About Me

My photo
Bristol, United Kingdom
Chronicle of an aspiring amateur filmmaker taking on the world!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Gettin' it all Together!

Hello again.  Welcome to post number 2 in my film making blog.

Before I get started properly, please note that I have now added my (very short) filmography to the blog.  As I complete each project I'll put in a link to either where it can be viewed or where you can find more info about the project, and I'll keep projects in progress up to date so you can see where I am with stuff.  Also, I've added a useful links box, I'll put in here any useful forums, communities or sites that I come across that assist with my filmmaking adventures!

The DIY Filmmaking Rig

Okay, as previously noted, my first attempt at a video was done using nothing more than a single camcorder under regular room lighting.  Results were fairly dull to be honest, so for project number two I'm going to add some basic stuff.

1) Camera

I own a Sanyo Xacti camera, can't remember exactly which model, but essentially it looks like this;
Its really not very good, to be honest, however, my good lady wife has just purchased this tasty piece of kit;
So, its a Fujifilm Finepix HS30 EXR - not quite a DSLR camera, but it does shoot video in a very good looking resolution and so I think it is going to be the main camera for the proposed shoot. 

I'm in something of a dilemma with regard to the camera and the resolution I'll be filming in, although I want improvements on video number one, which I think was shot at 640x48 30fps, which I think was the best the Xacti could manage.  I know the Fujifilm shoots at much higher res than this, but I suspect that editing might become an issue with the resulting larger files and the amount of footage I intend to work with.  I expect to get superior results anyway because I'm using lights and a camera with a better lens, should I compromise on resolution - its only going to be a You Tube promo video after all? I don't know, one to mull over a bit more I think!

2) Lights

You read any article on filmmaking and the subject of lighting comes up straight away.  And this seems to be more so for the low budget digital filmmaker as cheaper cameras really produce poor quality footage in poor lighting conditions.  But professional, hell even dedicated prosumer standard lighting costs as arm and a leg, so DIY filmmakers tend to improvise.  I've purchased some industrial site lights from a local hardware supplier, and they're a snip at less than £10 a pop.  I've bought two 150W and one 500W halogen lamps, they look a bit like this;

 However, be aware that you can't just buy these things, plug them in and off you go.  Hell no, that would be far too easy!  First off, they don't come with any cable or a mains plug.  I initially thought I might be able to cannibalise an old extension lead but then found from the instructions that they recommend using 1.5mm 3 core cable.  This stuff is insulated much better than ordinary mains cable, apparently these types of lights draw quite a lot of current when first switched on and thinner cable is very likely to melt or burst into flames!
I sought quite a bit of advice from dedicated electrical forums, and frankly am very glad I did as a few of the things I initially thought I could get away with might possibly have killed me or at least caused a major electrical fire.  Perhaps the most important I thing to note is how much cable you'll need.  If using a setup like this with thicker, non-standard cable, you'll need enough to reach from the light directly to wherever the nearest electrical socket is.  Do not use extension leads or additional 4 gang adaptors as more than likely they will have thinner cable and again will probably melt or catch fire! 

In the end I had to concede to the needs of safety over cost and purchased 20m of the correct cable, it came to just over £1 per metre.  I've cut three approx 5m lengths for each light with the remaining 5m held back as a spare in case I buy another light.

Actually wiring the things up is a bit of a fiddly business, trimming the individual connectors of each wire is much tougher than with normal cable due to the extra thickness, and fitting the bulb is a bit scary too - you can't actually handle the bulb or this damages it, so you need to hold it with a cloth while trying to manoeuvre the bulb into the housing.  The build quality of the lamps is pretty poor, so its essential to be gentle!  Anyway, eventually I got the first one done;

So all that remained was the moment of truth - the first switch on!  Thankfully, no explosions or fire ensued, and my back garden was bathed in the warm glow of artificial light, which completely terrified our poor cat and confused the neighbours!

So, I've wired up and tested the two 150W lights, and recycled an old flightcase that used to house some of my recording studio microphones to stash them in;

So I'm ready to transport them around.  Haven't been brave enough to try out the 500W light yet, I might wait until I can also improvise some kind of carrying/storage case for that as well.  Testing it could be pretty epic too, the 150W lights were pretty damn bright, this is going to be like letting off a small nuke in the garden!

I've also got to figure out how I'll position them in place when shooting.  These lights are designed to be wall mounted, so I think I can get away with bolting them on either microphone boom stands or photography tripods - but its pretty essential that they are stable, if my lighting rig comes crashing down that'll be curtains for the bulb, plus the heat they generate could easily melt holes almost instantly in whatever they happen to land upon (or possibly severely scold a member of cast or crew!)

And finally...

I think that's pretty much enough for post number 2, certainly enough talking about my film rig anyway.  Just finally, I'm going to quickly mention the other project currently in development that I've got.  Its a plan for a short film called Living in Denial, I've had the idea swimming around in my brain for a few months but finally got around to writing a first draft script for it the other evening.  The basic synopsis is that the main character wakes up to find that everyone else has vanished, every clock he finds remains fixed at a set time and he has no real recollection of who he is or what had happened previously.  He tries to make sense of it all while documenting the experience on the webcam of a tablet computer, and its that footage that makes up the content of the film. Its been specifically written to have a cast of just one (although I might need one extra for all of about 3 seconds) and I think I ought to be able to direct and star.  All being well I could actually complete filming within a day, the only drawback is I think I'll have film the exterior shots at some ridiculous time in the morning to ensure that there are no other people around!  I'll keep you posted on this as soon as there are some more developments.


No comments:

Post a Comment