Sunday, January 27, 2013

Picture Edit Rules

I'm coming up with some picture editing rules. These are just things I've noticed 'round these parts which we have to be careful about. I've noticed these issues, incidentally, in both Final Cut Pro and Premiere, and with quite a few different picture editors. So it's not like any of these are anybody's fault or anything, just that they're things to look out for.

Look out for:

  • One frame of black between shots. 

The snapping tool is your friend, friend. You'd be surprised in QC how freaking often it is that we find a single black frame between two shots. And if we miss one of those you just know a distributor will kick the movie back to us to get fixed. Be careful out there.

  • Speed changes in the timeline. 

This is about the number one thing which ticks off our distributor(s). If a piece of footage really needs to be at a different speed, it has to be brought into AfterEffects and the speed changed there with proper interleaving of frames and suchlike.

  • Continuing the same shot as a new segment.

I know, you match-framed the shot and you just want to add some more time to it. But instead of it being one segment, this shot is now divided into two segments. Don't do this. There are a couple reasons not to do it: one is that you've just made two things to color-correct rather than one. The other is that now there's one more thing to get bonked out of sync. Sure, it barely ever happens -- probably just twice in a feature. But that's enough to fail QC.
But, you think, what if I'm changing the speed in one of these segments? See the rule above, brother, see the rule above.

  • Embedding in embedded sequences.

I don't know why, but FCP and Premiere start to get very cranky when you've embedded in embedded sequences. Also, it makes it vastly harder to go back and see what the footage involved was originally named. Especially for the post-production-sound department this can be a hassle. But more than that I've found that both Premiere and FCP become very obtuse about correctly rendering out sequences-within-sequences. It'll look at first like it rendered out properly. But your distributors will find that the program did some unholy thing when it rendered out your footage with too many layers of embedding.
Try to just use the actual original synced footage when you're putting scenes together into acts on a sequence in the timeline. My angina will thank you if you do.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Saturday, January 19, 2013

What I Want Update

Because everyone wants desperately to know what I want in the way of a camera, it's this:

  • Sensor size no bigger than APS-C, no smaller than 4/3rds sensor
  • 3200 ISO without unreasonable noise -- then we can shoot outside at night with reasonable f-stops
  • I want to be able to take production stills with this camera
  • No rolling shutter. Enough with the rolling shutter already
  • 1920p. Because now that's our delivery format
  • The ability to control the take number. In fact, I'd love to be able to put the project number and then the take number (or the roll and then the take number) into the camera. 
  • Marks in the eyepiece to indicate the 2.35:1 frame
Things that would be groovy, but I can understand if I don't get them right away
  • Wi-Fi tap. Just transmit picture over wi-fi. I don't even care if it's real-time or not, just let the art department see the frame on their iPads
  • I would prefer it if the camera would purr while it's shooting -- it helps to feel confident that we're actually in record
  • I'm becoming weary of the .mts format. Or any of these other weird formats. Can't we just shoot in .tga sequences or something? How about OpenEXR?

Things I don't really care that much about (in no particular order)

  • Through-the-lens viewing. Honestly, I shoot a lot of laser beams. And the sun. And between the two I'd rather not be looking directly through the lens. A little TV screen is good enough for me.
  • No compression. Meh. Go ahead and compress the signal. No, I don't want banding once we're out of color-correction in post. But RAW files? Not helping me make movies. ProRes normal resolution is good enough for me.
  • 4K. I just don't care. Yeah, we could re-frame in post if we shot 4K. But I don't want to deal with it. I don't want the data bothering me. Tell it to go away (see "compression," above.)

Восстание андроидов

Or: Vosstanie Androidov.
I believe that Russia's distribution method is simply to embed ads in the online videos. Which is a neat trick really. You can watch all of Android Insurrection here, in Russian. Although they use actors to voice the parts, they do that over the English-language dialog.
Joe Chapman found this awesome new cover art. 
 I believe this to be the DVD version of the movie in Russian.
Then I found this version of the artwork. I dig the color in it.

Friday, January 18, 2013

What's Keeping Me Late at the Machine

Not content to blog just on my own blogs, I'm taking over other people's blogs too.

So what's going on in the Machine? I'll tell ya. A movie we shot 5 years ago has some scenes in it where frames are doubled. And a distributor is mighty unhappy.
I went to look at the movie and sure enough, there are a lot of doubled frames. At first I thought it might have to do with a 3:2 pulldown issue and no, it's not that. It's just that some of the prerendered exports have errors.

The problem is that we edited this movie on Adobe's Premiere. Version CS2.0. And the codec we used is called RayLight and it's proprietary (because, at the time, we were shooting on Panasonic P2 cards and yadda yadda, was the only way to edit for about 6 months there).

Premiere was a huge pain on that picture. So I rendered out sections and then re-assembled them in Final Cut Pro.

But Premiere crashed constantly and hated, just HATED, dealing with a full-size feature at the time.

So I went to open the original project and the drive it was on was dead. But I had two other drives with the edit on them and one of those worked. Sort of. So I copied all the data off onto yet another drive. Then I tried to open the project in a more modern version of Premiere. New Premiere hated the legacy effects on the movie. Worse than that, it couldn't parse the Raylight codec.
Why? Because the Raylight codec only works in 32-bit operating systems.

