With hand in day tomorrow, I have finally given my film a title, as a nod to the original script that I tried and tried to write, my films title is ‘ Just one more place to look’.

When we started back in October doing our soundwalk, I only intended to try making a film, after all, I may not get the chance again to script, film and edit my own cinematic piece. The things I over heard influenced the whole feel and tone of my intended film, my favourite soundbyte being the two guys running past me, and all I heard was, “there’s just one more place to look Danny..” what was Danny looking for, would they find it? It seemed exciting and full of opportunities for me to make a script out of this golden snippet.

But try as I might I couldn’t put together a script for this to work in.. I had visuals and scenes popping into my head, the main character and that it should be filmed at night, but no real substance to plan to film, not without a completed script anyway… So rather than struggle on I went and did a photographic recce and pulled  a loose storyboard together.

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This shot summed up what I was after, visually at any rate.

My script went through different stages and changed and came back, but I just wasn’t happy with it, I couldn’t find a reason why the character would have a reason to use the line, there’s just one more place to look…

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I had such a clear vision of how I wanted the film to look that I started doing some test footage with a main character. This was a great testing ground as I discovered many little problems that I hadn’t thought of. Firstly the small and light camera with the little lens that I wanted to use on my steadicam rig had no manual control over the video side, which I only discovered out in the freezing cold with my actor jumping up and down to keep warm. Then the battery only lasted about half an hour as the temperature just zapped the power, and trying to use my fancy HD mobile phone video discovered that you can’t control the focus or exposure, so got shots flicking in and out of focus, most annoying.

I had to rethink my rig (merlin Steadicam and Nikon D3100 with 18-55mm lens), light though it was, it couldn’t cut the mustard

So the next night I could co-ordinate a shoot saw me taking out my pro Nikon, the D7000, but I could not manage – or balance – my beautiful pro 18-55 f2.8 lens, so took my nifty 50mm prime to cut down on weight.

This was a much more successful shoot,  although the 50mm meant I was much closer to the figure I realised that these were the shots that worked the best in the previous recce, nice and tight, not giving too much away about the character.

I got all of the night shots I wanted done after a third night out in the cold, and planned to include cutting in some daylight shots too, to ‘remind’ the character what life was like before the constant searching in the darkness took over.

I wanted to show the footage in a slightly unconventional way so had  a play with visual placement of the footage but binned this idea as it didn’t work, although some of the group liked the daylight shot I showed in the crit, but I think it’s best for the film to leave this idea behind, which I did.

Still trying to work a script, which by now had turned into more of a narration it was suggested that I try the cut up poetry technique by Burrows, which I duly had a go at, but found it came out with most unsatisfactory results… I now endeavoured to actually write a poem, specifically for the piece.

At this point, inspiration struck, one of the parts of the film that I was really unhappy about was the way that my actor’s jacket had branding on the back that occasionally would really show up, this bugged me and I couldn’t think how to change it as I had already used up a lot of pre production time, struggling with the script and cold issues. Then one of the guys showed a film which was rotoscoped, about a teenager with autism which had been given to many different artists to interpret the original footage in a graphic way… entitled Snack and Drink it sent my imagination into overdrive and I really wanted to use it in my film.

Knowing how long it takes to animate though, I didn’t now if I would have time to complete it, but again, eureka moment, I could just rotoscope my main character, thereby removing the nasty branding and going back to animation, but using my own personal style of illustration to do it – perfect!

See post the digital ‘cel look: https://traceytutt.co.uk/2014/01/15/the-digital-cel-look/

Then it was just  a case of time and effort to edit my footage down so that I would be animating economically, and drawing my character on each and every one of the 1286 layers that I ended up with in Photoshop.

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Time raced away from here and I was all absorbed with the rotoscoping process, and whilst working my way through them I visualised different parts of the film, with no background at all,  just the figure walking lonely in the midst of nothingness, mirroring the mental state they were in.

The poem was going well and I had 5 verses complete, and a backing song I really liked, so once the rotoscope marathon was over (approx 60hrs for the 2 minutes!) I put the separate images into after effects to make a full sequence that I could show to others in the final crit. Feedback  mostly came from the sound, ie, it’s too quiet and there is too much audio space so I revisited the poem and tweaked the rhythmn of it and inserted another verse.

I re-trimmed the visuals, losing about 10 seconds of footage and made the decision to remove  another short bit entirely (which I used over the credits) this took the film down to just over 2 minutes in length, the longer audio (re-recorded with my voiceover guy) and the shorter body of film fitted really well together, and I even got to add in a bit of text tracking.

So what do I think overall? It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster, I’ve reverted to type and gone on the visuals but doing the rotoscoping actually made me smile – apart from the bit where I realised I’d missed a whole section and had to restart the whole video into layers thing in photoshop – and I love the way it looks. I’m proud of what I have achieved and I would love to use this style and technique, for something else. I just wish I could have had a better script, as I’m unsure of the quality of my poem, or if it’s all gone a bit too arty…

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