Short Film : Many Moons

KBeezie

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Karl Blessing
The film I did editing and cinematography on during that brutally hot weekend during the Detroit 48 hour film challenge. Was on crew as the editor, a director of photography, and 1st artistic director. (primarily invited since I was willing to do editing, and had access to a Ronin M, and could advise on camera, audio, and lighting configuration).

Was a tiring ordeal as I handled all the video and audio editing and was awake for 3 days straight for the challenge. I would have liked to also captioned it properly as well. Long story short, I feel like I may be too old to be doing challenges without hurting myself.

Because the director was late by 7 minutes delivering the footage (had to be turned in by hand in Detroit by 7:30pm Sunday at the latest), we were not eligible for any awards, but could still be screened and be eligible for audience showcase award. The original video was around 9 minutes which I hastily shortened to under 7 without losing the story in the 2 hour car ride to Detroit. But because we were late and are not eligible for normal awards anyways they're allowing us to provide them with the further polished 10 minute version I edited and cleaned up to be screened next week (which I'm happy for because I had at least two typos in the original submission)

On a side note :p I was not particularly ecstatic with the team name that was selected, seeing as I'm a fine arts graduate with emphasis on photography... the team name is "Film School Dropouts".


The original posting when the director (MJ) shared it :
Check out our short film "Many Moons" here and also come to the screening for the Detroit 48hr film fest competition and check us out on the big screen also!! *shot in 48hrs!!*
"Many Moons"
In the heart of Hartford, North Carolina 1945, two young lovers attempt to keep their relationships intact. Odds are stacked against them but there love is unbreakable.
https://youtu.be/y-UZYP3Yvc4
**Come watch the movie on the big screen and show us some love and support!! We are in screening group B "Film School Dropouts**
Tickets are now available for the Detroit 48HFP Screenings next week! Wednesday, July 31st & Thursday, August 1st 7PM and 9:30PM
This year you have the option to purchase tickets per screening for $10 or you can purchase a pass to see all 4 screenings for only $30. Click the link below to purchase online. Once you are on the site, click any screening (A(,B,) C, or D) to purchase passes.
You can also purchase tickets at the box office.
We will be at the Main Art Theater-118 N Main St, Royal Oak, MI 48067

Location : Van Buren Historical Society Poorhouse in Lawerence, Michigan.

We shot in 4K on both cameras with the intention of 1080p output.

What I utilized :

Panasonic GH4 (in a SmallRig Cage) with one of the following depending on scene:
  • Olympus 12mm f/2.0
  • Panasonic 20mm f/1.7
  • Panasonic 42.5mm f/1.7
Along with a Ronin M during the first two thirds of the day of shooting, then switched over to tripod (heat index of over 100, and no AC in the building meant the Ronin motors were giving up)
Breakthrough Photography X4 CPL
Hoya Solas 3-stop and 6-stop ND filters
Davinci Resolve Studio 16 beta7 for editing

What the director utilized (as he was acting as a cinematographer for a couple of the shoulder-rigged shots):

BlackMagic URSA 4.6K (Canon Mount) with I think a 35mm lens he did not change off
No ND filters (you'll notice the depth change near the end of the first act as those were off the URSA).
Shoulder rig

The URSA was not used past the single window show in the 4th act as the heat caused the screen to turn purple and blue and he had to shut it off.

The sound guy used :

Rode NTG1 in a Blimp on a boom pole (but I wish he was able to place the boom closer than 6 feet to the actors)
A majority of the 'good' audio by my guestimation were recorded afterwards close to the boom (not live on camera), and since it's not a musical, I did a lot of snipping and cutting of pieces of dialog to help match them up.

He also used the director's Tascam DR-70 recorder (I have a DR-60D Mkii personally but decided not to bring it as they mentioned they had everything they needed for lighting and audio already).

What I would like to have done differently given the same scenario over again (now that I know), at least as it pertains to 24 or 48 hour challenges:

