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Techniques for Independent Production
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Old January 10th, 2006, 11:35 AM   #1
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Hi, I've been lurking here for quite some time and have learnt a lot. Thanks.

I'm in the process of making a no-budget film and it requires some flying sequences. Has anyone done anything like this? Is it possible and safe to use a home built rig for wire work?

Also I'm not sure which forum this question would go in, but I have a JVC GR-D20 which is pretty crappy, but I'm sure with some effort I can get some decent footage on it. My biggest problem with it is sound. Has anyone ever hacked a camcorder and built in their own mic input? Is this possible on this camera? Or do I have to stick to recording sound on MD and syncing up in post-production?

Thanks for any help.
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Old January 25th, 2006, 01:32 AM   #2
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I feel for you. I filmed my last production on the exact same camera you're using, and the camera does suck (but hey, when you have no budget you've got to do something!).

I'm a little confused as to what kind of flying you're speaking of. If it's something like a plane or a spaceship, you can CG the vehicle and get some fast moving images of the sky. If it's a person you want to make fly, you will have to use a green screen. A simple and cheap solution is to buy a green tablecloth. You might need two, which you can pin to a wall to join.

You will need a lot of light if you have to do greenscreening. Also, when chroma-keying out the greenscreen, don't try to take it all in one pass. Apply the filter multiple times for different shades of green (start close to the subject and move toward the edge of the screen with each application of your chroma-key filter).

I guess you could jury-rig a crane and hang the actor off the side of a moving truck, but I wouldn't recommend that.
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Old January 25th, 2006, 01:34 AM   #3
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Oh, I just read your post again. I can't think of any feasible way to do a wire-rig on low budget, but if you get a pulley system and use rope the same color as your background, you may be able to pull off long shots, then for close-ups just have the actor stand on the ground and show only from the shoulders up.
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Old January 25th, 2006, 11:20 PM   #4
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there was a movie called " I've Heard the Mermaids Singing " made in late 80's - low budget 16mm .. you might look at it as they have main character flying (cheap) and it works .. from what i remember they mostly had actress in frame (horizontal) little above waist to head as she flew ( green screen, with fan blowing hair) so actor laying horizontal over a edge ..
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Old January 26th, 2006, 06:31 AM   #5
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Matthew G, seems this is exactly the right forum for this question.

Forget the wire rig, get the person to stand on a chair or table oustide on a windy day as Matthew J recommends, get low, and til the camera 90 degres to get your actor horizontal in frame. The move with the camera, focussing on the actor so the backgroud clouds seem to move. Camera shake won't be a problem as it will probably add a touch of realism.

Then get to some high ground and film the landscape below, maybe with a subtle touch of zooming in and out to get a sense of movement that you can intercut with your actor.

It may look a little cheesy, but no more so than a dodgy wire rig, which will be unsafe, need a number of operators and probably weill be extremely uncomfortable for your actorand need post effects work to remove the wires.

As for the sound problem, you could try and get you hands on a Minidisc Recorder,a nd record the sound separately using a clapperboard and then sync in post.
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Old January 26th, 2006, 08:12 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthew Goldman
My biggest problem with it is sound. Has anyone ever hacked a camcorder and built in their own mic input? Is this possible on this camera? Or do I have to stick to recording sound on MD and syncing up in post-production?
Matthew, I wouldn't recommend trying to hack the camera for external sound unless you have the budget to replace the camera. We started out with a simular JVC camera and after taking mine apart, it took about a week to get it working correctly again, and it still didn't have a mic input...

The other problem with "hacking the cam" is that even if you pull it off, you're probably stuck with the camera's auto-gain-control instead of being able to lock the audio recording level manually.

We shot both a short and a feature documentary with this camera however and used a laptop to record the audio separately. It seems like a pain but honestly the end result was better than we could have ever expected. Recording the sound separate also gives you alot more freedom in moving the camera (less cables attached to it) and working the levels, etc on the laptop was alot easier than dealing with the same controls on the camera (if it even has them).

Let me know if you'd like to know more about this.
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