Archive for September, 2009

And Off It Went

Posted in Post Production with tags , , , , on September 24, 2009 by Richard Diaz

Yesterday I mailed out the film to the Sundance Film Festival for consideration. It arrived in their offices this morning so now it’s all in their hands. In more ways than one.

The film is still in rough form. The visual effects are not finalized. Some of them are close. Just a little tweaking and they’ll be done. But the ending effects are in very rough form. In fact, one major effect is in animatic form. I was hoping I could have those closer to being done but it just wasn’t possible. The sound effects aren’t all there either. Most are sort of there. Maybe not the actual sound effect but a sound effect so that it’s not silent. The music is not completed. A few spots have some early versions of the score but mostly it has temp music. Temp music most of the time is music from other movies so that you can get a sense of how music will play its role in a certain scene. I did take out most of the music I thought was obvious because I felt it was distracting. The music from ‘The Dark Knight’ and ‘Batman Begins’ I thought was too obvious and it would even pull me out. Although I did leave one piece of music from ‘Batman Begins’. I left in or replaced music that was not as obvious. Unfortunately it’s still temp music and not scored to the film so while it worked in some places it doesn’t in others. In fact, the ending, as if the rough visual effects and a few missing shots wasn’t enough, doesn’t work with the temp music. It works in spots but some of the key moments it doesn’t work at all. I didn’t have time to go through every piece of music I have to find something that worked and that wasn’t recognizable. I hope it doesn’t take away from the film. Since all of these elements are not completed yet I also don’t have a sound mix so the audio is a bit all over the place. Some scenes are louder than others for example.

All part of the process.

While I got the film “Sundance ready” as I was calling it it’s still not done. If by the off chance it gets accepted then I will need to give them a final version to show. However, even if it doesn’t get accepted I want the film to be ready to be shown anywhere. I’m still set to have the film completed in the next month. I’d say the score might be the only thing that might take longer than expected. Worst case scenario it will be done by Thanksgiving. That will be a great moment when I know the film is done and ready to be shown anywhere. I can hope Sundance but we shall see.

Right now I’m taking a day to do nothing. Then I need to jump back into the short film to finish up. Then it’s back full on to getting ‘Distortion’ done. I’m already planning, depending on weather, to shoot some estasblishing and (visual effects) plate shots on Sunday. I’ll also be cutting a new trailer soon. It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a year since I cut the last one. If I remember correctly I cut it last January to be shown at the Fangoria Weekend of Horrors in Chicago. The new trailer will have a lot of the new stuff in it as well. That should be fun.

I feel like the next step in my dream to be a filmmaker has been reached. Many steps have been accomplished with many more to come. Having shot the film and close to having it done is one. Submitting it to Sundance is a big one. Of course if it got accepted that would be a huge one. Don’t want to get my hopes up though. Better to concentrate on finishing what is left.

Day Of Reckoning?

Posted in Post Production with tags , , , , , , , , on September 19, 2009 by Richard Diaz

Today is the last day to work on the film before submitting it to Sundance. I’m not sure how long it’ll take to compress and convert the film and put it on a DVD. When I did that before I think it took something like 8 hours alone to convert it. I need to leave a day open to make the DVD and test it.

So funny how it’s come down to the very last minute. Kind of nice working on a deadline however. My main regret is that I will have to submit an unfinished version. They let you but I only wanted it to not have a final sound mix or something. However, some of the digital effects won’t be finalized. A few will be a little rough. I figure if they are rough but not bad and the intention is there then I’m good. Also I will have to leave some of the temp music in. Some of it I think is ok because it’s not noticeable unless you really know the David Fincher film ‘Zodiac‘ really well. However, there is music that is much more noticeable (like music from ‘The Dark Knight‘) which I think would standout. I will be replacing all music that is recognizable.

I’ll send a very brief letter along with my submission just quickly stating this. The film will be done by November but I don’t want to have to rush through the digital effects and music. If I can leave those a little rough and have time to really finalize them then that will be good. And I don’t think this is the deal breaker. If they don’t like the film then it won’t be because a visual effects matte I have is shifting slightly.

My main concentration today will be the ending. It’s the one thing that isn’t fully working for me. It’s very anticlimactic at the moment and I think what I am adding will make a huge difference. I’m just not sure I can do it successfully in so little time. But it’s my main goal even if I’m up all night on it. If I save the ending I save the film. At least in my eyes. Hopefully in the eyes of Sundance as well.

William roaring before digital effect added.

William roaring before digital effect added.

William roaring after the digital effect is added.

William roaring after the digital effect is added.

Bloody Digital

Posted in Post Production with tags , , , , , on September 13, 2009 by Richard Diaz

So much work to do and time is running out. Although I think a definite deadline might have been what I needed. Does kick you in the rear to get you going.

