First Lockdown Video: Some Enchanted Evening

Here in Spain I’m now on Day 45 of the emergency lockdown regime implemented to stop the spread of the CoronaVirus (Covid-19). The need to self-isolate has curtailed many of the activities my wife and I enjoy doing – going to cafes for Spanish lessons, exploring the beautiful countryside where we live and working on theatrical productions for our local amdram group, Jávea Players. My wife, Caroline, was in rehearsals, directing the play Dead Guilty which was due to be performed earlier this month, and sadly, like so many theatre shows, it had to be cancelled.

Sam&Janet coming in front doorPLUS web

Sam and Janet Evening return home from the pub quiz

However, some people suggested it would be a good idea to provide performances that our members could access and enjoy via the JP website, Some people are posting videos of themselves reading stories or monologues. I looked through some of my old scripts and found Some Enchanted Evening – an early play which I haven’t touched since 2003. I remembered it was very quirky and full of surreal humour and Caroline and I agreed it would be a good one to tackle. So we edited down the first scene and adapted it so that it told a little story – about a couple, Sam and Janet Evening, who return from their local pub quiz to find a surprise awaiting them.

Choosing a room with the least echo to record it in, we huddled close to my video camera to get the best quality sound, and read the script from an iPad (to avoid the sound of turning pages). Luckily, we did it more or less in one take and then simply re-recorded the bits we weren’t happy with. All I needed was the soundtrack from this (I’d kept the lens cap on) so, after transferring the video to my laptop, I converted it into an mp3 file (using Wondershare’s free video converter). I then edited the sound, cutting out the gaffes and adding the bits we re-recorded in the appropriate places. We recorded an intro and outro  and had a suitable audio file in mp3 format to send to the JP website.

However…

Sam Listening2 PLUS webI then realised it would make a nice little video if I added some drawings to illustrate the action. So I set to work. My drawing style is very loose and I embellish it with a watercolour wash. I must admit that it took rather more pictures than I first imagined! After scanning them onto my laptop I tweaked them with imaging software and popped them in the appropriate places on the soundtrack. As it’s quite a long video at 12 minutes, I divided into three to make life simple and then simply put them together when I had finished each section.

editing pic

The editing timeline for the video showing the images placed in the appropriate places above the soundtrack.

There are lots of free or inexpensive video editing programs out there to use for this. I used an ancient version of Sony Vegas which enabled me to animate some of the action. My final cut was made in Movie Maker, which used to come free but if you don’t have it is still available to download.

Once I had a first rough cut I could see which pieces of artwork needed re-doing. We also created opening titles under the banner of Lockdown Productions –  into which I dropped two padlocks to replace the ‘o’s. This was done using PowerPoint (and converted to video using a screen capture program).

SOME ENCHANTED EVENING.mp4_000005.359

We then had fun making up some credits for the film and tacked these on to the end using the scrolling credits mode in Movie Maker. This was a little jerky towards the end for some reason but that seemed to be a problem we couldn’t overcome. The final finished version that I was happiest with was number five. The video is featured here and on my YouTube channel and will eventually be loaded onto the Jávea Players’ website. Hope you enjoy it!

About philmansell

I'm a writer, photographer, illustrator and film-maker with a Masters degree in Multimedia & Information Design from the University of Wales, Newport. I'm also volunteer PR Officer with Newport Playgoers Society who own and run the city's 400-seater Dolman Theatre. I trained at the London Film School where I specialised in script-writing, directing and animation, and had three films screened at the National Film Theatre. After teaching film-making, photography and art, I moved into the world of advertising and PR and was a professional writer. My play 'According to Claudia' was selected by Newport Playgoers Society to launch their 92nd season. It won the Award for Theatre Show of the Year 2014 presented by lifestyle and entertainment magazine Voice. It has since been published by Silvermoon Publications and is available from Amazon. Other plays I have had published include 'Poor Yorick', 'Bunkered' and 'Caddying for Godot'. Previously my one act play 'Poor Yorick' was a winning entry in a competition run as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Open Stages project and was performed at both the 400-seat Dolman Theatre and Blackwood Little Theatre. Another play, 'Bunkered', was one of the winning entries in a competition judged by Welsh playwright Frank Vickery.
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