Category: Purple Camera Media



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This weekend was an extremely busy one, as we entered the Colchester Film Festivals 48 Hour Film Challenge. The challenge was simple enough; on Saturday lunchtime we received an email which contained details that needed to be included in the film. These where a title, a line of dialogue and an action. We then had forty-eight hours to complete the film.

Before the challenge, I personally was given very little warning of its existence; we had applied months before to take part; yet it was not until Friday morning that we remembered. This left us at a disadvantage in terms of pre-production; we had no time to secure locations, extra equipment or source suitable actors.

So at midday (technically shortly after) we received our details. The given title of our film was ‘Popcorn Artist’, it had to include the line “I’m not evil, just misunderstood”, and the action of a character looking in a mirror, turning away and then looking back into the mirror.

Seeing this information led to a state of panic; the action was much more specific than we’d been expecting and the title left us very little to go on. Two hours later we had a vague idea; had managed to get a friend to act and had purchased numerous bags of popcorn from a local supermarket. We subsequently filmed into the evening; improvising almost completely and hoping the results would give us further ideas.

This technique proved to work for us; after a couple of hours editing the pieces we had filmed together a narrative soon became obvious to us. A script was written during the night and the Sunday shoot was planned. The story had become that of a man who has super-powers (involving popcorn) that hinder his day-to-day life and make society shun him.

So on Sunday, filming went much smoother due to us having a plan. We got all the shots done fairly quickly with the local Odeon cinema even being nice enough to let us film a sequence in their foyer (and provide us with free popcorn!).

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So yesterday afternoon was spent in a haze of editing and sound recording. Due to the microphones available to us being far from brilliant at gathering location sound; we had decided early on to use a voiceover; which needed to be written and recorded. The edit of the film came together reasonably fast; many of our sequences where shot in order meaning it was simply taking the best takes and putting them together.

A little colour grading was completed to give the film a de-saturated look and the flashback sequences were put in black & white before being raised in contrast to give them a ‘Memento’ style feel. The ending of the film was changed rather drastically from our plans as the ending we came too seemed to be fitting.

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Not being that proficient as a sound person, I cannot go into too much detail as to exactly what was done; other than I left my friend, Ashley alone with a silent film for two hours. When I returned the sound was almost completed and had (as sound always does) improved the film drastically.

After a couple of touch up the film was ready submit and so it was at 2am last night (10 hours early). The final film can be seen at www.vimeo.com/purplecamera/popcornartist and if it is shortlisted will be screened at the festival.

Lessons learnt from the competition would be the involvement of more pre-production prior to the event beginning. The entire process would have been much smoother if we had had several ideas that could have been adjusted to the given details and also if we had been able to confirm actors in advance; meaning we could have actually had more than a single character. However the approach we did take did wield results and I am fairly happy with the film created.

 

 

 

 

Group 2

A couple of weekends ago Purple Camera Media was recruited to record a live performance show of a Take That tribute band named ‘misTAKE That’; this much like the previous weeks BEX Live, proved to be invaluable experience as the company begins to grasp exactly what is needed from live event filming and was a strong lesson in the importance of lighting!

We arrived early in order to figure out camera set-ups and met the band who are lovely group. We watched them perform their technical rehearsal and soon realised that their wacky dance routines would be a major aspect of the performance, which we needed to capture. We also discussed with the band over exactly what was needed filming and it was decided mutually that rather than record the entire 1½ hour set, we would record around 10 songs. This had many advantages for us as a crew because it meant we did not have to worry about battery life or the amount of footage we shot (and even if that battery had died we would have had time between songs for a quick charge) and also meant that we could concentrate more fully on each song.

So the concert began later than scheduled (my limited experience has led me to believe that live events never run on time) and we filmed the first four songs. We had two camera set-ups meaning that one camera (operated by team member Ashley) remained static throughout, getting coverage of the whole band and occasionally focusing on the singer in a key part. Whilst I being the more experienced cameraman was given the task of roaming in front of the band and capturing close-ups.

And so everything was going fine; the lighting on the stage was not perfect – the overhead white lights were not working meaning that coloured disco lights were constantly moving across the band; over-exposing their faces at points. This did not look terrible and we felt that it would give the videos a more artistic feel in post-production. The band performed their dance routines perfectly and during our first break I felt extremely happy with the way the footage was coming out.

Gary 1

It was during the next song we recorded that problems occurred; the band moved off the stage and began to roam around in the crowd (where there was next to no lighting). This proved extremely successful with the audience at the event as they soon found themselves able to sing and dance next to ‘Gary Barlow’. Unfortunately the movement from stage to crowd did not translate well onto the camera; being unprepared for such and with very little lighting our only option was to bump up the ISO, improvise shots and hope for the best.

Ashley made the decision to remain in the same position and go for a wider angles’ covering as many of the roaming band members as possible. This meant that he was behind the band for some parts but captured the essence of their performance fairly well.

Considering that I had been tasked with capturing close-ups I continued to do this; dropping the height of my monopod and using it as a make-shift ‘Steadicam’ (I knew this would work fairly decently having written about and tested low-budget alternatives to a ‘steadicam’ for my University dissertation). I then roamed around trying to capture as much as possible. I knew at the time and was proven correct in the early stages of editing that this would make for as much unusable footage as the useable stuff; however I was impressed to see afterwards that several moments looked incredibly professional.

