Going Green, Again

The Challenge

This project is an infomercial for a leading Korean Karaoke brand. The product is awesome and superior in a lot of ways but the features are highly technical. The challenge was to make a fresh video that would stick and sell to anybody–from high-profile artists to simple buyers and sellers in Raon–a place in Manila where one can find almost anything cheaper than anywhere else. It must also sell even without audio because it will also be displayed in windows and places not so conducive to hearing what one is watching. And of course, everything must fit in a budget. So I wrote a script that would make a talent become three individuals to represent competition, shoot in one location but put them in three different ones and make them interact with each other to spice it up–possible only with green screen.

karaokeQueen02

Filming infomercial using my favorite color–green 🙂

The Process

Shooting in green screen is easy if you plan ahead and make a detailed shot list. Filming three different characters with a single talent can become confusing and post production a mess if not done properly. With proper planning, shot list and a good slate, it’s quite simple, really. The only problem with green screen production are the heavy computer processing required of HD footage and the different layers of keying processes. Chroma setting would be different for the talent, her hair, the product and props as they have different shininess and reactions to light. There would be lots of tweaking, masking, keyframing, and sleepless nights.

Tips

If you’re planning to shoot on blue or green screen, plan ahead, make a shot list with details of props, location, shooting time, wardrobe, etc. so you can shoot systematically. Shooting all sequences with the same scene settings in one sweep will make everything a lot easier and light. You will gain respect from everybody this way, as well.

Light your subject and your background separately and keep your lighting on the green backdrop as even as possible. This will keep you keying process a lot easier. Avoid shiny props as these will reflect the green backdrop. Anything green on the recorded video gets invisible upon keying causing more editing time which you probably wouldn’t have.

Have a backup audio recording. In my case, I recorded the talent’s voice via two wired lapel mics, the first goes to a Phantom-powered Zoom H4N and the second one goes directly to the camera. My DSLR audio recording is not perfect but when the first recording have irreparable pops, backup audio is the life-saver.

One thing to keep in mind is the post production time frame. Yes, with a wild imagination, fresh ideas come out but they can also make post production become really tedious if not difficult. Submit a realistic and attainable schedule so you won’t put a lot of stress on yourself trying to beat your own deadline. You may have control on the execution of your story but not on you computer’s video rendering capability. Go easy on the blurs and avoid semi-transparent shadows and feathers.

One trick to make editing and re-editing a lot quicker is to prerender the chroma keying and graphic elements in different layers so that if changes are needed to be done on your animation or subtitles, you would not have to render everything again and again. Graphic elements with alpha matte renders in seconds to a few minutes. Chroma keying however, can take a few hours depending on your tweaks and number of layers. It makes sense not to pre-render them together. I use PNG sequences for all my prerenders for optimum-quality output.

From a Missing Airplane to Houses in Ashes

Burnt houses by Ruptly

My best buddies on this assignment:

  • Trash bag – it protected my camera and rig from remaining water cannons and water sprouts from broken pipes and rain.
  • My pair of Converse shoes – it stood hot piles of debris and the murky puddles of charred wood, earth and ashes.
  • Rain coat (which I gave out to evacuees)

To get to the core of this burnt 2.5-hectare settlement, I had to get through a still-hot and smoking remains of a house, come out of a window to the river dike and get through another rubble at the end of it then go through isles of debris. Everything is hot and smoking, if not wet, and the result–surreal.

See the fire.

Documercial in the Countryside

Just finished filming a documercial in Tarlac for the United Kingdom.Documercial Production

In this project, we followed a day in the lives of a single mother living in a shanty converted from half of a duck shelter big enough for a bamboo bed that she shares with her two children and of a wife and mother selling fish in the villages with her blind husband on a pedal tribike, a few days before Christmas in the countryside villages of La Paz, Tarlac, Philippines.

With my wife Marvie doing the interview, my Canon and Magic Lantern buddies and sweaters, I was able to capture as much angles as possible, without disrupting their normal work, from dawn to dusk.

The biggest challenge in this job is the limited time we have to film both subjects that conflicts with their daily routine as one has to continuously sell her perishable goods all day while the other one has to check on the draws of small town lottery she books and tend to her little children and the small window of opportunity to film in the busy village store giving us a hard time setting up the interviews but we pulled it off.

Although this work is probably more of a documentary for research and product development, it was by far the closest I got to humanity as a video producer.

Film Education

Now this is a gem for a never-graduating film student like me. This find is the most comprehensive film education I have stumbled upon so far. A film analysis of one of my favorite films, story and cinematography-wise, “Prisoners” in a 30-minute intensive video essay by Must See Films.