Caroline Pires


Say I Can With iKan

Here it is! My first (completed) live action short film / ad. It took us 3 weeks to complete from start to finish and ended with a grueling “3am on a Monday before work” finish. The experience has been amazing, mainly because I got to do a bit of everything, from writing and directing to lighting and editing.  Remind me to get a decent sound designer next time… Best of all, it seems like I’m consolidating a good group of Guerrilla Filmmaker friends.

Franz Brandstaetter and I shot the award scenes and homeless scenes, scattered over a weekend close to our lead actress’s flat in Hackney. The scattered hours here and there were mainly due to Katherine having her mother in town and not being available full time. The award scenes were shot on green screen on her roof top terrace where we could get some even lighting. We used this pop-up green screen by PhotoSEL:

As you can see it works pretty well on some the closer shots but as we go wider and we get more sunlight:

Bad Greenscreen


In the screen grab above you can see how the green screen is quite transparent. This will give you problems when you key because the green isn’t even. Nuke’s IBK Keyer did a pretty good job of it once we masked out the problem areas on the screen left. For my other short, Twisted Roads, we had a little more time for the green screen shoot so I lined one of the sides of the green screen with bin bags and it worked pretty well. The best option would be to line the other side with a black cloth, but if budget and circumstance doesn’t allow you, then bin bags and tape will do!

The homeless VFX shot was just two different plates, shot from the same position composited in AE. First plate:

Second plate:

Also the lack of focus on these shots, was mainly me trying to learn how to pull focus. Whenever you have a wide shot where you need to keep most of the characters and background in focus, remember to increase the depth of field by narrowing down your aperture. As for the close up shots try to decrease the depth field by having a wide open aperture as this gives you a more cinematic look.

To do this, it is recommended you get a matte box and some ND filters or just a variable ND fader for your lenses. A variable ND Fader is quite expensive and will NOT FIT ON ALL YOUR DIFFERENT LENSES as most of them will probably have different thread sizes. A matte box is also an expensive alternative to the variable ND Fader, so my cheapest solution (and next buy) is the filter holder for Cokin “P” Sereies Filters and some basic Cokin Filters.

Now that we’ve spotted the mistakes, let’s talk about rigs and what we did well! A lot of research went into finding what could be the cheapest and most stable shoulder rig I could build WITH a follow focus. In the end I went with a mix of the Jag35 D|Runner bundle and Cowboy Shoulder Rig but I’ll be back with a more detailed video tutorial on rigs pretty soon.

All of the short film was shot on two Canon 550D’s (T2i) and both of them had Magic Lantern installed so we could up the bit rate of the video and increase the compression quality. We shot at a QScale of -13 most of the time. We then compared the results with 5D2RGB conversions of the footage shot at a standard bit rate and it was nearly the same (minus the time you take to convert it).




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  1. Jesse Torrado October 15, 2011

    I am not sure where you’re getting your info, but great topic. I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more. Thanks for great information I was looking for this info for my mission.

    • carolinevfx October 22, 2011 — Post Author

      Hi Jesse, all the information you see in this article is taken from experience and testing the equipment / material myself. I haven’t had time to post all the tests because I’ve been busy BUT I should be getting some more time next month to update the blog. Is there anything in particular you would like more detail on?

  2. Przewozy Autokarowe November 22, 2011

    You have noted very interesting points! ps decent web site.

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