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We are an independent film company - so we have to be savvy about how we film. Here are five things we did differently.
1. Enhance scenes with CGI. Of course big budget films do this - Gravity put in a whole planet! But what about putting boring stuff like foreground props in afterwards? You can place them exactly where you want them and add a nice depth to your scene. This clip shows our minimal set to which we added forground elements and computer screen f.x.
2. Post -production tracking. With a little bit of planning you can leave the track at home. This shot was locked off and the camera move put in afterwards. It took about ten minutes and the actors didn't have to hang around waiting for a reset! This is a test. For the film there will be a better forground featue (see above) and a nicer sky.
How did we do it? In After Effects we masked out the Rolls Royce, put it on a separate layer and placed it nearer the virtual camera. Then we did the virtual track. Everything else in the scene is far enough away for the eye not to notice.
3. Actors are precious! Pay them properly and look after them. Quite often on independent films the attitude is that the film is everything. No, people are everything! So have short days with lots of breaks and a nice lunch. 10 hour days are stupid!
To illustrate this we have actress Pippa Haywood dancing with joy before a take. This is from a sequence in a supermarket where the gang are prepping a sting.
5. No Clapper board. I'm not sure this is so unusual, but I am surprised when films use clapper boards. All the data is in the files, why slow everything down by labelling it visually? It wastes time and it can also kill the energy.
There's no point showing you a clip without a clapper board - so here is our introduction trailer where we tried out these techniques... and several others.
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4. Green Screen Dirty shots. A dirty shot is when you can see an out of focus chunk of actor in the foreground. Mostly a viewer is not conscious of this (as opposed to a clean shot) but it does have an important subconscious effect on the dynamic.
In this scene Nell is setting up one of the Greedy Bankers. The scene lasts about twenty seconds. Our Actress - Hermione Halpin, would have had to travel one hundred miles for that twenty seconds. Much easier to film her on another day and fix it in post.
The camera move is also virtual... and the foreground curtain.