The Jolly Roger Bus Documentary

A Self Produced Short Film Series

I apologize, for the lack of updates here in the last few months. I promise I haven’t fallen off the earth. A few months ago, our family began a new life chapter which had been in the works for a long time and which has not only put all of my other plans for this blog on hold, but almost completely consumed all of my time and mental energy.

We had been deeply longing to move away from Pennsylvania where we had been living for the past 6 years. The only thing keeping us there was the fact that we didn’t know where we wanted to go. After weighing many options and exploring lots of potential places, we decided to get outside the box.

We purchased an old former greyhound bus and we are converting it to a tiny home and planning to live in it and travel for a while.

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I won’t go too deep into that story here. If you’re interested in reading more about that story, (it’s pretty cool) feel free to go check out our bus blog www.thejollyrogerbus.com.

Here on this site, I want to talk a little bit about our self-made documentary project.

The plan is for this to be an ongoing mini-series of short films while we’re renovating and later living in the bus.

I’ve done a few small personal video projects, but I’ve never attempted anything like this before where I’m trying to produce something that has the look and feel of broadcast quality.

First of all, while I’m quite happy with how the first episode turned out, the cinematography still not quite how I want it to look because it’s pretty much all shot from a tripod while I work on the bus. I really want it to be more up close and candid feeling, but until I figure out how to duplicate myself so I can do both at the same time, the tripod will have to do for now.

I’ll go ahead and answer the technical questions that most people ask first about these types of things.


Camera Gear

MOST of the video in this first episode was shot on my Canon 5d Mk2 and primarily with my 17-40mm lens. The interview scenes were shot with my 35mm lens and there’s some iPhone video as well. No external microphones were used. Just the in-camera mic. (Which is the reason for having a lot of background noise in many scenes.)


Editing

It was entirely edited in Apple iMovie. I don’t currently own any other video software, I’m already very familiar with it and I think it does a surprisingly good job. Sure, there’s not as many features and effects like a pro software would have, but I don’t really need a lot of effects either.


Effects

I keep the effects to a minimum to begin with anyway, but here’s what I used.

Playback speed: There’s a lot of time lapse footage showing the process of the work on the bus. All of it was recorded at normal speed and then sped up to 8x in post.

Color: I used a simple filter in iMovie which I think gives the video a nice finished look, I wish however that the software had the ability to adjust the filters. As it is, there’s no adjustment at all. I like the overall look of the filter, but it’s a little stronger than I really wanted. I COULD have done the coloring in Adobe Lightroom, but I would have had to either apply one preset to the whole project after all the cutting and stitching was done, or color each clip individually before cutting and stitching. I didn’t like the idea of putting one preset on the whole project since Lightroom doesn’t have a timeline feature and I didn’t want to spend a crazy amount of time coloring each clip separately. Therefore, I opted for the iMovie filter which I could apply to as many or as few clips as I wanted.

Transitions: I wanted to keep things clean and simple. Most of it is just straight cuts with no transitions, but in between segments I used a “fade to white” transition.

Music: There’s only two music tracks in the video. Both are recordings done by people I know. I’d like to mention that the incredible acoustic track “From The Ashes” is an original composition and performance by my good friend Jason Vo. We used to be jam buddies back in high school, but he’s gone on to become easily the most talented musician I’ve ever personally known. Big thanks to him for letting me include his music! Check out his music here.

So that’s about all that I can think of to write about for this first episode. I’m excited to start putting together the next one and I’m already thinking of ways to improve and hone my creativity skills.

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below!


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