Thread: On The Edge

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    #21
    Senior Member El Director's Avatar
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    Last weekend, my producer and I entered a 50 hour film fest and went into it with the understanding that we weren't going to take it too seriously, just have fun and use it as a learning experience for "Surviving the Wild". We realized that what we needed is experience working together and since we'll be shooting the feature with dual system sound, I wanted actual, practical experience with doing that on set, as well as in the edit (previously I've only dabbled with DSS).

    We ended up learning a lot during those 50 hours, some of the things that stand out to me include:
    *Get a black blanket to cover your head and monitor if you don't have an EVF
    *Watch out for boom shadows (related to the first tip since I couldn't see the display)
    *Try to keep the camera and audio recorder in sync. By this, I mean the clip numbers. My Ursa Mini gives each shot a clip number (001, 002, 003...). My Zoom H4n also does this. However, if we decided to record some sound effects wild on set (it was a 50 hour movie and we didn't have time for foley), the numbers quickly got out of sync, meaning it took a lot more work in the edit to find the right takes to sync. Which leads to my next tip I learned-
    *When editing DSS, don't waste time syncing everything. Sync only what needs to be synced. Since we were limited on time, I would find the take I wanted to cut in and then go find the matching audio to sync, rather than syncing everything we shot first. It's a bit unconventional, but since I don't have an editing assistant to handle the syncing, it seemed to work well and saved a lot of time.

    One thing we could of done to keep the clip count in sync is to make sure that if one device records, the other one does too, even just for a few seconds. This way I'll always know that clip 014 from the camera will match 014 from the Zoom. Another option we're looking into is renting a higher end recorder that lets you specify a folder each time you record (Dialogue, SFX etc...). Still looking into these options.

    Things that went well: My camera. This was probably the longest shooting days I've had with my Ursa and I was very impressed by how long my batteries lasted. By the end of an 8 hr day, I still had 60% left. The only issue I had was that when the sun came out, the battery did eventually overheat and shut down. I gave the camera and the battery a five minute break and we were able to continue. Next time that happens, I'll just swap to my second battery. Also, I wasn't able to really see my screen while we were shooting. So I turned on Zebras and focus peaking and basically just trusted the numbers. We were shooting outside during the day, so I set my WB to 5600K. I adjusted exposure until I lost the zebras, and used the red focus peaking to set my focus. I was nervous that everything was going to turn out too dark, too bright and out of focus, but when I loaded all the footage into Media Composer, everything looked great! I had one shot near the end that was a little soft, but that was it. At least now I know that if I ever find myself shooting "blind" again, I can trust the numbers and the camera.

    I was also very happy with my post workflow. Even under the time crunch, I was able to effortlessly move between Avid, Resolve, Nuke and Pro Tools as we finished the short. I'm hoping we can do another short before the feature this summer, but at the very least, I'm comfortable with what we learned last weekend.

    Next weekend Trex (my producer) and I are doing a tech scout where we plan to shoot and also hope to record some spring time atmos for the sound mix. Also, as part of getting amped up for the flick, I re-read the DV Rebel's Guide and also Rebel Without A Crew. Those two books inspire me to no end, and now I can't wait for June to come!

    Hoping to get my Kickstarter out today, I really need to get it going so we can start casting ASAP.


    Independent Filmmaker
    BMD URSA Mini 4K/Avid Media Composer/NukeX/Blender/Mixcraft/ProTools/Resolve Studio

    Feature Films
    Wulf - 2008 | Leap - 2010 | Leap: Rise of the Beast - 2011 | Surviving The Wild - 2020


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    #22
    Senior Member El Director's Avatar
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    Finally got the Kickstarter launched! Yes, we have a very low goal, but watch the video for an explanation why
    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects...e-wild-a-movie


    Independent Filmmaker
    BMD URSA Mini 4K/Avid Media Composer/NukeX/Blender/Mixcraft/ProTools/Resolve Studio

    Feature Films
    Wulf - 2008 | Leap - 2010 | Leap: Rise of the Beast - 2011 | Surviving The Wild - 2020


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    #23
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    I've spent the past month trying to finalize locations and cast the film. I have a lead actor, a young man named Troy who is willing to work within the parameters of the shoot: Gas and food provided, $150 total per diem, and he will be camping for the first week of filming. Unfortunately my Kickstarted failed miserably. I'm learning that while I'm a good salesman, my marketing skills are severely lacking. I need to partner with someone that can help me out in that area, especially once the movie is done and ready to be sold or put online.

    The goal going into this was to do a $2000 movie and so far I'm sitting at $2110. Most of that is misc gear and props (lights, hard drives etc...) but I spent $250 this past weekend at Costco getting everything I need for meals and such to feed my team.

    In true independent spirit, I've tried to barter and borrow wherever I can, spending money only when needed. Since I work at a production company, I'm borrowing some C-stands, flags and other random gear. My co-worker is also lending me his Phantom 4 Pro. It's not my first pick for matching with my Ursa Mini, but I'm just happy to be able to get drone shots in this film. For the type of movie I'm making, it's almost a necessity if I want the film to be competitive.

