Contributions Completed

This has been the most enjoyable project to work on by far this year, a great crew, great cast and just a fun subject matter. Everyone really embraced the comical nature of the piece so you could only ever smile when the camera was rolling, often having to hold back laughter whilst watching actors perform. I really think it could be one of the most enjoyable films of the year, it’s like making a fun films with friends only with a larger budget and thousands of pounds worth of professional industry equipment.

The fun nature of the filming process counters the stressful nature of how the shoot was organised often. Whilst I appreciate what was achieved (e.g. arsenal of weapons with entire free access to street) this level of organisation wasn’t consistent. I found my natural intuition as a leader and logistical worker having to help make the production possible, often going beyond the call of duty as being a gaffer (e.g. getting all extras on the day for shoot out).

Purely focused on my work as a gaffer it was nice to sit back in a role where I could continue to build on my craft in lighting without the worry of all the planning that goes into each shoot. I feel Jack (DP) and I made a really good team and I’m really eager to see how the footage has turned out. A nice addition to this project was getting to undertake the role of ‘Steadicam Op’, this is purely a personal interest and something I enjoy, so it may be my last time getting to do it. The one shot running down the entire street is probably my favourite, undertaking this managed to keep me occupied when working outside restricted many lighting options.

Amongst all the crew, the nature of the film and roles I undertook the other great element was working with actor Ian Hoyle. I worked with him in my first short film at UWE (Alcoholic Chocolate) so it was great to work with him again as I wrap up my university experience.

I can summarise this entire production as “fun”, I just loved every moment and would not change a thing. Professionally it has continued to build my skills as a lighting specialist, also adding to wider skills such as organisational and logistical. The edit is going to pull this thing together, hopefully with a strong sound design and well executed VFX it could be one of the films to watch out for. I will definitely find time to give my input on any stage of editing.

Shooting Day 9

After rescheduling we were finally able to meet up and complete everything for Postal Service. What started off as some pickups with Jack and the extras had gradually increased seeing and Joe (Editor) and Kurt (Director) had gone through the edit so could request some additional coverage. Admittedly not a conventional practical, but seeing as we had the opportunity to do this it made sense.

Jesse (Sound), Kurt and I (Camera) were the only ones able to attend the shoot, we managed between the three of us but really could have done with an additional hand – i.e. clapper, odyssey, props, etc. We operated to Kurts shot list, this consisted of killing off extras, additional coverage of Jack and Bennett, along with picking up some cutaways. The organised shot list and incentive by all to wrap up the project made it a very quick turnover, keeping to schedule well. Unfortunately we had a few issues with missing props, as a result some shots had to be cut and some minor continuity errors may be spotted.

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I was extremely happy with all of the coverage, once again I built upon shots to keep the frame interesting. I like to think I had a good head for continuity as I was always suggesting to Kurt how the subjects should move to consider their movements. For example I had Steph (extra) run into frame in order to justify an earlier explosion of another extra she was stood next to in the long Steadicam shot, but not when he was actually shot exploding.

We managed to pick up the news report with Chris (Bennett), changing the way it was scripted as a formal report into a casual street encounter with the paparazzi. We used an alleyway just around the corner from the location, thus being able to reduce the shot list left for compositing onto the film (now just CCTV of Jack’s daughter in a jail cell).

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Unfortunately we had to scrap the scene 11 montage due to a lack of props and extras. By this point it was just Kurt and I as sound was not required, we chatted through the options and decided to get some mock CCTV style shots that could break up the previous and following scene nicely. Scene 11 would have been nice but in the grand scheme of the narrative it isn’t that important.

We wrapped up the day with some green screen photography with Ian and Chris so that Kurt can start compiling posters and publicity materials. Kurt has already created the following mock up poster design.

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I am happy that we grabbed all the content we needed, we fulfilled the shot list and a little extra. I felt like the composition was strong, keeping consistent with previous Steadicam shots of giving a sense of space by car directions and keeping the frame interesting with movement and parallax. Everything ran smoothly, no issues to report; the performers were great, acting as a small unit had its benefits, this should definitely be everything we need for the final edit.

Gaffer Kit List

Throughout the production process I have been keeping a working document of all kit I have hired from the UWE media centre. With so much kit on location I felt it would be appropriate to keep track of everything I am responsible for. I believe Sam (Producer) or Kurt (Director) have full lists of every item, this is as much of a personal document as it is professional.

I created this document at the beginning of the production period when booking out kit, as we have progressed I have made amendments to the bookings along with additional dates in relation to added filming dates.

