Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Christmas BTS #2

I’ve always wanted to make a video that would encourage focusing on Christ during Christmas. How I decided to do a revision of “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” I don’t remember, but one other reason I had for doing this short film was to see how well I could do with very few resources.

I wanted to try to shoot a complete short film using only one 500 watt light in addition to ordinary house lights or the ambient outdoor lighting. I pulled it off for the most part, there are several shots that I had to use more than one light though, such as the night shoot and the store scene.

If you watch the BTS video you will see that I use a 500 construction light for a “nightlight” in the bedroom, a fireplace in the living room and sunlight while drawing the picture. Reflectors were also used quite a bit.

The boy’s bedroom was actually shot in my sister’s room, we just re-arranged and added props to change the look.

My dad’s workplace was kind enough to allow us to shoot in their bookstore for the “store scene.” That one was quite a challenge to light correctly My poor actor got tired of standing up for almost two hours (9-11 pm) They also let us shoot in the parking lot, riding the bicycle was shot on a street near our house and the wind chime was shot at my Grandparents.

Sixty percent of the project was shot in 2006 and then I finished up in 2007 about a year later, which caused a few problems. #1 – Benjamin no longer had his blue sweat suit that I needed for the night shots #2 Benjamin no longer had a buzzed hair cut (solved by wearing a hat and c/u shot from behind) #3 His jacket no longer zipped up #4 The stocking cap from “sweeping snow” had been lost #5 He was missing front teeth in ’06. This all created interesting challenges, I would encourage you to keep close tabs on props and wardrobe from shoot to shoot :p

One thing I learned was that a window screen can REALLY come in handy. You will notice it in several of the BTS shots. It works well to diffuse light and also will create a star shape effect when placed in front of the camera while shooting the Christmas tree. It also served as a softening “filter” for many of the Christmas tree shots, it created an interesting glow effect. It was difficult however to get the screen blurry enough so that the “grain” of the screen didn’t show up in the video. Besides lots of color correction, the only thing I added was the moon and stars reflecting in the window when he looks at the wind chime.

Well this was a nice project for audio because I cut it all out and just used narration. I did add in some sound fx to enhance the video, it just seemed like some of the scenes needed it. I found some of the sound fx from a website called The Free Sound Project.

Narration was recorded from 12-3 in the morning, poor guy…he was pretty tired when it was all said and done. I thought he did a fabulous job though. I wish I had a picture of the “sound studio” we setup to get a quiet recording! My computer is right next to our bunk bed and Benjamin sleeps on the bottom bunk, so I strung up his blankets and comforter to create a “box” on his bed for him to sit in. For a pop filter I held the microphone on one side of a thin sheet and had him talk from the other side – I know, quite the make-do setup but hey it worked alright

I covered this in an earlier blogpost, but thanks again to the Morris guys for the insane hours cranking out an amazing score for this short movie!!!

Also, special thanks to my family for all their support and assistance!!

- ‘Twas the Week Before Christmas
- Behind the Scenes

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