We laughed the first time we used this term whilst preparing our shot list against our script. It was a cold January evening, and with Matt, our director/film-mastermind and Adiljo, our cameraman-and-editor-par-non, we were discussing the various different camera angles for the different shots that would work with the script. We were making sure the important bits were going to be recorded in more than one angle, usually that gives you at least one usable angle. It was the first time for Phil and I to make a shot list, fortunately Matt and Adiljo had more experience. All the same it became very clear how important organizing, classifying, and keeping a good sense of oversight of the production during this process was going to become.
One missed angle could spell disaster for continuity in the script. Tid bit, continuity became the word of the day later in the process. Also, how would we deliver the message in Act 2 without making the video boring and static? We managed to think up neat little ideas and tricks to keep things moving, and the shots were planned. The joke of this day was ‘Ahh, fix it in post’… how little did we know…
Shot list ready, choices made for the different camera angles and positioning of the characters, we planned in a read-through with the actors; our very good friends as well! It was fun to do, and great to see Matt get back into his element – he did his study in film making in Amsterdam a few years back, and whilst is a working colleague with Phil is also looking at getting back into his passion on the side. As part of getting everyone in the feel, we played YouTube compilations of 90’s Toys Commercials during dinner before the read through. That’s also when we saw that character “Richard” on the red board of the old 90’s version of the game Guess Who is a spitting image of Phil. Spooky.
Everyone was getting super excited, and we had an equipment and shopping list drafted up with Adiljo and Matt’s help. The Friday before we went to Funbase, I went to Open Studio equipment rental in Amsterdam. Bearing this was the second time I came in contact with serious equipment (my first experience was helping produce a It Gets Better video for the KLM LGBT network back in 2015), I felt a little lost staring at the pile of lights, rigging, mic covers, cables, general mess. Fortunately the good people at Open Studio were super friendly and helped organize what we needed. Two hours later, our living room was already full of equipment bags and crates. This was the weekend before our two filming days.
After a relaxed Sunday night preparing the apartment, props, and chilling out with ‘Glassassin’ and our Path Finder campaign GM Arthur, who stayed the night, Monday morning came with a vengeance. By 8 am everyone had arrived, and whilst Phil started cooking up breakfast for everyone, Adiljo, Matt, and Evan (rigging, grip, best-boy-everything) set up the equipment, and Florence (Weisszard), Marlena (Barbeerian), and Stephen (Pintcess) and I were busy taping bin bags over our apartment windows to block out the sunlight. By 9:30 everything was done, everyone had eaten, and we started to take places for the first shots.
Our apartment had become a real recording studio! The living-room side was now the scene to be shot, and the bookcase behind our couch accordingly fitted out. Spotted the box of Deer Lord and Revenge of the Dictators? Shout out to you guys! Bonus points if you can spot the bottle of ‘fine’ Dutch liquor! The Kitchen on the other hand became Filming Command Control, with Matt and Evan standing side by side checking sound and the progress of the shots. I filled in as assistant director, discussing the next shots to be made, making sure everything was where it should be.
Remember that word ‘Continuity?’ It’s a bitch! Evan thankfully gave us great tips, and I dare you to try and spot the small Duct Tape markers on the table and the floor to mark where the drink glasses, pack of BaRPiG, and Florence’s chair was! First to be filmed was the wide of the group with an the pig flying in (one we didn’t use in the end). That was followed by the wide shot of the group where Arthur (Glassassin) gets hit in the head with the pack of BaRPiG. Bring in take 5 and Phil’s superior throwing arm (I concede, I was better at overall planning the shot order than throwing a fake pack of BaRPiG).
And so we kept the shots going until our last shot before breaking for lunch, plain clothing smoke filling before the ‘magical’ change into their costumes. Yes, if you’re wondering we used a smoke machine, our own little investment we took on after our Halloween party last year (if you’re gonna keep renting it at least once a year, might as well just buy one). Lunch done we got back to work, and finally at 8:30pm we could call Day 1, and Act 1, a wrap. Pizzas ordered, everyone tucked in and we watched Airplane whilst everyone chilled out. Adiljo, Matt, Phil, and I ducked away to double check the footage one last time, and were incredibly happy with the result. We had done 45 shots, with an average of 3-4 takes per shot. It was a long day, but the result was there. We already couldn’t wait to see the final result. We also had the whole cast sign one of the Bar Tab props; little souvenir of our production.
