So it’s all over bar the shouting. I’m reminded of the Chinese fable Italo Calvino cites in his book ‘Six Memos for the Next Millennium’ illustrating the nature of ‘quickness’ in art. The story goes as follows:
“Among Chuang-tzu’s many skills, he was an expert draftsman. The king asked him to draw a crab. Chuang-tzu replied that he needed five years, a country house, and twelve servants. Five years later the drawing was still not begun. I need another five years, said Chuang-tzu. The king granted them. At the end of these ten years, Chuang-tzu took up his brush and, in an instant, with a single stroke, he drew a crab, the most perfect crab ever seen.”
I don’t know if we have a ‘perfect crab’ but in the end it all went by in a flash. After living with the project for years the shoot took just two days. We did one extra day of pick-ups and cutaways and, interestingly, shot the title sequence shot on a HDV camera, so I’m intrigued to see how it will cut together with the RED footage. The former being compressed, almost, 2K file and the other uncompressed 4K media. After all the lovely magic done in post, I’m sure, the two will work seamlessly.
And this brings me, in a similarly seamless fashion, to post production. I had the wonderful luxury of working with my old filmmaking partners Nathan Nugent and Niall Brady. We’re old classmates from The Dublin Institute of Technology, and worked on several films together including the Fuji film award winner, Trick of Treat, where Nathan and Niall won student BAFTAs for editing and sound design respectively. Coincidentally, they both currently work at Ireland’s premier post production house; Screenscene. And I would like to thank Screenscene for their generous support with our film.
The two boys are very busy, Nathan having recently edited ‘Bertie’, the four part primetime series for RTE on Bertie Ahern and Niall is currently working on the feature film George Gently. We’re lucky to have them.
I’m delighted to report that we have a film. The off-line or picture cut is done. Even though we had a very short shooting schedule we shot plenty of coverage. We had an average of 5 angles on every line and multiple takes on each. This meant we could overcome some of the technical difficulties caused by shooting exteriors at night. It also afforded us the luxury of choosing between various acting interpretations. Rehearsals tend to throw up options, and to keep the creative juices flowing during the, often, stifling atmosphere of a pressurized set, experimentation has to continue. This might mean occasionally veering off track with the story’s through-line but multiple takes means editing can be a creative process rather than the heartbreaking experience of trying to just salvage.
The edit showed the footage to be very dark. But of course we’re working in the offline with low res versions, or proxies, of the original media. I am assured all the picture information is there. We will only really test the range of the RED media when we get to the online stage in a couple of months.
It also showed what good actors can to with the material. Even though the film revolves around the relationship between Jenny and Paul I was really struck with how strong Frankie’s portrayal of Charlie came across. His character on the page functions as the antagonist, offering the comedic relief as the cuckolded husband and adding dramatic tension with the introduction of the gun. But on camera, the humanity of the character came through and he leaves the audiences with mixed emotions in regard to who they should sympathise with. All grist to the dramatic mill.
Other elements are now in place too. The music is written, recorded and mixed. Thanks to the incisive contribution of another long time collaborator of mine, Derek Cronin of Optophonic Studios. Just as I would work everyday of the week with the Screenscene guys, it is always a pleasure being in the studio creating music with Derek.
Ronan Leahy came into Screenscene to record his ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement) or dubbing session. There was nothing wrong with production audio, as recorded on set, however, I believe a strong emotional impact can be created by judiciously manipulating the sound during the poem recital scene. I have always been a big believer in the preconscious function of sound in a film, an aspect of filmmaking that allows you to affect the audience without them being entirely aware of what is happening. They feel something is changing without being able to identify what it is. I guess sound has a more primal impact than the image. It affects the gut where the picture engages the mind
So for post production sound only the audio edit and mix still needs to be done.
In regard to the picture, we still need to do ‘the grade’, the process of matching up the colour and exposure between shots and creating an overall colour texture.
We also need to do the on-line edit. This consists of putting on the opening and closing titles, and any masking or matting required. Digital effects are usually included at this stage but I doubt this will be too elaborate as I’ve opted to drop the light-sabre battle.