A couple of weeks ago, we were sent this Canon HDSLR short and we were very impressed – and so we begged for some BTS info and we were pleasantly pleased to get this kind of detail. Today, we present you with “Ghost” – a short with no speaking parts!
”Ghost” is a independent short film made in Denmark. The production of the film took a week, and we were a really small crew, consisting of the DOP, the director, the lighting technician and then whoever could lend a hand on the given day, which usually meant a couple of friends or assistants.
We only had a couple of hours to shoot in each day; from it became dark, to Alberthe (the little ghost) had to go home. This meant we had to move fast and everybody helped setting lights and dressing the set under the guidance of the DOP.
We wanted to create a little poetic film, and tell a simple story using mainly mood and atmosphere, avoiding dialogue and too much structure. We wanted to be able to play around and experiment, and incorporate a lot of compositing to see if it was possible to create a convincing dark and magical universe on a very little budget (non-existing).
The gear was lend out by workshops and local production companies that were a great support. We had a little van with a bunch of film gear, consisting mainly of kinoflow lamps, a couple of 650W and 1Kw lamps, a diesel generator, a small telescope style dolly, and the usual assortment of clamps, flags etc. Oh, and a wind machine that everybody wanted to play with. That’s pretty much all. Through sponsors we had managed to borrow a 5DmkII and 7D camera, and a variety of fixed lenses and adapters.
Everybody was pretty surprised at the quality of the footage we shot, after the first day. This was mainly due to the fact that the DOP spend a lot of time designing the lighting in each shot, so the look was already in camera, and didn’t need much grading which he knew was difficult due to the compression and h264 codec. Direct lighting with a focus on designing the black areas, and making sure they were graphically dominant were a big part of the art direction. The empty black space stimulates the imagination, but the trick is to not go totally black, but lift it just a little so you have a nice histogram.
The director wanted a series of slow motion shots. We solved this by shooting 50p with the 7D, and then slowing it down to 100p using Twixtor. This was surprisingly effective, as long as there was a clean separation of subjects in the shot, a lot of light and little overlapping forms, which twixtor handles poorly.
The compositing took about 1 month, and most of the effects were made using masking and stitching of multiple takes (like the white dogs), or combining shots with stock footage of dust, debris, etc. The effects of the skewed buildings, desolate streets etc. were actually quite simple to do using a HDSLR, as we could shoot footage, and then shoot RAW photos we would then go into photoshop and manipulate into matte paintings, and then project back on top of the footage in After Effects. Because the framing and staging was exactly the same in the still and the footage (it’s the same camera ) matching the footage was enjoyably easy.
Andreas & Tobias
(cover photo credit: snap from the BTS images)