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The making of The Egg
The Egg is one of the shortest films in the
Competition nevertheless every 'clip' has added value in an
attempt to give the video a glossy look.
| The storyline is highly improbable:
"A disgraced bureaucrat who is in hiding from the Press accidentally knocks two boiled eggs into his open necked shirt and is forced into dropping his trousers when the aforementioned eggs reach his testicles."
(How do I dream up this tosh?)
| I decided that I might pass for the sleazey politician and
Stewart Gledhill, from the Huddersfield Film and Video Club,
agreed to help with the camera work and the minor role of the
For the shoot I used a Panasonic Gh2 DSLR. I chose the brilliant Nokton Voigtlander 25mm f0.95 Prime lens for the head and shoulder close ups. The lens does not have image stabilisation but it renders skin tones very well indeed and has a quite beautiful bokeh which arises from its ten blade iris. (Bokeh is the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light.)
The Gh2 has a reversible LCD screen which is helpful with the tight head and shoulder framing. The close cropping also helps to isolate the subject matter from the background....the large sensor further assists in throwing the backgrounds out of focus.
|I pay attention to my backgrounds and I try to avoid flat or dead space by lighting the lifeless areas with small halogen desk lamps or a mini garden flood. I also used a soft box about four foot from my face (a "soft box" is an enclosure around a bulb comprising reflective side and back walls and a diffusing material at the front of the light) and a single halogen spot, behind and high, to give backlight which helps make the face 'pop out' a little.|
|Unfortunately my luxuriant mane of hair is no longer present to take advantage of this backlight... but it's the thought that counts!|
The Gh2 sound is not good enough for dialogue sequences so I
used the excellent portable Zoom H4n recorder which will accept
two NTG 1 Rode microphones into XLR inputs.
| Very large close-ups of incidental items like the egg timer,
silver coffee pot and the eggs serve to cover the cuts in the
dialogue and disguise my movement around the kitchen space.
| The lovely round bokeh which briefly appears in some of the
shots is created by my battery operated LED christmas lights. (I
never leave the house without them!) They not only give round
highlights but will add light to dining tables and breathe life
into dull background corners.
My two eggs would not steam in a manner that was convincing nor could they be persuaded to enter the top of my open shirt. I overcame the first obstacle by simply putting my cheap halogen desk lamp behind, and to the right of the egg cup, and pouring cold water over the now rock-hard boiled eggs.
After several attempts at knocking the eggs into my open shirt with the kitchen cupboard door I realised that I was at risk of becoming Tescos best customer of the day so I covered the vital moment in the edit with a shot of the two eggs descending to my belt already within my shirt. It works OK as in the next brief clip I am looking dumbfounded at the empty egg cup - and the audience must surely realise where they have gone!
After this moment the cutting is really quite fast in an attempt to stay ahead of viewer perception and to add a frenetic flourish to the end. The moment in the film where I heave my trousers down, which allows the eggs to transfer to my underpants, is covered by an imported audio wail of alarm as the hot rocks reach my nuts.
Nearly all of The Egg is self filmed and follows a primitive storyboard. I sometimes try different angles and add shots to give me more variety to choose from in the edit but the initial cartoon on paper is much as it will appear in the finished product.
Laying the eggs was bizarre, to say the least, as my conservatory is on an exposed corner of the village and soon a small knot of admirers gathered to watch me drop my trousers over and over again. The Eggs dropped to the floor very effectively but they would immediately roll out of focus. It took some 12 takes before both eggs fell close to the focal plane.
In two of my former films which are quite well known, Rock Bottom and The Drill, the ending of the films cannot (hopefully) be foreseen. However in The Egg the denouement is transparent and easily 'read'. I therefore hang on to the last key shot for as long as I dare in order to delay the cathartic moment of the rapid and climactic end shot.
I used Magic Bullet Looks (colour correction and colour treatment software) to help enrich the imagery with the colour 'look'. The £200 program can have significant grading benefits for the HD amateur. It also allows for a large degree of control over reducing background brightness and blur which can make the subject matter 'pop' forward in the frame. It is simple and fast to use.
Before Magic Bullet Looks treatment
After Magic Bullet Looks treatment
| The Egg had the potential to be a disaster.
Dialogue and the delivery of dialogue is often the pit-fall of
many an amateur production. I just about get away with it!
If you want more in-depth understanding of tutorials, Magic Bullet Looks, and DSLR photography (within my ability) please feel free to email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
All my films from the last four years are on my Vimeo Page.