Archive for the ‘Production – Filming’ Category

Filming – Day 5

Today was the fifth (and hopefully final!) day of filming for my production. Rather than go into the intricacies as to what happened and when, I think it would be quicker simply to do a running evaluation of the filming, as the actual filming process was extremely similar to the ones before it, in that we arrived at the cafe for 4pm and filmed until the cafe closed at 5.

Filming the 2007 scene

For the sake of simplicity and chronology, I thought it would be best to film the 2007 scene first then the 2008. They are relatively similar in terms of the number of shots to be filmed, so I didn’t think this should have been a dominating factor. Before we actually filmed the 2007 scene, I briefly shot the Christmas card shot for 2009, whist my actresses prepared themselves.

Successes during filming

  • We placed ourselves at a table we were yet to film at, increasing the plausibility of the scene. Furthermore, there was simply a plain wall behind the table, so it was not obvious that we were filming in the same area as before.
  • All scenes were shot successfully. I ensured this time that all shots were taken, by supervising the camera at all times, and checking each shot after it was captured
  • There were no customers in our immediate surrounding area, meaning background noise disturbance should not have been a particular issue.

Weaknesses during filming

  • I had forgotten to bring the microphone for the camera, meaning that background noise was more of a problem than when filming the other scenes. Even though our area of the cafe was empty, the rest of it was very much occupied, resulting in slightly more background noise than expected, which hopefully should not be too obvious on the footage.
  • The problem of the scripts is quite obvious in this scene. During the filming, it didn’t seem like such an issue, and I was pretty sure that the camera did not capture the scripts, but whilst looking back over the footage, it seems like more of a problem. I am hoping this just
    looks bad on the small screen of the camera, and that when uploaded, the footage will not seem so bad.
  • Because the cafe had told me that they had decorated, I brought few decorations of my own. Unfortunately on this wall behind the table, there were no decorations, meaning the message of Christmas will not be particularly prominent in what will also be the first scene of my production.

 

There was little decoration at our filming location for the 2007 scene. Although this increased plausibility, it did nothing for upholding the Christmas theme of the film.

 

It is not particularly comforting that the strengths and weaknesses of filming are quite balanced, I would rather that there were far more strengths, but unfortunately this was the best filming I could do at the time.

 

Filming the 2008 scene

I personally consider the filming of the 2008 scene to be more successful than that of the 2007. This was because the cafe was a lot quieter by the time it came to filming this scene, meaning background noise was low, and we were in a location which was better decorated.

Strengths during filming

  • There was notably less background noise, which was a lot more comforting given that we obviously still did not have the microphone
  • All scenes were shot successfully again. I personally believe that the quality of acting was better this time round as well.
  • The script issue was not as noticeable as in the 2007 scene, again, this is partly why the acting seemed to be better in this scene
  • Even though we chose a table we had already filmed at for filming, it had better decorations as well as a window view rather than the plain wall of the 2007 filming.

The reaction shot to Ellen's revelation. I personally believe that the acting was of a better standard during this scene.

 

Weaknesses during filming

  • Due to the lack of microphone, it is likely that the background noise will still be more noticeable than the 2009, 2010 and 2011 scenes.
  • We chose a table we had already filmed at for filming, decreasing the plausibility of the scene.

I find it slightly more comforting that the obvious strengths outweigh the obvious weaknesses twice over for this scene. Even when watching back these shots on the camera they seem markedly better than the 2007 scene, so I am definitely happy with them.

Next Steps

Tomorrow is the deadline for the First Edit, and as much as I would like to, I don’t think I will be able to get these shots into a sensible order before submitting to the deadline. However, I should definitely get the chance first thing next week to really sink my teeth into these shots and consider how to overcome any problems (especially with sound) that may occur.

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Filming – Day 4

Today was the fourth day of filming and the second day of the re-film in the new location. I had planned to film two more scenes today, the 2010 scene and the 2007 scene, however, unfortunately I was only able to film the 2010 scene.

