Picking up where we left off

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We finished principal photography over a week ago, but there are still a number of loose ends to tie up, even if you don’t count the editing.


Take this morning, for example. One of the key props in No Evil is an Android phone, and at one point it needs to show a ‘low battery’ warning. Easy, I thought. We won’t  try to shoot that with the rest of the scene because making the low battery coincide with the shooting schedule is just asking for trouble. So I planned to do it as a pick-up shot later.

‘Later’ meant today. The battery level on the phone was at 22%, but I figured I could run that down pretty quick. I set up the camera and something on which I could prop the phone. Then I set about running down the battery.

I updated all the apps, ran a podcast app in the background and even called my other phone several times. Slowly, the battery level descended. When it hit about 20%, up popped the warning. But I couldn’t shoot it. It had appeared over the top of the home screen and, for the purposes of the story, it really needed to appear over the contact list. So I cleared the screen and continued to wait.

Two hours later (damn, this phone has a good battery), during which I had the phone constantly in my hand, waking it up every 30 secs or so,  the level was down to about 5% -and still no warning. Then up it popped – just as I’d nipped over to another app for a moment, so the background was wrong again.

Down it went – 4%, 3%, and no warnings. What the hell is wrong with this device? It should be screaming at me by now to plug in the charger.

Lunch was cooking and nearly ready. I thought, the hell with this. I’ll mock up a screen as a an image file, side-load it on to the phone and use that. So I plugged in the phone to my laptop (which, luckily, has the Android SDK installed), fired up the Dalvik Debug Monitor and nabbed a screengrab of the phone (doing it the easy way, by pressing volume down and the power button simultaneously doesn’t work on this Samsung). As I was unplugging the phone, up popped the low battery warning. I plugged it back in again, then unplugged once more and, sure enough, it reliably triggered the warning.

As Trish’s cries of ‘lunch is ready’ rang in my ears, I hurtled back to the office (as much as I hurtle anywhere these days), fired up the camera and started rolling. Less than a minute later, I’d got the shot.

As it happens, you can only see the warning in the shot – not the screen in the background. But hey, I’m a purist.

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