What do I film?

I think the thing is to just shoot as much as you can. Don’t worry so much. – Edgar Wright

Whether faced with a blank page, a blank canvas, or a blank screen, the creative dilemma is the same. Where do I start? What do I film?

The answer is that it doesn’t matter. It just matters that you start.

Film anything that moves. Film the view out your living room window. Film your friends, film your children, film your pets. Film the things you find beautiful, or ugly. Film the things that make you feel stuff. Film what you see, every day. Film what defines you, what you think makes you who you are. Show us the world through your eyes.

Most people think their lives are not very interesting, or they have no stories to tell. But they couldn’t be more wrong.

Anyone can be a filmmaker. All you need is a camera. Right now, your camera is likely in your hand, or your pocket, or next to you. So what are you waiting for?

How to make an awesome remix video

MixBit is a place for collaboration. Any video you publish publicly can be remixed by another user, creating a place where simply uploading a video makes you part of our community, where your projects are easier and more interesting because you don’t shoot everything yourself.

Here’s a great example of a using the community to tell your unique story:

 

Here’s how to leverage the creativity of our community and make an awesome remix video. These aren’t rules, merely suggestions to help you get started. You can do this in any way you want. Decide your topic and then search for relevant clips, or just save clips as you see them, and create a remix out of your collection.

1. Find the clips you love.
Browse through the Featured or Recent feeds to find interesting videos, or use the search function to search other users’ titles and tags.

2. Save your favorite clips.
To save a clip while viewing a video, scroll down the page until you can see the clips all laid out in a grid. You’ll see a checkmark in the top right corner of each clip. Click it and it will turn green, meaning you’ve saved the clip.

3. View the clips you’ve saved.
Go to My Library and click on the tab that says Saved Clips. All of your favorite clips will be laid out, the most recently saved clips shown first.

4. Create a new project or edit an existing one.
You can add your clips to a new or existing project. To create a new project, click the icon with the “+” symbol at the top of the page. To add clips to an existing project of yours, view the project, and click Edit in the video player.

5. Add your clips.
You’re now in the web editor. You can see two tabs in the top left of the page, My Clips and Saved Clips. You can play each clip individually to find the clips you want to include.
To add clips to your project, click the “+” button or drag them down to the bottom of the page where it says Add Clips.
Don’t worry too much about placing them in order, you can rearrange them in the next step. When you have the clips you want, click Done. You can always go back to this step and add more.

6. Edit your video.
From this page, you can play and edit your. To select a clip, click on the small box in the right hand corner. After that, you can move, duplicate, or delete the clip. You can also go back and add more.

7. Name and publish your video.
Up at the top, it will say Untitled. You can edit the title there, and choose to publish the video as Draft, Limited, or Public. Once you’re all done, hit Save, and you’ll see a popup that says “your video has been saved.”

8. You’re done!
Click out of the web editor and you will be able to see the published video! Be sure to share your work with your friends and tweet it to us on @MixBitApp. And as always, hit us up on Twitter or send us an email if you have any questions or feedback.

A beginner’s guide to shooting video on your phone

Shawshank-Redemption

Ever seen a shot in a movie so iconic that your jaw dropped? Picture Tim Robbins standing in the rain in The Shawshank Redemption, the slow-motion action scenes in The Matrix, or any shot from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Think back to the moment you first saw those images and how they made you feel. They probably evoked a sense of wonder. A deeper connection to the story. Perhaps insight into a character.

This is the power of cinematography. Most of the time, it doesn’t call attention to itself, but even then, it’s doing the heavy lifting of storytelling. This is why the visual aspects of a film are tremendously important, even when shooting video on your phone.

The art of cinematography is a complex and fascinating subject, one that can be studied for a lifetime, but the basics are simple and with just a few small adjustments, you can greatly improve every video you make.

The basics:

Eliminate shaky hand
Having a steady shot is extremely important. If the camera is shaking it can be distracting and even make your audience feel nauseated. Use a tripod to instantly make your videos feel steady and professional. It’s like magic. If you don’t have a tripod, you can fashion a monopod out of a broomstick or any long object. If you don’t have that, leaning against something stable or supporting the arm holding your phone will help. And always be sure to hold your phone with both hands.

Protip: Here at MixBit, we’re fans of the ghetto rig – you can do a lot with tape, rubber bands, objects lying around, and some ingenuity.

Don’t move the camera
If you’re moving the camera around a lot it’s hard for the audience to know what to focus on, so move the camera as little as possible. If you need to shoot two things that don’t fit in the frame, use a separate shot for each. If you must move the camera, do it slowly. Do it as slowly as you possibly can, and then do it slower than that. Your audience will thank you.

Use short shots
If a shot is too long the viewer will get bored and close the video. Keeping shots as short as possible and cutting to new shots often will help keep a good pace. Every time the camera cuts, the viewer is brought back in. They think, “What happened? What’s changed?” and they’re paying attention again.

Stay focused
Be sure to have a focus for your shots. Frame each one so that you’re only showing what’s most important. Your meaning comes across much more clearly when the viewer only has to focus on one thing at a time. Remember the golden rule of KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid. It’s always applicable.

Establish the scene
Establishing shots are a pillar of filmmaking. In just a few seconds, you can orient the audience and provide context for your story. Then, when the story starts, the audience is right there with you. They aren’t wondering, “Where are we, what are we doing here?” Quickly establishing the scene will set up your audience to become absorbed in your story.

Every shot should be important
Kurt Vonnegut wrote about fiction, “Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.” Replace sentence with shot, and this applies perfectly to filmmaking. You don’t want unimportant or lackluster shots. Why would you? Choose quality over quantity and your videos will have a greater impact.

Are there any guidelines that you like to follow when shooting video on your phone? Share them in the comments, and we might include them in our next post about cinematography!

The 5 minute guide to telling stories people care about

“Those who tell the stories rule the world.” – Native American Proverb

We created the MixBit app to help people tell stories.

Storytelling is one of the most basic human instincts. You may not notice you’re doing it, but you are constantly telling stories. But sometimes it’s hard to make a story work, or to make people care about it. We’ve all been there. So we thought we’d review the basics of storytelling and give you some easy examples of how to create stories of your own.

To tell a story, regardless of length, you need three things: a beginning, a middle, and an end.

If your story starts in the middle, or drops off without a resolution, it’s going to be unsatisfying to watch.

But the structure is only one part of telling a great story. Stories also need to be about someone, anyone, just as long as there is at least one person involved.

People are intensely empathetic. All it takes is one person to be in a story and we will relate to them. We will feel what they feel, and we will care. Once we care about the person, we care about the story.

With all of this in mind, you can start experimenting with your own videos. Ask yourself, “How does this start? What happens? And how does it end?” Also, “Who is the key person to put in the story?”

Maybe you’re making a video about someone interesting to you: focus on one specific story from their life that has a complete beginning, middle, and end. Don’t be shy of asking them to express their feelings.

Or maybe you’re recording an event or trip: show the start, progress through high notes (you can always delete some clips later), and show us how it came to a close.

Storytelling is one of the most basic human instincts. You may not notice you’re doing it, but you are constantly telling stories. You’re already a natural storyteller, so now you just need to capture it.

To get you started, here are a few examples of MixBit storytelling:

Think you can do better? Give it a try!