Filming Day 5 – Part 2

So I arrived late and we began preparing for the “Edward Youtube Video.” The idea for this scene was that my character would be browsing his wife’s facebook and come across a man he recognizes – Edward. In episode 4 of Mountain Cult, my character meets Edward during a quest. Edward offers my character a drink that was roofied, resulting in my character to failing to reach his destination.

So I had to make a youtube video and a facebook page for Sebastian Sage (Edward). Sebastian brought along 3 different button down shirts and we intended to take some creative pictures with each of them. In the end, we didn’t have enough time for a single picture.

The youtube video was fun because we didn’t have to work off a script, but there was still a few rehearsals to be done. The most important thing was for Sebastian to remember each ingredient and mix them in a creative way. In one instance, he spills salt all over the counter top then brushes it into the mixing bowl with his barehand.

At noon Piper Supplee (Shiloh) arrived. She had 2 lines offscreen and one onscreen. She enters the kitchen after I leave and asks Edward who the visitor was. He avoids the question with a witty response and the scene ends. Much thanks to Piper, she helped me realize that their interaction at the end was lacking any true punch. She came up with the idea of recommending Edward expand on the flavors he offers beyond simply vanilla. One of my favorite characteristics of “Edward’s Tasty Cream” is that Edward is obsessively fixated on vanilla being “the only real flavor”. Piper adding this button to the scene allowed him to end on a comically infuriated note.

We filmed with Piper until 3 pm, which took much longer than it should have. She did a great job but during her time there I was not being frugal with the sunlight we had. As an example, I recorded her voice over lines from the kitchen, outside the bathroom door, and inside the bathroom door.

During the previous days of shooting, all of which I intend to recap here, I began knowing sunlight and time would be a major issue. During day 1 I used my folk’s house – and only had 3-5 hours to get it done. Day 2 was at the antique shop, where the business owners were waiting to close up for the night. Day 3 was with Katie, where we raced against the sun in exterior shots to avoid the camera overheating. Day 4 was with Patrick – filmed guerilla style in a seldom used parking lot behind businesses. For day 5, we were using Pat’s kitchen – Pat is a member of my filmmaking group and a strong supporter to all filmmakers. She was willing to give me as much time as was needed.

So now it’s about 3 o’clock and we are FINALLY getting to page 1 out of the 4 we still have to shoot. Fortunately I had to set up the set before we filmed Piper’s sequence. This involved: A table mat, the ice cream cartons, the sign for his business, the mixing ingredients, the lights, and the potted plant. It never ceases to amaze me how lengthy the list of props becomes prior to shooting. Nothing is more aggravating than making a 30 minute trip to a store the night before because you don’t own the measuring cup that you need after the 6th line on the 3rd page.

It’s so funny how the minor considerations never end. As we prepared for take 1, I recognized a potential issue – the blinds. Pat’s blinds were rather transparent. That means as dawn sets in it will become obvious that the time of day has changed when the scene is meant to portray only a five minute interaction. I decided the blinds would be visible in the first shot, but the set up later on would exclude them. This produced another minor consideration that I swear stumps me every time I film.

There is a 180 degree rule in filmmaking that is simple enough for a child to understand. Whenever you flim something, create an imaginary line between two points in the room. Pick one side of that line and film every take only from that side. You can’t go wrong.

What tends to happen is you find your best angles and framing in a room and wind up with a list of 3 – one of which breaks the 180 degree rule. What I like to do is organize my shot list so that the 180 degree rule will be broken during specific moments of the scene. In the kitchen scene, I stand up my chair and address Edward Directly. At this point the imaginary 180 degree line falls directly behind us. Prior to that, when I am seated and addressing Edward who stands near the counter, the imaginary line is drawn from my left shoulder to his right. It is only when I stand up to intimidate him that the line is reset.

Once the takes get rolling (my favorite part of filmmaking) we come across a few obstacles. 4 pages of dialogue can be lot to remember. One missed line, or out of place line, can corrupt the entire take. Because the script calls for Shiloh to interupt us from off screen, we had a difficult time remembering when and where she interrupts us. Remember now, Piper left hours ago.