    Tech-wise, I have two 8TB external drives that I'll be using. One is the main, the other is the backup. Since I can only afford 8TB and won't be bringing my workstation to the Montana portion of the shoot, I've decided to shoot ProRes 444 at 1080 24fps. I had been going back and forth on wether I'd shoot 4K RAW, but I just can't afford it this time. I've shot a few projects in RAW and aside from the option to change my ISO or WB, there really isn't a huge advantage that I could see. I've spent my entire film career nailing the exposure and WB in camera, so there really isn't a benefit to going RAW. 4K would let me do some repos, but again, if you get it right on set, there's really no need. 1080 from my Mini scales up really nice to 2K for DCP, so I'm not worried about that either. I'm sure there's some people that would be appalled I would even consider going this route, but at the end of the day, it's a $2000 movie and the point of it is for me to have fun. I've spent six years helping bring someone else's vision to life, it's time I get to stretch my creative muscles again and play.

    Going along with that, I'll be handling post myself, mostly because I enjoy all aspects of post. Again, this is supposed to be fun for me. I love editing, that's by far my favorite part. Sound design is right up there too, which will be really important on this film because I won't be using any score. I want to immerse the viewer into this world, and I think I can do that with good sound design. Since I'm a VFX supervisor at my day job, I'll obviously be handling the VFX workload too (though there shouldn't be too many - mostly some matte paintings, a few screen replacements and a CG train).

    So that's the plan. My boss has given me the go ahead to take two weeks off, so hopefully I'll have everything I need by the end of the month!


    Independent Filmmaker
    BMD URSA Mini 4K/Avid Media Composer/NukeX/Blender/Mixcraft/ProTools/Resolve Studio

    Feature Films
    Wulf - 2008 | Leap - 2010 | Leap: Rise of the Beast - 2011 | Surviving The Wild - 2020


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    #24
    Senior Member El Director's Avatar
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    Tomorrow my year and a half of prep hopefully pays off! As a test, I decided to try and pack my car yesterday. This is going to be tight trying to get everything to fit. Not only has my gear increased in size since the last film (URSA Mini vs Rebel T2i), but the storage containers has increased and size, and I also have a lot more gear now too (lights, audio, reflectors...) than I did last time. I was re-watching my last flick yesterday and I'm still amazed at what we were able to pull off with just a T2i and some worklights. I had no bounces/reflectors, no audio gear, no real camera stabilizers, and 20-ish days of shooting spread out over 8 months. Our budget was just over $2K and I used almost every trick I knew to make it happen. With all the new toys I have now, with the same budget, I'm hoping for this flick to be even better.


    Independent Filmmaker
    BMD URSA Mini 4K/Avid Media Composer/NukeX/Blender/Mixcraft/ProTools/Resolve Studio

    Feature Films
    Wulf - 2008 | Leap - 2010 | Leap: Rise of the Beast - 2011 | Surviving The Wild - 2020


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    #25
    Senior Member El Director's Avatar
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    Day One

    Yesterday morning I packed up the car with all my gear and my dog and drove to Rose Lake, ID where I met up with my co-producer/sound guy and my lead actor that rode with him. After offloading some of the gear into his truck, we headed out to Kalispell, MT. Since there's very little cell service along the way, we used Walkie Talkies to keep in contact while caravaning. A little over halfway through the trip, we reached the Lone Pine area and there was an epic storm in the distance. We sent up the drone and had the actor drive my car (which is the picture vehicle) along the desolate highway in front of the storm.
    Upon arriving in K-spell, we hit up the parking lot of a sporting goods store that had just closed for the day and shot a scene where the main character exits the store with a new .44 magnum and some ammo. Then we went to Target (which is in the same strip) and shot a similar scene of him exiting the store with an AC adapter for his car. He tests it out by plugging in his laptop.
    The scenes we shot were really pretty simple, no dialogue either. It was a good way to get my main actor, Troy, into the swing of things. The only real issue we had was that my co-producer's truck decided to throw a fit and refused to start for a while. Once all the vehicles were up and running, we drove an hour to Murphy Lake, which is where the majority of our filming out here will take place. I helped the guys get settled in to the campground before leaving and heading to my old camper out here where I had lived for 8 months. The family who owns this property was kind enough to run out some power for me and I was able to set up a makeshift edit bay as well as charge batteries. I'll be staying here for the week.
    It's strange being back here, in a camper that I haven't lived in for six years. The place was a mess as it's been unattended, so I was up until 1am cleaning and offloading yesterday's footage. I also managed to pull together a quick edit before heading to bed. I woke up at 5am, so I'll be running off 4 hours of sleep today. Should be fun.


    Independent Filmmaker
    BMD URSA Mini 4K/Avid Media Composer/NukeX/Blender/Mixcraft/ProTools/Resolve Studio

    Feature Films
    Wulf - 2008 | Leap - 2010 | Leap: Rise of the Beast - 2011 | Surviving The Wild - 2020


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    #26
    Senior Member El Director's Avatar
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    Day Two

    Our first full day. The schedule today was pretty light, so we were able to take our time and not rush, which is always nice. Due to not finding some actors for one scene, I had to step up and make it my cameo. Unfortunately, I'm always super critical of my acting performances, especially if I'm trying to direct myself (I don't know how Ben Affleck does it). I'm sure I'll cringe tomorrow when I chop this all up in Avid.

