Friday, 4 June 2010

'Save the Lost' - the breakdown

'Save the Lost' is a little film used as a campaign element for an event our church is hosting in October. It started with a basic concept of obscuring the identity of people in the film by having them wear black and putting stockings over their heads. Thought the idea could be cool but when I started shooting I realized this could actually be too edgy for church - It was only until I added text that I felt it could work - and still have an edge.

Just to give a little bit of a background - it was shot over 3 days, 1 hour on a Monday morning and then 30 mins on a Tueday afternoon and again 30 mins on a Wednesday afternoon. It was so HOT in Dubai about 40-45 degrees Celsius which is about 110 Fahrenheit and humidity was about 95 percent. I had to keep the lens outside of the car until the fogging up cleared before we could start shooting - we all waited for about 30 mins in our cars until the dampness cleared off the lens. Needless to say, after 30 mins of shooting we were all drenched. The 'cast' were great - they're all good mates of mine. They fell to the ground - got dust everywhere and were sweating like troopers!

So here is a little break down of all the elements.

Audio: Took 2 days to record - which for me is quite fast, and was tracked using Pro Tools, Stylus RMX, FM8, Massive and Miroslav Philharmonik [I recoded the music first and then added the glitches - then took the song to FCP - as my basis for the video edit]

Filming: It was recorded on the Canon 7D, using the Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 and the Nikon Mount Zeiss 50mm f1.4

Lighting: It was all natural light - no fills - no diffusers no reflectors - no nothing. The idea was to get a lot of silhouette-like shots to help with hiding the identity of people - I love mystery, and I shot into the sun most of the time to create more mystery

Editing: All editing was done on Final Cut Pro 7. I did all the cutting and time-remapping or speed changes here as well - Then I added markers and extended markers so that I knew where all the glitches and noises were - and the length or duration of each glitch

Transferring: I exported the XML from FCP and then opened it in After Effects using a script called 'PI_FCP2AE_CS4.jsxbin' - []. This works in much the same way as Automatic Duck does but its definitely not as advanced - does the basics tho! I was able to maintain my speed changes, edits, markers and even extended markers.

Color Correction: I used Magic Bullet Looks for the color correction purely because I don't know how to work Apple's Color or don't have access to a Da Vinci, but the Da Vinci which sells at 995 USD is tempting!
I used a very restricted pallet. I drove the shadows into the green and the highlights into the yellow and then tweaked the mids so that I always have a balanced look from shot to shot. I used strong gradients [which were actually vignettes positioned towards the top- to gradient the sky] in most of the shots where the sky was visible, and light vignettes to draw attention to the 'action'.
I also used a bit of bleach bypass to drown out some color and contrast the image a touch. I then brought the 'lift' vallue up as a whole to bring things away from pure black - to get a more filmic - vintage look

I've attached some screenshots of the before and after treatments work


  1. Privileged to have seen the videao already - fab job. Well done!

  2. such a good use of those tools man

  3. absolutely fantastic look you've achieved. hope your event is as awesome as your video work :)

  4. Video tutorial would be great

  5. Just came across your work while searching for info on Canon lenses. SO inspiring! Thank you for your generosity in sharing all the techniques as well. You're brilliant.

  6. hello salmon you don't know me but i am friends of Zach Gregas from Cape town and was wondering if we could use one of your videos for an upcoming young adults conference and how much you charge to do so. you can email me your information. thank you and i hope to hear from you soon.

  7. Great job Salomon.
    I was wondering if the text is just motion tracked to the people to give it that real 'fit' in the video look !!
    great stuff !

  8. Salomon,

    I wrote you recently about using this video for an upcoming blog post for Third Option Men. This organization is willing to work with you in order to change the final frames since the event is now in the past. Let's get the ball rolling- maybe have more work for you...

  9. Salomon,

    Very cool video. Definitely would inspire me to get in the action of the campaign.

    Well done!

    Howard Freeman