Critical Reflection

When given this brief I was at first a little creatively stuck. I have come off the back of quite a bit of work in and out of college and I really wanted to make something on my own that could swiftly and effectively show the progress I have made as a filmmaker since year one.

I did ask for help at first, unfortunately everybody else was busy on their own work so I went it alone. I did get offered some help by somebody in the first year, they came  on as an extra pair of hands.

As there wasn’t very long to get an idea together and film the thing, I got to it straight away. I have explained in an earlier blog my creative process and reasons for making this film.

I will try to explain the production side of the film in more depth and talk about my progress with lights and lenses throughout the year.

I very openly explained last year that I could not wrap my head around lenses, all of the numbers that got thrown out there really didn’t seem to make much sense to me.

I have since grasped the meaning of these numbers. I am very confident now that I could explain in a clear and concise way what different lenses can be used for and what the benefits are of using them.

I booked out a 7D, the Samyang kit (14mm, 35mm, 85mm) and the Canon 24-70mm so that I had a nice range of lenses to play with.

I have used all of these on the last few films I have made and have had some great and some not so great results.

Firstly, the 14mm is extremely wide, even with the crop factor. I used it frequently during ‘Frankie Got the Junk’ a short film I directed in December-February, this was on a Full-Frame camera so it was very wide. I fell in love with it at first but unfortunately I think I overused it and on reflection I decided to reshoot a lot of the 14mm shots with a narrower lens. I went for an 18mm lens instead. This lens would be great for certain shots but I did start to see that it was just a bit of a honeymoon period between me and the lens. It ended up being used for the park bench shot only in ‘Solitaire’.

The 35mm is a beautiful lens, I used it the most. It is incredibly sensitive with it’s focus, so at a wide aperture it becomes very difficult to keep a subject in focus. I discovered this on other films so kept it in mind for ‘Solitaire’. Besides the focus issue, it is a beautiful lens and one of my favourites in the store. I have never shot on a 7D until recently and was amazed at the similarity to the 5D MKii, especially in low light. So I took  into account the 1.6 crop factor, I knew that I would be shooting at roughly 50mm which was perfect.

I did not used the 85mm in the end, I used the 35mm for ECUs, it gives a better shallow depth of field in my experience.

I used the Canon 24-70mm a couple of times, it’s a really nice lens and was used for all my wide shots, with the crop I just had to step back a bit.

I also booked out the Limelite LEDs and a mini LED thinking this would be enough, I regret not picking up a Dedo kit for the interiors as well as I needed a more direct spotlight at times, I made do though and had to get creative to get the results I was after with the LEDs.

I intentionally kept my ISO as low as possible to get the cleanest image, I have had some problems with noisy footage using a ISO 1600 before. I tried to light everything without needing to boost my ISO very much  at all, I achieved this by never going above ISO 500.

I used ND filters for the first time on one of my shots(earth). They are fantastic, I can’t believe I have never used them before. I took out three different ranged ND filters, 0.3, 0.6, 1.2 and ended up using all three to get the exposure I was aiming for.

I have got a lot of practice with cameras and lenses lately and was able to have enough experience to manage all of the necessary roles for production of my film.

I find the last section(fire) to be the visually strongest section of the film, using predominantly light from the fire to light the shot was great fun and gave some fantastic results.

The music I decided to use in the film consists of Mogwai, Sigur Ros and Lykke Li, these are all bands that I listen to when trying to write something profound so I thought it fitting to include them. I am in the process of having some original music composed for the film so that i can use it without any copyright concerns. The music was a area that was difficult to finish in time for the hand in so I had to resort to using copyrighted music.

This is my first film this year that I have made without a crew for quite some time so covering all of the roles was a challenge, but I enjoyed it immensely. One of the downsides when working with a crew at this level is trying to maintain everybody in their roles and not step on their feet, I enjoy composing shots so it was nice to get my hands dirty. I have a real passion for camera operating, but I understand the importance of leaving your crew to be in charge of their roles.

I am considering expanding on this film as I still have a large amount of excess footage some of which is very good but could not be made into the film due to the approximate time limit which I have already exceeded. I trimmed the film down from it’s original 7 minute length in order to be more appropriate, this proved difficult but worthwhile.

As far as what I believe I could have done better, my research was limited. I do believe however that if I was to show research on my blog I would only be doing it to meet the grading criteria. I didn’t do any physical research because I came up with the idea organically, it would undermine my work if I was to make up inspirations and waste my time creating fake links to things in order to just satisfy the brief. This was a very quick turn around project, we were given only three weeks to complete everything so I believe I am justified in saying this.

This module was very brief but it was a nice way to hammer home some of the technically heavy information I have been processing. It also gave me a bit of creative confidence due to the time pressures.

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