How far has live streaming come?

Back in the early days of the internet, ‘live streaming’ typically involved a cheap web-cam hooked up to a computer which broadcast low quality images. By today’s standards, the quality of streaming available even just two decades ago looks more like CCTV footage rather than something you might want to watch for fun. But with most of the world limited to painfully slow dial-up internet at the time, even this seemed like cutting-edge stuff.

Those days are long gone and today live streaming accounts for a sizable chunk of the total volume of internet traffic across the globe. With that said, it’s clear that live streaming video has taken the world by storm – something recent internet usage statistics clearly support.

The most interesting aspects of these figures relates to how live streaming is supplanting traditional media channels. And according to a survey by the Interactive Advertising Bureau, not only are 47% of the respondents to the survey watching more live streaming video than they were a year ago, but 44% were saying they are watching less live TV as a result of live streaming. This is a startling statistic, suggesting that in order to keep pace with the sorts of technologies younger generations are using, traditional media companies will have to find ways of branching out into the live streaming world.

One of the most disruptive companies in the live streaming space is Twitch—a brand that has now become synonymous with this new type of media content. Following an acquisition by the internet behemoth Amazon for just shy of a billion dollars, Twitch have established themselves as one of the main players in the live streaming space – currently boasting 3.8 million live streamers, 15 million daily viewers, with the total number of monthly viewers sitting at 140 million. This is just one platform however, and with Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube all featuring live-streaming features, competition is clearly beginning to heat up. These four tech titans are not the only popular streaming services in the Western market however, with many Asian equivalents such as WeChat posting numbers that blow Twitch well and truly out of the water.

But when it comes to what exactly people are watching on these streaming services, what sort of trends can we notice? The most popular category by far is online gaming. This covers everything from live video game tournaments to live casino games – and if you fancy, you can find out more about live casino sites on live casino page.

In fact, competitive gaming has become so popular that live tournaments are held in sports stadiums which attract thousands of fanatical fans all screaming for their favourite teams as they compete for million dollars prizes. The fact that live streamed virtual sporting events are now being played in sports stadiums to thousands of fans, while also simultaneously being broadcast online across the globe, shows the extent to which live streaming has become the new normal. And with the numbers growing exponentially on a month by month basis, we can only expect things to increase.

How To Study Filmmaking Online for Free

The film making industry has picked up a notch in the last couple of years. YouTube has changed the landscape forever and has allowed the everyday Joe to become an overnight sensation. 

Needless to say, there is a difference between a fad and garnering a following and you still need the skills to make a decent film. Not too long ago, if you wanted a degree in film, you had to go to an expensive school, but the internet has changed that as well. Studying for free in just one of the online education benefits.

Getting an overview of the business

Some institutes offer introductory course that give you an overview of the film industry. You will be looking at everything from the complexities of development to distribution and finance of it all. 

You can pick a course from some leading provider of studio services for the global screen-based industries. They have ample experience and they give you top tips from the experts. If you have a burning question about the industry, you are sure to get the answer here. 

Giving screenwriting a go

Some well-known institutes have a great course on screenwriting if you lean more towards the tory side of the screen. 

They are usually short two-week course on the basics of screenwriting and you are introduced to a bit of theory and then explore the basics of writing a professional script. 

To manage your writing work for scripts and stories, you can seek help from an expert essay helper. The online writer can also help you with other academic work like thesis, dissertation and term papers even for any other course you are a studying. The course is intense with a lot of information, but the creative writer will soak it up like a sponge. 

Exploring animation

For those of us who enjoy the fictional side of the screen a bit more, there is always animation. Things have come a long way and with modern CG, the possibilities of animation are endless. 

This course is nothing short of a masterclass course. Within a few weeks, you’ll go from knowing nothing to being having your mind blown at the things that you can do. 

The courses are usually presented by top animators who will guide you through their favorite animation techniques. Every week, you’ll delve into a new technique like you do when you check speech ideas on Topics Mill. The options are many as you’ll explore everything from stop motion animation, 2D animation, real-world animation to CGI or computer animation. 


The film industry is so diverse that there is a place for anyone who has an interest in the business. You don’t have to be an actor or screenwriter, but you might have the eye that is needed to take that stellar shot. 

Cinematography is all about the appearance of your films. If the acting sucks, you are the one who can turn the tide and wow the audience with breathtaking visuals. 

