THIRTEEN – Masks Completed

So today I finally finished the masks off! I also built the first set too.

As shown in previous entries I had already completed the Face of Autumn and the Face of Winter. I had to put the Faces of Summer and Spring on hold while I finished rebuilding my workshop. Here’s what the finished products looked like.

The Face of Summer

 

 

The Face of Spring

 

 

 

 

As for the set.

Originally, the film was going to be all done in the field and very little of it scripted or manipulated. The weather however isn’t playing ball. So to add a little variety to the film I’ve come up with a little plan to make the revealing of the Face of Spring a little more interesting.

I’ve decided to do the parts of the film where the Face of Spring sprouts from the ground as if its growing using stop motion animation. This will help to create the playful tone I’m after for this season as stop motion can be made to have a fun, jerky aspect to it.

The set for this is simple. I’ve taken a run of the mill cardboard box, filled it will a few potted plants and compost (to hide the pots) and left room in the centre for the Spring mask to go. I’ll then bury the mask, taking pictures as I go and when I edit it together I’ll put the pictures in reverse order. This will make the mask look like it’s coming up from the ground.

This is what the set looks like behind the scenes.

How it will look through the camera (The pots will be covered up fully).

Building this set and deciding to add in a stop motion element has definitely given me food for thought on how to do some other parts of the film. Before I commit though I would like to  run them by some other people to see what they think. With that I’ll wrap this post up here.

Until Next Time.

TWELVE – Summer Shots!

This a quick little update about some footage I managed to bag last week.

When I started this project, I had a concern that the Summer Scenes may be a challenge to capture due to the film needing to be made by May. Due to the recent weather, I managed to get some nice Summery clouds on blue sky. This footage will work brilliantly for the scenes that require sped up footage of rolling clouds. As spring is rolling by, if the weather holds I should be able to get some nice footage all in all.

 

ELEVEN – Update

It’s coming up to a month since my last post and as much as I dislike leaving large gaps between posts, the fact is I’ve got very little to write about.

At the moment I’m in that tedious place in filming where its a chain of paper work. Shots lists are being made, risk assessments are being typed up, people are being emailed re this and that. All time-consuming and all necessary, if not a little bit dull.

Next week I’m hoping to show some more progress. With any luck I’ll be out this week with the camera, getting the last dregs of winter and starting the spring shoot.

With that, until next time…

RTG Blog #1 – The Road to Graduation

This year (2017) is the year I graduate (Hopefully with a BA Hons). As this is quite a big thing to say the least, I thought I’d start a blog that is separate from my FMP blog. The purpose of this blog is to get down ideas about what comes next, how I plan to go about it and my thoughts and feelings about this final leg of the journey.

At the moment nothing is 100% set in the ground of what I’m going to do, but I have a good idea of what I would like to do. At the moment my main focus is getting all my modules finished off. One of those modules, however, is all about setting up your own business, which is convenient as that’s one thing I’d really like to do.

To briefly explore that notion of my own business, it will involve setting up a lighting company. I tend to get work as a lighting technician on a semi-regular basis. So it would make sense to pursue that area as I already have a lot of the gear needed and I have experience. This would set everything up for my other pet project too. A year or so ago I set up a company called Scruffy Mutt Productions, something that I hope will one day become a fully fledged production company.  Due to the amount of Uni work I had I was forced to put it on the back burner.

The Scruffy Mutt Productions logo

Now, I know that it is pretty implausible and certainly not practical to leave University saying I going to make a living making my own films. Facts being facts films cost money to make and not many people are willing to just hand over the money to someone fresh out of Uni with no proven track record. Which is where starting a little smaller should help out. My current plan is to set up a Lighting Company that provides lighting services to filmmakers of all areas. As well as lighting I can provide services around set design and prop making. I have a few ideas about other areas I may be able to get money from too which I call “trickle funds”. The money made from this specialist arm of the Mutt will partly feed into funding my own films. The idea partly came from George Lucas, the creator of my all time favourite film franchise.

Lucas Film is a film and TV production company, THX is a sound company set up by Lucas so his films had great sound and Industrial Light and Magic was set up by Lucas as a visual effects company. To link that to what I’m considering, Scruffy Mutt is my Lucas Film, my lighting company will be an arm of Scruffy Mutt that works independently as well as with Scruffy Mutt such as THX or ILM.

As for now though I need to focus on getting the foundations laid and the modules passed. Speaking of which, I have work to do! So, Until Next Time!

