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We celebrated our 2nd birthday recently. The 27th of April marked the beginning of our third year as an incorporated company and, as is generally the case around such occasions, I found myself looking back over the past two years of our company.
We’ve changed a lot since our inception. When we began Production Attic our aim was to be a very general video production company. We would cover weddings, music videos, corporate and promotional. It was only as time went on, and we gained experience, that we began to specialise. Our company became less general as we moved away from a vaguely defined set of services, and instead focused on becoming a company that offered video production and media communication services; bespoke video solutions to the needs of modern businesses.
Something we have recognised over the past two years is that more and more businesses are in the position that video is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. In both the public and private sector, it is becoming clearer that video offers a clarity in communication that many other mediums do not offer.
The reason that I had titled this blog post “Production Attic 2.0” is because we are moving swiftly into the next stage of our business (and also because I've just been watching Aaron Sorkin's The Newsroom). During our first two years we built a strong client base which we have been expanding ever since. This has allowed us to upgrade our post-production facilities, and to invest in new equipment that helped us to continue offering a cinematic look to our work.
Recently, again, we invested in emerging technology that could change the face of commercial video production. As early adopters of the Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera, we were some of the first in the UK to get our hands on one; an affordable camera that offers 2.5k RAW video. For all non-techies, that essentially means that we can shoot for cinema screens. This puts us in a position that we are ready to face the needs of our clients, and of the online community, as online video becomes a larger part of the way businesses communicate.
The main point is, though, that as we move into the third year of Production Attic, we are also moving into the next phase of our company which will be rolled out over the coming months. With new kit, a new direction and an upcoming re-branding, we are set to take on all the challenges of our third year.
Already we have identified markets we intend to move into, and have recommitted ourselves to producing our own creative content as regularly as we can. We’ve been working on some large projects too that, while I cannot say what they are yet, I can promise that you’ll be hearing about soon. I can speak for myself, and the rest of the Attic, when I say that we are looking forward to the coming year and everything that it will bring.
Thanks for taking the time to follow the progress of our company, and thank you to all our followers for your support! If you're feeling nostalgic, have a look at our YouTube channel and some of our work from over the last two years.
About a month ago now, the Production Attic team headed down to the village of Warenford to shoot our latest short film, Black Magic for Young Lover. This short film is of special note, as it is the first piece of creative work that we have shot on our new Blackmagic Cinema Camera.
During the three day shoot we caught a bunch of production stills of us working. We had rented a monitor, tracks and lighting kit for the shoot, so a few of the images came out looking pretty impressive.
The shoot was a success and we’ve been working on post-production since we returned. Since then we had been slowly releasing the production stills from the set. All the pictures are now available online on our Facebook page.
We also released a little piece of behind-the-scenes footage. For one scene we required football to be on in the background of the action. Rather than pay for stock footage of a football match, we decided to shoot our own football punditry.
The catch was that none of use know anything about football. We enlisted the help of one of our writers to create a short script that we could run through. You can watch that here!
We’re expecting to have completed all post-production work by the end of May. If you want to be kept up to date, you can head over to our Facebook page and like us to receive updates on upcoming screenshots and information relating to the film, and of course, updates about our company and work.
You can see the rest of our production still on our Facebook page, so click here to head over there now!
Today we received a Seagate Goflex Thunderbolt adapter.
This allows us to slap an SSD from the Blackmagic Cinema Camera straight into our iMac. Which is a lot quicker than what we had previously been doing, which was cutting the power, ripping open Laura's computer, connecting the drive internally, putting everything back, and turning the power back on.
The Goflex system is supposed to use Seagate's own drives, but just so happens to work with the majority of other 2.5 inch solid state drives. I superglued some rubber onto the surface of the dock as our drives are slightly too thin for it and could potentially bend the connection pins over time.
Hence, we have uploaded some footage from today. It's nothing out of the ordinary. Some pet footage and some city shots. We've thrown in a shot with massive dynamic range, just to show how well this camera copes with large amounts of contrast. We managed to get almost the whole DR covered in one frame, but that's pretty tough to do on such a wide lens with all the flare. The next week will be great fun, being able to look back on the footage through resolve is really essential to understand how this camera reacts to light. I'm still getting my head round how I want to expose it. Thinking we're going to need some bigger lights...
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This camera is an absolute joy to use. It’s essentially a lens, sensor and solid state drive. No frills, nothing fancy, just a solid 1.6kg block of metal which records exactly what’s in front of it. Perfect.
After filming for a few hours on the afternoon we received it, I discovered that it is also totally unforgiving. If your lighting is crap, the image will be crap. But WEOW does it look good in direct sunlight. The exposure is so strange to judge coming from a few years of dSLR histograms and EV metering. The only aid is zebras, much like you find on broadcast cameras. You can set them to 80, 85, 90, 95 or 100%, and they do the job just fine, allowing you to choose what you’re happy to lose to clipping. So the first mistake I made was assuming that “13 stops of latitude” meant “IS CAPABLE OF ACTUAL MAGIC”. If you expose for the skylight windows of an otherwise unlit office, you will indeed capture the details of the shadows. However, if you intend to then grade for some sort of normal exposure for the interior, you will find that the image is very noisey and frankly unusable. Once you accept that lighting is not obsolete just because the camera has buckets of dynamic range, things become a lot more fun.
I expect to learn a lot about lighting with this camera. I believe it’s ruthlessly truthful representation of what’s in front of it will challenge me to light more gracefully. Perhaps using more contrast than I’m used to, higher ratios and less dependence on huge soft sources. Definitely more on that to come.
The truly wonderful thing about this camera is the absence of h.264. Even the prores is a GIANT step up. It’s just wonderful missing all the horrible DCT gubbins (that’s discrete cosine transform for those inclined to wiki it) which comes with that horrible acquisition format. All there is to see is a fine grain-like sensor pattern lightly dancing in the shadows.
It’s too much fun - I don’t really have time to upload footage - I have my favourite toy ever sitting in my office!
Did I say toy? I meant professional tool, obviously. We had to shoot a few shots for a proposal today, so perhaps we’ll post some of it here tomorrow. To be honest, the pressure to produce ridiculously beautiful images immediately with this camera is pretty high. I know a lot of people who’d kill to have one of these things, because I was one of them a few days ago. So I’d prefer to wait until we’ve got something really worth showing off so I don’t seem undeserving of this utterly wonderful piece of kit.
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Tomorrow is the day I have waited eight months for. On Monday we are expecting the delivery of our very own Blackmagic Cinema Camera.
I have a new understanding of the expression "early adopter". Committing to a purchase two months before its estimated release date is stressful enough, but hanging in there for another six months whilst seeing all the amazing footage and hearing about all the early manufacturing issues and camera breakdown nightmare scenarios was both terrifying and exciting.
The reason the Blackmagic Cinema Camera is so important, is that it records RAW sensor data. I cannot overstate how massive that is. It raises this mid range dSLR priced camera to a level where it can stand amongst the big guns in the industry, Arri and Red. Of course there are huge differences between an Alexa and a Blackmagic, but not in the quality of the recording format. We can take footage from this camera, and output it as a 2k digital cinema package without any up conversion or loss of detail. Blackmagic Cinema Camera - it’s in the name, and it’s a huge deal.
