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.

#4 – Don’t be cocky

Be me. Spend 1 night watching every shitty short film you can find online. Narrow them down to 3 criteria – small crew, less than 1000 dollars to make, and quality story.

Contact the creator. Get permission to make analysis video. Request a script. Receive no response. Shrug it off.

Do some research. Figure out how to download youtube videos. Do some creative thinking. Record audio of film using built-in microsoft screen recorder.

Be at work. Spend your downtime watching the film and recording the action and plot developments at 30 second intervals. Have a list of 40 notes to use during editing today.

Find creators youtube. See that they published a new video today. Hmm, interesting. Video opens to – “A lot of people have been asking about how I made this film.”

It’s a 30 minute video. A breakdown. Using my one comment as an example for why the selected video is a gift from God.

Needless to say I’m upset. I guess the 4th criteria for me providing a video analysis should be “doesn’t suck their own dick.”

That was inappropriate. I’m sorry. I’m just agitated. This video was my plan for the week and I really wanted to release something tomorrow. Now I’m 95% sure I’m just going to start fresh with a new idea.

In other news, I’ve finally hit my goal of trimming my script down to 15 pages. I personally feel it’s ready to go. Just waiting on the go-ahead from a beta reader.

I’m also 80 pages in to one of the features I promised to provide feedback for. I have nothing but respect and support for its author. They may not like the feedback but by God they will receive a thorough assessment. If you actually care about your writing that’s something you should be grateful for.

Do you have any suggestions on what I should do for a new video? Here are the options I’m considering:

  1. An analysis on a scene from a script that was developed into a hit movie
  2. A short film about a cat plotting to murder me
  3. An instructional video about something to do with video editing
  4. A sketch that’s sure to provide guffaws
  5. Don’t make a video and pound beers until Kelly gets home from work

If you have any preference please leave them in the comments below.

Rays of Dawn

Finding a location for episode 5 has been a source of tremendous discouragement for me. I have discovered some good news, however – Riverside Film Studios offers their studio for use (at a price of $850/day). I came across another website that was displaying establishments that had agreed to allow their venues as filming locations. I initially believed these to be free for public use, but after speaking with 1 agent it looks like it would cost me ~ 550 a day for use.

It’s funny, I have spent a solid year learning anything and everything I could find as it relates to film production, from pre- to post-. I have no issue learning a new program, studying new equipment, or reaching out through social media to market the videos. But for some reason finding an adequate location has depressed me.

I know why – it’s a certain feeling of helplessness. It greets you as soon as you set outside in search of a new path. It pesters you when you’re sleeping and eats at you when you’re not.

A huge concern of mine is obviously the price. Not to sound frustrated, but what kind of a fucking idiot would I be to pay that amount for a production as low budget as mine? One of the reasons it has affected me to this extent is because during my conversations I have received discounted offers – and they are nowhere near what I am willing to pay.

On the upside of all-things-perspective, I have not been reaching out and contacting other potential venues/agents/services as much as I can. Part of the reason is that they are used to dealing with legitimate, established production companies. I absolutely detest having to explain how inferior and new my company is. Another great area of frustration for me has been discussion of future plans – or “making it in the industry.”

This area of frustration does not make logical sense, and I’m aware of that. But for some reason it drives me to befuddled introspection when I spend any time considering my lack of interest in pursuing a Hollywood career in any sensible way. It’s as if I’m obsessively improving in a field for a job I have no intention of applying for. It’s kind of a sign of insanity… I just would like to tell good stories, and that’s the source for everything that I do.

But I’m awake early today and determined to take action. I believe when you set out to do everything in your power in order to accomplish a goal an unseen pathway reveals itself. I also believe that if you keep trudging along blindly the rays of dawn will gradually appear.

Not that it’s of any real relevance here, or to this post, but I have spent the better part of the past month working with pro tools by remastering episode 1. I finally have a working understanding of what it means to “mix audio” for a film. I successfully exported the stems yesterday and enjoyed watching the film with sounds, music and words that were was cared for, EQ’d, cross-faded, and leveled (though not perfect). I still have to figure out how to export each track as mono (rather than stereo) because I believe this is required in order to export for surround sound from premiere pro. Maybe I’ll do a post about everything I learned tomorrow.

Anyways, just wanted to type up an update here. Enjoy your day and the journey that awaits you.