On the Silver Screen: Movie Making in Libraries

Librarians and other members of the library and information profession do on occasion grace the silver screen. Honorable mentions include:
  • Katherine Hepburn’s character Bunny Watson in the 1956 classic Desk Set;
  • Rachel Weisz’s portrayal of a Librarian in The Mummy;
  • Noah Wyle’s so bad it’s good performance in the Librarian Trilogy; and last but by no means least, the Librarian ghost terrorizing the stacks in Ghostbusters.

Whilst I could keep going, this post isn’t about recommendations for the next Movie’s@The Library Night. Rather its about pocket-sized movie making on zero budget. Whether it’s an imaginative animation, an homage to film noir, movie making courses or activities at the Library, or just recording those life moments this post is about creating the best possible movie on zero budget. Well, zero budget – after the initial outlay for a smartphone.


Thanks to the high quality cameras and increased storage on smartphones and mobile devices the results aren’t half bad. In fact, often they can be really great! There are some limitations – the megapixels on the camera and the storage capacity on your phone can impact the quality of your videos. But for smartphones made in the last 3-5 years often a poor quality video is the fault of the soft tissue operating the camera rather than the camera itself. To make sure that you aren’t the thing getting in the way of your achieving high quality videos here are some simple techniques to help you get the best video quality from your smartphone:
  • Ban the zoom! This tip comes from PocketFilmaker. The zoom on your phone works to increase the size of the pixels not to move the camera. This can be fine if you are taking a picture. However, for movies the zoom is terrible and has a cataclysmic effect on the quality of the picture. Whilst this poor quality may not be really obvious on a phone it’s glaringly obvious when you move to a bigger screen. If you want to zoom in on anything move towards the object, don’t use the zoom. The PocketFilmaker has 5 other tips for filming here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oljt8IU0Npk
  • Use a tripod. Looking for that non-jerking image? You need to use a tripod, but remember I didn’t say anything about selfie sticks. Tripod yes. Selfie stick no.
  • Walk around – whether it’s for a home video or your latest movie project be sure that you move around. Make the video interesting by changing the perspective. Sure, use a wide shot to provide perspective but always move in on an interesting element. Your audience will lose interest if all your whole video is a big wide shot.
  • Plan your movie – For the budding Wes Andersons out there, there’s a great little (free) app to help you plan out your sets called Celtx Shots (https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/celtx-shots/id467370902?mt=8 ). Available on iOS devices (sorry Android users) the app helps you to create multi sequence storyboards as well as plan out camera and lighting set ups.
  • Thinking about stop motion animation? If you are thinking about doing a stop motion animation consider having a computer handy. That bigger screen can help you pick up any continuity issues before it becomes really hard to recreate that shot.

To help you get started with your Library’s or personal movie studio here are some free movie related apps that aren’t too buggy:

Cute Cut
Compatible with: iOS
What’s it do? Movie editing
Available from: http://cutecut.mobivio.com/

VidTrim – Video Editor
Compatible with: Android
What’s it do? Movie editing
Available from: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.goseet.VidTrim&hl=en

Compatible with: iOS
What’s it do? Movie editing
Available from: https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/splice-video-editor/id409838725?mt=8

Garage Band
Compatible with: iOS
What’s it do? Audio/music creation and editing
Available from: http://www.apple.com/au/ios/garageband/

MusicMaker Jam
Compatible with: Android
What’s it do? Audio/music creation and editing
Available from: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.magix.android.mmjam&hl=en

So you’ve made your video, edited it to perfection and added the perfect backing track. What now? Well not your share. There are a couple of different options when it comes to sharing your video. Thinking of it as a ‘scale of sharing’ you can either share it with the world and become the next Vlogbrothers or share your video with your friends and family. With a high quality video email has become a non-option for sharing video with friends and family (if it ever really was an option). Going from the scale of most secure to Kardashian here are a couple of options for sharing your video:

Options for the sharers
Dropbox – share a link to your video with others via Dropbox. This link can be on-shared by the recipients. However, ultimately it is you that has the control for the simple reason that if you remove the video the link won’t work.

Youtube public account – private video. If you have a Youtube account you get a channel to upload and share your videos with the world. This isn’t the only option however. What you can also do is restrict access to your video to only those with a link.

Options for the broadcasters
You can never really go past Youtube when it comes to sharing your video. If your video is more a 30 second grab your video is more suited for Vimeo and Vine.


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