Why choose LED lamps?

Posted on August 19, 2015

In 2009 I studied at Nordland College of Art and Film in Northern Norway. I remember that the school had just bought four flat LED lights to make the film productions easier and more creative for us students. The school had already several powerful HMI lights and smaller tungsten lamps, but being able to light scenes in small tight spaces was a difficulty and also to light outside in the beautiful nature of Northern Norway, without having a noisy power generator running in the background. Unfortunately the LEDs back then got rarely used, due to the bad Color Rendering Index (CRI) they had. The light they produced simply looked too green. We needed to use magenta filter to compensate some of the colors that the LED produced, and even then it looked too unnatural.

Now, six years later, the CRI level of affordable LEDs has improved dramatically. Today I’m running my own production company, and LED’s are the only lights we need. It has never been more practical to light a scene like now. The crew can consist of few people, due to low weighted lamps. They are easier to operate because of their size and because they never get warm. In addition, the low price of the LED´s makes the production cost smaller. The technology has made it easier for indie film-makers to light like professionals, and that will eventually let us use more time on the content itself, and less on the equipment. I also think that some actors feel more comfortable when there are less big gear surrounding them when acting a scene. The LEDs are smaller then traditional video lights, and therefore not as “scary” as before.

Stills from the short “Castin Catharsis” using only LED lamps with hight CRI:

Stills Casting Catharsis

I have tried the Aperture Light Storm LS 1S for many different types of scenes, and I get surprised every time I see the footage. It looks clean and natural no matter what the subject is. Due to the high CRI and powerful LED diodes, this lamp is great to use as a main light for larger shots. On my Youtube channel (Andyax) I made a video where I light up a kitchen during night, looking like it’s morning with bright sunlight. Then I tried to make the same scene, with the same setup, looking like the moon was lighting up the whole kitchen. The last test I did, was to light up a part of a forest, to see if I could use it as a main lamp for a scene shot in the forest at night. It worked great! By combining the lamp with a smaller LED with the same high CRI, and a reflector, you may get everything you need to shoot your film. Press “read more” under the video I made about the lamp, to read more :)


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Wireless follow focus, this cheap!?

Posted on May 26, 2015

I said it before, but I need to say it again: The technology is moving really fast forward. Things get more and more advanced, however more affordable, like this wireless follow focus and camera controller.

Being able to control your camera and lens wirelessly can make a huge difference to your shots and productivity when filming. The affordable Aputure DEC Wireless Remote Follow Focus Lens Adapter let’s you control the focus, change aperture and start and stop recording in a easy way. I was lucky to be able to test it out. See the video here:


Best camera setup for indie movie-making?

Posted on April 30, 2015

Is this the ultimate combination for indie movie-making? The Panasonic GH4 records 4k, the Speedbooster “expands” your sensor and give your more light, and together with the Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 you are able to shoot video with aperture F1.2. Total price is $2,896. It seems a lot, but compared to other equipment with similar features and technology, this has to be the best deal. But why not the Sony A7s, you may ask? Let me explain.

The downside with the Panasonic GH4 compared too 5D mark iii and Sony A7S, is the poor video quality when shooting in high ISO. So using a really fast lens is necessary when shooting in low light with the GH4 to avoid high ISO. But, last year Metabone released the Speedooster, which is an adapter for Canon EF lenses and micro four third cameras like the GH4. It is not just an adapter. Inside the speedbooster, it’s a special glass that increases your lenses maximum aperture by one stop (a f1.8 lens is then a f1.2 lens) and also makes lenses o,7x wider. That means it would not only give you more light, but also decrease the cropping inside the camera (you then get shorter depth of field). So the low light is no longer a big issue. In addition the A7s doesn’t have the 4k recording inside the camera and it doesn’t have the same slow motion functions as the GH4. You are able to shoot 4k with the Sony, but then you need an external recorder which is really expensive. So what else is great with the GH4?

Many people think that 4k itself is what creates sharp and good looking video, but the video codec is as important, as well as the lens. The Panasonic GH4 has the possibility to record 4K video in 100 Megabit per second, Full HD in 200 Mbps and even 96fps FULL HD 100 Mbps. The Canon 5D mark ii, which was my latest camera, captures video in 42mbps, and compared to the Canon 5D mark iii which captures video in 92 mbps, you can really see the difference. With FULL HD 200mbit in the GH4 the 5d mark iii footage is twice as compressed and that makes a difference.

