Editing is a nightmare – 3-19-20

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If you’re a writer you know the feeling of crushing procrastination. You love your story but there’s a certain roadblock you can’t quite wrap your head around. Why does your antagonist take this action if what he really wants is this? Why doesn’t the protagonist make the reasonable decision to contact the authorities and instead take matters into their own hands? The lists of rock-and-a-hard place choices is endless.

Well I’m finding out swiftly that goes the same for video editing. There are two action sequences in the short I’m editing (if we can even call them that). I already spent my entire Sunday afternoon cleaning up a simple sequence that features me unclasping handcuffs, unlocking a latch, picking up a rifle, and entering a cell room. As the week progressed I moved deeper into the scene where I’ve met my next major sequence obstacles.

My scene partner looks at the piece of jewelry in his hand, continues on with his dialogue, then hurls it into the cell wall and flees the cell. That’s it, it sounds so simple (and maybe it should be) but it’s turned out to be the crux of my scene. We have multiple takes of the same sequence, but none of the pieces seem to fit together. He pulls out and looks at the jewelry at different times. He practically jogs out of the cell after distracting me. And I am slow to flinch and grab for the jewelry.

It amazes me how such a simple action can make my scene look so f*king stupid. You remember The Office, when Michael Scott shows the James Bond type movie to his coworkers and they all laugh at him? Yeah, this is what that feels like. Funny enough, my only goal right now when I make a short is to keep it from looking like some teenagers put it together on one boring afternoon with an Iphone.

Anyways, thought I’d share my bullshit with you before I get off work and try to figure this sucker out. I’m messing around with different editing effects on Adobe pro premiere, such as zoom in/out and slow motion/speed up. Some of them look really good. An issue with slow-mo is I shot at 30 frames per second, when it appears much better if you shoot at 60 fps for that. When I decided to start directing, I made it a goal to let the story come first. I’ve never seen a film where insane visual effects improved the emotional impact of the story, so I’m trying not to get too invested in that aspect of the process. Anyway, thanks for listening to my complaint.

My First Short Film – 3-12-20

 

I’ve had a lot going on this week, but I’m excited to announce I’ve finally posted my first short film to youtube. It’s more of a scene. My internet is up and running at a snail’s pace of 25 mbps, but it was enough to upload my short to youtube.

Quarter Million Bust was filmed and shot the day it was born into existence. But if I had a full week to prepare for it I wouldn’t change shit. Why? Because its shortcomings weren’t  visible to me until I watched it on the screen. But let’s start with the positives.

Positives:

  1. My friend Matt did a fantastic job acting. His changes in speech pattern and voice pitch add to the dynamic range of his character.
  2. My B-roll footage. I love the shots of the beer can, the table, the cigarette smoking, and the bird chirps. I’m also thrilled about how an easy 3 note guitar tune sounded as the score.
  3. My camera – it provides clear, excellent picture that responds fluidly with effects.
  4. My recorder & microphone – our voices were much too quiet during the shoot, but I was able to add 15 db of audio to each clip without a heaping serving of white noise.
  5. I learned – Oh God did I learn. What did I learn, exactly?

Negatives:

  1. Act better – I need more emotion when I’m on scene, and I need to realize the emotional significance of the words coming out from my mouth. The emotions need to be a reaction to my scene partner.
  2. Write better – There were a few lines that made me cringe and didn’t make it to the final product. The one that eats to me is my line “Are you in or are you out.” It was partially an exercise in flipping the scene on its head, where I enter as the uncertain one and trade confidence with Matt. But when I deliver the line I seem like the main provocateur, who has been intent on committing the bust the entire time. The line ignores the uncertainty my character entered the scene with. This line should have been a pivot point that showed my transformation. Instead, my transformation is completed entirely with a long, deep pondering pause.
  3. Better shots – Get a close up! I shot our scene from three distinct distances – long, mid and close. Unfortunately, my close up captures about half of each character’s torso. Ideally it should be face only, to display the most emotion. Conversely, my long shot was so long that it was hardly usable. I’m still happy with it, and will do it again, but it is too  far away to consider as one of my primary takes.
  4. Speak louder/position the mic better – without the ability to add audio gain, our voices would have been impossible to detect, and the clip would have been worthless.
  5. Color grading – Oh God, this is the big one. I’m only beginning to understand how color grading works. My skill level is not even on par with “amateur level” – it’s straight up beginner. You can see in the final product how orange our skin tones become throughout the clip. Even with the same takes, the effects change throughout the scene. This is something I’ll have to learn. In retrospect, I wish I colorgraded each take before my final product was completed, so that they remain consistent. I’ll have to do some research and figure out the best way.

So, there you have it – my first short film. Obviously 2 minutes is not long at all, and the lack of action is apparent. I don’t consider either of those cons as this is my first short film ever. I knew going into this that the experience would be mostly about learning my equipment, learning adobe premiere pro, and discovering how to edit my work. I’m overall very pleased with the product.

I filmed the first half of a scene this past Saturday. I’m hoping to film again this weekend and have something new to upload by this time next week. My youtube channel was launched yesterday. I’d like to add a graphic to it as well. I want to dedicate it entirely to short films. I hope that I can maintain the courage to post less-than-perfect short films. I want to stay extremely far away from becoming a youtube vlogger, so for now I’m going to resist the urge to post reality style clips – at least to that channel. I want to build an audience for short films/scenes. Another objective of mine is to post frequently with highly efficient editing – even if that means sacrificing quality. Much like a screenplay, I believe it’s easy to become obsessed with perfection and dwell too long on a project that is only as good as its subject matter.

Anyway, that’s all I got for now. I plan to return to regular posting. Thank you for reading, and if you checked out the clip thank you some more. It really means a lot.