The next digital filmmaking revolution is about to arrive at Production Attic, and I'm very excited. Stay tuned for some first impressions.
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So maybe you have used video in the past to promote your business and nothing changed. No increase in sales. No increased user engagement. Nothing. Does this mean that video is not a viable online marketing tool? Not at all. It’s more likely that you just got a bad video.
As the Marketing Director for Production Attic, I like to keep an eye on what kind of video businesses in Glasgow and across Scotland are using and, unfortunately, I see a lot of video that just doesn’t do what it should.
When you are looking for a company to produce a video for you, you need to make sure that they understand what works from both a creative and a marketing perspective. Something that looks great, but doesn’t encourage someone watching to engage with the company, is pointless. Equally, a video stuffed full of facts that screams at clients to get in touch is completely alienating. You’ll need to find a company that has a strong foundation in both schools of thought.
Video must have purpose. It needs to adhere to the principles of both form AND function. A video that gives an outline of a company or product in an engaging manner and includes a strong call to action at the end will be infinitely more useful to you than a bland video without any encouragement to follow up.
After Google, YouTube has become the second highest search engine in use online. When searching for a product, customers often look to YouTube as it allows them to see what a product really looks like, or to get a better idea of a company and the people involved with a service. People consume video, and if you previously had a video commissioned that failed to serve it’s purpose, that’s a failure of the video, and doesn’t reflect on the consumers desire to engage.
When it comes to video we often see customers going with the cheapest option which, in our current economic climate, is completely understandable. However, if the cheaper option provides you with a product that ignores everything that makes video such a great marketing tool, you would be better not spending the money at all!
Video is a fantastic tool when used correctly. A video that engages with cinematic and marketing principles will have a strong and meaningful impact that a dated, bland video never could. Make sure you watch plenty of video examples from a company before you decide to work with them.
If you are looking for a company to work with you should have a look at our blog post on how much video should cost, or use our estimator to find out how we would price for your project.
We know it's often hard for people looking for video production to determine how much it will cost. We are also filmmakers, not salespeople, so we don't want to make anyone pay for more than they need. We want our pricing to be as transparent and fair as possible for all customers to help them get the best possible product within their budget.
That's why we created our video pricing estimator and why I'm writing this guide to help give an idea of the costs involved so you know what you need to do to get the best value for money.
Very simply the price of a film or series of films depends on how much time is involved and what equipment will be required for:
Preproduction (any discussions, planning, scheduling and scriptwriting before a shoot)
Post Production (any editing, tweaks, graphics and music production etc)
What's required is often hard to determine when presented with a basic brief. For example if you say to me “music video” do you mean a single camera story based film? Or a multiple camera performance film? Or a session video with sound recording? Each is a “music video” but each also requires different crew, kit, preparation and editing time which can change the price.
Phrases such as “advert”, “corporate video”, “instructional film” and “promo video” are used by us, other video production companies and our clients. As with “music video” different people have different ideas of what they mean.
That's why instead of asking what kind of film(s) are required our pricing estimator urges you to think about whether you require:
Coverage of events, people, places or activities (you have something or someone set up and ready for us to simply arrive and film)
Or a scripted film (you also need us to organise getting someone or something in front of the camera before we film it)?
The main difference between both is the preproduction time. If required we will script a film, cast actors, arrange schedules, location scout, plan travel and many other things in advance of the shoot. Each of this will take time. An easy way to save some cash is to have a good think about how much of this you can provide yourselves.
So if you have a music video in mind with a number of dancers in a warehouse can you cast the dancers, choreograph their moves, arrange costumes, and find the location? If you can't that's absolutely fine you most likely wouldn't need a video production company and you wouldn't be reading this. If you can, though, you stand to save a few days of preproduction costs. Either way we can help.
A small word of warning. Cutting some costs may lead to longer, more expensive shoots or may damage the quality of your films. For example, if you want an employee to present your film rather than an actor if they may not remember lines which may push the shoot over schedule. Professional actors and crew will often increase the quality of your final product.
Next we need to determine what will be required for the shoot. Again that's fairly simple. Start with a producer or director. Are they just getting simple coverage? Yes - likely that single person can operate the camera. No - add a camera operator. Lets say we need to record location audio, is it ambient noise or coming from a feed out of a PA or similar device? Yes - audio can be captured by the camera. No - add audio recording kit. We may also add more crew and kit if you want to boost production values such as a grip and jib (camera crane) or dolly and tracks for swooping, craning or tracking movement in shots.
I find people often overestimate the number of cameras that they require on a shoot. A single camera can be used to get a variety of angles and often multiple cameras can get in each other's way. For example during a shoot with a complicated lighting setup it may take longer to light for two cameras at the same time. Usually the only times multiple cameras are essential are when you require multiple angles of an event or process which can't be repeated or coverage of multiple events at the same time. If you don't require either we can save your cash by providing a single camera.
There is one exception. If you have a shoot scheduled over two or more days you may be able to reduce the shoot length by filming with multiple cameras. For example, you could speed up a training video shoot in which someone is giving a demonstration. While they may be able to repeat the demonstration over and over for a single camera they may need spend time resetting between takes. It may, then, be much quicker to film with multiple cameras and repeat the demonstration fewer times.
Additional shoot expenses may include travel to locations, actors and location fees, props, costumes, lighting etc. All of these are fairly common sense, if a location is dark we need lights, if a location is far away we need transport. It all depends on exactly what you need. For an accurate estimate of costs just try the estimator.
Finally there is post production. Usually it's as simple as the more footage we have to edit down the longer it will take to edit. Also usually the longer the a film you require the longer it will take to edit but that is not always the case. If we know we require a long film we can plan for that in the shoot.
Let's go back to the example of the training video filmed with multiple cameras. If we filmed with a single camera we would have to individually find the best takes from each angle and arrange them on a timeline in a way which ensures all the cuts work. This can be fairly time consuming. It takes far less time to sync and cut together multiple cameras which were filming at the same time. Less time means less money and this is a good example of planning a slightly more expensive shoot to save money on the edit.
Cutting corners on the shoot can lead to higher post production costs so you need to think hard about what your exact video budget is. Our prices are set. They are as affordable as we can make them whilst covering our costs. This means we can't haggle and everyone gets charged the same. Because everyone is charged the same you can use our estimator to accurately see what costs are involved in advance and see what you can get for your budget.
We know times are hard and budgets have been slashed, we hear it all the time, but without a figure to aim for we can't determine the best setup to produce the highest quality film based on your requirements. You don't want to be coy with your figure to save cash, skimp on the shoot, then decide during post production you actually need something else which will require too much editing time. Changes mean higher costs.
Editing is where the changes usually start which can add additional edit time. We agree on a brief in advance, with an agreed number of changes. We will talk through your exact requirements but it's up to you to make sure the brief is as detailed as possible to ensure what we deliver is exactly what you have in mind.
Clients being unsure of exact requirements is to be expected. Again if you knew exactly what is required why would you be here? It's our job to help you understand what you need based on the aim of your film. Clients being unsure of the aim of their film, however, leads to the most ambiguity in pricing.
