More than 40 years have passed since Britain fought a secret war in Oman. Former Major Nicholas Ofield has returned for the first time since the conflict to retread his battlegrounds with his son, filmmaker Tristan Ofield. This blog contains excerpts from the production diary Tristan kept during filming.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Anatomy of a Shot

I've been shooting a few extra cutaways to help chapter the various sections of the documentary.

The desert holds many secrets. Entire cities have been engulfed by sand. There are story's of brave crossings an survival. Moving dunes can snake through the desert almost alive.
Throughout the doc is a theme of discovery. For this shot I've decided to choose sun light, an AK47 round, and sand. The aim is to create a quick mysterious shot that will eventually become one of a series of shots.

Here is a quick run down of the kit I'm going to use

Dedo 300watt light with dimmer. This is a simple tungsten light whose brightness can be controlled from around 3000kelvin to 4200k. Gives off a nice warm light. The light can also be adjusted closer to the lens to control the spread of the light cast.

Two containers of beach sand gathered a few days ago while on assignment down in Bournemouth.

Two orange gels (half cto and full cto). To warm up the light in case the Dedo doesn't quite cut it.

Cheapo can of compressed air. Picked this up for about £2. Very handy for a quick blast to clean your lens or in this case to simulate a breeze.

Smoke machine. Gonna use this subtly to accent the breeze from the compressed air.

Painters tray this is where I'm going to create the scene. Using the time honoured principle that the audience never knows what is just outside the frame. In this case my desert will be less than half a meter, but the camera doesn't know that.

So here we are. Took about 30 mins.

The round positioned pointing slightly towards the lens give the shot a sense of perspective. Not sure if I'm too keen on the negative space on the right of the frame. Maybe could add some machine gun links or pieces of shrapnel trailing off into the distance. That might give the shot more depth and a sense of continuation - like the scene is bigger than it actually is. The light should extend all the way to the top of the frame. It looks quite moody, which is okay but I'd like to see it washed out. Some slow dolly movement would help keep the shot interesting for longer too. But for a first attempt it's not too bad.