Ambience & Zombies

The Latest from us…

Hello and welcome to our first ever monthly blog! This month has been an interesting one as not only have we invested in some brand new equipment, but we have also made some great progress with a few of our projects!

This month we have invested in a brand new dedo lighting kit containing 3 dedo lampheads, 3 very robust stands and as well as all the necessary safety gear we’ve included a few diffusers and gels just to keep it interesting!

As with all of our lighting kits we have named it after a director we admire. This time we’re going with a multi-talented director/musician, who once got kicked out of the Oscars because people thought he was a hobo. We are of course referring to Rob Zombie! Thus, this kit with forever be known as “The Zombie Kit”.

One film we would highly recommend from Rob Zombie is House of A Thousand Corpses. This horror classic will make your skin crawl with influence taken from serial killer, Ed Gein; he was the inspiration behind Texas Chainsaw Massacre too, and a redneck family from hell each with their own horrifying character development! A flashback to the glory days of grind house cinema. Highly recommend for horror enthusiasts!

Dedos are really brilliant for those dark atmospheric scenes; we’ve used them before for getting a really effective fire-lit look. They also work beautifully as a trim light; when the subject has a little bit of light around the edges making them stand out from the background.

We’re looking forward to using The Zombie Kit in our next short film; Bloodchild. This is a particularly exciting project as it is officially the last bigger-budget short film we are going to make. This may sound like bad news, but we assure you, it’s only because we have some bigger better things on the horizon! We’ll be making an announcement at the premiere for Bloodchild, so keep your ears peeled for the exciting news!

So. Bloodchild’s story. In ancient times, the lord of a huge manor had an illegitimate child with one of his maids and so when the child was born, he chained her and the baby in the wine cellar, not knowing that she was a witch. When the servants started to talk, and all the wine went sour, the lord took the maid down to the pond and drowned her, leaving the baby in the forest, not being able to bring himself to kill it. The baby survived.

Decades later – when the film is set – a young woman (the witch’s unknowing descendant) returns to the ruin with a close childhood friend. Her grandmother used to tell them tales of the old ruin, and believed strongly in witches, however the young woman’s friend is very sceptical of this kind of thing. Not thinking anything of it, they go to the ruin at night and hold something of a seance; in an bid to determine whose beliefs hold the truth. When they open their eyes they are in a twisted different world where the air is cold and old relics of the past come back to haunt them.

We are really looking frward to producing this film, it’s looking like it will be our last big budget short film as we will be moving on to other projects. But this will be no exception to our catalogue, we will still make it brilliant with our trusted and dedicated core crew along with two actors we have worked with in the past: Candice Paladino and Matthew Coulton.

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Film Tips and Techniques

This month’s film tip is a camera technique originally used in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo”. It was famously used in Jaws, and even emulated in animated form in “The Lion King”. This is the Reverse Zoom, AKA “The Hitchcock Effect”. To achieve this effect you must have your camera on a dolly & track and it really helps if you have a remote follow focus, but as long as you have a very talented DOP you can probably get away with not using one.

The basic idea of this camera trick is to either track out while zooming in or zoom out while tracking in. This gives the trippy effect of either zooming in or out on a subject while crunching the distance between them and the background at the same time.

This is really effective for intense moments like when Simba first sees the stampede running down the gorge towards him in “The Lion King”. It was, however, originally used to show the audience what a fear of highs can feel like in “Vertigo”.

We’re looking forward to using this technique in “Bloodchild” when our character, Asa is confronted with a horrifying creature blearing from every orifice, lumbering towards him.

Good times!

Audio Tips and Techniques

This month from the audio department we would like to answer a question we have been asked a quite a few times on a track we wrote and produced called Reason to Live (listen here); “how did you get the vocals to sound like that?”

The Backing Vocals

For this we used very simple techniques, but they were clearly very effective. The main technique was reverb, using the Waves TrueVerb. First of all some of the words from the backing vocals were reversed, this was done to add a subtle “third-wordy effect” in the background of the track. Next send all of the vocal tracks through separate reverbs, all of the backing vocal tracks had the dry signal turned down to –∞ (This means none of original vocals can be heard). Then add saturation, we used the Softube Saturation Knob, be aware to use this sparingly. Then add an automated delay and increase and decrease the effect to what you think sounds good.

The Lead Vocals

Again with the reverb plugin send your dry vocals through an aux but this time don’t turn the dry signal down keep that high and bring the wet signal up until you happy with the sound. Same process again with an automated delay, then after we used the iZotope Vinyliser to add a much warmer vinyl saturation and a couple of cracks and pops here and there to give it character.

Mix those vocals together and your ready to go.

Collaborations

This month we’ve been working on a really exciting project with a great client; Candice Palladino. Not only is Candice Palladino an incredibly talented actress who we’ve had the privilege to work with on a number of occasions, but she is a very gifted writer.

The project we’re collaborating with Candice on is a trailer for the one-woman musical that she has written and stars in; Daisy May. This musical features the cluelessly offensive, yet genuinely lovable character, Daisy May, who lives in a trailer and spends her days entertaining prison in-mates with her stories and music. The audience is put into the perspective of the in-mates as Daisy entertains them Johnny Cash-style.

For this trailer we will be using original footage of the performance as well as a few little twists of our own, giving it the tongue-in-cheek stylisation of a cheap american infomercial. Think Saul Goodman from Breaking Bad. We will be designing all of the titles and branding for this trailer as well as animating some title/review graphics and putting together a great representation of a 5-star performance!

We are currently editing this project and are really looking forward to showing you the results!

That’s all folks!

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