Wrapping up For an Eye

Before reading this post, it would be beneficial to watch my short film For an Eye so you are not entirely lost.

As is quite apparent to anyone even slightly following my blog, I have been rather lax in my intervals between posts. So I’m going to try to finish the series I am working on now regarding the creation of my short film For an Eye, so that I may move on to more recent projects in a more timely manner. Ergo, this post maybe lengthy and will cover production through completion of the film.

Production


The Streets

I’m going to start with the few street shots because they were few and quickly shot. The first street scene we shot was the scene right before Simon and Cameron end up in the parking garage. We shot this pretty quickly one night after our main shooting at Sertinos was done. This was not a particularly difficult scene, at all, except for the lack of lighting, and the fact that everyone on the street was asleep. We ended up using the flashlight on my phone to light both Michael and Benjamin because the lighting in from the streetlight wasn’t enough to light them up enough.

The shots of Ben walking to work at the beginning were a little easier. Most of the places we shot were well lit so I was able to focus on framing instead of being able to see each of them.

The House

The house took a little more effort. As I mentioned in my Location Scouting post, we used my media room for the scenes that took place in Simon’s house. For this scene we gutted my whole media room, save a couch and table. After that is was a matter of framing shots and trying to visualize the projection TV that would be in the background. I actually used four red X marks on the wall to track the projection and then masked them with the four lights, which it turns out wasn’t entirely necessary, which I will discuss more in future posts.

The Parking Garage

Ok. The parking garage. We shot in the parking garage on two different nights. The first, was actually our first day of shooting for the film. The first day we shot everything from Ben walking up the steps to the top of the garage, through Michael leaning over the rail, just before he dies. (I told you to watch it first!)

So this scene contained pretty much all the action for the whole film. And on this night, Michael had mono, strep, and a new contact in his eye (he had never worn contacts before). So unfortunately those two incidences coincided, but Michael was a real trooper and pulled it off magnificently.

Also, if you are ever shooting audio and video separately, try to remember your slate board. Or you may be reduced, as we were on multiple occasions, to use things like tire irons, or your hands, which are much less effective, but serviceable in a pinch. There are also several slate board apps which will work as well, unfortunately I discovered this after production was over.

And, if you have to be on the top level of a parking garage with a production crew, drinks, pizza boxes, mattresses, cords, et cetera, et cetera, try not to throw them around in a way that might attract the attention of the security guard. Because hypothetically you might have to stop shooting for five to ten minutes to explain to him what you are doing and why you have such a random combination of equipment and trash. Yeah. Definitely make sure you have proof of permissions and all that jazz.

So anyway, the second night we shot from Michael and Ben entering the parking garage, to Ben running up to the top, then we filled in the end with Ben yelling and Michael’s body on the ground. I was fortunate enough that I had been in the parking garage a few times before and that it is inherently a surprisingly photogenic location on its own, which made the on-the-fly camera work much much easier.

Sertino’s

Obviously Sertino’s is where the bulk of our filming took place. There actually isn’t a whole lot to tell about this part of production. We shot for about three hours a night for about five nights. Thankfully we were able to shoot all the scenes with the doctors in one night which kept scheduling conflicts to a minimum. Finding the few extras we needed for customers was simple. My mother played the first costumer, and the second was a member of a group of ladies who had been meeting in the cafe when we started filming but moved outside, so we asked one if she would help us and she agreed. Other than that things went as smoothly as we could have hoped inside the coffee shop.

Post-Production


Sequence Editing

This was the simplest part of my job as the editor. I knew the sequence that I wanted everything to be in, as per the script, so all I had to do was put them into Adobe Premiere and add the few transitions that I used. One area that I spent some time focusing on though was the color corrector. Color corrector is something that I have played with a lot but haven’t quite mastered yet (see Tip 3), so this was a good opportunity to try it out in a situation other than a sketch, which require little or exaggerated correction, and in a situation with footage from a high quality DSLR camera, the Canon Rebel T2i. The biggest challenges I run into when color correcting is to over color correct and trying to blend consecutive shots together. So those were areas that I focused on during that aspect.

Effects Editing

This is the area that I was pushed most probably throughout the entire experience. Looking back on it I still am not sure how I came to the product because I had very very limited experience with After Effects and the experience that I did have was mostly following tutorials and not actually putting anything into practice. And then again, the effects that I created were fairly simple, however very tedious. On the whole they were simply keyframed shapes timed to match whatever action the actors were doing on the table. I had shown my actors my basic test of the effect and a taped off area of the table to constrain their actions, but other than that they did what they envisioned and I had to follow that up in post. This was also possibly my favorite part of the process, definitely my favorite part of post, because it’s such a small thing, but the detail of it sets up the whole tone of the futuristic setting.

On the flip side of that, was rotoscoping. Rotoscoping is, according to Wikipedia, “an animation technique in which animators trace over footage, frame by frame…manually creating a matte for an element on a live-action plate so it may be composited over another background.” This took hours on hours of work because if not done right, the whole effect would be ruined.

Other smaller effects that I did included the title sequence, which was basically the same techniques as the table effects, and the projection television at the very beginning. This effect consisted of two shots of me and my production assistant, James, sitting in front of a greenscreen in my garage saying the lines, and later I chroma keyed us, and added a picture of a table I found to put over us and added a simple title and some rolling text (which actually contains some foreshadowing if you read it).

Music

I was fortunate enough to have a family friend, Steve Hebert, who has his own home recording studio and who I was able to work with to create the majority of the score. He used Reaper‘s MIDI recording functions to create the score as I played back the already edited film. The very few pieces that Steve did not create came from the music library of Audio Networks.

Audio Engineering

I really can’t say much about this aspect, or the music aspect of the production because audio is my weakest area of production, so I left all the production recording, Foley work, and post-production mastering up to David Burt. When I handed him my edit of the film it had a huge problem with white noise changes, blips, volume levels, blank spots, no Foley at all, and a thousand other audio problems. I was literally dumbfounded when he showed me his work that he had done to it. I couldn’t imagine having left this aspect of the film in anyone else’s hands. He really did a fantastic job with it and was great to work with on and off set.


Well, I think that’s all I’ve got for For an Eye. I hope everyone gets as much enjoyment out of it as I put into it. Feel free to comment or contact me for more information!

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