Short Film – Specs

The first time I’ve ever tried to film and edit anything, and I was pretty happy with my result, although there are some takeaways that I’ll use to build upon in the future.

My film was slightly comical, based in my London Flat. It followed me waking up, crossing things off my to-do list and trying to avoid an existential crisis (something that I fight off every day!). There was only one character, myself, but my internal monologue made it as if I were having a conversation with two people.

I used final cut pro as I find the software more streamlined and easier to use than adobe premiere pro. Plus, I had just bought my first ever Mac so wanted to try everything apple, obviously! (The free trial of final cut also helped persuade me)

Things I’d change about this movie would be the lighting. I need more of it! It was kind of difficult though as I was limited to what lights I had available in my flat. I turned up the exposure on final cut but the resulting image was grainy. Another workaround would be to open the aperture on my camera, although this would add to the depth of field, something I wanted to avoid. Also, my camera is a very entry-level Nikon. It’s great for photography but isn’t well known for its filming capabilities.

The sound is another thing I will have to consider for future projects. The final result was muffled slightly and you couldn’t always tell what I was saying. However, the university has provided us with microphones, and although they aren’t exactly professional spec, it works much better than my camera microphone.

Find the video here

Parallax Animation

I’m starting to get to grips with these new programs. Whilst Joel, my tutor, focuses on adobe suite, I find his instructions translate well over to Final Cut Pro, which I’m using on my Mac.

The task was simple enough, to create a parallax animation using the ken burns effect. I had only used parallax in terms of background and scrolling before, so whilst the concept wasn’t new to me, the methodology was.

I started by sketching out a rough idea of what I wanted my frame to contain. I settled with a mountainous forest scene at night. I planned to have different levels of mountains, a canoeist, a beautiful night sky and some other subjects. On my sketch, I wrote down what order the layers in and jotted down some notes on how I wanted the individual layers to move in relation to each other.

From Paper to Digital

To get from my sketch pad to a parallax animation, I first found the images I wanted to use on the internet. I used a mixture of royalty-free images and images I could find no copyright for.

For the sky, I used the Hubble Deep Field image. This was taken back in 2004 when scientists instructed the famous telescope to stare at the darkest spot in the sky to see what was there. This is the resulting image. It always gives me a sense of awe and wonder so I was keen to use it.

I found the other images, cut them away from their respective backgrounds and layered them up in photoshop. This would give me a good sense of size and what order the layers need to be in once imported into FCP.

Once sizes and layers were figured out, it was time to import and animate. It took me several minutes of resizing, moving around and cropping before everything was right for me to begin animating.

Accessing the Ken Burns effect was a little trickier than expected and initially, every time I applied the effect it would resize the layer. I persevered and eventually got the hang of applying the effect. I had fun experimenting with the effect to see what would happen.

After settling on the animations and making sure nothing was being too blown out or moving too much, I exported to google drive and watched it on my phone. The one thing I noticed was how dark everything seemed. This is probably in part to the colour I added to the mountains and decreasing the light in the trees to match the darkness of the sky. It was much to dark to be viewed on my phone however, and so I opened the file back up on my computer and ran the exposure up a little.

In the end, I’m really happy with the result. It makes you focus on the sky as everything else begins to shrink away and the sky gradually grows bigger. It’s a serene scene, putting one within touching distance of the cosmos and nature. The surreal colour of the mountains gives the scene a dream like quality and the sole boat on the lake makes one feel at peace.