Postmortem, Project Details, and Post Workflow
Camera: Red Scarlet X #316, "Skully"
Format: 4k, 23.98, RedCode 6:1, 1/60th, ISO 320-3200
Runtime: 3:59:12 - 5,748 frames
Canon EF L Series Primes:
24mm f/1.4L, 35mm f/1.4L, 50mm f/1.2L, 85mm f/1.2L, 135mm f/2L
Canon EF Primes:
20mm f/2.8, 100mm Macro
Canon EF L Series Zooms:
24-70mm f/2.8L, 70-200mm f/2.8L IS
60mm f/2.8 Elmarit-R
14mm f/2.8, 300mm f/2.8
A Bumpy Start
I'll save the gruesome details, but my initial concept for the portrait was cancelled and I almost didn't shoot anything. While in the midst of post work on a commercial I suddenly found myself dealing with a catastrophic computer hardware failure. Luckily I back up regularly and didn't lose a thing. It took a bit of time rebuilding and reinstalling everything on my main color and edit system. I found myself about 10 days before the deadline wanting to participate yet due to that time crunch my original plan was out the window. After thinking it over and a few Redusers motivating me to work towards submitting an entry I decided to buckle down and get focused on what exactly I could pull off within the timeframe. The short above represents exactly 7 days of work. 24 hours of pre-production, 3 production days of shooting, and 3 post production days.
I spent a day doodling, writing down ideas, buying some wardrobe, and building props. Started with a brisk brainstorming session which led to about 20 ideas. Then I went through a review process eliminating the impossible and not so good paths and found something interesting. After deciding which direction to go I started fleshing out the idea. Mathematically speaking, knowing the short couldn't be longer than 4 minutes; I made a delibrate decision about working with a 6, 3, and 1.5 second cut mindset based around a 160bpm music track (that would need to be scored later). I figured that I had about 50-70 cuts to get my idea across with approximate shot "bleed". That's not a lot of time to tell a deep story, but you can get a lot done. I kept this in mind as I started storyboarding and jotting down my notes.
I had to make some quick decisions about casting and locations. I have a list of actors I've worked with before and in this case it was important to have some familiarity with the talent as speed was going to be of the essence during the shooting days. I narrowed it down to three actresses. Sarah had the facial expressions and acting chops that I was looking for the role and I hired her for the 3 day shoot.
Similarly I wanted to shoot at locations that I was a bit more familiar with and I wanted to choose a few that were important to me in some way. I'm an explorer of sorts and I had this abandoned farm in mind that I found one day while roaming through the desert. I've done a fashion shoot there about a year ago, but I've always wanted to put it in motion. For the "woods flash-to" I had a great forest in mind. However, the entire fantasy world gag was dependant on shooting at El Matador beach which is about 150 miles away. Lastly I wanted to choose something interesting for the hanger. I have been instructing on Sundays at the Gnomon School of Visual Effects (which happens to sit on a movie studio lot) and thought the hanger there would be a kick for students to see. Oddly, that's literally up the street from Red Studios Hollywood.
After a brief run to my gear locker, an art supply store, and a thrift store for props and more wardrobe I decided to do a few camera tests for the magnifying lamp shots. I knew a few things, but was looking for some more information on reflections and how light would play on the glass. Because I was using fluorescent lighting I decided to shoot the entire project at 1/60th. As I occasionally have done before, I used my ugly mug for the reference.