24 Feb Space Trek – Video Awesomeness
Rewind to just this last weekend. Up in my Bellingham studio editing photos, a song on my iTunes played through my speakers that immediately forced me into a collage of mental imagery (it was a piece of music from the newish Star Trek movie). More specifically, a short video montage cut in a music video style and length, utilizing the Upfront Theatre main stage players as our Star Trek characters. Before the two and a half minute song finished, I was already picking up my phone to call Stephen Edwards, one of the main stage comedians. It took even less time for Stephen to jump on-board with the idea as I excitedly explained my vision over the phone. One lunch meeting later, the gears were greased with enough key shot concepts to go ahead with casting the project and scheduling a shoot date.
Let me take a step back… The Upfront Theatre, an improv comedy theatre in Bellingham for those who don’t know, has been running a hugely successful show on the weekends of February called “Space Trek.” It’s a play off of Star Trek where the improv artists entertain the audience with a much more loose format that usual, allowing for story and characters to develop over the period of an hour. You never know what you’ll get, as the audience plays a large role in deciding the fate of our brave space explorers. Every show has sold out, and it’s getting top-notch reviews throughout the land. The video I wanted to cut together would be played for the audience right before the Space Trek improv show started. It’d get the audience pumped up and already laughing before the show even started. Enough filler? Ok…
So Stephen and I were off to create this video. Naturally we had a wicked short deadline, so it was going to be quick and dirty, no working around weather, light, or people’s schedules. It was a now-or-never for many aspects of this project, and in the end… it kinda makes things like this that more fun. To be able to say that we shot, cut, and delivered this in less than 48 hours is kinda cool. Of course, I’ve spent the last 24 hours or so just laughing all day while cutting it together. In all, we had about 5 hours in shooting time, and about 9 in editing. To too bad, eh?
More to read below, but first, let me present to you… “Space Trek: The Trailer”
[jwplayer mediaid=”4806″ width=698 height=413]
This presentation prior to the show is a good idea for a couple reasons. It gets both the audience and cast pumped up for the show, the video being an additional point of well-timed inspiration, and hopefully that will spawn better, more fun suggestions from the crowd when they are asked to participate.
We shot all of this with my Canon 7D, using 10-22mm and 70-200mm lenses. Because we were trying to find that feel of both the old and new Star Trek styles, we tried to find a balance between the two, aka cheesy and overdramatized, yet kinda cool. A steadicam was waiting in the wings, but it was never used, as we shot almost everything handheld, and occasionally tossed in some exaggerated camera shake. Three continuous lights and a fogger were used heavily throughout, as you can tell… the fog gave us the light beams and intensified the lens flares (a popular theme in the newer Star Trek film). We shot this all at one location in about 5 hours.
We did establish the main idea for each shot with lighting and such, but everything the actors did after the word “action” was completely improvised. I just hit the record button and watched the antics unfold before the lens, occasionally working the camera into the lights for all the flares. It was shot VERY loosely. There were points where I rolled the camera for more than 3 minutes, the improv artists doing what they do best and just building a story as filmed. It’s a good thing that we didn’t need any sound from the footage cause I’m laughing in most of it.
A huge thanks goes to Michael Watters, who very generously provided us a filming space as well as any needed prop. Stephen Edwards, Morgan Grobe, Kris Erickson, Jen Warwick, Rosemary Guarino, Tim Greger – the cast who donated their time for this project, thanks a bunch, you guys are so good at what you do. Thanks to Andrew Lahmann and Alida Hammond for the extra hand and wrangling resources. Thanks to Kent Loomer and Jordan Donovan for donating equipment. And thanks to Alida for the pizza, it was delicious.
The video is premiering tonight (Thursday) as a teaser for the show’s final weekend run in February.
That’s all I got for now, I might post up some extra goodies later, maybe some bloopers.