Haley Chamberlain Nelson

There is no shortage of cinematography courses out there and you’ll have your hands full in picking the right fit for you. A good place to start would be to get a grip on the basics and work from there. You’ll soon find your niche and become a master in the field if you practice those creative muscles.

Film distribution

Film distribution is one of the more technical and sometimes daunting elements of the industry, but the Film distributors association has you covered in their online course. They will demystify the whole process in their four-week course and shed some light on the processes involved. 

You will be looking at the target audience and the ad campaigns that run to promote the film and also how the target audience influences the advertising. 

The other key aspect that will get a lot of attention is the distribution budget and how funds are allocated for the different aspects of distribution. This is a course you want to spend some time on if you want to stay within budget.   


The film industry is one of the most complex and ever-changing industries. With the development of technology and new filming techniques, you have to be on top of your game. 

It makes for one exciting career if you feel pulled towards it, but if you have what it takes, you’ll be treated to job satisfaction like no other profession. If you still need to test the waters and see if this is the field you want to go into, then the free courses that are available are a must. 

Contributed by Emma Ruddle:

Emma Rundle is a university teacher and also an online tutor working with college students to master them the subjects she teaches in. She also has a great passion for writing and to keep that going she provides assignment writing help to research students. In her free time, she practices yoga, cooks for her family and plays basketball. 

7 Of The Most Common Mistakes Made By Filmmakers

Filmmaking is difficult. For any of the uninitiated out there, you only need to look at the end credits of a film in theaters to realize that it takes an army to make a film, and some of those films aren’t even good! Most filmmakers don’t have the money for big crews with lots of complicated gear, and find themselves doing a hundred different jobs themselves. Whatever level of filmmaking you’re operating it at, you’ll know how easy it is to make mistakes. Mistakes can be trivial or they can be entirely project-ruining. And it’s not always clear what are the most important to avoid. Here are 7 mistakes that filmmakers always make, so you can avoid them.

Haley Chamberlain Nelson

Being Too Gear Focused

When you start out in filmmaking, or even when you’re a seasoned pro, it’s easy to be dazzled by the lenses, rigs, cranes, jibs or whatever else it might be. “You have to be really strict with yourself as a filmmaker and remember that the thing that really matters is your story. Don’t start a project with a $10,000 dollar camera set-up and think ‘Hmmm, what shall we shoot with this?’ Start with the story and keep that at the heart of the project always”, advices Chris Jameson, filmmaking blogger at BoomEssays and Assignment Writer.  You can also achieve a lot without needing all of the gear, as you can see in this video where a steady shot is achieved without an expensive steady cam.

Not Taking Time Over Audio

Audio can be the element of a film that, unless it is spotless, can completely degrade a project from professional to amateur. It’s not the most instinctively interesting area of the film set, which is not helped by the fact that it’s not the easiest to understand either. But that is no excuse. Audio needs to be give a massive emphasis in your prep work, or you could find yourself in a real mess down the line.

Forgetting Battery Backups

Batteries are one of those small things that can cripple a film set. Batteries will run out! It’s inevitable! Always remember to charge primary and back-up batteries before a shoot so that you’re never caught short.

Forgetting the story

Everything in a film must have a reason for being there. “There’s a saying about films that if a viewer doesn’t leave a scene with more than it arrived with, the scene shouldn’t be there. Really this speaks to a constant need for filmmakers to justify the presence of every shot, every line, every character, every scene from the first page of the screenplay to the final cu”, says Lola Kaminski, art writer at PaperFellows and PhD Thesis Writing. Make sure that anyone who questions something can be given a full, valid justification at all times.

Generic Music

Music is a really tough one, particularly for new filmmakers. You don’t want to be in breach of copyright but you also really don’t want audiences to think less of your film because its music is from a free online library. The best solution in that situation is to look around for musicians who you know, or can easily contact and see if you can either use their music or hire them in for the soundtrack.

Breaching Copyright

Speak of the devil! Breaching copyright is a really serious issue that you need to be careful of no matter where in the industry you are. For new filmmakers music is quite often the issue and you need to be sure that your film doesn’t get disqualified from festivals or removed from the internet because you thought no-one would notice. Similarly, be careful not to thieve any intellectual property. There’s a difference between a homage and straight up stealing.

