Archive for May, 2010

… is now online.

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Shoot yesterday too a little longer than expected since we had only 4 small scenes to shoot we weren’t expecting it to last 4 hours but it is coming together nicely. Time flies I suppose. A crew of 4 this time around, we’ve had Piratehelm joining us to assist in make-up and set design. Thankfully the weather remained the same as it was two weeks ago which will help to keep up the consistency. Saying that, it will interesting to see how these new scenes will blend in with the earlier footage since Cethan shaved the beard off specifically for the shoot.

We used the jib again to shoot these scenes, which worked perfectly since we managed to shoot at some really good angles despite the fact that the crammed environment made the process difficult to manage. We’ve also had to wrestle with environmental lighting, given the time of day and the weather we were having, it was the background lighting that had the bad habit of silhouetting our actor . In the end this was fixed using a combination of carefully angled shots and a 100 Watt light bulb.

We hope to be finished filming this Tuesday, followed by the post production process and the insert shooting.

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Happy to say the shoot went fairly well in Camden Palace, initially a crew of six, we were also joined by Keith O’Connell to lend us a helping hand. This time filming took place in a laboratory setting which devoured almost 2 hours of preparation before we were good to go. As well as cleaning the room we had booked we also had to make two round trips to my place to collect additional equipment and props. Camden’s owner, Bertrand, was nice enough to lend us some old lab equipment, as well as gave us permission to scavenge any other set of items we find. And plenty we did find and use.

Fabian Sweeney and Catherine Crowley put on a great performance for their part of power starved scientists, more impressively this would mark the first time I’ve worked on a short film where the actors knew their lines before filming their scenes, granted, previous productions only ever involved myself, Cethan, Aida and Piratehelm ( although this allowed plenty of room for improvisation ). The shoot lasted roughly 3 hours with very few breaks in between since we had to take into account we had somewhat of a limited time frame, I’m pretty sure the rest of the crew noticed my eagerness to shoot as soon as possible when I started recording before Fiona or Gemma ( co-directing ) could say ‘action’.

I’m currently loving the newly purchased dolly mount and jib arm we had to drag over to the location and take some time out to setup, you wouldn’t believe how much freedom they can provide when moving the camera around on set and also how much damage they can cause if you forget that the combined equipment only works well in spacious settings and not when people are standing close by. It won’t be long until someone bangs their head or knee against the jib arm, at least it will make the work environment just that bit more interesting.

Glancing over the recorded footage and suffice to say most of it turned out very well. Sadly however, the first few shots were recorded without sound, stupidly enough I had forgotten to turn on the audio device, so let that be a lesson for anyone else hooking up their only Shotgun Mic to their only camera, these things do need power. Since entire scenes required no colour in the end product it was nice to see what the footage looked like without it, by isolating the luminance ( Black and white ) channel you can easily spot small objects in the video footage in greater detail.

The final shoot will hopefully conclude this weekend, as it’s our final weekend before the deadline. We’ll be attending the Fastnet Film Festival the weekend after. The deadline is the 4th of June so editing the film over weekdays is going to be fun for sure.

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Flipping Channels, which we hope to submit to Mutantspace’s second short film competition, has now begun principle photography. Filming took place largely at the apartment with myself as camera operator, Cethan as the male lead and Fiona as the director. We had spent more time getting adjusted to the new setup we began using today which included the new dolly mount, a camera jib and the laptop that displayed a live video feed coming from the camera and also was mounted to the tripod.

Although the amount of time we invested in the new equipment to function properly took up a large part of the 5 hour filming session, it was well worth it for the sake of  producing some pretty cool panning shots . On the same day we also scouted some potential filming locations at the Camdem Palace in Patricks Quay, we hope to be shooting key elements of the film there next weeks. It will be busy few weeks but we hope to get the film done before the competition deadline on the 4th of June. Once it’s finished and shown at the Mutantspace screening night, I’ll post the film here afterwards. Now for some snaps:

If you’re good with observation you would have spotted the Christmas garland on the top left corner of that pic above.

Other news, we’ll be attending the screening of Hardly Fairest at the Fastnet Film Festival that is running in Schull by the end of the month. Should be fun.

Pre-production work is well underway for Milton 3, the script has entered into 2nd draft stage but I should have it finished by the end of this month. Hoping to start preparations for principle photography by mid June.

– Jan

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Anyone involved in the post production process is sure to be familiar with NLE’s such Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premier and Avid. Great pieces of software that get the job done at a somewhat hefty price tag, provided they were obtained a legal way. I wouldn’t be too surprised if the majority of low budget filmmakers would bypass the pricing issue by taking the piracy route, especially how much they’re charged in different regions. For instance, an American film maker can purchase a legal copy of Premier CS5 for $799 and how much would I have to pay for it through the Irish store? €1027.89 ( currently $1,368.43 ), so that works out as almost 70% more than the American price tag. You can try your best to give a verbose explanation for the pricing difference but you’d be hard pressed to convince them to not look at other options. Especially when they could spend the additional $568 on a decent enough editing machine.

However alternative options don’t have to involve either purchasing or pirating NLE software. There are plenty of other NLEs in the market, some of them are reasonably cheap and others are free, and why shouldn’t you look into these ones? Decent video software has to meet the basic NLE requirments:

  • Stability
  • Multitrack editing
  • Support for importing/exporting most audio/video formats
  • Intuitive interface
  • A catchy name

If it doesn’t meet all these needs then throw it away. If it crashes often it will only test your patience, all NLEs crash regardless anyway but some do more than others. If you can’t have more than one video/audio track it’s too counter productive. If it doesn’t support most audio/video formats it’s only take up more time and effort to manage. If the interface isn’t intuitive you’re bound to make more mistakes than the film’s measured continuity. If it doesn’t have a catchy name, you’re not going to remember it and never be able to find it again on your machine again until a technician over the phone asks you kindly to uninstall it to make the backup software run properly again.

As a self confessed freetard, I’m more inclined to use free and open source video editing software. Not because it’s doesn’t require a financial transaction but largely because they mostly meet the NLE requirements I listed above. Granted they won’t have those nifty little features where you can fix an actor’s lazy eye or add ears to the moon, but as long you can manipulate a incoherent mess of a footage together to produce something watchable then there’s no reason why you can’t live without  moon ears.

Most of the films I have edited with were largely done with Cinelerra and Kdenlive. Two of the best examples of free NLE software you can have on Linux, or at least I like to think that these are the only two. There are plenty of NLE’s on that specific platform thanks largely to the vast amount of software libraries that handle audio/visual content on that platform but most of these still need to mature to the same level as Cinelerra and KDEnlive.

Free NLEs are scarce on both Windows and Mac but the good news is that it won’t stay this way for long. First off the some of the developers of VLC have released early test versions of their NLE software, titled VLMC. It’s looking great so far, given how powerful VLC is, this one has a lot of potential. It’s early days so far but you can head straight onto their main website to check it out.

Interestingly, Lightworks will be open sourced, an NLE that has been used in the film industry for over 20 years ( you can see the list here ) will probably be freely available to the unsuspecting public by the end of the year. You can read the announcement here and sign up for free testing on the same page.

– Jan

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