DVC20 - "Protect and Survive" feedback thread at DVinfo.net

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Old June 7th, 2011, 07:02 PM   #1
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DVC20 - "Protect and Survive" feedback thread

Hi everyone. I initially thought this short was a bit of a departure from my normal horror fixation, but on reflection maybe not given the finality of the topic matter.

The film was based around a quote from the UK government advice booklet and series of short films "Protect and Survive" that scared the bejesus out of my Mother's generation. They ostensibly offered tips on how to deal with the aftermath of a nuclear attack, but in reality were more of a panacea - giving people the feeling that there was something they could do to prevent an almost inevitable slow death from radiation sickness or as a result of the horrors of societal collapse. Both topics were covered pertinently in the dramas Threads and The Day After, the latter film offering such an effective warning that it apparently factored into Reagan's negotiations with the then USSR on the SALT disarmament treaty.

I'd initially planned to juxtapose quotes from the advice given in the booklet with images of a world in which we had simply ceased to exist in order to highlight it's futility, but the opening text seemed so utterly ridiculous - the idea that you could do ANYTHING under those circumstances to realistically protect your family- that it kind of rendered any further quotes moot.

So I ended up making an instructional video rather lacking in instructions simply because this was a scenario for which there were none that had any value.

I chose not to show the opening nuclear explosion in any form because I felt that the more simply I portrayed it and the more I left it to peoples imaginations the more horror it would have. The idea of a happy crowd of young people cut off mid laughter - a low frequency rumble followed by explosion, fire and finally wind. No sirens, screams, or struggle. Simply the immediate and total end of us.

The following images represent, perhaps, a degree of wishful thinking on my part. The slow reclaiming of the land by nature and the final shots of poppies representing both the lives that have been lost and the idea that we were never going to destroy the planet itself, just our ability to live on it. In reality the horrors of nuclear winter might put paid to anything coming out the other side, even cockroaches, but I like to think that, had we ever in a moment of awful accident, stupidity or arrogance gone beyond the brink that something would survive to mark our passing, even if it's simply the overgrown ruins of our civilization slowly disappearing beneath the flowers.

The film was shot on a Sony VG10 using the stock lens, a lightcraft vari-ND filter and a manfrotto 503 head and legs. All the grading was done in camera by altering the white balance to fit. Edited on FCP and exported using Compressor. The audio mix was done using samples supplied with Soundtrack Pro. I think I had 16 audio channels running simultaneously for the opening apocalypse (!) There's a lot of low frequency noise in the film and it was mixed using headphones, so a decent set of cans will probably provide the best listening experience...

Really enjoying this comp. I look forward to hearing what you all think and watching the rest of the entries.

Best Wishes
Henry

Last edited by Henry Williams; June 7th, 2011 at 07:31 PM. Reason: removal of redundant apostrophe
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Old June 8th, 2011, 02:28 PM   #2
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Re: DVC20 - "Protect and Survive" feedback thread

Henry,

Pretty scenery. Liked the flag shot. Liked the shot of the wet streets in the storage place, Interesting that the lights were still on in the empty parking garage. Beautiful landscapes and flowers. If that is the world after we all perish, not bad, not bad at all!

Kept expecting to see some lessons from the Survival guide or another reference to it since you show it up front, but then I got the credits. Pretty to watch, but I don't feel like I learned how to survive a nuclear holocaust. I'm guessing that is the point of the piece.

I just know Matt Damon could find a way to survive.
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Old June 8th, 2011, 02:37 PM   #3
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Re: DVC20 - "Protect and Survive" feedback thread

Thanks for taking the time to watch and comment, Dick.

I figured there might still be the odd bit of power around for a while so didn't sweat the lights in the empty parking garage too much.

It's maybe wishful thinking that the world would look this way, but then you see the aftermath at somewhere like Pripryat and it's not too dissimilar.

You're right on the money with the lack of instruction in this instructional video! Although I agree that Mat Damon would almost certainly find a way ;)
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Old June 8th, 2011, 03:47 PM   #4
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Re: DVC20 - "Protect and Survive" feedback thread

I liked the slowness and stillness of it, and the juxtaposition (ooh, look at me with my long words) of the colour from the flowers and the bleached-out greyness of everything else. I was also a bit blindsided by the lack of any quotes from the survival guide (after the first one), but on reflection it makes sense. Given the irrelevance of any advice it might contain, we might as well find a nice view and wait for the inevitable. ;-)
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Old June 8th, 2011, 03:52 PM   #5
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Re: DVC20 - "Protect and Survive" feedback thread

thanks Bro! Really glad you liked it :)
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Old June 8th, 2011, 04:35 PM   #6
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Re: DVC20 - "Protect and Survive" feedback thread

A little After Effects, and you could CGI Matt Damon getting up from his hiding place in the bed of flowers, and running across the field before jumping off the parking garage. Pretty much be perfect then.

