Reflection on Day 2 Shoot

Last weekend I had shoot day two and three, out of three, for Touch On/Touch Off. Not that I have attempted editing any of it yet, it seems to have turned out well. We were (again) very lucky with the weather: no rain and clear blue skies, which means that the scenes we shot on these days should look consistent with those that were shot on day one. Although we had less scenes to get through per day for these shoots in comparison to day one, it was just as exhausting, because we were shooting on location and were thus moving around a lot more.

On the Saturday we shot five scenes, which were all set in different areas of Melbourne, mostly around Carlton and Rathdowne street and around Princes Park. These scenes were, in general, much easier to shoot than the cafe scenes on day one, because we had a smaller cast and crew. In fact, all of the scenes we shot on day 2 either featured just Will (who plays the main character), or just Will and one other person. Thus, I expect that editing these scenes should be a smoother process than editing the cafe scenes, in terms of continuity.

Throughout the process of shooting this film, and doing the test shoots for it, I have discovered how much better my 50mm lens is in comparison to my wide angle Tamron lens. Even though the 50mm Canon has a much shallower depth of field (it has a 1.4 aperture), thus making it more difficult to keep subjects in focus, it creates a much crisper image than the wide angle. I (unfortunately) used the Tamron lens for most of the shots for this film, because I often needed to squish into small places with my camera and because we needed quite wide shots to show off different planes within the frame. Shooting with the 50mm does take a bit more time to set up because of the shallow depth of field (therefore mark points for actors, as well as focus points, must be spot on), but it is definitely worth the effort because of the image quality. I am disappointed with a few of the shots that I got with the Tamron and I feel like this has let the film down a bit. Thus, in the future I would preference using the 50mm wherever it is possible to do so and I am considering buying a better wide angle lens, maybe a prime, to get the image quality to match the 50mm, F 1.4 standard. Nevertheless, the majority of the shots are usable, so the film should still come together nicely.

The first couple of scenes for the day went well, but I did find it much easier to shoot the scenes I had test shot already, for example scene 8. Although storyboarding a scene does help to prepare me to an extent, I have found that the process of test shooting is much more beneficial. When physically practising to shoot and subsequently edit a scene, you get a better idea of how shots will ‘fit’ together, how characters (and the camera) will need to move through the space and you also get the chance to trouble shoot any problems that could potentially arise on the real shoot day. For instance, I was able to think of better ways to shoot the shot of the phone in scene 8, because I had already had to deal with the reflection/glare problem during the test.

We had some problems with framing while shooting the ‘Doughnut girl’ scene, because we hadn’t been to the location before and so it took some time to get an idea of where we would place the characters and where we would shoot from. This was particularly difficult because we didn’t have a lot of room to move with the road being on both sides of the footpath/street corner we shooting on. Luckily there was a free car park in the middle of the road so I could shoot the long shots from there. The sun also became a problem because it was reflecting off the ‘free doughnut’ sign, thus making it appear over-exposed on screen (even though everything else was correctly exposed within the frame). Looking back at the footage, I think we will be able to ‘cut’ around this problem so-to-speak, if we only include the parts of shots where the doughnut girl is facing away from the sun.

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The first two park scenes went pretty smoothly because I had test shot one of them and they only featured Will. However, I did come across an issue with my tripod (that occurs with all tripods I have used) while panning. When the tripod is on a flat floor (for instance inside a building) and the camera is level, then a panning shot will generally turn out perfectly i.e. the whole shot will appear straight/level. However, when you’re on slightly slanted ground and you pan, the shot will turn out slightly ‘wonky’ by the end frame, even if you have the start frame completely level. Unfortunately, I haven’t figured out a full-proof solution for this, at least with my tripod, aside from getting the base of the tripod level to the ground (rather than just getting the camera level); but even that can be unpredictable and very hard to perfect so that you get a level frame throughout the whole pan. As a result of this problem in scene 10, I decided to do a couple of alternate takes. Instead of panning to follow Will/George walking to the park I just shot two static shots – one of him on the phone and then one of him walking off into the park. This gives us options when editing, just in case the panning shot turns out noticeably wonky (which I think it will, because our eyes are so used to the natural horizon line).

Our last scene to shoot on day 2 was the slowest and the most problematic, yet the most fun (and funny). I thought we had solved the audio problem of shooting close to the fountains (mentioned in my blog post ‘Week 9 Reflection’) so I spent a while planning out the shot with Max, the director, around the pond. Once we started shooting there, Felix, the sound guy, decided that shooting by the fountains was not going to be possible (because it was so loud in comparison to the actors’ voices). This was a shame because we had to sacrifice the narrative for the audio quality, which I’m still not sure was the best decision, but it wasn’t up to me in the end, and we made it work anyway. The reason that we wanted it at the pond was because the character: ‘The Ex’, was giving his dead fish a funeral and letting it free in the pond and that’s when he would coincidentally run into George, who is hanging out at the park. We had to substitute the pond setting for a park setting (with the fountains in the background), thus losing a bit of narrative sense.

Shooting the flashback shot for this scene was one of the funniest things I’ve ever had to do and was a great end to the day. The Ex and George (played by Eddie and Will), had to lie directly under the camera on a picnic rug as I shot them from quite closeup and from directly above. I had my legs and the tripod legs awkwardly standing between their limbs as Eddie licked Will’s face. This, as you can imagine, took quite a few takes as we all kept laughing, particularly Will and Eddie who had only met once before, but performed amazingly well nevertheless.

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