Sunday, May 13, 2012

Return To The Machine Boneyard

One of the reasons I love to have Rhonda go out and take pictures with her Canon 7D while I film is that she sees things I don't. It's neat to get her perspective on things through the pictures she takes; she has an eye for it. That brings me to one of the regrets I have of filming Industrial. Once I knew I was going back to film for a 2nd day for that video, I'd hoped that she could come with me to take some stills, but it didn't happen.  I had a feeling that the colors and layout of the area would make for some cool stills, and she'd probably find it interesting to check out.  However, she was exhausted and sound asleep in the morning when I left, and I didn't want to wake her up that early.  So when I set out to do the 2nd day's worth of filming alone, in the back of my mind, I knew I'd be back sometime to let her poke her nose around.

Fast forward to a month later.  The weather's nice, we've got an afternoon to ourselves, some gas in the tank and I've got an itch to just go somewhere and hang out with Rhonda and film something.  Neither of us is all too energetic, and I start thinking of different places I'd like to go.  One by one I'm ruling them out because I want to wait for a new piece of kit to come in on Tuesday to play and film with (more on that in my next blog post.)  Then it hits me, I always planned on returning to the site I filmed "Industrial" for my Vimeo account with her.  To make the shoot more interesting (remember I've been there twice already), I decided to challenge myself by only using my GorillaPod SLR-Zoom and going handheld while on location.  I brought a full size tripod just in case I chickened out, but I didn't have any intention of using it.

We arrived at 3:45pm, and though it'd been sunny all day, rain was forecast for the evening and the clouds rolled in just as we got there.  The clouds hung around for the most part, until we left just around 5:15pm, so that gave me some nice diffuse light to film with.  My plan was to do a companion piece to Industrial with Rhonda in it instead of me.  "Industrial" is the first chapter with someone looking around and this would be the second chapter with someone else arriving and taking pictures.  A really simple concept, but the challenge laid in how I'd film it.

Right away Rhonda started walking around, taking pictures.  I went against my first thought of filming her right away and walked off looking for some different close-up shots to get that would be different from the ones I shot the first time around I was here.  I spent about 15 - 20 minutes looking and filming in sections I knew I didn't shoot much of.  (The harsher morning light during the two days I shot "Industrial" meant that one side of the machinery had some pretty deep shadows.  Without a bounce card with me, some of the shots just wouldn't look that good, and I passed on filming them.)  One shot I wanted to get with "Industrial", but never did, was up on the crane, looking down on the excavator.  I didn't have the GorillaPod when I filmed that and had no way to secure the camera up there.  Right after I filmed "Industrial", I picked up the GorillaPod since I knew that I'd definitely get some use out of it.

You gotta do what you gotta do to get the shot.

So I climbed up the crane arm, secured the camera, got the shot I wanted and after that went and started filming Rhonda.  It was neat watching her go around taking pictures, and seeing how her mind worked about what she thought was cool to snap.  A few times I remember thinking, "I missed that", or "I got that too!"  The funniest part was when I was setting up for a shot of her, I had my back turned to her as I was climbing up a mound of rocks, I heard this bird screeching, then Rhonda shouted out in fright.  I guess the bird must've been defending its nest, since it was all puffed out and running straight at her on the ground.  I laughed pretty good at that one. This teeny little bird no bigger than a robin had some pretty big balls to be going after her.  :)

One thing I was surprised about was how my mind solved the problem of using the GorillaPod, instead of a full-sized tripod.  When I'm out filming, I kind of scan the area taking all sorts of information in.  Angles, colors, framing, depth, shadows and even thinking about the horizontal and vertical; whether if I'm at the right X, Y or Z axis.  I do that all in a split second when I'm looking for a shot, and I did the same thing with the GorillaPod.  It was another thing to put on the plate, but really, it wasn't much and was kinda fun to work out the problems.

It was neat being back, seeing familiar sights, some of the things that changed (the metal bucket I sat on had been crushed by someone in the month since I'd been there, the brown grass and trees had turned green and there were more signs around that people had visited.), and filming Rhonda as she checked things out.

Editing was pretty straight forward (but time consuming at about 10 hours).  I had the template already figured out from the earlier video, so that was the easy part.  The actual editing part, before grading and rendering took me about 3-4 hours.  Grading and rendering are always time consuming, especially when you go for a really stylized look like this.  I decided to name it "Industrielle", since it was Industrial with a girl.  Elle is feminine in French.  What I didn't realize until today was that the word "industrielle" is "industrial" in French. Hey, that works too, but that wasn't my intention.

Anyway, check out the video, and if you like it, feel free to comment or "like" it on Vimeo!

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