    On the plus side, the day was overall pretty great, save a few things. We hiked over to Martin Lake where we shot the scene where our main character is persuaded to buy a .44 Magnum for bear protection. Next we hit up my old home (the actual spot where I lived out of my car) to show the main character shooting his .44 for the first time.

    I want to talk about this scene for a moment. First, it really happened as you'll see in the movie. The day I bought my .44, I drove to that exact spot, not knowing that 8 months later I would find myself living there. In the movie (and my real story), the main character sets up some eggs on a stump and proceeds to shoot at them, causing the eggs to explode into glorious goo (again, I actually did this back then). In order to show the eggs exploding, my original plan was to use white gaff tape to attach a small explosive (a firecracker) to the back of each egg and just blow them up. The problem, as I learned with this, is that firecrackers produce smoke, both while the fuse burns and immediately after the explosion.

    After talking with the rest of the team, we decided the best course of action was to actually shoot the eggs for real. Rather than use the .44 mag which has expensive ammo, we decided to use the AR-15s that both my producer and I have. Safety was our priority, and once we knew that everything was okay, my producer proceeded to pop the first two eggs with his AR. The third egg proved troublesome, so I came in with my AR and popped it the first try. We also threw the drone up and captured the main character's car driving into the location, which will hopefully be paid off later in the movie when he becomes homeless and ends up living at that exact spot.

    As we had now been filming for six hours, we took a break and ran into the town of Eureka where we visited a small tack and sporting goods store. I know the owner and we caught up while my producer/sound guy purchased some fishing tackle.

    Next we went back to our homebase/main campsites and sent the drone up again to get some epic (and I do mean EPIC) shots of the main character being contemplative. Sadly, I did manage to crash my borrowed drone during these shots and ruined three of the four propellers. I still don't know where that tree came from. Fortunately, I have spares, and now I owe my coworker some new props too.

    We ended the day getting shots at dusk (which is like 9:45pm out here) of the main character driving into and setting up camp in near total darkness. With a f1.8 lens, my URSA Mini (the camera) did a fine job. We were supposed to shoot one more scene, but I was dumb and forgot to pack the batteries today for the LED light panels that I needed to pull that scene off, so we're shooting it tomorrow.

    Bonus tidbit - I drove to my camper last night not realizing that I had all the food. My team was not happy that they missed dinner and breakfast. Hopefully that won't happen again

    Offloading the footage, I had around 90 takes between my Mini and the drone. Copying that data to my two drives took around an hour, and it's looking to be two hours to create an MXF for the Avid. I can't wait to check out some of these shots. Hopefully I'll be able to share some grabs soon.


    Independent Filmmaker
    BMD URSA Mini 4K/Avid Media Composer/NukeX/Blender/Mixcraft/ProTools/Resolve Studio

    Feature Films
    Wulf - 2008 | Leap - 2010 | Leap: Rise of the Beast - 2011 | Surviving The Wild - 2020


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    #27
    Senior Member El Director's Avatar
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    Here's a short teaser based on our first week of shooting
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftSF...ature=youtu.be


    Independent Filmmaker
    BMD URSA Mini 4K/Avid Media Composer/NukeX/Blender/Mixcraft/ProTools/Resolve Studio

    Feature Films
    Wulf - 2008 | Leap - 2010 | Leap: Rise of the Beast - 2011 | Surviving The Wild - 2020


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    #28
    Senior Member El Director's Avatar
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    Independent Filmmaker
    BMD URSA Mini 4K/Avid Media Composer/NukeX/Blender/Mixcraft/ProTools/Resolve Studio

    Feature Films
    Wulf - 2008 | Leap - 2010 | Leap: Rise of the Beast - 2011 | Surviving The Wild - 2020


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    #29
    Senior Member El Director's Avatar
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    Here's a bunch of grabs with a quick correction to compensate for LOG. Shot on the Blackmagic URSA Mini 4K and DJI Phantom 4 Pro





















    Independent Filmmaker
    BMD URSA Mini 4K/Avid Media Composer/NukeX/Blender/Mixcraft/ProTools/Resolve Studio

    Feature Films
    Wulf - 2008 | Leap - 2010 | Leap: Rise of the Beast - 2011 | Surviving The Wild - 2020


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    #30
    Senior Member El Director's Avatar
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    Movie update: Things are coming together. I still need a few actors for one day each, and I need one location. We're looking at about 3 days of principal left to complete the film. The edit is coming along nice, I currently have 44 minutes of movie cut together. I've definitely been taking my time on this flick compared to my previous three features. Hopefully it pays off and we'll have a movie that could do well in the festival circuit.


    Independent Filmmaker
    BMD URSA Mini 4K/Avid Media Composer/NukeX/Blender/Mixcraft/ProTools/Resolve Studio

    Feature Films
    Wulf - 2008 | Leap - 2010 | Leap: Rise of the Beast - 2011 | Surviving The Wild - 2020


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