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The making of Plan B

This won a Gold Standard award and the Best One Minute Movie award at BIAFF 2006 and came second in the World Minute Movie Cup at UNICA 2006.

I am a retired television Sound Director, having spent 44 years with Central Television working on shows such as, Sunday Night at the London Palladium, Candid Camera and Spitting Image. I have made 72 AVs and 53 videos so far. I use Casablanca Avio and as you might expect, I have amassed a music library as well as several thousand sound effects.

Plan B came about mainly because a friend of mine had a replica space suit made for a series of lectures.

Still from 'Plan B'. The outdoor night shoot was done on the field behind my house. I used a 2 thousand watt lamp to light the general scene and an 800 watt lamp to light the astronaut's face. The only props were an aluminium ladder, a piece of plastic drainpipe wrapped in gold foil (to imitate the leg of the lunar excursion module) and a door mat. The biggest problem was once the astronaut's helmet was on, he couldn't hear my instructions. This outdoor scene took an hour to shoot.

The model shoot was done in my lounge. The model spacecraft was flown in, supported on black cotton. The finished shot was played back at half speed to make the landing more realistic. I used a piece of grey roofing felt for the moon's surface. To add realism to the touchdown, 3 different sizes of grey modeller's sand was scattered and blown around by an air jet as the model landed. On take 1 the air jet was too close and too strong and the sand finished up on the carpet. My wife was not pleased. Model shooting time 1 hour 30 minutes.

Still from 'Plan B'. The distorted radio conversation between the astronaut and mission control was achieved by dialling a speaker 'phone from a mobile and placing a microphone over the speaker 'phone and recording the actor's voices onto a digital mini disc.

My actors usually come from our local amateur theatre and friends and neighbours. When I knock on my neighbours' doors I am usually greeted with "What have I got to dress up in this time?" Secretly, I think they are flattered to be involved.

I find the biggest difference between AV and video is in the music editing. To make a piece of music appear to start and finish a video scene naturally, requires a great deal of thought. In an AV you can speed up or slow down the rate of your slides to fit the music. When I am judging I always mark down an AV or video where the music does not finish naturally.

- Clive Atkins FRPS, FIPF, FBIPP, EFIAP    March 2006


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