I felt as though I was watching a master painter work on his next canvas before me. This nagging feeling came that I shouldn't be here, it told me I was intruding on his beautiful work and he wouldn't want me to watch and enjoy. Yet a stronger and;gentler voice broke through and knowingly beckoned me to experience the present. He seemed to be saying, look here, enjoy what I making.
Beneath Jamaican Skies // The Story and Film
I like to call these experiences forever memories. Those precious moments of our human experience that you know won't ever be forgotten. Moments in time where every sensor in your body is taking in everything it can. In times like this it truly does feel like you are writing a good story with your life. You can feel so insignificant in a vast expanse and yet still feel a unique and overwhelming sense of value. It is as if something, someone, is calling you to take part in something bigger than yourself. It's this deep-rooted feeling you have a part to play.
This is why I love timelapsing. It has brought me to places and given me experiences that I hope to never forget. Once you get the timelapsing bug it begins to change the way you see and experience everyday life. You start looking for patterns and motion in the landscapes around you. It gives you an entirely new perspective to the moving world.
FILMMAKING HAS DRAWN ME TO SEE THE WORLD FOR ALL IT HAS TO OFFER, IT HAS PUSHED ME TO PURSUE EXPERIENCES I WOULDN'T HAVE NORMALLY PURSUED.
If that's sitting on a mountain through the night watching the stars move by, or chasing the last fading rays of a beautiful sunset. Timelapsing has added a dimension to my life of such rich depth and beauty. The moment I was describing previously was an iconic moment for me and my journey as an aspiring filmmaker. It is one of the few moments in my life where I have felt spoken to so deeply.
BENEATH JAMAICAN SKIES
A FILM BY LEVI ALLEN
You can view more of my films on Vimeo
BEHIND THE SCENES
This project came about through an opportunity I had to travel to Jamaica with some friends. I had just graduated from High School and I was really keen to make some projects with opportunities to practice and grow. I had previously shot my Beautiful British Columbia Film and I wanted to implement some of the things I had learned from this project. At this point I had gotten the timelapsing bug and literally timelapsed almost anything that would move.
I shot almost every sequence in this film in RAW stills so I could push the settings in post and do exposure ramping. I shot a lot of the sunset and sunrise timelapses using the Holy Grail method. Having these sequences in .CR2 was certainly very helpful. I also shot a ton of glidcam footage on this trip. There are a lot of shots that made it into the film, but literally about 10 times that amount that ended up getting cut.
HOW DID YOU GET SO GOOD AT GLIDECAM?
When people ask me how I got so good at operating a glidcam, I always point back to this trip. It was literally two straight weeks of constant glidcam shooting all day every single day. I would set up a timelapse and then use another canon T2i to shoot moving shots. I put in a lot of hours which helped slowly take my skills to the next level.
The gear I used to shoot this piece is actually really simple
• Modified Flycam Nano ( I extended the middle column so it could hold more weight • Canon t2i (still an excellent very useable camera) • Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 VC (awesome run and gun lens) (one of my favourite lenses) • Rokinon 35mm f1.4 lens (one of my favourite lenses) • Borrowed sigma 10–20mm (I wouldn't recommend purchasing this) • Manfrotto Monopod (MVM500A) (absolute favourite tool for run and gun shooting)
For my intervalometer I used Magic Lantern.
I edited this film on my mid 2012 Mac Book Pro, it only has 8gb of memory, but the i7 intel chip handles things fairly well and is still my main editing machine.
- Premiere Pro
- Adobe After Affects
WHAT WOULD I DO DIFFERENTLY IN THE FUTURE
I learned a lot on this project as you would expect when you spend so much time shooting and editing. I now know that when I create pieces like this I really need to be fighting to find a story that helps tie the whole piece together. This film for me was an amazing accomplishment of a visual display, yet there wasn't a driving story. There isn't a component that grabs someones attention and drives them to watch the entire thing. The only reason the average viewer would watch it all the way through, is if I managed to enthrall and entice them with the visuals. You need more of a grab than just something pretty. With this in mind I would have tried to capture the culture and the people. I would have tried to integrate a human element that viewers could relate to.
Another thing I learned on this project is that next time I am not going to shoot near as many GoPro timelapses. I have hundreds of gigs of .jpg timelapses all GoPro shot. None of them made the cut into the film.
Thanks so much for reading about one of my films. It is my goal to create more in-depth posts on my future projects, both in storytelling and in the technical production side. You can send me any questions or feedback through email directly by joining the Leftcoast Collective.
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Written by: Levi Allen VanderKwaak