Hollywood Screams, Do It Yourself

Here is a short example of an effect which can be used at low cost for any scream or horror type movie.

Making your own video or short movie or longform movie is now very possible for the average fan of gore or schlock. If you want to make a high class epic it will be harder but still possible. The key is to have software for video editing and a camcorder or video camera of some sort... and some friends. Watch all the tutorial videos for special effects.

Video Cameras

There are several basic types of cameras to consider. You might want to get some different kinds of cameras for your production. The newest cameras record onto MiniDV tape cassettes or SDHC cards or mini DVDs or a hard drive built into the camera. Each camera has good and not so good qualities.

Lowest cost recorders are the tiny candy bar size small lens units which sometimes can be HD (Hi Def). Often they are less than $100. The picture might be mpeg 30 frames per second which is good, but the picture might not be great because it will require more lighting than some other cameras. Read the reviews before you purchase any camera.

The MiniDV format can give you a great picture even in standard definition, but it has moving parts and if you do not have a plug in external mic you might hear the camera noise in the finished product. That is also true of a MiniDVD camera.

Cameras which record on SDHC cards will record quietly and give a great picture and the picture usually can be "read" by most video editing software as a file on an external drive. Just slide the card into a slot on your pc. (I am not familiar with Apple Macs.)

Depending on what size picture and what length of time your movie runs and what format you are using as the final product, the file size will vary greatly. A five minute video in Windows Media format (WMV file) will take about 150 MB of space on the hard drive if the picture is 1280X720. AVI files and MPEG files will use more space. You also can render from the movie editing software directly to a DVD or you can make a CD ROM with a WMV or MPEG or AVI or MOV file. Most movie editors can use all of those file formats and can render a final edited video to any of those formats.

I like the lens quality of my Canon camcorder, which is a MiniDV format. I have a Sony MiniDV which also has very good picture and sound quality at a low cost. I have a high def Panasonic camera which has its own editing software. It uses MiniDVDs and SDHC cards. It has good quality also and is moderately priced.

Video Editing Software

Windows Movie Maker is a free video editor. A movie or video can be made with that but it is very limited, especially with special effects. It can do titles and transitions and render a finished product in many formats and degrees of quality.

I am very familiar with Magix Movie Edit Pro 14 and some of the early Sony Vegas software. Both are great. Magix is very low cost and Sony Vegas is a bit more expensive but Vegas has a few extras. There are many other video editors in the software section of an electronics dealer. Read online reviews before you buy.

If you want to make a movie, especially with special effects get software which has green screen or blue screen or chroma key features. Also look for cloning ability in the list of effects. Cloning might be called cropping. There should be unlimited tracks for video and audio and narration and titles.


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You can buy a tripod to hold your camera steady for under $20 quite often. There are many great tripods under the $50 price range.

Stock Footage

There is some free stock footage at Archive.org. You can buy stock footage from a firm called Footage Finder. If you need an exterior of The White House or a New York skyline, you will find it there. Stock footage is royalty free. After you purchase it or get it for free, you do not have to pay a crew to go film that scene. You buy the rights to use the scene. You also can find royalty free scenes in public domain movies. Check carefully.

If you need gunshot hits or explosions or blood spurts, check with Detonation Films.


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Model cars that are built to scale can be used with green screen effects to become part of your low budget thriller.


A still picture can become your set if you employ a green screen software editor. if you stand in front a a well lit green screen you can make the green disappear and use the underlying photo or video for our background.

Go to Page Two of DIY. More video ideas.

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