Overview: Filming the 2010 scene

Whilst the filming of the 2010 scene was successful, it was more halted than the filming of the previous two scene for a number of reasons:

  • I had not been as organised for this filming session as the previous. I was unable to make it to the cafe for the exact time of 4pm and I had lost contact with Hayley for most of the day and was unsure if she was going to be there until the last minute.
  • Consequently, I was slightly flustered when we began filming and was unable to direct the filming as smoothly as I had liked. This meant we started shots later than I had planned and it also took longer to film said shots.
  • For the cafe’s convenience, we and the remaining customers were placed in one area of the cafe, so that the rest of the cafe could be cleaned. This meant there was noise disturbance from the tables that surrounded us, and it was also difficult to place the camera away from the table without it disturbing other customers. This meant we had to wait until the majority of customers had left until we could get some footage that was usable.
  • Because of the delays, we were only able to film the 2010 scene. I have decided that we will have to film two scenes tomorrow instead of one. This should be possible, as we have exactly the same amount of time as did on Tuesday, when we were able to film two scenes. Furthermore, the reaming scenes, 2007 and 2008, are relatively short.

Step by Step: Filming the 2010 scene

During the last filming session, I had planned to change tables between the scenes, to distinguish as much difference between them as possible. Unfortunately I had forgotten to do this, so I had to make sure that during this filming session, we were filming on a different table. Under the cafe’s instruction, we were placed on table not far from the one we filmed the 2009 and 2011 scenes at. Seeing as it was roughly the same size and the same distance from the walls and windows, it took very little modification to seat everyone in a way which looked plausible and also angled correctly for the camera.

The table we were placed at, a few tables down from the previous.

We decorated the cafe together, whilst I placed tinsel in the background, my actresses took it upon themselves to decorate the table. They placed a small piece of tinsel in a sugarbowl instead of placing on of my own ornaments on it. This worked quite well, as it allows me to save my own ornaments for other scenes and saves repetition. I think we were successful once more at making the decoration plausible.

I decided to film the hug between Miranda and Ellen first, as all the other shots of this scene involve the characters sat down, and I thought it would be best top leave the easier shots for last. Lydia and Hayley objected towards the hug, as they thought it seemed quite unnatural. Although I could see their point,  I decided to keep it in, as I thought that with the right acting, the awkwardness of the hug could be removed. Furthermore, it is only a few seconds long, and adds a few more shot types to my production, making it more technical.

The rest of the shots were relatively easy to shoot. It was simply filming the rest of the script for that scene from three different angles. However, the background noise of other customers proved to be the biggest problem when it came to filming this scene. I decided to re-film some of the shots where noise disturbance was a real problem. to save memory on the SD card (something I was conscious of after the first day of filming), I deleted the scenes with a lot of noise disturbance. I have a concern here that I may possibly have deleted soem important footage. Whilst I am sure I haven’t, it is difficult to be sure, as reviewing the collected shots is awkward on the small screen on the camcorder itself.

Next Steps

All that remains is the filming of the 2007 and 2008 scenes, which should hopefully be completed tomorrow. Also tomorrow, I will have to shoot the close-up of Lydia and the 2009 Christmas card shot. However, after these scenes are shot, then all necessary filming should be completed. Given that there has been a change of plan in terms of what will be filmed when, I may have to re-assess the Risk Assessment.

Filming – Day 3

Today was the first of my scheduled days to conduct my re-films. Whilst I will go on later to explain why, I mot definitely think that this time, filming was far more successful. We filmed from 4 until 5.20pm and managed to get the two planned scenes shot with hardly any problems.

Step by Step: Filming the first scene – 2009

We were able to arrive at the cafe on-time, in-keeping with my production schedule. Location within the location itself would probably be my biggest problem. The cafe is quite small and has few tables which would amply seat three people. Luckily the cafe was not busy, meaning we had a relatively free choice of the table we would film at. We eventually settled for a table in the corner of the cafe. Not only was it out of the way of other customers and capable of seating three people, but it was also by a window which looked out directly onto the street. I thought this was would make a nice touch, and emphasise the idea of darker evenings, which are obviously present in December.

This is wider shot of the table we chose to film at, complete with actresses

It was lucky that I had decided to film the 2009 scene on this day first, as Christy could not make it to the cafe for four o’clock, and her character is not present at the beginning of the 2009 scene. Instead, she arrived at quarter past four. This gave us time to set up the location. For example, clear bags and unwanted items out of shot, have a quick run-through of the script, and mst importantly set up the decorations.

Decorating the cafe was an awkward task, as I had to make a balance between making it obvious that the film is set at Christmas, and making the location look realistic. For instance, it is unlikely that the owners a standard cafe would cover their premises in endless amounts of tinsel and glitter. Therefore I settled for placing a piece of tinsel at the window and one Christmas decoration on the table. I later did the same for the 2011 scene. This is where filming by the window came in handy, as the lack of natural lighting in the street really helped to emphasise the wintry theme.

