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A short history of filmmaking – part 1

02/04

To us living in 2015, filming has become absolutely common. Especially now that cameras are integrated into mobile phones, there is no reason not to film anything anymore. It’s hard to believe that cinema is actually just around 125 years young. There is a lot to learn about and from the history of filmmaking, so we decided to write a series of blog posts about this. And who knows, filming history might inspire you to make new movies with the Together app!

The first film camera was designed by Frenchman Louis Le Prince in 1888 (who actually worked in the UK at that time). That same year he shot the first-ever short movies: these were nothing more than pictures of his own surroundings. At the same time, also in the UK, William Friese-Greene invented celluloid: this is the material that had been used to shoot movies for over a century long and is still used in professional filmmaking.

Edison and his collaborators in America, and Lumiere brothers in France did some more groundbreaking work on film cameras. Finally, around the mid-1890′s ‘cinema’ became a regular thing. At first, filmmakers mainly filmed their surroundings and astonished the viewers, who flooded into circus tents used as traveling cinemas at that time. Just look at this film by the Lumiere brothers, which apparently went down a storm as the people got really frightened by the train coming towards them.

This YouTube rendition uses piano music, a popular way to accompany film back then. A live pianist would add some drama to the films that were shown, especially since at that moment, there was no sound being recorded yet. While the first film pioneers had been able to capture images on the screen, they hadn’t found out how to add sound yet.

So there you have it, the first movies. Why not try to re-create your own “silent movie”? Filming your surroundings and just adding music is a very simple but effective way to show something interesting or beautiful. Just go out there with your mobile device, choose something interesting to film and add music while leaving the actual sound off – this can be easily done with Together. Next week we’ll continue our look at cinematic history. So, stay tuned – and have fun making your own take on early cinema!

Meerkat and Periscope: do you need streaming video?

31/03

meerkat periscope

There’s something new on the scene: live streaming through an app. Meerkat and Periscope are two apps that will help you do this. New to this? We’ll help you understand the ins and outs of this new service and help you find out whether it’s something for you to pick up on.

It all started when Meerkat came on the scene, some weeks ago. Meerkat is a simple to use app that allows you to add a live video stream to your Twitter account. When you install the app, you log in with Twitter – there are no other login options so you will need a Twitter account to use it. After logging in you can either start your own livestream or watch others. At first it sort of feels magical to just watch anyone from anywhere in the world live – of course there’s all sorts of livestreams online already and there have been for years, but as this is mobile, it does have a different feel to it.
While watching, there is a chat option, so at the bottom of the stream there are all sorts of messages going from people who are watching and asking questions to the streamer. At the top of the screen you can see the icons of others who are watching with you, clicking the pic will give you their Twitter description but unfortunately you’re not able to directly go to their Twitter account form there. However, the interaction with Twitter does result in the app posting on your account, ie retweeting the tweet of the streamer you’re watching.

Periscope, funnily enough, does not do this, even though it’s the official streaming service by Twitter itself. It came on the market just after Meerkat but will probably be more successful, just because it’s a bit more polished and has the bigger company behind it. Periscope is just as easy to use as Meerkat, but there are some small differences. You can’t see the other people who are watching (just how much there are), and officially there is a chat as well but for some reason this never sows on my phone (iPhone 6). Periscope also lets you directly check out the people you’re following on Twitter, to see if they’re broadcasting through Periscope.

Watching either Meerkat or Periscope can be fun, but to be honest, most of it is not that interesting yet. Some streams are just plain boring, others try to be fun (like the guy who filmed his teddy bear at the officer and lets him do all sort of stuff) which is nice for a short while, but not interesting enough to watch through a live stream.
This is the issue with these apps; a livestream just isn’t that interesting, really, unless there is something relevant happening. An event, like sports or news related, is very suitable for these apps, and a video game stream maybe. So when you’re deciding to use these apps, think about what you want to show to the world. Newshunter? Do use these apps. Interested in videochatting with people form all over the world? Try opening a livestream and see who answers – I’ve seen a lot of “I’m alone in my room who wants to chat” sort of streams on mainly Meerkat. But if you want to really convey something using video, this might not be the platform for you. Ask yourself “Does this need to be shown live, or can I show it in an edited video later on as well (or better)?” If the latter one is the case, you’d be better off by making a (non-livestreaming) video with an app like Together, and sharing it through different social media channels.

