Friday, 7 November 2014


. . . removing the glitter from fake snowballs. Let me explain . . .

It's been a week of film related activities, mostly fun. It started some weeks ago when I decided that the 10 year-old projector in my apartment was well past its best. It projected onto a screen 60" across, a screen which now sported several creases across its width. But the projectors lamp was on it's way out and no longer displayed true colours. It was most noticeable if I watched a black and white film, such as the Frank Capra classic, It's A Wonderful Life, where Bedford Fall's soap-suds fake snow, would fade from sepia on the left to white on the right. Frank would not been impressed. A new lamp was £300, but apparently that was only half the problem and further repairs would have doubled that price.

So, decision made, it was time for a new projector. But technology had moved on over the past 10 years, and the rest of my home cinema kit was no longer compatible with the next generation of projectors. By the time I'd finished I had replaced two speakers, the amplifier, screen, the projector of course and all the cabling. Because of this I decided to go the whole hog and change from a DVD player to a BluRay player, which made sense as it was only a few pounds difference.

The surprising part of all these changes was that everything together cost less than what I had spent 10 years ago on just the projector! Now I had my own little cinema to not just watch the latest releases as they were meant to be seen, but to watch my own films made over the years.

Which brings me to fake snowballs.

For the past two months I have been teaching kids from age six to eighteen the art of film making. All of the classes have been aiming toward making a short movie to show their parents at a Christmas event in December. For their first project we decided to make music videos, simply because there were no lines to learn etc. The youngest group are making Frosty the Snowman, the 9-11 year-olds are making the 12 Days of Christmas, the the teenagers are creating a story to the song Merry Christmas Everyone by Shakin' Stevens. This Saturday we shoot the Shakin' Stevens one.

In order to keep all the filming indoors we are shooting against a green screen. As the name suggest, it is literally a giant, green, screen. Later in the editing process it is possible to remove the green and replace it with other images, so I can make it look as if the kids are outside playing in the snow for example. One scene is a snowball fight (you see where I'm going with this) and in rehearsals we were using scrunched up paper balls. But they didn't look like snowballs. They looked like scrunched up paper balls. A local craft shop just so happened to sell bags of fake snowballs. Who would have thought you could buy such a thing. The problem was they were smothered in glitter. If this found it's way onto the green screen it would potential ruin it, so yesterday, for three hours, I painstakingly removed all the glitter from every one.

My reward? I'll get to watch the realism (!?) of fake snow on the big screen in my front living room. I think Mr Capra would be proud.

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