Tag Archives: hero4

Filming a single shot fight scene – Stage to screen

Fact: Fighting is not cool.   Fact: Stage fighting is very, very cool. 

Recently I’ve had this recurring thought. A nagging idea about filming epic fight scenes that do all the things I want them to do in the movies. I used to choreograph fights for a touring theatre company in my distant past. Now I’m taking those skills and the pool of talented performers I know to make fight scenes like this one.

 

It all started with a promo video for Off The Ground’s – Musketeers. With no preparation I joined a rehearsal and watched a set of fights choreographed for stage before capturing the footage in the video below.

 

I’d recently bought a DJI phantom and the stabilized Gopro footage it provides proved way better than I could have hoped. After a little thought and some more equipment I’m now using a new rig (see below) light enough to get right into the action so after rounding up a couple of actor friends we set about choreographing the fight and camera at the same time.

Check out the equipment used to film this video

I knew I wanted everything to work as one shot so each hit must be positioned in terms of the camera and each move planned out. In reality, stage combat is much closer to dance than it is to fighting.

‘Fight Club #1’ is the result of about 3 hours of preparation, rehearsal and filming. The plan is to get together regularly, produce these mini scenes and with your feedback, improve and expand the project

Boscam G20 video transmitter for Gopro Hero 3 and 4. What it is and why you need one.

The Boscam G20 is a 5.8GHz 32 channel composite video transmitter for the Gopro Hero 3 and 4 cameras. It uses the accessory port on the rear of the camera to send video to a compatible receiver and is the best thing since sliced bread.

Here’s why.

The Gopro Hero 4 is a pretty serious piece of kit for film makers. It’s sharp, light, relatively cheap and shoots 4k and 2.7k footage with usable frame rates and a flat colour profile. That’s a great start but using it to produce professional looking footage turns out to require much more in terms of hardware than you might think.

For capturing action sports the super wide view of the Gopro is perfect as a ‘fit and forget’ camera but when using the more cinematic narrow or medium fields of view, knowing what you’re shooting becomes more important. If you need live view when filming (and you do) you have a few options:

  • The Gopro App – Streams video to your phone or tablet via WIFI and offers full control over the settings. This is awesome for framing up your shots but rubbish for actual filming. The lag between moving the camera and the display updating is just too much to be useful. You’ll go insane trying to film anything seriously like this.
  • The LCD Bacpac (yes it’s spelled ‘Bacpac’) gives a lag free preview and adds touch control but is tiny and stays on the camera at all times. This means if you want to put your camera on a boom arm or stabilizer you won’t be able to see it. so it’s really no better than the app.
  • HDMI Out, this is the ‘pro’ choice offered by Gopro, assuming that anyone using their Hero4 for serious use will use a large rig and can trail cables to monitors with no problems. This is undoubtedly the best quality available but rather defeats the object of having a tiny mountable camera. Especially when the weight of an HDMI cable will prohibit the use of any handheld stabilizer.

The answer? The Boscam G20 transmitter. A self contained box the same size as a battery or LCD Bacpac that sends live video straight to a wireless receiver. No wires, no uneven weight distribution and perfectly designed for anyone using a handheld stabilizer such as the Feiyu G4 or G4s.

The Thing itself.

The Boscam G20 is a cheap, lightweight transmitter that plugs directly into the Gopro Hero3 and Hero4 cameras using the rear connector. With a 500mAh internal battery it charges via a micro usb socket and is supposed to last for 2 hours per charge. (I’ve not tested this fully yet but I’ll get back to you.) At 28g it’s extremely light and mounts perfectly into any Gopro mount or case designed for use with the Bacpac accessories. Importantly, it does work perfectly with the Feiyu G4 series stabilizers which is the whole reason I bought it. The specified range is 300m  though for film making use that will be more than enough.

To see the video you’ll need a 5.8Ghz 32 channel receiver. I use a Black Pearl diversity monitor that does not require a separate receiver and it works beautifully.

To set up your G20 you’ll need to power it up before fitting it to your Gopro, then select a channel using the mode button on the side of the unit. A long press cycles through the bands A, B, E, F and a short press cycles between channels 1-8.

Before buying the G20 I could find no information, no reviews, nothing. If you’re looking for a wireless live view solution then this is it.

I recommend buying your Boscam G20 from Banggood.com here 

If you’re still not convinced here’s a quick  video to show you it working.

