March 22, 2015


This week we’re seeing what goes into making a special kind of episode for DSLRguide.


There’s a lot of content aimed at ‘beginner filmmakers’ but so often it just talks about camera settings and equipment. For this week’s video, I wanted to try and summarise what filmmaking is really about in an interesting way.  Something you can show to someone who has never made a film before.


So how did I make a film about making films?


This video was all about the preproduction.

The first step was to think of ways that I could share filmmaking tips through the medium of letters. For instance, the process of editing can be explained with scrabble pieces, since we can rearrange letters to make new words, just like we can rearrange shots to make new films.

 It all started when I was playing ‘Bananagrams’ and found an extremely satisfying way to put the pieces back in the bag:


A video posted by Simon Cade (@cadevisuals) on

Once I had my rough script,  I worked out which letters I would need for each part of the video.  I had already decided to do the whole thing in one take (although with hidden cuts of course) so I needed to set out all of the letters required.  I arranged them carefully to make the ‘choreography’ of moving them around as easy as possible.


I made a full set of these notes showing where each pile of letters is at every point in the video. This was especially helpful for resetting everything back to it’s original place.

It was a case of choosing the right letters, and arranging them correctly so that the carefully orchestrated moving and rearranging of the letters could go smoothly.


This was definitely the simplest part, just executing the plan. It did take some practice to get the choreography of each part right, but we filmed it all within an hour. As for the lighting setup, it was just a single fluorescent bouncing off the ceiling, nothing more. I put my camera on a C-Stand arm so that it could look directly down at the table, which is a benefit of using a lightweight camera like the T3i.  I decided not to record audio, since I wanted to be talking throughout, giving cues for the timings of the movements.


Editing this project was fairly simple, I just brought in the shots, graded them, and then did my best to hide the cuts between the different sequences using cross dissolve transitions to fade between the end of one shot, and the start of the next.

I then tweaked my script a little bit, so that it lined up with the movements on screen, and then recorded the voiceover.

The thing that took the longest on this project was doing ‘foley’, adding every single tiny sound of moving the pieces.


Recording foley audio. Notice that I changed location, and used an old piece of carpet to try and absorb the sound, preventing weird audio reflections.

As you can see from this screenshot, there were literally hundreds of tiny sounds, from the ‘click’ sound of two pieces hitting each other, to the sound of every piece scraping the table as it moved. Each sound was selected from the foley recording session, and then placed so that the timing and volume made sense based on the visuals. I’m now thinking that I should have just kept quiet during the filming, so that I could record the original sound on location rather than replacing everything. This is the cost of ‘fixing it in post’.

Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 01.49.10

You can see from this screen shot that I grouped similar sounds together. The voiceover is at the very top, then underneath the orange layer are all of the ‘clicks’ of a piece hitting another piece. Between the two blue layers are the more specific sounds, such as lots of pieces moving at once. And at the very bottom is all of the individual ‘scraping’ sounds of a piece moving. By keeping them separate, I can then make a compound clip (precomp if you speak AE language) and then control the volume of that whole set of sounds in a few clicks.


Simon Cade

Filmmaker, and host of DSLRguide. Since I was making my first film age 11, I have always been fascinated by the way films are produced, and the effect it can have on the audience.