Short Film production journal. 2015
By Sergej Novosad
I worked as a location sound recordist for Grace’s project. On the first day we had an interview with a main character at his house. I was happy with all equipment I was provided with. Also, we did not have any logistics problems, everything was organized very smoothly. We got the interview very fast at that day.
I was also participating as a sound recordist for Grace’s documentary on the second shooting day. The day begun as usually, everyone turned up at the right time so we did not have any time logistics problems. Once we got at the actual location, we immediately begun working. I was very happy with equipment I was provided by Grace. Everything was working well, except one thing. There have been a couple times that cable leading from radio radio microphone produced interferences and crack noises, but for the rest of time it was working just perfect. After we finished, we quickly packed and moved back to university. Overall, I was happy how it was organized and put together.
I was happy when Sophia has come to me with an offer to edit her short film. First of all, I really liked how we began our negotiations. She invited everyone in the TV studio for pre-production and rehearsals. It happened two months before the actual deadline so we felt relaxed. That is where I have got a script for her short film. We also discussed what we will need and what we want to see on screen. However, after that day I did not see or hear or get any message from Sophia until the deadline hit the mark. I do not know what was happening during this time, but I could not help her. When she contacted to me after the time we supposed to submit our films, I have had to say no and cancel our deal. The main reason was that, I have moved away from the town where we used to live together, secondly now it is a late project which supposed to be done in a rush, and finally, I could not use my computer, because of a hard-drive failure so I was not able to take new projects until I buy new one.
Editing with Daniel “Underpass” Film
First of all I would like to begin my expressions that, I really enjoyed working on Daniel’s project called Underpass. It is a short film about how life can be difficult, unpredictable and easy at the same time. Me and Daniel have come up with a plan 3 months before we actually got something to work with. On the actual day there were no any struggles with video content so we began editing. I would like to mention that, I was not really happy with brightness of the raw video I have got to work with. As a postproduction color-grader I have got little bit rate or color information to deal with. Nevertheless, I really liked working with Daniel, because he has provided all the additional materials to me such as full script and bits of a storyboard. The editing begun from choosing and collating the best bits of the video content. Production team have made made a lot of takes of the same slates, so it took couple hours for us to find all the shots we wanted. After that, we proceeded to the sound, the quality of which was really poor. However, I was concentrating on the image editing more than on sound, so it did not bother me too much. As for video, I would like to note that there were a lot of continuity issues, such as hand and bottle positioning, objects jumping from frame to frame. It took me a lot of time to fix and hide. Unfortunately, I could not hide every single mistake, so I made a decision to deal with it and let it be. For example, if you take a look at woman’s hands, the audience can notice that sometimes her hands change positions, as well as a bottle of whiskey which also “jumping” across the table. In spite of the fact that we had continuity difficulties, we still achieved flawless storyline. Once we have finished with editing, I began working with color-grading. The most difficult part was to increase exposure without losing the overall quality of the image. Then I discussed with Daniel about what the look does he want to get for his film. He asked for a dark and dystopian image, so I almost completely desaturated colors, passed through bleach bypass filters, color curves and pallets. So I achieved that and made film look very depressing and dark. After everything has been done, I sent samples to Daniel and we agreed that it is ready to go on sound design stage. Overall, my part of the project was completed within 20 hours in total and has been done on the second day. For editing it took 15 hours in a raw and 5 hours for color-grading and rendering time.
Editing Kate’s short Film
It was a great experience working with Kate on her short film. She has come to me with the offer for me, to be her editor and visual effects crew for her project. The offer came to me a month before she shot anything. So I agreed without thinking. First of all, I would like to point at, is a proper language and fast way of communication we used in order to push the project forward. Even we live at different locations, we still managed to transfer all the video and audio data and also to have meetings through internet. It is a good experience of working remotely. In other words, it is a proper example of a freelance job. According to a video content, I would like to point out at some minor mistakes made during production which affected the workflow at postproduction stage. First of all, I have noticed that some slates shared the same number and repeated themselves being a different shots at all. Hopefully, I was dealing with a small amount of video and audio files, so I easily, without problems found and synced right audio files with video. Secondly, I noticed that the camera operator constantly produced unnecessary noises such as speaking and laughing on set while filming. Also, a sound recordist was not quiet careful with sound equipment. Audience can hear how microphone smashes at something. However, these minor issues are all related to the sound, I was a video editor. The first draft of the film has been edited and ready within 4 hours without any struggles. I have created a special effect of a camera screen monitoring , which shows basic settings and information on screen including sound peaks. It is made in order to make a feeling that it was shot by domestic video camera by unprofessional person. After that I have applied a color correction. The view supposed to be look like a late evening or almost a night time. The only thing, if it was shot during cloudy weather, the picture would perfectly represent night, in some ways it would be difficult to spot that it is a day time, but the sun is too bright, what makes picture too contrast. At this point I could not avoid it, so I let it be as it is. By the end, when Kate was happy with the edit, I have transferred all the files including project files and all rendered files to her hard drive and at that point, the project was finished for me.