You can modify the picture profiles in the GH4, and you also have presets like Cinelike D, which makes your image flat and easier to color grade in post production (see video below). It has focus peeking and zebra stripes, which helps a lot during shooting. The flip screen is genius, and the viewfinder is a must if you are shooting in bright sunlight and don’t have any external viewfinders. On the LCD screen you can see the sound level, which is great. The camera has a microphone input, a headphone output, a HDMI output and an AV output. The camera is small and has a lot of buttons which you can customize as you want. It even has a genius built in time-lapse function.

So as a conclusion, I think this setup is exactly what I need. Take a look at the video below where I explain and show tests done with this setup:

This is how I color graded the footage in post, using the Cinelike D profile, FilmConvert Pro, Premiere Pro CS6 and Da Vinci Resolve:

Main music by Thomas Leypoldt
Other music by Tchaikovsky and Strauss
Thanks to Eskild Fors (Youtbe.com/Exkild), Kim Groustra and Tor-Andre Stuland

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Bring on the night

Posted on March 8, 2015

Back in 2014, I was asked to direct a new TV-series (documentary) about seven Norwegian Dj/producers who live their big dream. All the Dj’s are superstars abroad, but most of them are not that well known in Norway. How is that? That was the idea of the series, made by Andreas Hedemann from Warner Bros acquired Eyeworks.

Together with my friend and colleague Jørn Ranum, producer Andreas Hedemann and the tv host Gisle Stokland, we went all around the world, capturing four days of the artists Kygo, CLMD, Lemaitre, Matoma, Fehrplay, Broiler and Da Tweekaz.

I have been editing the series for a couple of months now, and the first two episodes are released by Norways biggest newspaper VG. It’s my first try making a documentary series like this, so it was a bit challenging. No screenplay = crazy! But the team was amazing. My job as a director and editor has been especially important in the editing, since that’s were the stories are made. I want every episode to be unique and reflect the artist visually.

See two of my favorite episodes here (English subtitles):

Episode 5 (Da Tweekaz):

Episode 3 (Matoma):

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Equipment to improve your sound

Posted on September 19, 2014

Good sound quality is important to gain your overall video quality. With these low budget equipment, you can improve your sound a lot!

The Rode videomic Pro costs $229 and is perfect for both amateurs as well as professionals. This microphone is an upgraded version of the Rode videomic. This time, it’s smaller, more robust and has a nice gain function that will improve you sound quality when filming with DSLR’s.

I do recommend that you film with manual settings within the camera when you are shooting in a quiet environment. Then you will get less audio noise.

The Rode smartLav+ is also a nice microphone. It’s a lapel/lavalier microphone which you can easily attach to your subject. Use either a sound recorder, or your cellphone to record your subject even if he/her is standing far away from the camera. Download a sound recorder app, like “Audio Recorder Pro” (I have only tested it on windows phone), to capture uncompressed audio in .wav for example in 44000khz or 48000khz.

Thanks to Thomas Leypoldt for the great music, and Jørn Nyseth Ranum for the nice 200mm shot in the beginning and in the end ;)

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Act natural! [Sketch]

Posted on July 30, 2014

Do you know how you look when concentrating? I do, and I look really strange. But if you are aware of you concentrating, you are not concentrating enough. That’s why someone has to take a photo of you, when you are in your deep concentration, without you knowing, if you want to see how your focus-face looks like.

This is a sketch about focus-faces!

Thanks to the great funny-faces crew and cast: Daniel Wetherell, Karoline Kjørnæs, Kim Groustra, Eskild Fors, Tor-Andre Stuland, Benedicte Kjørnæs and Lars Fors!

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Winner of “Filmpolitiets kortfilmpris 2014”!

Posted on June 21, 2014

Last week, our new short film “Sing Lingeling” won the audience award called “Filmpolitiets kortfilmpris 2014” at The Norwegian short film festival 2014.

Aaslaug Vaa, the director of the film, asked me to join the project in the post production. She had manage to capture a lot of interesting material, and wanted me to edit it and join as director. After some weeks in the editing room, the film was finished.

The film is about kveding, which is a an old Norwegian traditional type of vocal music. It’s short songs, known as stev.  Some stevs dating from the middle ages are still sung in Norway. Read more about it here: LINK

See the film here (unfortunately not yet without English subtitles): LINK


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Where to get stock footage?

