Tag Archives: Canon Eos

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

“The ghosts that broke my heart before I met you”

Two weeks later and we’re still not finished filming – so much for our compact & bijou, easily digestible, stress free 7 day shoot!

There really are only a couple of shots left to get (she said, not very confidently..) but nothing can be done about them now – Dave and I are on a plane somewhere over the west of Paris, about to embark on a very different 7 day adventure of snowboarding (Dave’s first time, should be fun!) So we’re swapping the confines of our house/location and 20 semi-resident crew members, for a chalet in Meribel with 14 friends and a winter wonderland view. And hopefully no breakages. Not exactly a ‘chillaxing’ time out, admittedly, but a helluva lot of fun!

We’ve both brought our macs with us tho – Dave is going to continue his rough edits of the film, and I’m going to be keeping in touch with Producer Phil to plan whatever else we may have left to shoot, while catching up on the mountains of Other Work I’ve missed since we’ve been emersed in Ghostgirl’s world. The joys of being self employed…

My view of Olly from the roof (on Redhead duty)

My view of Olly from the roof (on Redhead duty)

Last night, we filmed the pick ups of Marley investigating John’s now-abandoned marital bedroom. The scene we shot previously in that room is going to be one of the most powerful moments of the short – both Chelsea’s and Oliver’s performances were stunning, and Dave’s fluid, spiralling steadicam work coupled with TJ’s unsettling, shaky* handheld (*intentionally so) all makes for a really emotive two minutes. So we were determined to get the moments leading up to that encounter absolutely right – Chelsea did a stellar job last night (despite all the hilarity from the crew and Numpty’s incessant desire to populate the room with the smell of death and eggs from his uncontrollable arse – I don;t think Phil was joking when he said he must have had Balti for dinner)

choreographing the Fight Scene

Two nights ago, we filmed another climactic scene – Marley’s encounter with ‘the drunk lads’ early on in the script. This involved choregraphing a pretty vicious fight scene, with Chelsea getting to thwack poor Tony in the shins 20 or 30 times (she didn’t hold back with her chunky doc martens either!) and Sean getting to pull Chelsea’s hair, throw her onto a crash mat then walk round the corner and puke vegetable soup into a drain.. nice. All great fun and nobody was hurt, thankfully!

'Marley' walking into danger

'Marley' walking into danger

Tony (‘Drunk 1’, who also doubled as our boom op last week), is by day a sweet, funny, charismatic 20 yr old actor – and a ruddy good one at that. Present him with the character of a mildly psychotic drunk to tackle, and he gives you just that, by the bucketload. Both his and Seans performances (‘Drunk 2’) were again way above and beyond what we could have hoped for – and were actually genuinely frightening to witness. We were also really lucky with the location that Phil had found for us (using his years of experience as a location manager, clearly) – the alleyways and fire escapes gave us a brilliantly atmospheric setting, one more akin to a gangster movie than just the back of an Isle of Man restaurant. Add to that John Craine’s masterly lighting and Dave’s excellent handheld camera work & you have a pretty wicked looking collection of shots, if we do say so ourselves! Top work all 🙂

'Marley' in trouble (still from Eos)

'Marley' in trouble (still from Eos)

Soon it’ll just be a case of editing. And that also means scoring… Some of you film buffs will be aware of a very good friend of ours, Danny Lacey, who’s about to embark on shooting his next short film ‘Love Like Hers’. Having followed his progress updates – he’s already organised the promotional materials & soundtrack for the film even tho he’s still amending the script! – I’ve been astonished by how far behind we really are in so many aspects of organisation. If we do this again, we’re definitely going to take a lot more time out to focus entirely on pre production and get all these things in place BEFORE we start rolling.

still from Eos

But in the meantime, I’ve decided I’m going to work on a version of Laura Marling’s ‘Ghosts’ as a potential theme track; the lyrics are absolutely perfect for the film (“He opened up his little heart, unlocked the lock that kept it dark, and read a written warning, saying ‘I’m still mourning over ghosts, over ghosts that broke my heart before I met you” – see what I mean?!) I used to cover the song just using guitar and simple vocals, but I may mess around with piano this time, & the loop station to add some deep, unsettling extra vocal lines – and maybe something spookily atmospheric like a glockenspiel?

Feeling musically inspired now… damn shame I’m stuck in a cabin hovering over the ocean, & will be nowhere near anything resembling a piano, guitar or loop station for a week.. still, something to look forward to on our return.

For now, it’s off to the piste – hurrah!
More later…

Marley defiant

Marley defiant (still from Eos)

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……..


Introducing…the camera!

(Blog from Dave Armstrong, Director)

“Ok. So I thought I would get one of these finished daily. of course I didn’t count on quite as much excitement around the Eos.
The damn thing is even better than chocolate  (and if you know Dave Armstrong, you know that’s a very rare thing for him to say! -Ed)

Alright, apart from cooing over our chosen camera, there were a couple of other things to sort for the film (not to mention recording six new tracks in the studio, taking several meetings, and getting gooey over Stu & Andrea’s  baby Lexi- Mr EOS came in very handy getting some really lovely pics of Lexi too).

The camera is a work of art and, bless their little Canon socks, they only threw the video capability in as an aside.

Donna - a still from video

Donna - a still from video

We have worked on a few test shots now (you can see lots more on our flickr feed) and the amazing thing is, you don’t seem to need any light at all to make the thing work!  The low light capability of the Eos is amazing and hopefully will help in our decision making process in the amount of artificial light we need to throw at a scene.

It is also a joy to be working “full frame”again and being able to get our shallow depth of field back is a thrill. After working with broadcast 2/3” cameras for so long, I feel like locking them in a cupboard and throwing away the key (sorry, Sony).

Of course buying the camera wasn’t enough. We have three lenses now, too – 2 zooms and a lovely 50mm 1.4. Forgotten how nice it is to shoot with just a 50mm. And a kind soul from fab local indie label Ballagroove Records has offered to lend us a couple of additional lenses too. Think we’ll take them up on the offer.

But the camera and lenses are actually the cheaper part-the support system and monitor are now on their way.

Zacuto Sniper

The ultra sexy Zacuto Sniper

We have gone for the Zacuto Sniper. I had looked at cheaper options, but we need something that just works and will last the course. Unfortunately, still cameras are not ergonomically designed for hand-held video work. You just cant keep them from the wrong type of shake, so a support it is. And a follow focus. Glad we got John Craine on-board.he is doubling as our focus puller. Without a follow focus we would struggle.. Oh, and the z-finder that attaches to the back of the canon viewfinder. Then there is a Marshal monitor and a mounting kit for the monitor.

ENOUGH about the toys. We also have a story to tell. Thats what its all about really. All of these tools are just there for one thing:to help tell that story. We sat for a read through last night with a few of the crew and it really help clarify a lot in my mind, as well as remind me that this film-making lark is quite a challenge.

Great crew, though. looking forward to working with them.  Lots to do, lots to plan. Just a week til rehearsals and still so much to do.

Read through/Production Meeting

Read through/Production Meeting

Keep making a mental note to make mental notes-the list goes on
matte Box
HMI light
Coat stand
clearance for music & trademarks
can we smash a full wine glass?
photos of our “john”before he was blind

need I go on?