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Making Movies

There's a lot to making and editing movies, enough in fact for at least a 4 year course at UCLA. But if you don't have 4 years and a couple of hundred thousand dollars, you can at least get started using some of the information on this page.

  1. Introduction
    1. Equipment
    2. Editing Tools
    3. Film School
  2. Planning & Shooting
  3. Obtaining Video From Other Sources
  4. Editing
  5. Distributing (Youtube)
  6. Copyright, Releases and other Issues


At a minimum you'll need a camera for shooting your film, and a computer for editing. I'm not making any recommendations, as both of these change very quickly. If you want to buy something to fit your needs and budget, do a Google search. The good news is that you can get some great cameras and computers for a remarkably low price.

If you are even halfway serious, you'll want to get a decent tripod, maybe some good microphones, lights, dollies, etc. Again, I'm not going to make any recommendations, other than check out Musician's Friend for audio recording equipment.

Editing Tools

There are many programs that you can use to edit your movies. (If you want to see more reviews just search for "video editing software comparison".) The video packages range in price from free all the way up to a few thousand dollars, and they also vary in the features and ease of use. For getting started you can probably get by with Windows Movie Maker (WMM) which is free with Windows, or iLife on the MAC. We will use WMM in this class since it's free and easy to use. If you already have a different editing package that you're comfortable with feel free to use it.

I believe WMM installs by default on XP and Vista, but if can't find it on your system and need to download it you can get it from Windows Movie Maker. You may also want to download what they call the WMM Funpack which has more transitions and extras for Windows Movie Maker (To download look in the right hand sidebar and take the Full Fun Pack: Windows Movie Maker 2 Tools. creativity_mmfull.exe)

If you really want to get serious about editing, Adobe has product named Adobe Premiere Adobe for editing, After Effects for adding special effects and a bunch of others that you can buy as part of their Production Premium bundle. It's great stuff, but relatively expensive and they come out with a new version almost every year. They also have a home version called Premiere Elements which you can get for less than $100 if you shop around on Amazon or eBay.

Making Movies

Making movies these days is both simple and difficult. With cheap cameras and youtube anyone can shoot a film and make it available for the world to see, which is a big change from the previous 100 years where production and distribution took a lot of money. But making films and making good films are two different things. It's just my opinion, but most of the films and movies being made, well, let just say they could be a lot better. A lot. This goes for the stuff on Youtube as well as the stuff coming from Hollywood and the big studios.

If you take my class we'll learn some basics of planning, shooting, etc. But you'll only get the very basics as it's only a part of a larger class. If you want to learn more, there are some good web sites including: Vimeo Video School (click on the big video 101 button at the top of the page), Video Production Basics, Media College and Video 101 with Professor Monkey. Or you can always use Google and find your own helpful sites. I do want to warn you that after learning about the various techniques you'll watch TV and movies in a different way.