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Tips, Tricks and Above All Comedy

National Park Postcards

PostCards1I love the National Parks System even though I was a late bloomer to them, the first National Park I ever went to was when I was in college. I look back and wished I went to some of these parks when I was younger but traveling wasn’t something my family did. There was many trips they took me on but left me to find my way home. They moved a few times by the time I found my home too.

I am fortunate that I have embraced the National Parks since then and more strongly these last few years. I enjoy stamping my National Passports book and more importantly taking photos and videos of the parks. I was asked earlier this year to donate some of my photos as postcards to the gift shops of the parks that I have photographed these last few years. There is something about collection postcards when you go on trips that help you remember and share all the good times at your destination. I collect postcards at every park I go to and I hope you do the same.

All proceeds of these postcards go to the National Park where you purchase the postcard, each card comes with tips on the back telling you where and how I got the photograph. When you are at the parks look for the So Wrong But Funny logo on the back of the card and you will know it’s mine. Thank you for supporting our National Parks system.

Here are a few of the parks you will find the postcards at:

Yosemite National Park

Grand Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park

Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Park

Joshua Tree National Park

And many more…

It is a collection of 24 postcards, only two of them have good photos on them, the rest are sub pair. :)

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Yosemite National Park: Celebrates 150 Years

 

On June 30, 1864, President Abraham Lincoln signed a legislation to preserve two parcels of land in Mariposa County, California named the Yosemite Grant. This grant paved the way to what is known as the National Park system today and the amazing part is he did this during Civil War. A President of the United States took time during a civil war to protect a precious piece of land so that one day our children can enjoy its beauty and luster.

Yosemite National Park is a special place for me. It helped opened my eyes to the beauty of nature, taught me to make decisions that are right for me and most importantly this last March I got to do one of my most important “moments” in my life there. Here are a few black and whites from my last visit in March, more photos to come soon. Remember to respect our parks so our children’s children can enjoy them too.

People keep asking me if I made a spelling error, I didn’t that is the way John Muir wrote it. I love this quote!

Here is to all the earthquakes that teach us something and wake us up.

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Best Tip for Independent Filmmakers

After finishing the final cut of Chip & Bernie’s Zomance I sat back with my gal and watched my first feature film with her for the first time all the way though. During the entire filmmaking process I kept thinking, “If only I could have made this film five years ago, where would I be today?” Mind you, probably in the same place but with a receding hairline but I realized after watching this film I was lucky to not make this film five years ago, actually anything three years ago or more.

LoveZomance

 

I would have ruined my film and not know why. Today I know why. I broke my rule as a filmmaker that I worked very hard to keep up to that point. This is probably the most helpful advice I can give you as young filmmakers. Work with the people you enjoy spending your time with. Face it, you aren’t going to always find the greatest actors out there, you cannot afford it but if you are genuinely enjoying yourself while making a movie it will show.

I worked on a web series for many years with a talented host but most of the time we were not enjoying ourselves. Sure we won a few film festival awards but when you watch the work you can see there was no enjoyment in the work. I wasn’t as eager to come up with amazing angles or spend extra hours to grab a better sunset nor was the host willing to entertain the audience at the level they were capable of. Most of the time they wouldn’t research the location, write the script or even have an outline to know what we needed to shoot. This bled into our work and was easily captured for our audiences.

If you look at the credits of Chip & Bernie’s Zomance you will see the same last names pop up over and over again, this is because I wrote roles to people I enjoy being around, family and friends. Now you might say but they people I enjoy being around are not actors. I had over ten actors in the film that have never acted before but you cannot tell because I catered roles to them and we genuinely enjoyed ourselves while making the movie. You are going to have to change your scripts for studios so get used to it and change what you need for your own films. Not once can I think of a time when we were not having fun on set. Even when we had squatters on our sets, cops harassing us, 3am shoots, we were all enjoying our time together because we genuinely enjoy each other.

Major motion pictures are ruined by bad chemistry on screen, “Did You Hear About The Morgans?,” “Fool’s Gold” or “The Tourist”. Even when films aren’t great, if the chemistry is there we still enjoy it: “Stir Crazy” or “Stepbrother”. I will never make the mistake I made before by working on projects I no longer enjoy or the people in them, your audience will see it in your work and shame on you for doing that.

The key is to work with those that you enjoy to work with and if you are lucky you get to work with those that you love and they love you back. That’s where I am and I am very lucky for it.

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What Are the Best Lights for a Green Screen

greenscreenPeople use green screen effects too much, if you want to do a scene where you cut off an actor’s head I say do it. It’s only a little homicide, which one of us don’t need a 30 year vacation, all expenses paid by the government? If you feel you don’t need the vacation then you might be wondering what lights should I buy for my green screen set up. There are many questions:

Should I use hard light or soft lights?
Tungsten or fluorescent lights?
Where do I place the lights?
How many do I need?
Will you come to my house and put together my lights?

Last question first, I would never take away your chance to show off to your significant other how you get frustrated setting up lights.

Should I use hard light or soft lights?

Both but for two different reasons and uses. Your screen needs to be evenly lit, the more of your screen you have evenly lit when your actor is jumping around the better off your post production will be. Soft lights are the easiest lights to achieve this and I have tried both numerous times. Soft lights are the way to go to achieve the best lighting results on your screen.

