March 28, 2015 by Harikanth Gunamagari
After the success of Vadrangi at the FiLMiC Pro filmmaking contest, we thought we should give all our dear supporters and motivators an insight into the whole process! So without any further ado, here it is: Behind the Scenes of Vadrangi!
Visions: Leading the way
We had 5 days to film, complete the post production and compete in Filmicpro festival. During a documentary pre-production visit to a location, someone came over to me, curious about what we were filming. After a brief period of my answering his questions, I asked him about his aims and dreams, which led to my discovering the character Gopi, my protagonist. Gopi was his real name and he was a direct inspiration for me in creating Vadrangi.
I was a bit reluctant at first, shooting on a smart phone. Once we rolled our very first shot we were blown away. It is unbelievable what a smartphone can do with such little gear and attention to light and detail. Without Filmic Pro we couldn’t have achieved the quality, frame rate and detail. I now see it as an essential tool for every filmmaker in run and gun situations. The iPhone – Filmic Pro combination is a fundamental tool in our gear now.
The whole production took four days; One day for pre-production, Two days for the shoot, and another day for all post production. Without my team I would have never pulled off ‘Vadrangi’. They each took complete ownership of their respective faculties, and worked really hard despite the odds. The whole production went on for 2days and we had to shoot all day to really convey a normal day in the life of our character. The production team included Deepak-Executive producer and Kiran-Line producer, these guys took control over all the production and made sure the tech team doesn’t get stressed about other things.
Before I bore you to sleep by droning on, here’s some tech-words from my D.O.P and Sound Designer.
The Cinematographer’s Viewfinder
When Harikanth asked me to shoot this short film, and then added the part about the iPhone, Iwas initiallydoubtful – Was this really going to be possible? We started exploring theFilmicpro app to test how it would enable us. After doing some test shoots, we verified our results, which were surprisingly very consistent!We were now slightly more reassuredabout the journey ahead.
Filmic Pro has everything; It allows complete control of the camera’s Shutter speed, Aperture, ISO, and Focus. It even shoots 2K DCI format! We rigged up the iPhone6 so that we could better avoid jitter/shake while holding the phone. I had a Movcam cage for my DSLR, which we reconfigured for the iPhone6. We could now mount this to a Monopod, or a GlideCam.
The director had envisioned different kinds of shots, but the iPhone 6 is limited to a 29mm focal length. We didn’t have lenses for wider focal lengths either, which was something we really had to work around. We ended up composing in such way so as to prevent distortion even while shooting close-ups and used a Shark slider to help ease-in our motion shots. Our most amazing experience was mounting the iPhone to a GlideCam HD2000. It worked so well; it was balanced perfectly without any need for additional weights forstability. It was so extremely smooth and steady! I was a bit hesitant to shoot at noon, but then found myself in adequate control of the exposures to give depth in the shots. We used an LED 1×1 Light Panel and got creative with our reflectors to play around our lighting constraints.
Using an iPhone for filmmaking is no longer some uncharted alien territory. For a cinematographer like myself, I personally felt right at home, whilst shooting with the Filmic Pro.
The Echoes of Vadrangi
The main challenge from the sound department, was executing production sound. Firstly, we were shooting on the iPhone, and to add to that, we were using the 2k DCI format in the FilmiC Pro app, where we couldn’t have a scratch audio track for sync using Plural Eyes. So we had to manually sync with a dumb slate reference, which ended up giving us all quite a few laughs during takes.
The Sound Design for Vadrangi was something that involved careful planning from the start, with little scope for future iterations. The director’s vision was to convey the emotional fabric of the film through a sound track. While a layer of music would invariably dictate the major chunk of emotion, there was much scope to add an emotional jump using the ambiance track.
To pull this off we did Super-WIDE ambiances for the scenes shot in the village. By capturing in 120 degree X-Y stereo configuration on the H6, we aimed to really recreate the surroundings of a typical Indian Village;an environment where monotony could easily be a lifestyle, and dreamers could really stand out.
While shooting the second half of the film, in the automobile workshop, we went from wide stereo to mostly zero width. We recorded wild tracks, but just didn’t use any. Any ambiance heard during this part is purely what is recorded on the dialogue track with the Boom Mic in a monophonic format. Here we were hoping the absence of width would better suit the mechanical, harsh and focused urban environment. We were able to really strengthen the mood of the music track. The whole combination fit so perfectly together to transform the climax, I ended with a warm and fuzzy feeling that we had really pulled off something so dear to us.
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