I’ve always loved Kangaroo Island– from my first taste of it with my family back in the 1980’s, to the numerous visits paid in the last few years. Recently, Emma Sterling and I had another reason to travel there- to produce a series of promotional videos for a holiday home called Le Casuarina. Since this was to be a new endeavour for us, we decided we would make a number versions of the piece, demonstrating what could be done for a variety of budgets. Called as I often am by nature, I couldn’t resist spending time in the garden filming bees and birds, hanging over the ferry bow shooting dolphin… and along with interiors, exteriors, some peopled shots and stills, we came home with a hefty volume of footage.
The main distinguishing feature of our deluxe package (above) was the use of models and actors, and the video’s extended 3 minute duration. Stylistically, placing people in the video creates a much more personal ‘lived in’ feel for the property, and also helps hold the viewer’s attention for longer, with a suggestion of story. It does so at a price though, and working with actors is costly and more difficult to schedule than shooting bricks, mortar and the surrounding environment. Local filmmaker David Mackey (who I first met many years ago when I storyboarded his short film $um Assault) and his wife Belinda Mackey, a talented South Australian model and actress, both volunteered their time to play as guests of the house. Tess O’Flaherty, another talented local actress performed the voice-over once we’d returned to Adelaide, and the score was created using a great software package called SmartSound SonicFire Pro. While I’m a musician myself, SonicFire was able to save me countless hours of composition and recording time, and allowed me to conveniently export versions of the song at four different durations and with variations in instrumentation. Nice.
For the ‘standard’ version, another fine local actress Michelle Nightingale volunteered her time and talents. As you will see, many of the shots are the same as in the deluxe version, and there is much common material in the script. The whole process would have been much faster to turn around if we weren’t so obsessed with riding the bleeding edge of production techniques though! We shot all the footage on our new Sanyo Xacti VPC-HD2000 , and the pictures looked great. Since it is sold as a ‘Dual Camera’ (a hybrid of digital still and video) it offers traditional photographic control of the video image (aperture, ISO, shutter-speed) and offers the kick-ass bonus of recording FullHD progressive footage (1920 x 1080). We shot everything in the highest resolution and frame rate (1080p at 60 frames per second) without any expectation that our editing software, Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 would struggle processing it.
Sure enough, whenever our 1080p editing timeline reached about a minute of content, the program would crash. We purchased and installed the MainConcept MPEG Pro H.264/MP4 plugin and enjoyed improved results, but still could not get more than about three minutes of material onto the timeline without toppling the system. This is on a powerhouse i7 920 cpu, with 12 Gb of RAM, might I add. Admitting defeat after experimenting with countless variables, Emma edited the project in segements, down converting slabs of footage to 720p resolution, and re-importing them into a 720p timeline. We floated the two longest clips online yesterday, and as always, have spread the word using Web 2.0 platforms, most notably Facebook and Twitter to help get the pieces circulating. With any luck, we’ll be able to follow this job with more commercial work along a similar vein armed with the knowledge to just shoot 720p resolution footage in the first place… at least until the next patch for Premiere Pro is released.
If you’d like to know a bit more about Le Casuarina, please visit the property’s website.