Thursday, September 1, 2016

Blog #13 - Until next time

The final blog.

I am not sure if the future units require blogs or not, going into documentary next trimester, does that have a blog? I am not sure to be honest.

Time to reflect!

I think overall we did a decent enough job although the final product is yet to be final.
We showed off the film in front of a bunch of people at uni and the result wasn't... well, what we had hoped for.

There were audio problems and visual problems, simply put there was not enough time in post-production. Originally we were meant to have three weeks, but we ended up having two. Because of this, we got picture lock done on the night before, which didn't leave enough time for audio to finish or the colour grade to be done.

However it's not over. The group has decided to push on. The two audio have decided to finish which is fantastic, they're under no obligation to do it, so it says a world about them that they will. So the score will also be done.

The colour grading will also be re-done and the credits will be rejigged (many problems, such as not showing up right away, long gap after and our 2nd A.Cs name not showing up).

But I think as a group we have learnt a lot, I sure know I have learnt a lot.

As for next trimester, the future!
I am not sure what I will be doing a doco on yet, haven't seen the brief. Although I am thinking something about lifeguards or surf lifesavers could be interesting.
Cannot wait!

- Mark

Blog #12 - The perfect coffee

The Director of Photography requested that I make him a coffee as he nominated to stay behind and watch the equipment as it was separate to our base.
His perfect coffee was three chunks of instant, two sugar cubes, a lot of hot water and only a dash of milk.
I thought he was mad, but I took it to him and in his words "perfect".

Having a setup for food and drink is something we can improve on in the future. As it stands we had a giant kettle thing which provided the hot water and a bunch of loose tea-bags and coffee. Which changed from day to day.
In future we need to be more specific about what we need, how many cups we need and have more to eat than biscuits.

Thankfully one of the actors mothers brought alone sandwiches, so that was great. There were also heat up food which was good too, but sparse.

There is a lot of people to feed when you start to think about it, our core group, audio, extra helpers, actors, actors parents, ect. I think we need to overestimate the amount of people on set in the future.

Let's not forget that it was an issue of hot food which caused the entire Top Gear scenario.

Blog #11 - Lens

Constantly lens were used throughout production, in the pre-production stage the selection of lens was chosen as well to be put on the running list for the day.

There is a whole box full of different ones, although we used primarily the 14inch, 24inch and 50inch. The bigger the number, the further the view you get. The smaller the number, the more tight and closed in.

The thing about these lens is, they don't offer zoom of any kind, so unless you want to be playing around with digital zoom later (which can reduce the visual quality), it's vital to get the shot you want right away.

A good thing about lacking zoom on the lens however is that you won't accidentally zoom in while trying to change the focus. Focus pulling was something we really didn't do while filming and maybe was something we should have invested more in. A couple of our shots were in fact out of focus.

Steadicam (yes it is spelt that way) by its nature had focus problems, although we had more problems with keeping the Steadicam steady than anything else. It took a while to set up, having to balance it all, the problem was, the final shots with them tended to be on the Micheal Bay end of the spectrum which was a bit of chaos in the editing as a lot of it (even with the aid of software) was unable.

Battery's being on charge is always fun, charge stations are pretty much the first thing set-up.
PRO TIP!: Don't try to charge a Steadicam battery and a normal set of battery's off the same plug, it will blow the fuse.

The whole thing was shot in something called SLOG2, which from what I gather is a filter to make it seem more "cinematic".

Blog #10 - Setting off fire-alarms is what we do best

When we filmed on location inside, lighting was needed constantly.

Lighting meant power cables, plugs, those orange boxes (RCD's I think) and of course the lights.
For reasons I cannot explain, they're named after hair-colours. "Redheads", "Blondies" and "Dedos", okay maybe Dedo isn't a hair colour, but the others are!

Blondies or aka the big ones are very big and very hot. At one point we're trying to set up this silhouette in a doorway shot, so to get sharp edges around the actor we need an awful amount of light behind him. As I was helping set it up, I was put in for a dummie to see how the shadows looked, I got to feel first hand how hot it got, very hot.

Lights are hot, it burns the plastic gels, it makes it hurt if you touch the metal and it sets off fire alarms as we learnt. The 2nd A.C. commented "oh I thought it would give us trouble" when he saw the fire alarm, the heat triggered it.
So the owners of the property can be assured that their fire alarm worked just fine.

Lights also have a habit of getting in frame, something I found out again later when I was editing the film.

Blog #9 - Being upstaged by a seven year old

The audition process took us quite a while, we had about 20-25 girls come in to audition for the roles of Megan and Jessica.

And a few men come in for the role of Charles.

Originally I wasn't meant to have any part in it. Why would I? In the words of our producer "no need to have lots of people there gawking at them", so as for some reason on the project I became the "printer guy", I came in early to print off the posters and place them up though the uni pointing the actors to where they were meant to go (which thankfully worked).
I was ready to go home when I asked to stay to be the line-reader opposite them... for the entire day.

So here I am, no acting experience, not prepared and tired. But I did as I was asked and tried my best. Tried being the best word, how actors are able to remember their lines is beyond me, still after three days I couldn't remember the scene.

