How To: Focus Tricks, Tripod Hacks, Editing Tips, and Upside-Down Creativity from "Stranger Things"

By David Schonauer   Wednesday November 29, 2017

There’s a lot to know when it comes to motion art.

Once, if you wanted to learn filmmaking skills, you had to buy a book or go to film school. Now that technology has opened up filmmaking to the masses, there is also a ton of know-how to be found on the web. And that’s where MAP spends a great deal of time.

Today we launch a semi-regular roundup of tips, tricks, and hacks that we have been collecting. Some of these posts cover basics, some are more advanced, some are focused on expanding your creativity, and some are there just to inspire you.

You’ll learn how to avoid five color-grading mistakes, how to get sharper focus, how to shoot and edit videos in Photoshop, how to capture different emotions with different lenses, and post-productions tips that will save you time and money. You’ll find the techniques that have made Roger Deakins one of the foremost cinematographers, and you’ll see how they made Netflix’s Stranger Things so mind-blowing. You’ll even learn how to create your own Stranger Things Upside-Down look in Adobe After Effects.

1. Five Color-Grading Mistakes You Should Avoid

“Color grading your footage is not like adding an Instagram filter to your photos, though many beginners treat it as such,” notes NoFilmSchool. In a new tutorial, Matti Haapoja of TravelFeels names five of them in the video to help you set yourself on the right path when working on your grade in post. Remember not to go all “Oompa Loompa” with over-saturated colors.

2. Get Sharper Footage with These 7 Focus Tricks

Keeping shots in focus is one of the most crucial elements of capturing an image. A subject in focus tells the viewer what to look at, declares PremiumBeat, which has a tutorial demonstrating a few ways you can get better focus, whether that means racking focus or following a subject.

3. How to Capture Different Emotions with Different Lenses

There's no such thing as the "right" lens, just the "right" lens for your story, declares  
NoFilmSchool, which shares  another tutorial  from Matti Haapoja of TravelFeels, this one explaining how different lenses inspire different emotions in audiences and how you can use them to tell better stories.

4. Why You Should Invest in a Cinema Lens for Shooting Video

Cinema lenses are usually much more expensive than the corresponding lenses for still photography, and, notes DIY Photography, you may be tempted to skip the added cost. In the tutorial above, Caleb Wojcik and Greg Farnum discuss the differences and give you some of the reasons why you should buy (or rent) a cinema lens.

5. How to Shoot and Edit Vlogs that Look Pro

It’s easy for just about anyone to produce and upload a video to YouTube, so knowing how to make the content stand out is all the more important, notes Digital Trends, which has advice on how to create a pro-quality vlog, whether you’re making tutorial or demonstration videos or doing your own hands-on product reviews. It covers everything from pre-production and lighting to audio and post-production.

6. How to Edit Video in Photoshop

Not ready to dive into Adobe Premiere Pro? DIY Photography  features a tutorial from Scott Kelby showing you how to edit video in a software you may be far more familiar with — Photoshop. “Is it a replacement for Premiere? Not really, it’s more like a stepping stone for people who just want to create. And it doesn’t cost extra!” notes DIYP.

7. Tripod Hacks to Lift Your Filmmaking

The video above, from Cinecom, shows you how to extend your creativity by extending your tripod for interesting overhead shots. You’ll also learn about the lift shot, how to mount lights on your tripod, and how to create a “propeller transition."

8. Post Production Tips From the Pros that Will Save You Time, Money

NoFilmSchool  went to the Post-Production Secrets panel at the recent DOC NYC festival and put together a list of pro tips that will help you in your own video work. One tip: Subtle footage stabilizing can really help, and Adobe Premiere has the best tool to achieve this.

9. Creative Takeaways from Stranger Things

Did you love season two of Stranger Things on Netflix? Why not learn from it?  Zackery Ramos-Taylor has pulled together 25 creative transitions  from season two that could inspire you. Meanwhile, Vox shows how the series’s brilliantly retro title sequence  was created almost entire in-camera. And a Red Giant tutorial  offers a step-by-step plan for creating your own Stranger Things Upside-Down world using Adobe After Effects.

10. Techniques Every Cinematographer Can Learn from Roger Deakins

He’s been the cinematographer for many of the Coen brothers films, as well as the James Bond movie Skyfall and the recent Blade Runner 2049. There’s no doubt that Roger Deakins is one of the great directors of photography: “[I]n films in which Deakins works as DP, the cinematography takes on a life of its own, and can be studied in and of itself,” notes NoFilmSchool, which features a video essay from Nelson Carvajal revealing how Deakins does what he does.


No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now

Motion Arts Pro