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.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Week Six: Safety

Sets can be dangerous places, so many things may need to be flagged as problematic. When filming a short film child services believed that having a goat near a teenager was a danger because of biting, so then again people these days are on the careful of everything side.

Tripping hazards is the major thing, film sets have cables, boxes, lights, boom mics, props and all sorts of stuff everywhere. It could be very easy to trip if not paying attention.
Masking down cables is a good way to keep things clean and have less slack to loop around one’s foot. Having all equipment in its own obvious corner and not scattered around is another good way to avoid problems.

Having a safety prep talk before, highlighting problems is a good way to hopefully make sure everybody, both cast and crew is on the same page.
Safety officers can also be employed to ensure the upmost safety and check off on stunts, fire and more alarming things which need to be flagged as a problem.

Electrocution is another one, faulty equipment with a high amount of energy can cause many problems, one of my colleges found that a light would zap him. 

Week Five: Budget

Budgeting is a reality of film-making. Using the Screen Producers as a guide, I got the weekly cost for a low-budget web-series to be $10,155 with the costing being $2,031 per day.

Here is the breakdown for a daily cost which I figured.
Producer $750, Director $164, First AD $144, Second AD $122, Runner $107, DoP $157, First AC $107, Clapper $107, Data Wrangler $107, Sound Recordist $144, Editor $122.

Now I am sure these numbers as well below the industry standard, but it’s what I could figure out from the reference.
https://screenproducers.org.au/assets/Uploads/4.6-Pay-Rates-Allowances-Motion-Picture-Production-Certified-Agreement-MPPCA.pdf

Maths and budgeting is not my strong point really.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Week Four: Work needs doing

While we have made strong strides into pre-production, there is still work which needs to be done.

Casting/Costuming
Casting is critical right now, we need to know who it is we’re working with and what they’re able to do, costuming will also play a big part in this. As we have three different stories, we’re going to have to need three different sets of costumes.
I myself have already began work on what the costumes for the My Little Pony characters can be like, but until we know the gender/height/size ect of the actors, we can’t progress with the actual physical side of the costume.

Title Sequence

The title sequence is due to be shot by week seven, this means we need to have our idea chosen, equipment booked and set(s) built by that time. Some of the ideas floated require green screen, so being able to light/shoot green screen will be critical knowledge to pull that off beforehand.

Locations

I don’t believe we can get away with shooting everything on the soundstage in front of the green screen, apart from looking maybe bad, the sound-stage is in high demand for many other students as well at the uni, we can’t hog it.
I believe we’re getting close to the narrator’s room, however for other locations I don’t know how close we are. Different episodes will have different vibes and locations as well, so there’s a lot of work to be done in this area.

We’re getting ever closer to the middle of the trimester, we gotta’ get moving soon.

Week Three: Title Sequence

The idea behind my pitch is to focus on the writer of the Fan Fiction themselves. While a lot of pitches focused on the fan-fiction or the presentation of the fan-fiction (a lot to do with books being opened, looking like a classic fairy tale ect), I personally felt that focusing in on the creative mind behind the works is an interesting way to open the episode.



It would star a tween (or most likely a adult who is dressed up like a tween) who storms into their bedroom frustrated after a day at school, after tossing their bag on the bed, they bring out their laptop to start typing (only major light source in the room).



Behind them is their thoughts, which would be the ideas of the Fan Fiction they are conceiving, then they start to type. The camera would spin around and on the screen is a word document, which would have the name of the episode.




Another thing I wished to include is a disclaimer regarding copyright, that this isn’t our works, that the original copyright isn’t either. We’re walking a double-whammy copyright brigade issue with our project, not only the original holder of the IP, but also the fan-fic writer themselves.


The first attempt at my pitch didn't go well, not enough detail, too vague. So my second pitch I think went a lot better in terms of what my vision is. It seems however a version of my idea is being considered, but some old man on a typewriter instead of a tween on a laptop.
Which to me is going back to the old classic fairy tale vibe of the other intros, which is perfectly fine, I understand it, however I think it does miss some of the reality of who it is that is actually writing these stories.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Week Two: Crew Roles

I am still unsure what role I wish to take in the industry, however I believe I am leaning more directly towards post-production.
As much as I enjoy the creative process in terms of script-writing and the general concept of the show, I don’t think I am focused enough.

I don’t have the people skills required for directorial or producing work, or the artist mind for production.
I am not quite strong enough for camera and I don’t know if I can deal with the pressure of being around people when they’re worked up (of which I have been led to believe happens quite a bit on set in the real world, my experience at uni so far has been great on set, however I know that isn’t totally representative of on the job).

If I was to be camera, I think I would prefer a smaller unit such as news or current affairs kind of camera work, while still stressful, there isn’t a lot of other people with flashy lights either.

So I think editing could be where I fall into place, I am quite skilled with computers and know Adobe Premier at a decent level right now.
The only thing is I am not very good at AVID, I did an editing unit with it when I was still a games student and as I never used AVID outside of that class, I forgot how it all worked despite getting good marks at the time.
I am so used to how Sony VEGAS and Adobe Premier work, that I would honestly need another class in learning AVID again, for me it feels a bit jank in comparison.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Week One: The Pitch

My pitch wasn’t done very well. Instead of having a solid story idea, I instead came in with a vague concept. So, it wasn’t too surprising that my peers weren’t sure to make of this, at the time this was by design as I thought in my mind that I could custom shape the vague idea to whatever they thought could be cool. But in hindsight the vague nature of the pitch would look poor in comparison to fully fleshed out ideas with character and resolution.

My inspiration was shows like the UK version of the office or the ABC show Utopia. My general idea was a kind of dry satirical comedy. I know comedy is what often are the golden winners for web series and honestly after the more grim/realistic films we have been making last few trimesters I more than welcome something light hearted.

But on retrospect, the kind of satire I would have might only have amused me and nobody would enjoy watching a web-series about some guy letting out his annoyances of the world, it could have become very preachy against the nanny state.
Although I must say that I am very pleased with the actual result, of Fan(tastic) Fiction. As fan fiction was a good strong part of my own tween/young teen years the idea did resonate with me strongly.
I think this was the right direction, the more laugh-out-loud kind of less preachy humour is something all of us can get behind, not just me.

If I did it again, I would be less vague. I would come in with a more stronger vision, so I could offer concrete answers to what the story was about instead of just being open to suggestions.

Utopia