Two good milestones this week.
– Scene 1 of ep 3 of the cartoon is done. Even though it’s short, it features some more sophisticated composition and camera work than we normally do, and I’m pretty happy with the results. Next scene requires a whole new character model created, with a full turnaround and mouth phonemes for each angle, so I’ll be tinkering with that for a while.
– First full camera test of the puppet studio, camera, lights, audio, backdrop, and a real puppet. Led to an interesting conclusion.
After working with every possible combination of every piece of equipment I have, I determined that the absolute best audio & video quality would be obtained from shooting on an iPhone and recording audio separately with a lav mic plugged into the portable digital audio recorder we use as a backup for the podcast. This week I received my delightful Little Dude puppet from Bay State Creature Shop so it was time to put everything together for the first full test of how I propose to actually shoot the show. It went really well and the end result looked better than expected.
Then an interesting twist. The original test was shot at 4k/60fps. Looked good, video quality was very nice considering it’s not a $5k camera. It’s a short clip so I wanted to upload it to Instagram as well, but IG only accepts a maximum 1080/30fps so I shoved the video really fast through iMovie and posted it to IG all right from my phone. When I reviewed it, I found I actually liked it *better* than the original. The drop from 60 to 30 frames per second made it look… better?
There’s a big debate about cinematic frame rates these days. Peter Jackson’s experiments with frame rates higher than the usual 24 were not well received. The higher the frame rate, the less motion blur, which in theory is a good thing. 60fps gives more visual clarity at motion, more detail and fidelity. The problem is we as audiences appear to *need* that veil between us and the subject in order to suspend disbelief. The most common complaints are higher frame rates make things look “too real”, like you can tell things are a set and not an actual location. People often say it looks like a TV soap opera rather than a film (because video is usually processed at a higher frame rate than film).
This being so I took the original footage and downsampled it to 24fps, and added a light touch of colour correction all in an attempt to make it seem more “cinematic”, and I’m really pleased with the results. It feels more polished and higher production value, and less “late night cable access”.
Still need to tinker with lights and field monitor setup a bit, but I think I now have a clear idea of exactly how the show is going to be shot and what the results will look & sound like, and I’m largely pleased. There’s always room for improvement, but that’s part of the fun.