Making of “open La Ventana”
Girmantas | Video | October 25, 2010
I was very happy when open La Ventana was viewed for a thousand times on Friday, however, today the number of views has reached two thousand and five hundred! I have received many questions about the filming process as well as equipment that we were using for this movie. So, I’ll try to put everything down shortly.
Once we have arrived to La Ventana, we started to think about the ideas how to present this beautiful place in a movie. However, we wanted to avoid the stereotype of kite/windsurfing action short clips and present not only sailing conditions, but create something more, some story behind the spot. Brainstroming sessions with Mr. Bill were rewarding. We came up with the idea to talk to the local people, hear their stories, show some things from their perspective. Main theme parts were suppose to be: small fishermen village, current fishing trends (it is still the main job for many local people), growth and windsports development. Once we had the plan we had to find the right people and encourage them to tall their stories.
Was used in the movie:
- MacBookPro 2.93 GHz, 4 GB ram, Mac OS X 10.5.8
- Unomat tripod;
- Basic Sony headphones;
- UV and Circulal-Polarizing filters;
Basicaly we had pretty primitive set up. It’s very hard to travel with a lot of accessories, so we had to rely on the equipment quality. By the way , most of the video was shot even without the tripod. It has reached us only in spring, when the season was over.
I’m really willing to buy an EF-XL lens adapter as soon as possible to upgrade current setup. It would allow me to use high end photography lenses on my video camera. Due to camera lens size, crop factor is going to be 7.2. This will transform 24 mm f/1,4 to 172,8 mm and 135 mm f/2 to even 972 mm! Sounds intriguing! I’m very curious to try it and see the results. The only disadvantage – lenses will not have autofocus, but for the sake of image quality – it should be worth it. On the other hand there were a lot of situations where I was needed wider lens badly. For example, while filming on the boat. In environment like that you can’t pull back and step outside on the water, at least nobody proved that possible for the last 2010 years.
Just to tease you a little bit, by the end of November we are waiting for some upgrade items on our camera housing/cases. We will be able to get much closer to the watersports!
Video footage for this movie took approximately 140 GB on my hard drives. Nothing special, just about 12 hours of material. From my experience – one minute of final edited movie takes approx 1 hour of footage. As usual, I was a bit short on footage in order to realize my ideas. Thus, I had to use some of the not “first” quality footage at some point.
Also it is clear, that you need to see on your viewfinder what kind of picture are you recording either you make video or just a single photo. Often it’s hard to accomplish when you need to do many things alone, f.e. lead the conversation and film. Often I had to move from the camera and almost always the worst unfix-able mistakes were made. That was a good reminder to me that filming is about filming and you have to be there to film. Also I’m kinda angry on myself that I didn’t have my camera on La Ventana Classic. I was working a lot with some clients and I was already sure, that I will not see the crossing final, when I was going to pick up Aiste from the event. However, when I’ve arrived the Big Air Competition was taking place and I didn’t had my camera to film it. Thus, all I could do in the movie was to use the pictures.
Like for any other moving pictures production, soundtrack does huge effect. The best example was The Journey. Its’ soundtrack was created by one of the most talented young Lithuanian composers Leon Somov. Every next time I’m watching this movie, I’m convinced that the sound is the best part of it. However, while working with “open La Ventana” it was a bit too difficult to travel and work with “remote” composer. Thus, I had to find some royalty free music. I would strongly encourage all of the young creators to respect others and theirs author rights and use e.g. audiofarm.org or myspace.com and other royalty free music provided on various websites.
To enrich the music you still need “real” sounds, interviews and so on. Separate audio recording device or at least remote microphone would have done a lot of help and flexibility. It would have been much easier to work with camera, choose different angles, skip some filming to move the camera without loosing audio and so on. While now we had to set up everything on spot and, sometimes, audio or video quality was justified. So for amateur filmmaking sound operator might not be the guy you need the most, but separate audio channel will give you a lot of benefits.
On top of that, it took some time to review and translate the interviews from Spanish. To document every sentance, pick the right parts and make the story out of them. This time we’ve had only 2 hours of interviews, so we made it simple by making notes regarding the timecode (time/frame number code).
And then… Long nights of post production. Even though one minute of movie requires at least an hour of editing, when you put together color correction, fixing mistakes, masking, effects, sound editing, subtitling, titling and all other small stuff – it comes to some 10 hour per minute work. In general I recommend Adobe Creative Suite for all kind of work. Premiere, After Effects and Photoshop functionality is absolutely endless. Moreover, if you put some plug-ins (like Magic Bullet) on top, you become able of doing A LOT with one single computer.
I don’t want to go into teaching on the use of editing software (I’m no pro, believe me), I can point out two things I will try to improve in my future works as soon as possible:
- Video clips cataloging. HDV footage comes in one piece on my hard drive so it’s a bit of a struggle to cut it to the scenes and then sort the material regarding it’s theme or other specific needs.
- Subtitling. Working with several languages (e.g. Spotas is in Lithuanian and English, as we try to do with our movies) I need some solution that would give more flexibility on titling or simply making notes.
If I will find anything interesting for improving these issues, I will post it here. If you have any ideas, I would be thankful to hear them! I can also tell a bit more about still images simulation that as I hear made a good impression for the viewers. Basically you need to split the object and it’s background with any photo editing software. Later on, just mask the background so you have clean background and nicely cut out object. Then you can simulate and manipulate the object almost any way you want. Of course, masking the background might be very difficult and require a lot of work. The more details you have – the harder it is. But even in this example below it was quite hard to match the exact gradient colors and levels. As for another example, the last image of the photo sequence was split to three layers – background, water drops and Dimitri Meramanides himself. This helped to enhance the 3d feeling.
One way or another, everything is done by the people called TEAM. This time, I might say, there were 3 of us – me, Aiste and Antonio. Antonio input was very valuable and half of the movie wouldn’t be there if not his help on finding people, making them comfortable in front of the camera, patient interviewing, translating and so on. By the way, translating from local dialect was a bit of a challenge even for his Mexican knowledge.
What was missing to make open La Ventana even better? Maybe some professional journalist or director. This would have allowed to concentrate for filming and forget about other details. Well, maybe I should become a director and find some video operators to work with? Who’s in?