8 online video editors that could be used to slice together your masterpiece. But there's more to being Kubrick than editing. You have to write your film, cast it, shoot it, edit it, and distribute it to the masses. Web 2.0 applications and services can help with (nearly) all of these phases.In this post I will show you the tools you need to go from idea to finished film using as many web 2.0 products as possible. In June, I wrote about
The tool kit below will help you take your idea from start to finish and fulfill your dream of winning an Oscar (okay, maybe not, but you have to start somewhere). This is film making on a budget.
Every great movie starts as a screenplay. Writing a screenplay generally requires specialized software to help you adhere to a set format. A copy of popular professional screenwriting software like Final Draft will run you about $180; my favorite screenwriting software, Sophocles, costs $120. Fortunately web applications and opensource are here to help.
- celtx is a great opensource screenwriting suite that runs on Windows, OS X, and Linux. It feels a lot like more expensive pieces of software, and includes a web service that lets writers share and collaborate on screenplays.
- If you want something more web-based, then Plotbot may be more up your alley. Plotbot is an online screenwriting application that allows you to share your workspace with as many other writers as you'd like. This means, for example, that your film's producers could give notes to the writer while working on draft revisions in a completely online environment.
- For Mac users, another low-cost solution is the elegant, downloadable Storyist software, which costs $59.
For help during the screenwriting process, I'd recommend the excellent Done Deal Pro community. Their forum has been around longer than meets the eye (it used to be on ezBoard, so much of the archives are gone) and is visited by many professional writers. Secluded Writers is a social network for screenwriters that launched earlier this year, but it never really got off the ground -- if there are enough of you out there reading this and willing to try kickstarting it, though, it may be worth checking out.
If self funding isn't an option, you may consider looking into social lending sites like Lending Club, Prosper, and Zopa. Also consider a site like Circle Lending to set up funding of your film by friends and family. Or, you might also explore using a site like ChipIn or Fundable to collect funding from fans via a widget on your film's website.
Once you have your screenplay written you'll need to find a cast.
- Craigslist has a "tv / film / video" category in each city that's a great place to post an open casting call for your film.
- Actor's Connect is a social network exclusively for actors and actresses. It's a great place to find your film's star or post a casting call.
- Backstage.com is another major site for actors where you can post your casting call.
Before you begin filming, you'll need to map out scenes shot by shot with some storyboards so everyone knows where they're supposed to be and when. celtx, which I mentioned earlier, has a built in storyboarding utility that can be very helpful. While I wasn't able to find an online application specifically designed for storyboarding, Octopz may be very helpful during the process if you have collaborators who can't be in the room with you. Octopz lets you upload any type of media and share, manipulate, and edit in a real-time workspace with other users.
You can't shoot your film if you don't know where each scene will take place. I would suggest using Google Maps and Microsoft Live Maps to do a little pre-location scouting before visiting a location in person. Not only do both offer directions to the locations, so you won't get lost on the way to the shoot, but their satellite views will help you find just what you need. Further, they both offer ways to get you even closer to the scene: Google has Street View and Microsoft has Bird's Eye View.
This looks like a nice location for the big car chase scene...
You have a finished script, a cast, a storyboard, and locations all mapped out. Now it's time to shoot your film. For this step you're going to obviously need a camera, which isn't something the web can provide for free. I'd recommend the Panasonic HVX200, which is a great prosumer-level HD camera that costs under $3000 these days and has been compared the cameras in the $100,000 range by some reviewers.
Wize and ViewScore, which both compile reviews from a large number of sources across the web. Once you've picked out your gear, use comparison shopping sites like Shopping.com and PriceGrabber to get the best bang for your buck.Web 2.0 can help in your quest for a good camera (and good lighting, sound recording, and other equipment), however. You can use review aggregation sites to help you decide which products are the best for your needs. My favorite sites are
Be sure to check out the social networking site at StudentFilmmakers Magazine, which might help you locate a director of photography. GlobeShooter is an invite only social network of videographers you might also check out. (Hint: Craigslist is another good way to find a DP, many times you can find one with their own camera outfit and save yourself some money.)
Phew! It's finally time to edit.
- JayCut (reviewed here) is currently one of the only web-based editing suites on the market that allows for exporting. Since it is unlikely you want to spend all this time creating your film only to have it locked inside some editing site, that's a very important feature to have. Jumpcut is rumored to be working on an export feature, but so far it hasn't arrived.
- Avid FreeDV is a great, free offline editing tool. But you have to hurry to use it -- Avid is inexplicably discontinuing the FreeDV software program on September 1, 2007.
- Apple iMovie is probably the best consumer level video editor on the market. Available at the piggy bank friendly price of $79 (as part of the iLife suite), it's a great low-level editor that can actually accomplish quite a bit if you put your mind to it.
- If you want something meatier, splurge for Apple Final Cut or Adobe Premiere, which are both industry standards, but have a very manageable learning curve for basic editing.
- Editing with someone across the globe? No problem, check out MediaSilo, which lets you share video clips in a secure environment.
- If you need some B roll, check out Footage Firm's free stock clips collection. Because really, every movie needs a shot of a plane taking off who actually has time to film one? Veer is another good place to find royalty free creative collateral, though not for free.
- Use the FindSounds search engine to locate sound effects on the web for your film, and peruse social networks like MySpace and Bebo to hook up with an indie artist who can score your film at a discount.
Distribution and Promotion
Your film is done! It's time to get it out there.
- You could give your film out for free on video sharing sites like YouTube, Revver or Daily Motion, but these sites are really better suited for promotion: go back a step and cut a trailer for your film and pop it on social video sharing sits. Also remember to promote your film through social networks like MySpace and Facebook.
- If you want to give away your movie, you should save money by distributing it via P2P networks like Limewire (Gnutella) and BitTorrent.
- If you don't want to give it out for free, you'll likely want to either hit the festival circuit and try to land a distributor, or self publish some DVDs. There are a few options to get that done:
- Cafepress offers the most basic of on demand DVD duplication. You'll have to sell via your Cafepress store, though.
- Lulu is another basic option for creating print on demand DVDs. For now DVDs can only be sold via the Lulu Marketplace, though they are working on an expanded distribution service.
- CreateSpace may be the best option right now for on demand DVD publishing for three reasons: 1. They offer HD DVD duplication, 2. they're owned by Amazon, so your DVDs are sold through Amazon, including the option of Amazon UnBox downloads, and 3. Amazon ownership also means increased chances of getting your film listed on IMDB.
- Another distribution option is via Cruxy, where you can sell downloads of your film using Paypal. You could, of course, do this through your own site or blog, but that could become cost prohibitive due to bandwidth.
That's it! You're done. You're ready for your world premier. As some of the above tools become more sophisticated, it may be possible to create an entire movie with only online software (excepting, of course, the actual filming).
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention a couple of online filmmaking projects that have taken the idea of creating a film into the web 2.0 world. One is A Swarm of Angels, a British project in which the entire process of making a movie, from funding, to casting, to shooting and editing, is being crowdsourced. The other is filmforay which is a similar project, though with perhaps a less ambitious feel to it.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and win that Oscar!