Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Making of Christmas: Imagine That

Happy Easter everyone!  It’s Jonathan again with a behind the scenes look at this week’s Paperclip Films Film: Christmas: Imagine That.

If you have read last weeks blog post, you already know where the idea for this video came from.  As I previously stated, our first attempt at turning this concept into a reality met with failure.  Still liking the idea, Grant proceeded to write a script based upon it.  After a week of writing and bouncing ideas off of me, he had turned out a five page, well developed plot.  With a few exceptions, we stuck exclusively to this script when we filmed.  On Sunday, We got our friends Peter, Christen, and Catey together and began filming.

Because this video was shot entirely in low light, we used Gary’s Canon T2i.  Due to this camera’s sub-par audio abilities, I dusted off one of my Sony PDX-10s to serve as a separate audio recorder.  We plugged my Sennheiser m/66 microphone into the Sony and were ready to go.  Gary was in charge of cinematography and I was in charge of audio.  My brother, Aaron, and Peter’s brother, Sam, served as boom pole operators.

We began by filming Grant and Peter’s scene.  Shooting it was challenging due to the lack of light.  Floodlights off the back of the house provided just enough light to see Grant’s and Peter’s faces.  We started with Peter.  Grant read him his lines and he acted them out.  After this, we went inside to warm ourselves (it was a very cold evening) then we went back outside to film Grant’s side of the conversation.  Next, we filmed a few wide shots and this scene was over.

After another break (did I mention it was cold?), we filmed the scene with Robin and her person.  At first, we were going to film under a street lamp, but the lamp’s dimness forced us to film in front of the house.  Catey and Christen did a great job, making it possible for us to get this entire scene done in just three takes.

A short time after this, Gary’s camera started flashing the low battery warning.  Gary had left his charger at his home an hour away, so we knew we had to finish shooting without a recharge.  We went inside, hoping the battery would warm up.  We did our best to plan the next few scenes, so as to conserve battery life.  Because of the speed at which we filmed these scenes, they were a blur to me; thus, I do not remember the exact details.  I do remember that, for the last few takes we shot, we had to let the camera run until the battery went dead, turn the camera off to let it regain a charge, and repeat this process.  Luckily, we just had enough power to get by, making the night a success.

I headed home, glad filming had ended before midnight.  I downloaded the footage onto my hard drive and began to edit.  I edited until I couldn’t stay awake.  I got up the next day and edited for at least five more hours.  After showing Gary and Grant my first cut they told me what changes to make and I made them.  Finally, at around 10:00 PM, the video as ready.  I began rendering and went to bed.  I woke up Tuesday and uploaded the video to YouTube.  Finally, my editing job was done!  Like a happy astromech droid, I made my way to the throne room, expecting to be commended by the queen for having saved the Naboo cruiser.

But commended I was not!  About eight hours after the video had been made public, I received a frantic instant message from Grant.  Despite the years of combined college experience among the cast and crew, we had used a word that, in spite of its textbook definition, was often used to describe things we did not wish to describe.  The fact that the entire cast and crew was made up of past and present homeschoolers most likely explains why we made this oversight.  Gary and Grant decided the video should be pulled off of YouTube until we could fix the problem by dubbing over the problematic word.

The next day, I drove to Catey’s house and recorded her voice over.  I was already meeting Gary and Grant at The Obstacle that evening so, when we were there, I recorded Grant’s voice over.  When I returned home, I dubbed in their voices and, after some editing magic, it matched perfectly.  I rendered the video overnight and uploaded it Thursday.  At last, the video was finished.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Making of Momma's Boys

Greetings, men, women, elves, ents, orcs, hobbits, wizards, bounty hunters, droids, Jedi, and imperial scum.  It’s Jonathan again with a behind the scenes look at Momma’s Boys.

Oh where to begin?  The process we went through to create this video is Paperclip Films at its best… or worst…  I don’t know really.

This past Saturday, Grant starred in a home school production of HarveyHarvey is a story about a man who is friends with a six foot tall, invisible rabbit.  Grant played this man.  The whole cast did a great job and it was very enjoyable.  While I was watching the play, I came up with an idea for a video in which my character would be at a party refusing to socialize.  This would be because he smelled bad, due to a lack of deodorant.  In the midst of his woe, an imaginary friend would comfort him and try to convince him to have fun despite his smell.  Grant loved this idea.  Grant had invited me to the cast party afterward, so we decided to film there.

