is the same side as the big window. Plus, there’s a smaller window behind Bri that can be seen in the shot which motivates this stronger back light.

That’s it! It’s really simple to set up, so I can just flip the lights on and go.

Post-Production

For post, I used Adobe Premiere and After Effects.

I know, I know, I was hoping to get more acquainted with Davinci Resolve during this quarantine time, but hey – I just know Pr and Ae so much better that it was just easier at this point to get them going.

I created the graphics in After Effects. The timer was created using a cool timer script that I found HERE.

The other graphics were created using a plugin called MotionBro. Weird name, I know, but cool stuff.

Again, I wanted this to be as frictionless as possible, so why go through the hours of creating original graphics when you can utilize tools like MotionBro to make things so much easier and faster.

For the color grade, I used FilmConvert – one of my all time favorite color plugins. 

I just love it, it’s so easy and it looks great.

I removed all the grain elements and then amped up the sharpness and detail a little bit in Lumetri to give it a more polished look.

Music

We knew we were going to need a lot of music for this project, since music is such an important part of working out for people.

I also knew that, unfortunately, we couldn’t just use popular music. Bummer.

So, we turned to Soundstripe.

They have a great selection of music and very flexible licensing options for a pretty low monthly fee – $15/month I think.

A great thing they’ve done inside Soundstripe is make curated playlists, so there was already a Gym and Workout playlist right there to browse through and find some music that pumps up the viewers.

Wanna Check It Out?

You can see the final product by signing up for the free class! 

Go to: https://www.briannamichelle.com/invite

Enter your email, and you’ll be taken to a page with a free example class.

Let me know what you think! Are you doing similar things right now during your quarantine? Let me know in the comments!

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Alex Darke
Alex Darke
Alex is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker located in Los Angeles, who has spent the past 7 years working with the legendary broadcaster Larry King and shooting thousands of episodes of television as a camera operator and director of photography. He owns the motion picture production company Gilded Cinema and co-hosts the No-Budget Filmmaking Podcast.
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