DIY Photography and Moviemaking: Celebrate Change and Keep the Change

by Emon Hassan on September 20, 2008

If you’re an indie filmmaker, chances are you’ve ruled out your prized dolly shots because of how much it would cost. I’ve seen DYI dolly videos before but none of them looked good. Check out this video of how smooth this dolly is, made by this guy’s dad. Cost – $50.


Homemade Dolly Test from dapoopta on Vimeo.

Of course there are many other videos re: making DIY dolly. I chose the above because the footage was shot with a camera I’ve been drooling over, the Canon HV 30. Let me go off a bit and I’ll come back to this.

A lot of filmmakers/photographers are shopping at home improvement stores to build their own rigs; makes sense to do so. Jim Talkington has a series of great videos that cover a wide range of cool tips and tricks. I stumbled into this video and the term ‘stick in a can’ is forever embedded in my head. It’s brilliantly simple, that’s why.

Notice the clamp lights he’s using? I used one of those for a movie in 2005. Bought it at a local hardware store after the $NotCheap soft-boxed light gave out. The hardware store guy looked like a biker dude and he helped me pick that one up, along with the right type of bulb. I love that light because it saved me in a few scenes; it’s sitting on top of my desk now and I’ll most likely use it for my portrait shoots. It cost me $8 with the bulb.

All this means that Home Depot and the likes are missing out on an untapped market. The same one that’s passionate about creating videos, movies, photos but lack the crucial element, the $$. Why not create a series of videos – if not, then license them – that show how photogs and filmmakers have created all their rigs using Home Depot supplies? Mm?

Anyway…HV30. Couple of years ago, I was pretty much certain I’d be saving up to buy a Panasonic AG DVX 100A. I’d made 3 shorts with that and I absolutely love that camera. It’s, however, competing with my wanting to buy a MacBook Pro. The latter is cheaper. The DVX 100A has been used for numerous feature length films, notably – to give two genres – November and Iraq in Fragments. Both have won best cinematography in Sundance and ‘Fragments’ is one of my favorite docs of all time. Nancy Schreiber has used the earlier version, DVX100, for the movie.

James Longley has used both.

I only found out about the HV30 recently. Don’t know what justifies my being unaware of its previous version, the HV20, in 2007. Indie filmmakers have used the HV20/30 and have done some amazing work. All you have to do is go over to HV20/30 page on Vimeo and watch some of those stunning HD videos. And it shoots 24P. And it costs less than $800! Fuuck!

This is perfect opportunity to discuss DIY accessories and the ever-evolving kick-ass camera equipment. Why should accessories cost more to rent/buy than the cameras? Makes no sense. Try renting a dolly track; or a Glidecam – I did for $80/day – when I was younger and stupider – and it was a waste. Try setting up a studio going the usual route. It will hurt where you’re broke. It wasn’t easy for you to save up for that camera was it? Soon you won’t need to buy two different cams for your projects. Nikon D90 started a whole new game that all the others will have to join in and compete; Panasonic challenges. I wondered in that same post when Canon would. And lo…they are taking this one little step further. I’ll cheer harder when the price is in the low teens range.

Back to HV30. It’s hard to choose a good video shot with the HV30 because there are so many. I’ll just pick one, shot by Silvana with an HV20. I used to make my dream budget of a mini-studio for about $10,000 (this is a short term dream directly proportional to current income).

I think I can cut that ‘dream’ budget in half now.


Life is So Precious from Silvana on Vimeo.

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