What Matters - Producing in Lockdown

June 7, 2020
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Preparing for a shot

We're fortunate in that as a production company we have what we need to hand during this lockdown. In fact in some ways we relish the chance to try some new ideas and approaches.

We're shooting this with our Red Epic as A cam and a sigma fp as a B cam in some cases. They do cut together surprisingly well - both being RAW and can be made to match fairly well on timelines if you're careful with dynamic range. (The Red is 2 to 3 stops higher in range than the sigma, yet the sigma is tiny and very easy to rig and is good in lowlight).

When we're able to call on some of our regular crew the key to shooting in Lockdown is social distancing. Running as much as possible wirelessly is really key.

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Clare remote focusing at a distance

My focus puller Clare can operate and pull focus off a wireless monitor and we can use wireless mics as well. Generally some ambience would be off hidden wireless mics as well as a lav track. Main audio is still better served with a wired boom. Noor who was acting as exterior sound recordist could rig two mics at 120 degrees and hold between two socially distant actors to catch both sides of the conversation. In this case the mics are wired because we're running into a Sound Devices MixPre 6 II which uses float audio. Float audio is like RAW for sound in that the record captures everything the mic can hear and there's no chance of clipping (so long as the mic doesn't). In a production like this it's a godsend to not have to ride the levels all the time. This method only really works with wired mics as wireless include AD convertors in the chain before it gets to the recorder.

Rigging, light control and lighting is naturally away from the action. So Ersi who is able to AD and hold light modifiers, just needs to be mindful of position.

Shooting with social distance gives an interesting challenge from composition and lens choices. Most was shot at 85mm to give distance outside. That by itself lends a certain look to the results as that also affects camera movement and spatial composition. I could move closer on a 50mm when it's the family.

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inside the house Rafi is all about the sound

Inside the house it's just family. It takes longer to set up but offers more choices, more focal lengths and also more experimentation.

Visual Effects

For a short this has quite a bit of vfx in. Partly because we can but mostly because we need to leave the house. Kat didn't want a lock down film done on mobiles inside a house, the story that we're trying to tell is bigger than that. So we have to work clever to achieve that and vfx is naturally one route.

We'll cover the vfx in a future post but in terms of production we often shoot not just for the grade but also with the knowledge of how the shots will be used. Often when shooting plates we'll take a bit of extra care to scan the camera round which can help with 3D tracking and give a more solid base to work from.