Giving Up

As mentioned at the start, filmmaking is very hard. You will experience a bunch of failures. That’s part of the process. Don’t quit the second it goes wrong, just keep pushing and believing in yourself and eventually you’ll find your feet.


Hopefully this list will give you an idea of a few of the most common critical mistakes that filmmakers make, so that, when it comes to your turn, you don’t find yourself in a similarly bad situation. No-one told you it’d be easy, but these mistakes can make it a whole lot tougher than needs be.

More tips

Article by Beatrix Potter

Beatrix Potter is a professional film writer at Coursework Help and Write My Research Paper writing services. She tutors in writing for the EssayRoo website and spends her spare time with her three children, traveling and reading.

Five Top Tips For Marketing With Your Filmmaking Skills

Unfortunately for many amateur and even experienced film-makers, talent and skill at film-making usually isn’t enough to set yourself off on the path to success. While film-making is an art, to make money you need to look at the business side of things. That means that art itself isn’t enough. You need to know how to market yourself, and how to promote everything that you do. That can seem intimidating, especially if you’re new to the industry, so looking through these five top tips on how to market yourself and your film-making skills can give you a boost, and help you on the road to fame and sustainability in this difficult industry

Create A Brand

Sometimes, your name just isn’t enough. Consider tying it to an inventive, easily recognizable company – think ‘Bad Robot’ or ‘Scott Free’ for J.J. Abrams and Ridley Scott. Along with a name, you’ll start thinking of logos, ideas around your aesthetic and, soon enough, you’ll have a personal brand for your film-making. Sure, this won’t instantly skyrocket your fans, but it gives them a platform to find and follow you, and a catchy one at that. Consider names – consider slogans – consider logos – but, most of all, consider your brand, what it means to you, and how it can represent you out in the wide, wide world.

Part of the UntamedScience brand is finding the edgier side of science

Get A Website

“These days, everything is online, so you need to be there as well,” says Allan Wilkes, a script writer at and, “and it’s not just in the film-making industry that websites are important. In order to have any sort of brand or company, you practically need a website in the 21st century. It’s somewhere people can find you, or something they can search for if they’re interested in you already. Websites can be portfolios as well, which always helps you out.” And with some website services offering a free basic plan, you’ve really got nothing to lose. Shop around for the best deal, and see where your budget can take you, but remember that websites are everything in this modern world of business.

Social Media

You probably have a personal social media account on many different platforms – this is not what we’re talking about here. Create new profiles (‘business’ profiles or pages if applicable) and get the news about your newest film or project flowing. Reveal ‘behind-the-scenes’ footage, post consistently, and develop a fanbase online. Social media can be a brilliant tool to network as well, since you’ll find many other film-makers like yourself out there, and this can lead to great opportunities. Create some high-quality content, interact with your ‘followers’ and get started creating your digital community!

Find Your Critics

Critics should never be seen as a bad thing in film-making. So, if you’ve got a released project, reach out to them! Search on IMDB and find critics who reviewed similar films to yours, or films with the same actors or producers as yours, then contact them and pitch your project to them, mentioning the similarities to other films which they have reviewed. The publicity benefits both of you, and you’ll lose nothing but gain some constructive criticism, which you can then put towards your next project.

Video Advertising

If you haven’t already got a trailer, then you need one for this tip. “Everybody watches Youtube, or some sort of similar video-hosting website, and lots of businesses capitalize on this with video ads – why not you?” Elsie Metcalfe, a movie blogger at and, questions. “Youtube finds your audience and delivers them your content, creating interest in your project. But make sure you include something along with your trailer: a call to action. Incite your audience to ‘click’, to take action – it might be following your social media page, or going to your website. Whatever it is, it makes sure that interested viewers don’t just ‘watch and forget’ your ads – they’ll take action, remember your project, and, hopefully, become fans of your work.”

Here is an example of one of UntamedScience’s new brands, StoneAgeMan

article by : Valerie Caswell works as a marketing professional at Lucky Assignments, as well as Gum Essays. Reading and writing about aspects of marketing online and modern entrepreneurship are her hobbies, and she is a firm believer that you never stop learning in life.


Why You Should Try Animal Photography

Not all science filmmakers work with animals. However, it’s important to be diverse if you want to make it in this field. Doing filmmaking with animals can be difficult. However, photography is a good way in as well. If you can make it as an animal photographer, it’ll open doors down the road. Plus, it’s a great skill to have.

