Oldguy…. And then some.

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I shot my first parody trailer in late November, titled Oldguy for Kollective Films, a YouTube channel that my friend Rick is trying to kickstart. Oldguy is actually a “madcap spoof” (as lead actress Grace Khoo put it) of the 2003 Korean film Oldboy, which has recently been remade by Spike Lee, starring Josh Brolin in the titular role.

Briefly, Oldguy is about a jackass (literally), played by Sean Lai, who is mysteriously locked up and made to watch TV dramas (mostly Korean) for 10 years. As mysteriously as he disappears, he is released and through the help of some newfound friends, seeks vengeance against the person who caused his misery.

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I have yet to see either version of the film, which wasn’t really important to the success of the shoot since we were merely shooting a trailer. However, I did see the trailer since we were supposed to mimic certain scenes from the original trailer, and on Rick’s vision as the director, some scenes were inspired by Kick-Ass (the superhero get-up) and old Shaw Brothers’ films (backdrop for the training scenes, as above).

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Shooting took about 2.5 days across five locations, including a hot and sweaty session at a barren field in Pasir Ris for the “release from captivity” scene. I am certain that’s my favourite location of the shoot even though all my equipment tasted some heat and sand (not my lenses and sensors fortunately).

I’m sure we shot A LOT of scenes too, almost nearly enough for everything to come together as one complete short film. Unfortunately, like every production, not every shot will be present in the final product. Well, without further ado, here’s Oldguy!

I was adding some of my work onto my YouTube playlist when one of my former students, who is now taking a course in Digital Audio & Video Production in ITE College East, tweeted me some technical questions about the trailer. I thought it’d be great for me to share those questions, and my answers on this blog, just to give myself a reason to actually post something!

At the same time why not check out some of his stuff on YouTube. I’m impressed with his work and the passion that he puts into the craft, and he has yet to hit 18. At 18, I was just discovering the world of filmmaking through consumer handycams. Just imagine what the kind of possibilities that will be open for him when he reaches my current age!

So here are his questions, and my answers:

Q1: What camera was used?

I used the Panasonic GH3 for this shoot, with a set of five lenses – The (in order of minimum focal length), Olympus 12mm f2.0, Panasonic 14-140mm f4.0-5.6, Nokton Voigtlander 25mm f.095, Olympus 45mm f1.8 and the Panasonic 45-200mm f4.0-5.6.

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Keep in mind though, that the GH3 is a Micro Four Thirds sensor, therefore it has a crop factor of 2, and therefore in comparison to a full-frame camera like the 5D Mark III or the 6D, all lens focal lengths are multiplied by 2, so 25mm on the GH3 is effectively a 50mm on a 5D3/6D.

Correction: I later found out the GH3’s sensor is actually a 1.86x crop, which is closer to a typical APS-C sensor (1.6x) as compared to a regular Micro Four Thirds sensor (2x). Not that huge of a difference but still a difference nonetheless!

Q2: What resolution did you shoot in?

I shot nearly everything on the GH3’s native 1080p resolution on its highest setting for 24fps MOV (50Mbps), except for the scenes where I had to account for 50fps slow-motion, which was shot in 720p at 72Mbps. On hindsight, this may have been a technical mistake, as I could have shot in 1080p at 50Mbps instead. Well, that’s one mistake I’ll learn from.

Q3: Was it shot letterboxed or how is the original clip squeezed to fit the black bars without loss of frame?

The idea was to make the trailer come across as something that one would actually see in a cinema, and thus aspect ratio plays a very important part in translating that vision to the audience. It’s all about the cinematic experience, as opposed to watching a full 16×9 frame on the TV. It’s not better, nor is it worse. It’s just like eating a different dish or wearing a different shirt.

Many big budget films also shoot with anamorphic lenses/adapters which actually stretch your raw image, but for this shoot we didn’t have the budget nor expertise in using anamorphic adapters, therefore we had to settle for the traditional ‘letterboxing’, so yes, there is a loss of frame.

However, to compensate for the loss of frame, we ensured that every important detail was framed within the 2.4:1 CinemaScope aspect ratio that we had chosen, and relied heavily on our new SmallHD AC7 field monitor to do that, since it has an option for these very nice framing guides.

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Q4: How to get the black bars the on top and bottom?

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I overlaid a PNG file with the black bars I had created in Photoshop. You can download them here. Final Cut Pro 7, which I use, has a nice Widescreen filter under Matte in the Video Filters section, but with that you wouldn’t have the flexibility to adjust the original clip’s position if desired.

BUT, instead of leaving the black bars in the final master, I ran it through MPEG Streamclip to crop them off, and thus I have a master copy which is natively 1280x532px. It is still considered HD at 720p, because it retains its original horizontal resolution of 1280px. A little bit of mathematical know-how and a calculator is needed for this task!

Q5: What did you use to record sound?

For most of the part, we used the RØDE VideoMic Pro lined in directly into the GH3. As this was a rather small shoot with a rather small crew, this is one area where I felt we didn’t do so well. On a normal shoot we would have boomed the VideoMic Pro, but we didn’t have enough free hands around on those days.

We even had to re-record Grace’s voiceover parts about a week later, since the original audio didn’t sound so good, and having acquired the RØDE SmartLav on that same day, we put it to the test, and it delivered! Thankfully, our next short, The Code, had the luxury of the SmartLav.

Q6: What editor was used to edit sound?

Everything was done using FCP7’s in-built audio filters, with the exception of the telephone call voiceover, which we ran through a telephone filter in Audacity. Otherwise, mostly 3-band equalizers with Low Gain set to about -6 or -7.

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Q7: First shot, was it shot on a jib or an angel falling from the sky?

An angel falling from the sky, what else! This is my trusty grip/producer Lester with the ‘angel’.

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It was done as wide as possible, with the Olympus 12mm f2.0 at about f14. If you want to know what that huge piece of masking tape is, it’s actually to hold the ND filter in place, because we only had one, and it didn’t fit that lens. Ha ha.

That’s it! All questions answered. If you have anymore questions just feel free to comment below or tweet me @basilyeo. Cheers buddy!

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