Solving photo size issues with a border

25/03

paris together app

I don’t know about you, but I tend to make a lot of pictures using my phone in upright position. The same when taking pictures for Instagram; as they’re square, I always use the upright position of my iPhone 6.

However, when I want to use my photos in a compilation video, I’m not always happy about it. The upright position does not fit with the default video screen, which is, of course, horizontal, just like any TV and cinema screen. This results in boring dark edges to the left and right of my beautiful pictures.

But, thankfully there is a great new option in the Together app that helps you get rid of these black sides. On the decoration tab, you can add a border to your picture compilation. The border masks the black sides and makes your compilation even more beautiful! Just watch a small exemplary video with some pictures I took on my trip to Paris some days ago. The lovely floristic border adds a feeling of spring to my drizzly pictures (unfortunately, it rained for most of the days I was there…).

Do try the borders to show off your ‘vertical’ pictures: I’m positive you’ll be as happy with the feature as I am!

Be the new Spielberg/Inarritu/Tarantino* (pick your favourite)

28/02

oscars

Here at Together we try to help you as much as we can in making the best mobile movies available. The reason behind it is simple: we love film. And loving film means watching a lot of movies, both in the cinema and at home, and learning from them. Since it’s the Oscar season too, we’d love to give you some advice from the big guys (and girls), the directors who are known all over the world for their brilliant, innovative movies. What sort of advice do they have for budding filmmakers? Here are some quotes and anecdotes!

Know your material

Peter Jackson, the creator of The Hobbit and LOTR movies, says it’s very important to know the limitations of your camera. This might sound odd from a director who has used the most advanced filming techniques, but even he felt himself limited at some points. By knowing what your camera can and cannot do before you start shooting, you can get the best out of your filming. This is very good advice for mobile filmmakers; even though phones and tablets can do quite a lot, there are also things they cannot do. Think before you shoot and if something seems impossible, try to work out alternatives beforehand.

Aim high, risk low

Of course, you want to make the best movie it can be, but think twice when spending your money. The Coen Brothers, masters of the absurd, spent a meager 6 million dollars on their hit movie Fargo. They put their heart and soul in it but were careful in spending money, because there was a possibility the quirky movie would flop. A flop would be less of a problem for the studio attached if the movie hadn’t cost that much in the first place, so they kept to a low budget (earning quite a bit of money on it when it became successful). So, what’s the lesson? Don’t be cheap, but don’t think you need to spend all of your money either. When it’s a great movie, it’ll shine through even with a lower budget. Trying to make a short movie or an Internet hit with your mobile device? Just go for the mobile look and use its features instead of trying to make it all fancy and glamorous. It might just work.

Don’t care about the audience too much

Director Sofia Coppola, famous for such movies as Marie Antoinette and Lost in Translation, says she just tries to make such movies she would like to see herself. She does not think about the audience expectations too much. This is a good advice: thinking too much of the others’ preferences may contradict your own vision. Stay true to your own style and ideas, and you will surely find a proper audience for your movies, either small or big.

Tweet your video – but longer

24/02

twitter

As you might have heard, Twitter has recently implemented a new feature allowing you to post short videos instantly. It’s great to see that it has become even easier to add all sorts of images to this popular social media platform, which has long extended far beyond the original 160 characters.

There had already been a connection between Twitter and Vine, allowing you to upload extremely short videos, but this new Twitter video update will allow you much longer videos. You can share up to 30 seconds of video and even do some basic editing in Twitter itself.