Thankfully, Pat was more than willing to assist us. She remained seated off camera and would provide the verbal cue to let us know Shiloh had a line. Another minor consideration – the script. Modern day microphones are amazing and pick up sounds and noises that you may not even hear during filming. Because Pat did not know the lines, she would need to hold the script in her hands and discreetly turn the pages to know when to speak. I forget my solution to this, but I’m pretty sure she tore the pages apart and taped them to her wall. I can’t emphasize enough that I couldn’t do this without Pat.

<— That’s Pat

Finally, we were getting all the shots that were needed just as the sun was setting. And it was setting fast. But there was another reason I meant to arrive much earlier than the actors that morning – I needed a shot of me breaking and entering into the residence.

With the sun disappearing so rapidly I didn’t even have enough time to think about it. I knew that it was too dark for the shots to be believable but I still wanted to get them. You see, Pat lives an hour away from me – and I vehemently detest reshoots.

So I ran outside, opened the aperture to 1.4, and took one take of each of the following – myself walking through the backyard, opening the gate, and parking on the street. Each take required me to set up the tripod and find an angle that worked. Lastly, I got a clip of me grabbing the hammer from the passenger seat. It was pretty funny to edit this material because I had my lav mic running and later on I got to hear myself cursing angrily. It felt like getting gas when you’re already 10 minutes late to work and traffic is gridlock.

In the end, it all worked out. Because this scene occurs early on in the episode, I realized in the editing room I was able to make it appear that I arrived at Edward’s place so early the sun had not come up yet. It is only at the end of the scene that we see daylight burning through the blinds.

The lav mics that we used worked great – they blocked a lot of the echo in the tiled floor environment. I’m grateful I placed my light were I did because it was difficult to tell the time of day during my shots of Sebastian. Piper did an outstanding job and her appearance got a good laugh out of one of my coworkers. The point of her role was comic relief, and it worked.

Today I’ll be working on a trailer which I hope to publish here shortly. If you’d like to view the final edit of Edward’s youtube video, you can do so by watching the video below.

Filming Day 5 – Part 1

Day 5 of shooting Mountain Cult presented its own unique challenges. This is the one day that I felt would be the easiest to shoot – and I was wrong big time.

Pat, who I met through my Meetup group and cast as the voice on the phone, agreed to allow me to use her kitchen for the shoot. Sebastian Sage returned to play his beloved character of Edward.

Before the shooting even began, I needed to put together the props. In this Scene, the character of Edward demonstrates his new found passion for baking Ice Cream. He is so passionate about ice cream, in fact, that he actually launched a Facebook business and began selling it from his kitchen.

When we met Edward in Episode 4, he tricked my character into drinking a roofied beverage. Edward is part of Mountain Cult and admitted that he was blackmailed into joining. I thought it would be funny to have my character confronting a cult member in their home only to discover him selling home-made ice cream.

But how do you even make ice cream? I didn’t know. That’s why I had to make it myself several weeks prior to filming; in order to add a sense of authenticity. I discovered that I could purchase a simple mixer for $20. The main ingredients to vanilla ice cream are sugar, evaporated milk, cream, vanilla, and a pinch of salt.

But how would I make Edwards Ice Cream mixing appear more as a business than a hobby? Decoration. I ordered a chefs robe and hat. I used my experience applying graphics to T-shirts to attach logos to the uniform. I found a still from Episode 4 of Edward that I felt would work and photoshopped it for his graphic. Even the font for a his business had to have a personalized feel to it – so I created a new font at fontstruct.com.

The chef’s hat did not arrive on time so I stopped by a Halloween shop and found one there. Unfortunately the hat was not adjustable and after applying the graphic I realized it might not fit Sebastian’s head. I ordered a second, adjustable Chef’s hat and made the entire thing again.

The script calls for a character who is heard off screen during my scene with Edward. She appears briefly at the end of the scene. Because I would have to cast another actor for the shoot, I decided to axe this character. After speaking with Sebastian, however, he convinced me that including the character would add the extra layer of comedy to the scene that was needed. I ultimately did cast the character, but only sent out for demos and auditions 2 weeks prior to our shooting date.

I used the logo I designed for “Edward’s Tasty Cream” and applied it to ice cream containers and an ornamental fence thing. I purchased all the ingredients for ice cream and brought my mixing bowls and mixers out for the shoot. I stopped by Pat’s the week before filming and took pictures all throughout the kitchen so I could get a grasp on which angles would play best for the scene. I realized early on that the kitchen features a hollow echo – so utilizing lavalier mics the entire day would be wise.

