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Monday, February 07, 2011

The £100 movie recipe

This is a guest post by Kate Fosk, known in the Moviestorm community as kkffoo. Kate is from Northern England, and works with a wide variety of machinima engines. Her main collaborator is Mike Joyce, a thirty-year Hollywood veteran, and former head of global production at Fox. Living half a planet apart, they use webcams, virtual reality and conventional internet resources to communicate and work with each other.

This post came about as a result of a conversation about how you don’t really need expensive tools to make a decent movie. Kate said she could assemble everything she needed for under £100 (about $150), and we challenged her to do it. Of course, she did. Here’s Kate’s recipe for the ultra-low budget movie studio practically anyone can afford.

Your Movie - Part 1

1)The first ingredient may be a cheat, we assume you already have, or can borrow a computer which is capable of video editing and running Moviestorm. (As most cookery books neglect to give instructions for building your kitchen, or smelting the iron for your aga we think it’s a valid starting point.)

2) Make some friends. (Movie making friends with nice microphones are best, but if these are out of season then your brother or next door neighbour will suffice.) Put these aside in a warm place and pour brandy* over at intervals.
(*we say brandy, but for those without a store of unwanted Christmas gifts, we suggest a rummage through granny’s souvenir cabinet will usually turn up a bottle of green stuff she bought in Greece on her Saga winter-cation)

3) Don thinking cap.

4) Download Celtx.

Celtx: Fully featured script writing tool, including power tools for organising and editing your work.
Price: Free
Download here:
Pros: Very flexible, can be used as straight script writer /editor, or to create story boards or combination of both.
Cons: Keyboard shortcuts can be non intuitive at times
Easy to use: Yes

5) Write masterpiece.

6) Pick crystallised green stuff out of teeth.

7) Panic.

8) Take out previously soused friends and ask for advice.

9) Rewrite masterpiece leaving out the exploding elephants, speedboat chase through desert and voice over by Rutger Hauer.

10) Look up Rutger Hauer on and decide to reinstate voice over.

11) After sleepless night, rewrite elephant scene and email Granny to see if she can do ‘dutch accent’.

12) Download Audacity.

Audacity: Fully featured audio editing tool.
Price: Free
Download here
Pros: Simple intuitive interface. Many 3rd party free plugins & effects available, eg mp3 exporter
Cons: No midi
Easy to use: Yes

13) Listen to own recorded voice.

14) Go mad and spend half budget on USB condenser microphone.

USB Condenser Microphone: plugs into USB socket and captures much better sound quality than built in microphones. Add a useful wind or pop screen for a little extra or make one yourself
Price varies: see below
This reviewer recommends Samson C01U - USB Studio Condenser Microphone which comes with stand and audio software, and has a purpose built windscreen available separately.
Pros: Huge leap in quality compared to built in microphones, for much cheaper price than studio gear. Plug in and use.
Cons: Bulky
Easy to use: Yes

15) Panic.

16) Decide elephant scene is core of movie. Rewrite script, cut down from four hours to ten minutes.

17) Download Sketchup.

Sketchup: 3d modelling tool
Price: Free
Download here:
Pros: Simple and powerful tool, huge cache of free models in Google Warehouse to download and study.
Cons: Static models only, no bones or animation.
Easy to use: Yes

18) With much assistance, import homemade elephant into Moviestorm Modder’s Workshop. Cry.

19) Watch several Hitchcock films, and decide to place incendiary elephant out of shot, and focus on character reactions.

20) Build set, design characters.

21) Find free picture of elephant on Flickr creative commons search, and nice free explosion sound on Freesound.

22) Send script to any friends willing to record voice parts. Wait for these to return. Worry.

23) Redesign set, so character who sounds like he is talking from airing cupboard is actually in airing cupboard. Sorted.

24) Film scene, and show to selected friends for critique. Cry.

25) Write long emotional email to Rutger Hauer, save in email drafts folder.

26) Show film to Granny.

27) Stomp around, cry, then buy Sony Vegas from Ebay. Put to one side.

Sony Vegas: Video Editing Suite
Price Variable, see below: Try Sony Movie Studio HD 10 Platinum Suite 
Pros: Ease of use, flexibility, useful effects and plugins, hidden depths!
Cons: Each editor has their own quirks with codecs which don’t load properly, Vegas is no different. Some have had issues with Moviestorm audio, but there are workarounds.
Easy to use: Yes

28) Load Moviestorm, substitute car for elephant, re-render. Say ‘******’ it, and upload to video share sites.

29) Decide to give up movie making and take up embroidery.

30) Read comment from curlygirl347 that ‘choice of wallpaper is quite good, and actor in cupboard with towels was emotional moment’. Decide am natural filmmaker, fantasise about accepting Oscar.

Repeat at will.

Total costs:

Samson C01U Condenser Microphone£42.15
(£37.16 + £4.99 postage Ebay UK Auction)
Sony Movie Studio HD 10 Platinum Suite£37.50
(from Ebay UK top rated seller including free shipping)
Moviestorm Rental£14.00
(For 3 months including extra content pack)

So there you go. You’ve even got change. Of course, you could do it even cheaper with just one month rental of Moviestorm, but realistically, you should allow yourself enough time for everything to go wrong. And for writing all those emails to Rutger Hauer.

Read more from Kate & Mike at their blog, Pineapple Chunks.

(2) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Career change on 10/22 at 05:02 AM

I was just seeking this info for some time. After six hours of continuous Googling, finally I got it in your website. I wonder what is the lack of Google strategy that don’t rank this type of informative web sites in top of the list. Normally the top websites are full of garbage.

Shine on 12/01 at 09:21 AM

I agree. You have very valuable information here. Thanks. I am going to sent your URL to my son. He is very interested in movie making.

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