16 Mar 2010

The Edge of Africa

We got this video today submitted by Armand Dijicks with production write-up detailing his mood piece that he shot off the southernmost tip of Africa. You may have noticed some exciting changes to the site including “Production Write-Up” categories and a “Submit Video” form. “The Edge of Africa” for instance will be categorized under “Moods” so this and other videos like Philip Bloom’s mood pieces will accessed here. Armand has filmed some amazing sites around the world.

Liquid Earth Website

Here is his write-up:
Cape Agulhas is located at the southernmost point of Africa, where the
Indian and Atlantic oceans meet. The local ocean currents and
temperamental weather have caused many ships to end up in pieces on
the rocks.

In “The Edge of Africa” I tried to capture the moody and rugged
atmosphere of the place. The footage originally wasn’t shot with any
specific project in mind. I had been to this location on previous
trips to South Africa and thought it would be an excellent place to
test out the Canon 5D mk2. I like to keep things really simple,
especially on location, so I chose to shoot the whole thing with a
single lens: the Canon 50mm f/1.4. The only other pieces of equipment
involved were an ND filter for some exposure control, a polarizer and
a GorillaPod to stabilize the camera on the rocks.

In almost all the shots the framing is static. I wanted to focus on
composition and also bring out the subtle motion of the clouds and
ocean, which could easily get lost in panning and zooming. The
exception is the close-up pan of the rocks, which was hand held,
hoping I could make something usable out of it using FCP’s smoothcam,
which worked out pretty well in the end.

The grading was done in Magic Bullet Looks, sometimes assisted by a
pinch of 3-way color corrector in Final Cut Pro. I opted for a really
contrasty black and white look with a lot of crushed blacks and some
blown-out highlights, since that seemed fitting for the mood I was
after. With this look, there’s a temptation to just slap a vignette on
every shot, but I tried to make a conscious effort in deciding where I
wanted to draw the viewers eye, using gradients and local exposure
compensation where possible.

I set up a basic grade in Looks for the overall mood, and further
tweaked that for every shot. For this kind of free-form project, the
plugin architecture of Looks allows you to get really creative. You
can quickly try out an idea and get a feel for the direction you want
to go in, which in return might influence your editing decisions. On
previous projects I’ve also used Apple Color, which is very powerful,
but probably works better in a more linear workflow, where grading
happens after you’ve finalized the edit.

In a further attempt to achieve a dramatic feel, some of the shots of
the waves crashing on the rocks were slowed down to about 80% speed.
The human brain “knows” the physics of moving water, and the slower
speed tricks it into perceiving the crashing wave as bigger and
further away than it actually is.

The story line is deliberately kept very simple, as the idea was to
let the landscape speak for itself. I ended up using quite a lot of
footage of the car, since its clean, smooth lines created an
interesting contrast with the ruggedness of the rocks, even though as
a result the whole thing could potentially be mistaken for a BMW
commercial…

Cheers,
Armand Dijcks

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