Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Splott Division: Episode 2

My latest offering. The second part of the comedy series 'The Splott Division'.
Just watch it and then share it.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Final stretch of pre-production

Quite some time has past since my last entry. So much has happened, that it is hard to believe that it’s really only a few weeks ago.
Let’s start with the actors. In the end we had to hold some auditions in London, which went fine, but it was incredibly stressful, because it was very far removed from my comfort zone and in the end I had to hold them on my own as well. Nevertheless, we did find the right people for the job, or so we firmly believe. Just today, we have managed to secure the permit for Bethany, who is playing the girl in the film, so we can film on the weekend and on Monday, if we need to. And we probably will.
It has been an incredibly difficult decision, because I felt, that nearly all the girls had something interesting to offer to our project. The girl I have chosen turned out to be very different to the girl I envisioned, when we wrote the script. But it I find it very intriguing how the character of the girl has evolved and I believe it will make the film even more interesting and detailed.
Anna and I made the decision for the DoP relatively early. I was pushing for it, in the hope that we would be able to test the equipment and because I was in need to bring along a DoP to Teletest, the company supplying the rig. I thought, because of the workload, availability and different strengths, that it would be good to have two DoPs. At first it looked like it was working out, until just three days ago, when I got an email out off the blue, that one of them (he has been away for two weeks and obviously lost his attachment to the project) just send me an email saying, he is not going to be helping on the project anymore. I phoned him and he gave me a few excuses, but no apology and no real reason.
The me of a few weeks ago probably would have hang up and raged or cried for about and hour and then tried to fix it. But my skin is a lot thinker now. I just phone Anna informed her that he really is not going to work on our project anymore and we just decided one a few people to contact. We still need a second DoP, but we just got on with it. No drama at all. It’s so strange.
Maybe this calm reaction has been due to us having a very eventful day, which had showed us where we were standing and we had made the painful decisions on that day already. We had made enough space for is problem.
The problems we had been facing were main location and kit related. The locations in Winchester had to be abandoned long ago. We just would not be able to film there over the weekend. Anna managed to look at a few locations, but availability was a big issue and so was their anxiety that we break or steal something. We were pushing it as far as we could, but we were left with only two or three places, all not really matching our expectations. But we had to make a decision and now we have confirmed the Clock Museum by Dorchester as our location. They seem to be happiest to have us there, which means we will be able to move around more freely and time will be less of an issue as well. Anna says it is a very unusual place and I can only agree from watch I see on the picture. It should make a very interesting location, even if it might not fit our initial idea that well. But I am looking forward to having a look at it.
The other problem was the kit. And that was quite a bit bigger by that time. For the rig we needed a EX3 and an EX1R. We hoped that we could shoot with two EX3s but, after a lot of asking around, no one could come up with the feasible solution.
The problem seems simple enough. We need to reverse the scan of the camera, that means to horizontally flip the image, like a mirror, because we are shooting through one. I can do this really easily in post production, but we really needed it to happen on set, so we can monitor the image to set the right interaxial and convergence. I had thought that this kind of technology really should be available already. It should be age old analogue technology. But apparently, cameras used to have a switch that could do it or it would be done in an vision mixer in the studio. Neither option is available to us and the portable vision mixer were not able to do it.
The other option is just to hire an EX1R out, because in contrast to the EX3 this camera could reverse the scan. We really wanted to avoid hiring equipment out, because it costs quite a lot. But yesterday we realized that we have to have some kind of solution, so we can do at least a bit of testing with our main DoP. So when the tech people we asked could not come up with anything, we just made that painful call, got insurance and then hired the camera out. It all sounds a lot more straight forward then it was. As insurance took their time to get back to us and the hire people wanted trade references we just could not give them, because we are no company. Nevertheless, with stubbornness, boldness and a bit of luck, it worked out. And I am sitting in a train back from London right now, with the camera we needed so badly at a decent price and an afternoon left for testing.
It is such a relieve that we have the kit together now, as we picked up the rig yesterday.
There has been a lot of worry that we would be missing something. Now it only has to work....
We managed a while ago to get two people to built us a set, put some props together and get some costumes. It’s not cheap either, but at least it looks like we will have some art direction in place for the shoot.
What we are still very much missing, are animators and VFX guys. It seems so incredibly difficult to get in contact with and if you manage to speak to them they are always very busy and have no time for our project. Maybe we have only been that unlike because we kept talking to Master students, who are very preoccupied with their own master’s projects. So now we are aiming to find some 2nd and 3rd year students, we are just worried that they are gone already. But we haven’t given up yet, by any means.
To come full circle, I just wanted to mention how well the rehearsal has gone last Sunday. We were all very happy with the performances, and Sara (the writer) seemed really happy to see her script come to life to nicely. I really feel that with a short warm up on set, we will not have to worry about the performances very much, because they know now, what they are doing. And they were getting more comfortable with each other, which I think is crucial to get the performances with need.

