Saturday, June 7, 2014

Helping Out at an International Short Film Festival

The main image of the 12th Manchester International
Short Film Festival (2014)
The appeal went out over Facebook for help with the production of the 12th Manchester International Short Film Festival (also known as the KinoFilm Festival). This was due to take place at the end of May, beginning of June and we were already only a few weeks off. Could we produce a trailer for the festival? And could we assemble the films for the various events at the Festival (16 in all not including two other events organised by others)? The answer was that we would do our best.
The trailer was fairly simple. We went out and about in Manchester with two high definition cameras, one of our Sony "workhorses" and a GoPro. We decided on the latter as it can provide very wide angle images which in some instances is essential, such as at the newly renovated Manchester Central Library where you can only take shots from close to if you are to avoid seeing continuing construction works.
The renovated Manchester Central Library
We decided to make a moving logo which we could superimpose on many of the shots to give the impression that the festival was everywhere in Manchester, and we selected fast moving music to cut to. To see the trailer, click here.
Preparing for the festival itself was another story, as the organisers had received 900 different short films, from which they had selected 120 to show at the festival.
Largely out of choice, we decided to allow the film makers to send their films to us (mostly by internet) in the format of their choice. This would enable them to present them at their best.
We received all sorts of shapes and sizes, the largest files being around 15GB, the smallest around 200MB! Given the order of films at each event (for each programme), the task was to assemble these, not by using USB sticks which is often the case at festivals, but unreliable, but by creating high definition Blu-Ray discs each running for about 90 minutes. Films submitted in standard definition would be upgraded to high definition with a touch of "sharpening" to compensate.
The films were flying in from all over the world, some presented at 25 frames per second, some at 24 frames per second. This created a problem in its own right. If you start at 24fps and change to 25fps, this can create problems with fast motion. If you reduce again to 24fps, this can make it even worse. So we made a decision to create all of our Blu-Rays at 24fps, rendering every film in each programme to that rate. It took time, but it was worth it.
The programme of preparation was intense and with critical paths. On occasions, our main computer was multi-tasking, rendering two programmes at the same time while burning Blu-Rays in addition! (Oh and also DVDs where Blu-Rays couldn't be used!).
Behind the screen at the Anthony Burgess Foundation
The main venues (with one exception) had high-definition projection, some using their own Blu-Ray player, some using ours. These venues included the Manchester Central Library, Instituto Cervantes, Three Minute Theatre, Anthony Burgess Foundation and Gullivers.
The result? Good quality projection, showing the selected films in the format they were intended to be shown in for the most part.
For us, it was an experience!
We are not technicians, we are film makers in our own right, helping out.
But apart from the trailer, the bulk of the job was technical. What was worth it, was seeing short films (ranging from Oscar nominees to Student Films) made by our peers. Too bad that our own film "Cry England!" couldn't be shown, but at just under 40 minutes running time, it is too long for such a festival, and we will have to start thinking "short"!
The standard of the films being shown? Impressively good! For the most part, top quality!
More information on the Festival itself can be found on its KinoFilm Facebook Page and at