Renaissance is abstract and strange, but it was technically challenging to create. I’ll go in depth into the steps it took for me to make the film and give you some insight as to what it’s about. The film has been featured on the Sundance Ignite page so have a look and vote for it! Renaissance at Sundance. (Official selection LIFF-PUFF-REEL 13)
In terms of camera choice, I went with the Sony F3. With the S-Log gamma, I could get a flat enough image and pull some great looking color from it in post. I recently shot a music video with the F3 so it was a camera I was comfortable with. (video below)
The whole film was shot in a large underground studio, this give me some flexibility without having to worry about the sun. Lighting was completely under my control. I used CP2’s on the F3 (18mm,24mm,50mm).
As most camera geeks know, the F3 is not known for it’s high speed capabilities. The slow motion footage was shot on a Red Dragon in 4k. Why not shoot the whole thing on the dragon?
- F3 was available, the dragon was not.
- F3’s total footage for the project was 24gbs!
- I was going to finish for Vimeo -4K wasn’t necessary.
That being said, it was a treat to play with the Red Dragon for a day. Due to the lack of resources, I shot these segments in my room, and lit it with a fluorescent house lamp. After all, light is light, you just have to manipulate it in your favor. These visuals were shot at 120 fps. It took lots of experimenting with paint, water, and other substances. I’ll talk about matching the F3 and the Dragon footage together later on.
CHOREOGRAPHY AND DIRECTION
I needed a dance sequence ready in a month for this film. Fortunately I had some experience in this field. Before my peaking interest in film, I had honed my skills as a dancer and choreographer. There was no audition process involved, the performers were colleagues I had been dancing with for years beforehand.
For creative reasons I won’t disclose the original song that I made the piece to. In the post process, I made the music while matching it to the bpm of the original song they danced to.
As for direction, being dancers they picked up on simple cues very easily. It was all about being composed and focused. The tea ceremony in particular just took some practice in order for them to do it naturally. Eventually they just knew what to do.
MUSIC AND SOUND DESIGN
Creating the soundscape for the film was difficult but very rewarding. One thing to consider is the diegetic sound in the intro. It was completely created in studio. I worked with our in house audio expert Francis Bawasanta. There was no sound recorded on set so we really had a challenge with foley without a reference track.
I wanted the music to really feel unique, and fit with my theme of ritual, rebirth, and cycles. I used traditional instruments and stayed away from digital synth sounds. The orchestral sound really fit the aesthetic of the film. I didn’t want to over-saturate it with instruments so I carved out each element and mixed them to preserve their specific frequencies.
Overall, sound is a great way to set the tone. Especially in short form film making. The sound work and edit took the same amount of time.
The Edit and Color
For post, I used Adobe’s creative suite to bring the film together (Premiere,Photoshop,After Effects, and Speed Grade) I stuck to an all Adobe workflow for convenience sake, and it didn’t compromise quality as well.
The intense sequence in the middle consists of numerous one frame cuts and overlays. Each frame was hand picked and placed. This segment was nested and brought into my main timeline as not to clutter the work space. The short animation in the beginning was made in Photoshop then brought into AE. The titles and credits also went through the same work flow.
As for the Red Dragon footage, It wasn’t as easy to deal with. It imported into premiere fine, but I had to keep it at 1/8th the original quality to get normal playback. The footage integrated very well with the F3’s footage. Normally you’d be trying to match your (insert camera) to the Red, but for me it was the other way around. Since I was shooting significantly different subjects, the change in format wasn’t noticeable.
Moving the project from premiere to speed-grade was painless via dynamic link. Normally I grade in Resolve, but I wanted to expand and give speed grade a shot.
Personally I’m not very picky with anything, from camera’s to software, It’s all so convenient. I did a light grade, and lots of masking. Most of the work was in the opening sequence of the film. I made sure to keep the color palette consistent. I didn’t want any colors to pop too much, everything needed a deeper tone.
As for the dance sequence. Making an infinite black background was important. On set I was worried about seeing the background, so I made sure to light the performers and flag as much spill as possible. Crushing the blacks really got rid of the duvetyne that covered the back wall.
The film itself is really an homage to these dancers. They have been with me for about six years. The film tells the story of artists. Renaissance is really about finding yourself again as an artist. Whatever medium it may be, creating great art comes with repetition and failure. There are lots of motifs and symbols in the film, but really it isn’t definite for any one person. This film will mean something different to every viewer.
I went through a creative dry spell as a dancer, I failed to produce anything I liked for about a year. After discovering film. I had a sudden urge to dance again. I got these talented artists together and collaborated once more, it was a rebirth of creative mediums.
Daniella, Julianna, Tashna, Jo-Anne.