A night at the theatre

The Latest from us…

Greetings earthlings! We’ve been flat out this month working on some exciting projects, making some brilliant new connections and making plenty of progress with our latest short film, Bloodchild.

So. Last time we spoke Bloodchild was in the final stages of crowdfunding. That has finished now, and we just want to say a truly heartfelt thank you to everyone who donated, shared and posted on our behalf. We managed to raise a grand total of £600! This is the third crowdfunded short film we’ve made in fairly quick succession, so we always knew raising all of the money for this one was going to be a nightmare. (Quite fittingly for a horror flick…) So we are very grateful for what we have raised!

We originally intended to shoot Bloodchild in early September, however due to a couple of minor hiccups, we’ve had to reschedule. However, this does not signify the end! We will be shooting in early January, so are expecting to premiere the film around February/March time. So just as the snow is falling outside and the night is drawing in; just as you’re huddling up by the fire, listening to granny telling you a ghost story… then. That is when we’ll be premiering. Perfect time of year for a horror atmosphere!

We’ve been discussing a few of the shots we’ll be using in this film, one of which involves a pentagram mysteriously appearing on the floor all during one shot. No cutting away and cutting back. BUT! We will not be using VFX for this. So how are we going to do it?

Well. To give you a bit of backstory, this shot takes place after Lucy and Asa have held a seance in this old manor house; Asa opens his eyes and Lucy is gone. The candles that Lucy had played out in a cluster had moved to stand in a circle around him. He stands up, looks around, looks back and that’s when he sees the pentagram. So he isn’t sitting on it originally, it appears after he stands up and looks away.

To get this shot, we will be using a pentagram made of a mixture of mainly salt and PVA glue. So it will have dried and set into a bendy, pliable shape. We will be panning up to follow Asa as he stands, taking on his frantic mindset, and as he looks around the room and the camera is not capturing the floor, someone will lunge in, lay the pentagram out and lunge back – completely silently – just in time for the camera to pan back down and capture the pentagram. Dun dun DUUUUNNN!

So hopefully it all goes to plan. You may be wondering why we don’t just use VFX for this… “do it in post”…? Obviously there are certain things that we have to use VFX for. For example, there is a priest hanging from a tree who catches fire and burns into nothing. We’re not Rammstein and therefore are not all trained pyrotechnic specialists… and we also can’t afford to hire one. So instead we will be using an incredibly talented VFX animator to create this effect.

But for most effects, we tend to believe that using practical effects and camera trickery is always the best approach. It looks rawer, it helps to place the actors in the right environment so that they can really unleash their full potential… and it’s just so cool. Take Evil Dead for example. In both the original series, and the remake, they almost exclusively used practical effects. Ok, so in the original the possessed people looked like they’d been taken over by a rapidly growing stilton-like parasite… but in the remake the effects are terrifying. That is what we aim for.

Check out The Evil Dead (2013) trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Im6koyYDwcA

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Film Tips and Techniques

This month’s film tip is a really interesting editing technique, perfectly explained by Walter Murch in his book, In the blink of an Eye. (Highly recommend.)

This technique is firmly rooted in the science of how humans think in that every time our minds move onto another thought, we blink. According to Murch, “…our rate of blinking is somehow geared more to our emotional state and to the nature and frequency of our thoughts than to the atmospheric environment we happen to find ourselves in.” That is to say, the way a film is edited, is more like thought than anything else. That’s why if it’s edited well, it’s not jarring. The cuts occur where the human mind thinks it makes the most sense. On the blinks. Try it. More often than not, if you’re cutting away from a shot of a character, they will blink on the cut, just before, or just after.

Equally Murch states that, “by cutting, by this sudden displacement of the visual field, you are blinking for the audience: You achieve this immediate juxtaposition of two concepts for them – what they achieve in the real world by blinking.” This means that part of the job of editing is anticipating and controlling the thought processes of the audience. Maybe to lead them in a certain way, to react differently to a character or a situation, or even just to make the edit flow in a natural way.


It’s a concept we find really fascinating; I’m sure if you read the book it will give you a much broader insight to this ideas and the concepts surrounding it.

Audio Tips and Techniques

This month we’re going to talk about EQ’s This can be the most helpful thing when recording, mixing and mastering.

It can also be the most destructive.

Certain rules that I abide by when EQ’ing:

  • Don’t over-do it! Use it sparingly
  • Use it on one track not a group or entire mix (e.g. to give presence to a vocal track the high-mid frequencies can boosted)
  • I’ve found for gentle EQ’ing analogue console EQ’s are nice but for surgical EQ’ing plug-ins or digital
  • To assess the track properly,use your ears! If it sounds good, it is good. There are no rules in audio.

There are three parameters to an EQ channel:

  • Gain (how much the EQ on the frequency band is applied)
  • Frequency (usually stepped, you can choose at what frequency band the EQ is applied to)
  • Q (How wide the bell curve is)

Parametric EQ’s have all three parameters and these are usually found on professional consoles.

Semi-Parametric EQ’s are found on semi-professional consoles have the option of choosing gain and frequency, the Q factor is set. Semi-Parametirc EQ’s can be useful, especially when you’re not entirely confident with altering the Q. They also do offer a lot of variability and Parametric EQ’s are never included on an ordinary console, only the professional ones.

Set EQ’s These are on a lot of cheaper consoles and don’t offer the option to modify the Q or frequency band. They’re next to useless!

Tips for EQ’ing

  • Use it to balance the instruments or parts to your audio tracks
  • Use it to irradiate certain unwanted frequencies
  • Use it to exentuate certain frequecies

Collaborations

This month we’ve had an exciting collaboration with the Mandala Theatre Company. They are currently touring their hard-hitting play, Night Light, starring three talented young individuals, depicting the struggles of refugees. Our job was to film their performance at Pegasus Theatre, Oxford and create 2 trailers. Firstly, a 2 minute teaser of the play, secondly, a more in depth 8 – 10 minute trailer to help get the play funding and further its tour.

We spent a day shooting interviews with Yasmin Sidhwa, the creative director of Mandala, as well as the 3 actors; Oliver Davis, Zakaria Zerouali and Aimee Powell. All of the interviewees raised interesting and heartfelt points which will form a strong narrative voice for the trailer.

We then packed down our lights in the dressing room and set up to film the show.

We will be intercutting the interviews with the footage of the play and using some interview sections as voice-over to really bring out the emotions, the themes and the personality of the piece.

Looking forward to getting this one to the edit suite!

That’s all folks!

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