A forum for sharing views on the art of film, video and AV sequence making as well as on competitions, judging and festivals.
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Dave Watterson
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Joined: Sun Jan 28, 2007 11:11 pm
Location: Bath, England


Post by Dave Watterson »

Lovers of smoky jazz will enjoy 'Strange Fruit' on Vimeo ( ... thanks to Bob Lorrimer for drawing my attention to it. But I urge all film makers to take a look at the 'making of' movie here:

I find it hard to imagine that most of us would consider taking such time and trouble about lighting. Yet how powerful it is. How much are we missing by NOT taking such trouble.

Those who have seen Ron Prosser's "Letters from the Front" often assume it was shot on HD. It was not ... but careful lighting makes it look stunning.

At this year's Festival of Nations a young team were doing one-sentence interviews with scores of delegates, jury members and organisers. In each case the three-man crew took great care to light well using a main lamp, reflector and "borrowing" light from windows or theatre lighting as backlight. They also used a boom mic. Most of us would have shot on a catch-as-catch-can basis with whatever light was available and using the on-board mic ... I will be interested to see and hear the results.
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Joined: Sun Oct 14, 2007 5:14 pm
Location: Warwickshire


Post by Pqtrick »

That is an exciting clip of film. It really proves that all this is 'do-able', even with the application of a simple bit of kit of lighting. I say simple, with the exception of the camera! I liked the wall papering at the start, but why not? - And the music.

Having had many years of experience with stage lighting, designing scenes and working on overnight set-ups. My regret is, that I have never been able to transfer this to making movies. 10.30pm, and it was cocoa time in many movie making circles. True, that the sands of time have encroached upon the stamina, to maintain this performance now.

In a talk I gave about lighting once, someone asked me what are 'barn doors' for on lighting units? I readily gave the answer.

Returning to the theme of Dave's post, which is here to fire the imagination. Illustrating that much sought after 'cinematic' look, rather than just a point and shoot in someone's front room. I regret I did not see Ron Prosser's 'Letters from the front' at BIAFF. Our bivouac was a good stroll away and the early morning sunshine, a couple of pictures of those silvered faces in the town centre, meant that we found the guards barring the doors in the Park Hotel. (It did give the opportunity to chat to the makers of 'Vicious Culture' who were similarly disposed).

I have recently lit a simple scenario, with a number of improvised and available domestic and decorative spots etc. They were positioned by all sorts or improvised means and masked with sheets of cardboard. A sort of 'don't try this at home' escapade. It proves that with the use of a some creative thinking, and vinegar and brown paper you can achieve a different looking image. It does not preclude the use of real kit if you can get your hands on it.

With regard to 'that look'. I have found that by using my DV camera on manual and by winding down the aperture until the 'zebras' almost disappear you can get a rather good look to your image. In my case I have had some comments as to whether it was shot on film first! I have nostalgic thoughts about super8 but that is consigned to the cupboard.
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Post by Willy »

Dave Watterson wrote:Lovers of smoky jazz will enjoy 'Strange Fruit' on Vimeo ( ... thanks to Bob Lorrimer for drawing my attention to it. But I urge all film makers to take a look at the 'making of' movie here:

A very interesting film about how a music video was made. Not many friends (about 50) have seen it at the moment. Strange, but I myself waited so long. I remember that Bob has a similar camera. He was proud when he showed me his new one when he was making "Rock Bottom" last year. He was the only creature in a Guernsey bay, a bay that he had found on Google Earth.

But indeed, Dave, the "making of" film shows us how to create the right lighting and atmosphere. The orange-brown colour gives the right temperature of the old days. Many thanks for giving us the opportunity to see these two films.

I already asked an expert to show in my previous club how we can create the best atmosphere in a film by using spotlights. It was one of the most interesting clubnights. That man used all sorts of "filters", sheets of plastic in different colours and told us which ones we should use. For instance blue creates a gloomy atmosphere. In one of my films, however, I manipulated the light by using a special casablanca-effect. I gave it more blue. Very simple.

That man also told us how to avoid sharp shadows on walls while shooting. It was very fascinating.

However, I wonder that some friends don't exaggerate with their lighting. I have the feeling that their lighting is unnatural from time to time. I wonder if it is always necessary to use spotlights. In my opinion we should not be too worried if there are shadows on the wall. I am sitting in my own room now. I can see some objects on my cupboard. But I can also see their shadows now. So, shadows are also natural. Don't you think so ?

One friend told me that it is always good that when taking a close up of a face one side should be in the shadow. I didn't agree with him. It is good when it is functional. Let's say that I show two people having an everyday conversation about preparing a meal in a kitchen. So I don't want to create a feeling of mystery. Why should I use special lighting then ? I agree, in "Strange Fruit" it is really fantastic. The colour and the light are functional. The maker is very creative.
Willy Van der Linden
Mike Shaw


Post by Mike Shaw »

When I saw the title 'Strange Fruit', I immediately remembered a song I heard when 11 or 12 years old- sung by Josh White with just a guitar accompaniment - which had a lasting influence and was pivotal in my choice of music from that time on - spirituals and folk music, subsequently followed by Country & Western music (the hours I spent at Cecil House!!). Over the following years I bought all of the Josh White (78rpm) records and went on to other artists - Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and so on (Burl Ives even!). But that song, the one that started the interest in it all, had totally slipped from my memory - until viewing this video: it was good to hear it again - nearly seventy years later! (Think I still prefer the Josh White version - but that's age for you!).

Thanks for bringing this to our attention Willy - and of course, the filming technique and lighting arrangement was a bonus. But that song ... it is a haunting reminder of man's inhumanity to man.
col lamb
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Joined: Tue Oct 16, 2007 8:51 pm
Location: Preston, Lancashire


Post by col lamb »

Well I rest my case, what a superb video, the best I have seen for ages.

Now consider this..........what would the movie be like it it just showed the singer only with a static shot and maybe the odd cutaway?

The answer...........mediocre

Now in the "Judges and their credibility...." thread when I posted about a scoring system for a movie and considering amongst other aspects different technical elements in deciding the outcome it did not get much support. Its the cinematography and imagery that make this movie.

All shot on a Canon 5D DSLR, try getting the quality of shots seen in the video on your standard camcorder.

Many thanks Dave for posting the link.
Col Lamb
Preston, Lancashire.
FCPX, Edius6.02, and Premiere CS 5.5 user.
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Tony Grant
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Joined: Mon May 11, 2009 8:17 am
Location: Belgium


Post by Tony Grant »

Great little clip Dave. I am just in the process of making a music clip for Wish I could make something as beautiful as the clip you linked. Tony O has asked me to make something special no ‘dubbing’ and every musical instrument used (he plays them all) has to be shown in the clip ‘live’.
The chorus alone takes 18 timelines and the instruments and lead singer take a further 20. The chorus was done by that wonderful (young) singer we used to see in the Black and White minstrel Show, not to mention Billy Cotton and James Last and composer of “And we do it” (1976) check out Russell and his wife Joanna, performing as 'R & J Stone'
I really am going to have trouble with this one may be some inspiration from Jack Conte – Pomplamoose and the Video Song.
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