Tuesday, 22 February 2011

The lens appears to be fine!

Good news!
The foreign body inside the camera lens is not visible at all when filming. I took some footage at various zooms and light exposures and on the computer screen I can't see anything untowards. What a relief!!
On a side note, the footage is lovely, it has so much more richness and depth than my trusty Panasonic camcorder, which despite being a consumer camcorder can still produce above average imagery in the right settings. Controlling the focus will still be tricky. The focus ring will help, but it has no markings as it is essentially an electronic focus ring, not a classic manual one, and I still don't quite trust autofocus to be looking at the right things at the right time.

Had my weekly wobble this morning, where I wake up panicking and feeling crushed under the weight of my various projects, wanting nothing more than to jack it all in and regain all my time, spending entire weeks ensconced in bed watching movies and eating cake with Dee. You see, as well as the video projects (got two on at the moment) I also work as a 3d model builder, level designer and producer on a video game project and I have a full time job with up to 3 hours of commuting a day. It's no wonder I feel overwhelmed. These wobbles always seem to follow the weekends, probably a side effect of the Monday blues. But this morning I have sat down and started tackling the problems that I imagine will cause me the most stress, and I've actually managed to work out creative solutions for nearly all of them, and I feel so much better and re-invigorated about the project.

I'm actually quite glad that I have certain restrictions regarding the amount of control I have over certain areas in which we will be filming. It means I have to be creative and plan things out to get the best out of a situation. It's always good to have limits and obstacles to your work, it gives you focus.

Friday, 18 February 2011

3rd Draft written, camera case finished.

In the end that foam packaging wasn't such a dogs dinner after all. Pretty proud of it. Certainly better than paying a few hundred quid for some bell-end to do the same job.
I am however, massively depressed by what looks like a crumb inside the 16x lens that comes with the Canon XL1s. It's on one of the inner lenses, I don't know how on earth anything could get in there. It doesn't look like condensation or mould, which would be awful but explainable, it looks like a solid object. The lens is the most expensive part of the whole camera. I need to do some tests to see if it ever comes up on film. If it does I don't know what I'm going to do but I'm confident weeping will be on the agenda. I never saw it when inspecting the gear from the seller, so I don't know if it's new or old. Fuck a duck.

Today I finished the redraft of the Toilet Circuit script, combining all my readthrough notes with electronic suggestions from some of the team too while listening to Chopin and Beethoven. On my lunch hour. Don't think I'll email the script to the boys just yet, I think I'll give it to them at the next readthrough so they don't have a chance to pre-prepare, or get specific line readings stuck in their heads. I've only made small changes, but I think it works, I need to hear them say it all first before I'll know for sure. Hopefully Frazer and Mark (who wrote the script) won't stare at me like a man who just butchered their child.

Yesterday some new miniDV tapes arrived along with a DV tape cleaner, I thought it would be good to spruce up the insides before putting my tapes in. I don't know what tapes the previous owner used but I read that using different makes of DV tape can cause problems because of the subtle accumulation of the different types of goop that each tape uses. I don't recall the specifics but I remember reading several people saying "find a tape brand and stick to it, you idiot" and I took their advice on board. There was more to it than that, and I used to understand better, but there's only so much room in my head so I've had to simplify certain knowledge so it takes up less space. Either way a tape cleaner could do no harm. Maybe I can start using this camera to film things with rather than having it locked away in a case, and only getting it out to fawn over it and stroke it and then putting it back very carefully.

I also think I will start carrying the camera around for ten minutes a day just to strengthen my arm and wrists. It's not huge, but it's no featherweight, and if I jump straight into filming for several days straight then I will probably give myself some horrendous RSI. My goodness, I'm not very butch, am I?

Monday, 14 February 2011

Kitchen knives and packing foam

I bought a slab of foam to sit inside my camera flightcase. I've marked all the shapes out that I need to cut out of the foam. Took a while getting all the gear to fit nicely. But the foam is blunting all my craft knives and is actually a real bitch to cut with any accuracy (it is 75mm thick). Tonight I'm going to continue my assault using a kitchen knife. I'm worried I'm going to make a right dogs dinner out of it. I got some quotes online for some professional foam cutting warehouses who specialise in this kind of thing and the prices range from £180 to £350.

You can fuck right off!! But thanks for getting back to me so quickly.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Update and a great website

I can't believe I've not stumbled across this website before, it is exactly the kind of thing I have been looking for. Something written by a guerilla film maker with genuine tips and enthusiasm.

Lots of great articles and features and advice!


I did a bit more work on the new draft for Surviving The Toilet Circuit today, trying to pull in 3 separate scripts, rewrites, and lots of notes.

Slow progress! Screenwriting is so painful sometimes, you can agonise over every word!

I still haven't written anything beyond an outline for my own future project, but I look forward to writing my own one! Although it's also a terrifying prospect. One project at a time though, otherwise I'll burn out!

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

The Canon XL1s

Picked up the camera on Monday. It's in great condition!

Oh so excited.

Wish I had more time to experiment with it. These days I have no free time in the evenings at all.

Will get a dv head cleaner before I do anything. Got to look after this camera. Also thinking about getting insurance. Mark rightly said if the camera goes crash, so does our project.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

New Draft, New Camera!

The "Surviving The Toilet Circuit" short film project is moving ahead at full steam. We collaborated on a rewrite  just this week and I have a highly scribbled on script and some files on the computer that will all tie together to a brand new draft.

We also went and bought a camera that will we use on the shoot, the Canon XL1s, the little brother of the benchmark (and pricey) Canon XL2.

Here it is:

It is a prosumer camera that you can pick up these days for about £750, despite a couple thousand when it first came out. They used these bad boys to film the deserted London scenes in 28 Days Later, and if they are good enough for Danny Boyle, then they are good enough for me!

Very exciting times. I can't wait to get my hands on it.