Production Meeting 31/10

Today was a brief meeting, for me I needed the opportunity to discuss my role in the project. I am finding myself getting busier with other projects and sadly this one is the least relevant to my craft and skills I want to build upon. I spoke to Sam (Producer) and Kurt (Writer) expressing my concerns for my involvement, however at the meantime I am happy to continue to collaborate until the ‘green light’ presentations, once I know which projects will be getting made I can then figure out my priorities.

The suggested idea was shifting my role to a gaffer, therefore losing creative control over the visual style. This way I can still get involved as I love the idea, but at the same time not get distracted from other projects. Reflecting upon this I feel it is the best idea, I get still get involved and get some additional lighting experience, but at the same time focus on designing for my main projects. With a prominent DP for this film I have great confidence in stepping back, for now I am keeping the Lighting Director role and playing it as it goes. Filming should be around February time, in theory this would balance nicely between the gap of films and the live events.

Initial Colour Grading Role

Liz approached me a little while to get me on board with her documentary as a colour grader. She has been focusing on the production with the crew and now I have been pulled more into the project to help determine and create a visual style. Liz is after a treatment for this by next Friday (7th November), however I am awaiting on a premise and inspiration list from her before going forward, this way I can keep on track to her directorial vision, the potential in grading is endless.

My immediate thought due to the subject matter is the ‘teal’ grade. This has become popular recently in British television, the purpose of this is to add a teal wash to the background whilst maintaining real skin tones so the subjects can pop out of the frame. The teal hue itself comes across very medical and hospitalised, this association is likely due to programs the grade features in (i.e. Embarrassing Bodies, Channel 4).

   [Image Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2277395]

To quickly create this look in DaVinci Resolve use the following techniques:

  1. Add serial node
  2. Add layer node
  3. Vectors button
  4. Use pen to select the skin tones (highlight button allows you to see selection)
  5. Hue centre/width dials to select tolerance of selected tones
  6. Double click on the serial node under the layer node
  7. Adjust the colours, it will change everything other than the layer node selection

I will try and find time to grade some stock footage and demonstrate this idea to Liz, until I get a copy of the premise and inspirations I can’t really start pinpointing grades and visual styles.

Production Meeting 31/10

Today was my first production meeting for ‘Implication’, as my role of Colour Grading lies purely in post-production I haven’t really been needed for the pre-production phase of the project. The main things I took away from this meeting was the inspirations and texts to look at in preparation for establishing a visual style with Tom (Director) and Jack (DP). The film is meant to be shot like a fashion film, focusing on composition and colour – this is what instantly made me want to get involved with the project as it is a visual feast of colour, something I am very passionate about. I was originally approached as a Lighting Director, however I felt as the project was to be shot on RED and with such a competent DP I could pull most of the colour out in post-production with the large colour space available from the RAW files.

The project is going strongly through its pre-production phases with location scouting this weekend and casting to follow later in the month. Currently it looks like filming will be January/February meaning I can grade late February going into March, this is a vague estimate and hopefully a production schedule will be drawn up soon so I can go ahead and book the grading facilities.

Speaking to Tom as my focus is in post-production I have the opportunity to get involved in earlier production phases or wait purely to the grade, basically play it for whatever time I get in relation to other projects. I will definitely get involved with Jack for how to shoot and light the film in consideration for the grade, I’m sure we will all have a discussion about the visual style soon as this is the prominent feature of the film.

 

Films to watch:
A Single Man (2009) – Huge inspiration for the grade.
Atonement (2007) – Green is prominent colour, Kiera Knightly’s dress becomes an important feature.
Hanna (2011)
Never Let Me Go (2010)
The Tree Of Life (2011)

Wood Test Sequence Grades

I managed to grab a copy of the test footage shot last week in the woods. It was shot on a Sony FS700 and provided as a ProRes sequence for me to grade in DaVinci Resolve. I immediately noticed the change in colour space, I know Mike mentioned it hadn’t been shot on a log curve so this may make a difference in future.

I referenced the mood sheets for the grade and just played around in the suite. At this stage nothing is really set in stone so I had plenty of opportunity to experiment.

Version 1

Darkened shadows, pulling them towards blue. Slight desaturation. Removed green from mid tones/pushed skin tones back. Added black elliptical vignette and film grain.

Version 2

Pulled shadows towards green and pushed red luminance curve. Added contrast (1.0 to 1.37), added another contrast node (1.0 to 1.5). Pulled the red gain and lowered the mids on the luminance curve.

