Indie Film Live

Friday, June 30, 2006


The moment we all have been waiting for...behind the scenes footage of SPOON and the SI-1920. These first few clips I have put together to try and show you a bit about what's going on and so you can take a look at some ways we are using the camera's and software.

Simon with software interface

In this clip you can see Simon, one of our directors, after just installing some new software we got from Silicon Imaging. The picture you see on screen is the interface we use to control camera operations, all with the click of a button. Here we just recieved software upgrades that enabled us to change shutter speed through the program. You will also notice, from around 35 second in the clip, how Simon is selecting the project archive he wants to record to. Each time the record button is pressed and then stopped again a seperate file is created for each take. This is a huge help in post-production as all your clips are already seperated and ordered.

Camera LCD screen

The camera head sends the GigE signal to our wafian boxes, and then the screen image from the computer screen is sent baack to the LCD mounted on the heads, as you can clearly see here. Thus what you see at VT is what the camera operator sees, and the other way round of course. This was filmed on our set that we built in the school hall.

Shaheen on the SI-1920

Our camera operator for Camera Head 1, Shaheen. The camera heads are quite light so actions like standing on a high ladder is no problem. The light heads have made various such shots possible that would have, though possible, been more dificult.

Couple of shots where we are using the camera on a Jib Arm. Very easy to control and it gives a very nice smooth motion to the shot.

Right, I hope you like our first behind the scenes footage, there are more clips, but I'll post them tomorrow. If there is anything specific you want to see, feel free to ask for it in the comments. Just as a teaser I will say that future clips include: outside shots, camera's on bungee rigs, close-ups of the camera, some stunts and Grant, our DOP, showing off the glyde-cam.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

VT station flexibility

We have just finished with our shoot at our latest location, a week and a half of night shooting, working from 5pm till 5am. This was our biggest set-up for the film that we have so it was pretty exciting. We got to shoot some scenes in slow-motion, at 48fps, we can't get it up to 72fps yet as Silicon Imaging is still working out the software for us.

We have shot various scenes at a couple of locations and it got me to thinking about the setup at each location, and how each situation is different. Let's take a look.

On our first day with the SI-1920 we were shooting in Cape Town High School in their hall where we built an entire set. The setup was pretty nice, as we had built the set in the open floor area and the VT was set up on the stage, on two big tables. The cables were just run straight down to the camera's in the room.

This setup worked perfectly as there was enough space for everything. We had no problems apart from the small grounding issue as previously mentioned.

We shot there for a couple of days and then we moved to the Athlone Power Station, where we had to change the setup a little bit. Our first scenes in the power station was shot in a very small room, we barely had space for both camera's and the actors. Luckily, as we still prefer to shoot with the head only, the VT station was not a problem. All we did was set up in a completely different room, about 15 meters away and simply ran the cables from the heads down the hall.

Still at the power station, but just at a different spot we shot our scene with the car bonnet exploding open with smoke and water pouring out. The setup here was very nice as we shot in a sort of work room, so we had a bit more space.

We simply set up a portable fold-up steel table and put the VT on there. We had the camera on a track car and as you can see in the photo our VT was behind all this, so we could look at the camera movement and see the shot on the screens, which made co-ordinating the scene a lot easier as there was a lot of little actions that all had to be qued one after the other.

After the scene with our car popping open we had two days where we shot away from the power station before returning for a couple of days of night shooting.

First we had a day at the campus of the University of Cape Town where we had two setups. Our first for the day was an outside scene, and of course it was cold and wet, but the camera's didn't give any problems. The VT was set up in a tent about 10 meters from the action, and since it was raining we had to keep the door closed so no rain would blow in and soak the PC's. For the scene we were only running one camera, so the little space wasn't a problem at all.

Our second scene that day was in one of the classrooms in the University, where we once again had a lot of space. By this time the team was already quick to dismantle and re-assemble the VT station so setups were going smoothly. The scene was shot in the little room you can see through the door in the back of the picture.

The next day was a lovely shoot, it had stopped raining and we were shooting outside in clear weather. Our shoot was on an open field, so we just put up the VT in a small open-sided building just to the side of the field. The shot was a nice long track scene, we posted a clip from that in one of our previous blog updates.

After that it was back to the power station for a session of night shoots. Once again we were in a different spot (the place is huge and looks amazing). Tried and tested we once again set up our
VT on the fold-up steel table and was up and running in no time. Just like with at the school we had enough space to sit comfortably around the monitors, just a small way away from the action.

That brings us to our location where we just finished. We blocked off a huge part of a street in the middle of Cape Town. We had A LOT of extras, police cars (supplied by Renault), gun-fire, protesting, fighting...

Our VT setup here was very interesting. We actually got all the equipment into the back of a television type van, including our sound recorder. Not only that, but the van was part of the background for some of our shots, so the whole VT team had to crouch down behind the van out of sight, but we still pulled it off, with a little room to spare.

Oh, we also recently got our wafians into nice boxes, you can see them in the two photo's above.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Heads and Grips

Hi all,

Another turn around day and I have a spare 10 seconds. Spoke to Silicon imaging this week and I saw some posts on DVINFO about Steadycam. We are using a glydecam. More acurrately Grant Appleton is using his Glidecam. Thanks Grant. Grant is the DOP on spoon and has been a real trooper on the project. Here is a picture of him on set doing one of many glidecam shots. Some people expressed concern about the use of the head and wire on a rig like this but so far it's been working pretty well. It's light enough and still get you great shots without the more expensive rigs. When he has a moent (like in 10 years) he might give us an update. He's been threatening to do so for a while but there is just so little time at the moment.

Here's a shot of Alfie, our key grip, pushing Sunel on a trolley we found on hanging behind her but nothing more cumbersome than the usual video take off cable used on film sets - and our small location. Worked out beatifully. There is a 16 core network cable batteries last 4 hours on the head and monitor. The big ones last almost a day.

Here is a pic of Alfie's bungy rigs. These worked well for alot of hand held feeling shots where operators had to roll a lot.

We did this stunt where Michael Dooley is thrown against the wall "can't say how". Here he is in the stunt rig set up by Anton Moon. And then we mounted Shaheen in the rig to get another POV style shot from the rig.

Another advantage to lighter smaller heads. Both Heads on one dolly here. And the ride is still smooth as ever.

Hand held or should I say Palm held. Grant on the head only.

Here is the head only on the Jib Arm. This was quite a good solutions for tricky moves. The arm gives you range and control made easier by the lighter head and good gripping.

That's all for now. Mpeg's of on set to follow soon.