Saturday, 30 March 2013

DSLR problem and insurance

I haven't used my DSLR (Canon 600D) for a few months. In fact, the last time I used it was for my Final Year Project in November 2012. One day I picked it up and I found the switch was in the on position and it must have been like that for a week or so. This didn't worry me because I knew the camera turned itself off after a few minutes anyway. So I flicked it off and then on and to my horror the LCD screen was all messed up. What should have been black in the menu was actually a pale green colour (like a calculator display sort of green). I hoped that this was just a rogue menu setting but when I recorded some video the dark parts of the image were that weird green colour. I had to establish whether it was a sensor problem or just the LCD so I played it back on my computer and thankfully the footage had come out okay. I then connected it up to a TV and used the TV as a monitor and all the colours were fine. So, it looked like I had a broken LCD screen.

I doubt it being left on caused the problem but who knows. DSLR users, be warned. I enquired about repairs at several different camera shops and I was quoted around £120-130. Can't really afford that right now so I've decided to keep my DSLR on the shelf. I could buy an external monitor with a hot shoe mount but this would just add more weight to the camera. I actually wanted to get an external monitor anyway. It's on my list of things to get for my DSLR:

1. Tripod (My current one is too light and doesn't have fluid movement)
2. Monitor (A larger screen would make focusing a lot easier)
3. Matte Box (I actually want it for cosmetic reasons so my DSLR can look more like a           movie camera)
4. Wide angle prime lens (I love the image quality of my 50mm 1.8 but it's just not wide enough and it can be really restrictive)
5. NTG-2 Microphone (My university have these and the quality of audio is superb)

I wouldn't mind some sort of stabiliser device either and I feel with all this equipment I could use my DSLR for more opportunities. And with all that said I have to consider insurance as well. It suddenly occurred to me only recently that my film equipment could be stolen or accidentally broken. I phoned up one insurance company but they said my equipment would have to be less than a year old for it to be covered? Insurance is gambling because I could just take a chance and hope that nothing bad happens to my equipment. Obviously I have no legal obligation to insure my film equipment but it would ensure that I don't lose money should the worst happen. 

Using the JVC ProHD GY-HM700

I recently had the opportunity to use a professional video camera to shoot some footage for Stoke City football club as part of their 150th anniversary. The camera seemed quite complicated but it didn't take me long to get used to it. It can be mounted on the shoulder and this is something which I think is very important for a video camera. I use my DSLR mostly and handheld shots can be very shaky which forces me to use a tripod and this of course restricts movement. Unfortunately, I won't be able to afford a professional video camera any time soon so I'm going to have to continue borrowing for now.     

Friday, 29 March 2013

Got my degree

I got the results for my degree in the post today and I ended up getting a 2.2. I was aiming for a 2.1 but c'est la vie. For those who don't know about the university grading system it goes like this... 

1. FIRST: Top grade, the best you can get at uni.
2. SECOND CLASS 1st division (2.1): Second best, like getting a B in school.
3. SECOND CLASS 2nd divison (2.2): Average, not the best but it's still a pass
4. THIRD: It's still a pass but only just.
5. FAIL:  No degree.

So I've got a BSc Hons in Film Production Technology degree now. Letters after my name. I might do a Masters in a year or so and maybe a PhD eventually.  

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Fake Blood

I shall share with you the recipe that I always use which I found out about online years ago (so I don't  take credit for it) 

-Golden syrup (or corn syrup if you're from the USA)
-Red food colouring 
-Blue or Green food colouring
-Instant coffee
-A tissue
-Washing up liquid 

1. Start by boiling some water in your kettle and while you're waiting for that to finish, pour the golden syrup so it fills ups 10% of whatever glass you're using. 

2. Pour the boiled water into the glass and stir it until the syrup dissolves. If you want it to be thicker then add more syrup.

3. Measure a teaspoon of red food colouring and then stir it into your mixture. Then add a little bit of blue or green colouring to darken it. Put a teaspoon of coffee in there as well and stir until it vanishes.

4. At this stage I dip the tissue to see if it stains it the colour I want. Often I see videos on YouTube where the blood is too pink and looks fake. It's very hard to get it looking the way you want but eventually you'll develop your own formula that works best for you. 

If you want the fake blood to wash out of clothes more easily then squirt some washing up liquid into your mixture. This will cause bubbles and I don't recommend you putting it in your actors' mouths so skip this part if you want "mouth blood". 

I like to pour my mixture into an empty cola bottle and stick it in the fridge to keep it nice and fresh. However, clearly label it as fake blood unless you want a family member drinking a potent  mix of detergent and instant coffee (true story). 

Japanese Plug Fire replica guns

The Japanese are great. I love their language, their cities, anime and video games. They also have some of the strictest gun laws in the world. More restrictive than the UK in fact (Is that even possible?) So naturally, there are people in Japan who are interested in guns and various companies have been producing realistic blank firing replicas for the past 50 years. Many of these replicas look exactly like the real thing and they also work in a similar way to their real steel counterparts. 

They are safe and legal because they don't fire any kind of projectile. The firing mechanism is actually in reverse with the firing pin situated in the chamber. This of course prevents a live round from being chambered and only special plug fire cartridges can be loaded. These cartridges are loaded with a cap (slightly larger than your typical cap gun cap) and when detonated, a piston in the cartridge pushes against the firing pin in the chamber which then causes the slide or bolt to blow back. You get smoke, sparks, noise and a spent casing which creates a very realistic simulation of a real gun.

This makes them perfect for filming because you can fire them indoors and they're safer than traditional blank firers/starter pistols. You don't get an impressive muzzle flash like real guns loaded with blanks that are used in Hollywood but just do what I do and add the muzzle flash in your editing software. 
So far, I've got this Browning 9mm pistol and an M16 assault rifle but I might get more in the future. They are expensive but if you're serious about making films then I suggest you invest in a few. I suggest buying from here as they stock many different models and they've got great customer service which is handy if you need repairs or spares.