The Fun Part

After completing the final day of filming last week, I’ve finally had a chance to edit the material. I’ve completed the first crucial step, which is to assemble the best clips together in the timeline. When I made the first episode last year that was pretty much my only step, and then I added a “color grade”. I put that in quotations because I have a few shots in episode 1 that are completely blue because I couldn’t figure out how to change them back to a normal color. Also, I’m pretty sure the entire episode still only plays out of the left speaker.

At this point there are many steps, but each one becomes more rewarding than the last. I get to see my shots come to life as the saturation increases and the skin tones increase in warmth. The audio transforms from an uncontrolled mess of garbled rumbles into a valley of emphasized pitches. And adding music to any scene is like adding alcohol to a romantic situation – it’s not necessary but it sure gets things moving.

I’ve divided the episode into 5 major sequences based on the day the scene was shot. There are subsequences within those days as well. One of the major challenges during Episode 4 – which had a run time of 22 minutes – was the processing burden it placed on my computer during the edit. The file size becomes massive when you have hundreds of 2-3 seconds clips that feature a colorgrade, audio effects, and a mask or two. Sometimes it becomes necessary to stack video clips atop each other which multiplies the amount of information premiere pro has to remember.

Once I complete the edit for each 4-6 minute sequence, I will export the scene and load it into ableton live. Here I can compose the background music so that it is in sync with the scene. I can also add some reverb and eq to the scene, but so far I’ve found premiere pro is better suited for dialogue and general film editing. Once I have the song composed and leveled I will export each instrument to a different stem and work with the scene back in premiere pro. After I have the audio mixed and completed I will begin work on the colors.

I don’t want to get as in depth with the coloring as I did the last episode. One of the major challenges of working with a small budget is that I am unable to apply wallpaper or paint many of the walls that I am shooting in front of. The reason why this matters is that the white walls in any home take on a soft orange hue from sunlight. A simple method way of enhancing the skin tones of your actors is to have them contrast with their background.

Transformers – Michael Bay

Orange and teal are known as complimentary colors as they are on opposite sides of the color wheel. When the background is teal and skin tone is orange, it looks good. I mention the walls because whenever background objects are the same tone as the actors’ skin it becomes more difficult to accentuate that contrast. You can still do it with a mask, or by using the rotobrush in after effects, but that results in more layers of video – which puts more stress on your processor.

If I had a real budget for a legitimate production, I could control the set and design the background for the ideal color balance. If color schemes in film interests you, I encourage you to watch a Wes Anderson film. He is the master of artistic framing and balance, in my opinion. If you want to see a heavy orange and teal effect, watch a Michael Bay Film.

Wes Anderson

I know this has been a technical heavy post that was essentially written for noone, but that’s where my mind is at. Perhaps you can see why I retain my stubborn belief that marketing and creativity are born from diametrically opposed regions of the brain. Ideally I could do both at the same time, but I have always felt I am only capable of thinking one way or another.

It’s wild how much I have learned over the past year about the technical aspects of filmmaking. The irony is that I’ve become faster at each part of the process but the amount of steps before completion feels as though it is infinite. One final ramble I have to get out is that I never can make up my mind about whether to mix this film in 5.1 surround sound. I feel that I am capable, but I would need to purchase Adobe Audition, a 5.1 sound card, and a set of surround sound speakers. Youtube does not support surround sound and neither do 95% of the viewers who will eventually be watching my short film. I have decided to purchase a DVD writer so that I can encode the finished product to a DVD and offer it as an incentive during my kickstarter campaign. In this digital age, however, I am more than certain that most supporters will prefer access to the file online. A lot of homes do not even feature a DVD player.

If you read to the end of this post, congratulations, I am certain you are one of the few. This entire post was comprised of godawful technobabble and the aimless ponderings of a man’s compulsive desire to speak the language of cinema. Enjoy the day and the lessons it teaches you.

Looking Ahead

Now that Episode 4 has been out and available for close to a month, I’m excited to begin working on Episode 5.

There are some new challenges, however, and as always there is more for me to learn.

I have been contacted by one online streaming service that would like to show my content to their viewers. This deal features the potential for monetization, which is obviously exciting news.

The major dilemma I am facing is that the current episode features soundtracks from Epidemic Sound. Epidemic sound licenses songs from artists to be featured on youtube. I am not permitted to publish my content on other websites without upgrading my subscription. I have been informed that it would cost me $500 a month to purchase this license. I would consider such a business transaction to be a “bad deal.”