Looking back at the last to weeks, when first Anna was in Rome and then I was in Spain, we have come an awful long way.
Today, it really looks like we will be fine when we start shooting the film.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Meetings... and a little bit of hope

The project is getting a little more volatile then I would have liked. I forgot how demanding a film project is on your emotional and mental state. Since the last entry we have experienced huge disappointments and but found hope in unexpected areas.
I was getting very stressed out, because I was planning to have a camera person with the project from as early as possible, but we were not getting anywhere. Everyone seems to be based in London and as close a Bournemouth is to London, I need someone who is here to test for quite some time. After all it’s most likely new technology to all of us and I don’t have the budget to pay for expenses like that.
So we decided to just go for it and hold some auditions, see if we like any of the people, who show up and how interested they are in the project and the technology.
I was very pleasantly surprised that we already have a very strong contender. I’m going into this weekend’s phone interviews with the feeling, that we might have already found the right person for the job and that he is the one to beat. So there is one thing less to worry about.
But the weekend will also see another kind of audition, because we are at the same time looking to find the right actors. We just want to make sure that we are not running out of time and that we really can choose the right person. Looking at the applications I’m very hopeful that we will fill the part for the little girl. The watchmaker is a whole different story. No one really looks the part, but we have to wait and see.
Yesterday, I went location scouting in Winchester and I like the place so much. Both watch shops I looked at would be suitable and at least one of them seems like we really have a chance. Having a location would be another crucial step towards making this film a reality. But I will have to wait until Monday, for their decision. I really hope it will be a positive result.
When it comes to animators, there really seems to be the feeling that we are aiming to high. But no one of yet has replied back to me. I putting it down to the fact, that the animators have a week off at the moment. But I’m still left with a bad feeling. Again we have to wait until Monday to find out more. If nobody replies I will send out another proposal and see if I can actually speak to any of them.
Another major point of worry, was the kit. I’ve heard rumors about 3D rigs, but so far I was not able to confirm any of them. Instead I phoned a company in Bournemouth in the hope that they could give me a little bit of information. Instead I was told to come around with a camera person and have a chat with the aim of getting a 3D camera rig for a couple of days. What really blew my mind though, was that he said, that if the dates are right, we would be able to get their rig for free. I wanted to cry. I just hope I’m not celebrating too early.
Never mind this great prospect, I am going to see, if any of the rumors are true as well, because it would be good to have some practice, even if it is not the rig we will use in the end.

Originally, I wanted this blog to be of a more technical nature. I wanted to write down my understanding of the technology involved in s3D. But somehow there is so much to do, that I don’t feel I have the time or space to actually write about that. After all, I want the information I will be giving to be correct and backed by what has been written about s3D before. Maybe I get around to it eventually.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Working away and suddenly unexpected glories

Just got the third draft and things are really slotting into place now. It is impossible not to play out the scene in your mind, while you’re reading it. It’s lively and it feels real, which makes the whole project that much more exciting.
Sara called the story adorable and I could not agree more. I seem to get back to the notion of something magical. It can be found on every level in the storyline, in the characters, in the mood of the script and hopefully eventually in the film as well.
Writing the comments for the script turned out to be much more difficult. Everything you change will have a ripple effect through the script and I was surprised how much I needed to change to accommodate any of my suggested changes. I really hope that Sara will not feel bad about any of it.