Great news, however, sharing a video exceeding 30 seconds is not possible yet. This means you still need to rely on an external video app to post longer videos to Twitter. Together is one of the apps that makes this very easy. Any video you compose with Together can be uploaded to Twitter instantly and completely. What’s more, Together also gives you much more editing capabilities than Twitter itself, such as text options, borders, filters and so on.

In the future, Twitter might start to add features like these as well, but for now they’re just testing the water. If adding videos through Twitter becomes popular, who knows where the development might end. For now though, have fun experimenting with all of these different ways of adding video, either through Twitter itself or through a compatible app with more options like Together. And do let us know of your ideas and share what works best for you.

Come to the Slideshow

15/02

slideshow

Remember those old-fashioned slideshows, when you had to sit for hours on end watching 200+ photos of your friend’s vacations, on a big screen? Those days are long past and the word slideshow is now a synonym for a stream of pictures stored on your computer or mobile device. But streaming them digitally does not make your slideshow more engaging per se. Have you ever really thought about how to put your photos in the perfect order? Here are some things to take into account.

- Try different sequences. This is very easy with the Together app; just add all of the pictures you want to use and then drag and drop them in any order you like. Rewatch your selection instantly to see if it makes sense.

- Your sequence does not have to be chronological per se. Why not look at color or composition to find the best order for your pictures? Alternatively, you can go for variety; mix pictures showing lots of people with pictures of landscapes, for instance.

- You do not need to use all of your pictures, really. Make a selection of the best and most captivating pictures, especially when you want to share your slideshow with others. You could always reserve an extra slideshow containing all pictures for yourself.

- Use matching music. There’s a lot of music available in the Together app if you’re lost for inspiration. Watch your slideshow with the music to see if the musical effects fit your photos: maybe a bit of rearranging would be helpful.

Have you made a great slideshow using Together?
Let us know and share it with us!

 

Move your movie

12/02

movement
Have you ever thought about camera movement? And especially camera movement when using a mobile device? Different devices ask for different ways of handling them; there are big differences between a fullblown 35mm filmcamera, a consumer camcorder and a mobile Phone, for instance. However, there are some things that are the same for all of them. Some “laws of movement”, which, when implemented, get you the best result possible, Here’s some of them.

1. Do you really need movement? Think about what you want to say with this take/clip/camera angle. Is it necessary to move the camera while filming, or not? Movement can add dynamics, or make a scene more exciting. It can create a sense of documentary-style and realism as well. So if you’re looking for that in your movie, do try moving your camera.

2. But how? How do you move? Using a zoom-button is unnatural and is thankfully not possible on most mobile devices. You’ll need to either move just the camera, or move yourself. Try it out to see the difference; moving your arm forward or to the side as opposed to moving your feet and keeping your arm at the same length. Avoid doing both at the same time as it will give a less better result.

3. Looking for steady movement or wanting to move with your camera for a long time? Make sure your camera is as steady as possible. Use a selfie-stick, for instance, or put yourself in/on something with wheels (wheelchair, shopping cart) and let someone drive you around. You don’t need fancy equipment to make a great shot!

4. Decide what the start and endpoint of the movement it. Make sure your shot starts with a nice frame and ends with a nice frame as well.

5. Moving with something or somebody is the best way to use movement in your video without being too obvious. Walk with someone who is walking and it’ll all look very smooth and natural. This is also a way to keep a video with mainly people who are talking, fresh; think of reporters in news items who are filmed like this a lot of times too.

De-noise your video with Denoise

06/02

enjoy noise-free sounds with denoise

Want to enjoy clear sound without any surrounding noises? Why not try Denoise! We’ve told you about this new and exciting app before, but I gather it would be a nice idea to explain a bit more on the subject of noise removal. There is no reason to bear with poor sound quality in your mobile videos anymore.

Until now, you needed an external microphone to have really great audio. Not any more. Remove the noise from your videos with the easy to use background noise removal app called Denoise or just go straight to the Noise Removal App Extension so you can remove the noise right from the Photos app. Even better, the premium version of Together has the Noise Removal app built in!

