Behind the scenes on another corporate film shoot

Some things that are apparent from last Friday’s shoot – good planning, a stellar cast, and dare I say the age old cliché of ‘team work’ will go far when it comes to the success of a shoot. We’re incredibly happy to say that our most recent filming expedition was pretty enjoyable, despite the drizzle and sleet – which we were watching from behind the windows on-set of our lovely heated mill in Halifax.

We’ve just pieced together the first rough edit of the footage we gathered on Friday for a company called MBi Consulting. They deal in property development and management, and we’re currently in the middle of creating a whole array of videos for various sections of their website. The one we most recently shot, a general “why you should work with MBi” type shindig, is a fairly simple prospect: It’s all about two guys in a lift, one being an MBi ‘agent’, and the other one being the every-man “visitor” to the company. The agent shows the visitor each floor of MBi with the use of the building’s lift, and they step out onto each floor to see what the company has to offer with the aid of futuristic beams of data that stretch from floor to ceiling that the agent can control with his fingers. Okay, it doesn’t sound entirely simple when computer wizardry is added to the equation, so lets clear a few things up…

Now, we’ve been around the block a few times and picked up quite a lot along the way – the use of green screen, though it may sound very technical and bring up very cheap looking images in your mind, is something that our editing whizz-kid is well versed in. We went into this project feeling confident that we could pull of what the client was looking for, and took a little bit of time to sit together as a team before the shoot and discuss the best way to do it. We used green screen and tracking markers so that we could add in a different backdrop (in post production) outside of the lift when we were filming from inside of it it. However, we did discover that it doesn’t matter how well we’ve got the technicals of green screen pinned down, the portable ‘pop up’ one still needs two of us to approach it like we’re folding a bed sheet…a springy, unpredictable bed sheet. Not a cool look.

The tracking markers, which are available on the internet, will help us replace the green screen with an image or video in post production. They help the editing software we use to track the movement of the camera, and create an inter-software camera of sorts that mimics that movement. So, when we replace the green screen with the inside of a room at an MBi carehome or a bedroom in their student accommodation, the software will match the camera movement and make the background that we’ve inserted look as if it was there all along. These tracking markers are nothing complicated, just palm-sized squares with blocks of white and black. The software then looks at the video, finds all the points of high contrast (which is why black and white are the best colours to use as they’re complete opposites) and uses that as a reference to work from. It’s like when the Optometrist asks you to follow their finger as they move it from side to side, up and down…the trackers give the software something to lock onto.

We filmed it on the 19th of December 2014 on location at Dean Clough in Halifax – a stunning mill complex, and pretty impressively vast for those who aren’t from up north and haven’t been there. There’s an art gallery, restaurants and shops, even a theatre. The majority of the mills are made up of converted offices, the type that are open plan and span for miles…and luckily we got one of those floors all to ourselves. It was the search for a lift that took us there, a lift that we could both film in and shoot the outside of. That means we needed a pristine expensive foyer type setting for the exterior of the lift, and at least the space inside it to fit two actors and the Director/Cameraman. Our original lift for the inner lift shots fell through due to repair issues a couple of days before the shoot, but the lovely people at Dean Clough were nice enough to offer to isolate another lift on the empty floor we were shooting the exterior scenes on. This meant….no location changes! Although the original lift was larger, it was definitely a blessing in disguise that we ended up using the one in the building we were already shooting in. Filming something that has that ‘expensive’ look takes great lighting and camera gear…which is often heavy and time consuming to set up and take down. Any film crew in the world will tell you that at the end of a shoot, even if it runs ahead of time, you’ll feel like you’ve had that long overdue gym session you’ve been promising yourself for the last 6 months. There’s no complaints from this end – it’s hard work and that’s why we love it. But, when possible, it is best to minimise this, to save time if nothing else. Whilst on set, bulbs can break and wires might stop working, but if you run out of time then…you’re stuffed, really. Kudos to our great cast for helping things run smoothly in that respect, especially with an incredibly wordy corporate script. Shakespeare’s sonnets come out more naturally than “Introducing exclusive, income-generating assets to high-net, sophisticated businesses and private individuals.”

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