The COVID-19 pandemic has forced Dominica's government (and many others) to declare a State of Emergency. Movement is restricted to essential workers and residents who need to provide or access essential goods/services only. Schools are closed and so are several businesses.
In our specific case, we are further restricted by a 6:00 PM weekly curfew and on the weekends, we are completed locked inside.
What does one do with so much free time and limited mobility??
As it relates to free time, I've already written a blog post about what we could all be doing to keep busy. But being locked down, not being able to leave your home, for days at a time is enough to send some people over the deep end!
I, however, kept calm and used my limitations over the long Easter weekend to create a new video in the CLOUDED series.
Getting the footage
I have learned that the key to shooting interesting clouds is - time of day. Truth be told, this is the key for all outdoor photography, because the time of day determines the type of lighting you'll get.
By themselves clouds can be a bit boring, so it helps to have rich colors to help keep viewers' attention. This meant shooting at sunrise and during the late afternoon.
This is all well and good, but what do you do if there are no clouds!?
We were going through a dry spell and there had been no rainfall for weeks. No rain meant that there were fewer clouds, they were lighter (wispy) and they didn't refract light as much as their thicker counterparts. This also meant that I ended up dumping several sequences because I just didn't like them.
I worked with what I could get though... and I love the end result.
This is where the magic happens! I shot more than 12,000 images over the course of 37 sequences (note: each sequence is a series of images that will be used to create an 8 to 16 second video clip).
To give you a sense of scale, think of this:
- I require 24 images for 1 second of video
- In total, I captured 12,000 images (rounded down to the nearest thousand)
- This means that technically, I had enough footage for an 8 minute long video
- The final film is less than three minutes long
I will spare you the dreary details about the time it took to edit the images, create the video clips, edit the video clips and then polish the final video. I also won't tell you about the back and forth between software applications, re-editing sequences, failed software and so on. This is all par for the course!
For those who may be interested, my go-to applications were:
- Adobe Lightroom (to catalog images and do a primary edit)
- LRTimelapse (to ensure smooth transitions throughout each sequence)
- Adobe After Effects (to stabilize shaky footage, remove flicker and remove elements such as dust spots/birds)
- Adobe Premiere Pro (to edit video clips into a coherent sequence)
- Davinci Resolve (for color-grading of the coherent sequence)
- Sonar Platinum (to mix the sound various sound elements)
- Adobe Premiere Pro (to render the final video - footage and sound - that you will see on social media)
I don't think I've ever spent as much time looking for the right music as I did with this short film. The song needed to be simple enough that I could layer sound effects within it, without making the soundscape cluttered or distracting. But the song also needed to have a compelling melody and arrangement.
I ended up using "First Snow" by Beneath the Mountain and I acquired the license from Artlist.io... my go-to platform for beautiful royalty-free music for all my projects.
I continue to embrace the use of ambient sound effects in this type of work. Pardon my use of the cliche expression, but the effects really take each piece to the next level!
Especially when you listen with headphones, you're able to get lost in the sounds and the footage that you're watching. It is a wonderful experience.
I have already started capturing footage for the third installment in this series. We should be getting some rain this weekend, so I hope to capture a lot more beautiful cloud scenes!