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On Location

September 28, 2010

I’ve just returned from helping out at a film shoot. A friend asked for volunteers to lend a hand. I’ve always been fascinated by the mechanics of film making so jumped at the chance. I have some experience of shooting interviews and simple location video for use in elearning projects and was expecting a handful of enthusiastic amateurs mucking about with camcorders. What I got was about 30 professionals including makeup, wardrobe, a lighting rig, multiple sound rigs, multiple cameras and an experimental €0.5M High Dynamic Range (HDR) camera. HDR cameras were used to shoot the Lord of the Rings films and the US TV series Heroes. The footage shot with these cameras is rich in colour and highly cinematic, looking almost like a painting. Have a look at this to see what I mean.

I was a “runner” for the day, which oddly involved a large amount of standing around. Mostly I helped with the lighting rig and hung out with the crew learning what I could. Everyone I met was friendly, professional and really easy to get on with. There wasn’t a single ego on set and it was fascinating to see the way the Director, Director of Photography and Art Director worked together to get the shots they needed. The short film they are creating is a sort of British Men in Black with giant robots blowing up parts of Coventry. We were filming some of the live action and all of the pyrotechnics – real feature film quality stuff with huge explosions and depth charges. You can view a little “making of” video here.

I came away with massive respect for those involved in filmmaking – the level of coordination, collaboration and creativity was inspiring. It’s served to further interest me in transmedia and filmmaking as part of this. Although a lot of transmedia is big budget Hollywood stuff I’m convinced that with ingenuity, creativity and the right technology some really great work can be done for small budgets.

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