A little over a month ago, I wrote a blog post about the simple, yet effective Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde teaser trailer that I threw together completely within After Effects. I needed some video and had nothing to work with - set wasn't ready, there was no footage of actors in costume, and of course, even though the original work is public domain, the version we were performing is not, and video rights are tightly held.
Earlier this week I took another "simple" approach to making a teaser, except this one we have the nearly completed set and costume, so we shot some real video for it - check out the teaser trailer for A Christmas Carol below:
Pretty cool, right? I'm really happy with how this piece of video turned out, and again, it was a pretty simple shoot. We pulled the copy from the original Dickens story and had Luke Hales (the actor playing Scrooge) read it for the VO.
Then we placed a candle in the middle of the set, added some fog, turned on the existing stage lights, and of course got Dillon Dewitt (Marley) in costume. A few rehearsal passes later and we had the visual we wanted. We got the right shot in a couple takes after that.
All in all, the whole piece took about two and a half hours to shoot, including the 45 minutes I spent balancing the Ronin-M and however long it took to dress the stage and get the fog just right.
Of course I shot the teaser 4K so it would be sharper, but also allow me to reframe a little and add even more stabilization than the Ronin provided. (As I'm still learning the absolute best ways to use the rig, I've noticed that I'm a little bumpy on long, slow moves for some reason)
Once we finished shooting, Robert and Luke recorded the VO and that was it.
The music track was from the Killer Tracks library, which in my experience is some of the best production music you can find short of having something composed for your project.
And the color grade was just adding a LUT I have for the camera and then pushing the reds up so the flame would be right color. At first I was afraid I'd have to take it into DaVinci and mask the flame, and if I was really wanting to do it "right" I would have anyway. But in this case, because everything else was blue, a simple curve adjustment did the trick and got the picture looking right.
And that was that. I exported it and had it ready to go.
Honestly, the biggest issue I had was trying to decide if it was better to have the candle blow out to black, or to sit on the shot a second with the cool smoke drifting away.
Here's the cool shot that got cut from the finished piece:
Anyway, that does it for this week
If the trailer caught your eye and you want to see the show, you can get your tickets here.
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Until next time
Thomas Meek is an independent filmmaker living and working in Houston, TX