Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Props, another reason to get creative (and mix it up)

It’s amazing how low budget film-making (at least micro-budget anyway) really forces you to dig deep and utilize every skill set you've developed throughout your life.

Our roots are firmly planted in traditional art, studying sculpting, fine art and photography at Art School before exploring the possibilities of digital art, and yet all of these pre-digital skills have at one time or another been called into action while working on our films.

Our current project, All That Remains has been no exception, particularly in regards to the props. Although we have managed to get great props, ranging from WW2 military gear that included a Japanese machine gun prop used in HBO'S The Pacific (we even had customized dog tags with character’s names etched into them), to US military jeeps and a beautiful 1946 “Morris Series E” automobile, that old bug bear, budget, has meant once again, we have had to get creative in this area too, literally, by making some of the props ourselves.

A vintage motor car on the set of "All That Remains". (Photo credit: Dan Woodward)
Brushing up on our old model making skills, we made a spear for a crucial scene, out of wood, cardboard and Christmas tree ball, after searching in vain for the right kind at the right price. Of course it wouldn't hold up for a close-up shot, but for a wide shot it created the illusion we wanted. For another scene we've had to utilize our illustrating skills to create a comic book cover.

Home made spear and comic book...

Alongside the home-made props, we do also use computer generated props in the film too, so, once again, it's this blend of different techniques and tools, both old and modern that permeates much of our work as film-makers and artists. 

A CG Radio prop
A CG typewriter prop

Another example of this mix-up of techniques and methods to create a particular illusion, are the snow scenes that feature in the film, the snow effects were created using both film quality fake snow in the studio and CG snow added later.

This scene is shot in a greenscreen studio with fake snow, alongside the background, CG snow will be added later.

It's probably down to the fact that we have had a more traditional art background that we don't rely purely on CGI to create an effect or illusion. Besides, sometimes, you just can't beat a real 3D prop, and working on tight budgets, those are the times we're grateful for having spent so much of our formative years developing other skills beside those that require a computer and a specialized piece of software.