Animal photography, whether you’re a professional or a casual photographer, is a fun way to spend your time. If you’ve got a camera or even a high-quality camera phone, here are a few reasons why animal photography is a great pastime to take up.

It Shows The Beauty of Nature 

This sounds a little bit trite, but learning the beauty of nature is something everyone should learn, especially in a time of climate uncertainty. Animal photography can show nature in a light never seen before. 

It’s actually different than going out and just being in nature. With photography, it makes you look closer at the details you might have missed. Plus, you’re able to show animals from a whole new angle. Depending on your lighting, color, and what angle you shot the animal, viewers can see nature from a new point of view and they may connect with it more.

It Humanizes Animals

There are many people who become more sympathetic to animals once they have a human element. Taking a picture of your dog salivating over some delicious food is one such example. Another method you can try is learning how to humanize animals who have a more fierce reputation. For example, taking a picture of a sleeping tiger shows the animal to be one giant cat, and gives people a reason to want to save them. Putting wildlife closer to humans or pets can do wonders. 

Take some photos of the  most dangerous snakes in a funny situation, or show some piranhas swimming about without a care. Obviously, exercise caution should you decide to take some pictures of animals. 

You Learn To Take Pics of What You Can’t Control 

There are many things you should learn about your camera, from its shutter speed to how much ISO you need. By teaching yourself learn memorization techniques, you can map out everything your camera does and be a master photographer. 

You can control the camera, but what you usually can’t control is the animal. Unless you’re taking pictures of your trained dog, nature can be unpredictable. You need to learn to take that shot ASAP, because the animal may never be in that pose again. If you’re shooting outside, you usually can’t control the lighting. Learning to take pics of what you’re given is a great lesson.

It’s Relaxing

Finally, one reason why getting into animal photography is a fantastic idea is because it’s relaxing. When you’re outside, the calming effects nature has on you are quite good. From uplifting your mood to calming your anxiety, getting out of the house and exploring the great outdoors is great for both the mind and body. 

With that said, if you have extreme depression or anxiety, you may need more help. Consider seeking help from online therapy. Or, if you have the credentials, a job in online counseling may work. Click here for more information:

Photography Tips 

If you’re wanting to get into nature photography, knowing a few tips can make your photos stand out. Here are some pointers:

  • Always remember the rule of thirds. For photography newbies, this is when you divide your photo with two horizontal and two vertical lines. There are many cameras that will have these lines built into their display to make it easier. Putting your subject in places where these lines intersect can make your image more eye-catching.
  • Be mindful of the lighting. Experimenting with different times of day can give you an idea of what you want your image to be. 
  • To catch an animal in the moment, make sure your shutter speed is high. If you want your animal to have some motion in the photo, lower the shutter speed a bit. 
  • Invest in a drone. Drone photography can take your shots to a new level and allow you to take pictures from places you could never have reached.
  • Take a look at our other photography tutorials and explore some nature photographers. See how they shot their pictures and use that for inspiration. Rob Nelson and Jonas from Untamed Science are good examples. 

Try it today, and explore the fun of animal photography now! 

How to Shoot an Interview

There is an art to getting good information from someone who is on camera. There are many ways that you can do this, but we’d like to divide interview styles up into a few basic types.

Talking Head: The standard type of interview that many people think of when they hear they are shooting an interview is the ‘talking head’ or ‘three button interview.’ In this scenario, the subject is placed by themselves in the frame and they talk to the interviewer off-camera. It is by far the easiest one to capture and the easiest to get good clean talking bits from.  A variation of this might be a sit-down interview where the interviewer and the interviewee are both talking to each other, but with similar framing.

Walk and Talk: In some ways, this is a difficult interview to pull off. You establish the host in the shot and they’ll talk to each other. The goal might be to make the interviewee more comfortable, but it does take a lot of coordination with the camera crew to make sure everyone moves at the same pace without distracting the two on-camera people.

The Follow: In many situations you may just want to follow the action during the interview. This is my favorite type of interview, as it gives life to the people on camera. It’s also the most difficult to pull off because you have to have good audio, hosts and camera people who are able to capture the action while it’s happening.

Shooting Interviews on a Budget

Shooting interviews is a basic skill as a filmmaker. It should be something everyone learns early on in their progression. They don’t need to be shot with a fancy camera or with any fancy gear either. A few years back we made a video specifically for students whereby we tried to show them the basics of shooting interviews so that they could go make their own. We focused on simple techniques and using basic gear – like a phone or Gopro. The following video highlights those simple techniques.