TEN – Post Shoot Whitby

In today’s entry I’m going to quickly talk about the shoot in Whitby. So with out further ado, lets get started.

I think the first thing that comes to mind about the shoot is how cold it was! It was the type of icy windy cold blasts that leave your face and hands both numb and stiff instantly. It was also foggy, the sea was choppy and the clouds were low and utterly miserable. Perfect then, for capturing some scenes of winter.

Taken by Jack Watling

Taken by Jack WatlingMy first port of call was to go down to the harbour. There, we (I was assisted by my Girlfriend Katie for the day) set up the camera and captured some footage of the cliffs, sea and a few rock pools near the harbours edge. My objective for the harbour/sea shots was to capture movement as well as footage that fitted the theme of winter. The tide was out which was good as I could see rock pools that are usually hidden by several feet of water, it was a pity in some ways though as it meant I was not able to get footage of waves crashing against the harbour wall which would of been nice. I also got some nice shots of the cliffs further down the coast, which due to the fog and low cloud, looked very effective and gave me some ideas of how I could implement this footage into the film.

Taken by Katie

 

 

These two pictures were taken by Katie, the left one is of one of the rock pools that can only be seen when the tide is out. The right one is of me, the cloud behind shows just how grey and grim the weather was.

 

 

While shooting, I noticed on the other side of the harbour were two rock formations out to sea. Being now virtually frozen, we decided to get dinner (the obligatory fish and chips) which gave us a excuse to sit down and warm up before heading to the other side of the harbour.

Fish and Chips devoured, we headed to the other side of the Harbor to get the last few shots before heading onto the moors. By this point the weather was a little warmer which meant less numb hands and dripping noses. On this side of the harbour the sea was a little bit more choppy too, this would give me some good opposing images to the slightly calmer sea footage on the other side of the harbour. The way the sea, rock formations and cliffs worked with each other was also brilliant for the type of shot composition I was after. After about an hour filming, we headed back through Whitby to get to go to the moors.

Taken by jack WatlingUnfortunately, by the time we got to the moors heavy fog had set in and severe weather warnings were mentioned on the local radio station. Not wanting to get caught in a bad situation I decided to forgo shooting on the moors. Besides, as I could only see about 4 feet in front of me it felt it would be a pretty redundant task anyway.

Overall the shoot went well. Due to high wind speeds I have a little bit of shaky footage to sort out in post and the audio is no good but I got some good solid shots. I may reschedule a shoot to go up on the moors but hopefully I can find somewhere a little closer to home to save on travel expenses and time etc.

That’s it for this post.

Until Next Time.

NINE – In Search of Winter

Lets start this post off by commenting on the weather. Although its been rather cold (and that’s putting it mildly), as far as how things have looked from a lens point of view it doesn’t really look like winter. The Sun has been shining, the sky has been blue and the grass is green and lush. This is all great in many ways, but as I’m meant to be gathering dramatic winter footage it’s not idea for my film project.

So, to remedy this I’ll be taking a trip to the North Yorkshire Moors! The North Yorkshire Moors has always looked dramatic anytime of the year. The plan is to go to Whitby and spend the night meaning I’m in a prime position to hopefully get some rough sea shots and some barren and bleak moorland shots the next. This way, even if it’s not typical winter I’ll have some footage that I can grade and play with to make it look like winter.

Heres to some dramatic winter time footage and a dusting (but not too much that I can’t drive) of snow.

Until Next Time.

EIGHT – The Face of Winter

In this post I’m going to show how I’m making the masks for my film. Each of the masks represent a season as I believe I have explained in a previous post. So, this is how I made the Face of Winter.

Step 1: Mask & Base Coat

The first part of making a mask is to find a suitable starting point. Many hobby shops sell a variety of different types of mask made from a variety of different materials. For this project and the other masks I chose to use a readily available plain white plastic mask.

These masks are ideal as they are made to be painted and have items attached to them.

The next part was to choose a suitable base coat. As the masks are designed to be painted, I did not need to spend time preparing the mask for paint (this would involve sanding down the item then applying a primer which takes several hours/days to dry). For winter, I decided the base would be silver. I had the idea that winter would predominately grey to start with but I also wanted the Face of Winter to be represented an Ice Queen in look so the silver checked both boxes (as silver is classed an expensive metal essentially shiny grey).

With the base coat done and dry, it was time for the next phase.

Step 2: More Paint

Although the silver was nice and looked good enough for what I needed, I wasn’t 100% happy with it. It seemed a little dull and boring compared to the previous mask, Autumn. I decided to add a little more paint. Firstly, I masked out an area that would remain silver for now.

