Robot Wrangling


A while ago I shot a mini-doco on Roller Derby in Tasmania. It was a learning exercise and the final result people seem to really like. I got asked about cutting the footage for an advert but in the end I couldn’t do it. Basically I felt I would end up making a cheap looking locally produced tv commercial and I didn’t want that. 

When I got the draft artwork for the bout I was meant to be cutting my footage for, my head started to spin ideas of how to make the footage match the its look. Eventually I hestiantly emailed VDR and said I don’t want to edit my footage, but happy to do something new and then laid out the idea. 

Here is part of my email:

I want to shoot something new using 2 girls. 1 from infectious and 1 from jam tarts. 30 sec promo. I think it all can be done up in my brothers studio. Shouldn’t take more than an hour to shoot. The basic idea is lots of close up of the girls putting on their gear. Think head to head on a white background. Finally we shoot the girls coming up to some cherries on a table which they stomp with a pair of boots (or hands… not sure yet) which this jumps to the logo. Something fast and catchy. I know it doesn’t have bout style footage so this might not be what you want.

So that was the pitch and they jumped at it. What was conceived for a basic 1 hour shoot took 2.5 hours. I need to work on my estimates when it comes to production. 

The Gear

  1. Infinite white backdrop
  2. A couple photography lights (not sure of model)
  3. Canon 7D
  4. Lenses: Canon 50mm 1.4f, Sigma EX 30mm 1.4f & Nikon 16mm 2.8f
  5. Zacuto EVF
  6. Kessler Crane Philip Boom Pocket Dolly
  7. Miller DS20
  8. Beer & Dip
  9. Patient Roller Derby Gals.

The Production

This was my first time doing something planned in a studio setting video wise. While I have done sound on set before, never actually done everything from go to wow myself, so it was a little challenging. The biggest thing that became evident to me at the beginning was that my idea with movement of the camera didn’t work as well as expected. I didn’t think it through enough and realised that if the camera is moving on a white background then it does’t actually look like much (weird statement I know). So as the shoot progressed from Nikki to Sam, I opened up the distant between myself and the girls to get more of them in shot so when I moved the camera you really noticed it.

The second thing that was worrying me was the cherries. I was actually considering making up a squib of some kind to push red liquid through the girls hands if the cherries didn’t burst. I didn’t get time to make it up and luckily the cherries burst really well. 

During this and other shoots I have come to realise that I need to be more direct and confident in my direction. I think this will come with experience as I don’t get as nervous about asking people to do weird things on camera.

So two hours of filming made for some interesting and fun footage.

The Post

As I wasn’t using any audio from set, I jumped around a heap of royalty free music sites to find some tracks that I could cut to. Initially I was thinking big epic score sound, but in the end I op’ed for something more heavy rock. Epic is good, but the footage didn’t convey epic in the same way as I was feeling in the music.

With the track selected, I started from the end of the music and worked backwards in placing footage. The reason for this was I knew the end point but not the beginning. So dropping in clips and matching them to beat/edit timing marks got something rough and ready. Then it was a matter of rearranging and finding how I thought it fit together best (editing can be so subjective). Lastly I needed to get the look right.

The Look

When I first off-loaded to footage and transcoded it I grabbed one clip and dropped it into a test project. From there I went to town in Red Giant’s Magic Bullet Looks & Colorista II. I love those plugins. The big thing was to push the background to be completely white and grund up the frame without losing the girls or some of the primary colours. The big issue was the cherries at the end. When pushed to hard they looked like black blobs and lost most of the “cherry red” look to them. Finally I settled on something I liked and saved it.

Back to Post

So with my pre-built look, I graded each clip using Colorista II like normal to get them looking consistant then dropped in my custom look. Tweaked the look using Colorista and BAM, job done.

What I learnt.

  1. Need to get over my nervousness of asking people to do things in front of camera.
  2. Nikon lenses are fun on a Canon camera.
  3. A broadcast engineer will most likely kill me for what I have done to the footage but I don’t care (to much).
  4. I am happier making new things than revisiting old things.
  1. robotwrangling posted this
Blog comments powered by Disqus