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"I am NOT a superhero"


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#1 David Regan

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 12:43 PM

Well I'm mid shooting my first project on 16mm, which has been a lot of fun so far. I was a bit nervous going in having never really shot color 16 before, but it's been a great experience. This first shoot was from Dec. 23rd, our first day of production, we then broke for the holidays and resumed shooting the 3rd-6th. We still have two days left later this month so its been a bit broken up.

Everything was shot on 7217, 200T. Our package was very low budget/student, so it consisted of a 1200 and 575 HMI, small Kino package and a few fresnels. We were going for a bleaker, more naturally lit film for the most part, just simulating window light, so for the most part I stuck on the HMI and Kinos. I think I only used a small 300w fresnel twice this shoot to add a bit of warmth to the more hopeful parts of the film. I found myself wide open at a 2.0 or a 2.8 for about the entirety of the film, we were on an older set of Series2 Cookes. I can't claim to have a trained eye at lens quality yet, so I won't offer much opinion on them, but I was glad to be able to stay within the same stop range.

We wanted to keep the main character trapped most of the film, as she i stuck on her work, so I tried to keep her framed in windows and backlit as much as possible, keeping her dark in relation to the background. When I couldn't have her in front of a window I tried to throw a window/blind pattern behind her using the slashes of light, and brighter background to isolate her. This ment a fair amount of artistic licencse, as my 'sun' directionality would be changing on reverses, but I didn't find it distracting or unbelievable. Most of our locations were bountiful in windows so for the most part ever source was motivated, just not perhaps truly realistic. <_<

These are stills from the first day, actual grabs from the 16mm transfer. For editing we are going just to miniDV which is where these grabs are from so excuse the compression. To make things worse the stills are compressed again to JPG to take down the file size. I need a better system, but for now you hopefully get the idea. Ultimately we will end on a 1080p HD transfer.
[attachment=3352:SC2.1.jpg]
This was our first shot, at the start of the movie, a pull out of the girl writing. Our 1200 was outside a large bay window frame left, cutting through venitian blinds and hitting the back wall. There is a double net keeping light off the girl to keep her darker. A 2 bank Kino is high, frame right, also on the back wall just to bring up the level, and 4 Kino tubes are taped high above the window on the left, to add a bit of rim detail to her left shoulder.

[attachment=3354:SC19.1.jpg]
This scene is at the very end of the movie, when the characters problems have been resolved, and one of the few places I added warmth. We turned on the 40w practical, and then I had a 300w fresnel cut down hitting her shoulder and the wall, high frame right. I would have liked a little bit more out of it on her shoulder however, its not as noticable as I'd like. Also she is too dark for my taste. I did want to hold on to the 'dark subject/brighter BG' but I think her shirt already being gray, and she just went too dark. Oh well, lesson learned. The 1200 setup is the same.

[attachment=3353:SC2.2.jpg]
The window/backlight theme very obvious here, just the 1200 backed off outside, it was on a balcony, and then a 2 bank Kino bringing up the characters face towards camera. Another 2 Tubes were taped to the window that is off-screen frame right, to hit the edge of her face.

Edited by David Regan, 09 January 2008 - 12:46 PM.

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#2 David Regan

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 12:53 PM

Some more grabs from the first day.

[attachment=3355:SC4.1.jpg]

This setup is a flashback to the girl when she is young, as her father leaves her birthday party. Ultimately her father becomes sick **spoiler alert!** so this is the one time she is with him healthy in the film. So I wanted again that bit of warth which you can see coming from frame right. That is again just a 300w fresnel through diffusion, motivated by the an apartment hallway practical. Behind camera there is a glass door that opens to a porch, on which the 1200 was cutting down the hall, just hitting the wall but not the actors. Ultimately it just turned into a fill from behing cam. by bouncing off the wall. Inside the door on the left is a 4 bank Kino, motivated again as a window light. Again going for the brighter background on the door, with the girl again trapped this time in a door frame.

Same setup for below grab, part of the same shot.
[attachment=3356:SC4.3.jpg]

[attachment=3357:SC18.2.jpg]
Static shot, as the girl searches her apartment. Again the backlit wall, and framing are pretty obvious. My regret on this shot is the far room she enters, the light is pretty sourcy to me, There was a fire escape outside, I still can't think why I didn't think to just put it outside the window and let the window frame or blinds break up the light. I usually find light outside a window immedietly looks more natural anyway, but oh well. That light incidentaly in the far room was a 575 through 1/4 grid. In the near area of frame there is a 2 Bank kino that she walks through at the start of shot. The vertical strip of light on frame right is actually a mirror that just happened to be there, a 'happy accident' that I liked that I think breaks up the darkness nicely.