Version 3

Blown out highlights, blue in gamma, reduced blue channel curve colour space and added even more blue to the gamma.

Version 4

Felt contrast, blue tones, desaturation and vignette was working so focused on these elements for next few versions. Added contrast (1.0 to 1.5), gain towards blue, gamma towards blue/purple. Lift decreased, desaturation (50 to 29) and soft black vignette.

Version 5

Qualifier – replace green hues with yellow/brown. Blue shadows, contrast (1.0 to 1.35) and lift (0.0 to 0.02).

Version 6

Applied previous ‘version 1’ grade and made amendments. Add qualifier – green leaves pushed towards blue and desaturated. Gain towards blue and rectangular vignette. Added film grain.

Version 7

Applied previous ‘version 6’ grade. Removed film grain effect – removes some blue and clears image. Tried removing vignette but preferred keeping it.

Review

Nathan, Dan and I all met in the grading suite this afternoon to discuss all the grades I made earlier this week. We broke down all the grades and came to the general consensus that the test grades were slightly too stylised. A lot of the grades have detached from the real world too much and make it appear too alien, this could be good for some shots where the creatures presence is more prominent.

The first version had too much magenta, the second was too stylised, the third continued with the theme of surrealism, by the fourth and fifth green needed to be more prominent, the final grade was probably the closest. We spoke about the style of the film together and I personally feel this has to be better established. I grabbed a fresh clip and sat down to do a quick grade that is more to the style they are after, the next step will to await on style sheets from Dan and Nathan for each location.

I think we can all agree it the grade has to be toned down due to the length of the narrative. In a short piece extreme stylisation would work, but after watching it for a while it would wear thin. The vignette is a really nice look to the frame but has to be figured out; for example in shots where the camera pans it comes across cheap. If we opt for film grain this will be done through Adobe After Effects as there is more option for control. I think I am definitely along the right lines but really have to dial down the extent of the grade, bring the concept into a realistic world, not take the narrative to an alien place.

About Afrika Eye

I already have a good sense of the festival from when George Salt came to visit us at Bower Ashton, seeing as that was so long ago I felt it was worth taking a look into the festival so I can be fully clued up ready for my involvement.

logo_afrikaeye

Afrika Eye was founded in 2005, and since 2013 its commercial success has dramatically increased following three of the biggest African Film Festivals uniting with Afrika Eye to bring a greater variety of contemporary African cinema to a broader UK audience. The four festivals consisted of Africa in Motion (Edinburgh), Afrika Eye (Bristol), African Film Festival (Cambridge), and Film Africa (London).

The festival aims to promote the richness and diversity of Africa through film, education and cultural exchange. It is a non-profit organisation and has been supported by a number of arts and council funds including the Watershed who house the majority of the event. Afrika Eye list the following aims on their website:

  • Offer access to a wide range of films not generally available through mainstream programming.
  • Offer a broader context and deeper understanding of film arts and culture.
  • Offer insight into specific countries of Africa through their politics, society, tradition and beliefs.
  • Celebrate the significant creative role that Africa plays in todays social, cultural and political landscape.

I admire what the festival stands for, I enjoy how it stands apart from other film festivals as it encourages social change and conversation. It isn’t just about screening and awarding short films, but using it as a method to raise awareness to african culture and bring it into the mainstream UK public eye. I’ve seen a little about the programme in the lead up to the festival and I am eager to see what it is all about.

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The festival can be a great opportunity to network. I can’t see any direct opportunities within the festival as it is a seasonal job, but I like to think the individuals involved are the ones who can give me a gage of the film festival network as a career opportunity. This will be my first time working for a festival and I am eager to get stuck in, I’m also eager to take in so much from another culture during the course of my placement.

Later With Jools Holland – Ben Howard

I felt this video was a good example of lighting live for an acoustic act. As I have found my shift on lighting emphasis to back and side light this clip is another demonstration of how this is commonly implemented for live performance.

The colour palette is mostly a golden yellow hue, then a blue light comes from the front to contrast this as a complementary colour. The bright nature of the yellow light ensures the intrinsic blue light appears purer. The golden yellow light itself can be viewed as:
“impalpably radiant, lacking transparency, but weightless as a pure vibration.”
– Itten: The Elements Of Color: A Treatise On The Color System Of Johannes Itten; Edited By Faber Birren, Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1970, Page 84

The blue is contracted, yet powerful; this particular hue is fairly light to maintain a consistent luminance. The warmth of the yellow [touching onto red hues] runs contrapuntal to the coldness of the blue. The yellows work to create a warm atmosphere for an acoustic act, almost mimicking the guitar itself, whilst the blue is the perfect counterpart to split through the light and focus on pulling out the main subject.