While I go through the film and tighten up shots, add new ones, work on the sound design and music, I’m also doing some of the “simpler” effects. The ending is a whole monster I plan to spend as many days on as I can. But for the other stuff it’s fairly simple. Mainly time consuming as everything in visual effects is. Some things I’m adding that I originally didn’t intend. One is some added gore. While I was aiming for the violence to be more suggestive I do know that sometimes a little more is needed. I’m kind of the mindset that either I tone down the violence or go all out with it. In this case I decided to tone it back some. But one early scene called to be more graphic. I think it helps set up how dangerous the character of William is.

The shot itself is extremely fast. I mean literally frames. The sound effect is what sold it. But I wanted just a little something extra to go along with the sound effect before it cuts away. Since I’m talking literally less than 10 frames I knew that it didn’t need to look 100% accurate. It was too fast. It just needed to work in that moment.

The still shot is a little dark and hard to see. The original you can see better but again it’s very fast.

Face smash with digitally added blood.

Face smash with digitally added blood.

While I feel the effect works I did forget one small thing. Shortly after another character runs by that wall. I figured it didn’t matter but watching it through my first thought was where’s the blood on the wall? If I had that thought then I know the audience will too. So I had to find a way to put the blood there. Once again the shot moves by very quickly. The blood is only there for maybe a second. However I needed to show it. Since it’s a moving shot (both panning with the character and handheld) I was not able to motion track the shot. There was nothing I could use. Instead of trying to do multiple tracking I decided to give it the ol’ college try and go frame by frame adjusting the blood on the wall by eye. I also had to matte out the blood as the character supposedely runs in front of it. Even though technically the blood is on top of the frame. So I also had to go frame by frame and rotoscope the character so the blood disappears as he runs in front of it. Surprisingly the effect works. If you go frame by frame there are about three frames where the matte isn’t 100%. Couldn’t quite get it perfect. But when watching it normally I was stunned to see how well it looked. It looks like the blood is there. As if we shot it on the day that way.

Blood ont he wall added digitally.

Blood ont he wall added digitally.

Blood on the wall added digitally.

Blood on the wall added digitally.

I’m not going to tinker with it. If it’s working I’m going to leave it. Too many other shots to do. By the way, these were done in Adobe After Effects (I’m using version 7.0 too – a good two versions behind the current version) and the blood effects were taken from Video CoPilot.net‘s fantastic set Action Essentials 2. The website is such an amazing resource. Without a doubt a lot of these things I’m doing are in great thanks to what I’ve learned on that website.

Now back to work.

Wwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Posted in Post Production with tags , , , on September 3, 2009 by Richard Diaz

First off …

I thought that was funny. Also true. Sometimes hindsight is 20/20 but nothing you can do about it.

Right now I am trying to do too much. Tightening up the editing of the film. Working on the sound effects. Doing the visual effects. Trying to do the music. Originally I was going to do a more traditional orchestral score using samples. I had even invested in some very amazing sample sets. The problem is the computer I have isn’t strong enough. Doesn’t take too much before the program crashes. After much lost pieces and frustated moments I decided that I needed to go back to my original option: do a synthesizer based score. I wanted to avoid it as I was afraid it would make the film sound cheesy. However, some of my favorite film scores are synthesizer scores. Some of my favorite movies have synthesizer scores. Granted it’s all in the eyes of the beholder. I remember once watching George Romero’s ‘Day of the Dead’ and one guy mentioned the one thing he didn’t like about the film was the synthesizer score. I love the John Harrison music in the film. I guess because I grew up on films that mainly had them that they don’t bother me.

Without the option of running out and buying a new computer I let fate step in and make the decision for me regarding the music. What to do? Mope around over what could have been or dive in and make the best synthesizer score my feeble mind can muster? I dished out all of my favorite synthesizer scores (meaning I zipped through the iPod) and started looking for inspiration. So much to choose from. I started feeling better when I realized some of my favorite composers have all done them. A few names are:

Tyler Bates
Jay Chattaway
Harold Faltermeyer
Brad Fiedel
Goblin
Jerry Goldsmith
John Harrison
Alan Howarth
Steve Jablonsky
Ennio Morricone
Fred Myrow
Robert Rodriguez
Arthur Rubenstein
Howard Shore
Tangerine Dream
Vangelis

Definitely a warming feeling. Of course one of my all time favorite film composers has done all of his scores on a synthesizer. I’m referring to none other than John Carpenter.

Director and Composer John Carpenter.

Director and Composer John Carpenter.

I’m not saying my score will be anywhere near what they can compose. In fact, I can honestly say it won’t be. It’s nice to know that there is a lot of inspiration to draw from. Now which one does that one sound? You know the – wwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.