Introducing: DIY Movie Making Month

Craft & Design Photography & Video

reel.jpgMarch is a time when spring is dawning and we (at least those of us in colder climates) can’t wait to bust out of our cabins and break the fever of breathing our own exhaust all winter long. Spring offers newfound possibilities for making things, for being creative. Combine the desire to get out and circulate, with the itch to create, the fact that it’s also the month of the Academy Awards and the world focusing its attention on movie making, and… well… we thought it was as good a time as any to launch DIY Movie Making Month here at MAKE.

There are so many incredible tools now available to consumers with even the most modest budgets to create shockingly sophisticated videos, from viral YouTube prank vids to animation/claymation/stopmotion wonders to satisfying sci-fi fan films to serious low-budget feature fare that give Hollywood a run for its money. Over the coming month, we’ll be rounding up site content on various aspects of DIY movie production, recommending tools for movie making, talking to some of our favorite no-budget/low-budget filmmakers, showing you some of our video-making process here at Maker Media, and more.

And, we’d love to get you in on the action. If you have a cinematic masterpiece you’d like us to see, or have used some technique of animation, stop-motion, claymation, digital compositing, etc. that you’d like to share with us, please email me ( or post to the Comments below. And please share some of your favorite no-budget wonders and movie making-related how-tos.

10 thoughts on “Introducing: DIY Movie Making Month

  1. Gareth Branwyn says:

    You guys are great. The suggestions for movie making techniques are already starting to pop up in my inbox. Thanks!

  2. Darren Landrum says:

    Okay, you’ve convinced me that it’s time to finally exercise this new Kodak Zi8 that I have sitting around. It’s nothing special, but it’ll do the job.

    1. Gareth Branwyn says:

      We’ve been getting a great response to this theme, with low/no-budget filmmakers sending links to their work, offering resource links, offering to write about various aspects of DIY movie making, etc. So if you (or anybody else) have any questions or would like for us to explore any aspects of the subject, let us know.

  3. rjnerd says:

    Here is a simple time lapse sequence, of a bunch of teenagers building a Trebuchet. Its 120X real time, its about 8 hours of action in 4 minutes of runtime.

    To make it took two pieces of hardware (a laptop, and an ordinary webcam), and (for MS Windows anyway) two pieces of free software. The first is one of the microsoft “Power Toys” called “Timershot”. Its available from their download page. The other thing you need is a program called JPGvideo, which can be found at

    To use things, you fire up timershot, and point it at a directory to dump files into. Pick your frame rate in seconds between frames. (integer seconds). Until you forcibly halt it, that directory will get filled up with many .jpg files, complete with sequence numbers.

    When you are done, let JPGvideo at the directory full of frames, and start it grinding. Soon you will have a silent video, which you can drag into your favorite editing suite, trim up, add titles, background music, etc.

    This same setup and video encoder can be used to do stop motion animation. Substitute your thumb on the shutter for timershot, and get that sequence of cinder blocks in parade.

    One limit imposed by the cheapo webcam is color balance when shooting in sunlight – they don’t have UV filters, and tend to get all blue when used outdoors. find a way to kludge a skylight filter over the lens.

    If you are in the Boston area, there will be a one-day trebuchet build and fire competition to raise money for the Charles River Museum of Industry We are looking for companies interested in sponsoring a team of their employees. More details at

  4. relawson says:

    I don’t even remember how I stumbled on this site, but they have a LOT of good tips for DIY effects and things.

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.

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