The storyboard is even more difficult, because I want it to reflect the idea in my head as closely as possible, but it just does not seem to want to work on paper. So I decided I am going to give it a try as a simple animation. I have created the character in blender, but I forgot how difficult it all was, so as usual it takes a lot more time then expected. But slowly the set is coming together and I just have to fix a few small glitches with the character deformation before I can start just moving the characters around and render off the storyboard images. I am fully counting on the fact that that should speed up the process massively.

Anna made me think about what I’m looking for, when casting the little girl. After search the internet and not coming up with much, I realized that I was basing the character of the little girl at least partly on a children’s book heroine called Pippi Langstrumpf (at least that’s the name I know her by). I am not sure if that is going to help Anna when trying to find a suitable actress, but I think I have a clearer idea in my mind now.
On the same note, I also made a mood board (I think I over did it a little bit), which will hopefully be useful for everyone in creating understanding of the look and feel of the film.

Trying to get hold of a 3D camera has be unsuccessful so far. Sony has made it quite clear that we are planning to film at the wrong time of the year, as the football world cup is approaching, but somehow I doubt that they wanted to give us students anything. They just want the convenient contact to the university and the Bournemouth Skillset Screen & Media Academy.
We have not quite given up yet, but it just does not look good. Contacting Panasonic and looking if any other company is building something similar feels more like going through the motions. I think plan B will have to come into action soon. I think I also have to have a good look at what is available at the university itself, as we might have to built the whole camera rig ourselves in the end. But after a little talk with Steve Hubbard, has lifted my hopes to finish this project. I get too easily discouraged, doubting all the work I have put into it.

With all the work going on I nearly did not go to the Landcrab short film festival in Bournemouth, even though the film ‘The Cases of Detective Policeman’, which I have edited was to be shown.
Well, I can only say, that I’m glad, I did not miss that occasion, as the film won, Best Director, Best Actor and the People’s choice Award.

Thanks to everyone who voted for the film and I’m so glad you all enjoyed it.


Thursday, April 29, 2010


The purpose of this blog is to keep track of my master's project. I'm intending to make a stereoscopic short film to explore the old and new technologies involved in creating a 3D experience. I'm particularly interested in the post production process. I will explore what it means to edit a stereoscopic film technically as well as artistically, compared to a 2D film.
Even though my academic focus will be with the post production process, I will be involved in every aspect of making the film.

Currently, my scriptwriters Sara and Teddy are working with me on a 3-5 minute script.
Two drafts have been completed and we are all very excited about the story with is about a timekeeper/watchmaker who is disturbed in his shop by a little girl, who shows an unusual interest in timepieces. After initial apprehension the watchmaker takes the little girl on a magical journey into the inner workings of a clock.

The story is designed to be made for 3D, deliberately contrasting the added spatial and textural dimension of the visuals with the time dimension of the story.
This story could easily be made into a much bigger film. Maybe it could even be seen as a pilot for a feature film, as we already developed a rich back-story for both characters, which hopefully enhance the short itself.

We still have to work on fine-tuning the relationship development to ensure that it is believable and able to capture the imagination of a broad audience.
Questions which still need work include:
How much knowledge does the little girl possess when she enters the shop? What makes the watchmaker lose his initial suspiciousness of the girl so completely that he reveals his biggest secret? How do we let the audience know, how much that secret means to the watchmaker? 

On a more organizational level I'm working on assembling a crew for the production, as well as equipment. We are trying to get hold of equipment specially designed for 3D productions, but without much money to spend, that will not be an easy task. So in order to push the production values even further, we are exploring possible ways of securing funding for the film. These are the areas where I'm struggling the most (which is not surprising at all to me), and it remains to be seen what solutions we will be able to come up with.