Saturday, October 6, 2012

Project Movie: Part 5 - First Shoots

I've been detailing the progress on a movie project that the church where I work has been doing. The previous posts can be found with this link. We finally got under way with shooting in the middle of September but this is the first chance I've gotten to sit down and write about the experience.

All though the summer we went through script revisions, location scouting, casting and some rehearsals. The first production weekend we scheduled for four days with about twelve hours on site each day.  The first day unfortunately got scheduled right on top of an out of town gig that I had scheduled months before. That complicated things a little but with some fast figuring I managed to come up with enough gear to cover it all.

I had to get a friend to come and mix church for me because the intern who would have covered was out doing location sound in my place. It was a little nerve wracking to turn a nineteen year old kid loose with Reaper and the new MOTU interface for the first time but it all went great and he brought home some good audio. The only glitch from the first day was that a lot of set up footage was shot without audio so I spent a couple days in the editing bay recreating the sounds of the environment, down to footsteps and fabric swishes. The other big challenge that day was getting the whole shoot crammed inside a bus and not have any loose ends sticking into the frame. But they did it.

The location for Day Two was at the house of a church member. It was about the best setup I could have hoped for having been on the road half the night and also having caught a cold. The only spot for me that was off camera was in the corner of a sectional sofa. So I sat there all day, nursing a DayQuil cocktail and getting the takes. There was a little trouble with the radio mics that we had pinned on the actors. Changing frequencies helped but didn't completely eliminate the occasional buzz. Fortunately we got all the takes we needed in the clear. The only other thing bothering us that day was that the room and boom mics that we were using were good enough to pick up the refrigerator. The host family graciously located the breaker and shut it down for us.

Day three was an outdoor shoot. The first scenes we shot were in a parking lot so I was able to power up my whole rig from an inverter in my van. Midway through the morning though we moved to a more remote spot and it was battery only. I switched from the MOTU 896mk3 to a little ART USB interface that was bus powered. With that I was able to phantom power a pair of condenser mics. While I was able to capture everything, environmental noise, especially from the wind that picked up make most of the audio useless and is going to require additional dialogue recording (ADR) at a later date back in the editing bay.

On Day Four we took over a co-worker's house. Not only did they have the place showroom ready, but they also bravely turned over their infant son to be in the film. Lucky for us he seemed quite willing to cry and settle down almost on cue so he got through his scenes without too much stress. The biggest issues on that day were hard surfaces giving us too much room sound on all the mics. Likely some ADR will be needed on that footage too. A few other things didn't cooperate, like a couple of stairs that would creak nicely and a couple that seemed to go off like gun fire. A little more careful editing should take care of those though.

All that happened nearly three weeks ago. In the time since there have been three more weekends of shooting along with all the usual day job stuff that we have to get through every week. That's why it's taken so long to get anything posted about the project. Stay tuned for more though. I've been spending hours in the wood shed, editing dialogue and pasting together sound effects.

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