As always, if you have and questions just leave a comment.

Feiyu G4 + Flycam 5000 = super-stabilized Gopro footage.

If you haven’t kept up with the news, DJI have just released their new OSMO filming platform. A handheld 3D gimbal with integrated 12mp 4K camera. If you want to stick to your trusted Gopro the leading alternative is the FeiyuTech G4 series.

The G4 itself holds any Gopro and stabilizes it’s movement with sensors and motors on all 3 axis. The resulting video is impressively smooth compared to handheld but it doesn’t compensate for any vertical movement you make when carrying the unit. It’s light too so it’s easy to introduce obvious camera shake whilst filming tracking shots.

The answer? My solution is to pair the Gimbal to a Flycam 5000 rig, built to stabilize larger DSLR cameras. With a modified gopro mount the G4 can be mounted horizontally or vertically and once balanced provides stunningly slick footage like this..

I’ll post some details of my full setup soon. I’m working on sending the live preview through to a wireless monitor mounted to the rig. Once that’s done I’ll show it off.

How do you improve an already awesome sword fight? …Lightsabers.

You may remember the Musketeers stage combat trailer from my last post. That was a video completed in one editing session to try to get it selling tickets as quickly as possible so I thought “how could I improve this with a painstakingly long and tedious process that will shut me away from the outside world for nearly a week?”

The answer?   Lightsabers.

It turns out that adding a bit of Jedi flair to your videos is pretty labour intensive work, requiring you to individually animate every frame of your light sabers. It takes forever.

I won’t go into too much detail here. If you want to have a go yourself I’ve added some useful links to the bottom of this post.

The effect is achieved using Adobe After Effects. Each saber is created by animating a mask across a coloured solid. Once all of the movement is complete, clashes and sound effects are added.

If you want to try your own, take a look at these tutorials and post your work in the comments section.

Musketeers Fight Trailer – Sword fights and bending time with the Gopro Hero4.

If you’ve seen ‘Kingsman, The Secret Service’ you’ll know just how incredible those Matthew Vaughn fight scenes are. If you haven’t I recommend you stop what you’re doing and go watch it right now.

Done? Fantastic wasn’t it. After watching THAT scene (which I won’t spoil for any of you who didn’t see it) I desperately wanted to make my own. Fortunately Off The Ground Theatre were just gearing up for their summer tour of The Musketeers and had a whole set of elaborate sword and fist fights ready to go. The first show was in 2 days so the challenge was on. How good a fight trailer can I produce in 24 hours?

After watching the fights in rehearsal we worked the camera into the action rather than direct each shot separately. The result is as close as I could get to what I wanted with the 30 or 40 minutes of filming time available. Check out the results below and if you can’t wait to get to the best bits. The scrapping starts at 0:35s.

So how this was put together?..

Producing the Musketeers film ala Vaughn presented several challenges to overcome, not least of which was the total lack of preparation and planning. I knew they were rehearsing and I knew I was going to film something. I had no idea what to expect.

Well that’s not entirely true. I used to choreograph fights for the company myself and have been on twelve of their summer tours as an actor and producer before I was a photographer. Once I’d been shown the amazing fights they had prepared for the stage I could see the style I wanted straight away. The fights are fast and technical with details that shouldn’t be missed so I had to get in there and be part of the action. I didn’t want to make a typical film fight where every hit is a cut and you never see a landed blow. These fights flow and move and are a real spectacle on stage. I wanted to try to capture as much of that feeling as I could.

I shot everything using a Hero4 at 1080p, 120fps. Filming at such a high frame rate allows me to slow down the action to 20% speed and still have it look totally smooth at a nice cinematic 24fps. The ability to speed up and slow the footage is needed to keep the action exciting when shooting the fight in single takes. This was achieved in Premiere Pro then coloured using Adobe Speedgrade.

To smooth out the action the camera is mounted to a DJI Phantom 2 carrying a Zenmuse H3-3D gimbal. The gimbal keeps the Gopro smooth and level giving it that film glide cam look whilst the Phantom drone provides the power, and transmits a live feed to an external monitor so I can see what I’m filming. There is a smooth pan in there that was shot from the drone in flight too.

Some acrobatics were required and I didn’t escape without a good sword thwack to one hand (It was my fault for forgetting the moves) but I’m pleased with the results. Not bad for a days work.