The idea was to spray the section between the masking tape blue.

With the section now blue, I also added a “dusting” of black while the paint was still wet (While its wet the colours bleed into each other). This gave the blue a black mottled look.

Next was to decide where to put my decorations.

Step 3: Decorating

To decorate the mask, I had bought some Christmas Decorations. I had learnt from making Autumn that although its nice to use real things such as leaves it does have a limit to how long you can use it before it literally dies and falls apart. The decorations were a set of battery-powered icicle lights, four plastic icicle baubles and a star like bauble that would make the centre piece.

The long Icicle baubles would be used as horns to make the mask look a little more sinister, the lights would form a crown and the star, as already mentioned, would be the crown jewel.

I pierced four holes for the icicles in the mask using a screw and a thin file. I didn’t want exact symmetry (because nature has no straight lines or symmetry) so I did it roughly by eye.

Having decided I no longer like how contrasting the silver was to the blue, I decided to give the whole mask a dusting of black and blue. I then moved onto making the crown. For this part I secured the jewelled decoration in the centre of the forehead, then turned the mask over and pieced holes for the lights (in doing so I accidental knocked the jewel off, but re-stuck in after).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My final job for this phase was to test the lighting and make some inserts to cover the eye holes so the wires could not be seen.

I was really happy with the paint job on this one as it looked glittery and remind me of how snow reflects light.

Step 3: Detail Painting

The final step was to add detail to the mask. I wanted it to be more relatable than just a expressionless blank face. To remedy this I used some black acrylic paint and began painting of a mouth. I then added some eyelashes. Finally I painted the tip of the nose black and added some whiskers too. I wanted to make the mask look both feminine and fox/cat-like. With this done. I left it to dry.

 

With the face of winter now finished, all I need is winter to turn up so I can get some shooting done.

 

SEVEN – Evolving the Vision

A few days ago, I talked about some of the updates on the site and went in-depth about what I aim to create for my final major project. If you want to, you can read that post here. I finished with stating I had an idea on how to compromise between what I want to do and what others are suggesting.

Today’s topic is going to cover that.

While doing some research into different transitions I came across something called known as a “Hyper Zoom”.

Courtesy of YouTube

If I utilise a technique like this, I think it could make for some interesting and stylish footage.

I (If I decided to be in the film) could start in one location such as a wood, the camera would start above me then zoom to a close up of my eye, then into my eye to reveal a montage of footage to do with the seasonal change. This would give the impression that the audience is going into my mind and can see what I am thinking.

This would also open the opportunity of a disjointed and stylized montage sequence as generally, most dreams and distant memories reveal themself in a disjointed manner.

This then made me think of what could be done with the sound. By chance, while binge watching some recorded shows I came across a music video created by the SyFy Channel which was made in conjunction with Star Treks 50th Anniversary.

Video from ScyFy Chanel’s YouTube.

The song is primarily made up of sound effects and dialogue  from the various different series’ (Original Series, Next Generation, Voyager etc.)  of Star Trek.

Not that I’m suggesting replacing all the nature sounds with lasers and explosions, but it maybe possible to create a soundtrack that uses similar sound effect techniques applied to various animal sounds and ambient noises like trees rustling in the wind. As I’m not a sound expert, I’ve consulted a person that is. We haven’t come up with anything solid yet, but I get the impression he understands what I’m wanting to do and I believe he thinks it can be done.

The video also gave me some ideas on what I could potentially do with projections and lighting. At the moment though, I’m trying to keep it as cost-effective as possible. Adding elements like that may cost a fair amount of money (a good projector seems to start at around £50) but bring nothing to the table.

With that in mind, I have nothing else to report at this moment.

Until next time.

 

 

 

 

 

SIX – Updates, Updates, Updates

Today’s post is all about the updates. First main update is to the site itself. I’ve tweaked it to make it a more complete website instead of just a blog. This is more of a personal choice as eventually, I want to do some product reviews and have a place to show off my CV. These site updates have allowed me to lay the ground work for this.

Second (and more importantly for this Blog), a lot has happened since my last post.  I’ve also realised, some vital aspects have been overlooked. I’ve not gone over what it is I’m actually doing.

My idea is to essentially make a film that documents seasonal change and visually shows the feeling that goes with each season (Summer = Happy, Winter = Sad etc.). I want to do this, using my dads old lens as mentioned in the prior post.  To make it a bit more interesting, I decided to use decorated masks that would act as a sort of avatar for each season.