You need to think about exactly what the goal of your film is and what information and or emotions you wish to get across. If you know that we can help figure out how best to proceed. For example if you require a scripted film ideally you tell us exactly what the film must do and we write a script that does that for you.
If we have to redraft that may cost more preproduction time. If we have already started shooting and plans change that costs preproduction time and can possibly lead to reshoots. If we are in post production that means more editing time and again potentially more preproduction or reshoots. That may sound scary but don't worry, if you can think hard and let us know exactly what you need we will not go over time or over budget.
I hope that's all been fairly straightforward. So to conclude, pricing a film is very simple if we know exactly what is required. Sometimes it is hard to know what is required but if you do the following you will be able to estimate, and keep to, a very accurate cost.
Four ways to reduce your costs:
Think about exactly what information and or emotions your film(s) need to convey
Think about exactly how much you can spend, cutting corners at the start will most likely lead to problems
Think about what you can provide to reduce the cost, can you write the script or provide a location?
Get onto our video pricing estimator, see what different setups you can do within your budget and see some examples of previous films similar to these setups. It takes into consideration everything I have mentioned above so will be able to give you a very accurate estimate
Then get in touch!
Field Induced Polymer Electro-Luminenscence or FIPEL technology, is something film makers and video production crew could be using within the next year to create better looking images more safely and efficiently.
It's been around for a decade or so, but recently some brilliant scientists (Dr. David L. Carroll specifically, I gather) have figured out how to make FIPEL devices five times more efficient. Apparently they use the standard fac tris iridium doped poly-vinyl-carbazole, and they compound it with multi-walled carbon nanotubes. Nanotubes are probably best known for their axial strength, about 300 times as strong as steel per unit weight, but their electrical properties may well be what they are remembered for in the years to come.
Unlike LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) which use DC current, FIPELs produce light using an AC induced electric field, just like common fluorescents, but without the need for a ballast. No buzz, and no flicker. You could think of them as a cross between Organic LEDs (like AMOLED phone screens) and fluorescents, with the best of both worlds.
We're talking a range between twice as efficient as compact fluorescents, right up to LED efficiency. According to the scientist who developed the technology, they produce light without generating any heat.
The light emitting part is a polymer. That's plastic to you and me. They are flexible and can be made in any shape. No glass means no replacement when you drop/hit one of these lamps.
The trouble with organic electronics is usually longevity. The organic part gets used up after a while. The way these FIPEL lamps slow down this process is once again down to the nanotubes.
Vague science: They allow a higher current density at the emissive layer, which increases the number of Iridium triplet-triplet annihilations, which produces more light and prevents the scavenger triplets from slowly altering the structure of the FIPEL device over time.
Friendly version: Dr. Carroll apparently made one FIPEL light which lasted him 10 years. Win.
This is essentially why film makers will love them. The FIPEL lamps can be tuned to emit light at a chosen colour temperature. No filters, no green/blue colour cast. They can actually be made to emit whatever spectrum you'd like. The scientists claim to be able to match the spectrum of the Sun. In one interview, Carroll states "It is a continuous spectrum." Wow. A full spectrum to work with when colour grading would be an absolute dream. The problem with LEDs is usually their spectral continuity. They're usually blue emitters with yellow producing phosphors. This means when you're trying to colour grade a person's skin, there is no red colour information captured by the camera and it is often impossible to make somebody look warm and happy. With a FIPEL sun spectrum lighting your scene, there would be plenty of information in all the colours of the rainbow (literally) and you could make artistic choices rather than just fixing the colour.
Carroll also suggests that the FIPEL equivalent of a £100 fluorescent office lighting panel would set you back approximately £13. That sounds too good to be true! I hope that estimate is realistic. Spread the word on FIPEL, because the more they can sell, the lower the profit margin needs to be and the cheaper they can make them for all of us!
At Production Attic, we like to stay ahead of the curve. When it comes to technology which will improve our work, we are most certainly early adopters. So you can be sure we'll be some of the first to offer a FIPEL lighting package with our services, as soon as they become available.
In celebration of the upcoming new year we wanted to give small business the opportunity to get a business overview video for use online at a reduced cost. That is why we have launched our Winter Promotion!
The promotion will run until the end of January and provides companies with a brief, brand-aware overview of their business that can be used to attract new clients and to show what they can offer.
Find out more here!
So you’re thinking about having a video produced to promote your business, but you aren’t completely convinced yet. Production Attic understand why video is such a great tool for business, so let me break down five reasons why a video that promotes your business is an asset worth investing in.
1) Online video is an effective call-to-action
Online video provides a call to action that has proven conversion success. It is an effective way to encourage a potential buyer or client to interact and engage with your products or services. It can sum up large bodies of text in minutes. With video you can show a potential client your work, instead of just telling them about it. It provides a logical, and emotional, appeal to the viewer. Whether you are showcasing past successes through a series of corporate case study videos, or showing highlights from previous event videos, by showing the viewer your work in action you will engage with them in a way that written text can\'t.
2) Video is an asset
Some businesses will pay a lot of money to create billboards and posters that run for a limited time only. With web video, you can create advertising that lasts. According to YouTube statistics, the age range of potential viewers ranges from 18 - 54 years, making web video a long-lasting asset that has a wide reach. With an online video, you can address frequently asked questions in your industry, or showcase your craft and skill. Once produced, a video has an incredible amount of potential, but more importantly, it is a source of advertising that requires a single investment, with unlimited potential return.
3) Video helps people find you
Video has a proven track record of helping people find you online. Recent data shows that next to Google, Youtube is the highest used search engine in terms of providing people with what they want. When looking for advice or business how-to videos, people search on youtube. On top of that, when built correctly into your website, video can increase your SEO, allowing new customers to find you and your services. Google often places web videos on first page results, which has a positive effect on your organic search marketing, bringing you the site traffic you need.
4) Video helps business grow
A business without dynamic content such as video on their website is going to fall behind their competitors. The modern web requires the use of video and pictures to show that a company or business is progressive and technologically aware. Using video production services to create a stronger online presence can increase profits by 12%, according to published statistics. A company that uses informative video to communicate understands the needs of modern customers, and how best to appeal to them. In the UK alone, there will be 43.7 million people using the internet by 2013. A professionally produced video is the ideal way to reach that potential client base.
5) Video services are affordable
As new technology emerges, the cost of services and products decrease. So to is the case in the video production industry. Video production services are affordable to small businesses now like never before. Production Attic use emerging technologies to keep our costs low, allowing us to not only produce content that is affordable, but that is also of a high quality. The use of new technology allow us to create cinematic work without huge overheads, giving us the chance to create quality, affordable content for small businesses, as well as larger corporate clients.
Production Attic are based in Glasgow, Scotland, and regularly produce content for small businesses. If you were in doubt that a video will benefit your business, I hope this blog post was of help to you.
If you have any queries regarding video production, or ar interested in working with us, you can find our contact details here.
As always, please like and share this blog post!
Edit: Since this blog post went live we recieved the Audience Award for 30 Seconds Apart at this year's 48 Hour Film Project awards night. We're all very pleased with the result.
