Those Expensive Toys

"So, how exactly do you make these films?", is a question we're often asked. While details vary from film to film, let's hit the high spots.

Video Gear

All of our films have been shot on video Hi-8 and edited on consumer S-VHS decks.

For Space Rogues, we used a Sony TR-700 camera. This camera has a number of very useful features including optical image stabilization. This feature allowed quite a number of hand held moving shots without any jerkiness.

We shot roughly 12 hours of raw footage. While this was edited down to approximately 60 minutes of on screen footage, very little of the overshoot was due to gaffs or bloopers. Since tape was cheap, we typically shot each scene an average of 4 times through. This allowed a long shot, close-ups, and an over-the-shoulder or two-shot or two. While a bit tedious to edit, this approach really paid off in the final film.

Editing was done with two consumer JVC S-VHS decks. This was tedious work. If we were working quickly, we'd get 1 minute of finished footage per hour of editing.

We've recently aquired a Pinnacle DV500 digital/analog nonlinear editing board. Once we learn to use it and Adobe Premier we hope to produce cleaner, better work somewhat faster. A Digital-8 camcorder has also been purchased for our use.

Sets and Props

The set/prop budget for Whoman was approximately $30. This meant that we did not build any sets and relied completely on what we could get for free. But, with some effort we came up with a medieval castle (the Virginia Tech campus) and it's dungeon, a high-tech Who-Cave, a gaming store, and various offices.

Space Rogues was a completely different animal. The story of two ships and two space stations required some high tech sets. With a roughly $250 budget, we set to work.

[pic]The Mirage Bridge.

The various starship sets were the main expense. We had two bridges, a shuttle cockpit, and a fighter cockpit to construct. It should be no surprise, then, that all four sets have the exact same components, rearranged to look different, and shot from different angles.

The set itself was constructed in half of the producer's 500 sq.ft. basement (the other half, full of boxes, served as the cargo bay set.) Cheap outdoor carpeting was hung from the rafters to form the walls. Plastic floor runners served as doors. Existing chairs were used, with the rear of the bridge placed on a piece of plywood supported by cinderblocks.

Complex consoles were built from foam-core and posterboard. Displays were generated by laser-printing onto colored paper and highlighting with magic markers. Some ship-specific sections were velcroed into place, to make redressing easy.

All of the other sets were the result of clever scrounging. College hallways and auditoriums, peoples' offices and bedrooms, and a couple of public parks were all used to good effect.

[Index] [Whoman] [Space Rogues] [Ordering]

Copyright © 1997-2003 Lloyd B. Eldred , all rights reserved.