Tag Archives: canon 5d

First Screening tomorrow…

Lordy my plates of meat don’t ‘ahf ‘urt (mum). I’m guessing that’ll be because this is the first time I’ve sat down today since, well, breakfast. And that was 13 hrs ago! Partner in crime David, on the other hand (or foot rather), hasn’t moved from his chair or computer screen since breakfast and is complaining of a very sore arse. Oh how we whinge 😉

But it’s all for very good reason! We’ve both been desperately preparing for  the very first screening of ‘Ghostgirl’… yup, tomorrow, Sunday July 4th (Independence Day for some of you, and the eve of our Isle of Man National Day ‘Tynwald’) is the day our wonderful cast and crew get to see the results of Dave’s extremely hard labour over the past couple of months.

Firstly, apologies for the massive absence of blogs since we finished filming. Apart from being immersed in post-production on ‘Ghostgirl’, we’ve filled the time with such things as Making Pop Promos with Danny Lacey & Anna Goldsmith; Making A Cinema Ad on the 5D; Recording Chunks of the Bible in the Basement with Gimli (the incredible & wonderful & truly lovely John Rhys Davies, who’s parting gesture as he left the house was to shout ‘Go make babies!’ in his best ‘INDY!’ voice); Gigging on Tiny Boats in Force 6 Gales on the Irish Sea; Growing Vegetables; Cycling; SeaWading – and other funstuffs.

BUT TOMORROW…at midday, ‘Ghostgirl’ will play out to 40+ invited guests, on a proppa cinema screen n everyfink, while Dave undoubtedly hovers in the background with heavilybaitedbreath and I chew my nails from the comfort of a foot-resting cinema seat, somewhere at the back.

Living with Dave Armstrong, the Writer/Director/Editor/Steadicam Op/Composer etc, I’ve been lucky enough to view the film in it’s various inceptions since he put the first edit together. It’s changed enormously since the first preview with Producer Phil Gates & all I can say is, it really ruddy works. In fact, at points in the film (thankfully the appropriate points), I now find myself giggling, jumping, wriggling with unease and even welling up – all despite my being witness to the very blood & bones of this project from conception to final production.

Speaking of production, it’s not been an easy ride, no sirree. Getting in early with the Canon 5D (Mark 2) was all very well and good and, as you’ll see from earlier blogs, pretty dern exciting, but MAN has it presented it’s problems.. I won’t even try to go into them, as to be honest, I don’t understand a lot of them – am more of an Editor & Creative Bod than a Techno-wizard; suffice to say, as I type Dave is frantically sitting (if you can do such a thing) at his laptop, with various attached screens of various sizes and a veritable snakepit of cables draped around the room, trying to work out how to create a BluRay Disc when BluRay won’t accept 30frame movies (he just shouted through “I blame the Americans!” ; being half-of-one myself, I couldn’t possibly comment…)

ANYhoo, I’ll return to blog in the next day or two, after tomorrow’s screening, and after we’ve suitably recovered from the wrap party here at the house afterwards. I’m also going to try and get some interviews in the garden with our gathered cast & crew for the BTS video, which we hope to show at the Official Premiere at the Isle of Man Film Festival in September – ooo! the Film Fest! that’s a whole other, very exciting story.

Speaking of other stories, I should (briefly) warn you that in roughly two weeks time, a small child will be shot in our hallway…. not reeeeally of course (we like tiny people!), it’s just that the BBC are comandeering our entire ground floor to film a bonafide shoot out for Auntie’s flagship drama of 2011, ‘Shadow Line‘, written & directed by Hugo Blick, him off of ‘Blackadder’ and ‘Marion & Geoff’. That’ll be fun. Oh yes! And we might also be getting a dog!

Ahem. Wow. you can tell I haven’t blogged for awhile.

I’ll bid you adieu with a rough poster idea I knocked up for tomorrow, just to add a bit of colour to this very wordy blog 🙂  See you on the other side folks!

"Ghostgirl" rough movie poster

A rollercoaster blog, from Director Dave

Ok. So its been a week or 2, but I’ve been immersed in “Ghostgirl” & a broken wrist & elbow – courtesy of snow NOT having the consistency of cotton wool and clouds.

Director Dave, directionless!

Director Dave, directionless!

However, the edit is well underway and I have had a chance to look back at some ups and downs.

Canon released new firmware-hurrah.

Down..:Canon Eos firmware update released just at the end of principal photography. Thanks Canon, great timing.

Installed new firmware-24p here we come

Canon withdraws firmware with fault

Camera image looks lovely

Some banding on the image in low light noticeable when picture enlarged

got some great performances & some lovely shots

Couple of missed opportunities & shots we have to drop

becoming immersed in a very exciting project

losing connection with real world, friends, relatives, home, reality,blog, etc etc

So now we have a few choices.

Budget RainMaker!

Budget RainMaker!

The story takes on a slightly more edgy, or benign hue, depending on a couple of small editing choices. We got through one full edit and decided to shoot a whole new scene. means we might be able to use Christy’s favourite shot after all…hurrah!

We also know exactly how much difference the soundtrack and soundscape will make to the viewers emotional response to the story. We have already dropped in  a couple of pieces of music & its amazing what it does. Clearance is another thing, though! We’re going to work on some music here and have a couple of original pieces on the way, but at the moment Producer Phil is talking to Stevie Wonder’s people about clearances on a Stevie track. That would be nice. Obviously if the budget exceeds the GDP of a small African nation, then we may have to think again (actually, I think our music budget is an approximate equivalent to a meal out at a mid-price restaurant.)

