Our producer Dimitri Lisitsyn trying to make our PA Leo Rehunen better.. Not working?
It’s cold, the sun comes out once a week, but we have a new project! So something to look forward to and plan every day. After making Meet OUR Bboys our production team Street Soul TV hasn’t exactly changed, but it has become more concrete. As I was talking today to Dimitri, he said “You have to put in a lot of work and hope that something comes out of it. But in the end, you never know if it’s going to pay off or not.” That’s what you have to do in every aspect of your life, right?
Anyways, the awards and people liking our movie did feel good, and gave us outside confidence in pushing new projects and getting new people on board (like our new scriptwriter Daniel Pajunen), but the biggest influence personally for me was just seeing the finished product. Seeing the 37 minutes and 50 seconds of our movie made me feel like I can make a longer one. In fact the one before that was 23 minutes about ecological farming.. ( see it here! :) Don’t laugh! ) and the other ones before that were all shorter than the other one.
So everything goes step by step. The next project is a bboy history documentary, and we started shooting it recently. Something we’ve been planning for about 2 years, and now we figured out how to do it.
That is another thing. Making a documentary you have to always keep your eyes open. When you feel that you found a lead, and the right moment, you have to start working on it. The chance to do it might go away very quickly. The worst feeling as a film maker is when something passes and you didn’t have your camera.. everyone has been there.
Finding the right moment is one thing, but also finding the right approach is another. Lately I’ve been talking to people about my new subjects, and I try and see if people are interested? I talk about it to people who have more knowledge about that field, like a professional. Do they know about it more, or even less? Find out every angle, and find a question that can’t be answered by people around you, and try and find an answer. I think this this can work in fiction and documentary. If people around you can’t answer, then they will want to see that movie, right? People don’t know what they don’t know, and when they find out they don’t know, they wanna know!
Making this project will be a lot of work, but it’s something I can just delve into. I guess i like that. And every time we shoot and the subject says something interesting that really works.. I feel like “Oohh.. that’s gonna be in the final cut man..” In a way it’s like seeing into the future. Strange feeling!
Well I gotta go to bed, since it is way too late, but I should keep posting later :)
You can also check out our latest production here:
So I was hanging out at my parents place and went to my backyard. I found some CDs lying around on the grass and stones near the swing (in the picture).
I found 3 CDs. I had burned some movies on them about 7 years ago I believe, and I gave the CDs to my parents maybe a year or two ago coz I thought I don’t need them anymore. My parents use them for scaring the birds that eat our berries from our berry bushes in the backyard. They hang the CDs like you can see one hanging on the swing, and the reflections drive the birds away.
Now I took 3 of them inside, washed them under some water and scratched all the dirt off of them. Just in the sink, no precautions or anything. Here is one washed:
Now you have to remember, that it was on that ground, under the SNOW and in the elements for at least a year outside. Before that it was hanging on the string and the sun was hitting it right on the CD all summer!
One of the CDs lost some of the sparkly stuff from the edge, so I didn’t put it in. The other one showed the movie for 20 minutes!! And the third one (the one in the picture) showed the whole movie!! Not even lagging for a bit!
Now who says CDs are fragile? Who says you should keep them out of the sun? Who says you can’t keep them in the snow during the winter?
It is reassuring to see this kind of CD behaviour, even though sometimes they don’t even work right after burning them, right? Just a couple of weeks ago I bought a whole box of DVDs, and none of them worked!
So here I will explain some details of what went into the process of making the biggest video/cinema project I’ve done so far. If you haven’t seen it, you can check it out here first:
It all started in the summer 2011. I was in Korea, and I did a small interview with Dyzee about the OUR Association. You can watch it here:
It could’ve turned out better, but in any case, Dyzee really liked it and wanted to do more.. I had to think for a second.
While I met him that day I got a hunch. I hear that’s your safest bet sometimes, and this time sure enough it was a good hunch. I had a good idea about the system, I had seen it at R16, but I had no strong opinion about it. What gave me a hunch that i should make a documentary about this was the PASSION that Dyzee was showing towards his work.
I could clearly see that Dyzee wasn’t in it just for the job or the money.. This was his dream. Not only that, but he spoke openly about all his fears and weaknesses and seemed very honest about himself to other people. All of these things combined I knew that this was worth making a movie about.
Dyzee was an extremely open personality. No secrets, like an open book.
Dyzee had the most interesting stories. After the first interview session I was convinced that the movie would be about Dyzee’s life. Some of his stories seemed so incredible to me! Dyzee came from the worst situations, and became a person with an attitude like this.. Amazing!
