Sunday, 27 February 2011

filming session 1: the party scene first attempt

After completing our storyboards for our opening extended POV shot and having tested and establishing our filming technique for the sequence we felt confident about shooting the scene. Filming a party scene was always going to be difficult, we had the dilemma of whether we wanted to shoot at a real party or whether it would be better to try to gather some people specifically to film the scene. We found problems with both, if we were to film at a real party structuring our shot would prove difficult as because of the nature of the POV it meant people would have to be specifically placed in order for the attention to people gave to the camera was evenly spread out across the walking sequence. Because the POV shot needed to be captured in a continuos shot, several takes would be probably needed because of its complexity and need to get it right which would put a strain on peoples patience especially when they just want to have fun and unwind at a party. On the other hand gathering enough people to create the right conditions and recreate the atmosphere of a party could be a logistical nightmare and hard to justify to those involved who have to give up an evening when its only for a 20 second shot.
 In the end we thought that because of the nature of the shot, blurry and slightly jumpy to reflect dream like state, and our filming techniques and equipment we would go for authenticity and film at a real party. George Russell from our group was hosting a house party on Feb 3rd and so we decided we would use this as our opportunity to shoot.
The location was perfect, with a large black door that entered onto the downstairs corridor from which I would be able to move, wearing the headcam, up the stairs located on the right onto a narrow landing and past a few room doors until i turned a corner onto wear Leah (playing the girl) would be positioned ready to lead me into the bedroom at the end and push me onto the bed. The red of the carpet and walls on the stairs and the narrow yet lengthy landing added perfectly to the hazy, overpowering of the senses mise en scene we wanted to create.
The only thing was that we hadn't expected the lack of patience and level of commitment to filming we would need in order to capture the shot the way we wanted. It was a big effort for us to not only round people up for filming after the party had started (we had meant to film earlier but I was unable to get a lift to his house until later) but organise ourselves. Once everyone was in place and we were ready for a take, inevitably there were problems with the camera, first it kept swinging about whenever i moved as we hadn't found tape to hold the sides to the helmet. Then every time we went for a take I found that my nose kept pushing against the buttons on the camera, cutting the footage short.

An example of an early and most successful attempt at capturing the scene.

Having taken a break in filming to find some tape to fix some of the problems mentioned, people where only in the mood for partying and we ourselves just wanted to have a good time and didn't have the will power to try to round everyone up again.

Although ultimately the filming was a failure i think we all learned something about the process of shooting a scene and the traits needed to successfully capture the shots you want. There are always going to be problems whenever you film and you just need to make sure you are as prepared to deal with them as best you can by the work you do before hand and by trying to create the best conditions for filming. I think where we went wrong was not specifically in choosing to film at an actual party but in under preparing slightly in not taking enough test footage using the headcam and making the significant improvements in order so that we could be efficient on the night.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

How we filmed Our POV shot

POV shots are notoriously tricky to film as you have to get the balance right between creating a realistic viewpoint yet not filming a shot that’s so shaky it completely disorientates an audience.
Fliming techniques vary for POV shots from resting the camera on the shoulder  to using harnesses to hold the camera to the chest. However because we wanted to have the actors hands in shot it created more of a challenge, it meant we had to film hands free whilst still managing to control the movement of the camera. This ruled out any handheld techniques and we didn’t want to use the idea of attaching the camera to a harness around the chest as we wanted to get the realistic eyeline of the character/actor.

Although we couldn’t find any videos online for guidance.  We did find someone who had asked for similar advice.

One of the responders mentioned the technique they use in skiing/snowboarding freestyle videos of attaching a camera to the helmet of the skier/snowboarder.  This got us thinking about how we could make our own Helmet Cam.


Having seen the breathtaking footage that people have been able to capture using head cams we realised the effectiveness of this technique and decided to adopt it within the context of our own project.

Sanyo Xacti VPC –HD2000  
We singled this camera out because of its thin build, we couldn’t attach anything too bulky to a helmet otherwise it wouldn’t fit over the actors head.

Using the resources we had, we took the white hard hat that was laying unused in a cupboard for our helmet cam.

After experimenting with the positioning of the camera on the helmet we settled with it upside down, so that the lens was right between my eyes.

We practiced holding the camera in place using tape but we soon realized we would need a stronger hold between camera and hard hat to keep it in place. Then we came up with the idea of screwing the camera to the hard hat using the screw from a tripod attachment.

We took the equipment over to the tech department and they drilled a marked hole in the helmet. We could now put the tripod screw through the top of the  hard hat and screw it into the bottom of  the camera.

From our test footage we were generally pleased with the outcome, the camera was in the right position and I could still fit the hard hat over my head. Our only problems were that the camera didn’t stay in place when I moved my head instead swinging loosely from side to side and that the lens was often titled down so that the camera didn’t capture the eye line view of the operator. However we felt confident that we could fix these problems by using tape to hold the camera steady and tighten the hard hat on the actors head so that it wouldn’t tilt down.