Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Friday, August 14, 2015

Shadow Plane

Oh my. Making a "shadow only" plane so that your 3D object casts a shadow on the ground is a pain in the tuchus with Cycles in Blender.
But. It can be done.
Dig this fellow's tutorial. David Fesliyan explains how to do it. It's a bit, er, convoluted. But it makes a clean shadow pass. (Do yourself a favor and make sure "compositing" is left checked in the render panel or you will be as confused as I was for a substantial amount of time earlier today.)
Ignore the unplugged lens distortion.
You have to put the shadow plane on one layer and then do things with nodes. Subtract, "set alpha" and then "alpha over". Make sure that layer receives shadows. Then move your sun(s) around so the shadows match your original image. And make sure that the outputs are in the correct order in "alpha over".
There seem to be other ways to do shadow planes in Cycles but this method does not involve putting a garbage matte in over the ground plane. And it seems to work.
I say seems. I know not am.
I think at full resolution this render takes about two hours on my fastest machine. But it should make a right pretty composite so I'll let it go for the weekend and see what I've got.

Monday, August 10, 2015

AMAP (Android Masquerade Additional Photography)

Re: additional photography on Carbon Copy (nee' Android Masquerade): honestly our distributor had some excellent ideas for making the movie better. And so we're shooting a scene at the beginning with some soldiers who get killed (which will up the stakes a bit more) and then another scene where some soldiers get killed defending the city against the robot incursion (which will make the stakes of the robot incursion more important) and then some soldiers getting killed during the "false flag" attack in the Philadelphia Desert.
Yes, we kill many soldiers.
Also, we still steal the "Philadelphia Desert" from Montserrat Mendez because stealing from Mozz is what we do.*

Some details from everyone's favorite comic-book movie, the reboot of Fantastic 4. I like these details. Plus, they look totally doable and wearable.

Just a couple pieces of armor and a LOT of straps. Although this is a drawing, this costume notion looks very doable. Plus, I totally dig the shoes.

Another angle on the Fantastic 4 costume.

We, of course, would add a balaclava and an awesome helmet to this costume.
Of course, none of this has been written yet. Well maybe it has but I haven't seen it yet. Steven J. Niles is working on the additions.
We need what will be an abandoned city and the Philadelphia Desert. What would be best is an old factory in a rock quarry. Do you have one of those? Can we shoot in it for a day?
Speaking of helmets, Brian Schiavo is coming up with a helmet design. I have so much faith in how awesome the soldiers' helmets will be I'm not even paying attention to it.

*Just for your own amusement think about where that desert is that Charlton Heston is in at the end of Planet of the Apes. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

End of July

Felicia Hudson, Chester Poon, Sarah Schoofs. Everyone has at least one "o" in their last name. Most have "oo". Which sounds like they're really excited about something. Ooh! Or in Sarah's case, "Oof!"
Would you believe I never got around to syncing these scenes?
Lesee. I'm waiting on a robot and a spaceship from Ian. I've been mixing Carbon Copy but there are still three (new) scenes we need to shoot. Which means we need a rock quarry and an abandoned city.

Monday, July 27, 2015

What Will Be

I feel like the Blackmagic Ursa Mini will be the go-to camera for us. I prefer having the ability to shoot stills with the same camera we shoot motion picture with. But the thing is that we can certainly grab 4K stills off the Ursa if we have to but the global shutter is kinda a big deal.

Of course you need to spend the extra $1500 for the eyepiece. And there's a lot of fiddly pieces you need to get the signal up on a monitor. And power supplies. And of course a decent lens set. I really want an f2.0 (or so) lens which goes from about the motion-picture equivalent of a 35 to an 85mm lens (which as far as I know does not actually exist). I want a zoom because I fear changing lenses out in blowing sand (and I feel that much of my shooting will be out in blowing sand.) But unless the Panasonic GH5 comes with global shutter, I think that's just the way it's gonna be.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

This is pretty much my life right now

Massive renders take lots of time and processing power. Even better is when the computer crashes overnight. Those spikes are periodic and this one composite is being very cranky.
Also, mixing. Lots of mixing.
We're going to shoot two or maybe three additional scenes for Carbon Copy.
Most of my crashing problems seemed to have gone away because I no longer put exFat drives on my machine. Just NTFS on the Mac which runs Windows.
All this time at the new office (about a year) and I have never set up my speaker system. Sheesh. I am getting the 5.1 system together. The amp/subwoofer will go on top of the booth. I probably still need a couple small microphone stands for the left and right speakers. I don't know how I'm going to mount the surrounds.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