Early concept for the Face of Autumn, made by myself.

Overall the film would be an experimental/art film that partly plays homage to ideas put forward by American Filmmaker Stan Brakhage.

Ignoring the music this test video glimpses at what I’m wanting to do. I want to explore this idea of seeing. Not just briefly glancing at a tree and saying “its a tree” but looking and observing. Noticing details like how leaves move in the wind. How the light changes as the sunsets. The little critters that live in moss.

So I pitched this idea. It wasn’t the best pitch. I received comments along the lines of “its stating the obvious” and it’s not clear what why it’s called Dad’s Old Glass etc. I explained a few things, such it’s called Dad’s Old Glass because its shot with my dad’s old lens which is slang for lens. This helped a little as I then explained on a personal level it was my dad that introduced me to a nature as we used to go walking a lot and he’d explain what things were etc. etc.

Not a lot has changed since then except I’ve been gathering various bits of footage that maybe useful for the project and been playing with ideas suggested by one of my tutors around the opening.

Although I have creative freedom to basically do what I want, and sometimes I’d love ignore everything any of my tutors say to me about it (after all its my idea and something that is personal to me), I can’t. On a course such as this, I have to treat a tutor like an Executive Producer. At the end of the day they mark the work and give me a grade which I want to be high.

With all this in mind, I have began to formulate a plan that reaches a compromise between my objectives and the tutors scepticism . But that’s for another post later on.

Until Next Time.

 

FIVE – Old Glass

On the run up to starting filming (Details of the project to come soon)I was looking at buying some new lens so I can get the footage I’m after. The plan is to shoot using my Canon 700D. Despite being considered as an entry/enthusiast level camera and it not being a full frame DSLR it can still hold its own in terms of capturing professional level footage. Generally speaking for a film project I would usually use a 50mm lens. I like the “nifty fifty” for all the reasons everyone else does, the image quality looks beautiful and it can produce some awesome stylish “bokeh“.

For this project however I would at least like to have a telephoto, that way I can get closer to subjects (Like birds and rabbits etc.) without actually having to get closer. Which brought me to another issue to do with budget.

A cheap telephoto lens from a lesser known brand can start at around £50. These vary from preset lens such as the Opteka 500mm or a 500mm mirrored lens.

mirror

A Opteka 500mm-1000mm Mirror lens Approx £70+ (Image from Amazon)

Preset

A Opreka Preset 500mm Lens Approx £70+ (Image from Amazon)

 

 

 

Both seem impressive. Both seem to offer a lot for the money. But with a miniscule budget, that amount of money could be a bad investment if it turns out to be no good. Official Canon Lens were not an option either, generally starting in the late hundreds of pounds for a cheap alternative and well into the thousands for the higher speced L series of telephoto Lens.

A Canon EF 28-300mm L series Lens. Starting at around £1300. (Image from Amazon)

A Canon EF 28-300mm L series Lens. Starting at around £1300. (Image from Amazon)

This got me thinking of what I already owned, what I could afford and what I could make. The only telephoto lens I own (technically my dads) is from an old Zenit SLR Camera (also technically my dads). The Zenit EM cameras were 35mm and made in the USSR. They use a 42mm mount for the Lens which means that out of the box, the telephoto Lens and my camera aren’t compatible.

Optomax 70-210mm Telephoto lens

Optomax 70-210mm Telephoto lens

Zenit EM 35mm

Exact same Camera as the one I have, with a 44mm Lens Attached (which I also have access to). Image from http://camerapedia.wikia.com/wiki/Zenit_EM

Obviously it was out of the question to use the Zenit to film with, for a start it has no film function. But one of the positives to old Glass (Glass is photography slang for a Lens)compared to new Glass is it is relatively cheap. A strong positive for me is that I already had a lens that would go to a respectable 210mm and it had a rather nice macro function. I also know the lens is almost mint condition too as my dad kept the original box, lens caps and pouch. It also had the instruction booklet. So to cut a long story short and for a minimal spend of £6.99 and a slither of sticky tape (to trick the sensor), I found an adapter which means I can use the Telephoto. Obviously I have to do aperture, ISO and focus manually as the lens doesn’t have any auto compatible functions. But in the end its well worth it.

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Test Shot – Mushroom in the Garden

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Test Shot – Up close from far away

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Test Shot – Macro Test

This is a Video Test with no post correction. With this, I wrap this entry up. Until Next Time.