I first shot all the parts of 2009 for which Christy was not needed. This involves the first few lines of the scene, where things have become quite awkward between Miranda and Ellen, due to their drifting apart. I had also intended to shoot the Christmas card shot for the scene but I forgot at the time. To overcome this, I may shoot this shot without the actresses, and place the card next to an item which would easily be found in cafes, just to ensure that continuity is saved and the themes are not interrupted.

When Christy arrived, we were able to shoot all shots necessary with the only drawback being that we spent a little too long on shooting the scene. Luckily I had planned on this by ensuring that were were filming 2011 next, one of the easiest scenes to shoot.

Filming the second scene – 2011

2011 was relatively as successful as 2009. Seeing as we did not spend as much time on it as 2011 and it has a lot less shot overall it is difficult to draw upon any huge problems which arose.

My most pressing concern when it came to shooting the 2011 scene was that it looked as different to the 2009 as possible. Luckily I was able to make quite a distinction between them thanks to the following factors:

  • Outside factors helped. For example, the street is much darker in this scene than the last.
  • We changed decoration and costumes ourselves for effect.
  • There is also slightly different lighting within the cafe itself in the second scene – it is slightly darker.

2011 consists of only three shot types. The scene will be mostly constructed of over-the-shoulder shots which when edited should help to build tension in the lead-up to the final argument. This means that filming was relatively easy and did not take long. This does propose the concern that perhaps the scene will be too simplistic and boring. Should this be the case, I may have edit the scene in a slightly different way than planned to shake things up.

The wide shot I use for the final scene. This is only present at the beginning of the scene

Editing the Rough Footage

Over the past couple of days, I have been looking over the footage I managed to capture on my first two days of filming, simply to see if any of it is salvageable, so that I can reorganise my new production schedule should there be any scenes that I do not have to re-film. I edited them into a rough cut just so that I could get a broad scope on all the footage, and maybe try to see where I went wrong last time I filmed so that I can try to avoid making the same mistakes next week when I film. The following is analysis of each of the scenes so far, including their good points, their bad points and wether the scene can be saved or not.

The primary software I used was FinalCut Express

Year 2007

This was the first scene I shot on the second day of filming. This means that at the time of filming, this is probably when I was least distressed with the possibility of failing this entire project, meaning that this is probably the most successful filming of the day. After looking over the footage, there are several positives and negatives.

 Strengths 

  • All the necessary shots were taken and were fairly usable
  • Lighting is not an issue
  • The acting is fine
  • The location is plausible

Weaknesses

  • The background music of the cafe can be clearly heard. On an even worse note, the music is extraordinarily upbeat, contradicting the tone of the film. This music is hugely distracting from the dialogue
  • It has a general makeshift feel to it. It looks very obviously that I’ve popped to  cafe after school and roughly filmed. Whilst this is what I will be doing, I don’t want this to be evident in the footage I use.
  • There is a continuity issue with the Christmas card shot at the beginning of the film. I had to film them all together at the end of the filming session, so obviously they don’t match up.
  • The camera is also at a slight angle

This is the wide shot used throughout this scene. Other than the slight angling issue, I think the general composition and atmosphere is plausible considering the filming was very makeshift at this point.


Year 2008
This was the second scene I filmed on the second day. This is where it begins to become obvious that all scenes were filmed on the same day. Furthermore, I was beginning to realise that it was unlikely that I would be able to film all scenes on this day without it looking tacky. Many of the reasons why the footage began to go downhill can be found below.

Strengths

  • All necessary shots were taken once more and are fairly usable
  • The acting is fine once more
  • The overall location (cafe is plausible)


Weaknesses

  • It is unlikely that the girls would be sitting in exactly the same place with the same outside factors a year later
  • Lighting begins to become an issue as it is filmed later than the previous scene
  • The background music of the cafe can be heard again. Even more frustrating is the fact that this music is even more upbeat and the tone of the scene is supposed to be even more serious. Once again, the music is extremely distracting
  • The continuity issue with the Christmas card is present in this scene also, for the same reasons
  • The costumes that the girls are wearing are only slightly different from the previous scene
  • The makeshift feeling to the footage is present again, even more so for the reasons above

This is the shot I like the most from the 2008 scene. It perfectly captures Ellen's emotions as well as giving the audience a good impression of her surroundings and the atmosphere

Year 2009

This was the first scene I shot n the first day of filming. The rest of the footage should have been relatively similar to this – it acts a blueprint for all the other scenes. However, shortly after shooting this, the SD card failed. This is the scene I am most proud of, and I think that generally the strengths outweigh the weaknesses:

Strengths

  • The location and general feel of the footage is very plausible. It is likely that the girls would meet here.
  • All the shots were filmed and are definitely usable. They are all very successful and exactly as I had imagined
  • Once again, the acting is fine
  • The clarity of the footage is fine
  • The Christmas card shot matches up with the rest of the scene – no continuity issues.