The main points to remember are:

  1. LOCATION: Choose a good location such as making sure the light isn’t too bright and it’s not too windy
  2. AUDIO: Remember to get good, clean audio. That means getting a lav mic or boom microphone.
  3. COMPOSITION: Compose the interviewee according to the rule of thirds.
  4. QUESTIONS: Prep your interviewee and ask good questions.

Advanced Interview Skills

Expanding on the above video, we made this one that gives more tips on the interview process.

In it where we covered these basic points.

  1. Types of Interviews: Walk-and-talk interviews vs. Locked down (stationary)
  2. Choosing what lens to use. Wide angle lenses are busier as it shows more of the stuff going on in the background but can feel more “personal” (news report look). Long/telephoto lenses are more cinematic and more studio-like. They have a fixed backdrop and are often cleaner.
  3. Equipment you Need: Besides the camera, there are a few essentials, like tape and a light or two.
  4. Interview Prep: To make the interviewee comfortable, there are a few things you might want to say to get the comfortable and make sure you don’t get them answering yes or no to your questions.

Answering Interview Questions:

As a special thanks to our patrons, we wanted to spend a second to cover their questions in more depth.

1. Where to Look?

Tobias asked: “Is it better to ask the people to look into the lens or to a person standing next to the camera?”

There is no right answer here. However, I would say that in my experience, having an expert talk off camera gives them some cred as a person who is simply giving the facts or stating their experience. As soon as you start looking into the camera you have changed the interaction that person has with the documentary. They are now subtly part of the narrative. Now, they come off as a kind of host. It is as if they are now, no longer impartial to the story that the documentary is telling. I think this now establishes them as the storyteller.

Also, looking directly at the audience through the lens is a skill that doesn’t happen overnight. It’s generally difficult for most people do to this and so I rarely use it when we interview experts. The other challenge is that if you do have a host, you may not want to compete with multiple people talking to camera. One exception to this was with the emerald ash borer video we just finished featured below.

Jiri, our expert really owned that story and had a story he wanted to tell. He was good at talking and actually suggested he just talk into camera for that interview. We shot many backups where he didn’t, but I liked the ones where he talked into the lens.

2. Green-screen or Natural Background?

Jeff asked, “What about green screening a backdrop with another video or motion graphics playing in the background? Is that a technique that is looked at as being a pro look or is it thought of as being kind of cheesy (technical term lol) or an amateur move? Thinking that having a background of let’s say white with a transparency of 50% and then a video behind that. Just a thought. Looking forward to Tuesday as always:-)”

This I think is a stylistic choice. First, let’s remember that you can almost always tell that it’s in front of a green screen. So, what does this tell you as the viewer? I think it tells you that it was shot in a studio first and foremost. If you capture more of the background in your shot, it clearly shows that you’re out in the environment. To me, this feels more natural.

However, there are situations where I think it works well, if not even better because it gives consistency to a program. Take this clip show piece of our friend Carin Bondar on Outrageous Acts of Science.

The benefit here is that the producers can fly to 10 different cities to interview the subjects, but put them all in the same background. This would give unity to the show. Plus, nothing in this show’s background is possible in a real set and it lightens the mood to something that was intended to just be fun.

To get to your point about it being cheesy. Yes and No. It can feel cheesy if it’s not done well or the background looks bad. I think it’s really easy to mess it up and that’s why I prefer sticking to a more basic blurred out and “real” background.

3. Stand-up Interviews or Follow Interviews?

Johanna asked, “What is the main purpose of the stand up interview, on site? What I’m noticing in reviewing our projects, is that a walk around interview seems to go better, in terms of the quality of naturalness of the interviewee, but the visuals run amock as we try to follow and get focus. So, is it a trade off? Also, over the shoulder while driving or looking at a computer screen seems to get better comfort and enthusiasm from the biologists. I’m to the point of telling our team, don’t even bother with the stand up interview. The most interesting stuff (to me anyway) seems to be when we are over the shoulder, following, chatting. Yet, pros, always do the stand up interviews, so why?”

