Update – the ups and downs – MR CLEAN

[Originally published on 7th November 2018]

Wow. Filmmaking is tiring. You forget this, when you don’t do it for years. I mean real filmmaking, which involves putting a full production together, and building a crew up from the ground, because you’re living somewhere where you don’t know anyone in the industry and have to start from scratch. And you are trying to wear so many hats and perform so many different tasks, and all while doing a day job with urgent aggressive deadline requirements. Kudos to anyone who does this and doesn’t whinge about it and takes it on the chin and gets it done!

Anyway, this time since the last update has been fraught. It’s been a real rollercoaster of ups and downs. Where one minute we have ‘this’ and then we lose ‘that’. Where ‘that’ is back again and ‘this’ is now missing. The twists and turns of real life filmmaking are more exhausting than the plots I can contrive. But that is what pre-production is like…. One minute I want to do a feature film already and the next minute I never want to pick up a camera or plan a shoot, or break the bad news to an unsuccessful auditioning actor again….

Here’s a quick summary of what’s gone on:

Continue reading “Update – the ups and downs – MR CLEAN”

MR CLEAN

[Originally posted 27th September 2018]

So… I’ve been neglecting you. Sorry. Will it happen again? Probably, if past behaviour is anything to go by….

So quite some time has passed. And during that time I’ve been through the ringer, health-wise. Let me fill you in on what you’ve missed:

Continue reading “MR CLEAN”

Obligatory end of year post [WARNING – may contain nuts!]

Feeling enthusiastic about the coming year? I am. Very much so.

I don’t mean to sound smug, but unlike the previous [bleak] most recent years 2014 was a productive year for me. I stuck to my goals and completed all but 2 of them; including relocating to Sweden to continue to pursue my happiness, giving up a perfectly good job, renting my house out and throwing myself into the unemployment pool, setting up my own company and then luckily finding a new job – with my first happy clients. All so that I could be where I felt I needed to be, do what I felt I needed to do with my life and ultimately, because my life felt like a trap. It felt stagnant and I felt like I was doing nothing with it; at least nothing that I wanted to be doing.

Some of the creative things I was proud of:

  • I made more films earlier in the year – not for public consumption. Merely for fun and to get back into making films. We even had a club going at work, where we each made a ‘Ten Second Film’ a week; purely to prove to each other that creativity was possible for anyone and there was a way to tell a story with a variety of methods and everyone came to the same story theme from a completely different perspective and often using very different techniques and tools. Want to know more about how this works?
  • I wrote a novel as part of Nanowrimo 2014. Yes it still needs to be rewritten, but it’s down – out of my head and on the page.
  • I joined two writing groups (one for writing and one for critique) – in order to overcome my shyness and seek out others, to help look at my work objectively and constructively and also to see if I could be of assistance to others. I made some new friends in a new country and I’m sure that it will be a great help in 2015.
  • I took a few online courses to help learn my craft. And I read every article that seemed relevant to what I was trying to achieve – in order to learn more.
  • I also sought out more books on my craft. And I downloaded any free screenplay that I could get my hands on – I suspect that 2015 will be very much about reading more of those scripts and learning form the best.
  • I wrote something almost every day – even if it was my journal or some short #VSS tales in Twitter; something I was never good at before.
  • I used meditation to help fight my way out of creative blocks / writing block.

I’m currently setting my goals for 2015 and I’m looking forward to using more of what this great online community / the interwebz has to offer – attend more courses, develop and refine my writing skills and seek more professional critical feedback and to also help others, where I can, to achieve some of their goals. This year was a rehearsal, to see if I could still muster the gumption to take this seriously and invest serious amounts of time and energy. I did it. But I can give more. Much more.

More on my goals in the new year. I tend to like to let them simmer for a bit to see which ones fight to the surface more.

But if I may be so bold, can I suggest that we all help each other to get a step further up the path to creative freedom and feel the buzz of a little more success!

Have a great 2015 all!! Don’t fight the good fight alone! Let me know if I can help in any way in 2015.

Oh and here’s the [random] Nuts.

Production plan for Open Movie VFX film using Blender

Production plan for Open Movie VFX film using Blender:

This video – Open VFX Movies – has a very interesting take on using Blender (the open source 3D programme) as part of your production workflow for VFX films)

  1. Screenplay (CELTX)
  2. Concept Art (Krita and the GIMP)
  3. Storyboarding (CELTX
  4. Animatic (Video Sequence Editor in Blender) and Crappymatic (Animation with animated characters)
  5. Shooting (prepare props, casting, recce locations etc) – Used Blender to plan design of the sets
  6. Prepare footage
  7. Tracking
  8. Masking
  9. Layout
  10. Animation
  11. Compositing
  12. Grading

Check out Blender here.

Transcoding DSLR footage and Radial Dolly

Great article video on using FCP Studio’s Compressor app to Transcode footage for your editing workflow. Obviously the same principles apply to working with iPhone 4 footage etc.

The article: http://filmmakeriq.com/2010/01/the-dslr-filmmakers-workflow/ – and check out all the other articles on the site. There’s some really useful material on there.

The video:

Here’s a great example of what can be shot on the 550D – if you know how – and combined with CG to create a stunning final product:

The 3rd Letter (aka “36 stairs”) trailer from grzegorz jonkajtys on Vimeo.

Nice.

Here’s another great video to show the kind of audio setup you can use to record separate audio and when to use software like Plural Eyes to sync it up later on your timeline for post:

How-to: Shooting ENG style with Dual System Audio on a Canon EOS 5D Mark II from Createasphere on Vimeo.

