Saturday, 27 November 2010

November in the edit

November is drawing to a close and I've been busy editing my 'Bourne' style short film. This is the first time I have spent so long on editing, usually I tend to fine-tune the edit as I go and finish with what is basically a first-draft edit. This time I am trying a different approach, i've been putting together a rough assembly edit, and then I will work on reducing and fine-tuning it over a period of several days.

Right now I have an almost complete edit which is already running five and a half minutes, although I expect the final film to be closer to three minutes. It's been very liberating to try this rough-edit approach instead of labouring over every edit as I go.

I've also taken delivery of my new toy, a Lilliput 7" 669GL-70NPCH monitor, which should prove to be a real help with my 550D rig as it will give both a bigger image to focus with, and having a positionable monitor should really help with framing when the camera is in awkward positions.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Approaching winter...

So it's been a while since I last posted an update. I was in Sweden for a month in August, and then finishing the game has taken most of my time until now.

I've still been plugging away at the filming, taking my 550D with me most places and shooting footage wherever I can. I also shot yet another short for an online forum competition and managed to take first place, which was pretty good considering I only had a daya and a half to edit it. Much shorter than I would have liked, and the finished product was definitely in need of some grading and sound balancing.

I've also finished shooting my big short project, an epic sniper thriller with a twist, that is the first time in years that I have been shooting on locations and dealing with permissions and all the phone calls and organising that goe along with that. We even had use of a brand new luxury car, direct from the manufacturer, which was very cool.

I was going for a Bourne style of shooting, and I spent a fair amount of time trying to get the sniper rifle that would match the type they use in those movies, of course it's easier said than done to obtain a prop gun these days, and unless you are a registered film/TV company, or a registered sirsoft skirmisher, it's not possible to buy or rent one.

So I ended up changing tack and using an old M16 rifle replica I already had, kitting it out with a scope and huuuuge silencer to complete the effect. It certainly looked the part, and although it's nonsense to use that type of gun as a sniper rifle, hopefully in the finished edit I'll be able to hide the specific type of weapon and keep it as just 'the gun'.

I've also been experimenting with lenses, and last night I was out in town doing some tests with a handful of Canon 'L' lenses rented from the Flash Centre in London. They do a great deal where you can rent glass for as little as £20 for a weekend! My favourite lens of the night was definitely the 70-200 IS, but at £1500 it's a little pricey, so I intend to go with the cheaper, plastic, 70-300 IS USM instead. I badly need a longer lens as my 18-135 IS kit lens it just not long enough, and my secondhand M42 70-200 is too unstable for hand-held!

Right now I'm finishing up my next short project, an extended test shoot that I turned into a short narrative in the woods, next I will be diving into the big edit for the sniper short.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

A Clean Slate

Another day, another new bit of video gear arrives at the house. This time it's a new white perspex clapperboard. A bit different from the heavy old wooden Panavision clapperboards I used when shooting with the Arri, and also a lot cleaner, with an easy write-on-wipe-off surface for marker pens instead of using dusty old pieces of chalk.

It's really weird stepping back to using a seperate sound recorder and a clapperboard to sync the sound, after using camcorders for so long, the changeover to HDSLR is a lot like going back to film.

It's all part of continuing to get ready for the big shoot, now postponed to the end of August while I wrap up work in Stockholm, and I've been testing out my editing setup with the 550D H264 files, definitely a lot harder to work with than the old A1 HDV footage. I may need to upgrade my editing PC to a more serious spec.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

In the loupe

Another day, another accessory for the HDSLR. It's certainly an expensive business setting up one of these cameras for video use!

I've now added an lcd screen loupe to my rig, this one is made by Hoodman, and is a lot cheaper than the Zacuto loupe. It's basically a large piece of moulded rubber with a magnifying glass attached. It lets you see the lcd screen clearly in daylight, eliminating the glare and reflection on the screen.

You can either hold it against the screen, fix it in place with elastic bands, or order one of the various aftermarket fixing solutions, like the cavision mounting frame. For now I have mine held to the camera with elastic bands. Not the most elegant of solutions, but it's cheap!

My old D-Focus follow focus fits the 550d easily, and now that I have a set of IndiSystem DLSR rails, the rig is really coming together.

Still need a mattebox, so that will be my next purchase. Hopefully in time for my forthcoming short film shoot next month.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Looming Deadlines

Back at the keyboard, this time working on another short script, there's another competition based around a theme of 'power cuts' and I had an idea involving an aircraft losing power (always going for the easy themes... as usual) but I created a cgi sequence of a low flying plane, composited with a quickly grabbed 550d shot of the street outside.

