The majority of the sound in regards to the first scene of our film, Screen Three, was recorded whilst we filmed. Recorded externally, I synced up the audio with the footage on Final Cut Pro’s timeline and worked to create the desired sound perspective and quality for the dialogue however, some sounds needed to be added in post production.
I wanted the “Youths” to be as aggravating as possible. They’re intended to irritate the film’s protagonist and also, the audience and so, in order to emphasise this idea, I recorded myself munching on popcorn and added it in when the footage needed it. When Gareth’s character bites into the snack for the first time in the scene we hear a loud crunch which arguably suggests his ignorance in his quiet, hushed enviroment and quickly gives the audience a first glimpse into his personality, especially when paired with the bashfully delivered dialogue.
The BFI Film Academy course I’m undertaking offers filmmakers, like myself, the chance to meet industry professionals to help us improve our talents. Recently I was lucky enough to meet Grant Bridgeman; a sound recordist who has worked on productions such as ITV’s television series, Mr Selfridge. He went through the do’s and don’ts of recording sound and made a short video clip highlighting errors inexperienced recordists like myself might make. This included distortion, interference with elements such as traffic and an insight into sound perspective. Sound perspective concerns a sound’s position in space as perceived by the viewer given by volume, timbre, and pitch. Getting it right is vital in creating the right effect. For example, if a wide shot makes an actor appear as small as an ant, having the dialogue he’s delivering seem close to the viewer and loud is very distracting and unnatural.
His job concerns“the art of capturing sound without comprising the image”.
Despite the lack of light, warmth or energy to much of anything, my father and I visited when he keeps his vehicles to record additional sound. With the Zoom H1 digital recorder and a pair of my UrBeats headphones, we recorded a range of actions such as the car starting up, lurching forward, braking to a halt and finally the engine simply running whilst the car’s stationary. Thanks to my headphones I could check for any interference while I was recorded and so I ended up with great quality sound that went straight in my film. I also recorded the pushchair falling over and a female scream to add to the intensity of the finale.
If you look below you can see an area of my timeline during post-production on Final Cut Pro. Each file is explained on the left of the image.
After months of scripting and storyboarding and organising actors and locations and getting continuingly shot down, Monday 11th of November saw our first day of principal photography. I was over the Moon to finally get behind the camera and to get the chance to shoot what Jannath and I had brewing in our minds but thanks to my determination in getting things on the road, we got there.
I spoke to my actors over Facebook and arranged a date and a time period for shooting that would suit their schedules before talking to The Red Lion Theatre’s Chairman in regards to the same matter. It was far more sensible that I set a date my actors were happy with rather than organising with the establishment and dragging them along. As the date grew closer and closer I was preparing more and more for the shoot by learning the script for myself as a director and finalising the shot list for the scene.
Thanks to the Media department at school we were able to book out valuable pieces of equipment that really helped the production process. I had two tripods in my own possession however, these would only serve purpose for the two cameras that I had and yet, I still needed something to hold up my lighting equipment. The department were helpful enough to let us borrow two tripods, sound recording equipment that you can read about here and a dolly and track. School also helped me significantly by letting me have a projector over night to create the cinematic effect. The pressure was on since this was an expensive piece of equipment that was cost me and Jannath considerably if it got damaged. With all this equipment I was taking to the shoot I didn’t think twice about preparing a checklist to improve my organisation and to make sure I had everything I needed. You can see this list below and the “BEFORE” column concerns what I brought to the shoot in my car whilst the “AFTER” is in regards to what I took home with me. This proved as a great tool to help me organise everything.
The location was as perfect for our production as I remembered upon visiting it. The classic red seats, the lighting, the size of the room, were all what I had envisioned for the scene. I was more than happy to work here and after greeting Shirley, the Chairwoman, inside I couldn’t have prepared for the shoot any quicker. From my car, Jannath and I unloaded our equipment and although we couldn’t use the light-box (seen in the top right of the image below) I confidently compromised in carefully setting up the projector with my DVD-playing-laptop in the ledge next to it (hidden by the curtain). Despite this set-back, it turned out fine and perhaps more effective in that it was lower to our actors which made a more dramatic effect. We set up the dolly and track, attached the lights to tripods and arranged popcorn as the actors came in right on time. While we were preparing our “set”, the actors went away to rehearse theirs lines as I instructed and were happy to do so. It was at this point when I knew we had something promising in that their line delivery which I overheard was great and far better than what I had expected.
Filming itself went great. Jannath controlled the lights by adjusting their intensity from low to high creating the film projector that would have been in the cinema. I focused on the actors, the camerawork, directing the production and managing the team’s time so we could collect enough footage and complete the scene.
Although it was a small idea, I took the time out to shoot a handful of shots similar to ones I had in mind if I was to pursue the concept. The concept being a car driving through the night by a mysterious driver. The point of the shoot was to experiment, test settings on the camera and to see the difference between what I imagined in my head compared to what I really have in front of me. It was also a great exercise to get back behind the camera. And so, some shots worked great whereas others did not so well but the night, with thanks to my driver, was definitely a learning experience. Whether if my group continue with the idea or not it’s still good to have footage like this to study even for other projects and it’s also good to get behind the camera instead of throwing ideas on pieces of paper all the time. I hope the videos annotations help your understand what I was testing and learning and also what I was trying to achieve throughout the shots.
Above is a screenshot from the post-production process of putting together my test footage video. This was me editing in Adobe’s Premiere Pro and as you can see from the video and audio tracks I put together, nothing complicated is going on here. Because of the simple video I was going for which consisted of just the clips, their audio and a letterbox effect layer there wasn’t much to play around with however, at times, such as between 4:05 and 4:10 above, I decided to use small bits of audio from clips and place them in others so the digetic sound would flow better and be nicer to hear. Another video track was added to add the letterbox effect which is in fact a PhotoShop document that I made myself with the help of a YouTube tutorial. The letterbox gives footage that widescreen, film-look which I love and want to incorporate in my film since here, to me, it looks so good.
Through Adobe’s PhotoShop, I manipulated together a little film poster consisting of screenshots from my film, ‘PRAY’. I think I’ve made a successful and attractive piece in many ways. There’s a strong sense of composition and symmetry through the background image of the church and the faces, along with the text. I think I also slightly captured, through strategically choosing particular screenshots, elements of my main character’s personality. You can see Tabitha’s curious nature as she looks as Joel and on the other hand you can see the male lead as nervous and perhaps almost sinister with his creepy gaze.