Posted on February 28, 2014

Let’s say you only miss one single shot to complete the film you have been editing for a long time, but that shot is nearly impossible for you to shoot. You don’t have the time, money or the right contacts. Let’s pretend the shot is of monkeys scratching each others back while bathing in natural hot water in a snowy japanese mountain. Yes, some people actually may need this shot, and if you happen to live in f.ex Spain, you would need a lot of research and money to go to Japan and film it. But, there may by a much easier and inexpensive solution out there. It’s called Pond5.

Pond5 is a webpage where cinematographers and other creative people upload their own video clips, and share it to the world. The price is usually low, because the uploader sets the price. When you first pay for it, you can use it for whatever you want. It’s then royalty free.

Pond5 also have a lot of sound effects, music, After effects project files and much more which you can download. It’s great because a lot of us film-makers have tons of video not being used and just laying around on hard drives. Now you can actually sell them. Create your own channel, upload your best shots and you get 50% of each sale. That’s a good way to earn some extra cash, and it may help others that need your shot.

I created a jet fighter scene for almost no money at all, using shots from Pond5.com. Together with my friends Eskild, Kim and Thomas, we created something that I never thought we could make that easily. Check it out in the video below. Oh, by the way, the shot of the monkeys scratching each others back while bathing in natural hot water in a snowy japanese mountain, is actually to be found on pond5. Click here to see it.

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Shoot films with your cellphone

Posted on August 18, 2013

The technology is moving really fast forward, and Nokia is taking advantage of this by creating cellphones with impressive cameras. I have been lucky to test three different Nokia cellphones, all with an amazing camera. The Nokia 808 was the most exciting to test, because it has a 41 megapixel sensor and manual settings. The Nokia Lumia 920 and the new Nokia Lumia 925 doesn’t have the same amount of manual settings when filming, but they have a camera with aperture F2, Carl Zeiss lens and the PureView technology.

I have made some videos, where I test these three phones in different settings. One of them is a shortfilm made with the Lumia 925. Me and Eskild wanted to test the camera by making a improvised shortfilm which I shot both handheld, and with my homebuilt steadycam. All three phones has a good image stabilizer, to smoothen the shots.

With the Nokia 808, you can control the exposure and the focus when filming. Unfortunately you can’t control the exposure on the lumia 920 and 925 yet, and that’s a downside if you want to use them to shoot films. But I’m really satisfied with the video quality, and can’t wait for the new Lumia 1020, which is a newer version of the Nokia 808.

Check out my tests here:


Robåt (rowboat) simulator!

Posted on June 9, 2013

Finally it’s done! I’ve been working 24/7 the last weeks to finish up a new and special project, a one of a kind rowboat simulator! I wanted to give the audience the nice and relaxing feeling of actually rowing in addition to make them learn about what you can experience at the sea. Visit Oslofjordmuseet in Asker, Norway, to experience the simulator.

See the whole “making of” in this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLcxdYHavbI

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Til Siste Hinder for sale in Germany!

Posted on April 23, 2013

I received this picture a couple of days ago. It’s really special knowing that people in Germany are able to buy “Til Siste Hinder” on DVD and watch it. The film has been dubbed to German and the title has changed  as you can see on this DVD-label. In my opinion this design looks better then the original, most likely because of the two prizes written on it hehe.

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Design your own movie posters

Posted on April 4, 2013

Designing posters is like filming or taking pictures. You have to use time to compose your frame to make it look good. Colors and lights play a major role, in addition to your message that has to reach the audience/costumer. Unlike screening films, your poster need to immediately get the attention from people walking by. The audience haven’t set aside time to watch your product so you need to grab them and make them curios and interested in no time.

I think designing posters is a great way to learn more about color combinations and composing. Using Photoshop to make posters for your own films is a great way to start. I have designed some posters for my recent films. Some were not that good, but I was quite satisfied with the poster for my mini series “Fortapt” from 2007 (see first poster). It’s really simple, but gives a mysterious feeling, such as the series.

The first design I did for a feature film, was for my debut film “Til Siste Hinder”. I made several drafts, and this one was my favorite of them (see second poster). The final poster looked different. See it at the “Design” page.

The latest poster I did, was for a film event in Norway called “Lofoten Bygdefilmfest”. This poster was printed out in 500 samples and put up in towns in Lofoten, Norway (see last poster). It was important that this poster could reach both young people and elders.

Take a look at the other designs I have done at the “Design” page.

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Posted on February 2, 2013

To become a popular artist these days, you need a lot of talent. You need to feel comfortable on the stage, you should know how to dance and move to your music, and your voice should be… just okay. Just okay!? I thought the voice of the singer was the main thing. As the technology is moving fast forward, we learn more about tools and effects that can help us do all the artistic work for us. How much relies on the sound technician when it comes to good music?