I forgot to mention, this is being processed and transfered at Postworks NY, who I'm very pleased with so far, they've been very helpful.

Thats all for now, I'll post more from the most recent 4 days when I get a chance. Any feedback/criticism welcome.

Edited by David Regan, 09 January 2008 - 12:54 PM.

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#3 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 01:25 PM

It looks good. The lighting is very naturalistic. Looks "unlit" which is a look in itself, not a put down. I am working on a similar project, but I decided I wouldn't post any grabs until we do the HD transfer, because the NTSC grabs look so crummy . . .
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#4 David Regan

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 01:28 PM

It looks good. The lighting is very naturalistic. Looks "unlit" which is a look in itself, not a put down. I am working on a similar project, but I decided I wouldn't post any grabs until we do the HD transfer, because the NTSC grabs look so crummy . . .


Yeah they certainly are pretty funky, I plan to post HD grabs once I have them, but since that transfer won't happen until we have our final edit, I figured I'd post these now while the shoot was fresh in my head.
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#5 David Sweetman

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Posted 10 January 2008 - 02:25 AM

These grabs are great, I especially dig the way she's framed in the window, and the shot of the dad. Just a real cool feel. Did you direct as well, or just DP?
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#6 David Regan

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Posted 10 January 2008 - 09:51 AM

These grabs are great, I especially dig the way she's framed in the window, and the shot of the dad. Just a real cool feel. Did you direct as well, or just DP?


Thanks, I did not direct, just DP on this one.
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#7 David Regan

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Posted 10 January 2008 - 10:13 AM

Day 2

Due to scheduling, our 2nd and 3rd days were really short, just at night, only 3 scenes total. However all the scenes were supposed to take place during the day so I got to try Night-for-Day for the first time which was enjoyable. Everything went pretty well, the first setup was in a bathroom, on the 2nd story of a building, so I wasn't able to have my 1200 as close to the window as I would have liked, so I had to keep everything in that room pretty dark to keep the window as the brightest part of the image. My approach was pretty much to just close the blinds and blast it with the HMI, which worked decently. I originally had muslin and was going to crack the blinds a bit, and let the muslin blow out, looking like a white window, but the 1200 wasn't enough to light the room and blow out the muslin. So I just went straight into closed blinds.

These aren't grabs from the transfer like before, that footage is still at the lab, but just stills from the set, more or less at the camera angle, and very roughly corrected.

[attachment=3359:1_3_1_6_...ected_01.jpg]
This was a static shot, the girl looking in the mirror. Final frame in camera she is framed in the window. The 1200 is on the street below, top floor as close to the window as possible, hitting the blinds. There are 4 Kino tubes taped to the wall just above the window, which are providing the extra fill into the room, and hitting her shoulder and arm. Finally 1 Kino tube is up above the near doorway inside providing a bit of fill back into the room and on the girls face. I think as a whole it's ok, but I really think everything just needs to come up, mostly the brightness of the window, as a more realistic highlight reference. Also due to the angle of the HMI, the shadows on the blinds from the window frame aren't very realistic, which bothers me.

[attachment=3360:1_3_1_6_...ected_03.jpg]
This was a single shot, dollying back as the girl enters the doorway and turns to look at the man on the couch. This time there was a balcony outside the window, so I was able to get my HMI angled better and at a much closer range. The 1200 is on the porch, while a 575 if is inside behind the door to the right inside the living room, lighting the left wall and the man on the couch. A 2 bank Kino is inside the living room as well, to give a little edge to her as she opens the door. Then another 2 bank is high above camera right in the entryway, to fill her face as she stands in the door frame and to fall on the left-hand door as well. I think the bright level at the window is much better in this example, and sells the day illusion more, than it did in the first still from the bathroom. Overall I was fairly pleased with this, if there is one drawback, she opens the door at the very beginning of shot, meaning that the left door is still well lit for a split seconed even though there is no motivated source. We are supposedly cutting right as the door is partly open, but I think ideally I should have put had a dimmer cue on that light to bring it up as the door opens, or something to compensate.
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#8 David Regan

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Posted 11 January 2008 - 02:09 AM

Day 3

Only one scene this day, all in a stairwell. Tight space but friendly residents made things pretty easy on us. Supposed to be during the daytime, but again was shot at night. I don't know as I nailed it as a scene that looks windowlit to be honest, it feels a bit sourcy, but at the same time I don't mind it, in fact I probably enjoy this scene to some extent the most. In the scene the girl walks down into a gunslinger in the foreground and we stay on the boy, and the then sits down into frame next to him. The stills are that master 2 shot, plus a turnaround on her when she is standing at the bottom of the stairs. My biggest beef is her single on the stairs from when she is seated. I don't have a still of it, but suffice to say, space was tight and even with a pretty heavy cheat, we ended up looking at her between 1/4 turn and profile pretty steeply up angle, which I wasn't thrilled with. Otherwise I was pretty happy with angles.