Sleeping that night wasn’t hard, and with a second early start on the Tuesday we set things up for Act 2; the Kitchen Scene. We reversed our production set up, the couch was dismantled and shifted around to make room for the equipment, and we cleaned up our Kitchen, and more importantly, our progress board. Those of you familiar with our blogs will know the board that features in our video is actually our brainstorming/progress/to-do board. It’s actually our Kitchen cabinets, where frosted glass works out so beautifully as a whiteboard! We re-wrote the board with the key elements we would deliver in what has lovingly been called the ‘slap’ scene. Yes, some of those ‘numbers’ aren’t actually numbers, we couldn’t specify those yet until double checking any changes just before launching the Kickstarter.
It was also the first moment we came across our first problem in production. Whilst the sound was being checked the entire time during yesterday’s filming, upon listening to the files again the next day we found the gain was incredibly low. It was hard to follow the dialogue of all the characters! Disaster! What’s more, the recording equipment wasn’t recording anymore! We called the rental place, and they informed us that we should replace the batteries… yeah… new to the game, remember? It was also apparent from their end that they had rented out a mic whose battery hadn’t been replaced before being given to us, there’s no way the mic battery would be flat after just one day of filming. Nothing to be done about it now, there was a chance we could salvage the sound files in post… remember that line?
And so we started filming shot by shot, and at the same time trying desperately to remember the very lines in the script we ourselves typed up. It made for loads of bloopers and mistakes, but in the end we nailed it. Close ups, Wides, Everything was made, including a bit of domestic drama between Phil and me during the game play description (Phil hates being tickled), that has now been replaced with shots of general game play.
We finished off the shots with close ups of the slaps of various elements on the board. It wasn’t part of the original shot list, but Matt suggested it just in case we might need some filler. Boy, was that a lucky strike! We finished the evening by recording Matt doing the Pig’s lines in his amazing Scottish accent. That too, has generated an amazingly funny Blooper’s reel, and if enough people ask nicely enough for it… we might just upload it to our site ;-P
Everything complete, we gave the sound files to Adiljo, with the plans to meet for the first montage edit. It was done, our filming complete, only the editing had to be done now!… so we thought…
A few days later Adiljo informed us the sound files for the first day could not be salvaged, and the sound from the camera recording wasn’t good enough either to overcome any music track we might use. There was only one thing for it. We had to recall the actors in and record them dubbing over their lines. A date was planned, and Open Studio helped us out by renting the equipment for free, seeing as it was an oversight on everyone’s behalf. Note to anyone partaking this in future, CHECK ALL YOUR BATTERIES before you start recording (and I can already hear the echos of ‘well duh!’…)
We had Marlena come in the afternoon, and the rest later that evening, and with the TV playing the montage version of the video, everyone repeatedly recorded their lines once again. In many ways this actually worked in our favour, it gave the actors a chance to put even more zaniness into their lines than they could have when first recording, and seeing as our goal was to make it look like an 90’s toy commercial, the effect of barely passable dubbing came out beautifully. Fixed in post! It was also another great chance to get the crew together again, and we all enjoyed watching the first rough montage of the edit.
A week later, Adiljo and I started working over the final edit together with the new sound files and our final choice of music (thanks again to Bensound.com). Act 1 worked out great, and with all the various shots accounted for, we focused on Act 2. We then encountered our next hurdle. The sound recording device during the day of filming had cut out twice, on the only 2 shots we had of the ‘slap scene’ that worked out great. We didn’t have any other camera angles for the shot either, and switching from mic to camera sound would be really weird and abrupt. Not an option. This was where Matt’s suggestion to do close-ups of the ‘slaps’ saved out ass. With some clever editing on Adiljo’s behalf, we managed to use one of the shots where I messed up one of the lines and Phil actually forgot his lines.
If you’re really good, you’ll notice the difference just when you see the close in slap with €6,000; one audio track barely overlaps the other with my line “six thousand euros”, and the video changes just when I say ‘great benefits for our original BaRPG owners’. After the slap of the old BaRPG logo, you see Phil start his line ‘Check out our campaign page’. What you missed was him chuckling as he reads the script on the table in front of us before quickly carrying on with his lines.
Fix it in post right?
The last blooper we decided to keep in the video, because it’s just fun. You all know it, I had an itchy nose at the end of the last shot. And yes, indeed, I couldn’t wait for the take to end to scratch it. Again, worked perfectly to our favour.
So that’s the story behind our Promo video! I’m sure I left out some details, a lot happened in the space of about a month. It was so much fun in the end to do, and we’re incredibly proud of the final result! How’s that for an indie project?!
Next blog we’ll be sharing our recent demo events at TonTon club and our event this Wednesday at RoTown, Rotterdam. We’re also gonna be with the guys at Subcultures game shop in Utrecht all Friday afternoon. Feel free to drop by any of these events and join us for a few games!
Until then, keep questing you fine BaRPiGs!