I’m currently taking a six month long course at Malmö Univerity called Experimental Mediaproduction. A week ago me and my group performed the outcome of two weeks hard work. This documentary about the project explains it way better than I do, and I’m sure watching beats reading in this case. I must add that this probably is my favourite project I’ve been involved in since starting my studies in Malmö. If you make it to the end – let me know!
A few days ago I handed over three versions of a video I produced for Helsingborg’s Stad. I guess you could call it a trailer of some sort for the upcoming street art festival ArtstreetHBG. The original seed which sparked the idea for this video was the tagline; “Be there when dead walls come back to life”. After weeks of planning, pitching scripts and drawing up a storyboard the idea was given the green light. While my colleagues were busy hunting actors, clearing permits and making sure we had a casket for the shoot, I started creating props and shooting the VFX-footage.
The plot is quite simple. Mourning humans carrying a casket. All black. Spray cans, which are alive, are watching, wondering if the sorrow will ever end. One of the cans chooses to act. The can gets hurt (looses cap), and causes an accident. The cascet falls, out comes the body. But the body is actually a dead wall (mono-coloured bricks). The spray can brings the wall back to life by giving it colour back. Everyone happy.
I created black flags for drama and a dynamic image. Black smoke to up the drama some more. I chose bamboo-sticks for the flags so that I could hide the smokecharges inside the sticks. I had two sets of bricks, 16 “boring ones”, and 16 “happy ones”, which I painted one afternoon while my kid was asleep. I had some old spray cans in the studio which I banged up quite a bit to make them look really worn and broken. It’s always nice when the hero has some flaws in your story. The stakes are higher that way. I went and got this spinning breakfast-tray from IKEA which I painted green. After that, I started shooting my cans. I wanted them to be able to bend and spin at the same time in my video to make them look as “real” as possible. I could have used a photo of a can, and the PIN-tool in After Effects to get them to bend, but I think the rotating effects really worked well and gave it that extra nudge.
After the casket falls we reach a peak in the video. All hope seems lost but of course, it’s not. It never is. The bricks you see during the fall are the normal, unpainted ones. After getting my “misery-shots”, the pile of “dead” bricks was replaced with the coloured ones. All I had to do in post was to duplicate the layer (I made sure to shoot with a tripod of course), mask out the stones and de-saturate the masked out top layer. After this, I could simply keyframe the saturation back (by changing the opacity of my top layer from 100% to 0%), and voila, boring stones are no more. Add a touch of the 80’s and we’re golden.
I really enjoy using real, on-set effects where you get the result straight away. I’ve done reverseshots before and this was my go-to plan for the end, when the bricks come to life. I hade the actors throw the bricks into frame twice – so that the shot could be reversed later. I had my multitalented friend Christian walking backwards in frame to sell the effects a bit more.For the final shot things got a bit more complex. Here I had to shoot a backplate (a clean background of the wall which is blocked by rope and actor in my used shot), and mask out the rope and actor afterwards. It’s not that hard in theory, but on set, with time pressure, it occasionally happens that you forget the backplate. So I made sure to really get that down on the storyboard and shotlist. Here is the original footage for the scenes mentioned before they are reversed and masked. Just look at Christian! Walking like a pro even following the bricks in reverse with his gaze.
I’m so happy with the final production and I had a blast shooting it. We shot the whole thing in about two hours (!) and got everything we needed pretty much straight away. Of course I couldn’t have done it without the help of an amazing crew that day (and the days leading up to the shoot). There is a massive credits-list in the end of the video and it shows how much work everyone put in just to create this little bizarre, but lovely video.
The video will be playing before screenings at cinema Röda Kvarn in Helsingborg, on the big screen at the central station, all over the web and with a little bit of luck, on busses and trains. I’m so excited to see how it will be received now that it’s out after one stressful week of editing. Here it is – enjoy.
Sins In Vain is a melodic metal band from Sweden and I’ve been friends with some of the members for years now. The band decided to record a cover of Killswitch Engage’s song The end of heartache, as a way to thank them for all the years of inspiration.