Last weekend Production Attic wrote, shot and edited a film in 48 hours as part of the Glasgow 48 Hour Film Project. We have since been asked a lot about our locations, props and kit for our film '30 Seconds Apart' as well as how we managed to cram so much into the shoot. Here's a monster blog post to try and answer everything.
If you haven't seen it yet check out the film below (this is a tidied up edit for submissions to other film festivals):
Firstly looking at all the entries at the screenings I was reminded now is a pretty cool time if you have hardly any cash but want to make films. What must have been a massive mistake by dSLR manufacturers leveled the playing field for low budget filmmakers allowing for progressive scan HD video on super cheap cameras. We shot entirely on a Canon 550D, pretty much the cheapest dSLR you can buy at around £400 and with a little bit of a grade I was really impressed with how it held up on the cinema screen at the GFT.
Most of the films seemed to have been shot on dSLR and watching them all really drove home the fact that it doesn't matter what camera you have as much as how you use it to tell a story. It also showed it's important to avoid a few recurring problems. Tendency to shoot everything at the shallowest depth of field, just because you can, meant landscape and wildlife shots in some films look beautiful but as soon as people appear the focus goes out. Even when the focus is kept when a whole film is shot like that it's unintentionally claustrophobic and hard to pay attention. We shot quite a lot of 30 Seconds on a wide 11-16mm lens. I was worried we shot too much wide and that the film would be too flat but in the end it worked out really well as everything was clear so there was no confusing blocking which could have been a big problem, especially in the final scene which had 5 actors and hardly any time to shoot. Also we had some awesome locations such as the creepy abandoned Odeon cinema on Renfield Street and it was good to be able to see them clearly in the background.
Stabilisation is also something not enough dSLR filmmakers seem to take into consideration. The jelly like effect caused by handheld wobble on a CMOS sensor just looks horrible. That's not to say you cant go 'handheld', just don't actually hold the camera in your hand. 30 Seconds was the first film we shot on a new camera rig but for the past year and a half we have been getting great results shooting short films, music videos, corporate videos, events and everything else by shoulder mounting cameras on tripods or holding tripod heads to add weight and remove the wobble effect. It can be cheap, easy and does the trick but it's something not enough people think about. Without stabilization films can be hard to watch and intentional camera moves can become confused and lose meaning.
That leads me on to my next point. As well as now being a pretty cool time I think Glasgow is a pretty cool place to be. We thought a lot about how we wanted to move the camera in 30 Seconds so decided to make use of the 20% discount Progressive Broadcast Hire were offering for 48 Hour Films and rent a dolly and tracks. This was the first time we had used a dolly and I was really impressed with the results. Everything looked so damn cinematic! It also allowed us to make space really clear. So when Liam (Murdo Mitchell) leaves his dad (John 'Malky' Mitchell) to go play in the corridor, (and isn't that bloody depressing,) I wanted there to be no doubt that he is still very close by. A pan could have been awkward and a cut could have confused the space but a simple track backwards ensures we know exactly where they are in relation to each other and keeps the shot interesting.
We also rented some lights from Progressive to make sure we could actually see in the large cinema screens. With the discount the weekend rental was a really great deal, 2k blondes costing only £9.60 each, money well spent. After Progressive we took a trip to Hands On Production Services for some props. The cinema has sections where big chunks of the walls in some rooms and toilets have been knocked through to access older parts of the building and there are some offices with large safes so we were thinking on the Friday that a possible scenario for a drama, or comedy could be a bank heist. We picked up the police uniform, some guns and a smoke machine, which we never ended up using, in case we got any of those scenarios. We were also really hoping to get the horror genre because the location would have been perfect so we picked up the chainmail coat, hood and a creepy Spartan mask, also not used, in case we needed to make a monster character. I love visiting Hands On, it's like being a kid in a candy shop except the candy is guns and uniforms and suits of armor and smoke machines and things that go bang. Great people to visit and chat to and I know we got a better deal than we should have.
That's exactly why I think Glasgow is a cool place to be. There's plenty of TV shows and films being shot in our city and the facilities are all there to get the professionals the kit they need. These places don't exclusively rent to the pros and are generally very welcoming of low budget film-makers (note "low budget", not "no budget" and they do usually require you to have insurance.) If you need something get in touch with them and see what they have. The 48 Hour Film Project is great for putting filmmakers in touch with sponsors such as Progressive. Congratulations and thanks to Sam Goldblatt, the Glasgow and Edinburgh Producer, for getting them on board. If you work for or own a facility I haven't mentioned that Production Attic doesn't have an account with please say hi!
As well as getting our hands on professional kit we did a fair bit of bodging as anyone who read Darren's Chinaball Blog will know. If you haven't already, check it out. He built us an awesome boom light for about £25 which we used to fake lantern light and provide beautiful fill on close ups.
Well that's all the positives but one thing I don't like about filming in Glasgow is how difficult it can be to find locations. If you know a guy who knows a guy who's happy to turn a blind eye for a bottle of something nice that's great, but not so good when you need location release forms. Doing anything through official channels tends to mean a fortnight long email chain ending in a no or a hefty charge. We have found that the council, for example, want around £700 per day to shoot in abandoned buildings. That may be fine for a film intending to turn a profit but unfortunately the official channels don't tend to discriminate between those with the money and those without. That's not to say there aren't some very helpful and accommodating individuals within institutions like the council and universities who are more than happy to help so if you find one of them grab them and don't let them escape. And please give me their number.
You can bodge a camera rig, make cheap props look great, tease a performance out of non actors but you just can't fake that essential location. It can make or break a film. That's why we were incredibly lucky to be contacted in the fortnight before the shoot by a preservation trust trying to save the Odeon cinema and return it to a single screen cinema and theatre/museum rather than offices. They were looking to talk to anyone interested in film so we met and had a great tour. We chanced our luck and asked if we could come back to shoot our 48 hour film and thankfully they said yes. As I'm writing this Darren is out documenting some of the old parts of the cinema as well as another couple of sites to say thanks so hopefully we will have some interesting footage to put online soon.
Having such a downright cool location definitely made our film and also helped boost our crew's morale. We got a production assistant in the shape of my brother who might not have been too fussed to humph heavy kit around all day if he didn't get to run around an abandoned cinema!
So that was all before 7pm on Friday. Things got a lot more frantic once we got the genre, line, prop and character and set about making a time travel movie featuring a map, Captain Ramona Lewis and the line 'It's our little secret'. We rushed back to the office and started brainstorming ideas. Straight away we threw away a good dozen that were all more or less the plot of Looper.
We were nervous at first about time travel, mostly because we are all a bit sick of it from Revision, our student days web series, and wanted to steer well clear of twists and mad scifi elements which may leave an audience sad and confused. We knew we had a real life dad and son and Murdo, the son, is a great actor so we wanted him fairly prominent. This led to the decision to write a simple plot revolving around a father son relationship. Thankfully when we came up with the winning idea and started breaking the story we realised we were pretty lucky. Time travel allowed us to literally jump from one location to another so we got to use as much of the cinema as possible and keep up the pace of the film.
