So decided to stop going round and round with the words and just to go and physically shoot some of the locations I really want to use, to see what happens, expected and unexpected!
First obstacle was to set up my steadicam rig, I bought a second hand merlin steadicam last year and found it tricky to set up with my camera and lens, just due to the sheer weight of the thing, my nikon + pro lens weighed in at 4.5lbs, which you obviously have to offset with the weights on the steadicam itself, I got some lovely footage after nearly 3 hours of fiddling, but my arm/elbow was absolutely buggered! all for maybe a minute of test footage. In the end I had used my 50mm prime lens to make the whole rig lighter, but of course this meant I was unable to record very wide shots… With this in mind I decided to get hold of a friends Nikon D3100 and just go with it’s kit lens, making the camera rig just under 2lbs – a good start – and again 2 hours of set up time to get it close, it was still way too wobbly, but I had to get out there and shoot, so although not as stable as it could have been, I decided to go with it and refine the steadicam later.
Steadicam settings used – mid=1 finish weight, end= 1 start, 1 mid and 1 finish weight, stage hole ‘N’ -3 mark for plate, 5 turns on the handle, fully opened levers.
Second obstacle, I needed a body! fortunately one of my friends was happy to help, although slightly surprised when he asked who we were filming and I said you!
Third obstacle, the weather, fingers crossed it wasn’t raining and we got lucky with that although it was absolutely freezing!
I was very happy to set off with just a good friend and my small photographic rig, this meant on the whole we could be very discrete with our filming and easily moved or relocated if we had too many problems. I only wanted to use the available lighting…
As we walked into the city, my friend suggested a couple of places he liked, so we went and had a look, unfortunately it was way too dark and this was when I had my first unforeseen problem, on this little Nikon, I couldn’t manually control the video settings, so although I could take a fair photo in the streetlit footpath, I couldn’t get the same results when filming… very frustrating that the camera had limited night video settings… I would have to hope that the other locations were brighter…
Also as the steadicam wasn’t perfectly balanced I would have to be super careful not to make anyone viewing the footage sea-sick! it’s a real art to make it smooth, one that I had almost got to grips with by the end of the recce shoot.
The next locations, the alley off of St Stephens was way too dark , but the church in chapelfield and the market were good and bright, so the shots there are better, the market shots I am particularly pleased with, even though a couple of inquisitive teens on bikes, did make retakes necessary.
The subway underpass was also amply lit and steadicam wasn’t as steady as it could be, but the footage is on the whole good.
The final shot of the little lane off or Newmarket Street was where disaster struck though, the freezing cold had absolutely zapped the battery and I managed to get a shot ready to take, when it completely died and I couldn’t film a thing in my favourite looking location… Undeterred though I decided to use my phone’s video camera, just to test out shots etc, because I didn’t want to waste any more time and we were both there and the lighting was almost perfect, the cobbles were shiny from earlier rain and the lights looked as good as on my photo recce.
So here are the best shots quickly cut together with 3 of the smaller parts slowed down.
I hadn’t thought about sound at all, but I’m really intrigued with the slowed down sound that accompanies the shadow shots, I really like the way that has turned out, the effect it gives is perfect for the feeling of the film…
It is really frustrating that the dslr battery died on the last shots as my mobile phone couldn’t keep a still focus, but the way it looks up to then is how I imagined it in my head.
Looking at the footage now I know I need to refilm with a camera where I can control the video settings more, try and get a spare battery for it, balance the steadicam better, use more close up shots and I think this can be achieved by using my pro dslr with the 50mm lens on it, it will give tighter shots overall, like in the market scene, which is my favourite of all captured footage so far.
I also realise watching it back that I can’t just have someone walking in front of the camera to tell the story so an accidental bit of footage I recorded whilst walking through the underpass shows me that perhaps switching viewpoints to the character’s point of view could be useful in telling the story of the search…
Next steps, thinking about sound, introducing those extra pov’s, finalising the script for the story and a full reshoot… not much at all then :0