Weakenesses

  • The biggest problem is that the microphone can be seen at the edge of a few shots, making them useless
  • The background music of the cafe can be faintly heard, but it is by no means distracting

This is how I had envisioned the Christmas card shots when I was devising them. There should be an equal focus on both the foreground and the background.

Year 2010

Year 2010 is the same as 2009 in terms of location and impression. Although it could be said that this has the same problem as the other footage – that it looks like all footage was shot at once and therefore looks quite amateur. However, I think the fact that this situation and location is more plausible makes up for this and removes the makeshift feel of the footage.

 Strengths

  • It coincides with the 2009 scene
  • Location and atmosphere are plausible
  • Shots that were taken are usable
  • The acting is fine
  • The clarity of the footage in terms of lighting is fine
  • The Christmas card shot is correct so there are no continuity issues

Weaknesses

  • Not all shots were taken due to the SD card issue
  • The microphone can be seen in some of the shots
  • The background music can be faintly heard again

Year 2011

Year 2011 was the final scene I shot on the second day of filming. This therefore means we had the shortest amount of time to film it and stress levels were probably maximum, resulting in shoddy footage. 

Strengths

  • All necessary shots were taken once more and are fairly usable
  • The acting is fine once more
  • The overall location (cafe is plausible)
  • Because this scene was shot last, the Christmas card shot does match up and continuity is restored.

Weaknesses

  • Lighting has become an even worse problem by this time
  • The same applies to the background music, which can still be clearly heard and is very distracting

Although technically the strengths of this scene outweigh the weaknesses, I still firmly believe that the footage is of poor quality and I would generally feel a lot more comfortable if I could re-film.

Rough Cut

Below is a rough cut (and I use the term loosely) of the footage I amanged to achieve on the second day of ilming. I thought rather than simply write about the quality of it, I would compile my footage so that I could compare and contrast and make a true judgement.

 

 

Next Steps

This footage only confirms my desire to conduct a re-film of the footage. Obviously the details of this re-film have been previously posted.

Filming Day 2

Successes

Technically I could count today’s filming as a success, given that the remaining three scenes were all shot, as were the introductory Christmas card shots. Once more, we were able to build up a dynamic which had to be even quicker and more efficient than the last given the shorter filming time we had. Even though it was a bit more muddled than last time, it generally went like this:

  • The actresses would change and do a run-through simultaneously, as I decorated the corner of the cafe
  • I had managed to use two cameras, meaning we could half the time it took to shoot the over-the-shoulder shots we took first of each scene
  • Any other necessary shots were shot after the over-the-shoulders
  • I did the Christmas card shots all together at the end, seeing as we were pushed for time

Although I am not proud of many of the shots I took today, I think there are some which are quite effective to an extent. Both these shots are from the 2008 scene, which we shot first and were probably most relaxed in.

One of the close-ups from the 2008 scene

The two things I like most about this shot are the character’s expression and the background. Ellen looks both nervous and excited to tell Louise and Miranda her news, exactly as I had imagined. The background is also effective, as it looks completely realistic and not false at all. Although the lighting is not ideal for a film, the audience clearly gets the impression of a dark, December evening. The lghitng also casts and effective shadow across Ellen’s face, acting as foreshadowing and re-setting the tone of the film.

The wide-shot from the 2008 scene

By far, the aspect of this shot I like the most is the characterisation it offers. All three character’s expressions and body language really emphasise the state of their relationship is at this stage. All hunched over the table, clearly they are all close, for example. Louise and Miranda look obviously concerned and advisory, whilst Ellen looks both interested in what they have to say, especially given that they are her friends, as well as slightly disagreeing with the advice and criticism they are offering her.