I felt pretty bad about it, I was the impression the actors were getting of our group, as I looked down nervously on the paper accidentally reading their lines.
Of course I was able to see actors first-hand doing their thing.
One tried to hug me, of which I got confused and another started crying. Of course she wasn't actually crying, she was just acting in the scene. But I got scared real fast as I thought I did something wrong and caused it. It would be a typical me thing to do.

Most the actors were between 12 and 16, although one walked in and was tiny, as in smaller than my waist line, she was seven years old. She was able to remember her lines.

Blog #8 - No wonder films are expense

I am a new(ish) driver.

Being told I had to drive hours wasn't great for me, not at all. Driving into Melbourne was chaos, finding a park in Melbourne was chaos and driving through Melbourne was chaos (although I did find a whole new appreciation for good radio).
But put aside the torturing uncomfortable nature that I had to be the one with the SUV and couldn't go home as I couldn't drive it in a night, the cost was something all new as well.

Petrol, that one night in a motel, Food on the way. Normally my costs are the Myki card and the $3 coffee's at 7/11.

But now I had to pay for petrol, parking spots, a lot more food, accommodation and all of this isn't including the $150 something I must of overall put into the project in either direct or buying props.

Of course ours was the cheapest possible film we could do, no wonder that big films cost stupid amounts of money.

Blog #7 - Comm Link

"Communication is key", a phrase I have heard many times in my life and communication was a subject that came up quite a bit through production.

At first it was simply a matter of all getting to class on time, but it went beyond that quickly.
The biggest issue faced was not being totally honest with each-other about our handling on a subject. For example, telling our producer "yes" in response to his questions when we didn't actually know or weren't sure we could do it.

The other was saying we would have a task done by deadlines, but not or getting things told to us. I was pretty good at writing everything down in a notebook, but the problem became I had two notebooks and not much organisation inside them.

Being able to stay in contact was another one.
Email was the largest way on a grand and personal scale. Early on our producer requested that we all respond to his emails so he wasn't left in the dark and that we all use email.

I don't think I have used my phone (as a phone) as much as in the last trimester, texting and calling a lot more than I normally do.
Facebook was good early on, but lost a lot of its use later when texting was more guaranteed a response.

Blog #6 Editing

Editing is something I thought I was good at, well I am pretty decent at the technical side of things, but one area I have found to be lacking in is the “Feel” of being an editor.
I guess I just think about things in a different ways, some people are good at breaking down a scene, getting all the metaphors, subtext, ect out of it, while I just try to enjoy things. So when it comes to editing, it seems my gut instinct isn’t quite what everybody is looking for all the time.

Pacing, feels and looking at things a grand scheme of things is something I need to take into more consideration in future, but I think management as well.

Calling the editing process of Ritual ‘non-liner’ is a understatement, instead of importing all the files into neat folders within Premier from the start, I pretty much just dragged in the files I liked from  the master folder and imported them in that way. Which works fine enough on Windows, but since in the editing bay I am forced onto the awful nature of Mac, it isn’t as simple because if you struggle with making a mouse which double-clicks, everything else is a mountain to climb for an operating system.
But I do know that in future I will manage the folders better, import all the audio at once into their own folder, all the video and other assets to be placed into their own neat section.

But I think the biggest thing I have figured out is that I should sync the boom audio to the footage straight away, while I did the typical Mark thing of cutting the vision first then adding the (good) audio later on. Which was not the best thing to do.

Blog #5 Audio

Audio makes or breaks things, it’s an annoying fact of things.

If you go onto YouTube it’s common to find that people will deal with low quality visuals, but the one thing people cannot stand, is bad audio.

Audio in many ways has a far profounder effect on the brain that images do, audio changes the tone, mood and everything about the piece.
This of course doesn’t just effect Film/TV, but every other medium from Video Games, Web and Live Production.

A great soundtrack can in specific stances can elevate a mediocre product into a great one, it can stick in such an iconic way.

Star Wars, Jaws, Harry Potter, Jurassic Park without the score of John Williams? They’d be totally different feeling films.

The thing is, I am not an audio student, in fact I know very little about the technical side of audio.
I know what I know and I like what I like, but I couldn’t play an instrument to save my life, let alone fix the background buzz of ducted heating, they’re proper wizards in their own way.

One advantage SAE does have over other places is that all the students are dumped together in the same building, this can be annoying when the audio people play sick-beats which shake the whole building or that every computer is a Mac (when if you’re doing games, Mac is like worse than a Windows 95), but one plus side of it is that you’re able to find people who know their stuff about areas you haven’t a clue.

Nobody in my ground, myself very much included is audio minded or skilled, however thanks to a crewing night we were able to get two very talented audio students who have been invaluable. Not only are they just two good people, but without their stuff we’d be boned.

See the camera’s in-built audio is just hot-trash, it doesn’t sound good and it seems in our case in a bunch of cases the audio just doesn’t exist.
The boom mic just sounds far better.

Now that we’re into post-production, things going to get a lot better. With proper mixing and balancing of the audio from the people who actually know what they’re doing (when while I am an editor, my effect on audio isn’t great).

This of course isn’t at all mentioning the score which is also being done for us, now that’s neat.

So audio folks, some people might diss at you, but really we need you a lot more than you need us.
You can make music without film, but you cannot make film without audio in most cases.