Screen Shot 2014-11-22 at 22.44.46

 

This wide angle helps to identify where all the light sources are located in relation to the set. All of the side and back yellow lights come from the ceiling rig, with a few located at eye level in order to cast stronger beams onto the subject, these being the side lights only. Some additional floor lighting can be seen around the front of the staging area alongside the amps, these are tungsten par cans often used in theatrical performance, whilst the majority of the stage light is LED technology.

Screen Shot 2014-11-22 at 22.43.57

 

The blue contrasting light is coming from the ceiling in front of the subject. This is made apparent by the shadows cast on their face during the close-up shots. The down lighting creates very ‘moody’ shadows that mimic the tone of the music. It also works to keep shadows of the equipment away from the face. If shadows were an issue a fill light could be shone directly towards the face to remove them so this cast is obviously a stylistic choice.

Screen Shot 2014-11-22 at 22.45.06

 

When the finale of the song happens the lighting switches using moving heads to illuminate the backing instrumentalists. Each instrumentalist appears to have their own dedicated yellow/white down light keeping within the colour palette, enough to illuminate each subject, but not too much so that it distracts from the main artist. The rest of the lighting appears to become more intense as the blue reduces in its prominence. I personally enjoy the stronger back light introduced as it creates a visually interesting glare enhanced by the body of the guitar. This practical light is a nice stylistic choice that matches the change in tempo and nature of the track.

Screen Shot 2014-11-22 at 22.47.59

Production Meeting 30/10

Dan and Nathan completed the third draft of the script a few days ago, it has been written to fix narrative issues resulting in additional length, cut backs will be considered later. Everyone can read through this draft, the aim is to develop a draft every week until they are happy it is perfected. The story is set in London so Dan can get enough skylines for visual effects.

We are now looking at settling in production dates, we will be shooting in January. Casting, marketing, etc will start to be arranged as soon as possible. Department specific skype meetings will start to occur.

Sound
Jordan has made additions to the sound scape, keeping in contact with Nathan and Dan as it develops. He has found a monster voice by recording the scraping noise of a pizza oven. Sound will do the mix for the test footage recorded in the woods.

Visual
Steadicam tests didn’t happen due to illness, rescheduled for Monday 3rd November with Mike, Joe, Nathan and Dan.

Grade
Several grades made up for the test footage, will be reviewed and developed with Dan and Nathan tomorrow morning in the suite.

Interactive
Dan and Nathan have written character backgrounds. Rashida thinking of making app where you can go places in Bristol and it will respond to each one with additional content.

Set Design
Continue building up and generating ideas for the script. Will eventually build the diary for the transmedia piece.

Producing
Research copyright for the T.S. Elliot poem and any suggested film references.

Next meeting Wednesday 5th November 12.30pm.

Camera Car Mount

A little irrelevant to my craft skill and focus for this year, but I attended a workshop on using a car mount. I think it’s a really cool piece of equipment and was eager to get an opportunity to test it out, hopefully to get a chance to use it properly before I miss out. To make it more worthwhile I compiled the footage together in a short sequence and graded it with DaVinci Resolve 11.

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The car mount works with three suction pads, these are fastened to the car by applying pressure and pumping the air out until they stick. It is recommended to wipe down the car and pads to ensure clean contact, if there is any grit it can cause scratches or for the pads to fail. Once these are evenly distributed for the weight of the mount you can then add the metals bars and tripod head, once secured the camera can then be mounted.

The car mount can be fastened any number of combinations, we tried a bonnet shot, drivers door, and a rear window shot. A final note to mention is the car mount will effect your insurance. If you are filming with it you need to let your insurance company know in case of an accident, plus let the local police know so you can make any arrangements incase any roads are deemed unsafe.

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I took all the test footage shot today and compiled a short sequence using DaVinci Resolves inbuilt editor. I wouldn’t recommend this for editing together an actual project, however it does have its uses in making minor amendments or creating short test sequences. For the grade I started off with colour correction and increased the saturation to exaggerate the bright colours of the countryside on this sunny day. I then pulled the pinks and greens in opposite directions as these are complementary colours, I increased the pinks in the highlights and the greens in the mid tones. Finally I completed the sequence with a soft pink vignette off centre so it was more prominent in the sky than the base of the frame. I copied this grade across all the shots.