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Fortunately after two songs the band returned to the stage and we where able to complete the rest of their set with very few problems; the gig did however over-run by half an hour – meaning we missed our last train home and had to get a taxi.

So over the next week I began an edit (which I am still undergoing) and was fairly impressed by our footage; another problem did occur in that the sound recorded by our sound recorder (which was plugged into the sound desk) was clipped and generally unusable – we did not factor in that the mix would be turned up for the performance, following the tech demo. But luck was with us with Ashley’s on-board microphone recorded audio which although not perfect picked up the bands performance in fairly decent quality and enough ambience to give a sense that the event was live without taking away from the performance; below is a before vs after screenshot making the difference obvious.

Comparison

So the songs which were performed on stage where consequently edited together and looked fantastic; the footage captured on my camera although it did look good had ten-fifteen seconds gaps that where unusable due to me moving to a new camera set-up – next time I film an event I will make sure to stay in one position per song and move the camera from there, reducing the times of unusable footage. I have also edited together one of the songs in which the band entered the crowd and the final product came out much better than expected; bumping up the brightness and turning the contrast down allowed the images to become visible (albeit it looks foggy) and the shots cut together surprisingly nicely.

To conclude I believe we did a fairly decent job with the filming of a live-event improvising well to produce good results. The videos should be live on the misTAKE That website (www.mistakethat.com) at some point in the near future and I will post a link when they are. If you do have an opportunity to see misTAKE That live I would highly recommend them as they are as close to seeing the real Take That at an affordable price as you can get.

 

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Nearing midnight on the Saturday 21st September and I pack away my camera equipment after 15 hours of filming.  Reggae band1 Eye have just finished their set at this years Black Exposure Live; signalling the end of my first experience of live event filming and a day in which many lessons where learnt.

Before going into more detail about the event and getting into the main part of this post, I’d first like to apologise for not updating this blog in the past two months. Basically after completing the David Lynch challenge I travelled Europe for a few weeks and then decided to start a film production company (Purple Camera Media); both of these have taken up my time the last weeks and I have been unable to write anything. Things have calmed down a bit now and I’m going to be updating twice a week… on Mondays I will write a post about Purple Camera and things the company has undertaken and on Thursdays I will begin my new challenge which is to watch every Woody Allen in reverse order.

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For those who don’t know Black Exposure Live – commonly known as BEX Live –  it is an annual event that takes place in Birmingham, the event celebrates the diversity and culture within the midlands and the UK as a whole. Purple Camera got involved in June this year when we filmed the launch (our first official company business!), however the actual event was going to be a lot more strenuous than that.

This event was my own and Purple Camera’s first delve into live event filming and it was just a few hours in that we realised spare batteries and memory cards are an essential purchase. Luckily we BEX Live’s Media Director – Tim from Bright Ideas Media – on hand and he had spares which we could borrow… even so this didn’t prove to be enough for the purposes we wanted. In an ideal world we would have three cameras recording at all times and for large parts of  the event this was how it worked out. However as the event wore on one of the cameras (or at times two) would be inoperable for an hour due to the battery having died or footage needing to be copied over. Although this shouldn’t hinder the quality of the output videos (which are being put together as I write) it does mean there is a less choice to choose from and there isn’t as much coverage as I would like. Following the event extra batteries and SD cards where promoted to the top of Purple Camera’s shopping list.

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Battery life problems aside the filming actually went extremely well in nearly every area. The event was split into two parts – a daytime exhibition with stalls promoting local businesses followed by a live-show in the evening.

The daytime event was the more strenuous of the two as it involved walking amongst a busy crowd capturing interviews with the business owners and also useable shots of their products. With the crowd moving around and the business owners more interested in customers than a camera crew (for obvious reasons); this involved a lot of patience and quick set-up times. It is here than the company’s use of DSLR’s and monopod’s proved to be a good decision.

Many articles have already been written online about the advantage of DSLR filmmaking compared to larger cameras so I won’t repeat what’s already been said other than to say that the smallness and manoeuvrability of these cameras was a godsend when filming in the midst of a crowd. Monopods where also extremely helpful I could easily adjust the height and tilt and be ready to film in just a few seconds.

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So with the daytime event finished we had a quick lunch break (KFC!!!) before returning to film the performance and I have to say even though I was concentrating on videoing that the quality and range of talent on show was quite incredible. The show included many different acts including The British Heart Foundation Gospel Choir, a fashion show from South and City College Birmingham and performances from many artists including Paigey Cakey, Rio, Delilah and the previously mentioned 1 Eye. Miss Jamaica UK Gemma Feare presented the event alongside comedian Sandra Bee, both of whom did wonderful jobs. In terms of filming I was tasked with shooting close-ups of each act that would be cut with a static wide shot. This meant moving across the front of the stage to get good framing and although I had no real plan of where to shoot from at the start of the show I soon found myself returning to same three spots in order to get correct framing for each act.

The entire experience was truly fantastic and has left me wanting to film more live events and improve my skills. It was truly hard work but when the edited videos are shown I am confident it will have been entirely worth it and hope that Purple Camera can remain media partners of BEX Live for next years event.