Behind The Scenes Of A Sitcom With Director/Author Phil Ramuno

Behind The Scenes Of A Sitcom With Director/Author Phil Ramuno

The Sitcom Career Book

Director Phil Ramuno takes us on the set for a behind-the-scenes immersion of the most popular form of comedy in the world – the television SITCOM.  Phil, along with co-author Mary Lou Belli, reveal the rules, the language, the pacing, the schedules and the traditions of this beloved form of entertainment.  With the forward written by iconic actor Henry Winkler, it’s no wonder Amazon gives the book a 5-star rating!

ABOUT PHIL RAMUNO:  Phil Ramuno is an award-winning director, producer, writer, photographer, teacher and published author.  He co-authored the best-selling ‘Sitcom Career Book”.  He has directed hundreds of projects including theatrical, pilots and episodes of American and international network and syndicated situation comedies. Phil is an adjunct professor at The University of Southern California prestigious graduate film school and has also taught at both Emerson College and Endicott College in Boston.

Phil Ramuno shares his on-set ‘must-haves’ and ‘wish list’ from the set of BzSpotlight – the Business Webisode Series.

BzSpotlight provides corporate and custom video in the greater Los Angeles area.

 

 

 


Tips On Light Diffusion

Affordable Vellum For Light Diffusion

I like putting a sheet of diffusion paper (vellum) in front of each light.  The industry standard is from Rosco, with a 25 by 4 foot roll costing over $125.

You can certainly get by with a roll half as long by 3 and 1/2 feet from Dietzgen for half the price.

With careful use, the paper can be reused several times.

The C-47 clips that we all use to attach the paper to the lights are just a fancy show business name for common wooden clothes pins.

 

 

ABOUT PHIL RAMUNO:  Phil Ramuno is an award-winning director, producer, writer, photographer, teacher and published author.  He co-authored the best-selling ‘Sitcom Career Book”.  He has directed hundreds of projects including theatrical, pilots and episodes of American and international network and syndicated situation comedies. Phil is an adjunct professor at The University of Southern California prestigious graduate film school and has also taught at both Emerson College and Endicott College in Boston.

Phil Ramuno shares his on-set ‘must-haves’ and ‘wish list’ from the set of BzSpotlight – the Business Webisode Series.

BzSpotlight provides corporate and custom video in the greater Los Angeles area.


Reflector and Reflector Arm Holder

Don’t Buy, BOUNCE: Reflector and Reflector Arm Holder

Your $200 one light photo studio is complete.  I talked about using natural light as a source for classic three point lighting.  What you might not understand is that, if you only have a window from one side letting in light, you cannot use overhead lights or lamps in the room for the third lighting source.  Office overheads are usually fluorescent lights which are green colored compared to daylight and strobes.  Most floor or desk lamps are red colored.  Our eye adjusts to these color differences but your camera will not.  So you may need at least on more daylight colored source.

Yes, you can get a second Neewer strobe for $100 and put that on the second light stand that I had you buy along with the second receiver/trigger for that strobe at $16.  But we can keep our budget down by using a reflector instead.

There are many kits of 5 reflectors with white, black, silver, gold and translucent.  Honestly, you won’t need all of those.  Silver or white are the ones you will always use. $16.

You will need something to hold the reflector in place. Neewer has a simple clip that can mount it to your second light stand for $7.

 

But that gives you only one position.  I like a positionable arm for more flexibility.

That one is $28 and is well worth the extra cost. Make sure you use one of your 4 sandbags for this setup.
So, now using any daylight in the room as one source and with all the lights turned off, your strobe and $45 reflector setup can complete your classic three point lighting. Since the fill light on the front side opposite the key light should be half as strong, use your creativity to decide which sources should be the key, fill and backlights.

ABOUT PHIL RAMUNO:  Phil Ramuno is an award-winning director, producer, writer, photographer, teacher and published author.  He co-authored the best-selling ‘Sitcom Career Book”.  He has directed hundreds of projects including theatrical, pilots and episodes of American and international network and syndicated situation comedies. Phil is an adjunct professor at The University of Southern California prestigious graduate film school and has also taught at both Emerson College and Endicott College in Boston.

Phil Ramuno shares his on-set ‘must-haves’ and ‘wish list’ from the set of BzSpotlight – the Business Webisode Series.