Failures

Although technically all scenes were shot, looking at these shots from a critical point of view, there are many many flaws. These are listed below:

  • We were placed at a different table than the one before. Although some may argue that this makes it more realistic, as it is extremely unlikely that one would be able to sit at the same table five years in a row. However, with the other table, I felt as though it had a more cosy atmosphere, and gave the impression that it was a regular event that the girls met up at this table, and it was the status quo that they always sat there, á la the coffee house sofa and table in Friends. I don’t think that the above table gives off the same impression, and looks more cramped and awkward.
  • It is very obvious that all these scenes were shot within a very short space of time. With my original schedule, each scene would have taken around half an hour, meaning that over around three hours, outside factors would change, such as lighting, vehicles and people in the street and even weather, giving an impression that they were all shot differently, it would like they each scene was on a different day to a greater extent. Obviously these shots do not have this.
  • My actresses were also unable to bring them an array of costumes, meaning the costumes look very much the same throughout the scenes.
  • The shots as a whole look very makeshift, rushed and amateur, and as far as I am concerned, I think I would only use them as an absolute last resort

Next Steps

I think a re-film is definitely in order. For now, I intend to work with this footage, and see if any of it can be salvaged so that very little should have to be re-filmed.

The most difficult task now is finding a suitable time where me and my actresses are all free. The original filming took place over a half-term , meaning time was not partiuclaly a problem. However, what with school during the week and part-time work over the weekend, finding a time slot is difficult, and is something I would have to think about. 

How to Make Yourself a Technophobe

DAY ONE OF FILMING

My first day of filming was originally very successful. I had managed to stick to the schedule, and both I and my actors were ready to film at The Lounge at 8:30. We decided upon our own little production schedule for shooting each scene in order to enhance efficiency and make sure the filming ran quickly yet professionally. We decided that:

  • Whilst I decorated our corner of the cafe appropriately, my actors would change into their costumes
  • We would then run through each scene entirely to ensure that the tone and mood of each line was suitable
  • We would then shoot all necessary shots in relatively chronological order
  • We would then repeat this process

Furthermore, I had created a list of the shots required for each scene, and decided that we would film the shot-heavy scenes first (2009 and 2010) and save the rest until last, so that technically the process should become easier as we went along, especially if we began to run short of time. A PDF of list list can be found below:

We had successfully filmed 2009 before problems began to arise. I personally believe that this scene went really well, and had the rest of production continued in this manner, I would not be writing about filming problems in a few minutes time. Some shots from the 2009 scene can be found below, and as soon as possible, I intend to upload a video of some of the best parts.

The wide shot of the table I would have used throughout the production

 

I really like this shot. Firstly, it is very realistic. The decor is suitable for that of a cafe at Christmas, and the character of Miranda is wearing clothes which would be of the season. The composition of the shot is also good. Both characters take up an equal amount of space, and even though the camera is placed slightly behind Miranda, her expressions are still visible to the audience. Also, the distance the girls are sat at is quite realistic of that of two girls who are still friends, but aren’t really close. Their phones are visible on the table and ready for use should they need a distraction from an inevitable awkward situation.

 

One of the OTS shots in this scene

Many elements of the previous picture are repeated in this one. For example, even though there is a lack of decor, the audience is still reminded of the season based on Louise’s costume. The composition is also very suitable. For example, just enough of Ellen’s character is shown for the audience to be able to get the gist of her reactions, as well as making it clear that it is an over-the shoulder shot without Ellen’s head and shoulder being too intrusive. Christy’s expression as Louise is also the exact combination of emotions I had imagined, for example, distress, sadness, slight panic and so on.

 

One of the introductory Christmas card shots

 

This would have, and still might act as the introductory shot to the 2009 scene. I had originally planned for a counter with fewer objects on it, however, the more I look at it, the more I like these unintentional props., as they add to the realism of the shot. I also like the composition of this shot. There is a greater focus on the foreground than the background, even though the characters are clearly visible in the background. The unintentional props also block enough of the cafe so the audience cannot see that it is not really decorated for Christmas.

Problems

There was one main problem which caused many others. This was that there was an error with the SD card that I was filming with, in that it would not allow for much footage to be put on it. We had managed to take all of 2009 in around 9 shots. However, during the middle of the 2010 scene, the SD card refused to take any more footage. After deleting any unnecessary footage, reading the manual of the camera and accepting that I would not be able to obtain another SD card, I had to give up and accept defeat. Since then, all I have managed to do is hastily re-organise with the cafe to film for an hour on Monday between 4 and 5. However, I can see the following problems arising with this:

  • We will be very pushed for time, meaning mistakes will have to be limited, something which cannot obviously be always controlled
  • Subsequently, the footage I capture may looked rushed and amateur. Whilst I am obviously aware that I am an amateur, this is still not a desirable situation.

Next Steps

Unfortunately all I can do now is repeat the organisation process I did before filming today, and attempt to carry on as quickly as possible with filming on Monday.

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