The sequence turned out pretty good, but now I have to actually shoot the rest of it, and also write the script. Might bea easier to just leave it as a nice little effects shot, rather than go to all the trouble of creating an entire short around it.

So I've put out a call to a local group of actors, and if they agree to get involved, then it'll be a frantic weekend of shooting and editing next weekend to get everything ready in time.

In the meantime, I'm also prepping my 'modern cupid' project, with an eye to shooting it next month.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Stockholm Syndrome

I spent a couple of days at the Swedish office last week, negotiating with the team that will be taking over the physical asset creation on our current project. It was fun to be back in Stockholm again, and I feel like I pretty much ate the whole time I was there. At least I managed to stick to fairly authentic cuisene, venison meatballs, and goulash. Such a great city.

Predictably, the HD-DSLR bug has bitten, and I did end up splashing out on a new Canon 550d, which was pretty exciting. I've had a a play with it, and I did some test shooting in and around the house which really seem to point to this being an excellent camera. The low-light shooting is really impressive, and other than the lack of zoom or decent sound recording, it's a great camera.

I'm going to sell my Shrigg-Rig and 35mm adaptor as the 550d will be far easier to use for any DOF shooting, and this will free up my HV30 to become a run-and-gun camera.

I just discovered which is a great resource forum for anyone shooting video with these Canon DSLR cameras, and it really feels like this new type of camera is an area which is really hot right now.

The ASC magazine had yet another article on DSLR shooting in the latest issue, and it seems like everyone is talking about these cameras.

Of course it's not all great, there are some pretty obvious rolling shutter issues for one thing, and the fast SD-Cards needed for video are certainly not cheap.

Tomorrow I'll be heading up to the Ultimate Dubs car show at Telford, so the 550d will be along for the ride, it'l be my first real test with this camera and I've got high hopes for some great footage.

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Camera Envy

So here we are, the end of february already, just past the submission date for the local film festival.
A few weeks ago my company was all set to send me to Sweden for two months, which should have meant I would be typing this from Stockholm. But at the last minute the plans changed, which meant two things...

1. No two months of fully comped fun in the north.

2. No film festival entry from me because I thought I didn't have time to shoot anything before going.

So I missed the deadline for the festival, and I had a great project worked out for it too. So I'm going to go ahead and shoot anyway, but it'll just be a 'for fun' project instead of a contender.

In other news, the new Canon 550D (Rebel T2i) HD-DSLR has been released, and I am sorely tempted. It's looking like a great little camera, and it would offer the option to shoot for 35mm style DOF without needing to use my home-built adaptor, which means it'll be much, much easier to do run-and-gun work on the move.

The iso settings are pretty impressive too, especially the low-light shooting range.
I had told myself I didn't need any new gear, and that I should simply shoot with what I have, the HV30 and the XH-A1 should be more than good enough to shoot anything, especially with the option to use the 35mm adaptor. Obviously I was wrong.

It's strange, the more I read about the 550D, the more I find myself cruising past or even Jessops 'just to look'. I reckon I may have ordered one of these beauties before the weekend is over!

Of course my wife is the voice of reason, pointing out that I don't need another camera, and that we don't need the expense of a new toy. Especially when the house could do with some more renovation.

Still, I'm thinking if I forgo my morning Costa purchase, I could easily scratch up the £80 per month I'd need to pay for a basic 550D kit with stock lens.

Of course, I would then need to really get moving on the next project. Especially if I had a new camera to play with.

Decisions, decisions.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Living in the future!

2010 is here and still no flying cars, although plenty of areas in the city look grim enough to stand in for the citadels of almost any cinematic dystopia of the last fifty years.

One of this years projects will be an update of a student project I made almost twenty years ago (doesn't seem that long, but it is). I plan to try and reference some of the locations used in films like 'Clockwork Orange' which was shot in several local landmarks and public buildings.

Right now I am working on my next project. Final submission for the local film festival is at the end of February, so I'm working towards having at least one submission ready for that. The theme of the festival is 'Passion' and I've come up with an idea that should fit nicely with that. I always find it difficult to get ideas, and having a theme actually made it a lot easier for me to come up with an idea. The only question is whether my idea fits wholly into the 'Passion' theme and doesn't overlap too much into 'Love' or 'Lust' which are closely linked. Time will tell if I have chosen well!

The other project would be entered in the mobile-phones category, where all the entries have to be short (1min or less) films and they need to be filmed on mobile. I loved the old Pixel-Vision film 'Another Girl, Another Planet' and this could be an opportunity to do something similar, deliberately using a really bad quality video camera to shoot a film. I would plan to shoot it as if on a high quality camera, lights, tripods, tracks and all the rest, just with a tiny and deliberately poor quality mobile phone as the camera.

Should be an interesting few weeks ahead as I get the shoot organised.