Back in 2005 I participated in my first 48 Hour Film Contest with director Scott Palmer and the rest of the Glasseye team. We made some great films, even being the first team to win twice in Boston. After our second win for “Conversion” the team decided to take a break from the competition. I helped out some other friends with their film the next year acting as an online editor, but over the years I really wanted to see if I could direct one of these.
At the urging of my good friend Andrew Martin, I went ahead and entered the contest, this time as team leader and director. My original plan was to gather my friends, make a film the we liked, and hope to get it in on time. Those were my only real goals. A good philosophy in this contest is to just have some fun and embrace the madness of making a movie in 48 hours.
The movie was shot on the Sony Z7U HDV camera at 1080p/23.976fps to compact flash cards. Avid does a great job of importing the .m2t files right in. When moving file based media off of cards, I always copy them to my hard drive system first, in this case an Avid Unity, but I do it twice. Having worked with tape for so long, I like having the piece of mind that I have a backup of the files in another location just in case something gets corrupted. One of these days I will probably stop doing that, but when you are dealing with a 48 hour deadline it is better safe than sorry.
As far as post goes, you can see there are a couple of cool things in there as far as FX shots, specifically the van explosion and the license plate tracking shot. Both of these were done in Adobe After Effects CS5 with Mocha. For the explosion, I shot the van and just jerked the camera around a couple of times (I even yelled out BOOM! to give me some motivation.) I took the most realistic looking take, drew a garbage matte around the van in Mocha and used that as my tracking data. Using Video CoPilot’s Action Essentials 2 I compiled some fire explosions, dust, smoke and linked them to the tracking data. If you parent a null object to the tracking data, then parent all your elements to that you can add motion blur for a more realistic feel.
The license plate shot was something I hadn’t really planned on, but I knew I would be able to figure something out. My original plan was to find a .jpg on Google of a Massachusetts plate and then just paste it in, but once I sat down to composite the shot I had a revelation. Why not just use the license plate I already had on video? I took a still of the first frame, masked out the plate and painted out the actual license plate number. For about 20 minutes I researched what the font was on Mass. plates, but just kept coming up empty. Could have been the fact I was on hour 35 or so without sleep. After the number was painted out, I put in the “UNCL HNK” and used that still composite as what I married to the tracking data. Since it was the original plate I shot anyway, it looks seamless.
You can read all their names in the credits, but I couldn’t have asked for a better crew to work on this. It is cliché to say, but it really was a total team effort.