Thursday, 26 November 2009

Cinematographers Perspective:

To conclude the documentation, i have trawled through the work produced to date, and wished to share some of my most cherished produce from the years last scheduled project. Below lay two screen shots from the developing film Nosey Neighbour. The shots i have decided to speak about are from the point of view of a cinematographer, with a slight hint of art direction and continuity.
First of the bat is this beautiful shot:

For those who have no idea on the concept in the story, at this point she is staring through a peek in the blinds while watching off a disturbing neighbour leave her drive. On location we came across the issue of how to film the shot without needing to venture outside. Somebody mentioned just move the actor from the window. But this would have looked odd. We needed to get here as close to the camera, and the camera as close to the window as possible. Then there was the issue of lighting. The natural light from behind the camera and myself would cast a shadow. So with a soft spot light we recreated the light flooding onto the face to give the effect she is still up against the window. Thus giving the viewer the comfortable transition of continuity between behind and front cuts. In addition, the shot just has an extra quality about it that stands out from the rest as a result of this bizarre lighting technique.

This is my very close second favourite:

This shot unbelievably comes directly after. My two favourite visuals both together right towards the end. Need to learn how to spread them out slightly! The quality of this image is the colour. The shares of brown and cream, very mundane and neutral colours representing a nice vision, also the central "symmetrical" positioning feels very cinematic. Apart from that, its just a personal favourite. Enjoy

Monday, 23 November 2009

Paper To Screen: Story visualisation in comparison to film footage

Torture Sequence:

Here are a selection of comparisons showing how much my composition for screen has improved this project. Being the storyboard artist, and the onset Camera operator/Cinematographer. I feel this job is by far the most important task i undertake in the production. This means making sure i have the correct composition before going on location. And ideally even thought we only did it for one of the projects, we should be framing on set with the actors as a "dress rehearsal" kind of idea

Below are two examples of the comparison:

Torture Sequence:

Same again but with the torture sequence:

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Nosey Neighbour Shoot: My Overview

The second shoot of the week, and to be bluntly honest, it was previously my least favoured of the two. With that said, i would possibly be eating my own words, with the location being set in my home, it was a rather strange experience. Theres no truer experience of bringing your work home! This fact gave me a sense of comfort, as i could snack as and when i pleased! All jokes aside, i was really disappointed with using our home as the location. Down to facts such as lack of preset art direction, warmth or even feminine impression to the rooms we shot in, Using the "backup" location for the production literally put me straight off the idea of salvaging any usable material for showreel. This would be the case in if the above theory to these lacking conditions were to come true.

Regardless of these negative vibes presented, i took the shoot in my stride, and tried my upmost to take the job seriously but keep relaxed and even fun, with the hope of it being educational to my skills. This attitude worked wonders when it came to the day of the shoot. Not only was the situation an enjoyable one, and not only did it flow smoothly, but most importantly for me, i learned some valuable lessons, and with fingers crossed some decent footage. Hopefully from what i have seen, some of my cinematography focus looks to have paid off. but more on that at a later date

Looking at some lessons learned would most probably be the idea to stop immediately judging situations and even people for a more personal matter. This habit of mine, only appears to divert me from where i would like to go, or in this case, what i would like to achieve. Lesson well and truly learned

The cast were very nice to work with, as always, however working with difficult is something that we all was looking forward to doing with a certain actor for the torture shoot, but he was too unreliable to risk a no show on shoot day. John was the camera assistant that the producer had fished up from the film club down at vernon street. Although i really did not utilise this chance to the maximum, i still managed to let go of my precious grip on the camera slightly to allow john to operate, and i could then take more of a backseat camera directing role. Was a great experience, and i shall be doing this on my final major next year.
Post shoot review:

The Shoot, what a series of events that was. I played drums without actually making a noise!! I got punched in the face numerous times by a good friend! And stressed my self silly transporting a full drumkit and full rig setup for a music video in a three door hatchback! EEEK!! Regardless of all the trauma, it was a great time, full of laugh's and good times had by all. Would do it again anytime in a heartbeat.