This shoot was the first time I slept the night before. I intended to shoot 4 pages plus some bonus youtube content and knew it was going to be a long day. Piper, who played the role of the offscreen character “Shiloh”, would be arriving at noon.

I intended to arrive at Pat’s at 7 am, 1 hour before Sebastian. This would allow me time to set up and rehearse my lines.

I woke up feeling a little to comfortable. I think it was a result of being sleep deprived and overworked for 7 straight days. Whatever the case I just moved slowly that morning. I wound up not leaving my place until 7, despite its 45 minute drive. I would rehearse my lines on the way to Pat’s.

Then, 30 minutes in, I realized I had forgotten one very important prop – the plant! During the scene at the antique shop, my character arrives with a potted plant that he claims is a gift from Edward. This does not make sense if my character does not leave Edward’s place with that plant in hand.

I stopped by a lowes to pick up a clone of it. But they didn’t have it (!). I would have to stop at another Lowes, and I did. They had it there. Not I was going to arrive at 8:30. Sebastian informed me he was running late as well.

For some reason that I will never be at peace with, google maps directed me to take side roads the remainder of the journey. I honestly don’t know what the hell happened, but I wound up way behind my initial forecasted time of arrival. To make things worse, I needed ice, gatorades and water to supply the actors with. How in the hell there was not a single gas station in my vicinity for the next 20 minutes I will never understand. I stopped by a ultra small liquor store and picked up 4 gatorades, 4 waters, and a pack of ice.

Finally, at 9:30, I arrived. We still had two hours until Piper arrived. If I moved fast, we could get some quality takes. But there was a dilemna – remember that bonus youtube content I mentioned? The script called for my character to find a online video of Edward mixing ice cream. I only had enough ingredients to make one batch of ice cream.

I didn’t have a choice – I had to start the day by filming Edward in a different shirt mixing the ice cream ingredients. We only would have one take to get this right. I instructed him the proper way to make the ice cream, set up a single microphone, and filmed the scene on my cell phone. This felt like it would add a layer of authenticity to a person making youtube videos for their home ice cream business.

By the time we finished these takes, it was already noon. Piper arrived and we had to set up for her shoot without doing a single take for Edward yet. I think we began filming her at 1 pm all the way until 3. I probably took more takes then necessary, but I always seem to do that during the beginning of filming. Time feels infinite when it is early. It’s not until the sun starts going down that I start racing.

Time to go to work but I’ll try and post part 2 tomorrow.

Influencing Value

It takes less than 5 seconds to gain access to a free song or a free movie. We all have Netflix, Youtube, and Amazon. On these platforms you can casually stream content that required millions to manufacture. You pay in other ways – your privacy data, your subscription fee, your viewing of advertisements.

How do you begin making a dime creating what you love in a market like this? There is endless advice, insights, and “shortcuts”. But no matter which way you look at it, your success relies on unknown strangers willing to risk their time viewing your creation.

My mind has been running in circles trying to figure out my next step. My goal for 2022 is to secure funding and distribution for a feature film. It is no small task, but it is possible. If it were not possible, then nobody would do it.

I have a plan of action for how to do it – film a sizzle reel for story I like, put a 5 page treatment together, and begin making phone calls. But nothing can help my chances with investors better than demonstrating I was able to turn a profit during my latest film production.

I am constantly weighing methods to generate revenue for the short film I have just created. The only clear answer is to launch a kickstarter campaign, likely in January. The important aspect of this campaign is to succeed. I must hit the ground running with impeccable organization, an enticing trailer, and consistent updates. I have many of the rewards prepared that I will offer during this time. Obviously, supporters of the kickstarter campaign will have free access to viewing the episode on its release.

I cannot rid myself of the desire to place a paywall before the episode for a general audience. I am completely aware of how limiting that can be for a film of this magnitude. The issue I have is that artists today are so hungry for fame and recognition that they’ve devalued their own artwork. Imagine a hundred strangers have surrounded you to view, judge, and survey the artwork you’ve poured your heart, soul, and blood into. Is it really fair to any artist that they receive only a handful of pennies? It is the platform that is reaping the reward, not the artist.