During the second interview I realized that the hardest thing was to come up with the right questions. Dyzee and most other people were very open to answer all kinds of questions. The only problem was, I had to use a lot of time to figure out what questions I should ask! What was the story of the movie?
Dyzee waiting for a question.
So realized it was up to me what the movie would be about. I would have to listen to all the stories, and try draw that thin red line through them.
At one point I was worried that I shouldn’t talk about Dyzee’s life in the movie so much, since the system was interesting on its own. Soon after I realized that if I left it out, people wouldn’t be able to connect why Dyzee is making the judging system. His whole life revolves around bboying and his personality and traits made him make this system. So it was actually a perfect base to tell the story from. Without it I wouldn’t be able to invoke people’s emotions to the subject.
Jayce trying to make a point.
Now you might think “Oh, so you are just playing around with the viewer, trying to get them to like the system by making them cry about Dyzee’s life?” Well, in a way yes, but it would be unfair to judge me because of that.
You see I am making a movie, a documentary and an essay. For one to make a good argument, according to Aristotle, you have to have use Ethos, Logos and Pathos. That is you have to have credibility, reasoning and you have to invoke an emotional response from your audience. (http://courses.durhamtech.edu/perkins/aris.html) Without the emotion part the movie would become dry and full of complaints and talk about money.
Anyways, I went ahead and made a few interviews in Korea, and headed to Thailand in November. The whole time I was on a really tight on budget. I had two prime(no zoom) lenses, a Zoom H1, a cheap lavalier mic, a Canon 550D, Canon A570IS and a new Dell Laptop. I saw my brother in Thailand, and traveled to Malaysia as well.
After that I realized I had to make a script in order to make the raw cut.
This is what a Documentary script looks like
First I had to transcribe all the raw cut interviews. I listened and wrote everything down. Then I printed the text, cut it with scissors into different folders with topics like “Dyzee’s history” and “Bboying as a sport”. Then I took one folder at a time and glued the different comments into a conversation about the topic onto a paper. This way I could easily get rid of double commentary and things that are too off topic. My problem was length.. I had to make the movie easy to watch.
As I was meeting the bboys and making the movie I was also trying to learn to draw people. I would just sit in the subway and draw people’s faces. So I decided I would use that to introduce people in the movie.
I took still frames of the video and drew peoples faces. Lanre Pedro made the graffiti, and I made the effects on photoshop. (bboy bill in the photo)
Once I had a script, I could make the first version of the movie. It was an hour long. I showed it to my brother and he said “Well I don’t really understand how the judging system works..” I had forgot to make an intro about the actual system! How stupid!
Finished portraiture of Bboy Bill.
So I had to get another sound bite from Dyzee, I moved back to Finland, interviewed Focus in Helsinki and kept on editing.
It’s pretty amazing how much work can go into just editing 1 raw hour into 37 minutes of documentary. Most of the work was finding and editing B-roll (Everything besides the main interviews, or this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SItFvB0Upb8 ) At some point I swear I used weeks to just edit and look for b-roll. A lot of the b-roll I shot myself, for example the basketball part, I went to a basketball game just to get some shots of it:
I went to a basketball game just to get 10 seconds of b-roll.
A lot of the bboying was from my friends clips they were able to send me, a few videos from archive.org(e.g. old skateboarding), and the R16 clips came from the R16 DVDs, with permission from Cartel Creative.
The most important part I guess was when I realized the ending of a documentary usually comes back to the images of the whole documentary. So when Janice talks about Dyzee in the end, you can see images from throughout the movie coming together. Also a good trick is to put the humor in the ending. That way the viewer can relax in the ending of a documentary.
Janice is making fun of Dyzee’s computer habits. (btw, janice shot at ISO6400, color correction magic!)
The score(music) was made by Anttti (Elmeri Turunen). He is a rapper and a beat maker in Lappeenranta, Finland. I asked him and he was happy to make the music for the movie. I showed him a raw cut of the movie (though I know now that movies are scored after editing is finished, which is easier) and he came up with a few songs, which he also fitted to the movie. Also I used Kevin MacLeod’s Incompetech.org sound library for a few songs with a less hip-hop sound.
In the editing stage I had the invaluable help of ANSSI SAVILUOTO. I am staying at his place, and i showed him the movie every week. His girlfriend asked him, what do you actually do for the movie? He answered.. “I just complain!”