Daniel’s “Pamela” Short film.
I really enjoyed working with Daniel, because everything and every bit was well organised. As well as a great production timing. First of all, I would like to point out that everyone was punctual in our team. We set up probs and lights quickly and begun filming. Unfortunately, we did not have equipment such as dolly track, because we had tracking shots in our production list. So, every moving shot was produced handheld, which decreased the video content quality. However, the the great choice of actors could compensate shaky picture.
All in all, I have no other thoughts to say about this particular production, only that is went really smooth and on time.
“Emancipation” Short film.
The first steps of the short film development were made in September 2014. I have got a message from a person who had an original idea and desire to make a series about brother and sister trying to survive in the mad world. He did not know where to begin from, so I decided to take this project and help to embody his idea. We have begun from forming a story in to the logical structure. When we finished creating our first characters and movements I put it in to the script. However, because of the length of a story this concept could not be fitted within the short film genre which university course required. So that we have made a special short script with complete story which allowed us to make a maneuver forward to a five minute film which will be used as a trailer for our future series. We are going to use it in order to get additional funds and create an intrigue. This shows that I am flexible and able to make fast, correct decisions as a director.
The first shooting day begun from the scene where main character Geniq wakes up in his apartment after he sees a dream. Everything went smooth except one moment with a Glidecam Steadycam Rig. Unfortunately, I was not really satisfied with the stability of a camera it supposed to provide while moving slowly. The reason is that it has one spring stabilizer only. It is enough to make the shot smooth when camera operator is moving fast through corridors or a field, but not for cramped places. This job could be done with a glidecam which has two springs and more accurate weight balancing system. Next time I will use that for more active and accurate shots.
The second shooting day we made, was covering our first dialogue scene. The most difficult part was to organize a proper location and time for actors, because they both have kids and family. We did not have any issues and successfully filmed the bit where Emili and Geniq have a conversation.
The third shooting day took place on a Beachy Head cliff in Eastbourne. It was covering the beginning and the ending of the film simultaneously. There were no problems in logistics and organizing personnel. We have been looking for suitable weather for our production for a week, so the actual day had all conditions we needed and everything gone well and fast.
The last shooting day we have had, covered where Geniq has got another case with emancin and him walking away. Unfortunately, there was only one issue during production. I booked a biological laboratory at campus, where we supposed to film how he gets that case inside, but the person who was responsible for equipment let me down explaining that he forgot to take camera.
I was really happy after we have got all the video content ready to go, I have begun editing it immediately. At this point, I noticed how well it was planned at pre-production stage and organized on set. There was a good scheduling and storyboard, so it took me only 2 hours to make a first draft. After that, I began experimenting with color-grading. Simultaneously, I have started working on special visual effects. It took me 12 hours to create galogram and set it up. It is the moment where Geniq stands up from the bed at the beginning of the film. At this point the most difficult part was to apply effects on unstable image. As I mentioned before, the video was shaky. I am not fully happy with that particular shot, but I could not do anything to make it better, so that I let it be and dealt with that. Once, I and a producer of the film were happy I started working on sound design. At this point, once I have covered almost everything, I noticed that the music which was written by mastermindmag.com for this film did not entirely fit. But again, there is nothing I could do, so I put it there as it is.
All in all, I am happy with the result we have got, but I am feeling that it could be done faster and better in case of quality, if we had proper actors, equipment such as dollies and automated crane, faster computers and budget for probs.