BTS Stillmotion Interview Setup

When you’re filming an interview, the audio recording of the interviewee’s voice is the most important element of your production.

That’s right, the MOST important element.

It’s so common for filmmakers to spend hours on set design and lighting and only a few minutes on audio. Without sound, all you’re left with is a talking head that does not transmit any message to the viewer.

Having a standard process in how you set up your sound recording and a standard kit of tools you will use, gives you piece of mind that the most essential element of your interview production does not effect the interview’s conversation.

While our audio setup may change depending on the environment we are in, whenever we know that we will be conducting a single person interview, we always carry our standard kit of audio tools that ensure we can record the interviewee’s dialogue in a high quality way.

Keep reading on to learn about the setup we recommend for most interviews… Continue Reading

Now, don’t get it twisted: there is certainly a time and place for zoom lenses.

And because of their range and versatility, it can be tempting to just use zoom lenses all the time…

But if you’re looking to truly advance as a filmmaker, it’s important to get to a place where you feel comfortable leaving the zoom at home and shooting with only primes.

Why? Why is it so important to use primes?

Well, there are two main reasons:

1. Aesthetic beauty.
Background blur, sharpness, contrast… all of these things look much more pleasing to the eye when shot with a prime lens.

2. It will make you a better filmmaker.
Prime lenses require you to pay more attention to what is happening, because if you’re not paying enough attention you could miss a really great moment — you don’t have the ability to zoom when you spot something awesome happening. With prime lenses you’re forced to be more present on the shoot.

When should I be using prime lenses?

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On every shoot, there are problems on top of problems to solve, big and small.

What we filmmakers often don’t think about are the small tools we can pick up that will majorly help us out as we’re running around like crazy people on set.

For this tutorial, we’ve put together 10 of our favorite tools that have come to the rescue time and time again during shoots.

A lot of this stuff you may have considered getting before, but ultimately decided against because you think you won’t use it THAT much. To which we would say… oh yes you will!

All of the tools on this list have saved our lives many times, and we’ll continue to rep them ’til the day we die.

1. Black Foil

One of the coolest things about filmmaking is our ability to alter anything we’re using to make our picture look perfect in the frame.

Even with the most expensive equipment and setup, there will always be alterations necessary on a shoot — and black foil can really be your best friend in those moments.

Use it to:

  • Extend your barn doors
  • Block off the annoying window ruining your shot
  • Quickly make a cookie and add texture to your background

The possibilities are endless… and it’s really quite cheap at just $23.
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The MoVI is here!

Before jumping into a weekend of non-stop editing and stress eating in the final stretch of our Sundance submission process, team Stillmotion took a little break from all the #standwithme madness to play with our new toy: Freefly Systems MoVI (woo-hoo!)

It came into the studio last Thursday… and with all the excitement in the air it felt appropriate to make a demo video. Being that we were particularly lacking in spare time, we put this whole thing together on the fly… but that speed and ease of use is part of what makes this new tool so revolutionary.

Everyone and their barista has some input on the MoVI… and usually that opinion is something to the effect of “holy crap, this is going to change everything!”

We’re excited too, and our MoVI is already changing the way we look at the world — but we’re not holding a viking burial for our Steadicam any time soon.

The MoVI, to us, is a new storytelling tool with its own set of advantages and disadvantages, depending on the shoot. That being said, it’s going to be crazy to watch it evolve and see how it changes things for our community… right now it’s all so new!

We’ve been excited for this to arrive ever since NAB when we met the folks over at Freefly. We told them about what we’re doing and the traveling we have planned for #standwithme (next stop Namibia!) and they totally got on board with our project.

MAJOR kudos to Freefly for making sure we could get trained and ready with the MoVI before we fly out! We can’t wait to take this thing across the world…

Today we’ll share some insight from the team to answer some of the more common questions about the MoVI — things like the learning curve, how it compares to Steadicam, how to operate it and what you’ll need… etc.


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Airline travel.

It’s one of our greatest technological advances, and one of the greatest things to ever happen to filmmaking, as it allows us to travel across the country for a shoot in mere hours.

However, it’s easy to lose sight of that greatness when you’re at the airport and realize that your bags are overweight, it’s going to cost you $200 extra, and your external hard drive is smothered in less than 3oz. of shampoo.

The ever-present crying babies, the sassy but still not very funny intercom speeches, the tiny cups of water, the movies you never thought you’d be paying $8 to watch. On top of all this, as a filmmaker you’re traveling with a ton of precious cargo and if it breaks you’re kind of screwed.

But, as the great Louis C.K. is quick to remind us…


He’s absolutely right. Flying is a privilege, and while there are certainly things we could complain about along the way, it’s really pretty amazing that we can fly through the air across the country while sipping a complimentary ginger ale, wrapped in the arms of a zebra-print neck pillow.

As filmmakers it is so crucial that we pack our gear wisely and understand just how much easier our lives can be when we do.

Somewhere in the world, right now, a Stillmotion team member is probably on an airplane. We’re always flying for our work, and over the years we’ve actually picked up a lot of know-how about the process of traveling with cameras, lights, audio equipment… the whole loot.

Recently airlines changed their policy on bag size and we had to deal with how much fun that was, and in the process we thought about how there really is so much to know about flying with gear and how it effects filmmakers… and it’s always changing. For this reason, we’ve put together the first annual Stillmotion Ultimate Travel Guide, where we cover all the stops on the itinerary of airport knowledge.

Stuff like…

How heavy is too heavy?
What are the new size requirements?
How much does it cost if my bag is overweight or oversized?
But gear is so heavy… how can I make sure my bags aren’t overweight?
How do I get status?
What the heck is Star Alliance?
Which airlines are the good ones?

…and the list goes on.
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