Another challenging, uneven week as it always is near the holidays.
I had hoped to start shooting some of the actual show this week, but as I’ve been doing more monitor practice, it started becoming clear that the system I have to shoot — using Filmic Pro with an iPad as remote monitor — was creating problems. Even on a cabled ethernet connection since the video is being streamed from one device to another it introduces a tiny bit of delay. For shooting anything normally this isn’t an issue but since I’m using the iPad as a puppet monitor, I started to notice how it can effect my performance.
One of the trickier fundamentals to get right in any puppet performance for the screen is eye focus — making sure the character’s eye line is correct. It’s trickier than it sounds since in a monitor the image is reversed, and you need to train yourself do to the *opposite* of what your muscles tell you. Yes these days some puppeteers work with reverse scan monitors but most don’t and I want to train my instincts to be able to work with other puppeteers in the future if that becomes an option. The practical upshot of this is it can be tricky to make the character look directly into the camera and keep that focus, and any delay in monitor feedback only magnifies the issue. Real-time feedback is important.
Using Filmic Pro on an iPhone yields the best possible image quality of any equipment I own — we can shoot in 4k at frame rates up to 60fps. I do have a Canon camera that shoots 1080/60 and can be connected directly to a monitor for real-time feedback, but it’s not great image quality and no matter what I tried I couldn’t get it to look anywhere near as good as what I can get out of Filmic.
All this is a long-winded way of saying I eventually concluded that yes, we should stick with Filmic and I should just practice more until I can reduce or eliminate the eye focus issue. It may mean I’ll be shooting several takes and picking the one that works best, but that’s fine and in the long run I want the show to look good out of the gate.
Now about frame rates…