Sunday, October 17, 2004

Hobo Director

by Skald

ìWriter-Director of Earthly projects sponsored and angeled in Heavenî (Kerouac)

Hobo film making is here and now and within the reach of any would be Director. With just a few simple tools, easily stored in a van or car.... the neo-nomad can be a one-person video studio on wheels.

This will, of course, require an outlay of cash or some clever bartering.... but nothing a few months of work (goddam it)! and car-living frugality canít cure.

The basics are quite simple: A camera, a tripod, a laptop, and a firewire. Thatís all you need to shoot and edit your own films. Optional extras include: spotlight, foldable reflector, microphone(s), professional grade editing software, external hard drive,...... but the bare bones are a camera and a computer.

Camera: It will cost a bit more (say $400 for a new one).... but its well worth investing in a DV video camera. DV stands for Digital Video. There are other, cheaper formats... such as Hi-8, but they present problems when its to edit. DV is the elegantly simple choice because Digital Video can be directly imported to a laptop... no conversion, no extra equipment: super simple. While its certainly nice to get a brand new DV camera.... it is possible to find discounted or used ones. Scan pawn shops, look in classifieds, scour ebay. Many people buy cameras, use them once or twice, and never touch them again (I call this the RV phenomenon). With patience and dedication, even the stingiest HoboDirector can find a good deal.

Laptop: This will be your mobile editing studio. Again, I recommend a higher initial outlay of cash in exchange for greater ease and simplicity: buy an Apple. The beauty of Powerbook is that it is designed from the start to be a multi-media editing studio. Basic video editing software is standard with all Powerbooks. The program is called iMovie. It allows you to directly import raw footage, edit the video clips and arrange them, import and arrange soundtrack music, add voiceovers, create titles and subtitles, and even add a few effects (such as slow motion and fast motion). The program allows for one video track and two audio tracks: everything you need to make basic documentaries and films. For beginners (like myself), this is plenty-- the format makes it easy to learn the basics of editing... the software is simple and intuitive.

Recommended Laptop parameters: I recommend a G4 Powerbook (or above) with a 40GB+ Superdrive. A big hard drive is important, because video eats it up in a big way. The ìsuperdriveî is a DVD player and burner.... so once you finish yr film you can burn it to DVD. I also recommend added memory-- 768 DDR SDRAM or above: this will make the editing process faster (and thus less frustrating). Or you could make due with the standard memory package: give it a try... you can always upgrade at a later time.

Firewire Cable: This is a necessary accessory. A firewire cable connects yr camera to yr computer to import video footage.

Tripod: Tripods can be found second hand very cheap. Get One And Use It. Avoid the home-video disease of ìshakey camî.

And thatís it for equipment.... everything you need to make movies: Compact, simple, easily stored in a car/van....easily carried in a backpack. If yr living in yr car and space is at a premium.... a comfortable and inviting editing suite is available at the nearest coffee shop. Stuff camera, firewire, and laptop into a backpack- haul it to the cafe- order a drink- then set up shop. Use earphones to avoid annoying other customers. If the owners are cool- approach them about hosting an amatuer movie night once a month.... or network with other guerilla film-makers and sponser yr own film festival.

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