Friday, May 5, 2017

Week Thirteen: Reflection and looking forward.

I am biased in how I view everything, I am tired from overwork and still a bit salty about how things went.
However the suggestion that given time removed, looking back I might come to appreciate or enjoy the project might come true.
But I am overall proud of my efforts regarding the green-screen, the idea of taking on the whole project with green-screen stupid for the project, but fantastic as a learning experience. It hindered the films, but helped us in our development and I guess that’s the important part.

It’s over, we’re done. Well, the show-runner wants to keep working on a bit so once he puts it online for the world to see might be in the best possible position, but I need at least a short while before I am willing to go back, I need sleep.
Still, I am proud that I was able to pull it together, to salvage it, between the weak material and largely working alone I am happy with myself all things considered.
The material was out of my hands so given what I could do, I think I did a good job.

I think that’s the important thing I need to take away from all this, I will be given stuff I hate or don’t care for. I still wish to pursue post-production and not everything is going to be something I enjoy.
Chances are living in this country that most of my work will be advertisements or lifestyle shows, but that’s fine, it really doesn’t bother me, I am under no illusions of becoming a great director, I know the Australian reality. If I am working, I’ll be happy.
A stable income is more important than chasing pipe-dreams.

The good news is that I am editor again new trimester and the film I am working on, if all goes to plan, I think will be something wroth being proud of.

Week Twelve: The Exhibition

Pony backgrounds used in episode are on display, they're amazing as it really does look like the show! Maddy Benporath did an outstanding job and I hope she has great things ahead of her.

Having the exhibition on Tuesday, while the actual grade is on Friday is the sort of thing I have come to expect now, still the supposed logic is that we’re working towards a tight deadline, as in being like on TV where there’s a specific time and date where the show must go to air (or head’s will be rolling). While this was a bit personally inconvenient for me as my parents were leaving on the very same Tuesday to go on holiday overseas for a month, so instead of seeing my parents off not to see them again for a long time, I was instead looking at render percentages on an iMac.

The actual schedule was a bit all over the place, originally, we were told must be done by like the Monday night or something so the organisers can have it ready to be shown. However apparently in due to some kind of miscommunication, the audio department was unaware so they wouldn’t have a scratch mix (a early mix) done until late Tuesday, which was roughly the time where the films would soon be shown. The simulation of TV deadlines just got more intense.

It was done however, my director got me the scratch mix and I imported it into the project, after a last minute fixing of a couple things (although forgot to fix one flash-issue) we were ready to render.
There was one strange issue with the audio seemingly out of sync at one point which caused a bit of a panic with the director, however when the film actually rendered suddenly the issue was no longer there, so I guess just another one of those things.

Despite my film being the shock-and-horror of the class in terms of being SO far behind apparently compared to the others a week ago, my film was the first to actually render.
So while other films were still being tweaked with audio due to issues with that, I just watched on while a spare iMac was chugging away with our render.
Note: " Little Pony" is spelt right, should have been "Lite Ponly"
In this moment I felt pretty good (and a bit smug) about how things were going.

But as a group we all pulled through and all three films were rendered, on a USB and handed-in, we made it.

So actually showing, after some amusement at the way our films were described on the posters of films (including ‘fixing’ a spelling error which was actually part of the Fan Fiction title) and episodes two and three being swapped around (although thankfully due to our naming conventions, the episodes were played in the intended order which was Twilight 1, Pony 2, Batman 3), we made it in.

The theatre watched the first few films before hours with documentaries and a couple short films, they were all really good.
I personally was quite impressed with the Robot one, the post-production work in it was great, it looked totally legit.
Also shout-out to the homeless and bush-fire docos, powerful stuff.

But then our films, the audience reaction was… as I predicted. A few laughs here and there, but it hardly set the world on fire. My episode (My Little Pony) as the middle one and had the middle amount of laughs, as for the last episode (Batman), well there was long pauses of silence from the audience.
Using my pseudo-science I would put this down more to the audience getting bored of the concept, the first episode  (Twilight) had the most amount of laughs, but with mine being medium and the last being very few, I have to put this down to the audience getting numb at the concept, even the narrator jokes about genitals were getting a numb response by the end.

I personally believe this would be the same result no matter what order you played the episodes in, I think the last episode which played, had it been the first would have had the most laughs, while if the first episode shown was placed last, it would have had very few laughs.
So no matter if it went Batman, Pony, Twilight or Pony Batman Twilight or Pony Twilight Batman or Batman Twilight Pony, it would have been the same result.
I don’t think it was down to the actual content or quality of the episode stand-alone, I think the issue is the package as a whole.

I wasn’t surprised, I knew this would be the case, from early on I knew that the jokes which could get the most lol’s would be A. Screaming, B. Dick Jokes. AKA lowest common denominator level of humour. The rest, got a chuckle here and there from somewhere, but once again didn’t set the world on fire.

Am I being too harsh? Maybe, maybe I am too close to the project. But if anything, the audiences rather muted reaction just validates my feelings.
Still, the fact my episode had the medium amount of laughs, I’ll take that.