The Auto-tune effect has been a popular tool since Cher used it in her song “Believe” from 1998. She used it as a nice effect to make her voice sound special (and a lot of others do so today), but in the music industry it’s really common to add the Auto-tune to make the voice of the singer hit the right notes. But how much does it help you voice actually? I gave it a try, using Garageband on my imac, and uploaded the result. The song is “My heart will go on” and the video has already reached 200 000 views on Youtube. People comment my voice, saying it was so touchy they started crying. I can’t sing at all, but I know how to use Auto-tune.

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Should I buy the latest model?

Posted on January 17, 2013

As the technology is moving fast forward, new models of cameras gets released all the time. It’s hard to keep up with all the new stuff, but when people are to buy a new camera, they often get attracted to the newest models without knowing what’s new with them. How much better are they actually?

Canon’s camera series, EOS, has been going on for a long time. The first EOS camera that could capture video, was the Canon EOS 500D/Rebel t1i. It was released March 2009 and it could capture HD videos. The quality of the video was okay, but no breakthrough. Then the year after, in February 2010, the Canon EOS 550D/Rebel t2i was released. In my opinion, this camera was like a revolution for indie filmmakers. You were now able to buy a camera for $1200 that could record full HD video that looked just like film. It could also capture slow motion 720p video, it had a microphone input and manual exposure for video. Since I was looking for a new videocamera, I bought it as soon as it was released. The first thing I did, was to make a testfilm, and I was shocked. The quality was simply amazing. The testvideo I filmed then got really popular on Youtube, and the viewers couldn’t believe their own eyes. See the video here:

Every year after, Canon released a new model (EOS 600D, EOS 650D), and now they are soon releasing the Canon 700D. When making new models, there has to be some changes from the last model. The EOS 600D was the first one to have a flip screen and manual sound control, and the 650D was the first one to have a continues autofocus during filming. The flip screen and the manual sound control is really nice to have when filming, and autofocus feature in the 650D was a good idea, but unfortunately it turned out to be a bit to slow and stuttering to use when filming. So what about the video quality? Shouldn’t it be much better in the newest model? No difference.

A camera that produces good quality video, is what most people are looking for. Since they assume that the newest model has better quality, they buy it, instead of doing some research and spare some money by buying an older model. The Canon 550D produces the same video quality as the newer models. Yes, it doesn’t have the flip screen nor audio controls, but if this isn’t important for you, and you are most in to video quality, then go for the Canon 550D. It’s also possible to download a hack to your Canon 550D which is called Magic Lantern. It actually gives you the opportunity to control the audio in the Canon 550D, add zebra stripes, add black bars for shooting 2:35 and a lot of other features. Because of all the new models, the 550D has become really cheap. For the price of one Canon EOS 650D, you can get a new Canon EOS 550D + the really nice Canon 50mm f1.4 USM lens or the Tamron 18-270 mm lens with image stabiliser.

The conclusion is: When looking for a new camera, the latest and most expensive products doesn’t need to be the best solution. Do some research and you can save a lot of money!

Check out a video I made using only the Canon EOS 550D, the Tamron 18-270mm and the “smoothcam” effect in post (an effect in Final Cut Pro, that makes the shots even more stabilized). I shot everything handheld.

What camera do you have, and why did you buy it? Leave a comment below :)


Music video shot with cellphone

Posted on January 14, 2013

Nowadays, you can shoot some incredible nice videos with even your cellphone! I was lucky to borrow the new Nokia Lumia 920 to test the camera and see how well it performed when shooting video. Normally a camera would need a lot of light to make nice pictures and videos. In this video we didn’t use any strong lights (see behind the scenes for more info!), but since the camera in the Nokia Lumia 920 has a nice Carl Zeiss lens with aperture at f2 and the new pureView technology, it was exciting to test it out. I shot everything with both a steadycam and handheld, since the camera got a image stabilization inside the lens. The sound was recorded live by several microphones (not the cellphone) and added in post.

Thanks to Lebo Akatio for the “behind the scenes” shots. See the “behind the scenes” here:

Everything was filmed and edited within 24 hours.

Benjamin Dante (vocal/synth)
Mads von Froberg (synth/bass)
Jonas Jarlkov (drums)

Link to the band: http://aswereachforthesky.tumblr.com/

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