But I get it… nobody wants to throw a dollar when there is much better, social-proofed content available for free in the blink of an eye.

This is where I feel you must cease viewing your work critically and instead view it as a salesperson. If someone wants something, they are not going to hesitate to fork over a buck to receive it.

The key to successful advertising is to create a need that wasn’t previously there. But why in the world would any person feel the need to view your artwork, poetry, or story?

There is a youtube channel called “Mr. Beast” that routinely features outlandish giveaways and enormous cash prizes. It is incredibly successful at generating views and sponsors. Its success is largely, if not entirely, due to the engagement of their fanbase that hopes to win this sort of lottery.

It seems that by upgrading my wordpress to a paid account, I will be able to offer a giveaway with the assistance of a plug in. Now if I am able to offer a $100 cash prize to one lucky viewer, I feel that my odds on receiving a $3-5 payment for viewing episode 5 improve drastically.

Another option I have is my youtube channel. By regularly uploading content that speaks to the behind the scenes efforts of “Mountain Cult” production, I feel I have a free method of generating interest for viewing the episode in its completed form. If I can build a fanbase for the show, I can also offer merchandising in the form of Coffee Mugs and T-shirts.

I know from experience that the effort to convert your work of passion into a fruitful pursuit is the greatest undertaking an artist can pursue. But I have also learned that the same steps and plateaus that cause you to stumble will also trip-up those around you. It is only by standing and learning to climb a different way that you will continue on your journey. Many will lack that fortitude. By educating yourself, taking action, and putting forth consistent effort any obstacle can be overcome.

Where to go From Here…

I’ve finished episode 5 of Mountain Cult, “Doctor with the Red Houseware.” I’ve showed it to the cast and crew and have received overwhelmingly positive feedback. It has a runtime of 30 minutes.

I now find myself at an unusual spot. This episode was the absolute most I could do without any outside assistance. I worked overtime shifts to budget much of the production. I designed all the props, secured all the locations, and scheduled all the actors. I did all the editing and even composed the songs and mixed the sounds.

I cannot film another project under these conditions. It would be foolish. I must find a way to leverage my current project in order to secure financing for a future one. I am confident I could successfully coordinate all the moving parts to produce a feature film if only securing the money and distribution through third parties.

A producer has joined the meetup group that I started a year ago. He has answered many of the questions a novice like myself has to ask. There is something called a “film triangle” that incorporates talent, financing, and distribution as the key ingredients towards a successful movie. He advised me that distribution is secured before a project is even filmed.

I still haven’t launched my kickstarter for this episode of Mountain Cult. I plan to do so in January but realize I must be incredibly prepared prior to its launch. The goal is to secure more financing from complete and total strangers then friends since I do not know too many people with money.

I am routinely contemplating methods I could use to make the latest installment of Mountain Cult a paid for viewing. Despite realizing a project of this sort ordinarily is free to view on youtube, I feel that it is not fair to the artist to receive such minuscule financial return from posting there. I know that 99.99% of viewers will likely pass if they must pay prior to viewing it. But I also feel that being able to raise even $100 from including such a paywall would still be an enormous accomplishment and step forward for myself.

Today I will submit to several film festivals in hopes of any sort of recognition. If I can win film awards, launch a successful crowdfunding campaign, and interest potential investors, I can move in a positive direction. I basically have a shoe lace that I must trade for a pack of paper clips, turn that into ream of paper, barter that for an old printer, and somewhere along the journey wind up with a new car. Not easy, and not likely. I get it. But none of this “art for a living” stuff is.

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.

Doing Things And Thinking of Doing More Things

Finally, this Tuesday, September 21st, I finished filming Mountain Cult Ep 5. Of course there are 1 or 2 inserts I’d like to break the camera out for, but neither of those require any other actors. The next 3 major steps for the film are:

  1. Complete the edits
  2. Solicit Financing
  3. Market the film

The most likely scenario is that the short winds up on youtube and is free to view. However, I am determined to pursue other avenues first in order to preserve the value of what I have made. This particular film has taken more time, effort, and money then any of the short films that I made before. Though it is still a micro budget piece, the work that I put into set design, writing, costumes, scheduling, and securing locations is well beyond that of anything I’ve made before it. I don’t believe I can continue making films this way for much longer as the amount of work I have to put in behind the scenes never truly ends. I don’t mind the work, in fact I love it, but it eats away at time. I would like to put out a new film each month. There is no way I can do that without hiring assistants and squaring away locations the right way.