Postal Service Gaffer Kit Lists

Pickup Shooting Postponed

Unfortunately filming scheduled for today had to be postponed due to lack of access of weapons. As Jack (DP) was unable to attend the shoot he was happy for me to continue to camera operate alone, I did discuss with Sam the possibility to frame out the guns but it would really be compromising the shoot and would be a waste of time and effort in reality. In my mind I was really eager to head out and film as I had all of the kit and felt confident capturing 4K on the FS700 by myself, but I appreciate the decision Sam and Kurt have had to make.

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In the lead up to filming I had spoken to Jack regarding the remaining shot list, on top of this as I have been popping in and out of Joe’s editing process between grading other projects I have been able to discuss pickup shots needed for the edit. Kurt has also spoken to Joe and fed back information for the shot list to me. Thankfully the sequence of Dan getting shot cut together nicely so majority of what is required from this point is deaths of extras along with a few pickups from Ian (Jack Steel) and Chris (Bennett).

On a separate note I must add how amazing a piece of kit the Odyssey 7Q+ is, now that I’ve had time to dabble around with it I am really appreciating the benefits it offers to shooting beyond its 4K ability. Hopefully this coming week Sam will be able to release another date for pickup shots, as the Steadicam is not vital and we are filming outside I am not a vital asset, nevertheless I will try my hardest to make the shooting date.

Odyssey 7Q+

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This is the piece of equipment that we were waiting for in order to shoot on the SonyFS700 at 4K, and having used it on set I am already loving it. Jack has been responsible for using it whilst I was operating the camera, so I haven’t had much chance for a hands on experience yet. With the final filming dates approaching I will been undertaking operating it as Jack is unable to make the additional filming dates due to other projects.

The 7.7″ OLED 8-bit 1280×800 touchscreen allows SDI and HDMI inputs or outputs. Working with Sony RAW, Canon RAW, ARRIRAW and POV Raw it is compatible with a wide variety of cameras; able to capture this as uncompressed DPX or convert directly into an Apple ProRes 422 HQ codec. Using it with the Sony FS700 you can capture 4K RAW up to 60fps, with higher speeds available in smaller bursts.

The Odyssey boasts a useful set of features that have proved extremely useful on the production already:

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The OLED touchscreen has been a great reference tool, useful for Jack as he isn’t operating the camera and even more useful when I am having to compose awkward shots (e.g. flipping the Steadicam to get closer to the ground). The range of inputs and outputs makes it a diverse piece of kit, only having to rely on one input to achieve so much potential from the Sony. At times being attached to a cable can be awkward during Steadicam operation, but this is more likely due to the rigid nature of video cable we have been using.

The LUT support ensured we were able to preview the desired look, really helping to get immersed in the production process further. The zoom feature was the most surprising function, the ability to zoom in and scroll across the image saved so much time when checking shots. This function expanded across all features present in the device. I’m certain there is even more potential in the product, so far it has been everything we needed and more.

The ability to record 4K ProRes from the 4K RAW is one of the stand out features from the Odyssey. Being able to compress and downscale within the device produces better images with greater amounts of data, whilst being able to maintain smaller file sizes.

Each firmware update for the Odyssey sees more power unlocked from the FS700 and it can only get even better. The device is simple to use with easy navigation functions, its duration but lightweight, and recording to SSD drives is without problems. Personally the only issue I’ve faced with this device is housing it and stopping glare on the screen from the sun. Whilst price may be an issue currently I’m yet to encounter this factor and am happily appreciating this new piece of equipment and would highly recommend using it.

Shooting Day 8

Unfortunately the weather was not in our favour today and really messed up our filming schedule! We managed to get outside and film a lot considering the circumstances faced, but as a result we will need to get out on location again to finish up filming.

The extras arrived at the start of the day for us to kill off individually along with Ian for close combat. Shortly after it started to rain, a little drop was okay but when it got misty rain Jack and I had to call cut for the cameras safety. Kurt and Sam spoke to all of the extras, all were happy to make another date, only one had issues with availability so we were able to film a close combat fight between him and Ian to kill him off before having to wrap for the morning.

As the weather was scheduled to improve the verdict was made to stop filming and regroup in the afternoon. I had to pop off location to film so the others met earlier and began filming the end sequence back on the RED One as it was a separate scene. By the time I arrived again I was able to assist with the final shot on the Jib as Jack and his daughter walk off into the distance away from Roy. I then mounted up on the Steadicam and we got shots of Ian during the fight sequence, filling in any gaps in what we had filmed the previous day. Once again the weather was against us so when it started to get dark we had to wrap for the day despite filming not being completed.