Your hard lights have a very important use when doing green screen. You use these to backlight your subjects to give them a glow around their figure. When shooting green screen your subjects will blur into the background without the proper key light behind them.

Depending on your subject you have to decide how you light them and with what. Usually people want even lighting on their subjects so that would be a soft light.

Tungsten or fluorescent lights?

As independent filmmakers our budget is always a major concern, pay the rent or buy new equipment? Well, our significant others remind us to pay the rent first and we should thank them for that or we would be living in a box with amazing camera equipment. Let’s first look at what the two different lights do.

Fluorescent lights pull greens and intensifies their presence. This might sound good when you are working with a green screen but it isn’t. Think of your actor, if you bring out green hues in their clothes or skin then when you key out the green you will key more of them out. This is even worse for the key light on them, defeats the purpose of the key light.

Tungsten lights do not pull green or blue hues. They even use less bulbs so when your cat knocks over your light and breaks all your bulbs you don’t have to replace as many. You can also keep a few handy to not slow down your shoot if that happens since you don’t have to buy as much.

Only down point about tungsten lights is the light itself is more money, the y both work for green or blue screens but a tungsten will always give you better results when you light your screen properly.

Where do I place the lights?

I am going to give you an example of a 10′ tall and 12′ wide screen with one subject in the center.

You want a minimum of two, 1000 watt lights just for the green screen. One on each side of the screen, place the lights center for the screen to give you the best chance to evenly light your screen. Remember these are soft lights for the screen.

The next light you want is the key light, no soft box attached to give you a harder light and glow around the back of your subject. Ideally you want to place this light above the green screen and point it directly to the back of your subject. If need be you can place this light to either side of the green screen and achieve the same results.

If you have more soft lights use them, do two for the top half and two for the bottom half but remember to have enough lights to light your subject.

GreenScreenLightSetUp

As you can see my alien is blue not green, hard to hire blue aliens.

 

How many do I need?

This depends on your screen size and how much of your screen is going to be shown in the shot. I do not recommend less then three lights, one key light and two soft lights. In unfortunate circumstances I have used one soft light for the green screen but I can in closer for the shot.

There is no point shooting something you can’t use, so sometimes you have to change your desired shot and get what you can. Don’t shoot something you can’t use just because you wanted to shoot it that way. Shoot what your equipment lets you.

There is only one way to get good at shooting on a green screen, practice. Shoot on it as often as you can because it is something everyone uses, I have not shot a sketch, short or film in six years without at least one green screen shot.

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Best Zombie Website Ever

Chip & Bernie’s Zomance is ready to take over the world of comedy zombie films and we highlight this with the launch of our website zomance.com. In today’s independent film market you must have a website to promote your film to film festivals and our newest feature film is ready.

zomanceposterwebChip & Bernie’s Zomance is the story of two brother in laws Chip and Bernie who are world renown zombie killers and are loved for their off the wall zombie killings. When the world is taken over by the undead, we learned quickly that training survivors is key to the survival of mankind. A reality show contest is being aired on every station that is still available to survivors. Chip & Bernie compete against five other teams for the grand prize but along the way they realize that their background issues are straining their survival skills. We watch as Chip and Bernie struggle through their friendship and fighting off zombies in my first feature film, Chip & Bernie’s Zomance. Starring Pasquale Murena, Marc Robert and six-time Emmy winner, Tim Conway.

The website features behind the scenes photos of production and movie stills that you can only find here. Gives you the opportunity to decide which team you are more like by comparing their survival, training and fighting skills. It even features our film trailer and hilarious movie clips from the film. You can keep up with our film festival appearances and even contact us if you have any questions.

The website was designed and developed by the award winning and beautiful Autumn Schabert who adds her charm to our site. Share zomance.com with your friends and let them know how much fun Chip & Bernie’s Zomance is.

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How to Photograph a Lunar Eclipse

April 14th and 15th there will be a lunar eclipse for North America to enjoy and photograph. In August of 2007 I photographed the last total lunar eclipse we could see from Nothern America but I no longer know where those photos are. Last time I ask Jimmy Hoffa to hold something from me. I always shoot the moon at f/11 unless I am trying to get a deeper depth of field then I change it to f/16 and higher the ISO. I try not to lengthen the exposure because even though the Earth moves slowly I don’t want blurry images.

Here are the settings to use when photographing the lunar eclipse. Exposure:

June22MoonFull Moon or half a moon: 1/125 sec. at f/11, 400 ISO

Quarter to half moon visible: 1/60 sec. at f/11, 400 ISO

Quarter or less of moon visible: 1/8 sec. at f/11, 400 ISO

Crescent moon visible: 1 sec. at f/11, 400 ISO

Fully eclipsed or almost completely eclipsed: 8 sec. at f/11, 800 ISO

At the peak of the eclipse: 8 sec. at f/11, 1600 ISO

You will also need a tripod due to the long exposures and a cable release/remote or using internal timer on your camera. These are used to ensure little camera movement and are essential to great lunar photographs.

My last tip is focusing, no point of doing everything else right if your photos come out blurry. Focus your lens to infinity and you will be set.

Good luck with the photos this upcoming week.

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