I’ve put youtube on hold for the time being. It takes me 2 days to make a film journal and 30 minutes to create a “youtube short”. I sincerely believe I can rapidly grow my audience by consistently producing youtube shorts. However, I am a simple minded man and must move in a linear direction while focusing on one task at a time.

I’ve been speaking about Kickstarter for months. As of now I may launch mine in October. Much to my disappointment, I will likely push back the campaign for one more month. I am determined to offer lucrative incentives – a coffee mug, a t-shirt, and a DVD. I have just purchased a DVD writer drive and once I know I can export video & audio to it I will feel comfortable offering that as an incentive. I feel comfortable putting the mugs together myself, but will likely look to a 3rd party to make the T-shirts. I can create them with transfer paper, but unless I purchase a heat press I will be unable to make store quality shirts.

Soliciting funding is significant because it would demonstrate that my passion can turn a dime in the free market. For me that is the true mark of a professional – your ability is good enough that your customers find you because you’ve offered a product of value to them. That is much different than tricking one rich old dude who has a heart of gold into investing his life savings in your hobby.

I also want to post here more! And I will, especially when the editing is complete. I formerly posted here while at the end of my night shift, but they took our internet privileges away. That means that I have to use my free time to post, which takes away from my editing time.

Anyways, I know these are fragmented thoughts that kind of just splatted onto the page. But I wanted to write something. At least I can finally share a few stills from the film as I am writing from my main computer:

MC – EP 5 & Sound Design

Some graphics I’ve been used for epoxy coffee mugs. Guess character is a murderer? Hint – I found a dead finch on my porch last week.

Well good morning.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on any form of social media. The truth is I’ve been busy filming Mountain Cult Ep 5 and in fact only have 1 scene left to shoot. Beside wordpress, I was making a habit of posting “film journals” to my youtube channel. Believe it or not I recorded a new episode of FJ about a month ago – I just haven’t gotten around to editing it.

As a matter of fact I have so much material I’m hoping to edit that it overwhelms me at times ( I want to remaster former episodes by fixing audio issues, send each actor from mountain cult a 1 minute clip for their acting reels, film a youtube “short” everyday, and – unrelated – but I’d also like to try my hand at singing to see if the vocals would improve the songs I’ve put together). The important thing is that I’ve edited much of Episode 5 already. However, it’s been a unique experience after learning so much about audio this year – I never thought that sound mixing would be more time consuming than coloring.

I’ll give you an example – imagine you film a scene on your porch where all that you’re doing is speaking on the phone to an offscreen character. Sounds simple, right? Well that all depends on how involved you’d like to get. If I were to go all out this is what I would do –

  1. A clean take with mic focused on character speaking
  2. A full minute recording of ambient noise with nothing else
  3. A full take that focuses only on the rustling cloth and movements of the character
  4. Focus the mic on any distinct sounds – phone placed on table, phone picked up
  5. Sound of the voice coming through the other end of the phone (an easy improvisation in post, but always sounds better when played in the actual environment)

I think those are enough pertinent tracks to make the scene. When I get to the editing room, I’ll isolate each sound on a separate track – ie, dialogue, sound effects, foley, background noise, special (like editing a normal voice to sound like its coming through a telephone… or cellphone since nobody uses the word telephone anymore)

So now each layer is on a separate track. From here I’ll place audio effects to each track – EQ, highpass filter, dehummer, deesser, and finally mastering. The less effects needed the better. Often Dialogue needs the most. (the better the recording, the less I have to do in the editing room).

Once the sounds are placed I’ll add cross fades and some quiet audio to the start and beginning of dialogue bits. This prevents those sharp, millisecond blips that you hear when an audio level changes dramatically in an instant.

After all the audio is placed, I would import the tracks into ableton. Here I can design a score that is specific to the scene I am editing. It is important during every step of the process to level your clips appropriately – dialogue should always be the loudest, most distinguishable track. I like loud, crisps sound effects (the phone being picked up and placed down). Foley, or the cloth movements, should fit the scene appropriately. In others words the common viewer should not even know that track exists. Ambient noise should also be at a low level, but consistently present. The music volume depends on how important it is to the scene. For something such as this I would keep it at a low volume. I might even sidechain it to dialogue so that it lowers in volume during each moment a character speaks.