This is a great questions Johanna. It’s not something that a lot of young filmmakers even think about. How many have really though, “what is the benefit of getting a static interview?” and “what does this do for our story?” First, let’s be clear – it is much easier to get a stand up interview or static interview with clean audio and everything in focus. You will, however, loose the dynamic nature of the scientist unless they’re really good. And, even if they are good, the static nature of it is usually dry. I almost always shoot these purely as backup. I try to get as much as I can following the researchers. It makes for better storytelling, but as  you’ve discovered, is much harder to do. I only do this style of filmmaking when I know I have Jonas or Haley with me, both of whom I’ve shot with for over a decade.

I think when you’re on a mountain cliff though, I’d have skipped the static interview. You can always get that back on dry ground with a long lens and blurred out background. When you’re in the midst of the action, I’d shoot for the action.

4. Self Shooting Interview Tips

Corey asked, “Any tips on self shooting in these situations would be helpful and appreciated!”

Self shooting interviews is clearly harder than not, but it’s doable. Here are a few tips that come to mind.

  1. A tripod is your friend. Set it up and lock the focus. Then, trust your settings and turn into the interviewer.
  2. Try not to look at the camera too much as this will distract the expert.
  3. Given that you can’t control the camera as much, understand you’ll have to forfeit excessive shot changes. One (or two) types of shots is all you can feasibly do.
  4. The tips Jonas gives in his interview videos above do a good job walking through key things to tell them. I recommend doing all of those.

Other than that, I think it’s about the same as shooting with two people. The benefit of shooting with a camera person is that you can spend more time getting the person you’re interviewing to feel comfortable with the process and you. When I do interviews I almost ignore the camera crew and talk a lot to the experts. I make sure we only have small talk though – nothing about the subject we’ll talk about. This way they’re telling it to me fresh each time.

Toy Photography Basics

While you may or may not have known that toy photography is a thing, I’m here to open your eyes to a whole new world that you can do inside your house with only a few lights and the magic of photoshop. In this guide, I want to step you through my process, from start to finish. I’ll start with how I composed gollum into a scene from the ring and move on to general techniques from my past shoots. To get you excited about it, I suggest first watching this video:

Toy Photography Techniques

I’ve tried to highlight each of the techniques I consciously use while taking toy photographs and then elaborate on each with a few descriptive photos from past shoots.

1 – Use a Tripod

One of the most important tools in my kit (other than the camera of course) has to be the TRIPOD. Without it, many of my shots and ideas would either fail or not be achievable at all. For a number of my shots, I have shot in night/dark environments which require a long exposure to compensate for the lack of light.

As you can see from this test shot above, I am pretty blurred. This shot was taken at F4.5 at 1/13sec shutter speed. But having the camera mounted on a tripod, locks the camera and the shot is not blurry at all. Now you might say “well if the light is bright, I don’t need a tripod.” This is true. For the transformers at the car wash shot, (below) I was taking pics without the tripod (see the shadow). This is because I was only taking 1 shot for the background and not combining multiple shots like in the ring shot.

But I still used a tripod for the toy shots. This is so you can match the angle and perspective of the background shot. Once you have that adjusted correctly on the tripod, you are then free to match your lighting to match the scene light.

Notice how the angle of the camera doesn’t change in the shots above? I just change the position of the model to fit the scene and play with the lighting. (in the background shot, the sun was shining left to right, hence the light falling on the toys from the same direction). Having a tripod allows you to take multiple shots of the same thing, making adjustment to light and positioning but still keep the same camera angle. Final comp is below.

2 – Lights are key

Ask any photographer what the most important thing about taking a photo is and the answer is light. Without decent light your picture, whether its a portrait or of your kids swimming in a pool, will not look great. Now there are many different types of light, light sources and applications. There is natural, ambient light (sunlight), reflective light (bouncing off a window), diffused light (light shinning through a curtain) or strobe/artificial light (studio light/flash). I’ve used all these different types of light for various shot to achieve different results and effects.

Now I am a professional photographer and I have my own studio lights (Elinchrom D-Lite RX 4) and I have used them for a couple shots. The shot below was in studio to match the lighting of the laundry.

But any light source is achievable, you don’t need to use expensive lights to get the desired result.

For this Rex-cue Rangers shot below, I used a reflector board. You can see it on the right. You could also use cardboard, tin foil etc, anything that will reflect light into the scene. Being able to add some additional light to a scene (like the reflector above) can really take your image it to a new level.