When we arrived at the cast party, we socialized for a time and then went outside to start filming.  At this point, I had fallen from my earlier caffeine/attention induced comedic rampage and was having a hard time being funny.  Grant, my brother Aaron, and I tried to finish (or begin, for that matter) the imaginary friend video, but it was all in vain.  Having accosted two other members of the cast, Connor and Zach, to be in the video, we decided to come up with a different idea.  After all, we had to get a video done before Tuesday no matter what!  We went inside to warm our brains and think some more.

Inside, Gary and his friend Jen, from college, who had made the 5 hour drive to see Grant’s performance, were warming themselves by the fire and conversing with the multitudes.  We begged them to help with a video and they agreed, as long as we stayed indoors.  We conceded.  Now  myself, Grant, Aaron, Connor, Zach, Gary, and Jen began searching for a location to film.  Earlier, I had seen a secluded room in the basement.  After no other location seemed suitable, I suggested we film there.  Finally, aided by the wits of Jen, Connor, and Zach, we planted ourselves in this room and began to brainstorm.

And brainstorm we did.  At first, we decided we wanted to film an apocalyptic video in which Gary was in possession of the world’s last Triscuit.  Next, we thought it should be an apocalyptic video about how Jen was the last woman on earth and all of us men were trying to impress her.  After this idea was shot down, we realized we had too many characters and cut down the cast to Grant, Connor, and Zach.  After looking at the three of them, the idea of making a video about “a couple of posh bros chillin'” was tossed around.  Luckily for humanity, this idea was scrapped.  Humanity was not out of the water yet; however, as we then tried to film an interview with a boys band named “the cart boys.”  Grant liked the idea of it being an interview with lowly cart boys from a local supermarket, but again humanity was saved when we decided to stop wasting tape on both ideas

At this point, I was getting worried.  It was past midnight, I was an hour from home, and freezing rain was a expected.  Luckily for me, Gary had the idea to turn off the lights and have the boys lit by nothing more than a lantern that happened to be lying around.  We decided that the boys would be conducting some sort of group therapy session.  At first, we thought their problem would be marital issues, but we quickly such a problem would not affect teenage boys.  The obvious choice after this was problems with mother.  After about 30 minutes and one broken mug later (that crash sound at the end was not added in editing), we developed and filmed the video that is now resting peacefully on our YouTube channel.  My brother and I did not get home until 2am, but at least we had our video finished.

But wait!  Just when we thought everything was settled, there was a problem.  I had not turned the audio limiter on when I was filming; thus, Grant’s yelling went beyond the acceptable threshold, causing the ghastly clicking and popping sounds that are associated with this mistake.  It was abysmal… and unacceptable to say the least.  Monday night I made the impromptu decision to meet Grant at The Obstacle and record his voice again.  Grant’s mom was nice enough to drive him and we recorded his voice-overs in my station wagon.  Grant replayed the video on my ipod touch and shouted his lines after listening to them a few times, as I recorded him with the camera.  He did a great job, and I was easily able to match it up on the computer.

We filmed this video with the Canon HV-20.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

The Making of Chasing People

Jonathan here again, with a behind the scenes look at the making of Chasing People!

We filmed this short video last Saturday.  My younger brother, Aaron, and I arrived at Grant’s house at 9:45 and started shooting a film there.  The videos we film are often hit or miss, so we actually filmed three videos this day.  Usually, only one video from such a day actually makes it onto YouTube.

Anyway, after filming at Grant’s house, we began the 45 minute drive back to my town where we all were attending an event with my family.  On the way, we stopped off the interstate in the town where we filmed The Obstacle and Robin Hood Lives.  We film in this town a great deal because it is between Gary and Grant’s house and mine.  It is a picturesque, small, New England town with a generally laid back populace.  I even have an Aunt, Uncle, and Cousins in this town.  This all makes it an ideal place to film.

