Posted by Jessica Pryce on June 13th, 2016
“Oh what a beautiful morning” – what a lovely sunny day to be holed up in a green screen studio!!
I set off bright and early to Galleon Studios in Heywood, home of a rather large green screen infinity cove and some lovely chaps to film our project. I’ve already organised for our actors to meet at the studio an hour after I arrive to give me chance to speak to the camera op there and fill him in on what we’ll be doing for the day.
On the way I stop off at Morrison’s in order to purchase snacks and drinks for the actors- what do Police Officer actors eat? Doughnuts? I opt for muffins along with a lovely and varied selection of sandwiches, crisps, chocolate bars, salads and the all-important vegetarian option.
Upon arrival at the studio I drop all my background files onto the work drive there before working with Chris (the camera/lighting guy) to decide which shots are going to be the most challenging so we can tackle them first. We settle on a suitably difficult shot featuring some camera movement matching and Chris begins setting up his gear.
During this time the actors arrive early (a good start!) so I start by filling them in on what we’ll be doing and making them feel comfortable about acting to nobody and potentially acting in slow motion!! For this shoot we want our police officers to be in super slow motion while the backgrounds move in real time or even in super-fast motion, so even though the actors wouldn’t be heard speaking dialogue they still needed to be voicing words from our pre-prepared script in order for them to look active and credible.
Once our actors are briefed and ready to go, we start capturing the first shot, it’s an extremely difficult one as we’ve decided to film it in portrait format to give us maximum vertical resolution but in turn this really limits the amount of movement allowed for both actor and camera… 2 hours later we are still battling with the first shot and I’m sweating profusely knowing we have another six to shoot with the potential for a couple more difficult ones!
At 11:30am and with filming in full flow I make a call to direct one of our voiceover artists for this project, I find a nice quiet space and we go over the line in a myriad of different styles, pronunciations, enunciations, emphasisations (I made that word up) until I think I have something to work with, I think at one point I even tell him to make it more ‘regional’ (Scouse)!!
After the call, Chris has finally nailed the first shot and we’ve got something great to work with. High-vis police uniforms and green screen are not a good combination, in fact police uniforms and chromakey in general are a bad idea- green=bad, blue=bad, shiny helmets, reflective visors/riot shields, bad, bad, bad… but hey, we love a challenge (Everything is Possible as we say!)
The rest of the day is about trying to control spill, match up lighting and camera angles and coaxing performances out of the actors, who cope really well with some very strange requests! In between all the action, I have another call with a second voiceover artist, our Geordie female, who has a wonderfully smooth voice and nails the line almost instantly!
At the end of the day, I make sure I have all the footage we’ve shot copied onto my work drive, say my thank you’s and drive home with some salad and the knowledge that all the high-vis and shinies are going to be fun, fun, fun in post production 🙂 !!
Oh, and it turns out that our Police Officer actors don’t eat muffins and absolutely are not vegetarians…