The band wanted a video which documents the recording process in the studio and I wanted to give it a shot. A full day in the studio, and everything ran smoothly, probably because we all decided and agreed on the look and feel of the video beforehand. We decided to go for a grainy black and white, somewhat faded video, since the word “nostalgia” popped up a lot when I asked the band about their connection with the song. I shot the video in (FLAT) colour just in case the black and white feel would be a disaster and so I had to prep for this before hitting REC. The studio is very rustic and has a nice homely feel to it so I went with warm lights and tones. The point of the video was to show the love and respect Sins In Vain all have for the cover they were about to record. If I wanted them to look hard as hell and stone cold, I would have gone with a more blue and cold setup. But remember, black and white was always the main goal for the video, the decisions with the colourtemp was just precautionary planning.
A cosy studio usually comes with a lot of extra stuff (this one came with a rocking horse attached to the ceiling), and stuff casts shadows. Lighting the studio was a bit tricky so I often directed my redheads away from the subject, bouncing the 800W light off the ceiling instead. This way I eliminated many of the shadows which would have caused some confusion in the shots. I used vintage constructionlights to separate the subjects a bit from the background, and to add some quality to the cosy atmosphere I was going for. I didn’t use any makeup on the band because I wanted to capture the process in a raw and natural way. Some may argue that one should always use powder on subjects while working with hot lights, some don’t. We went raw and I personally think it adds to the “realness” of the video.
The video was shoot with my trusty Canon 700D and I alternated between two prime lenses. The classic 50mm f1.8 and my latest addition, 24mm f2.8. The 24mm lens gives you a shot which is close to what you see from your own point of view so composing your shot is quite easy since you kind of get, “what you see” from where you stand. The 50mm brings you closer as you probably know and is great for more emotional closeups. I kept the shots stable and consistent always using a tripod or a 60 cm slider. Not going handheld forced me to focus on creating a good composition before each take, keeping the rule of thirds in mind whenever possible. I did shoot some handheld B-roll I labeled “goofing around in the studio”. The plan was to let these images slip into the video towards the end, but while editing it just didn’t match the overall feel I was going for. Instead I used some of those shots in the intro for the video accompanied by sounds captured while setting everything up.
The camera was running on Magic Lanterns firmware. This enabled me to view the shots with bars. I love shooting with bars. They are not permanent but it’s another safety when it comes to editing. You compose your image to match the bars but they’re not there on the actual footage. When you add bars in post you have more control over the image and are able to reframe your footage. Before Magic Lantern (which also lets you shoot in RAW if you wish) I used masking tape on the viewfinder where I wanted the bars.
I’m not going to write a full report on how I edited the video but I had lots of footage to choose from. I shot three takes of each member (Wide tripod / Close tripod / Slider) except Tommy on the drums who got two extra slider-takes to capture the footwork from both directions. The video drops on Valentines day, but until then you can watch the three promo videos below which I put together for the bands Instagram.
Curious about the music? Listen to Sins In Vain on Spotify.
The debut single from folky Cross Fox Philosophy is waiting just around the corner and I was happy to help out when they asked me to create a quick promo for Sorrows come undone. I had some photographs from the recording process and I ripped some footage from one of their live shows where they perform Blood and tears (G. Danzig). This was a quick job and I just gave it a vintage projectorlook using sound effects and some dust, grain, scratches and lightleaks from filmlooks.com.
The song is absolutely wonderful and I fell in love with it instantly. It’s very dark and moody with just a tiny hint of hope and I really hope it blows up when it’s out in about a week from now. If you’re into lonely moody folk – don’t miss this one.
In yesterdays post “Filmmakers hardcase for less than $35” I mentioned that I might cover the interior with vintage comic book pages. I spent about an hour thinking about it in bed last night and as I woke up this morning I knew it was something I had to do. I think it turned out really nice, and besides adding uniqueness to my cases, it should also give the insides some extra stability once it dries up.
For this I used about two 1970’s Wild West-themed comics and some wallpaper paste.
When Amanda Nilsson and I got asked if we were interested in creating the intro video for this years Social Innovation Summit we knew right away that we’d be spending the next three weeks in a sleep deprived state if we’d take this one on. We said yes pretty much straight away of course. The summit is a massive happening, packed with awesome people and to top it all of SVT will be documenting the whole shebang. There wasn’t much time to begin with (isn’t that always the case?) and there was no room for the usual darkness and neck-twisting/breaking/crunching/snapping me and Amanda usually spice up our productions with. But still, we dove right in. Head first. Necks intact.
