My final project on the “Text” campaign for UNC-Greensboro’s Office of Online Learning and my final project during my tenure at UNCG in general has been released. The idea behind this entry into the campaign was to mimic the trailers of 1950s horror films such as The Blob. Various ideas were thrown out on how best to go about the project, which was to feature the idea of “Text” (representing text on a page Web sites for educational learning) taking over the country and rearing its ugly face across the nation and beyond.
The first idea was to shoot on the RED One and filmize the footage with grain, color correction and motion blur to help sell a 1950s film look. Being the DP, I highly recommended that we don’t go that route. The problem that arises, no matter how well done the digital manipulation is, is that it isn’t film. There is no way to make the response of added grain natural or the motion blur properly controlled. The second idea to implement this project was to take public domain footage from various B movies from the Prelinger Archives and other sources and cut the trailer in this manner. After hours of looking through various footage on Prelinger and other online archives, we found that most of the footage was terribly compressed and, even though there was a plethora of B movie material available, little had the exact moments we were hoping to capture. At this point, I recommended we just shoot on 16mm film with an older camera and older lens. This way, there is no lifting in post; the film, mixed in with the older camera movement and 40 year old lens technology, would sell itself. Patrick, our Multimedia Lead, brought this idea up to the Marketing Director at the Office of Online Learning, Jaap-Jan van Duin, and he gave us the greenlight as long as we could keep the budget under $1,000. We enthusiastically agreed to keeping in budget and were excited to shoot a project for the division on 16mm film; something very few companies or organizations are doing in this day and age at all.
The first order of business was where to find a camera. I contacted a few people I knew who owned various film cameras, but most were either hesitant to let it go for little or no pay, or had not run film through it in so long that they couldn’t assure functionality. Having matriculated though the UNCG Media Studies program years ago, I knew they had a few Bolex H-16s in tote, so I called the Operations Manager, Ken Terres, and asked if we could borrow one for the shoot. He was very kind and let us have one of the H-16s with an Angenieux 12-120mm lenses for the week. Over the course of the week, we shot 600 ft. of film (Kodak Vision 3 500T and Vision 3 250D) for our little trailer in about 4-5 different locations. Throughout filming, I tried to light in a manner reminiscent of 1950s B movies, so many of scenes are lit with hard light and very little diffusion. Furthermore, there are a decent amount of shots that went handheld to give the extra horror “cheese” factor. The film was subsequently sent off to Cinelab in Massachusetts, who unbeknownst to us at the time was in the process of a move. Because of the move, it took longer than usual to get the film back, but we were very happy with their price and job on the processing and HD transfer.
Patrick Griffin and Bryan R. Higgins, by this point the only two members on the Multimedia Team at the Office of Online Learning due to state layoffs, did the edit and VFX work on the piece. With great pride I give you the final product of our efforts: