Thursday, February 11, 2010

Spook Hunt - scene 1

Alright, here it is - the first cut of scene 1:

Spook Hunt Scene 1 from Todd Miro on Vimeo.

This cut has a first pass of my color grading, graphics and music (which I did my own dang self in Garage Band in about 15 minutes!)

We shot the scene in about 4 hours with about 7 different setups.  Lighting was fairly straightforward as I really wanted the sense of two guys at night around a lit dining table in an otherwise dark house.

Present for the shoot were myself (writer/director), Rob Weiner, (director of photography), Charles Yoakum & Rob Sandusky (talent), Kristin Nelder (audio/gaffer/camera advisor/production stills/and jack of all trades) and Ben Weiner (key grip/clapper/PA).

We shot with a Canon EOS 7D with a couple of rented prime lenses - a Canon EF 24mm f/1.4  and a Canon 50mm f/1.4  The fast lenses allowed us to shoot at ISO 400 most of the time.  For those unfamiliar with the 7D, (and what rock have you been living under) this amazing camera allows you to shoot full HD video (1920x1080) at 24fps with beautiful 35mm lenses and depth of field for around $2,000.  This allows for a very convincing film-look at a bargain price.  (For info on this camera and HD DSLRs in general, be sure to check out Phillip Bloom's incredibly informative blog.)

(Rob Weiner with the Canon 7D)

Monitoring was done through Rob's Panasonic BT-LH1710W 17" HD monitor, looking at HDMI out from the camera.  This was essential for framing the shots and finding critical focus.
(me looking at framing through the BT-LH1710W)

Audio was fairly straightforward: 2 wireless lavalier microphones (1 for each actor) fed in to a Zoom H4n digital recorder.  We used another Zoom on the table pointed at the actors as a boom mic.
(only follically challenged filmmakers need apply)

I slated every take to match sync between the camera and the two digital recorders.  I wound up hand-syncing in Final Cut (since there weren't that many shots) but I will eventually use Plural Eyes to sync when we start shooting more.

(enjoying a frosty beverage from craft services - oh wait, that's just a water from my garage - the travails of low budget filmmaking!)

(Rob extolls the virtues of alcohol to Charles...  Charles isn't buying it)

(Me pointing at nothing in particular. That's a director's job - to look like you're in control and know what you're doing even when you don't.  When in doubt, point at something. Rob is playing along, pretending to be impressed at my eloquent insights, but he really just wants to know when he can go home.)

After the shoot, Rob loaded the video files onto my drive (I prefer the GTech drives - rugged, fast and mobile) and then I transcoded them to ProResHQ to import into Final Cut.  The scene cut together very quickly as I knew pretty much what takes I wanted to use.  Also, being the writer/director/editor, I had already played the scene out in my head many times, so the actual cut went very fast.

This scene was fully scripted and blocked out ahead of time.  Rob and Charles added a bit of improvisation at rehearsal which we incorporated into the final shoot.  The rest of the movie will be very different as it is not fully scripted and we will improvise lots of it.  I have each scene written out with the beats I want to hit, but I want to allow Rob & Charles to explore the scenes as they happen to them.  This, combined with the infra-red POV camera shots should add some realism and immediacy to the scares that await them.

That's it so far - we start rehearsing the next scene in a week and will shoot it later this month.

There really are no excuses anymore to making your own high-quality movie.  The tools are incredibly cheap and offer amazing, professional results.  As technology has leveled the playing field, content is king, so story should be your primary concern.  If you've got a great story to tell I encourage you to get out there and do it!

(all photos courtesy of Kristin Nelder - thanks K!)


  1. Awesome!!!

    So you guys never turned the camera on Kristin? It's like she's a...ghost...bwoohahahah...


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