We were working alongside a few experimental media students who got the task of creating a sound, to let the guests know when intermissions at the summit are coming to an end (kind of like the tone between acts in a theatre). We managed to incorporate their sounds into the intro of our video in the hopes of making a smooth audio-visual transition at the actual summit. If nothing else, we’ve got a dreamy intro for the logos.
We had a look at the clients website(s) and found a lot of orange in there. After moodboarding and storyboarding a few loose ideas, we located the do’s, dont’s and definite no! no’s! and begun sketching up a timeline. We also extracted the key values for the summit and had a look at the different speakers attending the summit. Here we picked a mix of (ten) people based on age and visual appearances. We gave them all a neutral costume so that we wouldn’t accidentally offend anyone (the ice might be thinner than you think here) but gave each character an individual print on the shirt.
The scenes were composed in After Effects, and for most of them we used the AE 3D-camera so we had to build every component in each scene from scratch to make sure the resolution would be ok for the camera zooms. We used a lot of vector graphics and gave everything a vintage kind of feel using public domain images from the British library over at Flickr. This is an awesome, free resource, so make sure to check it out if you’re looking for some vintage hi-res book scans for your next project.
We rendered some of the objects in the scenes individually exporting them with the Alpha+RGB settings and also used some wiggle and bounce expressions to make the animations a bit more smoothe and playful. Here is a link to a document containing some of them. Feel free to download these and try ’em out. There are plenty of informative tutorials up on YouTube, so save yourself some time and start using expressions.
The film will premiere at the summit and I will post it here after. This was a great project to work on and although it was extremely time-consuming, I’m positive it will generate more of this type of work for us both. And more nights cut in half. No rest for the wicked.
Thanks for checking in! Have a good one.
Noomaraton is the largest film contest in Sweden and is held on the first Saturday in September each year. You register a team and on competition day every team involved gets the same criteria for making their movie. The competition starts at 09.00 a.m and ends 24 hours later. By then your film must be ready and uploaded if you want to stay in the competition. The rules are the same each year; maximum four crew members who work on the film (actors not included), one theme, three objects and three locations which must be in the movie. This year we got the following:
- Theme – Reinforced reality
- Objects – Flashlight, dice and stapler
- Locations – Dining spot, snapchat and (town)square
We knew from the start that we didn’t want to make a film which is safe and politically correct. We wanted to make the film we wanted to see and enjoy. So we went full 1980’s and completly overboard in the process. America vs. Russia, nuclear threat, training/final shootout montage, witty puns and punchlines, terrible subtitling and a (male) washed up hero of few words. Usually the films which win are the ones with a somewhat safe story so we’re not really counting on making it to the finals with this one, but we are very happy with the result.
Production was fun, stressful and tiring, just as expected. Here’s what our day looked like:
- 09.00 – 11.00 – Screenplay
- 11.00 – 12.00 – Props and costumes
- 12.00 – 18.00 – Shooting scenes
- 20.00 – 05.00 – Post production
We all love this little short so much that we’re thinking of making a proper short with the concept. Actors Lille Peter Jönsson (Falcon) and Jonny Blomkvist (Petrov Wodka) are dying to see some more action, and a few other interesting Malmö-based actors are lined up if Falcon III makes it to production.
The screening of FALCON II is taking place at Panora cinema in Malmö on Tuesday (September 12th) and the doors open at 17.30. Two films from each region make it to the finals in Stockholm. We’re not counting on it, but then again, stranger things have happened. As soon as FALCON II is out of competition I’ll put it up online.
(FALCON (I) has not been made yet, we’re still waiting for Hollywood to call.)
HAPPY WIFE FILMS 2017 CREW:
- Director: Casper Jarmo
- Cinematography: Robin Jansson
- Setwizardry/Still photography: Amanda Nilsson
- Audio recording: Christian Andersen
- Actors: Lille Peter Jönsson & Jonny Blomkvist
Posterwork: Casper Jarmo – Photography: Amanda Nilsson
To see the film follow this link.