Thursday, 26 January 2012

First Time YouTube!

Well, I finally put my first video on YouTube. I put a lot of work into it. It's not perfect, but I'm guessing everyone says that about their own stuff. Besides, I think if anything was perfect, there would be no reason to go and try again and create new stuff.

This will hopefully be a good push to go out and do more.

In the upcoming post I'll go over some more of the scenes and the methods I used.

Check it out here:

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Candlelit Scene

The candlelit scene was the one that had me concerned about lighting and setup. I didn't want to shoot too dark (which introduces grain) but I also couldn't blast it with too much light, since I needed to crush the shadows in post.

The Camera:
I'm shooting with a Canon 60D with the cinestyle preset. This helps preserve the shadows and highlights, producing a flatter image. This way I have more control in post.

The setup was a 5500K fluorescent soft box pointing away from the actors (my wife and I) and into the corner of the room. It was enough to create an ambient fill throughout the room.

To add more candle light glow, I have a flashlight with a Color Temperature Orange (CTO) gel pointed at the edge of our faces.

Behind and to the left was a distant 1000W tungsten with a few color temperature blue (CTB) gels. Since tungsten is much more yellow than the fluorescents it took a few gels to make it bluer. I wanted this to simulate the moonlight coming through the windows. I used barn doors to direct the light and try to prevent spill into the background. This is what is creating the highlight on the couch.

I believe my shutter speed was around 1/30th per second, which gave me an overall well lit scene. To get a sense of what the scene would look like when color corrected, I sped up my shutter speed until the scene was about as dark as I wanted it. I could see highlights on the face and nice dark shadows. Since this looked good, I put my shutter back to 1/30th.

For audio (which you can't hear in this clip) I only have one shotgun mic. Since I didn't have a boom operator, I set the mic on a mic stand pointed at whoever's side of the conversation we were filming.

Color correction for the most part was:
Curves - Applied strong S curve boosting highlights and crushing the shadows.
Hue/Saturation - Curve adds saturation which tends to redden skin tone, so I used hue/saturation to desaturate the red channel.
Vignette - Helps darken outer shadows and adds filmic look.

Check out the before and after color correction sample. (no sound)

What I would have done differently:
All in all I'm quite happy with the results. If I did anything differently, I would have used a piece of foam board to block some more of the tungsten light (with the blue gels) from hitting the background. I was able to darken it enough, but I wouldn't have had to crunch it as much, sacrificing my midtones a little.

Sunday, 22 January 2012


Usually when I plan a film project, I try to set out to do at least one scene that I find a bit intimidating. Whether it's a camera move, special effect, or lighting. My goal is that when I've completed a number of these little projects, I've tackled all the things that once made me nervous about taking on a larger project. If anything, I won't feel the need to simplify any scenes based on fear of the unknown, since I've already tried it.

As I go, I figured I would share what techniques I used, what went well, and what I would have done different. Hell, I might even go back and do it again anyways.

Below are a couple of screen shots from a short fake trailer I'm working on. It's actually been completed, but I may go back and do some dialog replacement and tweak the audio before I post it.

In the next post I'll go over one of the scenes: the set up, lighting, color correction and anything else I can think of.

Sinister Establishing Shot

Candlelit scene

And of course... Monster Vision.