Luckily the computer the movie was finished on was at my apartment. I was this close to mothballing it. But nothing about working with these projects is awesome. Still, I've been rendering and exporting .tga sequences to then bring into FCP via AfterEffects (where I turn them into ProRes422 Quicktimes) in order to fix the doubled-frame issues (which, as it turns out, are a result of bad renders in Premiere.)

Where are we now? Re-rendering sections which didn't like the 2nd (or 3rd) render I've done this week.

But that's not the news. No.
The news is that the new delivery format is 1920p ProRes422HQ. That's right. HQ.
It's a silly delivery requirement because it's a format that's made for in-house transfers of partially-composited files. But it's what they want now. So we're going to deliver them. I hope it doesn't eat render time for breakfast. I'm about to find out if it does or not.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

An Update on the Machine

We're powering through the picture edit on the dragon picture. John Dillon has taken the lead on that. We lost a couple weeks due to some fairly popular holidays which occur (apparently) at the end of December and the beginning of January. But we're getting back into our stride.
Callista with Amelia (Julia Rae Maldonado).

Nathan Vegdahl is animating away for us. I'm going to be doing the detailed lighting and the compositing. The goal is to have some visual effects done for the Berlin Film Market in February.
Then today we got whumped with an issue on Angry Planet (which, by coincidence, we'd also got the artwork and new trailer for below). There is a strange doubling of frames in some of the acts. It's like a 3:2 pulldown issue where an extra frame is created every few frames. But it doesn't actually seem to be that. 
With tremendous difficulty I am re-rendering sections of the movie from the original (or close to original) footage. Whoo. The next few days are going to be a lot of arguments with computers I can tell you that.

Angry Planet Trailer 2012

Furthermore, we have a new trailer for Angry Planet. I'll put it up twice -- once as a YouTube video and once as a Vimeo video. Click through to like, embiggen, share, etc.


Angry Planet 2012 from Andrew Bellware on Vimeo.

Angry Planet Art

There's new artwork for Angry Planet, our Mac Rogers movie.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Blink Blink

Today was the last day of principal photography on the dragon picture. Whew! I realized today that it had been a year since I met Julia (we ended up shooting another picture in-between.)
The Queen of Mars looks to get herself out of frame while John Dillon and Julia Rae Maldonado look out at the city.
John Dillon shot all of the shots of me. I had to finish up some dialog and chase after Julia for a while.
Andrew Bellware as The Monk. An evil, evil man.
He also shot with his fancy-pants Panasonic HD camera. We put the Letus adapter on it in order to use my Canon lenses.
A closeup of the map!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

iO9 Snarketh

I'd missed that we got snarkily mentioned in i09 recently. They actually quote an Amazon review of Android Insurrection, if you can believe that.
As one Amazon reviewer put it, "This flick is notable for one thing only: Having the only R-rated production logo I have ever screened." Goddammit, now I kind of want to see it.
I do not get all the hate on the Total Recall remake. I only saw it last night (I think I was in production while it was in the theaters so I couldn't make it.) But they do a lot of things right in that picture.
The art direction is spectacular. The tiered city has a fantastic and working geography. Sure, somebody spent a lot of time looking at Blade Runner, and the anamorphic flares started to bug me there at the beginning, but the textures of the environments were pretty fantastic.
The androids were exceptionally cool.
Boy they weren't afraid of putting people of color in the picture. Not in the three leads, of course, but otherwise they were not afraid of non-stereotypes of Africans and Asians.
The script is very clean. They do a number of things where they reduce the number of characters from the original in a very smart way. And they combine some scenes very intelligently.
So all in all that iO9 list is not a bad one to be on.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Points to You

I was talking to someone who works in financing of independent feature films and the way they usually do it is to split half the points to the producer(s) and half to the investor(s). So there's 50 "points" to the investors. On a million-dollar production that's an investment of $20,000 per point.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

To Do List

I am doing a poopity job of looking ahead at what movies are coming up and then making sure we have something which can draft off of them. Luckily i09 has a list for me.
Elysium comes out on August 9

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (August 23) looks very cool but I think it is un-mockbuster-able.
Riddick comes out on September 6th. I think Twohy can do no wrong.
Ender's Game comes out on November 1. This book was unreadable. I can't fathom caring about a child who plays war games and then just as it gets interesting and it turns out his dreams come from the alien race, he wipes them out. So what? How can this be even remotely interesting?
The Prototype looks kind of cool. I don't know if there's enough story to it though.

I'm writing off Oblivion and The Host because those movies are coming too soon for us to do anything about anyway.
Snow Piercer looks cool.
I absolutely hated John Dies at the End. It's not even a hot mess. It's just a mess.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


I remember getting into an argument with my best friend when I was like 9 years old that there was a gun manufacturer named "Ruger". He probably thought that I was mispronouncing "Luger".
Anyway, I was right and he was wrong. Furthermore, Red Jacket Firearms makes a sort of bullpup P90-ish conversion kit for Ruger 10/20 .22 rifles called the ZK 20 stock.
This picture doesn't really show what the gun looks like as it has a dummy barrel.
More on the Luger front is their AR15 take on things.
I can't find any Airsoft Rugers. That doesn't mean there aren't any.