Case in point, below is a shot I did of a sand trooper giving an ice cream to his Dewback. The left shot has some dark tones and doesn’t look very nice, but I bounced some light to the scene and it looks a lot better. (these shots are right out of camera, the 3rd is the final shot).

And finally, diffused light. This when you use something to soften a light source ie: a curtain, sheet etc. It takes way the harsh light and dark shadows and gives a pleasing look to the pic.

In this shot below I used a diffusor (similar to a white sheet) to block out the harshness of the sun light. You can see it in the top left of the frame. It gives a very pleasant soft feel to the pic and evens out the exposure nicely.

And here is the final image after some Photoshop tweaking.

3 – Tethering the camera

Now this is by no means an essential thing to do. Most toy photographers (amateur to pro) don’t use this method and I use it only when I think it will help my workflow. If you are shooting shots like the  easter egg shot above or even some shots that you are going to composite together, you probably won’t need to tether your camera.

It’s an added luxury that I use when I want to see if a certain shot or element will fit into a certain scene. As I said in the BTS video, with some shots, you want to make sure you get the shot right because if you spend hours setting up a shot and think you have it and find when you get to the computer that it’s off, it’s a mission to redo, etc.

It is also a unique process that requires decent processing software and camera equip so it is an added bonus to have if you want but not a necessity.

4 – Use the same focal length for the shots in the scene

I learned this early on when I started taking toy pictures. If you don’t get a similar focal length when shooting the various objects for your composite, no matter how many photoshop skills and wizardry you may know, the picture will not look right. This is a tough one to explain so let me show you one of my earlier shots where I fell into the trap of using 2 different focal lengths.

This was a shot I did a while ago called “I’ll be back.. to the future.” The final result came out really well but it took some trial and error to figure out the focal length issue. So if you look at the background shot, I shot that at a wide length, in this case 24mm. (top left information in the below shot)

I then shot the terminator and the Delorean but at different focal lengths 50mm and 68mm.

And when I put them together in the composite, the result just didn’t marry well, visually.

As you can see, the wide angle BG shot, shows the building on the left tapering down in size as you follow it to the back of the shot, where as the delorean, seems to stay the same size as you go to the back wheel. This is because different focal lengths have different effects on perspective. Wider lenses tend to distort and push the background further away, while longer lenses don’t distort and tend to bring the background closer to the front. Going back I took the shots again at a similar focal length, and that made the three elements work a lot better together and allowed me to pull off the illusion in a seamless picture.

Here is a wiki link about how the focal lengths change perspective if you are interested in finding out more.

5 – Choosing the right angle

This comes down to preferential choice on the look you want in the shot. If you google “strong diagonals in photography”, you’ll see a lot of images that show you images that have very strong lines and angles in the shot.

Having an eye for diagonals and shapes in a shot takes a lot time and practice to get good at. It is one of the things that makes an average photo into a good or great photo. Having objects that lead your eye into a shot or direct your attention to something specific in the shot is a great way to direct the viewer into how he or she looks at your photo. Let’s take these two shots I took of Wall•E as an example.

You can see the horizon line along the bottom and the angle of the paint brush in the image above directs the viewers gaze to Wall•E and below, the angle of the smoke, the direction of the grain of wood and the angle of the egg and shell, somehow lead your eye to Wall•e.

As I said though, this is a skill that is learnt over time and with practice.

Here is a link to a fun article about how to get more creative with camera angles.

A Few Toy Photography Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, this is all about having fun, to create wild and wonderful ideas and see if you can make them become a reality. As I mentioned in the BTS video, I hope I can achieve what I have in my mind… And for me, that’s the whole point of this, to try and push myself to do some creative fun stuff. The goal is to 1: Hone my photography and photoshop skills and 2: stretch my imagination. If I manage to make a few people smile along the way, thats the cherry on top!

Don’t be afraid to try things, ideas, and techniques. There is no right or wrong way of doing this! If you start your journey into toy photographs, I encourage you to send me a link to your work. I want to help everyone out. You can find me on Instagram @Harri.hawk and online on my Harri Hawk Website of Toy Photographs.

Video Editing Software

When you start editing your video, one big decision you’ll have to make is what editing software to use. Here at Untamed Science, we’ve used a lot of them. The choice depends a lot of the client. The three pro programs are generally AVID, Adobe Premiere, and Final Cut Pro. Avid is used a lot more in hollywood and with large production companies while Premiere and Final Cut tend to be the programs of choice for much of the rest of the industry. Both programs are fairly similar so we thought we would do a quick comparison video of the major differences.



