Filming The Adventure of RAW 2013

At RAW (Real and Wild), a Christian youth event, I get asked to make a video which shows what goes on during the afternoon’s outreach activities around Leicester. And here it is:

The idea was quite simple – go round to the various locations in Leicester, interview people, get shots of what’s happening, and then edit the video. The mission is that this has to be done in a few hours. In past years there has been one video per day, but now it’s one video covering the two days so with a bit more time available I decided to add in a highlights section at the end.

The kit used during RAW

The kit used during RAW

As I was planning on doing a few timelapses I borrowed some cameras. The kit list was:

Cameras:

  • Panasonic GH3 + lenses (SLR Magic 0.95 25mm, SLR Magic 12mm 1.6, Lumix X Vario 12-35mm 2.8)
  • Canon EOS 1100D + 18-55mm lens
  • GoPro HD2

Other kit:

  • Konovo K5 slider with Manfrotto head
  • Tripod
  • Rode VideoMic Pro.

Having more than one camera enabled me to place them in different locations so I could make the video a bit more interesting, and also meant I could use the GH3 for video on the slider. Thanks to the people who lent me their cameras.

GH3 doing a timelapse
For timelapses there is a brilliant bit of software called Panolapse which somehow turns static images into ones with motional panning. The two images below show the effects of using the software.

The original GoPro image

The original GoPro image

After being put through Panolapse - notice the lines are now straight.

After being put through Panolapse – notice the lines are now straight rather than curved

Running around Leicester trying to find people could have been a bit of a mission, but we managed to spot people pretty easily. It was great having a focus for our outreach with treasure hunting (words of knowledge to find and pray for people) and healing. Anyone could spot this happy bunch a mile off:
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As I wanted a shallow depth of field (blurred background) effect when people were talking I had to have the lens wide open, which made exposure and focusing hard to get right. In fact using a DSLR and prime lens for a news broadcast style video is far from ideal! The results when it’s right are worth it though.
RAW-2013.Still004

I was glad to have Gideon helping me – it’s always worth having someone alongside you that can cope when you’re stressed, and able to help out.

Squinting. That's one way of getting a nice blurred background...

Squinting. That’s one way of getting a nice blurred background. And Gideon doesn’t seem too fussed about the sign post stuck to his head. Having a small camera also helped to not be intrusive.

We had a little setup on the balcony for editing. The first step was to process the timelapse shots and make the highlights video, and then go through the footage from RAW outdoors and make a video from that. It was helpful having a big screen to preview work on so you can actually tell when something is in focus! There was quite a lot of data involved too – 8,200 timelapse photos (30.9GB) and 34GB of footage.
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When it came to editing it was clear that some shots were over exposed (too bright). Having to adjust frame rate, iris, focus, iso, sound, ND filter, and white balance all manually was challenging, and I’ve still got much to learn to get it all right. So the edit shown on Saturday night was a bit ropy as I didn’t have time to adjust levels.

The backing track of the first part was an instrumental of “Attractive Spirit”, which was helpfully done by Jonny during one of the lunch breaks.

The music in the second half of the video, the highlights section, was by a band called Snarky Puppy. The track is called Binky. It’s well worth a look at the video below to see musicianship at its very best.

The challenge with creativity is always to not settle for what you know or have done before, but to take risks and experiment with the kit you have. This can be seeing what your camera is really capable of, or trying a new painting style, or learning a new tune (or even a new instrument!). And it’s definitely fun when you do so.
GH3 and starscape timelapse

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