Scoring Session: The Picture of Dorian Gray

Aka “Too Many Hats!”  I wouldn’t consider these the absolute best pictures ever, but it’s hard to be the composer, conductor, and music producer, and also try to take a few pics on the side.  This is the recording session for a new ballet film based on Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray.  As a ballet, I had to compose the music and have it recorded by a certain date, without having seen any footage.  Now that it’s recorded, I’m hard at work mixing, mastering, and polishing, while my director Felicity works on the choreography.  While I’d like to say that I drew a great amount of inspiration from Wilde’s novel, reading it would have taken much time away from actually composing the music; I watched Albert Lewin’s 1945 film adaptation instead.

This marks the first time I have used the Canon 7 since Fall of last year, and I’m out of practice: there are one or two rather glaring focus errors, and while I think I would have been better suited with an SLR, I’d say that I really focused on the music first (pun intended), and only snapped a few here shots here and there when not actively recording.  The camera was lying around in a few different places and not all of the pictures were taken by me, as evidenced by the fact that I’m in some of them.  The main visual component was shot by the film director as a “making-of” documentary, so at some point there will be a video of the recording session floating around the internet.

The pictures are almost current, as the recording session took place just a week and a half ago, and a few days later I was on my way to the Durango Independent Film Festival.

From Sound Recording class

Fall 2013.  This was actually the first recording session I photographed.  We had split the class into two groups, and since I had already recorded some guys with my group, I showed up the second day with my camera, hoping to get a few good shots for my final project in the Intro class shooting portraits.  Nothing really worked for my assignment itself, but I still liked a few of the pictures I took.

This was the first time I brought out the Canon AE-1 that my friend had given me, and put the 50mm 1.4 SSC through its paces.  I won’t say that I disliked the lens too much, and maybe I’m not attuned to the Canon look, but for the most part, I didn’t think that lens had it.  What it did have, was some pitting (or at least flaws in the coating) in the rear element, and I ended up returning it, as I didn’t think it was quite worth the price I paid.

Students conducting students

…it was a bit like a horror movie…

This was the first of two scoring sessions we did in film scoring class.  As one of the directors, I didn’t have much to do, and ended up taking pictures.  As I brought a quiet rangefinder that day instead of a noisy SLR, I felt more confident about taking a shot here and there while they were actually recording.  Having the drum set there helped me as well, I’m sure.

Off-topic, this is post #100, so I’m celebrating that milestone.  It’s only taken me the better part of 2 years.

Scoring Session: The Lady and the Phantom

The Lady and the Phantom is a short film made by the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Communications dept and scored by my friend and classmate, composer Joshua Aldrich.  A live orchestra was contracted to perform the music, and I am told that this is the first full-scale scoring session of its kind in the Colorado Springs area, which is pretty damn cool if you ask me and I’m proud to have been a part of it.  All the players are local musicians and some are current UCCS students.  The orchestra was conducted by UCCS Prof. Sean Hennessy in a room that I’ve had several classes in myself over the last few semesters.

As a fan of film music it was pretty awesome to be able to take pictures in the room while the orchestra was being recorded, and I definitely had the Scoring Sessions site in the back of my head when I was taking pictures.  It’s different from shooting a rock concert, as I can’t just take pictures whenever the hell I feel like: I was very conscious to make noise only when they were rehearsing a cue or other times when not actually recording, though I did get a few shots in right before they started the count.

If the exposure on these seems to vary wildly from one image to the other, it’s because my camera screwed up big-time, and it’s a miracle any of these images turned out at all.  I’d never used the ESII inside before, now I know not to do it again, there must be something seriously wrong with the meter.  I’m preparing to send the ESII to this guy because I’ve read lots of good reviews of his work and his prices seem to be pretty reasonable.

Though not strictly necessary with the light I had, I pushed these rolls of Tri-X 2 stops which allowed me to comfortably use my 135mm lens somewhere around f/4-5.6 and my other lenses at f/8 or so.  I experimented with a stand development this time, using D-76 1:1 for 13.5 minutes.  I don’t know if that hurt me or preserved what shadow detail was left, but it sure didn’t minimize the grain like I’d read, though I suppose getting correct exposures would help!

The F335 has really made this process speedy for me.  The recording session was 9AM-12, I had the film processed, dried, and in my bag by 2:00, and once I got back up the pass, I had everything scanned into my computer by 4:00.  If the exposures weren’t off so much I could have had them posted that day on Facebook, but as it was I wanted to get the most I possibly could out of improperly exposed negatives, which meant using Photoshop back down at school the next day.  Still, all in all, it took just a day to get everything corrected as much as possible and posted online, when before the Pakon it would have taken a week or more.

edit: To come full circle, I’ll plug the soundtrack as well.