Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The "Fincher" Cam and the pouring rain

As all of you probably know by now, I pretty much have a man crush on David Fincher. The man is just well, awesome. Fincher's movies always have some sort of camera tracks that make me go WTF. Most of my tracking shots are pretty much trying to emulate those. Sadly, Dhaka doesn't have the luxury of electric cranes (actually we do have 1 of those, but no "real" operator) as well as a proper steadicam that can mount a 35mm/Digital Cinema cam and have a wireless follow focus unit.

So, I took in upon myself to build a system that part steadicam/part jib arm and can mount a Canon 7D with a follow focus. The idea is to balance the camera via a counterweight and add handles to it so you can hold the rig with one hand and maneuver the camera (while focusing) with another. It may sound like rocket science, but actually its a semi-easy rig that can allow me to get those Fincher-esqe shots. All you need is balance, just like you'll need for operating a traditional steadicam (heel-toe steps, pivoted on your hip and bent knees).

Its been raining cats n dogs non stop here, so I could only take it outside for one shoot for about 15 mins, without drenching myself and the 7D. I also tried it inside my parents' living room, so you can check out how to handle the rig in small spaces as well (although the room's kinda big, there are a lot of obstacles and the ambient lighting is more to my liking).

Here's the vid:

The Fincher Cam

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Iron Man shoot for RFL Pipes

Since I got my CineAlta, I always wanted to shoot something that required a lot of CGI, pushing the limits of the 4:4:4 footage. The only problem was the lack of support for almost everything required for such a shoot. No proper green screens, no proper lighting for green screens and more importantly no proper animators. I've seen some stuff that the so called animators have conjured up, but the final product was almost always.......mediocre.

Recently however, I met a free lance animator, Miss Moushumi, who has since changed my views on Bengali animators. She does what she is told and does it well. A real oddity in the local market.

Old friend and director Zonayed (aka the "Z-Man" as a good friend nicknamed him) came up with the idea. Basically, just a smaller version of the Iron Man 2 "JARVIS" interface, kinda borrowed from Spielberg's Minority Report, where RDJ and Tom Cruise respectively end up using a 3D Holographic Interface. Given a multi-camera environment this is kinda easy to do, leaving it all up to the VFX peeps to take care off. But with a single camera, a one woman VFX crew and limited materials, it was gonna be a challenge. Then again, why else wouldn't I undertake such a risk??

As always, it started up with the set. We wanted it simple. A desk and a chair. The props were just lab stuff like petri dishes, beakers and other apparatus I forgot the names of. There was only one actor. Everything else would be animated. When we shot the footage without the CG, it looked like the most ridiculous thing ever and the grips were quick to crack jokes. Even amongst the fun, I had to make sure about the positioning of certain shots and the "interaction" with the "interface". So if the actor was pulling up a screen that was blue, I needed a blue key/fill light on his face, so on and so forth. I also wanted the camera moving on every single axis available, since static shots would just be boring. That meant that tracking would be a big issue since the actor was pulling out holographic screens from thin air. All this meant, a lil bit more hard work for lil ol' me.

In the end though, I was happy with the results. Check it yourself.