I have been in touch with a music composer who is willing to score the episode and am currently considering this option. Taking this avenue would also enable me to publish episode 4 as a video rental on Amazon. Personally, I am thinking I might be better off waiting until episode 5 is complete before publishing on Amazon. My ability as a filmmaker continues to improve and I have large ambitions for the next episode.

Another major concern is the audio of Episode 4. I have written on here before about my shortcomings and obstacles that came with the dialogue featured in Episode 4. I would have to thoroughly clean that up before I posted the content to Amazon. I don’t know if that is possible due to the recording errors that were made during production. Ultimately, I do not want anything coming from TMWproductions to appear amateur as I move to new outlets. It is not about racing to monetization for me. It is about producing a professional product that viewers will enjoy watching. I would feel like a thief if I began making money on a product that is not satisfying for the customer.

Once I make some of these decisions about episode 4, I can begin work on episode 5. I’m going to start by figuring out a location. I would like the majority of episode 5 to take place in a relatively large and open building that I can film in 1-2 days. This will take a ton of preparation and pre-production planning.

In order to finance the film, I will have to return to working more overtime (I have been slacking). I already anticipate purchasing a:

  1. 2nd camera to maximize continuation for each take
  2. A better microphone
  3. Lighting Equipment
  4. Something to improve the recording quality of audio. I am completely new to this area of set design and must expand my knowledge.
  5. Any props that will be required.

The two actors I have asked to return have already stated they are willing. I’d be privileged to have the entire cast back for the next episode, however, I prefer to write the script first. I do not wish to request them back only for them to find out I have filmed the episode without them.

Anyways, these are just a few of the things that have been on my mind lately. I’ve spent many a days being lazy and having nothing to do with the creation of future episodes. I am ok with this because once I get started the filmmaking process inevitably takes up all of my free time. One aspect I am looking forward to for the next episode will be fast edits. I have learned so much over the past year that I envision I will move much faster. The great bottleneck in this process will be audio, of course. In episode 5 I fully intend to provide crisp, clear dialogue that will require minimal editing effects. In order to do this I will have a lot to learn before I even start editing.

If you haven’t viewed episode 4 and would like to take a look, feel free to check it out below:

Episode 4 is Complete!!

Without going into too much detail, I’ve completed Episode 4 along with the trailer. To say I’m relieved is an understatement. I spent much of last week learning how to create a 5.1 surround sound audio mix. I’m still very much in the dark, but I did realize I had configured my dialogue to play out of the front left and right speakers (wrong!). In film and television, dialogue plays out of the front center speaker, music is mixed in the left/right speakers front and rear, and sound effects are (mostly) in the rear speakers. There is also the subwoofer which can deal with explosions or perhaps a submix.

Believe it or not, becoming a sound engineer in 5 days was harder than I first thought (I gave up on 5.1). But I was able to finally figure out how to set my tracks to stereo and deliver a more full dialogue sound without blowing out the speakers.

Enough with the gibberish – I’m done editing! This means that I can go outside for a jog and expose my skin to sunlight again. But it also means I’m ready to enter the next step – marketing, contest, and self-promotion. I know a lot of people on wordpress are writers who are currently working on a novel of some sort. Before I got into film I was doing the same.

In the modern age it is highly advised to be marketing while you are still creating your project. Honestly I feel this sentiment is laughable. There is so much work involved in the creation of anything, and that work is always introverted. I am convinced the human brain does not work fluidly among all quadrants, but that one area of focus takes precedence over another. The reason that matters is because creation of any piece of artwork takes an EXTREMELY introverted brain. The type that is uncomfortable with the moral and spiritual implications of braggadocio style marketing.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that controversy, pie-in-the-sky claims, and a unbreakable ego are tools that will help you promote yourself/your work. It’s that “confidence” we always hear is so important for job interviews, first dates, and success in life in general. The great irony of “confidence” is it always feels that when you approach your work with any semblance of arrogance (i.e., the viewer will enjoy my material because I am great therefore my work is great) is that quickest way to compose a steaming pile of shit.

It’s taken a lot of words to get to my point, but here it is – When you are creating art, you must remain introspective and humble to convey the truth of emotion you seek to bring to life. When you are promoting your artwork, you must stay true to the realities of the world – that people won’t look at your work unless you give them a reason to (that ideally fulfills a curiosity, longing, or necessity you have attached to your product). It takes two different brains and personalities to accomplish these very diverse tasks.

Anyways, I will be spending my morning editing the subtitles of my video in order to submit it to amazon on demand. I am also hoping to send it out to a few contests later today. Along with that I’ll continue to promote the trailer.

You can find the trailer down below. If you take the time to view it and leave a like/comment, I will do 5 jumping jacks. Thank you and I wish you a wonderful day.