Tuesday, 20 October 2009

On location #1

So here we are, at the end of principal day of photography.

The shoot really started yesterday with the last pre-production meeting with myself, the Producer and the Director of Photography (DoP), when we went over the shots in the script and I discussed the storyboards with the DoP. This was one of many discussions over the past few weeks, but this was the final one, with storyboards. The biggest problem ahead that we could see was that Thursday is forecast to be torrential rain and this is the day we have several outdoor locations scheduled.

So, this morning, an 8am call to set, in the studio, started with rostrum work. This is where we had several booklets and documents to shoot, which we set up on a table top with matt black underneath, and lit it to give it some depth and interest. the camera is then placed on a special miniature track which sits on the same table, allowing the camera to get very close to the object, and gives us the ability to track over the object left to right.

Using the script we then determine how much screen time each item will appear for and shoot accordingly. However, in order to have a smooth finish we increase the speed of the camera. Normally video films at twenty five frames per second, but we can set the camera to shoot at fifty frames per second. Once this is then played back it gives us a smooth shot for double the length of time filmed. If we then shoot at a faster shutter speed we have the added ability to be able to slow it down further in the edit suite should we need to.

It took a number of hours to film all the items we needed, then we moved on to more elaborate rostrum sets. One was a colourful arrangement of all healthy food items in a balanced diet, and another was different types of drinks, such as water, orange juice, tea, coffee etc, showing a visual representation of the need for everyone to drink 8 glasses or cups of fluid per day. In the colourful foods shot we have a little trick up our sleeve; in order to make the food look more appealing and fresh, we paint each one with glycerine. The skin of the fruit repels the glycerine and it starts to bead, then very slowly drips down the sides, mimicking condensation. It's a trick used in commercials many times, and is very effective. It allows us to shoot in a very hot environment under the studio lights, for a long period of time, and all the produce looks like it has just come out of the fridge.

The next sequence of shots involved a turntable. We had extreme close ups to achieve of money, a telephone and a pair of spectacles. The camera remains locked off in one position, the items are placed centrally on the turntable, which is then rotated past the camera lens.

Finally, we filmed some live action scenes where we mocked-up a typical phone helpline and someone answering a call.

Sounds all very straight forward, but in amongst all this are constant questions and deliberations over the days still to come. These covered things such as actors calling off at the last minute, a location falling through, and on one occasion being told we couldn't film at the local police station because they had just started a new murder investigation! Add to this everyone's personal life issues and family problems, plus the need to have a break and eat something, it becomes a very stressful, tiring and complex day. That said, a good and productive first day was achieved, with only 5 shots dropped, which we'll pick up another day.

We managed to wrap two hours ahead of schedule for the crew, and then I sat down with the Producer to discuss cast and location problems that needed to be solved. At the end of an eleven-hour day, it was time to go home, have some dinner, then start preparation for tomorrows shoot.

Which is exactly what I need to go and do now.

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