The Best Free VFX Software for Filmmakers


About 2 years ago, a friend accidentally introduced me to a piece of software that has quite simply, changed the way I make films. Whether it’s for our TV documentaries, shorts, or our upcoming feature, COSMOS; this software has opened up possibilities that we never thought were possible for low-budget filmmakers.

blenderthumbThe software I’m referring to, is of course Blender. Many of you will undoubtedly have heard of Blender but for those who haven’t, I hope to encourage and inspire you to grab yourself a copy and dive straight in.

Whether you’re into animation, stills photography, concept art, animatics, 3D printing or live action filmmaking Blender has something for you, and what’s more… it’s absolutely, 100% Free for you to use right now. Sound exciting? Well then read on…


10 Hilarious ‘DoP Life’ Animated GIFs

I was trawling the internet this sunny afternoon, when I stumbled across a website that made me laugh so hard it brought tears to my eyes.

DoP LifeIt’s called DoP Life and it sums up the highs and lows of life as a Director of Photography and Camera Operator via the tongue-in-cheek medium of the animated GIF. 

If you work in the film industry, I highly recommend you follow @DPLifeInGifs and Facebook for your daily dose of insider lols.

They’re all hilarious, but here are 10 of my favourites…

When a scene’s taken so long to shoot that the sun’s crept round the side of the 20 by silk and the director won’t give the gaffer and I time to move it.

power ranger


Writing A Film Soundtrack – Where to Start

COSMOS Banner Soundtrack


“Composing music is hard work.” — John Williams


If there’s one partnership that proves how music and movies belong together, it’s this one.

Good music is a catalyst for both storyteller and viewer, as a film maker it will help you develop dynamic, exciting and original ideas and will act as the glue that holds your story together… but it goes beyond that – this glue will enhance your visuals, improve performances and sculpt the edit. It is, put simply, incredible.

We are very excited about the development of the COSMOS soundtrack as we are once again teaming up with our longtime collaborators and good friends, CDMH Music. The two members of the company, Chris Duncan and Mark Heath, will be writing guest posts exclusively for this blog, revealing their process and sharing tips and tricks along the way. The soundtrack is in its early days, but its already fantastic. We hope you’ll enjoy following along as it develops from concept tracks into the final score for the film. You can follow @CDMHMusic twitter for more regular updates from the guys and their progress.

This is the Cosmos Main Theme, one of two tracks currently in production for the film. Please have a listen and then read on below to discover how CDMH Music are developing this concept soundtrack.


So without further ado, let’s get going… Chris… Over to you!


Storyboarding – Make Your Movie, Before You Make Your Movie

COSMOS Banner Storyboarding


“A picture paints a thousand words… or something like that”

A Storyboard is basically a huge comic strip of the film, used to help visualise the scenes and how they will be seen through the lens of a camera.

Here are a few examples of the COSMOS Storyboard for a sequence where one of the main characters has the run through a forest at night:

Storyboards can vary in complexity, from simple ‘stick-figure’ line drawings to intricately crafted works of art in their own right.

Alien Ridleygram

Alien Ridleygram

Many major motion pictures will have entire teams of Storyboard Artists methodically working their way through set-piece sequences or even the entire film.

Some Directors produce their own stylised storyboards, allowing their vision to be translated directly to the page – Ridley Scott’s Ridleygrams are not only incredibly beautiful, but a fascinating insight into his visual process. (more…)

Why A Solid Production Schedule Is Priceless

COSMOS Banner Production Schedule


A writer needs a pen, an artist needs a brush, but a filmmaker needs an army.’ – Orson Welles

Orson Welles said it best (and did a lot of it best too!); a filmmaker does need an army.

I’m not sure whether that makes the Producer or the Director the General, I think it’s best to let them battle that one out between themselves, but what it does mean is that someone has to organise this army – an efficient and dependable corps of Officers who strategise and plot, deploying troops and supplies when and where they are needed!

Apologies, my movie imagination getting the best of the me again… but if that doesn’t make you want work in a film crew, I don’t know what will!

COSMOS Production Schedule

COSMOS Production Schedule

One of the highest ranking members of any film production is the Production Manager. Their job is to decide the most efficient and economical way of scheduling the film on behalf of the Producer. These dedicated and reliable individuals have many responsibilities, but one of these is the creation of the Production Schedule.

Now this may not seem like a hot-topic for a blog, but good planning is the key to a smooth and successful film production.

If you fail to prepare, then prepare to fail!


The Script Breakdown & Stripboard

COSMOS Banner Stripboards


We’ve written the script, now it’s time to break-it-down – this results in the deceptively-named Script Breakdown.

In order for the script to be turned into a film, we’ve analysed the script and created a detailed list of all elements within it; literally breaking down each scene into its component parts, and there are many scheduling tools available on the market such as Movie Magic and Showbiz to assist you in the process.

Screen Shot 2014-04-19 at 18.39.21I’m not going to go into detail about the breakdown process; there are plenty of people who’ve already done a great job and if you’re interested in producing a Breakdown for your own film, I would recommend visiting – there’s a wealth of knowledge and advice on their site to help you with your projects.

All in all, the Breakdown for COSMOS took me about 2 solid days – personally I find it tough to stick with it; it’s not really my cup of tea (as we Brits say), but it is a vital step in the production process and therefore needs to be done. Now complete, we can draw up a Production Schedule and Budget, and then we can get underway! (more…)

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