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Profile of AnthemFlint
Hi there guys! I'm Anthem Flint. I'm a mentalist from Denver Colorado. I wanted to ask for some tips on shooting a TV style special. I have all the equipment I need (nice camera, lenses, tripod, monopod, shoulder rig, audio etc) and a decent amount of experience in filmmaking. The reason I wanted to ask you guys is because I want to achieve two things. I want to film better performance videos for my DVDs teaching mentalism, and I want to release "specials" on YouTube. If you have some experience with this, I'd like to know your tips on lighting, location, sound, audience prep, and other important details that I might not know. In short, what are things that you wish to you knew when you filmed yourself performing for people in close up environments?
I really appreciate everything, if you want to check out what I'm currently up to, visit
I look forward to your input!
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Profile of MarkToland
I posted a sort-of "special" recently. It was filmed on a Canon S120 (point and shoot), GoPros, my iPhone 6+, a Canon Rebel T3i, and a Canon 6D.

I perform in a lot of different places, so I really wanted to capture the essence of my travels. As much fun as great camera equipment is, I would venture to say that sound is the most important factor. (There are a few places in my episode that I had to use subtitles so I'm fixing that for the new installment.) For sound I use a Rode Video Mic Pro and a Tascam Audio Recorder, plus I did the voiceovers with a USB microphone.

I also did all of the editing for the special (Final Cut Pro X), which is a handy skill to have for a working pro. I'm less interested in gorgeous cinematography and more fascinated with great storytelling. The use of music, passage of time, capturing travel, locations, etc. were important things I kept in mind as I put it together. I'm already working on my new episode as I write this. The first one took me sixth months to finish so not sure when the new one will be ready.

If you have other questions, feel free to send me a PM. Oh, and here's a link to my episode, entitled "SPECTACLES: On Tour With Mark Toland":
Mind reading Web Series:

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Bill Hegbli
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Eternal Order
Fort Wayne, Indiana
22981 Posts

Profile of Bill Hegbli
With all those questions, it would be better for you to take a college class in film and directing. Even a 101 class will answer most your questions. Most people who do this, will expect fee for teaching you or consulting. Your questions are just beyond the a text forum for magic. Maybe you could find a forum on filmmaking.
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Profile of MarkToland
Anthem - I don't expect any money for whatever assistance I might give. I've never taken a film class but just learned by doing it. I'm sure there are plenty members of the Café who would be more than willing to help out, including myself. PM me if you have any other questions.
Mind reading Web Series:

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Inner circle
Glen Spey, NY
1579 Posts

Profile of Ihop
I had my own video business for many years and I still dabble in it.
I used Premier Pro but now I use Final Cut Pro.
I agree with Mark. Concentrate on sound!
Almost all camera s are decent quality nowadays. Get HD quality.
Work on your editing skills.
Lighting, framing and other technical skills are basic things you probably picked up in your filmmaking experiences.
My single piece of advice is just "Do It".
Of course you have to know the basics, which sounds like you do.
Don't spend years just learning. You have to do both. learn and experiment.
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Montreal, Quebec
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Profile of Ultimatecreate
Hi guys,

Can I ask what video editing software you'd recommend? Ideally a good quality version that's good for someone that's not super technical.

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Inner circle
Glen Spey, NY
1579 Posts

Profile of Ihop
Both Mac and Windows operating systems come with a free movie editing program.

I now use Final Cut Pro but I believe it's "IMovie" for Mac, and "Movie Maker" for Windows.

I would recommend starting with one of those. Once you get the basics, you can look into the other options. There are so many of them. But if you want the better editing programs, it will get expensive.
If you do your own editing, a side benefit is your camerawork improves.
Take some old videos and start editing. Even if it's a montage of something.
You'll see that you will think differently next time you're behind the camera.
Good luck.
jay leslie
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Southern California
9495 Posts

Profile of jay leslie
I couldn't recommend the site "Lynda" more highly.
It's 250 a year and they teach 160 different classes in various subjects.
As far as editing, there has to be 500 hours of instruction broken down to 5 minute movies.
You can learn basic 2point-and 3point lighting, Lightroom, after effects, Raw and a bunch if other exact version- specific programs I in the graphics field.

Please mention my name when you sign up, it won't get you anything but I like my name thrown around.
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New York
156 Posts

Profile of Davdo
No matter what your level of filmmaking experience is, there's nothing like having someone hand while you're performing to do the actual filming. For one thing, there will be more shot options for you to work with in the edit. Secondly, it's a great idea to have person actually paying attention to the recording in case something unpredictable happens or something goes wrong. Filming tabletop close-up stuff is probably the only thing I think covers all bases with self-shooting. Anything more than that really misses out without an actual human being filming. Not to mention, the right person will bring with them a wealth of knowledge of location lighting and sound.

Good luck!

Chad Sanborn
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Inner circle
my fingers hurt from typing,
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Profile of Chad Sanborn
When we film the Carbonaro Effect, we typically have 7 cameras rolling. 3 are manned, one is a robo cam and then 3 stationary wide angles.
Even with 7 cameras, we still ahve a hard time getting the coverage we need.
My suggestion is to plan your shot per trick. Figure out what angles you will need to cover the magic. Take into consideration, how the props are used, where they are placed and moved around and also if you have a volunteer and their movements.
This is where most people get into trouble and they get inconsistent editing errors.
Once you figure all that out shoot a rehearsal and then make any adjustments and shoot again.
Keep shooting and adjusting until you get the best results.
Don't forget to have a Script Supervisor who can keep track of all the shots, continuity, and various takes you do.
I have more that could be helpful, but that is getting into 'consultant' territory and for that I get paid.
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Profile of dnarayan
Hi Anthem,

Re. editing software, I've used both Final Cut Pro (7 and X) and Premiere Pro for the last 10 years. My personal view is that Premiere Pro has now overtaken Final Cut Pro.

I agree with Jay that Lynda is amazing. If you're using Premiere Pro, Adobe also publish lots of great tutorials (inc. sample files) for free at

You can't 'own' Premiere Pro anymore, you need to get it on a monthly or annual subscription.

Hope it goes well!

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Profile of FelixKraus
For filming teaching DVD, make use your tripod and empty out a room indoor, position some lamps for lighting and light reflectors, so you can film nice clean shots.
For youtube special, it will be great to have 2 camera filming one for the effect one for the audience reaction. It will also be nice if you film some extra montage like clips for transition between segment.
Add some special effect or title sequence will definitely up the production value of the project.
Don't forget to have a plan in mind what you want to film and make a shot list or story board.
Hope it helps.
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Loyal user
214 Posts

Profile of debjit
I have some experience in filming magic and the one advice I would give you is - get multiple camera angles. Honestly the more the better. You never know which spectator is going to give the best reactions so you need multiple cameras filming the audience.

PM me if you need more tips. Here's some links to understand my work -

My YouTube channel:
My DVD on Penguin Magic:
Peter Morrissey
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Regular user
111 Posts

Profile of Peter Morrissey

I'm a video editor by profession and I recommend premier Pro.

As mentioned above you want lots of camera angles, three to four and plenty of light (for colour grading)

As it happens I'm planning on doing a few you tube videos to see what reaction it gets.
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