Tuesday, December 31, 2013

How To Shoot A Martini

We're headed boldly into the last day of shooting Dead Residents.
Lessee. We still need a robot. We're low on zombies. We have a million pages with ten million lines of dialog all in one small apartment set. To which I say "eek!"
Ian Hubert made our CG robot. It looks rather photo real. Here it a version of it on an alpha channel.

I am (I hope you're sitting down) actually storyboarding this series of scenes. Good grief. What has it all come to? I need to make the scene:
  • Good
  • Easy to edit
  • Easy to shoot
In about that order. 
I always get concerned about annoying actors by doing a stop-and-start version of a scene where we are continually stopping, going back a line, starting up right through to when another character talks at which point we stop, back up, and start shooting the new character until another character speaks. It's very herkey-jerky. But it's very effective in the edit room.
A substantial amount of the movie has been edited. It looks good. I'm happy with how the story works.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Abby Singer Day II

... because one Abby Singer Day isn't enough.
That's right, we've done our penultimate day of shooting twice now. But at least that means that schedule-wise we're right on time.
You know, if you don't count the fact that we added a whole extra day.
We shall begin the illustrative portion of this blog post with a series of pictures of our Martian Queen.

Today we shot almost entirely in my building super's office. And he gave me some coquito he made. And all I can say is ho-ly-cow. That was some good stuff. Rum and coconut milk. Cinnamon. It tasted like there was some cocoa in it.
Oh man. I'm glad I had that toward the end of the shoot day rather than the beginning. I'm also glad I have auto-focus on my camera.
Ho. Ly. Cats.
That's some good stuff. Not good for one's diet.
The lovely Virginia Logan.

The. Er. Lovely Virginia Logan.
 Did you know that Virginia is in Sleep No More? Because she is. And it's awesome.
Virginia Logan, Steve Deighan, and Mary Murphy after the nanobot release.
 Today we shot almost entirely robot POV. You know, just like it is in the script! ;-) I love this cast.
Maya Graffagna after being shot by Virginia. We kill Maya twice in this movie. Ha!

Virginia had to be her own camera operator for this shot of being hunted by her own robot.
 The very ambitious goal I have is to have all of the movie cut together except for the scenes we need to shoot on January 5 by January 5. We absolutely must do it though, as we have to be done with all post-production (animation, composites, sound edit, music, final mix, color - correction, commentary track) by February 1.
The Marsian Queen does some robot acting for us.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Just some notes

We have two more official days of principal photography on Steve Niles' Dead Residents. I'm enjoying the way this picture looks. I don't want to say that it looks good because we're shooting on a GH3 instead of a GH1 but the GH3 certainly helps. 
I find that in post I'm lifting up the tones which are just above the black levels. The image below is a bad example because there's so much black in it to start with. But yeah, basically, we've been lifting the bottom part of the image. Note that we're just blending Magic Bullet Looks with the un-color-corrected image (about 64% color-correction in the "power mask" in the Magic Bullet Looks controller in Final Cut Pro).  
This scene where we fight the robot has been the one scene which has stressed me out the most. I've been worried about getting it to look right. 
My super has been extremely awesome about letting us use the basement of my building. I mean, it's really really nice. Every room down there looks art directed. We have one or maybe two more scenes to shoot there. We'll have to see. 
So far we're behind schedule by one scene. Which, you know, isn't too shabby for being 10 days into a 12-day shoot. 
Virginia Logan shoots robots in Dead Residents.
We did our first shooting with CO2 cartridges. The handguns offer very little kick when they're belting out CO2 actually. In that shot above we've put baby powder in the barrel and we get one frame of floof coming out of the gun. That's kind of funny because we're muzzle-loading. But I don't feel scared about crossing in front of a charged paintball gun. I mean if there were a paintball inside and if I were shot at close range it would hurt. But my eyes are protected by the camera itself (the lens would not be a world of happy if a paintball were shot into it point-blank).
The only charged and loaded paintball gun is the one we use to shoot at actors. Ha! No. We don't actually shoot at the actors. We shoot near them, sure, but not actually at them... er... all the time.
If you hit the right surface with the dust pellets you can kick up some nice fun stuff on walls and such without being nearly as dangerous as using something crazy like squibs. Yes, I do sound cavalier about the gun safety on our sets but we're actually sort of particular and we take some time making sure we're not going to get hurt.

Three Movies§Three Things

I have three movies sitting in post-production right now. That's less than awesome actually. Two of the movies have picture lock, or are close to it. But the one I have to get out right away has only just begun being edited.
We're not going to make any major changes in our post-production process just yet, but a couple things have come up of late. Final Cut Pro is, of course, becoming creaky. Old age is getting to it. I haven't heard any whispers of Apple updating version 7 or making version X actually, you know, work. And that leaves us with Premiere. Yeah, we could go Avid but, er, no. We won't.
The other thing is that Samplitude, which we use for audio, has cancelled its Apple port. So Samplitude is going to stay PC-only.
The other main programs we use are Blender (which is PC/Apple/Linux), and AfterEffects (PC/Mac).
You'll notice that if we jump off the Final Cut Pro bandwagon we won't need any Apple computers in our studio.
This dude, Stephan Bugaj, has a blog and he's been writing on the production and post-production process. For a nano-studio like ours some of the steps are fairly delusional but overall it's a fairly accurate overview of even how we deal with things. Things we don't typically do include an iterative process between sound editing and picture editing. We lock picture and then deal with sound. It's more old-fashioned the way we deal with it.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Abbey Singer Day

Day 11 of 12 on Dead Residents.
Maduka Steady, Virginia Logan, Mary Murphy.

My super let us use his office today. We really have to figure out what to do for him for Christmas.
Matthew Trumbull, Clark, and Mary Murphy. About to meet their collective doom.

See the mirror reflects our reality that... oh who knows.

Future cop with robot. Ha! Which is which??!
The Queen of Mars says "I am my own PA." ;-)
There is little more satisfying to me than a paintball gun loaded with baby powder.