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It really is annoying, but in this scenario there is nobody to blame. We’ve all accepted what we have to get, Jack and I have gone through the shot list with Kurt so Sam can now schedule a date as appropriate. Minus some pickups of certain scenes it’s mostly about getting the deaths and reaction shots from the extras and Jack during the shootout sequence.

Reflecting back on this weekends shoot other than logistical issues (i.e schedules) one consistent problem is everyone feeling the need to direct. I appreciate the fun nature of the film but with everyone throwing in their ideas it means the shot list is getting pushed back so filming is taking much longer. It should really be Kurt speaking up and suggestions made through him, even I have been guilty of this at times. Not only does it impact on the schedule but it will throw Joe in the edit as things break away from the script.

I felt like this weekend went extremely well, despite everything thrown in our way (drop out extras, weather, schedules, etc) we all powered through and got some fantastic footage. I am extremely proud of my role operating the Steadicam in addition to acting as gaffer, I will love to have this credit in the film especially after the one shot I mentioned in yesterdays post. The pickups from the scene shouldn’t be too strenuous so hopefully Sam can get it all arranged soon and call wrap on the film. I have thoroughly enjoyed this weekends filming, running around with a camera filming people fighting and shooting guns, who wouldn’t!

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Shooting Day 7

Shooting Day 6 I was unable to attend due to a last minute change of date so that my schedule was already committed to other projects. Having spoken to Jack (DP) and Kurt (Director) before and after the shoot it seems like everything turned out really well. Being a small unit composing simple shots it made the process a quick turnover.

Today was the first of an important shoot, this weekend was also what I have been looking forward to the most as it features the big shootout sequences and I have had the opportunity to do some Steadicam operating. I’m not heading into the direction of camera operating as a career, but Steadicam is something I thoroughly enjoy so I really flourished during todays shoot. I love the ability to move around freely and follow the action, I am also a great one for making suggestions to the shot to add more to the frame to truly utilise this piece of equipment.

Jack had compiled a shot list so I operated under his guidance. When filming both of us would chat through and block through the shots to see how we could build upon them in consideration to our environment. The main element for both of us was keeping the shot interested and well composed, due to the nature of the location and 360 filming I used cars as a strong horizontal into the distance for good composition, but at the same time acting as a point of reference for the audience so continuity of cutting could remain consistent.

The exciting element today was taking out the Odyssey 7Q+ enabling 4K filming from the Sony FS700, this was a vital element to the film in order to match the quality of the RED. Jack chose to shooting the entire scene on this device for continuity in quality whilst cutting. I did find the rigid BNC cable running from camera to Odyssey difficult as it restricted movement and would throw off the cameras balance at times. This is definitely something that needs to be investigated for anyone filming with Steadicam and Odyssey in the future, possibly running a cable down the length of the arm or using a thinner/durable cable?

With filming taking place outside there was little I could do in terms of lighting. LED panels had little effect and the dramatic movement in most shots made dotting lights outside obsolete. I found sunlight to change dramatically, but the flat nature of the logarithmic filming on the Sony should remove that issue. During close up shots I introduced reflectors to highlight details, this was especially noticeable for dark items to distinguish items such as black handguns sliding into black holsters.

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Once filming had got going it ran relatively smooth, the main problem on the shoot was the time it took to get going. It hadn’t been greatly organised so Jack and I were limited on the shots we could film, in the end we said to Sam that everyone had to be around for us to freely filming, shooting the odd extreme close up out of sequence really wasn’t practical.

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Sam had been fantastic in getting all the weapons for the shoot, they were fantastic props and the guys providing them were so accommodating for our shoot. The realism of these airsoft guns added so much in production value, ranging from shotguns to machine guns and rifles, a great track down by him! As a result the suppliers also starred in the film as extras for the day. Unfortunately the rest of the extras Sam had promised from the UWE airsoft society had dropped out, with him unable to find backups I found myself acting in a producer style role once again on this project as I made some phone calls and managed to get 6 more onto the set creating an entire small army so filming could go ahead.

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Jack was great at finding all of the shots on the list, operating everything other than Steadicam (i.e. jibs) where I would assist. Jesse did really well at sound, especially having to catering to running alongside my movements on the Steadicam. All of the actors knew what they were doing and produced strong performances lead by Kurt, however at times the extras were left in the dark. Despite the problem with extras and issues with scheduling Sam managed to pull this vital element of filming together, not many people could find a quiet street where we could film gun fights all day to nobodies complaints.

