Part III of the Story
Here in part III I’ll be detailing the two day shoot of for UCI MIND’s promotional video. In case you missed the previous post here is Part I and Part II. I’m also going to dive into some of the technical aspects of shooting as well so, if you’re looking to learn how to do slow motion or light a scene for black and white then this is the blog post for you.
We shot over a two day period because when I work with subjects that aren’t used to being on camera I make sure I clear the schedule to devote ample time to just their parts so I can properly work with them and direct without having to meet hurried deadlines. My job as a director is to take care of the talent and provide them a safe environment to be free to work out their performance without fear and undo pressure of meeting timelines. Therefore, we shot the b-role on day one and that left us day two for filming the talent distraction free. Believe me, if you are hurried and try to pack everything into a one day shoot then you can get rushed and a bit stressed. Then your talent picks up on that energy and there is a good chance they will be thrown off course. Especially if they are not professionals. So, work especially hard to make set your on screen talent up for success!
We knew going in we were doing a black and white video with an isolated color effect. Therefore, lighting and color combinations becomes the two primary concerns. Starting first with lighting, my DP and I decided to make everything as dark as possible except for the subjects. This provided the best “in camera” contrast and set me up nicely for post production. Also, I left the window blinds open just a bit which helped create a quasi noir effect in some scenes.
For example, for this scene I had the lights placed behind the lab shelf shining directly on the researcher’s face.
Notice the light coming through the shelf on the other side. My goal was to create a bit of mystery and intrigue. His work would be become lit once he picked up the specimen to look at it. I used this technique in various ways though out the video and its an effective way to guide the viewers focus and convey nuance.
Now, you might be wondering why we had to worry about color combinations. To answer this in the best way I created a quick ‘how-to’ video that shows you one of the many ways to isolate color and the challenge of having similar colors in the scene. However, the short answer is when you have two colors that are on close to each other on color wheel it becomes incredibly difficult for the any post production software such as After Effects to easily separate the colors without a ton of time consuming masking and key framing. Therefore, I knew going in that unless I wanted to spend a ton of time in post production and risk missing the deadline, I had to set up myself up for success during the shoot and think about color combinations of the objects that were in each scene. Even then I had one or two slip by and had to do a few work arounds in post.
Also, with all of the b-role we shot in 60 frames per second (fps) because my vision was to show everything is slow motion to add an element of gracefulness and let the scenes breathe. Shooting in 60 fps (or higher depending on the camera) enables me in post production to convert the original footage to 24 fps thereby slowing down the footage. This is a much better way to shoot slow motion because if you simply reduce the speed of a 24 fps scene there simply won’t be enough frames in the shot to get a smooth slo-mo effect and it will look blurry and choppy. I did a very quick tutorial on how to convert higher frame rate footage to 24 fps here.
I can write for days about this particular shoot because there were so many elements and concepts to pack into around 5 minutes. But, in the end UCI MIND was very happy with the final result and I have to give them a lot of credit for taking a risk on more of a concept video than what they historically have done. The entire staff were serious professionals who believe in what they are doing and I feel very privileged to help them tell their story and hopefully play some small role in defeating the vicious Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias.
I’ll be doing a final tutorial video on color isolation and how to achieve this effect in both Adobe Premier Pro CC and Adobe After Effects CC.
If you have questions or want to know more about the production of this video just post your comments and I’ll gladly reply.
Peace & Soul – J