Again stills here are just roughly corrected still taken from cam. position during rehearsal. These match pretty well for framing/composition.

[attachment=3369:1_3_1_6_...ected_04.jpg]
Pretty happy with this shot overall. A 575 HMI is at the top of the stairs, slashing through a taped gel frame for a bit of breakup. It is primarily just hitting the rightmost wall, but due to the boys position, catching him as well. I also tried to keep it on the stairs and as it bounces off the wall it adds a good base level of ambience. A 4 bank Kino is armed out over the stairwell from floor above, backlighting the actress primarily and bringing up exposure. A bounceboard near camera right side, is helping bring up her face. Finally there is a 2 bank just over her head frame left adding that little bit of light you see on her right arm and some that is lost in her dark hair. The warm crack of light is framed out in my camera composition, this is a bit wider. In retrospect I think I actually like this wider frame better and would have prefered to actually shoot it from somewhere around here.

[attachment=3370:1_3_1_6_...ected_05.jpg]
This is a bittersweet one for me. This is almost an identical frame from my final comp. and to be honest probably one of my favorite closeups. I really enjoy the exageratted slashes of shadow on the far wall. However I really wish I had just a bit of light in her eyes, for a bit of life. This isn't a positive moment of the film by any means so I don't think she really needs it persay, I just feel the image would really benefit from just seeing her eyes a bit more. I enjoy her face being dark there, but just a hit of a glint in her eye would really help it IMHO. But whats done is done and the rest of it I'm fairly happy with. The 575 that was on the top of the stairs is now frame right on the lower level, cutting through a taped gel frame again on that back wall. The 2 bank is in the same spot but angled to provide that backlight highlight on the right part of her forhead and cheek. And the 4 bank that was high above in the stairwell is in the same spot, providing the same base exposure for her face.


More to come, any criticism or comments welcome.

Edited by David Regan, 11 January 2008 - 02:10 AM.

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#9 Chris Keth

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Posted 11 January 2008 - 02:22 AM

I think you're doing some good work, Dave. Some serious realism going there. I certainly second the wish for a bit of sparkle in the eyes in the last still, at the very least. Her sockets could be filled in some if you wanted a more attractive look or you could skip it. Looking forward to some film grabs!
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#10 David Regan

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 08:11 PM

Day 4.

Lots of Apartment interiors. Some long dialogue sequences that took some planning. The director and I went in with actors the night before and blocked it out which was really helpful, and something I hope to do more often, as it really helped us come up with a cohesive set of shots that served the story, as well as permitted us to shoot as much as we wanted within one day. We managed to wrap out on time, before we lost natural daylight so it was a successful day overall.

We started the day piecemealing some shots from different scenes, just so we could get different actors finished, and be most time efficient. I also wanted to end on a scene that didn't really look at any windows, so if we ran long we could more easily fake our daylight. Ultimately we were done on time however so it was a moot point.

For the most part I was happy with the results. We have the footage back from the lab, but I'm holding off posting grabs from the transfer, since after seeing how poor the quality was after uploading them, I'm going to wait until I have stills from the HD transfer. The footage overall has some good stuff, the stairway scene discussed before came out nicely, and I think the really long dialoge scene we shot on this day will cut fairly well. There are some problems that I think were made in haste, as we rushed towards the end of the day, really silly mistakes such as a lens flare in a shot that I had thought was going to turn out nicely. Things like that which make me want to get better at still working wisely and achieve good photography even under stressed or rushed conditions. My main beef with the footage was an HMI running really cool, if you've seen the post in the Lighting section about this you'll know what I mean, it really bothers me in a couple shots. Otherwise, I think the day turned out OK, I don't think it was my best work, but I took a lot from it to learn from.

The following are some stills from the day, not actual grabs which will hopefully be coming in a few weeks when we get our HD transfer.