Using the noise removal system is easy. Touch the ‘noise only’ area on the sound waveform; this is usually the flat area in the beginning or at the end of the waveform. By default, Denoise will always choose the first two seconds of your clip, as most often these seconds are only filled with background noise and nothing else. If this is not the case in your clip, for instance if someone starts speaking right away, just check the waveform for another ‘noise only’ area and choose that one instead.

By selecting the area you give the app the idea of what the noise is in every case, and it will use it to clean up the sound in the entire clip, just like that.

Not satisfied with the results yet? No problem! Choose another ‘noise only’ area and see if it’s a better match. Don’t worry, you’ll never lose any sound on your clip as you can roll back the effect if you’re not happy about it. Just have fun trying to find the best noise area and enjoy cleaning up the sound of your clips!

Framing and composing your clips and videos

04/02

composition

Choosing a proper frame for your videos isn’t that easy. I bet that lots of times you’ve looked back at your material and wondered why have not you chosen another frame or composition. So to help you out, here’s a handy guide to help you compose your mobile movies in a much more professional way.

1. Ask yourself if you really need that much space around your subject. One of the most frequent “mistakes” in video clips is showing a lot of meaningless empty space around the subject. If you really want to show the surroundings, for instance when filming nature or a specific location, of course, you can include as much “space” as you can, but otherwise, ask yourself twice if you really need that space. A subject can look much more captivating when shown in a more close-up fashion. So, don’t be afraid to use a closer frameset. bottom up

2. Try filming from a different height. Filming a subject from the ground up will make that subject seem much bigger and mightier. Using a top-down perspective does the opposite, giving you quite a different look upon the subject. Play with the perspective and show people much more than what they’d see with their own eyes!

3. Although focusing in the middle of the frame is effective, it can be rather boring. Just try, what would happen if you shift your subject to bottom left, or middle right of the frame?

4. Don’t shift the horizon – or if you do, do it well! Especially with a mobile device, the camera can be easily skewed without noticing. This will result in clips which are but slightly tilted and look out of joint. Try to keep the horizon straight at all times, and all vertical lines straight up. Or, if you want to experiment, really tilt the camera 25-40 percent to noticeably shift the perspective.

framing

In the next blog post, we’ll give you more advice and ideas on framing and composition, and also some tips on how to move with your camera the easiest and most effective way.

Stay tuned!

5 reasons to make a Video for your Valentine

02/02

valentine

That day has almost come, February 14th, the Valentine’s Day! A perfect moment to let that significant other know that you care about him or her, either anonymously or not. This year, why not make a Valentine’s video? Here’s the 5 best reasons to make a video for your beloved.

1. When you use Together to make a video, you can choose how to send your video to your loved one. Send it straight to their mailbox, or when you’re feeling bold, use social media. Want to send an anonymous video? Just upload it into the Together cloud and your video will be viewable online, without your name attached to it. Just make sure he or she gets the link to the video!

2. Want to send an anonymous message but give some hints as to who you are? Send a video full of clips of your favourite romantic places, songs and images. Let them guess as to who you are!

3. Sending a message to your boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife? A compilation of your most romantic moments could work great. Add photos from your phone to Together, add some video clips of you both together if you have them, choose your common song and let your significant other know how much you care.

4. And, finally, an even better idea: send a puzzle video. If you want to invite your beloved to a romantic dinner, try to make a video with some hints in it. Film some iconic places on the road to the restaurant, a thing resembling its name, and add time and place using the text option. You could even go to the restaurant a week earlier and make a movie of you sitting there at a table, with some romantic flowers, as if you are already waiting for your beloved. A great video to surprise him or her!

5. Together will add some great new features just for Valentine’s Day. Decorate your video with a border full of hearts, for instance, or use a great intro clip: they’ll be added in the next update which can be here any day now. We’ll keep you updated on the release.

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