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My wife really wanted to participate in a local 24-hour filmmaking marathon competition last weekend so, naturally, she wanted me to shoot and edit for her. From 10am Friday morning until 10am Saturday morning, 30 teams of (up to) five members each made 3-minute films with the following criteria: The theme of the movie had to be “anniversary” and there had to be a cake, and the line of dialogue “I really wanted to…” in the film. “Another Year” is what we were able to create in that time.

With planning and buying the props we needed, we didn’t start shooting until about 4:30pm and wrapped at about 11pm. The shoot was pretty simple but was complicated a bit on my end with the type of lights we were using and the two bokeh-forming-words effect we wanted to do.

We were using some Day-Flo light units (which are essentially KinoFlo-type lights) that my friend let me borrow. They are daylight-balanced units and don’t have very much or any control to them. They have these silver-reflector barndoors that seem to spread light rather than cut them. But they put out a surprising amount of light—which came in handy for the bokeh-forming-words shots. Being so uncontrollable and not having any grip equipment to help shape the light, I used the lights sparingly. The shoot went fairly quick, given a slow start. But there weren’t very many shots to get so that made it easier.

The two scenes where we had words forming out of the points of light was directly inspired by a video I saw on Vimeo called Light Works. You really should check it out. What they don’t tell you in the behind-the-scenes video is—and this is totally obvious in retrospect—that when you put the vinyl letters in front of the lens, it cuts out a ridiculous amount of light… something like 5 or 6 stops! Working night exteriors and low light interiors makes a factor like that a bit challenging. In order to even get a decent exposure I had to shoot wide open (f/2.8)with an ISO setting of 6400 and slow down my shutter speed to 1/20 sec. The image, was expectedly noisy, and if you don’t use the right lens length, you get unacceptable vignetting. Anyway, the image quality may not have been what I was hoping for, but it served it’s purpose for the video (and if you watch it small enough, you don’t even notice the noise! ;)

Once we wrapped, it took about 8 hours to transcode, edit, sound mix, add score (music courtesy of the great Russ Whitelock), and export the 3 minute piece. We got the film in just before 10am and judging happened a week later at a screening of all 30 submission films. We received and Honorable Mention award for it.

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