Upside-down camera day

There’s a great Michael Keaton film called Pacific Heights where he rents a room in a house from the couple who live there. Over the next few weeks the couple hear lots of hammering, sawing and drilling coming from the room. I’m not sure what excuse Mick gives them to calm their suspicions, it’s been years since I’ve seen it, but it turns out that he was in there ripping the room to shreds. He put big holes in the walls and took up the floorboards and was generally a poor tenant (that’s not giving much away so I haven’t ruined it and you should definitely check it out). I’m reminded of this film every time I walk into the room I’m shooting in. I might name it the Michael Keaton Suite once I’m finished.

Today were the difficult top-down shots of the hospital bed and bedside table. I had build a crude beam structure some weeks ago to suspend the camera above the set. To my surprise when I checked it with a spirit level it was pretty close to bang on level. It’s rotated about a degree from the vertical axis but that’ll be an easy fix in post production.

I spent most of the morning trying to get the lighting right. I couldn’t get the patient and the set lit the way I wanted at the same time. Either the patient was correctly exposed and the set was over exposed or the set was exposed nicely and the patient was underexposed. To solve this I set up Dragon Stop Motion to capture multiple exposures so when I shot a frame it would shoot two exposures. Using either Photoshop (or Bridge – I haven’t figured out which yet) I will blend the two together to produce an overall nicely exposed shot.

Exposure 1

Exposure 2

I set about shooting the first scene. For accurate movements of the reels I used a After Effects overlay again to show me how much to move each frame. I took about 120 frames (which was 240 shots with the double exposure) because this scene will last quite a few seconds. When I played it back I wasn’t happy. The reels were moving at altering speeds. This was because I had been lazy and used a AE overlay that I’d used in a previous scene. The overlay from the other scene had been skewed using AE’s Corner Pin effect which worked when the tape machine was at an angle to the camera but because the camera was directly above the machine this time it produced a slow then fast movement.

I had a decision to make. I could move on and get the other scenes completed (there was hours of shooting left and it was already 7pm) or I could load up a new overlay and reshoot it. I knew that when I looked back on this in a few weeks I’d have wished that I’d reshot it for the sake of an extra hour and a half. So that’s what I did. Only about 20 minutes into the reshoot, the battery died on me (This would happen two more times later. It’s starting to become a real problem). I had to wait for it to recharge and then I reshot it. It was a much smoother animation this time around so I’m glad I did go for it again.

Then I did the ‘Bedside Table’ zoom. While it’s all fine and grand to sketch a zoom in from above in a storyboard, the reality is much more complicated. In the end I screwed the Glidetrack to a few bits of wood and then to the wall. I’m not really sure how that wall is still standing after the amount of drilling I’ve done lately.

Vertical Glidetrack

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