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Monday, May 28, 2007

We got our last shot last night, except for one greenscreen shot we're going to do in studio with one actor on Tuesday morning. The film is in the can! If by can you mean a variety of hard drives and memory cards.

I think it's pretty neat that all the takes for a film can fit on a laptop. You really could cut a whole film on your laptop.

I'm thrilled with the footage we got. Our actors were brilliant. And professional. And fun. A million thanks to Alison Darcy for recommending so many of them. We had technical difficulties with our equipment, but the cast never let the crew's fussing get in the way of delivering funny and yet emotionally truthful performances. And I have to thank the cast for being so damn funny. One one of the takes last night I literally wound up rolling on the floor laughing.

I have to thank our producer, Michael Solomon, for bringing together a small but highly effective and professional crew on a very tight budget. We had no surprises in the personnel department, and that was a huge relief. I was prepared to go over our BravoFACT! budget if necessary, but Mike was determined not to, and he did a great job in the producer's delicate task of juggling money, time, equipment and people. Laurie Nyveen, our Associate Producer, was invaluable in managing the dozens of tasks we flung at him on short notice (casting, exploding cell phone effects, "Grand Banks Cod Pieces," free maple pies?), many of which I'm probably not even aware of.

The only significant hitch in the show, which ate up hours of time, was the Red Rock M2 lens adapter. We used the Red Rock adapter to create a cinematic depth of field, which our HD video camera couldn't deliver. It did a great job of putting the background out of focus, but it was extremely awkward to keep focused on the actors if they and/or the camera were moving. Physically the difference between in focus and out of focus on the focus wheel would often be a millimeter. We couldn't focus by measuring distances with tape, either, because the lens markings did not seem to bear a close resemblance to reality.

On the other hand, the footage looks beautiful, and we're focused on what I wanted to show you, and not focused on anything I didn't want you paying attention to, so the Red Rock delivered what we wanted it to, for a very good price. The more expensive adapter would have been much easier to use, but hey, more expensive.

Fortunately we had enough time to get all our master shots and enough coverage to trim scenes for time, which was all I really wanted. Since the film is a comedy, I didn't shoot a lot of closeups -- I worked with my actors to stage the scenes so they played in dynamic, moving two-shots. The last shot of the shoot was a thirty second four shot with a lot of choreography.

That style meant I didn't need a lot of coverage. It takes a lot less time to shoot an additional take than to move the camera. Every time you move the camera your d.p. will need to relight. Or think he does.

It also turned out to be much more complex to play back in one scene video that you just shot in a previous scene. Part of the cost of dealing with new digital video cameras is that no one is completely familiar with all their idiosyncrasies, particularly how they interface with computers. The mere fact that you can throw footage from your first scene up on a TV in your second scene is pretty cool. But you have to work all the bugs out before you get to set.

But that's what you get for putting fancy shootin' in your short film. It all takes time. I think it will turn out to have been worth it.

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3 Comments:

Congrats on completing the shoot, Alex. Can't wait to see the final product!

By Blogger Martine, at 5:29 PM  

Good to hear it's (almost) in the can...well done.

By Blogger wcdixon, at 1:04 AM  

Can't wait to see the finished product.

By Blogger Kelly J. Compeau, at 11:09 AM  

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