It’s all about Sci-Fi

The Latest from us…

Greetings! Welcome to our monthly blog! This one is rather special as it is the first entry being sent out by email to our mailing list! So well done you if you’ve already signed up and are reading this by email. If however, you are reading this from our website, don’t be shy! Sign up! We promise not to spam you!

So. What have we been up to? Well, firstly, we’ve been finishing off an Album Launch video for the wonderful Nikki Loy. Her album, Pivotal is out now, and very soon the video will be too!

We’ve been working on a few other bits and pieces and have got plenty of exciting projects booked in for the new year, but right now we’re concentrating on our Christmas passion projects!

Firstly, we’re making something extra special for you as an advent calendar for this year…

The year is 2067. The human race has known that there is life beyond their planet for over a decade. They have been observing and recording data for years, tracking tell-tale life signs among the stars.

2067 was the year everything changed. The human race fell silent; all listening at once to a broadcast fed through every entertainment or communications system on the globe. It was a simple message. All it said was, “65 million years ago we were forced to evacuate our planet. We are coming to reclaim it. Prepare yourselves.”

Starting on December 1st, we will be releasing a radio transmission every day leading up to Christmas. These transmissions are black box recordings from the year 2067, all recorded on board the Chronos Star Liner. If you want to listen, we’ll be sending them out by email to our mailing list and they’ll also be available on our website.

We hope you like aliens!

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From the film Department

You know when you see a really badly made video? Maybe it’s a talking head, or a corporate video or something; it’s alright, you can see the subject well enough, it’s in focus, but something just doesn’t look quite right.

More often than not, the main thing that’s wrong with it is framing. This means where everything is positioned in the image.

So this month’s film tip is how to frame your subject properly in all situations!

The first thing you need to consider when framing a subject is the rule of thirds.

This is a very simple but incredibly effective technique that really, just does what it says on the tin.

You need to split your frame into 3 segments and imagine an invisible line separating each third, vertically.

When framing your subject, make sure that instead of sitting them right in the middle of your frame, they are positioned exactly on one of those invisible third lines.

It might sound weird, having your subject sitting off to one side of the frame  it probably sounds like it would throw the image completely off balance. Trust me – it looks way better like this!

Make sure if they’re not facing directly forward; if they’re positioned at an angle, that they’re facing into the centre of the frame, not away from it.

If they’re facing away from it, it really will look weird!

Secondly, it’s very important to take into account your subject’s headroom.

Headroom is the space between the top of your subject’s head and the top of the frame.

More often than not, the headroom will be way out and the subject will either be far too high up, so his eyebrows are cut off, or far too low down so he looks abnormally little.

You really only want headroom of about an eighth of the frame. (Or about 3 – 5mm on most standard in-camera monitors.)

I hope those two tips come in handy!

Sound design from the audio department

This month I thought I’d go in to  a bit more depth about the CLASSIFIED project we’ve been working on and some of those sound effects were created.

First of all the first transmission you will hear is the original black box recording before the ship’s com’s went down.

The three main sound effects:

Distorted Voices:

  1. Record the voice to the best quality you can
  2. EQ the voice to eliminate all the frequencies you don’t want (try and copy the frequency response of a certain mic you have in mind)
  3. Distortion; use a white noise generator and side chain it with the voice. Fast attack, long release
  4. We now need to make it seriously Lo-Fi so… Bit depth down to around 5-7 bits and sample rate down to 8000-10,000 Hertz

Footsteps:

We imagined the footstep would be very heavy from the spacebars and there would be metal grates all over the floors so we want to replicate that in the sound

Two sound combined for this one:

  • Block of wood on the blade of a shovel
  • Clipping a lapel mic to the subject and getting them to jump

Apply some serious filtering and EQ’ing (including a low-pass filter)

Automate the volume of the track to give the impression of moving away and getting closer.

Don’t forget the reverb, key on pretty much anything to actually put the sound in the room.

Krill Screams:

Sennheiser MKH-414 Shotgun Mic in the middle of the room and the director moving around it screaming and making alien sounds.

We wanted to use the natural filtering of the mic to give the illusion of the creatures moving around the ship, to put them behind walls use a low-pass filter.

A range of plug-ins were used in post including ring-modulators and saturators, the iZoptope Nectar 2 Reverb unit and Sound Toys, they’re great for this sort of stuff.

You will also hear a lot of sirens and laser gun shots in the background, these were recorded from synthesisers and manipulated in post production.

When working on Sci-Fi a synthesiser can be your best friend!

Collaborations

This month, been working on a little something for Jack FM (the best radio station in the world, in our humble opinion). In November, we had a really successful shoot, covering their Round Table Fireworks event in South Park, Oxford. 

For this event we used a Panasonic GH4 as our A-camera, capturing the main footage. We used a Canon 7D as our B-camera, filming all of the extra little bits, capturing some close-ups while the GH4 was up on the jib getting some wide, sweeping crowd shots. Finally, for our extra wide shots, capturing the whole spectacle of the event, we also used a Go-Pro.

It is extremely unusual for us to use a go-pro; generally we tend to leave them for extreme sports only. The reason for this is, although they can capture very high resolution, the lens is so wide that it distorts the image. This is called barrel distortion; you’ll notice it on very wide angle lenses. At the edges of the frame you’ll see the image curving in on itself, particularly noticeably when the camera is moving. It tends to look a bit weird and cheap.

However, for this particular shoot we decided a go-pro would work a treat. This is because it wound not be moving – it would just stay in that same position all night. It would be very far away from the subjects, so the barrel distortion would not be so noticeable at all. The event itself took place outside in the evening, so it would be pretty low light; all the more reason to not notice the barrel distortion. But most importantly, the good people of Jack FM really wanted to capture the scale of the event; the 20,000 people in attendance, the huge spectacle of a fireworks display and the roaring multi-story bonfire. The go-pro definitely worked for that!

So, having completed the edit, we very look forward to seeing how it can help make next year’s event even bigger and better than this year!

That’s all folks!

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