  • Air conditioning, though not likely would have ever been possible
  • Chest rig for the ronin, or just stuck with tripod from the beginning (the director wanted a bit of moment, however I felt that we were imitating a 40s period piece, most shots would be stationary, and I could zoom/pan in 4k to 1080p).
  • Not only matched the frame rate, shutter, iso, WB on both cameras like I already did, but matched the aperture values closely between the two for the same/similar camera angles used
  • Gotten all the outdoor shots in one take rather than returning to the scene several hours later when the light had changed
  • Used a scrim for the outside scenes
  • Taken more b-roll of the surrounding area at varying reach (none were taken on the URSA but I went ahead and grabbed some on the GH4 while actors were setting up)
  • Encouraged the boom to be placed much closer to the actors, and configured a way to plug in live to either camera for slate work
  • More organized takes (by that I mean, not having to shift thru 40 takes of the first act to find the one deemed 'good')
  • Utilized the interns or PA to go thru both video and audio footage and move aside any that are obviously not usable (or place into a folder that has good 'parts' that can be used)
  • Utilized the interns or PA others to take all the boom audio and separate them by scene and label them while I graded video
  • Pre-loaded a lut to the URSA to more closely match the GH4's Cinelike-D profile (though I found it gets close if I use a URSA 4.6k -> Video LUT in Resolve on each URSA clip as a starting point), the URSA did not seem to have any 'look' settings.
  • Had one of the PAs or Interns transcode my GH4 footage via AME as I finished each scene (I was already dumping the cards after each scene myself to my laptop before filming the next scene)
  • Set a time limit and take limit per scene forcing us to move onto the next scene if we don't "get it" in so much time or takes (keeping in mind most the time these challenges do not want more than a 4 to 7 minute final movie length.
  • For challenges that require a physical drop-off in a city far from the editing region, I would suggest someone who lives in town to be ready to download the file electronically, and place it on a thumbdrive and run it over. Size wise wouldn't be an issue as the challenge preferred H.264 for delivery.
In the end everyone on the crew and cast were ecstatic with the results of the editing and for them turned out way better than they would have expected it to be.

I also made them a very quick movie poster with a still from the film so he could update the imdb page, an old public domain stencil, and the movie title, as well as using old paper appearance on the background (which was created using a blank brown layer in photoshop, and then running it thru Dx0 Nik Suite with AnalogFX).

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Some BTS and fun shots taken during the day :

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I'm the dead one on the left, I set up my Olympus E-M1 up on a tripod and bounced the flash off the ceiling before running in after setting a timer.

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MJ wanted to try his hand at the GH4 (which he likes more than the URSA) and the Ronin M, but needed me to set it up for autofocus first (I don't advise autofocus for filmmaking)

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Where I edited back at the TV station the director works at, sat in that chair from about 9pm Friday, until 5pm Sunday.

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Olyver Mark

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Thanks for sharing your experience! I think most people don’t realize how much work is required to produce a short film. How each scene must be break down, analyse for camera angle, lightning, sound setup, etc. I really enjoyed your film, but I should had read your comments after. I was too concentrated on the technical details trying to find where your improvement list was referring. I wish having enjoyed the film first. I’m used to edit around 5 to 7 short films of family activity per years. However, I only had 2 experiences in my life where I had to film and edit something scripted (for my kids nothing serious). Still, this was a whole different story (creating vs reporting) where all small details can kill the flow of the film. I really like the way you applied the old film effect at the beginning of each act to recall us the context (time) of the story. Reading your post give me some motivation to find people locally (I unfortunately failed at a previous attempt) that wish be part of a team to face challenges similar has the one you participate.

Again, really great post!
 

Bif

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I also enjoyed watching your team's entry. My impression is that your GH4 "held up" in use better than the Ursa did (don't envy you working in that heat with no AC). Too bad the drive in to the city caused the entry to be late but all in all, I thought your team did well.
 
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Can't watch the completed film here at work, but wanted to note that I've volunteered for a couple DC 48 Hour Film Projects, and watching the struggle to turn in USB drives or DVDs on time, with last minute editing and compression passes while waiting in line, I have great appreciation for what you guys are up against!
 
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Finally got a chance to watch, nicely done -- do you still have to use a given line and prop in your entry? If so, what were they? If I had to guess it would be the fishing pole and something about the moon... ;)
 

KBeezie

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Grand Rapids, Mi
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Karl Blessing
Finally got a chance to watch, nicely done -- do you still have to use a given line and prop in your entry? If so, what were they? If I had to guess it would be the fishing pole and something about the moon... ;)
No the only required prop was "a flotation device". Most of the crew was thinking too hard on that between trying to use a life vest or preserver, etc. Til I was like, just use an old fishing bobber. The other requirements was the line "I promise it will never happen again" had to be used somewhere, and that one of the characters had to be named one of the three provided names (we went with Detective Ciabatta from the list of possible names)

"Many Moons" was the title given by the screenplay writer. I created a logo from that by finding a vintage (ie: public domain) illustration that would work with that, and the font to match.
 

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