Sorry for my less than constructive comments, but I handle life stress by injecting my weird sense of humor into everything.
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Old June 8th, 2011, 04:43 PM   #7
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Re: DVC20 - "Protect and Survive" feedback thread

Good idea, but if it becomes a Matt Damon film I'd need to reshoot the whole thing handheld. Plus I think he'd be doing something manly like fighting giant post apocalyptic bees. I'm just not sure I can afford Matt Damon AND the bees...
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Old June 8th, 2011, 08:40 PM   #8
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Re: DVC20 - "Protect and Survive" feedback thread

Henry, good point about the bees...
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Old June 8th, 2011, 10:07 PM   #9
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Re: DVC20 - "Protect and Survive" feedback thread

Good job and portraying the emptiness. The flag shot really stood out to me.

You did an outstanding job of grading in camera. I would never have guessed that. Did you adjust anything over than the white balance in the camera, such as saturation or matrix settings? Does the VG10 even have matrix settings or detailed paint controls?

Anyways, it looked top notch.
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Old June 9th, 2011, 12:01 AM   #10
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Re: DVC20 - "Protect and Survive" feedback thread

I kept waiting for something to happen... but then, thats the point. Seems strange that we think there is nothing there when we aren't there to see it. Raises the age old question, "If a tree falls in the forest, and there is no one there to hear it, does it make any noise ?
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Old June 9th, 2011, 02:01 AM   #11
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Re: DVC20 - "Protect and Survive" feedback thread

I also had the "wtf?" moment, when the credits started to roll, because I was expecting something to happen.
I "got it" only after reading your explanation. My theory was that you showed things that would be destroyed in case of nuclear war, or something like that.

That said I liked your images, especially the industrial ones. I also enjoyed the peace in your film.

I think more people would have understood it on the first viewing if you had complimented the silent images with some diminishing whispers withering away with their final experiences and that they couldn't do anything or something like that.

Does the poppy have some symbolic meaning?

p.s. We also had the same useless advices in the old USSR. For example, if an atomic explosion happened near Riga, students and lecturers were to leave the university building (the one in which I was studying) and head to the park over the street, dig holes in the ground, lie down in them and cover the holes with white sheets - I kid you not. On the other side, a very practical suggestion.
Meanwhile there were huge government bunkers just a few blocks away intended for the Communist Party and the Red Army.
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Old June 9th, 2011, 03:32 AM   #12
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Re: DVC20 - "Protect and Survive" feedback thread

Thanks everyone for taking the time to watch and give feedback. I'm really glad you enjoyed the film.

Jeremy - we don't have anything too detailed in the camera settings so I was relying on the white balance (set to 3200k) and, in the case of the flag shot and a few others a vari-ND filter that I was chucking around outside of the recommended range for the apertures I was using. It seemed to produce some quite interesting effects.

Good point, Chris. We kind of assume the world waits at our beck and call a lot of the time(!)

Hi Andris - I thought about adding some voices but I didn't want to ram things home too much. I'm okay with people taking a couple of viewings to see where I'm coming from. Poppies bloomed on the fields in Flanders in World War 1, something that was immortalised in the poem "Flanders Field." They're worn every year on remembrance day in the UK when we honour our war dead. The poem shows the Poppies as both a form of grave marker and a sign of life going on without the fallen soldiers and as such seemed to make for an appropriate final image.

Very imaginative of the government to get people to dig their own graves. I think the most creepy thing we had planned was a 15,000 strong BBC suicide squad of light entertainers and engineers to keep the corporation broadcasting something cheerful whilst the bombs fell and the representatives of the 12 regional councils that would make up a post apocalyptic government were ferried away to their bunkers..
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Old June 9th, 2011, 03:42 AM   #13
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Re: DVC20 - "Protect and Survive" feedback thread

Thanks for the explanation on the symbolic meaning of poppies, Henry! Living in another informational filed makes such references difficult to understand sometimes.

I had the same problems with George's rubber duck and shirt, and other items, because I didn't imagine to connect them with any curse words. Because, when I saw them, I was seeing them in Latvian, where the name duck or "pīle" has no such connotations.
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Old June 9th, 2011, 03:47 AM   #14
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Re: DVC20 - "Protect and Survive" feedback thread

My pleasure. It's easy to forget that we all have different cultural touchstones - I should have put something in my explanation at the start of this thread.
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Old June 9th, 2011, 12:47 PM   #15
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Re: DVC20 - "Protect and Survive" feedback thread

Very disturbing film. Happy sounds at the start and then silenced.
Beauty and grandeur everywhere, but empty, lonely.
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