Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Live-action Shoot/Voice Recording Production Team

It was something I proposed to my animators and they said it would be an ideal path to take. It's a given that they are promising young artists in their craft, but considering it's their first time to be in this type of film project (they are mostly in their early to mid-20s and most are fresh from digital arts school), they agreed that having professional actors on board the project would make an interesting collaboration. 

Unlike with using motion-capture or rotoscoping, the simple editing of the live-action footage will allow them to get the right emotional ups and downs, pulse and pacing, and a more cohered storytelling based on the actual voices to be used for the film. At the same time, they can tweak some parts from the original video materials according to the needs of the story -- as the making of this animated film progresses.

Our live-action shoot/voice recording went very smoothly. It was fun, no pressure, but it kinda felt weird. Interestingly, there were more mics than cameras and we were using available light only. We practically ignored any cable, mic, or even musical instrument appearing on the composed shot.

Come to think about it, the video footage would actually work more like the animated film's "scratch voices," while the supposed scratch voices, the one we also recorded during the live-action shoot, would already be the final voice elements to be used in the film. Why? Because we're not using the video footage as final components of the film. We would only be using them as guide during the animation process.

Most of us came from film work and our production experiences are clearly not the same as this. From the production team to the actors, it was everyone's "first time" to work like this. Imagine, we took a little more time arranging the mics than blocking the actors and fixing the cameras!! =p

Framing of shots for the two-camera set-up merely required properly exposing the actors' faces and body details. We couldn't even move that much as we had to make sure that we avoid making noise and footsteps during the shoot/recording. But clearly, we know what we wanted and what we needed. The final output is the animation.

We set our priorities straight and we knew that the camera shots would remain considerably "unlit" and "unframed" yet for our storyboard. We just needed to document the actors' acting performances. Yet, we couldn't really avoid getting that weird feeling that the said set-up is something we're not used to. We're used to perfecting our shots. This time, we mainly needed to perfect the sound. :)

We shot the film at Studio H of Hit Productions. It's their biggest sound studio, which is primarily used to record music artists. That's why on the background of the photos, there were guitars, drums, and other musical instruments.

And as a bonus, it's great to have an opportunity to shoot in a place where legendary Pinoy musicians have already played and recorded their music projects.

Who wouldn't feel excited of all the musical instruments available inside the studio? Our 3D animator Joje who took a break from rendering some parts of the film had his first time in live-action production and he ended up working on our clapperboard. Now, he had a better idea on how to do the shot-per-shot on a slate... and he had a fun time trying to briefly play with the drums in between our takes. 

We needed a clapperboard as we were filming the audio separately -- straight to Protools. We didn't have things patched to the Lumix GH2 and AF100.

Our sound engineer Philip was working on the other end of the studio with Protools HD.

But hey, he was also running here and there as he would be fixing our mics from time to time, depending on the actors' blocking.

To date, this is now the shoot that I had the "most minimal" number of production team members. Aside from me directing and producing it, I only had myself and Dusty working on the camera and Philip working on the sound. Helping us along were Joje working on the clapperboard/ID, Ramon documenting for Tuldok, and Joy taking some stills and doing a few PD work. Additional people from Hit, technical head Sir Dennis and sound engineer Mikko, also assisted us in setting up our sound requirements.

Our actors Arnold and Angeli on the set.

I and Philip at the other end of the studio after the wrap... Most people were outside having dinner at the pantry. We managed to take a snap of our only picture together during the shoot. Yes, we were both busy and we were primarily working on two other ends of the studio ;-) And yes, it wasn't shot using an SLR unlike most of the photos here, just from a mobile phone.

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