Yes, my brief encounter with a Canon 550D DSLR has inspired me. I am geeking out on the kind of footage that can be acquired. Especially when you factor in this cunning design for a tabletop Radial / Micro Dolly!

here’s the video to show you how they made it, with example footage:

Of iPhone 4 film shoots and more

Zombie Mints - Litter

Yes, I’ve been a busy film geek of late. Not only have we attempted to shoot a short film entirely on the iPhone 4, but I’ve been getting to grips with FCP Studio and learning how to edit the footage; as I am sick of trying to do it in the totally unintuitive and limited iMovie 09 or iMovie app.

It has not been the easiest of times. But as with each of my shoots I have learnt from it.

The main objective was to shoot a spoof commercial / short horror comedy film in 1 day, with mainly found objects / objects I already had, amateur actors, natural light and do it all on the iPhone 4 – and for £50 including food. It did not go to plan.

The End result – was shot in 4 hours, on the iPhone 4, is not edited on it though as that was doing my frickin’ head in, features the usage of one red head light as the weather was not with us on the day, I had to buy makeup and marigolds as props. Total budget – including feeding the crew was about £60.

Firstly, always check your makeup prior to prepping your shoot. I found that the latex and powdered makeup I intended to use for my zombie makeup had gone off, since I bought it after a special FX course that I took. Cue hurried calls and a mad dash by one of the crew to go and pick up some replacement makeup; only to find that it was vastly substandard, but by then we had to crack on and make a go of it. Not ideal. Periodically check your makeup, just like you would any piece of equipment.

Secondly, I must say that if you’re going to attempt to shoot anything meaningful featuring actors, that requires intricate zooms or moving the camera, don’t bother using the iPhone 4 unless you really want to keep retaking your shots to get them right. It’s difficult enough to shoot anything with actors and enabling them to hit their marks without having to ensure that you capture the shot. All it takes is the focus to suddenly become unresponsive or a slight knock to the camera itself or the tripod you’re using and the shot is ruined. This happened often. It’s fine if the shoot is simple or just shooting live action as it happens – after all that it what it was designed for.

I have noticed also that the compressed format of the iPhone 4 AVCHD footage doesn’t hold up well in blocks of colour, especially on blacks of shadows. It often looks blocky or patchy, even when the scene has plenty of light. My main actor brought a Canon 550D and I have heard amazing things about the video capability of this camera. If he had known how to use it and I could have quickly learned, I would have been sorely tempted to ditch the iPhone and do it right. However, the object was to have a fun shoot, using the iPhone 4 and not falling back to any of my other cameras – not even the fully charged Semi Pro DV cam I had upstairs; no matter how tempting it was!

Zombie Karl

The real point of contention for me has been the edit. iMovie just doesn’t cut it as an editing app, not when you’re shooting multiple viewpoints / angles and intercutting them. A 30 second sequence took me 4 times longer to edit in iMovie and it was far from polished at the rough cut stage compared to the same edit in FCP. That is the point though isn’t it. Although you may want to shoot a fun movie – fun is relative and if you approach it with a Semi Pro sensibility then you must use Semi Pro tools.

But the iPhone 4 footage is still relatively new. Few programmes automatically come with the codecs / settings as standard, so I found that FCP did not have suitable setting for me to use, which would retain the audio on the timeline. That is, until I stumbled across the article “Topic : Iphone4 video to Final Cut pro – giving away a droplet to help you out.” – which came with a link to download a droplet. This droplet converted over 62 clips in an hour – into better quality ProRes 422 LT footage that FCP could understand and could play back the audio. Nice! Thanks Jeff Greenberg!

Anyway, it will be while yet before the finished movie is ready for derision and mockery. But I am in the middle of editing it right now, and must stop procastinating. Let’s hope it’s worth the wait.

Tiny Inventions workflow

Wow! WATCH THIS dark and amusing ZODIAC KILLER inspired short animation:

Something Left, Something Taken- Full Version from Tiny Inventions on Vimeo.

then if you have 30 minutes and you love After Effects and want to make animation – check this ‘making of’ out:

RGTV Episode 47: Tiny Inventions from Red Giant Software on Vimeo. Check out their website too: www.tinyinventions.com/

iPhone 4 filming

So a while back I got hold of an iPhone 4 deliberately to play with its HD filming capabilities; because I was dismayed at the utter lack of filming over the last 15 months of hell in my old job and also wanted to negate any excuses that I might have for the future: such as, I haven’t time to charge my video cameras up; I’ve run out of tape; I haven’t got my camera on me and am unable to capture this marvellous event happening in front of my eyes etc. Especially now that I’ve changed jobs for the better and am in a much more saner plane of existence, my excuse pool is very much shallower. ;0)

I know that the quality of footage will never hold up next to a Semi-pro HDV Camcorder when you’re needing to be able to push the footage in post, as there’s so little visual information to play with in comparison. I also knew that there wasn’t going to be even half as much control over what I shot or the quality of the sound. However, for quick ‘making of’s’ on set, for doing possible video blogs / podcasts, or capturing something worth sharing on the net that didn’t require the post polish, it was going to be a damn sight better than a Flip type camera.

It was the fact that you can now install the iMovie video editing app on it, and unlike any other phone out there [to my knowledge] you can film and edit and upload all from your mobile phone, that swung it for me and made me sign up to an exorbitant contract for pitiful data rates. But like any cynical sod, I firstly wanted to fully research the workflow and conduct a few misguided experiments. I wasn’t going to rush out there like many did, just to be the first iPhone movie (shot and edited on the iPhone exclusively) on the net; although the day I picked up the phone I was instantly inspired to write a very easy to shoot low budget comedy horror short – more news on that soon.

READ MORE…(see link bottom right)

Continue reading “iPhone 4 filming”