[attachment=3397:1_3_1_6_...ected_09.jpg]
Not quite the angle the camera is at for this shot. The camera is tighter on her, and more up angle, with the male actor standing in the background as the two talk, the girl with her back to him. I liked the staging of the shot and it served as a fairly effective master for a good chunk of the scene. A 1200 HMI is cutting into the room from outside the window frame right, while a 4 bank Kino is up high behind her frame right. Another 2 bank is filling in her face, also frame right. Fairly simple, and directional, and I think it was successful for the most part.

[attachment=3398:1_3_1_6_...ected_12.jpg]
A bit tighter than actual framing but you get the idea. 1200 from the setup above is just reversed now cutting back into the room and acting as the key on the girl in the chair and motivated rimlight for the forground character. An additional 2 bank Kino is bringing up his face on the near camera side, while the 4 bank from before is also offering some additional rim on him, as well as additional detail on the desk. What you don't see in this particular grab is that in an earlier shot we were shooting a bit to the left of this position, and wider, and saw right out the window. Unfortunately I had no ND, and there was snow outside, which as you can imagine went really hot. Thats my big regret was not controlling that as well as I should, because otherwise I enjoyed the shots in this section of the scene.

Any comments welcome, 3 more days to come.
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#11 Chris Keth

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 08:42 PM

Looking pretty good. Footage grabs of some of these will be nice. So I hear you might shoot the sex scene pickups for Neal? Lucky dog. My reel needs some sexy, not violent material :P
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#12 David Regan

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 01:02 AM

Looking pretty good. Footage grabs of some of these will be nice. So I hear you might shoot the sex scene pickups for Neal? Lucky dog. My reel needs some sexy, not violent material :P


Well he mentioned shooting some pickups as a possibility, but I hadn't heard anything about it's context. It sounded really straightforward but who knows lol.

So continuing on...
Day 5.

A rushed day, as our second location was on a very limited time schedule, and our first location only opened for us at a certain time, so it was a day spent on the run. Our first location was a fortuneteller scene, which was probably the most cramped space I'd ever been in. Foot for Foot I've probably been in tighter spaces, but due to the many intricate and breakable objects that lined the walls around us, movement was a nightmare. To be honest, on the day I wasn't feeling particularily great about how the shots turned out, I had a feeling it was going to be messy, and look as rushed as it felt. Happily I think the final results acutally came out better than I expected so I was reasonably happy. Ironically the second location, which we actually ended up ahead of schedule at, I felt pretty good about on the day, only to find myself somewhat dissapointed with what I saw of the final product.

Stills from the day, not actual framegrabs.

[attachment=3404:1_3_1_6_...ected_14.jpg]
The fortuneteller room. Shot uncorrected Tungsten as the crystal bulb was rediculously warm. I used daylight balanced kinos to the right and left of frame, low, angled as a sort of frontal cross key. I wanted the kinos to go cool just to keep with the overal feel of the picture, which I didn't want to lose despite an environment and crystal ball that was giving out a warmer feel. I had a 250 practical on a dimmer up high and skirted off the wall. Given time or better improvisational skills, I would have liked to work that light more, and keep it from being so harsh on their heads.

[attachment=3406:1_3_1_6_...ected_16.jpg]
This was a fairly simple shot. We were in a very large space, the yoga room of a gym, but I didn't want them to look entirely empty in a large space with just three actors. In retrospect, I think it may have added an interesting dimension, the large room with solitary figures lost in it. I think this is a fairly uninteresting frame to look at, and needs much in the realm of composition, that could have been a more creative and successful adaptation of the space we were working in. Regarding lighing, I again wanted the brighter background, which came off I think, but I think I lost my guts on this one, and didn't get the characters as dark as I could or should have. Ultimately the final transfer is somewhat flat. I'll see if I can work in some contrast when we final output to HD. The setup is simple, 575 through blinds (what else) on the back white wall, and a 1200 is raking the colored back wall. Separate Kino fixtures are lighting each figure, from the side, which is where I think the scene loses dimensionality with regard to light. Or at least its part of the problem <_<



Comments are appreciated, the final two days of shooting are coming up this Saturday and Sunday.
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#13 Olex Kalynychenko

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 02:29 AM

Comments are appreciated, the final two days of shooting are coming up this Saturday and Sunday.


Not bad, but i have a few critical words.
The scenes show interesting, have multi level of building, but, i not see of light building.
I don't know of plan of light setting of every scene, but, i think, you need use of more lighters on foreground.
The main actor ( actors ) must be underline by light.
The background or parts on backgrounds have more high level of light and if you equalize of total density on main actors, you lost of
details on background.
I don't know, this is pictures from telecine after density correction or from other source.

