Sunday, January 21, 2007

Classic Game Room Reshoot in HD

As I am nearly finished with my new documentary film, Classic Game Room: The Rise and Fall of the Internet's Greatest Video Game Review Show, I decided to reshoot a key scene in the film.

Swings are rad

The "reminiscence" scene about the fall of the Game Room is a moving and touching scene filled with tears and heartache. How could society let a bunch of beer swilling video game review show hosts down....? Its a tragic tale that tugs at the heartstrings.

Originally this scene, filmed in Schenley Park overlooking Pittsburgh, was filmed on Betacam SP format. You can see those shots on an earlier blog post HERE.

But the weather wasn't very good, I edited the footage into the documentary and didn't care for the handheld style as much as I thought I would, and I generally felt it could have been better. So we reshot it in High Definition on the Panasonic Varicam with a steadicam!

Panasonic Varicam takes no prisoners

I did not have any room in the Game Room budget to do this of course, but as luck would have it I was filming for my George Westinghouse documentary with a Varicam and Steadicam. Once we finished filming the George Westinghouse monument - also in Schenley Park - the sun was beginning to set and the swing location was just a few hundred yards away. The weather was just perfect, clear skies, no rain, very cold. All good shooting conditions. And I had a Varicam and steadicam at my disposal as well as two terrific DP's!

Steadicam in Schenley Park

So Jay, Rich and I trundled up the hill and refilmed the entire Game Room scene just as I had edited it (so I knew exactly what shots to get) and this time had steadicam "dolly" style movements, shots into the sun, silhouettes and HD footage. This is complete overkill for Classic Game Room of course, since it is a mixed bag of footage to begin with, but I was very pleased to add this high level of production value where it fits. Its makes a sarcastic touching scene even more sarcastic and touching. Now when viewers learn about how the Game Room was stomped into the ground by a failed internet business model they'll be entertained with stunning photography.

Panasonic Varicam and HD Monitor

The above shot is the last image we got that day, after a long day of filming the George Westinghouse documentary. Jay is shooting with the Varicam on the ground propped up by a sandbag to get my low angle shot through the swingset into the city of Pittsburgh at dusk. From what I saw in the monitor this is as good as any shot that we've filmed for the other films like Horses of Gettysburg or Expo: Magic of the White City.

Chillin' with the Game Room

The downside is, as Rich said after shooting it, "Man, now you're going to have to reshoot the entire documentary". Which I can't do, actually a good chunk of the humor in Classic Game Room is the low-budget nature of the show and what we had to do to even make it on $50 an episode (like lighting toy cars on fire).

The footage was all originally shot in 4x3 aspect ratio so this HD footage I recently shot will either be letterboxed or cropped to 4x3 to match... which is painful but that's the way it is. Just imagine, would an entire documentary about beer drinking and Atari video games be even better in HD? Well, not on my budget!

I'm nearly done editing the film. I think it came together very well and tells the humorous tale of the rise and fall of Classic Game Room. The shot below is the monster editing system that Classic Game Room is being edited on in standard definition. Adobe Premier Pro with Matrox Axio LE, dual Xeon processors and tons of horsepower. The George Westinghouse documentary will also be edited on this system in HD.

Adobe Premier Pro with Matrox Axio LE

1 comment:

Liam Franklin said...

Hi Mark,
Im an old fan of the game room, I used to watch it all the time. I especially loved the reviews you did for the sega genesis on streets of rage and x-men. Your classic power of throwing beer bottles cracked me;)

Are there any plans at all in bringing back the game room? Also is there any where that I can watch the old reviews?

Many thanks for the good old days and I hope all is going well for you both now.