Film Riot host Ryan Connolly got a hands-on test of the RED Epic camera a couple of weeks ago and showed some footage he shot with it, mostly he and his crew just having fun and horsing around. When it was about time for him to give the camera back, however, Ryan thought it would be a shame if he didn’t do something more significant with it and decided to write and shoot a mini-movie at the last minute.

Tips For Finding A Video Location

Episode 123 of the Revision3 series is mainly about how to find a video location for your shoot, and what rules to follow. Given limited time, Connolly couldn’t go out to scout locations and really hope the gatekeepers of those institutions would let him shoot a movie there. So, in answer to a viewer e-mail about how to find locations, Ryan suggests telling your friends and family what kind of movie you are shooting and asking if they know of a place. One of Ryan’s friends ends up having a connection to a pretty awesome facility to shoot on short notice.

Connolly warns that you should probably know what your location is before you even write the script. It’s obvious, in the rush to get a movie done, he had no idea what the location was going to be when he wrote his screenplay. So, in the event you are writing a script without a concrete location in mind, you shouldn’t fall in love with the one you are imagining in your head when you write a script. Sure enough, even the spectacular real location that they landed to shoot the movie forced changes to Ryan’s plot. But he made it work, and even thought he made it better after he saw what he got to work with at the facility.

Despite a tremendous rush to get this picture finished, Ryan also brings up a major rule. Whenever someone is kind enough to let you use their real estate for your movie magic, always leave the area exactly as you found it. This is key, not only for Basic Human Kindness 101, but also in case you ever need to shoot at the location again. The people in charge will know that you didn’t break anything, or leave any trash around, and they can allow you to use the place worry-free.

Episode 123 ends with Ryan using a wheelchair for a simple dolly. I think it’s safe to say, if it has wheels and it can be controlled, Ryan has used it as a dolly. But it goes to show that you don’t need expensive tracks and dolly equipment to get a smooth moving shot.

Ryan hopes to be able to show the final product of his RED Epic camera movie in a couple of weeks.

Underwater Filming Tips & Techniques

On the next episode of Film Riot, Episode 124, Ryan has fun with underwater shooting, complete with the whizzing-bullets-through-the-water trick you might have seen in Saving Private Ryan and other films. By the end of the episode, Ryan believes this might be the easiest thing they have ever demonstrated on the show.

First, with the underwater shooting, Ryan mentions he has an underwater case for his Canon 5D, but that it makes him extremely nervous putting that camera into what amounts to a plastic bag into the water. So instead we see the demonstration of the GoPro Hero, a small, very tough camera that sells for about $200, shoots in HD, and comes with its own waterproof case.

Now the matter of the underwater bullet effect. Ryan thought he might need green screen or some sort of composite to make the effect, but then he tried simply throwing rocks into the water. Connolly is my kind of filmmaker: he would much rather do an effect in-camera than have to go back to post and create it there. He says, “It always ends up looking better,” and well, of course, he’s right. Now, for the rocks, it’s best that you have a slingshot, and the rocks should be as close to arrow-shaped as possible, so that they will zoom through the water better. Other kinds of rocks end up looking stupid.

It occurs to Ryan, seemingly during the shooting of the hosting segment of this episode, that marbles might even work best. But it’s also important not to just fire rocks or marbles at your subject underwater. Connolly and crew were throwing rocks about four feet away from their human subject, Bruno, and the camera angle makes it look like they are much closer.

Finally, Ryan says to sell the effect, you need the proper sound. He shows a simple little effect (lowpass) applied to the original sound that makes it all authentic.

If you’re not watching Film Riot already, check it out every Monday and Thursday on Revision3. It’s well worth your time.