Fan Film, Fan Films

5 FREE Freaky Filmmaking Programs for Macs

chromakeylivescreenshot-smallThe economy is making life tough for everyone these days; we all have to cut back and find ways to stretch a buck. When it comes to creative projects like making a fan film, it’s even more crucial to scrimp where you can. However, if you have a Mac and are looking for some FREE ways to make your next flick—or at least give it some visual flair—you need to discover the cool creations of Zach Poff.

Zach Poff’s website mentions that he’s “a New York area digital media artist” as well as a teacher of Sound Art at Cooper Union School of Art in NYC. And another thing he does? The guy creates wild, free video software. From stop-motion animation to interactive audio sample triggering via video (Whaaa? You’ll see), Poff’s offing some unusual stuff here…and it’s all gratis!

Take Chroma Key Live, for instance. It’s free, real-time green-screen software that generates a live key on your computer screen while you shoot with an attached camera, allowing you to see exactly how the actor will look when composited over a background image. However, Chroma Key Live can’t record—it’s just an on-set preview, because as Poff notes on his site, “You can do much better Chroma keys in post-production software.”

Then there’s SingleFramer, a basic stop-motion animation program—and yeah, it’s free. It requires a DV video camera (no using your digital photo camera) and supports PAL and NTSC. Able to capture individual frames from a DV camera manually or automatically (time-lapse), it also allows “onion-skinning” to see an overlay of a previous frame as you compose your shot. Poff points out, “You can load an existing movie so you can match your setup from a previous day. (Useful if you need to break down borrowed equipment between shoots).”

framesubtractor_smallSome programs available on the site are a bit more esoteric, but could be used for creative fan filmmaking that thinks outside the box. For instance, there’s FrameSubtractor, which could potentially add some interesting artistic qualities to a flick. As stated on the website, “FrameSubtractor is an application that removes background information from video images. It compares each frame of the video to the previous frame, and only passes the pixels that have changed. So it reveals moving objects and makes stationary things disappear.”

MultiScreener could potentially be used to present your movies in unusual ways or as an important plot device in a techno thriller-type movie. Basically the program provides multi-screen playback, synchronizing Quicktime movies on multiple computers, using a local network to tie them all together; alternately, it can synch multiple movies on the same computer using multiple monitors.

So let’s say your script calls for the techno-geek hero to be frantically staring at eight monitors on his desk, each with CNN footage of natural disasters, destruction, chaos, etc., and then they all switch simultaneously to an evil alien saying ‘Hand over your world or else!‘ This program could help you synch that switchover.

Alternately, if you’re screening your movies somewhere, this could be used in creative ways to present a flick. For instance, if you chopped up your movie into sections, you could screen different segments on different screens, making your audience move from one part of a room to another—or if monitors were set up in a large hallway, you could move them slowly down the hall to a room where the finale plays (that’d be a cool way to enter a party, for instance).

Since we’re throwing interactive ideas around, let’s close with Poff’s latest wild program, Video Trigger, which is just begging to be used in a practical joke-type video project. Basically, it’s motion detector application. You set up a video camera to shoot an area, then you can define up to six different areas in the shot, so that whenever someone moves into one of those areas, they trigger a sound. Picture setting a mannequin dressed as a celebrity and a camera, then using this software to trigger audio samples from one of those celebrity soundboards; there’s some interesting times to be had at the expense of unsuspecting people who get too close to your “famous person.”

As if all this wasn’t enough, there’s even more unusual programs on his site—pay a visit and see what creativity it inspires in you!

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3 Responses to “5 FREE Freaky Filmmaking Programs for Macs”

  1. It’s great that Zack is offering his film editing software for FREE…that’s not something you see everyday. I hope he gets tons of support! I’ll definitely have to check it out!


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