I'm Late

Which one is the robot?
I was supposed to have delivered this picture yesterday. But we just shot all this new footage with Kate Britton and now we know that the robots have actually tapped into her brain and taken over her mind. We've always known this. It just took until now to realize it.
I'm not 100% sure about this composite. It still needs some things worked out. GPU rendering crashes my computer in Blender. Switching to NTFS drives from exFat did not completely solve my random crashing problems.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Special pickup day

Backlight is the key to all things.
f3.5 maybe? 400 ISO? Fog. Lots of fog. Tomorrow is robot composite day in the Pandora Machine. In the meantime I have been hit hard by the tired stick. Maybe because I woke up at 5am? I don't know.
Kate Britton is amazing. I wish they'd had apple dumplings at the diner.

Monday, July 13, 2015

My To-Do List

I am a man who believes, deep down, that the reason his computer has been crashing is because for whatever reason it hates having exFat formatted drives attached to the USB buss. This is a bit of a bummer. I infer it is an issue with Macs which are running Windows. The reboots can happen after a few minutes or I can get more than a day between crashes. But this weekend I only had an NTFS drive plugged in and the computer lived from Friday through (so far) Monday.
So I'm making a copy of one of my data drives and I reformatted it as NTFS from exFat and now I'm copying the data back onto it.
We'll see how that goes.

Tomorrow is additional photography day for Carbon Copy. I want to do a shot of a couple embracing while looking into one another's eyes but, you know, one of them is a robot. Because that's how we do.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Real Numbers

So here is an analysis of the economics of an indy movie budgeted at a million pounds.

These numbers look real to me. And note that relatively speaking this is a freaking success story. The short answer is that it cost $1.3 million and of that it lost $700K.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Puppets and Something

I've totally forgotten what this sign says.
I'm supposed to be done with this movie in exactly one week. I'm not really confident I'm going to achieve that end. But I'm well on my way.
Honestly, we've got a day of additional photography to do. And we can't do that until a day before the whole picture is due. So yeah. We're not going to quite make it.
Otherwise I'm mixing. Mixing mixing mixing.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


I'm about 1/3 of the way through the mix on Carbon Copy. Well, maybe more like 1/4 the way. There are a whole lot of little details to be dealt with.
This is, however, a relatively easy scene with only two characters so the extra 4 tracks were deleted in the picture edit and never got dragged over to the audio edit in Samplitude.

Since we moved to recording 6-tracks of audio for all dialog, it's a bit more of a pain in the tuchus to deal with big dialog scenes. At the same time we're more likely to have good dialog in those scenes.
I cannot tell if I'm doing the right thing with music.
In my mind the whole thing, meaning the whole movie, is in the mind of the lead character. So what is the soundtrack of her mind? I have no idea. Well, I mean I have an idea. Is it too much? I really don't know.
This is one of those thing where, as the director, I really should have a clue. I'm going for an electronic kind of sound with pulses and grooves mostly. I really dug the James Newton Howard score to The Bourne Legacy. So I'm trying to cop some of those feels (uh, phrasing Drew?) in the Carbon Copy score.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Last day

Chester Poon, Sarah Schoofs, Felicia Hudson. (Chester isn't in full costume during this rehearsal.) We're green because Laura, the True Queen of the Marsians felt it should be green (remember when we thought that back on Millennium Crisis while shooting against a greenscreen? Yeah, live and learn. No screen (looking in this direction) on this picture.

Travis Pilar let me take a picture of his groovy shirt. I told him my sister was making a deck of cards based around house cats.
Felicia Hudson, Chester Poon, Sarah Schoofs, inside Varl's ship watching the sun rise.

Felicia Hudson, Chester Poon, Sarah Schoofs.
 We shot over an hour. The slate was up for a bit over 8 hours. We used a LOT of lights on this small set. Laura insisted on hitting us with a 650 Fresnel, two chiclets, and a pair of LED lights. There was a lot of whumpus on set at 400ISO.
Sarah Schoofs new dating profile pic.

Felicia and Sarah looking out on the desert plain.

Laura did this very pretty vertical line of whumpus on Chester. Jason Birdsall's set really held up.

Felicia gets shot twice in this movie.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

So many things

Bulletproof is no more. Everything Stu says about this makes sense. I know the feeling of things just not working out. Oof.
Creating a force field in After Effects.
Reloading the AMD drivers in Bootcamp did not solve my crashing problem. But. Oof. Seems like my Focusrite Scarlett might be the problem. That is a bummer.
It's a bit of a process to restart Windows 8.1 in safe mode.