Friday night Andrew got to work writing a shooting script based on the ideas we broke. I worked on shotlists and ideas for blocking while Darren, our cinematographer, and Stephen, our production designer/grip, got a few hours practice in with the dolly. That gave us some ideas for shots. For example we noticed you got an interesting effect by putting one actor on the dolly and having them be pulled by another. This became the opening shot reverse shot of the dad dragging the son. We also shot some test plates of the map graphic and time travel effect for James, our awesome effects guy.
Originally we were planning on having our map completely holographic and having Ramona pinch and pull space apart to reveal it. Our quick tests showed we needed something with track points so we glued some metal brackets to a piece of picture frame glass and that worked great. It also meant we had something physical for Murdo to smash at the end so we made sure to have a stack of spare frames. From that point James set about working solidly on the maps.
After a mostly sleepless night we started shooting at 10am Saturday morning at the Odeon. We planned the toilet scene first as I had dolly shots in mind and wanted to get used to it straight away. After a scout for the best toilet to use Darren and Stephen got the rest of the crew setting up as Andrew and I ran ahead to scout for the other locations, WWII basement, screens and corridors. At one point, we narrowly avoided reshooting an entire scene when Ramona's henchman (Scott) pulled a toilet cubicle door clean off its hinges. Thankfully Malky is handy with a Phillips' head!
From then on we shot one scene and blocked the next as kit was moved. We also had Stephen run on ahead with helpers to lay track for later stuff while we were shooting the dialogue-heavy final scene. We had a jib set up on some curved track so the camera could dolly back from Malky running into the projector room turning into an OTS which would push through a projector window into the screen below to reveal Ramona and Scott advancing on Liam. Unfortunately when we started losing time that shot was the first to get dropped.
We wrapped in the cinema about 7pm then headed back for the abandoned office scenes which we shot downstairs in our building. Andrew left the shoot to get on with the edit, adding footage as it arrived throughout the following 14 hours. The shoot took all night, mostly because tiredness set in. At one point it took Darren and I over an hour to simply turn on a light because we were so spaced out, but we got there in the end. Go team.
Next Darren and Malky and I headed to The Garage nightclub. We wanted the father and son to jump to somewhere busy where they would get split up. We film Regular Promo Video for the club and they previously let us in to shoot another short film, Burned, so thought there would be perfect. We were delighted they let us back. The main room was mobbed which looked great, can't fake that many extras without a budget, but we had to fight our way past drunk people grabbing us to take their photos. First we got the camera on stage and had Malky crouch down then jump up in the middle of the crowd. Next we had Malky hold the camera towards his face and look worried as I pushed through the crowd pulling him forward and waving an LED toplight at his face. Halfway through someone grabbed his shoulder and shouted 'Malky!', he never found out who. Finally we jumped back on stage to shoot across the crowd and grab the shot establishing the toilets.
We headed back to a corridor in our office building to shoot the opening future shots which were scheduled for the Odeon but got dropped. Stephen and I dumped down a bunch of strip lights and our old friend plastic sheeting to make for a quick set dressing. Finally we moved to a park in Hyndland to shoot the opening scene. We wrapped about 10am, so Malky and Murdo were free to go. We are all super thankful to them and the other actors who stayed up with us for so long.
For the final push I oversaw the edit, well I paced near Andrew to stay awake. Stephen worked on the gunshot and blood effects. James had finished the maps and moved onto time travel transitions and the titles sequence and we all took turns to look for sound effects. Once the cut was locked, Darren did a quick sound edit then graded the footage, it looked awesome but that's probably a whole other blog post. Finally we jammed in all the titles, effects, some final sound effects, exported and ran to the Art School with 4 minutes to spare. We finished so late we sacrificed a 500GB HDD because there just wasn't time to burn a disk. A couple of sounds and graphics got pushed slightly out of sync in the last dash (these have been fixed in our Vimeo version) but nothing too bad. We didn't have time to watch it back let alone fix them so passing over a file we hadn't even seen was very scary!
And that was our 48 hour film.
This has mostly been about the shoot so I also want to say a massive thanks to Fergus who composed all the original music. I called him up last minute on Friday and despite being in Edinburgh, getting rambled, vague notes and replies from me by email and text, usually around 4 hours after he asked anything he sent us awesome music which helped tie the whole film together. And to Omar who recorded all the sound in the Odeon. Sorry our super quick mix didn't do your recording justice. Also to everyone else I have failed to mentioned by name. You know who you are, you all did great. Plus thanks again to Sam for organising the Glasgow 48 Hour Film Project. We can't wait for next year.
Bring it on.
The first time I ever saw a Chinaball on a set was whilst watching the extra features on the Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull DVD. I've found that exact moment on youtube, here it is: behind the scenes It's just a tiny glimpse, but ever since then it's been sitting in the back of my mind. If you need to light people moving about in a huge room, but don't have massive fresnels and gridcloth to get a nice soft key light -- put a small light on a boom just out of shot and follow them! It was a eureka moment.
That was a few years ago now, and I never really had the right project for nice soft warm lighting. Then the 48 hour film project came to Glasgow and I thought it'd be the perfect time. Because of the extreme time restrictions I thought the quick setup and general versatility of a light on a boom pole would be perfect. So I went out to the hardware store and built one.
Here's what you'll need:
Painters poles are everywhere, just try B&Q or a local hardware store. Mains plug and switch can be found on any cheap desk lamp. Unplug it, and then cut the cable off, leaving as much length as possible and make sure you cut on the lamp side of the switch, so we can still use it. You can probably buy a cable with switch in a hardware store too, but I had a spare one anyway. Cord Grip and bulb, same story, hardware store. The paper lamp I would recommend is from John Lewis, they have a fairly decent quality one. B&Q's was rubbish.
The other option if you need a bigger softer shade which allows for brighter bulbs (250W max) is a fancy filmmaking chinaball from Filmtools. This brings me to a disclaimer: the bulb I have recommended is slightly over the maximum for the shade I have recommended. It will go on fire and kill everyone if left unattended. I therefore suggest you either buy a higher rated shade or use a bulb which is within the manufacturer's recommended wattage and never leave any chinaball unattended.
To put it together it's a case of stripping the mains cable down to wires at one end (get a youtube electrician to show you if that doesn't make sense) and screwing them into the cord grip; popping the paper shade onto the cord grip; plugging the light bulb; gaffa taping the cord to the end of the painters pole; plugging it in! I chose to spray paint the pole black as this can help reduce any shiny moments and also makes it look less like a bodge and more like a professional setup.
Right, so on to some examples of how I used it during the 48 hour film project.
In this first shot, Murdo's character is holding a lantern which is supposedly lighting the whole shot. In reality this lantern is a cheap battery powered flo lamp with a bit of CT orange filter wrapped round it to make it look warmer than it is. There is no way we could light a shot with the pitiful trickle of light that comes out of it. Enter the chinaball, placed just out of shot beneath the camera resting on the dolly between my legs with Stephen booming it, Andrew gripping the cable, and Matt gipping the dolly. With it's power, I could expose the shot correctly without ruining the illusion that the corridor is dark and being lit entirely by the lantern.
