I am back in Germany and I think I am satisfied with the results. To be honest I am never satisfied but I had a great time in Ypenburg and now I am looking forward to begin with the editing. It will be hard to have a first look at the fooatge because you immediately see all the mist chances, mistakes, problems and technical difficulties and often you are not able to see the good results. So for me it is important to let pass some time after finishing the shooting.
It is my last day in Ypenburg and I am very satisfied with the things that happened during my visit. I always thinking about the question, how to make the evolution of the strandbeesten visible. And perhaps I find a way to show it in my film.
When I am back in Germany I want to start editing. There is so much material and I have to try to find a first structure for some sequences.
I want to buy a MacBook for looking at the material and make some rough cuts. Then I have to find a way to put the footage on an Avid to share my work with Stefan.
In London we started with a Sony HDV, because it was not possible to get a workflow for such an amount of data for the DVCPRO HD P2-system. I think I want to go on with the P2 system because I am very gald with it.
The only problem is the data storage. I had to work for 1.5 hours in the night to burn the data on a DVD. Sometimes it would have been nicer to go to bed without sitting on computer for 1.5 hours, but this was not too bad.
My plan is to come back in January and I deeply hope that there will be some snow on the hill. Not very often there is snow in the Netherlands, but I know we will have snow in January.
I don't know if anybody took the opportunity to look at me during my filming inside the cabin and I don't know if there ever was another documentary film where you have been able to see a live "making of", but if anybody see me on Theos webcam I am curious about his or her opinions.
I am happy to go back in the evening and I am looking forward to come back again.
It is not so easy to work alone on a documentary film. You have to carry all the heavy stuff alone and you have nobody to discuss. But the most difficult problem to solve is to record good sound.
Here on top of the hill I am filming outside and inside the cabin, so I do not have the time to change the mic every time. Outside it is not possibel to use the bulit in mic from the camera. So I developped a way for my shooting with two wireless transmitters. One is connected to a lavalier mic that is attached to Theo. The other transmitters is connected to a mic with a wind shield and a boom. I try to put the wind shield mic next to the action and so I got two signals, from one Theo and one atmo from the boom mic.
The advantage of the Panasonic camcorder compared to HDV cameras is the possibility to record four channels. Channel 1 is Theo, Channel 2 is atmo and Channels 3/4 is the built in mic of the camcorder.
This solution is compromise and not as good as wokring with a sound recordist but I think it is working well.
This morning I went to the beach in Scheveningen to make some shots of the waves, the sea and bad weather. It was a hard work to do, because I had to carry my laptop with all the footage on it, the tripod, the microphone and a box with the camera inside. But it was worth doing it.
My shoes got wet and so I went home to reload the data and to take new clothes before going to Ypenburg.
A storm is coming and Theo is fixing all the animals on the hill. The workflow with the Panasonic P2 system is ok. I put all the data on a harddrive and afterwards I burned the content of a P2 card (8GB) on two DVDs as a backup.
I really love the system, although it makes some extra work to save the data. It is amazing to watch the footage in the computer after you put the P2 card into the PCMCIA slot of the Powerbook. The first moment when I had to delete the data after capturing on the harddrive was a little bit strange, because normally you should not delete any data, but with this system you have to do it, because you want to go on working.
Today we started shooting in Ypenburg at the hill. If you look at Theo Jansens website perhaps you see us in the cabin.
We shot a very impressive scene this morning. Theo is creating new wings for the Animaris Excelsus and it was a great moment to see how the evolution goes on.
After 12 hours journey with ferry and car we are back home. We spent 14 exciting, sunny, unforgetable, hot days in London. We shot 30 hours material. That sounds very much, first of all, if you consider that in the finished film the London chapter will be perhaps 10-15 minutes long. A shooting ratio of 1:180. Miserable ratio even for a documentary film. But this has several reasons. First reason: we shot with two cameras, very often parallel. This leads naturally nearly to a duplication of the material. Another reason is our work style. We had to find a visual concept, but it lasted some meters of magnetic tape in the camera and some screenings of our footage during the nights before we found our way to tell the story.
The most important reason for the material flood is however surely the medium. For our first shooting in October 2003 for the trailer we had exposed 4 film reels(36 minutes). With this footage we made a trailer of 2.30 min length. We got such an outstanding shooting ratio of 1:14 because of the economic restrictions of the material. Film is expensive in the acquisition, development and scanning and so we decided very exactly, when and whether we huit the record button. With video you don´t have these economic restrictions. A HDV cassette necessarily costs 15 euro, no development and scanning is necessary. With spending 450 euro we were abel to film 30 hours. With film we would have been able to to develop and scan 15 minutes.
Before the shooting our goal was to imitate the film work style wirh our video equipment. We wanted to be as efficient with video as with film. Unfortunately we failed. Not badly because the extra costs are acceptable. But I wanted to work with video in the same way as on film because of another reason. The expensive film material forces you to work very concentrated. If you work with your video camera the whole day and you record 1 or 2 footage every day, you are in danger to lose control und concentration. You waste your energy on perhaps unimportant shots and miss then the really important moments, in which it would have really been worth to switch the camera on. If I look at some footage we recorded during the last days I recognize some shots in which you immediately see an absence of tension. For our next shooting this will be one of the most important challenges: to ban the material flood of the video shooting. Perhaps we could manage to shoot in a more filmike manner with memory cards based systems like the Panasonic HVX-200. There you have a limited capacity in the video world because of 8GB cards.
We come to the target line and it is not so simply to activate all our ressources. On Sunday we made a break and relaxed after the great Roger Waters concert in the Hyde park. Steffi and I spent the day to look for alternative sets for London footage. We went to the docks but we realized that these are not the pictures that you have in your mind when you think about London. So we decided to go back to the Thamse. If we have some free time during the next week, we would like to go up with the big wheel. Since Monday morning the Strandbeesten are in the theater at the ICA. The Strandbeesten in front of a black background looks very aesthetic. This afternoon we want to make an interview with Theo, in the evening we are filming the opening of the exhibition, on the next morning the shooting inside the Science museum and in the evening Theos lecture in the ICA. A tight schedule and I hope that we are able to do it. On weekend Theo cancelled his trip to Shanghai. For our film on the one hand side it is surely a loss. Shanghai, perhaps the most interesting of the world at present, and it would have been an adventure to go there. On the other hand side the city could have outact the art and it would have been difficult to find the right balance in the film. So we can concentrate on Theos work in The Netherlands in the future.