After all this is finished, I would focus on panning – or speaker assignment for each layer. Dialogue will be front and center, but the other sounds and noises can be panned to the side speakers. Panning audio is something I still have a lot more to learn about. For example, I am uncertain if it is better to pan most sounds far left and far right, or to settle them closer to the center.

The cool thing about making my own score is that I can pan each instrument separately along the speakers. I am also unsure of where sound effects should be placed – I enjoy panning them according to the object creating them in relation to the visual scene.

My biggest question when it comes to panning is how it effects surround sound. I believe that exporting in 5.1 means that each track will go directly to the speaker it is assigned even if it is not panned. What I am curious about is whether a hard right/left pan makes any change to the speaker it is assigned to. 5.1, for those that don’t know, means that your audio set up includes 1 center speaker, a front left and right speaker, and rear left and right speaker, and 1 subwoofer that plays the low frequency waves (explosions are popular).

The final step for audio would involve leveling it once again. Where will the clip be posted? Youtube, broadcast television, and film festivals each have different leveling specifications. Youtube requires audio that is much louder than the other platforms. The other consideration for this is surround sound – cable and youtube will not support surround sound audio. I believe most film festivals will.

The other major concern for me has to do with kickstarter – I desperately want to offer episode 5 of mountain cult on a DVD. I want it to supply 4k video with surround sound. I’m sure it’s just a few web searches away, but I have some big questions before I can promise this. #1 – can basic DVD-R support 4k and surround sound? #2 – Do I need a special DVD writing drive, or is a simple CD Rom drive capable of writing these specs to a DVD? #3 – Do I export 2.1, 5.1, and 7.1/7.2 to the same disc? Or do I write the most advanced surround sound tracks to the DVD and allow the AV receiver to fold the surround sound according to the viewers audio setup? For example, you can upload a surround sound clip to youtube, but youtube will fold the rear left & rear right speakers so that it is incorporated into the stereo track and plays through front left and right speakers. I believe Youtube supports 2.1 audio, but I could be mistaken.

Anyways, thank you for listening to all this audio gibberish. Definitely not what I intended to write about when I sat down here but I’m glad I got it off my chest. I hope to begin posting stills from my footage soon I’m just too lazy to press the upload button now.

The Big Shoot – 7-21-21

The date that I have been working toward all year has finally arrived and past. On Monday, July 19th, I finally got to film a scene that involved 4 other actors at a public location. The amount of preparation required to complete this scene is difficult even for me to comprehend:

  1. Location – I had to go door to door at small businesses and offer to shoot a promo video
  2. I had to shoot, edit, and submit the promo video
  3. I had rewrite the same scene approximately 30 times until it was ready to film
  4. Cast the actors
  5. design the props
  6. order costumes
  7. purchase table mats, candles, a small potted plant, a woven basket, rope, etc.
  8. Purchase an additional camera and microphone
  9. Find crew members available day of event
  10. Consistently respond & update actors and crew members involved in the shoot

The list goes way deeper than this, and I imagine I will talk about the preparation involved in the next film journal. The day of the shoot was Tuesday. I worked Saturday night, came home, and slept for 3 hours. From noon Sunday until the shoot completed at 8 pm Monday I did not sleep. Then I came home and parked in a tow-away zone and stayed awake until 5 am when a parking spot opened up in my apartment complex.

Now it is Wednesday. I have all my footage and audio stored on my computer. The proxies have been created and the media has been backed up on an external hard drive.

I am very excited to move forward. I am extremely pleased with how everything turned out, but will not have a complete response until I have begun editing. I will try and get some stills posted here soon. The rest of the film includes scenes that only require 1 additional actor and can be shot anywhere.

I should add that having a crew assist me on Monday helped things run smooth and more efficient than ever before. It was truly rewarding and a breath of relief to have competent individuals behind the cameras who you trust to frame a shot appropriately. It was also encouraging to work with people who enjoy every aspect of the filmmaking process as much as myself. In our every day lives, it is common to work with people who will never understand the passion and desire to produce art. To find myself surrounded by other artists was enough of a reward in itself to make all the work, expenses, and time that went into this day worth it all on its own.