This next shot is an example of using the chinball as a fill light rather than a key as before. In this case the key light is coming from two 2k fixtures, one bounced off a white ceiling and the other directly at Murdo, keying the whole room. The chinaball is used over the camera here to ensure there is a sparkle in Murdo's eyes and nice warm exposure on his face reducing the contrast and giving a soft wrap around. You can see how dark his face would have been by looking just under his chin, where the chinaball creates a shadow.
In this final example, the chinaball is once again being used as a keylight. The 2k fixtures lighting the room were making the background too bright for my liking, and so we turned them both to bounce on the ceiling to give a tiny bit of fill to the background, the chinaball was just over camera giving Laura a lovely sparkle in her eyes and ensuring the direction of light was maintained from the master as to not confuse her position. Soft warm light like this also makes for very flattering light, so actors love it!
Now there's no excuse, go make one! It saved us so much time and brought me a great amount of control over the lighting, making adjustments to fresnels take time and is difficult when they're hot, whereas with the chinaball it was a case of telling Madeleine (2nd AC) to move a bit to the left. Couldn't recommend it enough.
Time for some self plugging: We are available to hire as film crew across the country, so if you like what you see and would like to consider a professional crew for your next film, please don't hesitate to contact us.
I recently gave an interview to Folio 14 about the early days of Production Attic, as we grew from a group of graduates into the video production company you see before you today. In this post I talk about some of our early adventures, and talk a bit about the video services we have provided for past clients.
From the post:
University was finished. I’d graduated with a degree in Theatre Studies. The jobs and financial market had crashed. I couldn’t escape my menial minimum wage job, and I wasn’t the only one. A group of us, friends I’d met through student television, and others interested in film and television production, were all in the same position. After searching fruitlessly for work and failing, amidst one of the biggest financial crises of recent times, we decided to start a business.
Read the rest of this interview about starting the business on the Folio 14 blog.
Image to left uses footage from the brilliant John Brawley.
The other day I succeeded in constructing my first ever DCP. It was a moment of great joy - the realisation of a dream - and I owe it all to free software from both commercial and open source software developers.
If you don't know what a DCP is, then don't worry, neither did I a few weeks ago. It stands for Digital Cinema Package and is essentially the digital equivalent of a 35mm film print. You can take it to any digital cinema in the world and they'll be able to screen it. If you have a high end editing computer, a 500GB hard-drive and a few bits of software, you can produce a feature or short film DCP for "free" - in the sense that it will take lots of time, but not actually cost you any additional cash. To put that in perspective, a 35mm celluloid "film out" master costs around £25,000. Each print thereafter could cost in excess of £1500 - and they deteriorate over time. Not cheap!
The first thing you'll need is Davinci Resolve Lite. With this free software you can shove in the best quality (RAW, prores4444, dnxhd, uncompressed RGB quicktime -- whatever you've got) digital master of you film, and output a 1920 x 1080 16-bit tiff sequence in XYZ colour space. The tiff files will look all green when you look at them on your computer as the screen you're using is probably using RGB colour space. That's normal, and everything will look correct in the cinema.
Once you've got those lovely tiffs taking up over 2 Terabytes of hard drive space, you're then going to want to sort out the audio for your film. For this process I used Audacity. What you want to do is convert your audio from the best source you have (uncompressed wav or aiff) into individual tracks (centre, left, right, left surround, right surround) each as mono 24bit 96kHz OR 48kHz wav PCM files. It is a requirement for the dialog to be on a central track rather than left or right. The minimum for most fesitvals/cinemas is three tracks: left, right and dialog (centre).
Right, back to the picture. Tiffs are wonderful in that they have all the data with no detail loss. They're also very difficult to move about, and take up hundreds of pounds of storage space. So what we do to deal with that is compress it. Using a mathematically astounding compression method known as jpeg2000. It sounds a bit rubbish because of the "2000" nowadays, but I can assure you, this is the best known way to compress images to date. Instead of using boring everyday jpeg's discreet cosine transform it uses a far more effective discreet wavelet transform, which is far superior when it comes to representing an image with a high compression ratio. This makes the images about 4 or 5 times smaller, and does just about nothing to the perceived image quality - genius.
Thankfully, you don't actually have to understand any of that to be able to convert your tiffs to jpeg2000s. OpenDCP will do it for you, and it's the last piece of software you need for the remaining processes. All you need to do is tell OpenDCP where your tiffs are and where you'd like the jpeg2000s. About a day later, DONE! Yay.
The next process is all about containing the madness. The containers for DCP assets are MXF files and essentially wrap all of the images and sound files up in neat single files. OpenDCP makes this easy, just tell it where your jpeg2000s are, and it'll wrap the pictures content into an MXF. Then go back and tell it where your audio files are, and it'll wrap them up for you. NEXT.
This is the fun bit - go to the final tab within OpenDCP, tell it where the picture and audio MXFs are (and subtitles if you have them), add all the film's title and credit details and hit the big "Create DCP" button.
-- Stand back in awe of your great achievement.
The only trouble now is that there's no free way to play a DCP without a cinema server... So if you're submitting it to a festival, you're going to just have to hope it all worked. There are DCP verifiers out there, and players for home cinema's you can install. But they're pricey. Perhaps VLC will play them one day. I hope you're listening VLC dev team!
-- EDIT -- Stereoscopic player appears to play DCPs for free! So long as it's just to test a private copy, for non commercial use. Thanks go to a very helpful facebook commenter for this new information.
I'm not suggesting everyone should make their own DCPs. It's pretty complicated and there's a bunch of stuff that could go wrong and potentially waste full days of your time. But if you're one of those film makers aspiring to make their own way to the top on a no-budget film, then this might just be the beacon of glimmering hope you've been waiting for.
If you're interested in DCP services, please contact us. Otherwise, like and share this post if you found it helpful!
The following guest post was written by James Malcolm who we worked with on his short film Burned.
Stanley Kubrick once said that "directing a film is like trying to write War and Peace in a bumper car in an amusement park." Well, Stanley should have tried filmmaking when you’ve got an empty wallet and you’re trying to squeeze a shoot around two jobs and a master’s degree. It’s like the bumper car scenario except the amusement park is on fire and you have to use your own blood as ink.
Now, in four words, I’m going to tell you how to get through that with a great film. You ready? Here it is: get a good crew. Work with smart, hardworking people who love their work as much as you do.
It all began with me screwing up. I’d committed to hand in a short film as part of my master’s degree, but the deadline was looming and in a panic I realized that I had a hilariously tiny amount of time to produce it. I took my script to the guys at the ‘Attic, and had the following conversation:
Me: So, are you interested in making this with me?
PA: Yeah, sure, it looks good.
Me: Right, here’s the catch. I have to make it on a budget of about £100.
PA: No worries.
Me: …and film it in a single day.
PA: You’re insane.
Me: Yeah, it’s probably too much, I’ll cut this bit and…
PA: Woah, back up, that wasn’t a no.
And we did it. About five hours into our crazy one-day shoot, I had a weird realization. We were on time, everyone was happy and productive, and I was getting great footage. For the first time ever I felt confident delegating a lot of my work to the crew. Every shot was exactly what I wanted, or better. I was calm.