Looking at the real plusses though – I love working on this sort of project and with such talented people-especially our actors. Without their performance (and a story to tell) all of this techie crap would be worthless.

Speaking of techie crap, here’s the first part of a short video we did for a film maker friend of ours, Danny Lacey, who’s also about to shoot with the 5D and wanted to know what it was like… 2nd part (covering stuff like accessories, sound recording, memory cards etc) to follow. Hope you find it helpful – and enjoy the few sneaky peaks of ‘Ghostgirl’ that appear…!

(NB: this vid was filmed for instructional purposes, & done so in a 30 minute gap between jobs, so please don’t be judging the aesthetic quality of the interview footage, that aint what it’s for!)

See you on the other side…

Dave Armstrong

First chance to see stills from the ‘film’

Marley - eye.

OK, so its not actually 35mm, but we think the footage from the Canon 5D looks pretty damn close to it! Have split off a few frames from the recorded video so you can see how great the gear is – at dealing with low light in particular, as 90% of our film takes place at night, and 70% of that is inside the house of a blind man who has no need for lights…ouch. But the camera did us proud!

Clicky Piccy Linky to see the stills – and please comment here with your thoughts. Bear in mind some of these frames are taken from action/moving shots, so may not be entirely sharp. There has been absolutely NO processing/doctoring/colour correction to any of them (leaving that to final edit).

ADDITION 260210 – some stills from the ‘drunk boys mess with Marley’ scene:

Observer on stairway

Observer on stairway

Director’s notes… David speaks!

Dave with co-writer/producer Phil

Wow. I have started to breathe again. Bit of a week, bit of a stiff learning curve. Thought I would share a few techie points before I get down to the really important elements of film making. Like performance, story and sleep.(Sleep being the most important according to Alan Parker-thanks for that gem, Lee)

Couple of things regarding the camera:careful in low light. What looks good on the viewfinder may not work on the big screen-we have seen some issues with noise and may just have to work around. I have just disabled “Highlight Tone Priority” to see if that will help…whatever the heck that is….

Also-using a Marshal HDMI monitor-BEWARE. Don’t believe the lovely bright image. We ended up turning the brightness down and down and down, to give us a more realistic idea of brightness

Monitor issues?

Monitor issues?

levels (you shouldn’t really rely on monitor, anyway. When you have a DP who wanders round with what looks like a STARTREK Tricorder pressed against his cornea for 24 hours a day, you have someone else to point the finger at when it all looks like a black cat in a coal shed at night…….). Actually it has been a real test for us, as most of this film is set in a blind man’s house at night with the lights turned off. Sorry, JC!

DONT think you can use the camera for long without using a proper support rig-the type of camera shake you get from holding the camera body alone is not pleasant, unless you want to simulate a POV from someone with St Vitus Dance. Don’t forget what looks like a small amount of shake on the little monitor can look like a 7.6 on the richter scale on a big screen.

"LOVE the camera"

"LOVE the camera"

Over all, though-love the camera.Repeat- love the camera. When 24p firmware hits us, I will be dancing for joy, but even at the crazy crazy crazy 30p, the image of this camera is great.

TJ with the Canon Eos & Zacuto rig

TJ with the Canon Eos & Zacuto rig

We are off to shoot a bit of “action” tonight, where our ‘Marley’ gets accosted by a couple of louts. Should be fun. Gonna miss our camera op TJ, who was a joy to work with. Still, I do have my third eye, John Craine, whose initials could be quite appropriate for the miracles he is able to perform. Going to operate camera tonight (I was relegated to Steadicam op for the week of principal photography.) Do need some more time in the saddle. Directing is all very well, but there just aren’t enough buttons……..


Director’s notes…

(A blog from Dave Armstrong, Writer/Director)

“Ok. So its two weeks today til we start shooting Ghostgirl and I hear my first AD barking “Turn Over” for the first time. Slight Jeff Goldblum in the ointment at the moment-we have no camera as yet.

I admit, this could be the turning point in my story. we have cast, crew and a story, but the camera…..?

Well, at DAM towers we do have few cameras. trouble is I dont want to shoot on them. We have a couple of broadcast beasts and a couple of smaller Sony HD miracles of technology, but they lack one thing:a shallow depth of field. Especially the smaller cameras. You have a quarter inch chip that will run for ever on a microwatt of power, but it has almost an infinite depth of field.

And control over depth of field is the key to eternal happiness, as we all know.


Everybody's favourite.. the Red Camera

We were looking at the RED camera, the new kid on the block in the digital film world. We could rent that (and a load of kit and operator) for about five thousand quid for the duration of the shoot.

OR, we (for ‘we’ read ‘MasterCard’) could buy the new kid on the block’s plucky little cousin three times removed. The talk of the town for those of us who are financially challenged but HATE renting gear. Introducing (for those of you in civvy street) the Canon EOS 5D Mark 2. Even George Lucas is excited:


I wont bore you with my drooling, as there is plenty of stuff online about this movie camera masquerading as a still camera.

Couple of issues. A thing called the rolling shutter effect, which can make the world turn to jelly (problem inherent in CMOS sensors-non-anoraks look away now….http://www.dvxuser.com/jason/CMOS-CCD/) and the rig that we are going to have to get to support the camera properly. Thats going to cost over twice the cost of the camera. Oh, and there is the lens issue…..the list goes on.

Canon 5D

Is it a still camera? Is it a video cam?! Both! It's the Canon 5D

I also have a dilemma. Interest free camera from a local supplier (paying £600 more for the kit)? or a trusty internet store who undercut everyone while tempting those of limited financial means?

Decision has to be made right now-I have to move on to other important issues. Like directing a movie. If only I only had room on my head for one hat.”