Week 1 Complete (1/3 of this part of the shoot)

I’m having a day off from shooting, after a day in London operating a jib yesterday and finishing the first week of The Renata Road.

I’m on my way, with my family, to Lincoln to visit my sister via Sale, Cheshire, to get a replacement HMI bulb from my friend Andy Bennett. The bulb blew during our last scene on Friday. Also stopped at B&Q for parts to build a DIY China Ball (£20!) – pic below.

So, I started this blog asking ‘What’s it like to make a feature film?’. The answer is full on and slightly all consuming as well as v rewarding. I feel a lot of responsibility to produce great images for all those involved. I haven’t seen any proper playback since the first day, but I have Michael, who’s part of the camera team, looking at exposure and white balance in Adobe Lightroom to produce an example still – a graded still if you like – that represents every recorded clip. It looks very promising.

The Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera (BMCC) and Alphatron EVF have been brilliant. They have been working the same long hours as I have and haven’t crashed or had any technical wobbles at all. I’m really impressed. I’ve also reliably been able to split the HD-SDI video feed from the BMCC using a BNC T connector to feed the director’s monitor.

My only problem with my rig is a slight latency on my viewfinder picture. I might conduct a test this week to measure it. I thought I could point my BMCC at the clapper board and on a second BMCC record the images from the back of my BMCC and viewfinder at the same time. I could then open the footage in FCPX and see how many frames difference there are between the clapper closing on the back of the cam and the EVF. The bottom line is that, during fast moving action, contained in a tighter shot, I’m finding it a little difficult to pan with the actors’ movement.

I’m enjoying the lighting. Highlights include when Ed, the director, in making a bedroom set look suitably disrupted turned over one of the bed side lamps so that the bare bulb was down the lens. I said “leave it there”…it looked great. We also had a scene in the same set whereby I lit the main protagonist with only one bedside lamp. He rolled over from being on his back on to his side and came into the light from under the lamp shade. Simple yet effective. Jordan’s focus pulling was to die for, brilliant!

As you can tell from my other blogs, I’m learning a lot as I go along and planning where I can and making other decisions as we go along, but that’s ok because it’s a nice challenge and the outcome already looks exciting.

I’ll post a photo with the camera / lighting team. We’re working so well together – I’m loving it.

One mistake that everyone is aware that I’m making is regularly forgetting to record the clapper board when we decide to ‘end board’. On occasion the camera will be pre-framed and focussed for something, maybe on a tight lens, and so we decide to shoot the clapper board at the end of the scene…between Ed calling cut and me forgetting, I’ll be the cause of cursing from the editor. My solution is an extra line on Amy’s (the clapper / loader) job spec: In charge of running to record and cutting (rather than doing it myself).

Apart from one scene which I found a little uncomfortable to shoot, I’m in my element.

In other news, I may have forgotten what my wife looks like and my boy is wondering who I am…! But it will all be worth it.

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