I really do believe that films, especially low-budget films, are better when everyone’s happy and relaxed on set. Stress begets mistakes, it slows things down, it makes you miss stuff.
Although I like to plan ahead, part of the fun of filmmaking is catching unexpected stuff on the fly, whether it’s a better line or piece of blocking, a cool lens flair, or suddenly discovering a new angle on a location. Everyone in the crew had their eyes open to these possibilities throughout the day, and that only happens on a happy set. It was an amazing mix of professionalism and creativity.
I think the Attic guys have learned how to work this way through their corporate video work. They’re used to delivering good work quickly and to strict deadlines. They’re a tight team and can adapt to any kind of last minute change or crisis you throw at them.
I’m very proud of what me and the guys managed to produce in a single day’s work. I’ve known these guys since they were in University and it’s been amazing watching them turn into real pros.
Oh, and by the way, I kinda paraphrased that Stanley Kubrick quote. He said that filmmaking is absurdly hard, but…
…when you finally get it right, there are not many joys in life that can equal the feeling.
So the main problem is that the big movie cats often use giant lighting fixtures with 18,000 Watts of power driving them, blasted through giant diffusion silks. Us film kittens can't do that because it would cost more monies than are currently available to us. Hence, we must resort to squeezing light from tiny fixtures with around 120-2400W total power.
The most obvious choice for most is the widely available Redhead. What's great about Redheads, is that they are 800W tungsten halogen fixtures with barn doors and a basic spot control. The tungsten part is good because this gives us a CRI (Colour Rendering Index) of 100%. The halogen part is good for longevity, as this allows the filament's evaporated particles to be recycled. The barn doors and spot control allows us to shape the light and direct it very easily. The down side is that they're hot, fragile, and produce light which is a much warmer CT (Colour Temperature) than daylight.
The daylight CT issue can be sorted pretty easily by using a metal halide bulb in a similar fixture. The metal halide is a type of discharge lamp which uses a cocktail of metal compounds to get a decent CRI. The movie cats sometimes use the expensive >90% CRI version of these, and they call them HMIs (Halogen Metal Iodide). You get about four times the brightness per Watt with them in comparison to incandescents. However, there is a trade off. These bright brutes take forever to reach a stable condition where you can actually use them to film. When you first turn them on, your set will look like a cheap haunted house, everything will be green. Give it about five minutes, and the rest of the metal compounds will join the party and you'll have a nice bright daylight balanced high CRI source. They also have a horrible cool down process, so if you switch it off, be sure you don't need it for the next ten minutes because it's not going to want to turn back on. Another downer is getting your hands on a cheap Redhead like fixture. Nobody stocks them, it's going to have to be an ebay purchase and you'll have to build your own barn doors.
The next contestant is fluorescent, or Flos. The CRI of fluorescent always used to be terrible. People complained and scientists found that office workers need daylight to work efficiently, or at least better light than the yellow-green crap produced by office lights at the time; and now we have daylight balanced high CRI flo tubes. Kinoflo is the popular brand, and they're a pretty good price for the light they produce. You can choose which CT bulbs you want and swap them out accordingly. The only problem which remains is that if you drop the fixture it will definitely smash all the bulbs leaving you with the bulbs of different CT and a pricey replacement cost.
Enter the youngest kid on the block, the humble LED. Far from the "little light bulb that blinks" on Buzz Lightyear's arm, LEDs have come a long way from electronics indicators. The great thing about LEDs is that they are incredibly efficient. About 10% of the power for the same brightness. That's mainly down to the fact that they don't emit infra red, so none of the energy is wasted on heat. They are just slightly warm to the touch. LEDs can also be referred to as solid state lighting, as there's no filament they are the sturdiest of all lighting types. So perfect for moving location quickly, and you wont have to feel so guilty about using electricity from whoever owns your shooting location. What about CRI? Usually, LEDs emit just one or two frequencies of light. So on their own their CRI would effectively be 0% or thereabouts. To get a broader spectrum of light, a mixture of phosphors coating the inside of an LED's tiny bulb absorbs the single frequency (usually blue/ultraviolet) and emits a few others, yellow mainly. With over ten years of research and development into the technology, the "warm white" LEDs you can get today can have something around 90% CRI. They're very small, but are far cheaper than normal light bulbs, so you can afford to buy 1000, which is roughly equivalent to a Redhead in terms of brightness.
Unfortunately, because so many people now know that LEDs are the best option for film makers in almost every way, they can be ridiculously expensive. If you stay away from brand names, they're perfectly affordable, but they wont tell you the CRI, and that's probably for a good reason. We're going to test the theory.
Below are a bunch of pictures taken through a spectroscope I built with gaffa tape and a blank DVD. They show the spectrum of various lights I found around the office. Including, most notably, a cheap Chinese 1000 LED panel.
Although it’s been awhile since we completed our video for the upcoming Hydro arena in Glasgow, Scotland, I thought it would be a good time write up a blog post about it as we’ve re-released the video with a slightly new edit.
The Hydro is set to open in September of next year and will host about 140 events a year. I’d been interested in the project since it had been first announced. Glasgow is already renowned as a great city for music, and picked up the award for European City of Music a few years back. Despite that, Glasgow has been turned down recently by big acts who refused to play in arenas they felt weren’t good enough, or where the acoustics weren’t ideal. The Hydro Arena is set to solve that issue.
I was pretty excited when we were approached by Martifer UK LTD with a request to film the roof being raised and positioned on top of the arena. It weighs about 330 tons and was to be be raised up 48 meters around a temporary structure in the middle of the arena, then secured in place by several arches. In other words, it’s a bit different from most roofs, and well worth capturing on video.
You can see the process in the video below. The roof was raised by eight hydraulic jacks that pulled the roof up by about 5m an hour. It moved very slowly, so we created time-lapse footage of the raising and positioning to properly illustrate the process.
We visited the site over several full and half day shoots to capture the full process, and to give us time to speak with construction crew members about the work and their involvement in it. This meant we could put together a video for online viewing that covered the construction process accurately.
Before we were let on site we had to get set-up with all the necessary PPE equipment to make sure we would be safe and visible on site. So, with our hard-hats, high visibility gear and steel toe-capped boots, we headed onto the site of Glasgow’s newest arena, to film what some refer to as the most complex feat of engineering in Scotland this year.
One of the most fun moments of the shoot was when we were lifted to the top of the temporary tower in the middle of the arena. As there was no stairway to reach the top, I was strapped into a wire box and lifted by crane to the very top, then lowered onto the platform there. You can see some of the footage from the airlift in the final video above. The view was stunning, and being lifted to the top meant that I could get footage of the hydraulics and machinery that was lifting the roof.
It was a great shoot, and we got some really awesome shots of the process and the techniques used to raises the roof on the Hydro. The Hydro isn’t our only work on a construction site though. Recently we’ve been sending camera operators to unfinished wind farms, renovated water treatment plants, and unfinished data centres. We provide video of the construction work to be used in future promotional videos.
I’m looking forward to next year, when I can go to a gig at The Hydro arena, look up, and know that a while back I was standing on the top of this building, recording it being constructed. It’s set to become another landmark for Glasgow, and it’s great to know that we were a part of what put it there.
