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THE WATCH
MAKING THE WATCH
by Norman Bull


I am pleased to say we have successfully completed a club film this year, albeit only five minutes long, but it's another one for the archives. The object of this modest little project was to inject a little humorous variety into a programme of films entered for the Triangle Competition. THE WATCH is a remake of a little sketch made out of a gag regaled by Fred Gelder and hurriedly cobbled together during one of our earlier summer meetings.
A Sunday morning during early April was set aside and a small group made-up of Fred Gelder, Diggy, Eve, John & Barbara Gollop, and myself, and closely supported and fortified with cups of tea and coffee by my wife Sylvia, gathered in the small confines of our house extension. A false fireplace and wall mounted picture and furniture were removed and pushed aside to establish a plain wall backdrop which would represent part of the concourse of Gatwick airport international terminal building.
By now this (world famous) backdrop has represented a futuristic BBC Channel 7 studio, a senatorial office in Minneapolis and PROJECT ZENITH headquarters in Geneva, in a previous production.
In this tiny space, Fred and Diggy acted out their parts as travel weary passengers tagging on the end of a queue at passport control headed by Eve, Barbara and John. All the time we were hopeful that the sound of children playing, a dog barking and passing traffic would not feature too prominently on the sound track. An improvised dialogue which was not too tightly scripted was utilised to make it easier and hopefully more natural sounding by our star studded cast.
By the end of the morning all the action, dialogue and close-up work had been shot and we sat for a short break with packed lunches and to discuss the next phase.
Location two was to be the airport car park. My choice of the stand-in was a large car park behind the shops at Worcester Park high street.
It wasn't really anything like an airport car park but I thought with some carefully framed compositions we might get away with it.
In any case, I thought, there wouldn't be too many people around on a Sunday afternoon to witness a bunch of nut cases cavorting about in front of a video camera.
After lunch the equipment and entourage was gathered and loaded up into the three vehicle cavalcade which made up the WINNING POST outside production unit, and made off for the second location.
I was right; the car park was virtually deserted apart from the odd vehicle and person loading up their car boot.
Fortunately this small amount of activity could be caught in frame to inject a little life into the shot. Sometimes though, shooting had to cease as the crash of the bottles being thrown into the portable bottle bank reverberated through the air. At one point, and I still have to smile when I look at the unedited footage, Fred had to run towards the camera, suitcases in hand. This was repeated over and over again until it satisfied the perfectionist whim of the sadistic cameraman, (me).
Filming ended at about the middle of the afternoon when we departed our different ways to enjoy what little there was left of the weekend.
All this was shot in SVHS at that time, as I was the only one of the group with high band equipment, the editing fell to me.
POOR FRED
Now this indeed is unusual - a small window of opportunity had opened up in my other activities to actually allow me to do some filmmaking! I am very keen on special effects and one scene called for the watch in the script to display moving television pictures on its face.
This would allow me to utilise the new digitising gadget I had purchased (£70) for my Amiga.

What this does is to capture video pictures from either a camcorder or a VCR - live or otherwise - and save them as a still picture into the computer. Once in the computer a picture can be altered and played about with, almost at will. This picture can then be superimposed over moving video pictures. The required effect was achieved by digitising a picture of the back of Fred's wrist wearing the watch - making a still picture of it. On the computer, the face of the watch was painted out with the colour black, which would become transparent when mixed with the moving video pictures underneath later on. One little problem arose, mainly through lack of knowledge, when I realise that the digitising picture had a black frame around it, spoiling the effect. This is where a little more titillating came into play.
With a computer, small areas of picture can be copied, picked up, moved around and pasted down in other places within the picture.
Thus, feeling a bit like a plastic surgeon, I copied pieces of Fred's skin and stuck them down where his hand disappeared at the edge of the screen! There is a colour mismatch with the rest of the moving material but as it appears for only a few seconds, I though it not to be important. The next stage was to film a television screen with moving images on it so that it would appear the right size and at the right place to show through onto the watch face. First the digitised picture was displayed on a small monitor. A hole was then cut in a piece of paper, the same size as the watch face as appeared on the monitor.
This piece of paper was then taped over the monitor screen so that the image of the watch face only peeped through the hole.
Having ascertained where I wanted the small television screen to appear on the monitor, I switched off the digitised image.
A pre-recorded television programme on tape was played through to my 14 inch object television. The camera, pointing at the television screen from a distance of seven or eight feet, was also plugged into the small monitor with the masked screen.
Little by little, by moving the camera backwards and forwards and up and down I was able to make a small picture of the television appear in the little hole of the masked monitor. A lead linking the sound track of the programme from the VCR to the camera was connected and filming a small excerpt began. This carried out, I now had my two images for superimposing - the digitised wristwatch and moving pictures and of a small television screen displayed exactly where I wanted it.
Sounds easy doesn't it? Erm - well we won't go into that now!
Material shot at Gatwick Airport on low band 8mm and VHSC tapes had been gathered by John Gollop and Diggy at separate times.
These showed interior views from a plane looking out whilst landing, and the general hubbub of the airport buildings.
They cut together quite well giving a good start and feel to the film in my opinion. Another special effect was required - but on the sound track this time. As Diggy walks to his car in the car park, he looks up at a passing plane. Here we had to dub on the sound of the overhead plane but curiously enough there wasn't anything on the Gatwick material which was appropriate. The best sound I had was of a Jet plane taxiing on the runway. Bring on the Fosdex with its variable pitch control!
By carefully adjusting the volume and tape speed controls we were able to bend this sound so that it simulated what was required.
In the end, the film wasn't enough to tip the balance of the Triangle scales in our favour but with a few mod's we hope to enter it for the North v South Competition.
"It's a Gamble" but then who knows? By the way that is the theme of the next NvS comp!

SECOND TAKE issue 42. June 1995.

PROGRAMME REVIEW
NONSUCH REVIVAL
THE MAKING OF SACRED AND PROFANE
A DAY TRIP TO CHICHESTER
SUCCESS ON A PLATE
BIAFF 2006 - A MEMBER'S VIEW
THE SURREY FILM & VIDEO FESTIVAL 2005
THE FUTURE IS RED
COURT SHORTS
TIME OUT
We came, We shot, We chomped
BOB'S BASIC EDITING GUIDE
My Introduction to the Wonder ful World of DV!
Grandeur of the Granada
FILMS ARE LIKE ELEPHANTS
How 305 Sqaudron was made
THE BIG FIVE "O"
MUSIC COPYRIGHT
NORTH V SOUTH 2008
HOT CHESTNUTS
WIDER AND WIDER
FALLEN ANGELS
EARLY CINE RAMBLINGS
MORE