Friday, October 31, 2008

High Definition Video, Ups and Downs

The "HD Revolution" is here - apparently - and when it comes to production quality I'm all for jumping on the bandwagon. The equipment I have access to, however, is kind of hanging on the tail gate of the aforementioned musician transporting flatbed vehicle...

As I'm still a poor student, without access to the multitudes of digital cameras out there I'm reliant on either trying to blag something from a rental company, or the universities equipment. Now the uni has a good stock of JVC GY-HD110E "Prosumer HDV Camcorders" what this boils down to is they are a 1/3" 3 CCD digital camera that can record upto 1280x720 onto MiniDV tape, they also have a Fujinon lens as standard (not an integrated lens with digital iris as many entry level HDV cameras do) and are capable of recording in a few differant SD and HDV formats.

These are all good points, the bad points are not entirely the cameras fault although JVC themselves are a little to blame. HDV is not a standard, it stands for High Definition Video which covers a multitude of sins, as far as JVC and the GY-HD110E are concerned this means that you can record progressively in 1280x720 with square pixels (720p) as apposed to Standard Definition which is 720x526 with 4x3 Anamorphic pixels - this is good. However HDV has been taken up by Sony and Panasonic as well, and they have their own definitions, one of the differences between these three main manufacturers is that Sony and Panasonic HDV is pretty much fully integrated with Final Cut Pro, whereas JVC isn't. Somebody at the university stores didn't plan for the future (actually thats a bit harsh, JVC have strong ties to educational institutes for broadcast equipment so I imagine there was some external pressure) 

So, far the last two years despite having HDV capable cameras and HDV capable editing software, nothing has been filmed in HDV - because nobody knew how to get the two to communicate. This is all about to change...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Special Effects, on the cheap.

Found this website that shows people how to make some realistic looking gunshot wounds using the "Blue Peter" school of thought, so now I'm the proud owner of a hand pumped pressurised garden sprayer that has some excess piping from my PC's water cooling system attached to it...

The author of that site also points out a vitally important fact - the special effect shots are only shown for fractions of a second, if you look at the example above (it's a frame-by-frame breakdown of the example clip from their website) you only see the blood in frames 7 through 10 so, thats 4 frames or 1/6th of a second. Although its visually stimulating, it's only shocking if we care about the characters, and if it comes at an unexpected moment.

The scene in "Saving Private Ryan" springs to mind where the soldier has a bullet richochet off his helmet, and in awe takes his helmet off to look at it and then gets shot in the head.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Inspiration and Reasoning

I was actually inspired to make this film entirely from a recent watching of "All Quiet on the Western Front" - specifcally the very last scene, as Paul lies dieing on the parapet of the trenches all for the sake of a butterfly. The first thought that crossed my mind was what a silly thing to die for it was, of course the point is that young men dieing in a war started by old men in a warm office somewhere is as equally a silly reason. Now I'm not trying to make such a large (and unfortunately in the 80 years since All Quiet somewhat overdone) statement with my film, but I do want to touch upon it.

I've also had an interest in World War II from my childhood, stemming from my fathers militaria collection of the period so I find it easy to get interested in the project.



One of the questions we're constantly asked is what will the audience feel throughout the film? What is the emotional journey, and how do we convey it?

This of course is what makes or breaks a short film (and should really apply to feature lengths as well, but hey, if you've got 90 foot tall robots tearing up city streets who needs emotion?) unfortunately this is also the hardest aspect to portray. 

I hope to pull the audience in through the bond between the two characters - the film is essentially about friendship; if I can build a genuine feeling rappor between the two characters, something that the audience can relate too (That guy sounds just like my mate John) then they'll become more involved in their lives. Even though you'll never see Karl, and he is effectively the "baddie" from our perspective, I want this feeling to stretch to him as well - if the audience feels sorry for him, as well as shock at Stans death the impact is much stronger.

I hope to achieve this effect through a short, but genuine script; I'm currently researching War/Buddy films and analysing how the characters talk to each other, another possible option I've contemplated is "wiring" myself to record my conversations with friends...the legality of such a thing aside I'm unsure on the practicalities of it.



A small selection of imagery from GettyImages that I'm using as inspiration mainly for the location - I'm only going to use one so I want it to look as authentic as possible, as yet I'm undecided as general location. My choices are either; an urban environment, i.e. a building overlooking other buildings or an open environment, such as a slight hillock overlooking a field with a copse of trees. I personally believe the former of these is a more visually stimulating option - but wwill prove harder to achieve; finding a location without any nods to post 1950's lifestyle will prove extremely difficult.

Synopsis for "Could be Brothers"

Stan Coney, a young but careworn Corporal in the British Army takes up his post for the night watch and stares out over the dimly lit landscape. Its autumn 1944 and British troops are pushing their way back across Europe towards Berlin, the sleepless nights and hard days have taken their toll on Coney who looks drained and exhausted. He places his rifle on the lintel in front of him and peers through its telescopic sight, seeing nothing he sighs and leans over to his two-way radio and changes the frequency. A voice humming loudly comes in through the white noise and Coney laughs. The humming is coming from a German Lieutenant named Karl Wildieb and the two of them have been chatting long into the night these last few weeks, talking about their friends and family back in their respective hometowns, their common fondness for French red wine and tobacco, all serious thoughts of the war cast aside for a couple of hours each night. Tonight as they discuss music Coney starts rolling a cigarette, without thinking he sticks it in his mouth and lights it, drawing heavily on it the tip glows brightly in the night and a shot rings out. The bullet passes straight through his head and exits violently, his body slumps and the cigarette rolls across the dirt floor away from him. Karls voice comes over the radio “I think I got one Stan!”