What is a Gimbal?

A gimbal is a type of pivoted support system that can control rotation of an object on a single axis. By stabilizing with three gimbals on the X, Y, and Z axis you can effectively stabilize the movement of a camera system. When we talk about stabilizing camera movement using a gimbal, we’re essentially talking about two or three axis gimbal stabilization.

Do you Need A Gimbal?

By no means do you need a gimbal for super steady camera movement. However, it will significantly improve the stabilization of handheld camera movement. We made the following video to hopefully explain the basics of using a gimbal:

Benefits of a Gimbal

Let’s start with the benefits. Without a doubt, it improves the stabilization of handheld footage. This is the clear benefit. Today’s gimbal like the Moza Air that we were using here is lightweight and affordable. It only takes an hour or two to setup the first time and then is ready to stabilize your footage. It also can serve to replace the need for some gear. If you used a big steadycam in the past, I think you can now leave that at home. In some ways you can get the same type of shots that a dolly track or cable dolly would have given you at a fraction of the weight.

Negatives of using a Gimbal

Time and weight is also the real negative. Every bit of filmmaking gear you bring with you on location is going to mean time. It takes time to set these things up and can quickly fill your check luggage. I’m on the fence whether I’d even recommend something like this for a travel vlogger. A lot of it depends on how stable you want your footage to be.

Check them out:

These are a few of the 3 axis gimbals on the market right now. They are all pretty amazing but we currently think the Moza air may come out on top as the best pick for your money.

Ultra-Macro Photography

In the past, we’ve produced several videos related to macro filmmaking and photography. However, we’ve never found a way to take extreme macro photographs of insect eyes, legs or hair. After visiting Jiri Hulcr at the Forest Entomology Lab, we now have insight into this mind-blowing technique and have broken it down into 5 simple steps.

The 5 Steps to Taking Ultra-Macro Photos

This technique outlines how Jiri and his team take some of the world’s highest resolution and detailed macro photographs. While they wouldn’t claim they’re the best at it, I think the basics of the process are all there for any artist or scientist to take some of the most amazing insect and macro photographs you’ve ever seen. Here are the 5 steps we detailed in the above video.

Step 1: Have the Proper Setup

Jiri and Andrew use a few microscopes to take their photos. The most powerful one is the above metallurgical microscope that has a DSLR and DSLR adaptor connected to the computer to allow them to take photographs of the insects. This microscope allows them the have a bit larger distance between the insect and the objectives. This isn’t possible with traditional microscopes.

The next big step is having a solid table that won’t shake. They have a marble slab on a heavy wooden desk with rubber legs to prevent shake.

Step 2: Prepping the Specimen

Jiri told me that he thinks this is the biggest and most important step. Small flecks of dust, as he explains, can completely ruin the image of a specimen. Andrew even told me that at times he’ll spend upwards of half and hour prepping each insect. This is done either by dabbing each one off with a paper soaked in ethanol or by carefully adding some white elmer’s glue and then pulling it off once it’s slightly dry.

Step 3: Lights and Diffusion

The next big ingredient is making sure the light comes in as diffuse as possible. They do this by adding Vellum around the subject. This is the material you’d buy as tracing paper or to make wedding invitations with. Sometimes they’ll add two circular rings of this diffusion material to make the light spread out as much as possible.

Step 4: Take the Photos

Believe it or not, but this is the simplest step. It doesn’t matter how you take the photos. They use canon’s built in EOS Utility on the computer to snap the photos. The real key is to snap a photo, move the focus slightly and snap another. For small insects of around 1mm they may take about 70 photos and then proceed to stack them together.

Step 5: Stack the Macro Shots

The stacking process is also pretty simple. You can purchase Helicon Focus (about 30 USD), drop the photos in, and click a single button to let it stack them together. In less than a minute you’ll have a completely stacked image, ready to play with!

Learning More Macro?

If you’re interested in doing macro with larger insects, I recommend watching this video we made earlier in the year where we teamed up with Phil Torres and then took a 100mm macro lens into the jungles of Panama. It shows the capabilities of a field setup and how you might go about constructing it yourself.

  • If you found any of this useful, might we note that it’s all made possible by small donations from our amazing patrons. See more about what we’re doing for science education and SciComm here.