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One shot I have to mention is the long Steadicam establishing all of the villains shooting at Jack. Kurt liked the idea of having the shot of everyone behind cars, I then happily took the lead and blocked through all of the movements with the actors to play up to the Steadicam. To keep it dynamic I had extras run across the frame so I could follow their movement. Kurt and Jack were both happy to leave me to my own devices on this shot and I love how it turned out. I’d like to see this as a one-shot in the edit, I can argue the case but it’s up to Joe and Kurt at the end of the day.

We are pretty much on track looking ahead to tomorrow. We covering a lot of the scene so as long as everything goes to plan and we get a quick start we should have this wrapped up by tomorrow, I do anticipate having to get pickups at a later date due to the complicated nature of the scene.

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Shooting Day 5

Another successive shoot, definitely taking longer than it should have, but despite all obstacles it all turned out great. The main issue came down to a lack of set design and organisation, this seems to be a commonly occurring issue for the entire shoot which is extremely frustrating as I am having to worry more about logistics rather than my creative lighting craft.

Admittedly I am getting myself involved with the organisation of the project, this comes from my natural leadership and producer skills. Today was a prime example, the studio was not booked by Sam for our first shot, instead I suggested we started dressing our second location as it was not ideal for a surveillance room. With Chris (Bennett) arriving in an hour Jesse, Jack and I arranged the furniture in the edit room whilst Kurt went to print off props for the notice board in shot and paperwork for the desk. I sourced a few filing cabinets to fill up the room and make it resemble an office better.

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When it came to lighting the room I played around with the idea of clamping a dedo to the top window focusing directly down on the noticeboard as a strong singular beam. Jack and I really liked this, so I adapted further using magic arm clamps to have three beams across the two noticeboards. I then introduced a tungsten temperature KinoFlo Diva in the corner of the room bouncing off the ceiling to increase the overall ambient light as I had chosen to completely blackened the room for entire control over the lighting.

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Unfortunately we faced some further issues right before Chris was arriving. Firstly Sam had forgotten to give the red armbands to Kurt yesterday meaning we had to wait on Jack to run up to Gloucester Road and retrieve them. The original plan was for me to film the closeups whilst he ran this errand, however the computer in the room crashed and couldn’t connect to the network. The screen was playing a blue card for chroma keying purposes, whilst I set out to find a technician to resolve it Kurt went through the script with Chris and the two henchmen played by Dan and George.

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All of these minor issues completely backed up the shooting schedule, but once again we continued to prevail. The lighting for the first perspective worked really effectively. When it came to the reverse I opted for higher contrast lighting as the opposite side of the room wasn’t dressed effectively. Pointing each dedo at each character and removing the KinoFlo meant I could cast three strong areas of light allowing Jack to dial down the iris so that the background turned into darkness. I had to black flag around the windows to stop any light spill and am happy with the final effect. Just incase anything gets pulled up in the grade I suggested pulling a filing cabinet across the background as set design.

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Following the completion of this scene Jack, Kurt and I popped into the bathroom to pickup a shot from the montage sequence of Jack getting ready for action. I blacked out all of the automatic lighting with gaffer tape and shone a LED panel over the toilet pan, using gaffer tape to create a singular strip. Kurt then used an apple juice mix to spray into the pan whilst Jack stood above with the FS700 at a high frame rate.

Despite all of these minor issues backing up our shooting schedule all of us crew have continued to overcome the problems presented. I am becoming frustrated that these issues are effecting my concentration on my creativity; Jack and I both feel like we are having to compromise our shots. I am still happy with how I have been executing the lighting and the collaboration between Jack and I. I feel like we are producing great content, I just feel like with better organisation we could truly focus and produce something even greater.

Tomorrow was supposed to be our next shooting date, however Sam has switched the date at the last minute to Friday. Unfortunately due to grading comittments on other projects I will not be able to attend. As it is only extreme close up pickups I have no problem with Jack executing the lighting, it is mostly the case of replicating the design from the previous shooting dates. My next day on set will now be the weekend for the outside finale fighting sequences, in the meantime I am going to chase up about the plugin for 4K on the Sony FS700 as it is extremely important to the shoot for being able to swap between RED and Steadicam footage.

