All Mens Dead – Planning, Shooting and Post Producing a great low budget short film

All mens dead is a short film from the National Film and Television School – NFTS

Synopsis 
“As the German blitz raids reach their 39th furhter air raids are to be expected at anytime…”
At BBC broadcasting House, Bruce Belfrage and the rest of the staff are preparing the nightly news for millions of anxious listeners, but when the building suffers a direct hit they must pull together to face a terrible choice. Inspired by true events.

 

Production

“NFTS All Men’s Dead was a particularly trying film to produce  – with an small budget, huge production design demands and set build, large cast & big ambitions.

The production kept a production blog throughout prep and shooting – allowing people to keep updated with the progress of the film, including the nitty gritty of how to recreate the BBC’s flagship broadcasting building – and then how to blow it up.

The whole film was shot on Stage One at the NFTS  except for the stairwells – which were filmed in BBC Broadcasting House. The completed set was over 2500 square foot in size and took two months to build (and three days to destroy!).”

The fim was shot in 4 days and I went to the shooting with my still camera, tools for measurements, distortion grids, tapes, etc. We shot grid lenses for 14mm, 18mm, 24mm, 35mm, 50mm and a grey card. I took several pictures of the location and objects that later on helped understand light conditions in the scene.  One of this pictures was used as a projection to transform a still image in a shot for the film. I drew on my notepad a lighting map making sure every light in the set was included on their exact location relate to the ground and camera.

Post Production

Compositing

The entire post production of All Mens Dead took more than 5 months. The Film had more than 45 Visual Effects Shots, including clean ups, roto, keying, 3D tracking, projections and so on. The 3D tracking was done in PFtrack which allowed exporting geometries and cameras to nuke, making easy afterwards to position objects in the nuke 3D Space.

The Film was shot on a 16mm SUPER ARRI SR3.  The scanned negative was delivery in DPX LOG Cineon 2k. Throughout the entire the post we kept LOG colorspace simulating KODAK’s LUT in The Foundry’s Nuke and Baselight, which gave a good idea where to go afterwards in the Grading.

Matte Painting

Matte painting artist Helen Brownell designed the look of London in the WW2. Wrecked buildings, debris, smoke, fire and even a bombarded bus were used in the final matte painting, which later was projected in 3D geometries in nuke allowing relight and minor adjustments of the shot in 2D without the need to go back to Maya. That saved a lot of time for the post.

Matte Painting – By Helen Brownell

Comp with Matte Painting and grading applied

Grading

The grading took 1 week in Baselight and was entirely done using a KODAK LUT as a starting point and building on the color layers after that. The fact that we kept all the post production in LOG it helped a lot to get the most out of the Fuji ETERNA Vivid 160T 8643 stock which I must say it is unbelievable low noise for a 16 mm negative. Plus the incredible amount of contrast and saturation, and the outstanding high dynamic range of  film made possible push the boundaries and explore new limits in the grading suite. We were all (DOP, Director and Colourist) really happy with the final look of the film. I think it was the right direction use a gritty, dirty, contrast look to immerse the audience into the storytelling, the most important part of the film.

Online

The Online was done in 3 days and it was where everything got together. A mix LTRT and 5.1 was brought in Autodesk Smoke to pair the DPX Log 10 bit Cineon from baselight. You could argue we lost 6 bit in the process from grading to online, however the crucial parts of the film (grading and compositing) were done in 16 bits so no problems for smoke to not use this information. After that, all the credits, clock, sound and picture (IN SYNC!) were extensively checked and the film was ready to go. A HDCAM tape and Cineon DPX were exported meaning the film was ready to go to festivals around the world.

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