Anssi told me to “drop that dip to black” or “make a j-cut here” etc. I didn’t have a grasp of the TV/Cinema style that people expect and are used to. The content should be a surprise, but the style should be kept as close to the standard of TV and Cinema as possible. That is in case you want to keep your audience captivated.
The 550D footage with Technicolor Cinestyle was pretty good to color correct with. I did use at least 2-3 weeks color correcting to get the best results though, and I hope in the future it will get easier with better cameras. Anssi did half of them and showed me a lot of tricks.
Color correction from a Technicolor Cinectyle picture profile.
What made it easy was After Effects (for customized masks with curves) and Magic bullet Looks. Both combined with Premiere made it a blast.
One more thing I had to do was the teaser. It was hard to put myself in the situation of a first viewer, when I knew the movie in and out, every single line and every intonation of every character. Even the Thai speaking people! And I can’t speak Thai!
At that point I had my screening version done. I showed it to all the people involved including Dyzee (that was his first time to see it) and I corrected many mistakes like spelling names and titles. Dyzee gave me lots of ideas on what to put in the teaser, and it turned out great. It took me 1 week of editing every day to make a 1 minute teaser.. it was not the most fun part of making the movie!
In any case, everything turned out fine. We have over 21 000 views already. My hope was to break 20K, and we did it! It equals to one person watching the movie for a year and 140 days consecutively. Fun fact! I counted my editing hours up to something like 200.. Then I stopped.
I spent all of January 2012 staying up until 4-7AM to edit. Started at 10pm though. In January, Finland is a dark place in any case.
I made it for fun. I didn’t get any money(at least so far). I also entered a competition. We’ll see what happens. Next is maybe something fictional. For documentaries I just gotta keep my eyes open.
I hope this blog might help someone out there thinking of making a documentary. Remember, if you have a camera just do it! I used a 3 year old pocket camera for the second camera in this movie, and if I had done the whole movie on it.. well, it would still tell the same story. And that is what is important. Telling a story! Making an impact on the lives of people!
This was one of my favorite shots, but at a low cost. Canon A570IS.
So I hope everyone will go out and make lots of documentaries on things that matter!
Contact me for anything: hiskihoo ) at ( gmail dot com
So here I am back from Korea (again) and waiting to go back to Korea soon again(hopefully). Quite confusing right? To me as well!
My cinematography endeavors have been quite big lately! I will try and post a long post about making my first longer documentary, but first, here is a short movie I was co-writing, co-directing and co-shooting with my good friend Anssi.
One Last Battle is a short film project made for a competition that we have in Lappeenranta called Back to Practice. It is actually a hip-hop jam, but this year we decided it needs to also have a video competition. The theme for the films was “practice”.
We had this idea for quite a while boiling in our minds about making a short film about a man who gave up his life of battling, and of course a colonel comes and asks for him to come back. It took us a while to figure out what the short was going to be like, but finally we figured it will be an epic montage. We had a script, we booked our actors (our friends), found locations (a cabin of our friends, a gym, the photostudio kuvapiste.com and a place outside in the city.) and just kept filming. We made lots of good ideas while filming, and some of them went in the film, some of them didn’t.
Jyri’s Ivan Drago, Rocky IV look :)
The music was a hard one. First we made some test shots after the first day with the rocky soundtrack.. and it works, but we knew that we were gonna have to get an original one. We tried finding some old beats from our trustworthy Anttti (Elmeri Turunen), and soon I found one to make the first draft to. It turned out good.. but not as good as we wanted, so we asked Anttti to make another one. This time we went to his place, watched the clip and started recording something new.. The result was an amazing powerful, climatic and touching song that made the movie what it is. Notice that it doesn’t even have a dance element to it, but it fits the movie so well because of the emotion, which is the most important thing. The beginning also features two more generic songs from Kevin MacLeod, to set the mood of mystery and danger of the grumpy old battle-cat, John Rambo. Colonel X even has to lock and load his gun before coming to his territory.. I guess John’s memories of the past are not so pleasant!
Joni is feeling a bit cold during shoots.. It was super cold!
In any case, the movie turned out great, and even better than we thought. The post production took a while.. with making sound effects, cleaning up audio, editing the montage 2 times for different songs, and color correcting twice! The first time just didn’t seem good enough, so we kept at it. Actually to our eyes the last draft looks so much better than the first one, and so we are really happy with it.
Sometimes we let Joni warm up in the car. It made him less angry though, so we had to stop. It could have destroyed his great acting.