At times it did become slightly frustrating, this developed through my eager sense to want a hold on everything going on, and wanting full control. The shoot, especially the second day was a good test to control these urges, and allow Alex and dali to take there own control over the situation. And again i felt myself getting slightly frustrated, but managed to control the feeling and have a successful second day of shooting. Things i would like to do better from my point of view would be secure the primary location. Again a similar story to that of the torture shoot on my other project. Putting trust in people who quite literally do not care about your project is far from a good plan to follow! sniff them out early and dispose of them out of your options! Lesson learned!

Monday, 16 November 2009

Torture Shoot: My Overview

The first shoot is in the can so to speak. One very evidential problem that was reassured after the shoot, the issue of planning and the way it is approached. More specifically, i solemnly had the belief that the use of hand drawn storyboards, even storyboards from more photorealistic media formats were both a considerable waste of time to produce in consideration to what there intended use is on set. (Barring the use for shot composition). However, i have no real answerable reason to solidify my belief in this. Before the start of this projects pre production, i took it upon myself to investigate this unanswerable belief in the use of storyboards and aim to underline a legitimate reason to why they do not seem to work.

After spending time theorising on the most productive approach to distributing the storyboards, as previously mentioned in a previous post. The document i finally produced had a very easy to follow system using colour co-ordination and numeric structure to allow our additional crew to make sense of the productions process. These techniques can be understood by infants, so in theory should make it slightly easier to understand. Getting a universal understanding correct was a vital issue that had to be addressed on location. If the document could be understood by someone who has never previously read a storyboard or shot list document, then the careful planning into the creation of the document will have been a success.

After numerous meetings with the cast and crew. Delegating copies of storyboards, talking them through the story, and with the crew discussing the theory behind the shot list. It appeared that they got a "general overview" of the production. And this circles back round to my question of how does the storyboard help in these situations? My deliverables go as follows:

I first of all had a belief that a storyboard was an aid to quite literally tell the entire story to everyone involved in the production. Now i realise how utterly stupid of an idea that is. How can one persons visuals be put across for a second person to get the exact same understanding? its not going to happen due to personalised interpretation. The result will always appear different. In addition how can a series of E.G 30 still images represent thousands of moving frames, even with no cuts involved, never mind simple cuts, or even complexed transitions.

So in conclusion, There is no way i am using these documents in the same light again, yes for composition and rough cinematography, they are great for that. Any other process is now obsolete. I shall look for replacements to fill the gaps in the upcoming projects.

The production as an operation was a very enjoyable experience. Regardless of the fact that our pre production was not as strong as it could have been, what we did accomplish in those early stages enabled us to feel comfortable on set, with a stress free focus on what we were doing an when it was to be done in the schedule we had set.

Torture Shoot Photo's:

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Producing updates: Location and other news

I have been e-mailing a nice fellow called Jack. Jack is a co founder and music promoter of Eiger Studios. Eiger is a Leeds based gig venue/recording/rehearsal studio. I know him on quite a personal level through rehearsal sessions i have there with the band. The studio has various spaces that would be sufficient for a music video.

The main space that myself and alex are interested in is the venue space. it is large and has a great visual that could be made to look stunning on video.

Where that side of things seems to be running smooth, the almost impossible task of organising shooting dates to both coincide with the college booking system and the bands availability is proving to be a nightmare. However, with constant open communication between alex, and my band members, we finally managed to get some "fixed" dates. And i still say this with hesitation. But its now down to trust in other peoples hands. All i can do is keep chasing up by phone and email to reassure the attendances. Fingers and toes crossed.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Ready and waiting

Wednesday just gone. Myself and Graeme caught up with our additional crew members Jon, Jo and Mia. The meeting was literally a situation to talk through the storyboards and shot list comparison. This gave the crew a rich knowledge of the plan for the scheduled shoot coming up, and allowing them to feel comfortable in there designated roles, more so Jo, as she will have to be very independent and proactive on set. Normally i have struggled to communicate and feel at ease around people i do not know well, so far i have taken this opportunity to build my personality with colleagues to develop a solid relationship in preparation for the shoot. Lets hope this shows through in the outcome!