Doing new things on screen is fun.
I remember the feeling of putting two shots side by side for the first time (just by stopping and starting the camera). I also remember how great it was to actually edit two shots together. I remember adding music to video, adding text, effects and everything else you do when you start out basic filmmaking.
It's not a feeling I get much with professional video production. Unless the client has something off the wall in mind and I like it if they do. So it was strange to get that feeling again working on a recent corporate video edit.
We had produced an educational training film for a global plumbing products manufacturer based in Glasgow. The film taught plumbers of how to use a product so they would be more likely to buy and fit it.
They export worldwide so after we had produced the english version we were tasked with producing a Polish dubbed edit of the film. Hopefully there will be more languages to come.
I transcribed the film; had it translated; subtitled it in English so I would know where each sentence went; replaced the English subtitles with Polish then recorded the script with a Polish voiceover actor.
I had expected it would be difficult to line up the correct speech with the subtitles but it wasn't to bad. I had expected I would have to lengthen the video as Polish takes longer to say than English. I did but it wasn't too difficult. What I had not expected was just how strange it was to hear my video in another language.
I had written the script, revised the script, recorded a voiceover, edited the voiceover into the video, edited the video, rerecorded a voiceover based on video changes then transcribed the script again so I knew the video inside out. As a result even though there was now a man speaking to me in Polish I knew exactly what he was saying.
A very odd feeling. But pretty fun.
To try it out yourself watch the English version 50 times then have a look at the Polish version. It really works.
With Murdo Mitchell's music video for In Regret out of the way we started on Nav Sidhu's video for his track Love Story. Nav's video was fairly different to Murdo's. Another language for a start and there was more of a story element to it. The track was also almost double the length, at about 5 and half minutes, so we needed to shoot plenty to keep the video interesting.
Instead of one location we had many; a flat which doubled as 2 different homes; some sneaky shots on a bus and the Glasgow Subway; several streets and shops in Glasgow city centre including Assams Indian Restaurant Assams Indian Restaurant on West Regent Street (they were great to let us in between lunch and dinner, the place smelt delicious); under a bridge; over a bridge; under another bridge (complete with funky grafitti) and finally the Tiger Style recording studio in Whiteinch. All worked into a neat one day 13 hour schedule.
We shot the whole thing at 50 frames per second allowing us to slow it down later to give us more footage to play with in the edit. I really like the look of suff shot at even 50fps, everything just looks so much more dramatic. Our film crew was also larger for this video with myself directing, Darren as director of photography ensuring everything was shiny looking and Stephen on B cam/jib shots. Mostly we shot with two cameras to get a mid and close up of each section at once.
At each location we shot Nav singing. Sometimes the full track and sometimes just the parts which were specific to each location. We then pushed in single camera with some more fluid, moving handheld shots similar to the way I have shot nightclub videos in the past. Very intense, in your face shots with loads of movement which look great when slowed down. Each location also had some narrative shots, all adding up to tell the story of a guy meeting his girl to tell her all the things he wants to buy her.
We had a new toy to play with in this video, an LED light panel. So far we have mainly been using redhead lights in our productions which look great but are hard to move fast as they need time to cool down before you can pack them away and have bulbs which sometimes like to blow. For this video we bought a large LED light panel which was a pleasure to use. The light quality was great and the light itself was really easy to move. We also had two smaller LED toplights which we used to fill and back light some of the shots. I think it's safe to say we will be investing in a few more of these soon enough and hanging up the redheads for good.
I'm glad to say shoot went really well. As usual we fell slightly behind schedule at the start but were able to move a few afternoon scenes around and ended up finishing about an hour before planned. We did work through our break, though, so that makes it almost bang on schedule. Loosing the break was fairly painful considering our it was scheduled to be around the time of filming in Assams (again, it smelled very delicious). We did manage to wolf down some sandwiches on the move from one bridge to another though.
Nav's video has had an initial edit and grade and is looking beautiful and Murdo's video is finished and waiting for release. We filmed both fairly flat so we could push the saturation of in post so allowing colours really pop. Darren did some great work with both in but I'll maybe let him explain himself another time.
We expect to be releasing Love Story ASAP and sitting on In Regret until it's launch later in the summer.
Murdo will be playing a gig in the Glasgow Apple store later in the summer to mark the launch of he video and the single release on iTunes so stay tuned. Here's a sneak peek for now.
We have just had a week busy of music video production here in Glasgow. First we shot a single camera video for Murdo Mitchell, of Advertise Here and Soba Ninja fame, for his track, In Regret. Then another for Nav Sidhu, who is over in Glasgow, from India to record his single titled Love Story with Tigerstyle records and Soldier Sound. Both were great fun to do and had their own challenges. With Murdo that was framing somewhat lower than normal and with Nav it was the fact that the lyrics were not in English.
We have a little history with Murdo. He is a great musician and actor and was the star of our infamous Soba Ninja 3 viral video. He also worked with us for his high school work experience placement, spending a tense week in the Production Attic office. We made him dust everything. He has managed to take up a sizeable chunk of our showreel already. Most people we show it to tend to say I know that boy, he busks in town. He is recognised more often that the cast of Band of Brothers from the Jumping for Heroes shoot or Greame Hunter from the videos for his Barca book or even the First Minister Alex Salmond from when we popped over to film in his office. My point is we had needn't have bothered with any of that name dropping because Murdo is the only one people seem to recognise! Sigh.
The first project we worked with him on was a music video in Glasgow for his band Advertise Here which we shot across the city centre at a number of popular busking locations. This time, though, Murdo was flying solo with a sad song all about regret. A sad song often requires a sad location so we headed to Whitelee Windfarm just south of Glasgow. It's a great spot both beautiful and bleak where you can walk the paths connecting 130 wind turbines. Some of the paths even take you directly underneath the blades, fairly daunting. We were lucky to pick a day where most of the turbines were turning so they looked great in the background, the sun even came out to give me a nice sunburn which confused the hell out of everyone I met for the next few days.
The film crew was just myself and Darren but we brought a few toys with us, our 3m long jib with pan and tilt head and a borrowed Glidecam stabilization system. We didn't to use the jib. I find it works best when swooping past foregrounded objects to get loads of movement or go from the top-bottom or left-right of an object but the turbines are simply too big. We did use the Glidecam for an opening sequence and some shots of Murdo walking as he singing and plays guitar. The rest of the video was shot shoulder mounted. In fact my favourite shots are some where the camera is static and you can see just how big the turbines are.
We had more time than we needed to shoot In Regret as we had a full day at just one one location so we shot single camera and I used it as a chance to see how useful the Glidecam was. I have not directed a lot with Glidecam or any other kind of Steadicam so I was curious to see how stable it was and logistically how long it took to setup, de-rig and how portable it was between shoots. It was fine for this video but a little cumbersome with a small film crew so I decided not to use it for Nav's video.
To hear how Nav's video shoot went read part 2. Murdo will be playing a gig in the Glasgow Apple store later in the summer to mark the launch of his video and the single release on iTunes so stay tuned. Also have a look at this preview for the video.