‘Bad Panda’ – Camera/Effects Test

// April 14th, 2014 // Film, Test Shoots, Video

frame from a camera/fx test shoot

I’ve just finished shooting a short film for Torfaen Police that was complicated enough that it required a test shoot in advance. The test footage is very, very rough but it’s also pretty interesting so I wanted to share.


The sound is bad, the framing is off, it’s not lit properly, the actors aren’t actors… but that’s not the point, the only thing it needs to do is demonstrate the effect, and for that it works well enough. The director and producer liked the test and we used the effect for the film which is currently in post-production.

What exactly is going on in the video probably needs some explaining!

The project is an anti-drugs film that can be shown to young people in schools and elsewhere to warn them about the dangers of ‘legal highs’. It’s essentially a public information film that needs to be engaging to the target audience (mostly teenagers), and be shocking enough to put them off.

The director (first-time director Shelley Rees) wanted to show the audience something of the effect the drugs might have, and to have a sharp contrast between how the person who takes the drugs experiences the world and what bystanders who aren’t suffering the effects see. This is quite a difficult thing to get right, to have a suitable tone, not look (too) tacky, and to achieve with the very small budget and time we had available. I wanted to do it all in-camera and using careful editing as much as possible.

I suggested using a shaky, erratic, direct point of view (POV) using a fisheye lens to drop into the drug-effected world, and using carefully timed looks and cuts to tie that to the ‘real’ world. I was fairly sure what I had in mind would work, but as this was a new way of shooting I wanted to do a camera test in advance of the shoot, for my own peace of mind and to show the director and other creatives involved how it would work.

Me and my brother put together the test over a couple of hours, using peanuts instead of drugs and ourselves instead of actors. I added a quick visual effect to the POV shots because without it the difference between the two worlds wasn’t obvious enough (again his is a quick fix temporary effect, and the final version will be different).

Visual reference is much better than just describing an effect no matter how experience the people involved are. I’ll post some stills and a link to the final film when it’s done.