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So, we had the idea to put together a promotional video production that was edgy, and showed some varied filming and post production ideas.

It was fun putting together, and initially we had in mind a warm sunny summers day in a concrete suburban area, something like a flyover. However, instead it was winter, cold, and spitting with rain. Furthermore, we ended up in a dirty underground car park and a town park area.
Still, it added to a cool grungy effect and just made the angle of the film head a little bit differently. But this is often how it happens, you start with the initial idea and it develops, unfolds, and it can change. In the end your finished product can be different to the idea at the you started with.

it was important that the short film told a story, and at the same time story needed to be short, sharp, hard hitting and grungy. We also wanted to have the use of graffiti, jumping and break dancing within the video. I approached a good friend of mine, James Blunderfield, who agreed to be used in the film. James teaches break dancing so it seemed a good idea!



Before filming even starts, if a sound track is going to be integral to the video then I think it’s important to have this in mind before you even start. The music could influence the feel of how you actually film.



Originally I wanted to use the underneath of a flyover for the shoot. The shape and the mass of concrete would have been a great effect, especially against the sky. We did find a couple of locations, but the best ones weren’t that accessible and trying to get permission to film when it’s on land belonging to someone else is a right pain! We then tried to find some derelict sites for effect but security companies always got in the way.
James then had a good idea about a little known old car parking area underneath some flats, it was dingy dirty, oh and awesome! The main issue with our chosen location was the light, or the lack of it. Although there were pockets of light from above and at one end through some shutters. These lighted areas actually added towards a great effect in the end.


Camera Settings

We wanted to shoot in 1/4000 shutter speed to create gritty sharp motion. Our reason for this was also to to be able to control slow motion much better. The frame rate was 50fps for the same reason. Of course, with little light it proved quite difficult at times, but it added to the whole grungy look anyway.

The other issue we had was that we wanted James to spray graffiti as this formed part of the ‘Past Life’ story. But we weren’t about to be arrested for criminal damage for real. Therefore we added the graffiti in post production. So, in effect James was actually in front of a blank wall spraying nothing at it.

The actual hours of filming probably came to around 6 hours. It was cold and wet, and not really ideal for break dancing I guess.


Post Production

As previously mentioned having the sound track settled before editing the footage is so important. For us, this is what produces the feel, the flow,  and the impact of the whole film. Too often we have seen some well filmed footage out there, but the music is added as though it’s a backing track to a montage of clips. For this reason the video then becomes a series of clips stitched together with music to help it along. Wrong. The goal is to make the two become one.



Within the post production, the biggest time consumer was getting the graffiti on the wall. To do this a still image was taken of a drawing James did on a piece of paper. This was probably about 10 x 6 inches in size. This still image then had to be masked. The image then went through quite a few different processes to give it a life like feel. What we tried to achieve was a rough effect as though on a brick wall. It wasn’t bad in the end.

One thing you will notice is that the camera is moving in all but one of the scenes where graffiti is being sprayed on the wall. If the shot was still it would be easy. So the image then had to be motion tracked to follow the movement and angle of the wall.
The last shot of James spraying the graffiti has a green screen spray effect as no real spray was used.

In post production we decided we wanted a ‘filmic’ look. I wanted to get away from the video look as much as possible. This was another reason we didn’t shoot interlaced, but progressive.
The natural colours also needed dealing with to give more of a grunge appearance. We didn’t want it too colourful.

Chroma keying was used to overlay the targeting effects. These were then motion tracked.


Slow Motion

The ultra slow-mo effect on the jump, on the break dance twist, the jump over the bench, and the spray was created with the help of software called Twixtor. This is a cool program but works best if the background is as clear as possible so not to interfere. These ultra slow- mo shots normally only work well for a few frames before warping appears. This normally appears around the parts that move the fastest. Twixtor has to work hard to keep up where there is a lot of information on the screen, so with quick movement this makes it quite difficult. Therefore our shots had to be chosen carefully.


All in all we were quite pleased with how the finished video turned out, with a bit more time and tweaks we could always improve on it. It’s always a learning process. For our first ever promotional video production it wasn’t too bad at all.

If you want Trapdoor Films to get involved with your promotional video production then contact us.




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Trapdoor Films | Promotional Video Production

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