Shooting Day 4

Todays shoot did not start off on a positive note. Jack, Jordan, Jesse and I headed into University at 9.30am to pick up equipment, the expectation from Sam was we picked this up and were over the other side of Bristol ready to shoot by 10.30am. This was obviously an unrealistic expectation, all we could do was be as quick as we possibly could. In addition the actor playing Dowdy Man had dropped out the night before for reasons I am yet to know, thankfully I managed to rope my older brother into the film, I felt it was important to try and avoid people from our course as it destroys the story world for our initial screening market.

By the time we had checked out all of our equipment for the week it was around 10.30am. I had kept Sam notified on the progress as I felt like I was acting as a producer at University ensuring everyone gets to the shoot. The fact no transport was accommodated for realistically (other than Jacks car and a taxi) was poor planning on Sam’s part. I think it was a combination of ill planning and not knowing the extent of equipment booked. We managed to split the equipment between Jacks car, a large taxi and thankfully my brother offered to help transport the rest with me. By the time we reached the location it was around 11.30am, so the battle against time had already begun.

Sam did a great job in the location he managed to secure, when I came into the front room I instantly knew how to be shooting it, I checked with Jack then went ahead rigging. For the single shot Jack and I opted to frame the seat and window as a source of natural light, I then introduced two daylight balanced KinoFlo Divas alongside the window to heighten this sense of daylight.

For the rest of the day we had to shoot terribly out of sequence of accommodate for my brothers availability and daylight. Kurt kept great track on what we were shooting and was able to keep the actors switched on for what they were doing. We moved onto external shots of Ian (Jack) walking down the street, initially planned as a track movement we found issues with the lack of flat pavement so Jack opted to go handheld. Personally the time spent laying the track only not to have used it was a real waste of what little time we were fighting against. I respect the choice of using grips, but at the same time feel it can overcomplicate a shot that should be quick and easy to film.

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Proceeding this we went back into the doorway of the house for when Dowdy Man receives his parcel. I bounced a 2K ARRI inside the hallway as a suggestible light fixture whilst I featured another outside with CTB as heightened daylight. What I found particularly interesting was the effect of the 100m extension cable on the light quality. As I had to rig the light outside the door I needed around 30m length making 100m cabling the only option, as soon as I lit the 2K the quality was noticeably dimmer. Originally I was going to use a KinoFlo but it barely turned on, hence the switch to 2K Arri with CTB.

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Having completed the sequences between Jack Steel and Dowdy Man I had to leave set due to work, this was at 4.30pm (listed wrap time) showing how far over schedule we had ran. Having spoken to Kurt since it appears like the rest of shoot went to plan, I have no idea on how the footage looks but seeing as it was all exterior shots there would have been very little for me to do in terms of lighting.

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Some additional notes on the day concerning sound and acting. Firstly I got to make a brief cameo appearance as a third arm for Jack Steel. This was a gag Ian suggested so with clever camera angles and several rehearsals I stood behind Ian and popped out my arm holding a pen, it took a few attempts to get it right but the end result was hilarious, hopefully the audience will share this view. Finally the 522 Mixer went down towards the end of the day due to a lack of battery power even though it was stacked up with full charged AA batteries (had checked all my my battery tester). The genius plan we came up with was to use our B Cam (Sony FS700) as a sound recorder as it allowed XLR inputs. I don’t think it was an ideal situation for Jesse (Sound Mixer) but it thankfully saved the shoot from coming to an abrupt ending.

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Todays shoot could have ran much more effectively with better scheduling and logistical planning. I am happy with how lighting was executed on the day but the dramatic change in light due to the time spent filming inside does make me worry, hopefully Dipo can resolve this in the grade. Looking ahead I am uncertain of what we are filming when and where, all I know is tomorrow will be Bennett, Wednesday, then Saturday and Sunday for the exterior fight sequences, that is definitely the shoot I’m looking forward to most.

Best Continuous Shots

Continuous shooting refers to an uninterrupted shot in a film which lasts significantly longer than the editing pace of films in general. This type of shot is rare in modern films, but when executed well it stands out from the crowd.  Continuous shots used to be an issue as cameras could only handle a small amount of filming until reels or tapes needed to be changed. For example Rope (1948) wanted a continuous take but cameras could only last up to 10 minutes, meaning clever editing made this possible – i.e. dollying to featureless surface.

In modern films continuous shots are much easier to capture as modern cameras can easily last for whatever period of filming is required. Continuous shots are commonly captured with the use of a dolly shot or Steadicam shot. With so many examples across the history of cinema I have noted the following shots highlighted by WatchMojo.com

This list demonstrates the variety of continuous shots that exist throughout cinema history. Of all listed a few of them stood out, mostly the ones that applied the use of Steadicam.