We ended up in the parking lot of a busy shopping center.  Here, we tried to come up with an idea for a video.  Grant wanted to make an action video.  I suggested a movie where Grant was chasing people for fun.  We all liked this idea.  Always having been obsessed with long, interrupted camera shots, I suggested it would be really cool if we could film the video in one shot.  Aaron agreed to be chased and we were off!  After the first take, we realized that we would need some sort of script.  We threw ideas back and forth for about 20 minutes and came up with the script seen in the video.  Grant, being exceptionally good at memorizing lines, remembered the entire script without needing to write it down.  We began filming.  Grant accomplished it on the first take!  We were almost done!  We shot the ending in a couple takes and were ready.

We climbed back into my car and looked at the footage.  To our horror, the immaculate first take had no audio!  The culprit was the external microphone.  Actually, the culprit was me.  I forgot to turn it on.  It was puzzling because I heard audio through my headphones while filming the take, but, no matter what, we had to re shoot.  We tried a few times, but we just couldn’t seem to get through it again.  I decided that Grant needed a rest.  Because the lighting had changed, we got back in my car and made our way back to my town.

On the way, we got off the interstate again at a Church with a huge parking lot.  We filmed several takes here.  We only managed to get through the entire script twice.  I used the second of these two takes for the video.  We were not happy with it compared to the take without audio, but it was the best we had.  Of course, our opinion of the first take was probably inflated due to the joy we felt when we accomplished filming right off the bat.

For this video, we filmed with a Canon HV-20.  It’s small size made it easy to hold for the long handheld shot.  Unfortunately, the need of an XLR - 1/8 inch adapter for the microphone probably led to our audio woes.

Check back next week for another behind the scenes look at our videos!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The Making of Robin Hood is Alive

Hello everyone! Jonathan of Paperclip Films here to give you a behind the scenes look at the making of this week’s video Robin Hood is Alive!

For this video we filmed exclusively with the Canon T2i. Its low light capabilities and small size made it an obvious choice for a video shot at night in a public setting.

Filming of this video took place in a shopping center located between Gary and Grant’s house and mine. You may have noticed it is the same location used in an earlier video. Gary was back for Thanksgiving break and we all wanted to make a movie together. Also on break was our good friend, Peter Kaplan, who played the hooded figure in the video.

Gary, Grant, Peter and I met at 7:30 pm, with no particular idea in mind. We brainstormed for a time (okay… we joked around for a time) at McDonalds. Gary and Grant eventually came up with a vague outline for a video featuring a modern Robin Hood. The original outline called for Robin Hood to steal chocolate coins and then distribute them to random people in the shopping center after escaping a hooded figure. After distributing the candy coins, Robin Hood and Little John would escape in a getaway car driven by yours truly. As always, time constraints and circumstances led to drastic modification of this idea.

We began by shooting the opening scene and the grocery store scene. This went as planned. (Okay… we did have some trouble locating the chocolate coins). After Gary and Grant stuffed the coins in their shirts, they removed them, we paid for them, and I filmed them leaving the store.

After the chase scene, we decided it would be too much of a hassle to accost random people to accept candy from the Merry Men (I mean, that's not sketchy in the least).  With one of the main points of our plot gone, we began brainstorming again. Gary had it! We would show Robin Hood and little John stuffing the chocolate coins into “Get Rich Quick” books at Borders. We walked to Borders with renewed vigor, only to discover that it had closed (it was 10:00pm at this point).

Now what? Maybe K-Mart would have books. We trekked there with hope in our bosoms. Books they had, but most of them were of the best selling romance variety… not much of a help. What to do!? Time was running out (K-Mart closed at 11:00pm). We ended up filming Robin Hood and Little John dumping the half eaten candy into my arms.

We returned to where the video had begun. What you see in the video was made up on the spot, more or less. Gary’s awkward back-flip entry was unintentional. He bruised his face pulling off this epic stunt.

After filming, we discovered that Gary had locked his keys in his car. We all climbed into Peter’s car and made the 40 minute round trip to retrieve them. We parted ways. On my way home I got a ticket for a broken license plate lamp.  All things considered, it was worth it.

Check back next week for a behind the scenes look at our next video!