BzSpotlight provides corporate and custom video in the greater Los Angeles area.


LimoStudio Photo Umbrella

Soften Your Lighting: LimoStudio Photo Umbrella

If you have followed my previous reviews, you are well on your way to creating beautiful studio quality photos for a minimal investment.  The real secret to “beautiful” is the quality of the light.  Flashes tend to be a bit harsh and cause sharp shadows.  The trick is to use soft light.  That’s why people in outdoor shots look beautiful on cloudy days.  The trick for when you don’t have that cloud cover or if you are shooting indoors, is to soften the light source yourself.  The easiest way is to use some diffusion on the light or in front of the light.

If you look at the bracket that I recommended to hold your flash,

you will see a hole halfway up that is intended to permit the use of a photo umbrella to be mounted.  Putting the umbrella between the light and subject will diffuse the light.  The rule of thumb is “the larger the light source, the softer the light.”  So I am recommending a 43″ umbrella that you should shine the light through and place it as close to the subject as possible without getting it in the shot.

I have found a very inexpensive umbrella from LimoStudio.

Don’t forget to keep the light at a 45 degree angle to the side and above the subject for “perfect” wrap around lighting. You can experiment with moving it to the side to 60 or 80 degrees for a more dramatic “Old Hollywood” look but understand that this increases the nose shadows and any facial features, so it is not for all faces. You can have the model facing this more angled light, which will give a great dramatic shot.

See Phil’s Other Equipment Reviews

 

Phil Ramuno is an award-winning director, producer, writer, photographer, teacher and published author.  He is currently directing BzS – the Business Spotlight Webisode Series specializing in small business and corporate video production in Los Angeles, California.


Neewer Light Stands

No One To Hold Your Strobe: Neewer Light Stand

So what else do you need for your now growing still photography equipment kit?  Well if you have your camera and got a flash or even two from my previous review, you need something besides always having an assistant holding the off camera flash or the second flash.  This is a hobby or a small business and not a full crew production like we do when making BzS videos.  The low cost solution is a couple of light stands and flash holders.

No, I don’t work for Neewer, but again I found a couple of tripods from them for a reasonable price

These are 9 foot light stands.  Yes, I know that you can get shorter ones for a few dollar less, but ideal lighting is set about 45 degrees to the left or right of your subject AND also 45 degrees above the subject.  The six foot stands, shall we say, “fall short” of this ideal?  And at under $30 for two of them, you are still keeping your now growing photo equipment quite inexpensive.

Since light stands are made for more expensive strobe lights or video lights, you will need a bracket to mount your speedlight on the stand.   Again Neewer beats all others on price:

When you look at the image of this on the Amazon page, don’t get confused at how you would mount this on the the tripod.  The picture has it upside down.

 

See Phil’s Reviews On

Neewer TT850 Flash Speedlight

Neewer Flash Remote Trigger


NEEWER® TT850 Flash Speedlite

Use Your DSLR For Videos AND Stills: The Neewer Strobe

As the resident tech guy here at BzS, I am always looking for ways to increase our quality and keep the price down.  After decades of working with network professional crews, I know that you can always throw money around to get quality, but can you keep the quality up on a budget?  I now know the answer is “Yes!”

The first revolution has been using digital still cameras that also shoot video.  This has put filmmaking into the hands of many more people on a budget.  The other side of that coin is that the cameras can also be used for high quality stills, which of course was their original intent.  It is almost like “I bought this movie camera and they threw in a professional still camera for free!”

Many of you have bought in with Nikons or Canons and now even high quality Sony and Panasonic (Lumix) gear.  For filmmaking, you need to add some external lighting and sound recording to get to professional levels, but for stills it is just the lighting.  But if you want to take professional looking still photographs, can’t you just use the pop up flash or just the sun?  Well, the answer is mostly “no.”

To avoid that “Deer in the headlights” lighting look, you may have looked into the your brand companion speedlight.  But spending $500-$600 for a Canon or Nikon light gets close to doubling the investment in your camera.  And then you will end up buying AA batteries by the boatload just to keep the flashes coming.

The first thing on my Xmas list this year is a new solution:  the NEEWER® TT850 Flash Speedlite

which is available on Amazon for around $100.