After previous discussions, we made the decision to give john the position of camera grip. In this briefing on Wednesday, I gave Jon a standard operational induction with the sony XD camera and lens mount. Knowing he was already camera literate, he really did not need this induction, he was naturally able with the equipment. although providing Jon with his on set roles was a vital issue that i needed to get across so there is no clash in interest when the camera is in operation on shoot.

With that said, the production is ready to get the good old lights camera and action. Will report back to blogger once the production has been canned, with thoughts and evaluation of the working day.

Until then! Wish us Luck!

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Shotlist: Keeping things ship shape!

After compiling the storyboards together and collectively analysing them for final production. The mentioning cropped up in a conversation regarding shortlists. Now until this date, i have never produced a shot list for a production. After trawling various websites and a few books in consideration to the creation of this said shot list. There are various methods to generate shotlists through software. To be fair and honest, these may work for some collectives, however the idea of installing software to do a job such as generation of a shotlist seemed a tad inappropriate for the needs that we request from a shotlist.

However inspiring and productive to see these techniques were, my personalised shotlist was more of a highbred storyboard. Providing that visual into the same document seeped the most appropriate methid to approach in the creation of these documents.

The document had a very easy to follow system to allow our additional crew to make sense of the productions process. This would be most crucial for jo, the continuity and shot list co-ordinator. The process behind making the document easily understandable for a non film production orientated being was to use formats that most people can relate to with no real difficulty.

How did i approach this? by using large thumbnails which are near enough shot by shot relevant, the crew were able to visualise the next shot in the sequence. Speaking of sequence, i organised the shot list in order of various priorities. These priorities were issues such as continuity (especially in the torture sequence, considering the use of SFX make up on actors) Another very vital priority was the use of equipment. When ever possible the shot list would group together equipment used in conjunction to where it is used. So for example; all the crane shots were put together for a start. then they would be placed in order to how far the equipment has to travel between shots. Also to add confusion this would come second to the continuity of bloody make up effects being used.

Those theories should keep us in good stead for the shoot, Fingers Crossed!

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Location, Locaion.. Oh wait maybe not!

Temple Mill

After Weeks of waiting and hoping following the very motivating recreational visit to Temple Mill in Holbeck, We have now reached a point where waiting for the location to materialise is casing a threat to the productivity of the schedule. As a result we have now chosen to opt for a backup plan of the studio theatre in the college. But again, booking the studio theatre a couple of weeks before you need the space has again proven near on impossible! So to "plan C" in theory.

We have successfully booked the second photography studio based next to the ceramic studio, this is located in what feels like another world in the deep bowls of the resistant materials quarter of the college.

However, the room does seem sufficient, although art direction will be taking a heavy directional shift, it is something i am already aware of and have had experience with previously. When i say this, my plan will be changing from relying on the much sought after location backgrounds which looked the part of a "torture location" with huge space, allowing freedom of movement and great depth to the camera, to a smaller photography studio with no interesting or even "relevant" background detail. The plan in mind will eliminate any background detail allowing the visual to look and feel like a huge room with very little lighting, this would appear black as the walls are not visible in shot due to the lack of light.

Here is some previous work i have produced to provide an example of this dark open space feel:

After Effects Demon from Mark Braithwaite on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Tools or Weapons?

Did a little scout today to discover some nice hidden gems in my granddads workshop.
There was quite literally around seventeen and a half million Weapons "oops" i mean tools

To those familiar with the recent projects i am partaking in, will know with out a thought that these are props for the torture
scene. And if not well these images are of nice tools that we plan to use for weapon props in a short "torture porn" sequence

These images are but a minor amount of what was found in the rummage. It is quite safe to say that there is going to be no problems in the art direction for the weapons department. All we need now is everything else! including a secure location