Other idea, not worry to mix of daylight with tungsten light.
The day light on background and tungsten light on foreground will give you additional capacity of picture.
Yes, of course, i don't know of main idea of movie.

The important to use of back lighting, you will underline of profile of actors and draw attention of viewers
of main subjects of scene.

The light and shade - the important tolls for show of ideas of move.
Need shoot of more and more and all will OK.

P.S I love use of 320 T 7277, very good dynamic range of density.
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#14 David Regan

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 10:04 AM

Thanks Olex. I agree, while I wanted some darker forgrounds in some cases, I certainly agree that some of them did need more light, especially in some of my closeups, to help bring out the actors. I was avoiding the mixture of tungsten/daylight, primarily for service of the story, except for those instances where I think it did help, in some of the frames in my first couple posts. Thanks again for the comments.
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#15 David Regan

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Posted 21 January 2008 - 12:03 AM

Day 6/7

The final two days of shooting. Technically, we have a pickup shoot of a shot we need to redo, but otherwise, principal photography is complete. It was fun two days to finish on, both pretty laid back, and for the most part went well I think. Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to get as many stills as I wanted to, so you'll have to fill in with your imagination, but I think there were some good things, as well as issues I'm kicking myself over for not getting right. For one thing, I'm finding a balance between ease of use factor of lights and knowing what is really best for the job. We had a long hallway dolly shot, following a man on a stretcher looking down at him. We wanted it dark and moody, so I planned and did use Kino tubes taped to the ceiling creating these pools of light. I felt having the ease of simply rigging the tubes up would be a good way to go, since we didn't have much for grip/rigging equipment, and it was a fairly tight hall. However bare tubes taped up is very uncontrolable as I'm sure you all know, and I wish I had anticipated. Ultimately, I used blackwrap to control the spill to some extent, but was never really pleased with the final result. I think the directionality of light was nice, but the light just bounced around a lot and went flat in some sections under the light, whereas I wanted sharper pools of light. I'm not really sure offhand what would have been better, I think tungsten would have been to hard, I wanted well defined pools of light, but with the look of typical overhead hospital flourescents. Something to think about for next time <_<
(BTW if anyone has a good suggestion for types of fixtures/techniques for achieving such a look, I'd love to hear it. Perhaps I just wasn't controlling the kinos well)

The following are some uncorrected stills from the two days.

[attachment=3453:1_19_20.2.jpg]
A really great location to shoot at, a small bed and breakfast that took place at the perfect time of day. I put a 1200 HMI outside the left window on the porch roof. I really really wanted a harder backlight, the sun was low in the sky at the time, as you can maybe tell, and when we got to the room I just really wanted that strong backlight, which worked well in keeping our character in front of brighter sources and windows. Unfortunately it wasn't really the strong, hot, backlight I wanted, and was more of just a really intense side light, which is ok, but it wasn't what I had in mind when I started lighting, so I have mixed feelings about the setup. The only other light is a 4 bank kino inside to bring up their levels.


[attachment=3454:1_19_20.3.jpg]
The younger character in flashback is with her father in the hospital. Meant to be moody and somber, I was pretty happy with this setup. There is a 2 bank kino over the man's head at the bed, doored off the back wall. A 300w fresnel is backed off and cut down, providing the edge light on the left side of the girl. And a 250w photoflood bulb dimmed down is adding just a touch of fill on the right side of the girl. Maybe my favorite lighting of the day, I'm excited to see it in the final transfer. I think its fairly succesful, but I think my lighting is just off somwhere, I'm not sure where, perhaps its in how dark the man's face is. I'm still contemplating this one.

[attachment=3455:1_19_20.4.jpg]
The opposite of that last setup, this scene takes place at the end, as the woman comes to terms with her problems, and he father's death. I went into the scene with the concept that we wanted to introduce some hope back into it. However honsetly I think it might be a tad too cheerful and high key. On its own, I think the lighting has some good things going for it, however I'm annoyed that I may have lost sight of the story's context and lit excessively. The setup is simple, again just a 2 bank over head, and then just a 1k open face outside the window with 1/4 CTB on it. There is also natural daylight spilling in. So again, another bittersweet one, I'm not upset with the lighting itself persay, but when considered with the story I think I missed the mark.


It was a great shoot for me, I definitely learned a lot. In all it was only a little over 7 400' rolls so not terrible, for what will probably be a 15 minute film. Hope you enjoyed the posts, as always comments and criticism is welcome. I'll post some HD transfers on here when we get that eventually.
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