The Dance Project
I was contacted about being the media director for a federally funded community dance project that spanned across Tasmania. I said yes and had to learn a lot quickly. This project is something like I have never done before. Filming dance is something totally new to me, add to that how abstract the descriptions where of the final product, the challenge was set.
The big thing about this project is that is already underway. Stuff had been filmed before I came onboard and posted onto their website. My job was/is to film the next sections and edit them and deploy them onto the website but also have them in a board-cast format. Did I mention that I had less than 2 weeks from accepting to filming with a one week turn around time to have the filmed… 9 x 90 sec clips edited and deployed.
The filming was a lesson on using every bit of equipment you have to make it interesting. We had 4 hours to shoot all 9 sequences with only three takes for each. On top of that, I didn’t get to see the dances before we shot. Then add the we only had one location for most of it and you get the pressure to shoot something that can be usable. I opted to used not 2 but 4 camera.
- 2xSony HDV cameras
- Canon 7D with Sigma 30mm F1.4
- CobraCrane Jib
- Monfrotto Monopod
- Miller DS20
- Zacuto Striker
- Zacuto EVF
- KesslerCrane Pocket Dolley
- Tripod Dolley Mount (attaches to the base for free movement)
- 3 x Daylight1200 Fluoro Lamp 4
Not all the cameras where used every time but some takes did see all 4 running at one. The GoPro was extensively used on the Jib as I didn’t have time to calibrate the weights of different cameras all the time.
We rushed through the shoot keeping to the strict time we where allocated for each sequence. At the end of the first 6 sequences we had to move to another room within the hall. These last 3 sequences where more awkward plus the last two where with different dancers than we had be working with all day.
With technically only 7 days to edit, grade and upload the clips and somehow tell a story which I didn’t get at all, it was a little stressing to say the least. Working on something that has a clear defined goal and isn’t “artistically abstract” is much easier than this. I am more of a literal person, I work with logic and lateral thinking, makes this type of editing almost painful to start. So I reverted back to basics. Edit the sequences the best you can with the footage you have. Present that and ask for the next step which was to edit up audio clips from interviews done by someone else (I hate the audio quality, but not much I can do) to tell a story. So I ended up with roughly 5 minutes of audio. The next curveball was being asked to compose some music. This is sorta where I draw the line. I haven’t composed music in 12 years. I did my best using loops and stuff, but in reality I wasn’t happy with it or even being asked. Luckily it was dropped for something else when I sat down with the creative director and edited up the audio in something more useable. The footage we used for the interviews, Angie the creative director scrambled to get between having a sick child and getting ready to move house/city.
So I colour timed the footage to have a very warm feel to it. I wanted it to stand out from the other clips of the website and also make it a bit more visually interesting. Secondly, none of the clips apart from the interview sequence needed audio. The interview clip plays on page load and the audience get to hit play on other clips when and if they feel like it. That was the brief, not sure how effective it is though.
So with the first shoot done and dusted, I have two more to prepare for. Luckily I think I have a handle on it now and also got a LOT more pre-production, so fingers crossed I will be able to take what I have learnt from this and make something even better.
If you go over to www.thedanceproject.com.au and click on “North East” (see edit below) you will see my videos. Not my normal type of project and a lot of collaboration, but sometimes it is fun to learn when you are a director for hire.
EDIT: Ops, I published these clips as North East, but it was actually North West. So I have updated the website to put them into the correct category.