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Aetuts+ Weekend Workshop #4 - "Abandoned Places Trailer v1.0"


We've recently started a new weekly community project where we'll be posting a video created by one of our wonderful readers, then ask you all to offer constructive feedback on the work. It’s a great way to learn more about video, express your viewpoint, and have your own content critiqued! Submit your own videos at the bottom.

Quick Ground Rules

  1. Play nice! We’ve deliberately chosen videos that aren’t perfect, so please be constructive with any criticism.
  2. Feel free to offer any type of advice – movement, lighting, color, pacing, etc.
  3. You can also link to videos that you feel offer a great example of this type of content done exceptionally well.

Without further ado, here is this week’s candidate for critique!

"Abandoned Places Trailer v1.0"

Story Behind the Project

Last year I decided to start the development for a personal project: a one hour documentary about abandoned places in Europe and photographer-urban explorers. Even if I love the imagery that you can get in these locations, I was a newbie with no experience about how to search these places and get there. People involved in URBEX (Urban Exploration) are very suspicious and cautious about the people from the media trying to approach them. They will not reveal exact locations online, because there are a lot of vandals out there, who will possibly ruin the places. As their slogan says..

Take only photographs. Leave only your footprints.

I surfed through some forums in Spain and joined one group. Fortunately, they were planning a trip to Germany for 10 days. Just to take pictures of some 'forgotten places'. Factories, ateliers, train stations, mines…

Entering these places is usually considered 'breaking and entering' (even if we were not breaking anything to enter), illegal… and it can be dangerous. Rotten wooden floors, rusty stairs, etc. In a cookies factory in Germany we had to run through a maze of corridors in the darkness to escape police. Lots of anecdotes. :)

So I realized that it was impossible to handle a production like this in the usual way, with a big crew, asking for permissions, etc. You will not get them.

Most people were just taking pictures, each of them carrying a light tripod (basic in dark situations) and a camera. Then taking 3 different expositions to do HDR and tonemap them later in applications like Photomatix.

But I had different needs. I wanted to do HD video, with slow movements of the camera. Each one is responsible of his own gear, so I had to carry a bigger tripod, a Slider (Pocket Dolly) and sometimes, a SteadyCam Merlin. And it's hard when you have to climb to a open window and such things. When we entered a place, people usually spread around, so I was often alone by myself, doing my shots. A bit scary sometimes. It's a weird feeling moving around for hours in a 5 floors factory, just hearing the sound of cracked glass under your boots.

After that time, I had gathered some interesting footage and photos. And since then I've been working on the project in my spare time. Recently, I decided to edit this 'kind of intro-sequence' for the program. As a showcase, and perhaps to help me raise some funds for the documentary. The concept was to set a special atmosphere with the music and camera movements.

I first selected some of the traveling shots to work on them. Like the one that look like bird cages (actually hangers for the workers of a coal mine), or the bed in a hospital room in Valencia, or the fireplace in an orphanage in Holland.

I edited a raw sequence in FCP, I did some intense color correction in AE, then tracked some of these shots in Syntheyes, imported the camera data in AE and added the titles, graphics and some Particular dust. Even if it is widely known and used, I decided that the 'text to sand' effect was very adequate for the end. I am pleased with the look overall... especially the hospital room with the writings on the walls. What do you think?

Please let us know what you think in the comments – how would you have approached this project or done things differently?

Interested in submitting your own video? You can do so here!

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