Unrelated to my project, but I really enjoyed this game. "A Witch's Trial"
As for the rest of the exhibition, played a few fun games from the Games Department and saw some really neat art from the Design students, so not a bad night overall. Pop-corn and free booze, far better than last time.

As for the audio mix, it really did help pull it together. Most of laughs I think are from their efforts, audio is such a vital part of film.
People will tolerate poor visuals, but the one thing people will never accept is poor sound, YouTube has been a long standing testament to this theory.
The musical beat in the background was nice and hoppy, the sound-effects were cute and it really helped to hear the actor as the narrator narrating, instead listening to my own awful voice.

The audio students did a great job, as did the background artist (see top of post). The other departments deserve all the credit they can get.

Week Eleven: Feedback

My rough-cut wasn’t viewed very well, due to receiving false information, I had cut the edit based around the understanding that the narrator dialogue had already been recorded, so my version wasn’t as tight on purpose as I hadn’t received the dialogue audio yet.
Turns out the information was wrong, the narrator dialogue wasn’t recorded at all, only the Showrunners episode had the dialogue recorded on the day, leaving the other two episodes to be done via ADR, due to this misinformation my edit was perceived as lacking.
To the point where the class freaked out and it was threatened that my episode would in fact be cut entirely, I thought this was all rather unfair as my comping work was ahead of the other episodes and at least I put a LUT on all the shots.

Anyway, the main feedback was to record my own dialogue with my microphone, edit to that for timing purposes and then the narrator would later match my speed so it can just be slotted in with the final audio mix.
Other suggestions included less time spent on rocket ships and more movement going on.

The key bit of feedback was that my backgrounds weren’t all there yet, I still had a lot of green and placeholder stuff behind it. So my main goal was to get all the backgrounds in and then later shift the backgrounds around per shot to give the illusion of movement and help fake camera angles Something otherwise impossible on the day with the limited greenscreen space.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Week Ten: The Shoot

The shoot went smoothly for the most part. The major incident which occurred was that our male lead got sick one of the days which cancelled the entire shooting date. Unfortunately communication was a bit of cluster between mixed messaging. I got the message when I was already on the train going into the city (I live rural), so it was too late for me. Once in Melbourne I did miss a couple trains back as I was trying to call people attempting to get information, I finally did get around to everyone, but I suppose lines were all busy on all ends.

This meant that Twilight had to be filmed all in one day instead of allocated two days, but we were working well on set and we managed to film two days worth all in one day.

I wasn’t there for the miniature shoot, but all the shots were gotten. I was the DOP of the pony episode and we got everything we needed to film within the whole day, due to giving ourselves a good amount of time, for the most part we were able to stick ahead of or just on time. Which was good stuff.

Week Nine: The Look

Being a film shot entirely on Green Screen, this puts an instant limitation on camera movement and lighting as it could negatively affect the keying process in post-production.
However, if we had the freedom, I would have tried to match the show’s general style as much as possible.

But due to the amazing work of the design students, the visual style of the backgrounds is spot-on with the visual style seen in the TV show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic which the script is based upon.
Visually the show changes from brightly lit to dark depending on the mood, however for our film it’s almost always brightly lit due to the nature of the greenscreen. The backgrounds provide any darker tones needed (such as in the forest) and I suppose colour grading could as well in theory.

But camera movements aren’t really possible in the limited space, meaning anything would all be post-production tricks.

Week Eight: Character Breakdown

Unlike other characters in the script, Flyhoof is a totally new character conceived for the story.
While it’s true that Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy don’t act in the script like their canon show counterparts nor do the actors take any real inspiration of the performances of the voice over artists/animators.

Flyhoof is different because she is totally original, so it does give some more flexibility. Her general visual style was my idea, I envisioned a more edgy character. As she is an Original Character (or OC), I was inspired by the infamously edgy OC pony characters created by the community, a common trait of these would be full black coat with red mane, so that’s the look we went for. Of course in my mind the original version still had wigs and a full costume, but the end resulted fitted in fine as it provided a stand-out contrast in comparison to the more bright other characters.

Her performance was largely based on what Logan desired.

Week Seven: Three Different Ways.

Fluttershy’s death scene is in part the climax of the film, it’s set in the forest (all naturally filmed on green screen), but there was debate of different ways this could be filmed (including even outside).

Due to the nature of the stunt where the actor (Jackson) falls over it could be covered in three different ways. We chose to use a static shot of him walking in, then lifting his foot up into frame which shows the beartrap, then he falls out of the frame as he dies.

But another way this could be filmed is to introduce a tilt, so when he gets caught by the bear-trap, the camera could tilt down to reveal the bear-trap to the audience, then his reaction as the camera tilts back up or he simply falls down into frame.

Another way is like the static show, however as he falls out of frame to die, the camera would tilt to follow him, but the reveal would remain the same as him lifting his foot into the frame as a surprise.

However I think the story is better served by the total static, I believe it adds more comedy quirk by having the foot lifted into frame with the trap (as his foot is normally out of frame) and then simply falling out of frame.
It makes a bit more sense with the Greenscreen forest in the background as well, if inclined it would also have extra editing for the background to track the movement of the tilt.