March 2015

The Package

A New Short Film

Posted on March 8, 2015

Much has been happening of late. Most notably, I purchased a new camera; the RED Scarlet Dragon. So that you can get as excited as I am, the RED is a 6K camera (meaning it has over 9x more detail than HD). That’s a lot of pixels!

I did a few quick test shots in lovely golden daylight and the image quality was amazing. Without any adjustments or grading, the image looked very filmic and the colours were spot-on. I was very pleased, but was interested to see how well the image would turn out in low-light situations (since reputably there can be a lot of noise with this camera if there isn’t enough light).

I decided to shoot a test short film to try out a low-light setting. I asked some people to help out and Adam, Tristan and Mitch (thanks guys!) kindly offered to get involved. I had an initial idea planned out, to do with a mysterious package in a basement…

All was going well, until the idea got derailed by a joke made in passing. At that point, the film changed drastically and became darker, stranger and in the end, much better.

The whole film was only shot with one backlight in the doorway and a single smaller light for the room itself. At the time of shooting, I thought it was going to turn out way too dark or way too noisy. I was surprised to find out the footage came out really well. A large factor I think was the fact that it was shot at 5K and downscaled to 1080p. This reduced the size of the noise blotches down to a fine grain, which even adds to the filmic effect. There were a few shots/areas which were a little dark or a little noisy (especially if zooming the footage in), but overall it worked pretty well.

In the day following the shoot, I nearly finished it (it’s only a minute long). I thought I’d share some images from the process.

Firstly I had to transfer all the footage from the camera’s SSD and watch it all. Most of it was useless crap (partly due to the camera rolling during setup time/discussion – with no audio – or because Adam couldn’t keep a straight face for any period of time).


Reviewing and cataloguing the footage

Once the footage was transferred and reviewed, it was time to start editing! It’s always fun to shape the story in editing and see it turn out different that you imagined. There was a few minor hiccups and few shots I wished we had got to help piece it together, but overall, for a quick test shoot, it came together nicely. I did also add a mild denoiser to most of the shots to remove a little of the noise, but it didn’t really need it.


Editing the film

After the edit was locked, it was time to do the few visual effects shots needed for the film. They were a little trickier than I anticipated, but after working for over a year on The Duel, this was a piece of delicious cake.


Making those sweet visual effects

After consuming the delicious cake, it was time to mix some sound effects. This was probably the thing I’d had the least experience with, but I was happy with the final outcome and learned a lot in the process. Pro tip: The small sounds make a big difference.

Sound FX

Mixing the sound effects

Now all that’s left is the score. Unfortunately I have to wait for Adam on this one – and he’s always having issues with his software.

Usually there would also be a colour grade at this point, but the footage looks pretty spot on without it. I did try applying a simple grade with a Premiere plugin, but it seemed to lose detail for some reason, so I just decided to leave it. It’s only a test after all.

And that’s it! Once the score is done, you will be able to see the final product. I’m interested to see the quality once uploaded, as video streaming sites can have some ugly compression. We’ll soon find out.