I guess while making this movie I noticed something that has happened before. Only when we got to the point of maybe 90% or 95% of the work had been done, we realized that this video is actually really really nice! This happens over and over again in every film we make. During the edit it just seems to suck, or kinda suck for the longest time until we put so much effort into it, that it just starts to seem really good. It is like sculpting an ice-statue. At first you might see what it represents, but only after getting all the finest details.. only after perfecting it, it will really start to buy the audience.
Jyri got his fair share of coldness.. but at least he had a coat during breaks!
They were building a house right outside my window while I was living in korea, so I decided to take some pictures.. every minute, for about 10 hours a day for 22 days the camera was shooting with chdk firmware update, I got over 10 000 pictures. Then post production took a bit. Worked with after effects using pixel motion and did color correction with magic bullet. ,
The hard part was getting the music to sync up, coz I was editing the composition on after effects.. had to use other programs and the visualization of the wave on after effects to figure out how to drop those beats! In the end most of it is just luck, and I decided not to get too deep into it.
One day in Korea, last winter, I got a chance to do an LG commercial. I was invited as one of the bboys, but it turned out there was no bboying needed. Only white guys who have some muscles.
They had really nice gear! It was pretty crazy out there.. in the movie it is hard to tell how big the place was because of the all green paint, but it was about 15 meters high I would say. My day was from about 5am to 12 pm, and I got home right before curfew. It was a lot of fun!
Last winter, I think in end of January, I went to this event in korea called Keep dancing. They had everything: bboying, hip-hop and house, but the most amazing stuff I definitely saw was in the Krumping section.
The krumpers showed some amazing unnatural moves, but most of all showed something from inside themselves. Some kind of a raw essence, that normal people hide and bring out only rarely. These people are able to show it in a positive way, bringing it out through a character. A blown out personality that twists around in convulsions, hits and jumps.
Nevertheless, every move is practiced over and over again, so the illusion is perfect.
The song is a mix of the original Nneka’s song, and I had to give it a bit of speed. Maybe too much, but I like it with the sped up motions of the dancers. Thanks to Johannes Haikonen for the song!
The end half of the video is some raw clips of the event
I was just moving and had all this crap in my apartment on the floor. Decided to make some humor out of it! It is a parody of one of those home decoration programs on TV. In Finland they always seem to have some questionable guy doing the designs, and the announcer always has this funny voice telling how the designer thought to resolve the problems in the house.
Sorry the talking is in Finnish, but I translated it :)
I made the time-lapse shooting with my old trusty, Canon A570IS and held it up against the corner and one plank of wood on one side of the wall with my gorilla-pod. Pretty nifty for this thing had a ledge only on one side! An amazing tool!
I promised to post the next rolls of film! I have here for you guys pictures from two rolls of film, both black and white, the other one the notorious Kodak 400TX (ASA400) with its big grain, and the other one just an ASA100 film. You can pretty clearly notice which film is being used from the quality of the grain, which is sort of the equivalent of the pixel in film cameras. The bigger ASA (in digital ISO) you use the bigger the grain is going to be, and therefore the less ‘mega pixels’ you are going to have in your film. Lots of people prefer grain size to noise, which is the colorful distortion that comes in digital format when the sensor’s (digital film’s) voltage is turned higher, and the electricity makes errors into the film.
People working in the film industry especially are scared to go to digital, because they claim that movies lose their organic feeling if the grain is absent. Actually when there is no grain, the digital film usually has nothing in replacement if noise is not present, only a clean picture, which can seem too clean, perfect and therefore inorganic. In theaters today you can watch digital films, and before finalizing the movie the film makers actually add a grain effect onto the film to make it look more real! Of course in animations there has been other things done before. Pixar had to make up an effect of moving blur to make the movement of the animated characters look more real. Of course there is no blur in real life, but there should be some in a movie! Otherwise it won’t seem as real :)
You guys can just take a look at these pictures, and easily see what the grain means. Let me know what you think about it! To my eyes it looks quite nice. Organic really describes it! But if you really want to know what film can do, you better watch this series from Zacuto. It has 3 parts where they scrutinize DSLR cameras’, comparing them with real film movie cameras. For example the film movie camera could capture in a dark room: a 60 watt bulb-lamp, the people around it in perfectly normal lighting and you could even see the wire inside the lamp! Now that is high dynamics!
The digital cameras can not touch where film can go. In reality it’s like electricity vs. chemistry. Maybe some day we will have digital cameras with organic sensors?! I bet this is already being done.
Tomorrow I will start traveling towards Finland and hopefully take some amazing photos and maybe some video on the way. I hope I meet everyone in Korea again, and I hope I get to meet all my Finnish friends soon as well!