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Inakamichi: Visions - Official Movie Website

Production Journal, Page 10

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27 November 2006-
Now that Dead Moose, Inc. has several projects on ice, I figured there wouldn't be any harm in adding a second frozen animation project.
"Ambulance" is one that I don't know when it'll be finished. Maybe when I become a better animator. Keyframes have me turned off, and it's a pity it's taking so long to make a 40-second short. Currently, I'm focusing my ambitions on flipbooks, which I've made plenty of when I was 8, most of which have sadly been turned into scratch paper... long period of delusions that I'd have a studio ("Cool World Enterprises", I believe? Still remember what the logo looks like). Wonderful things, they are.
They can be done solo, no worry about keyframes since you're drawing the thing frame-by-frame, can take it just about anywhere with a sufficient source of light... and yes, I do plan to show the finished project as a recorded flipping, not scanned in frame-by-frame. Planned length is undetermined, and I only have a small snippet of a scene. The whole saga (so to speak) isn't planned out yet, and basically I'm throwing crap at a wall and seeing what sticks, then editing that all into a final presentation.
I don't know whether the sound will be flipping pages, or a post-recorded soundtrack timed to a filming of the flipbooks in motion... or perhaps a combonation of both. We'll just have to see.

28 November 2006-
Tomorrow is the day of my second solo videography job... well, sort of. Not getting paid for this gig, and the gig is a student play in a government class. I'm still going for a more elaborate approach, mainly because I really don't think the "one static-shot" approach is going to entertain, though it is a play.

I plan to utilize two cameras:

-My Canon Optura60, with anamorphic lens attachment upon request
[it's not everyday a videographer records in scope ratio]
-Richie's Canon Optura20, with wide-angle lens attachment and topline framing for 2.37:1 cropping.

Static shot for Optura60, which will essentially show the entire "stage" throughout. The Optura20 is where all the camera movement and close-ups will be, and in the editing phase, I'll decide where to put them. If I can get software to encode DVD menus (in 16x9), I'll include two versions: my edit, and the unadulterated static-shot version, as if I wasn't using a secondary backup camera.

What I'm wondering is if other people won't be having the same idea, and they might also be recording the play. For a more interesting edit, I just may ask for the other footage, though I'll end up having to crop it. We'll see, but I'm actually quite excited.

On the other side of things, I'm going to need a miracle to pull me through my final project in film class. I've dropped my current scenario, am without a script right now, and my Saturdays are blocked out.

29 November 2006-
Well, that went quite horribly. The play, fortunately, is watchable, so I won't have so much of a hassle editing it. My camerawork, on the other hand, was just plain sloppy, my "torchcam" setup really not helping this time since I seem to vibrate without it. The static angle for my camera had far too much width on it. Not to mention we missed the first 10 seconds.

Since our other camerapersons were shooting in 16:9 (static) and 4:3 (moving), though, cropping shouldn't be so much of a hassle. I might end up trying two versions to see what works, one in 2.37:1 scope and another in 16:9. Fortunately, someone was smart enough to bring an audio-recording device with him, so he probably has all the show's audio... or enough for me to patch it up convincingly.

The other guy shooting also had the same idea of gathering everyone else's footage. I explained to him that the scope format of my master shot would be quite confusing in editing, so he turned his footage in to me. Later on, I might end up giving him both of my footage reels (on one tape), with the static angle cropped to 16:9.

Plenty of lessons learned, though:

-For videography assignments: ask for a look at the setting, and ask for a look at the script. I did not know what I was doing, so I had to pretty much improvise my zooming and panning. [Having to re-adjust the focus all the time didn't help much, either] Knowing your shots ahead of time is what separates videographers from your neighbor's home videos.

[yeah, I know, the look of the stereotypical "neighbor's home videos" is getting popular, but come on! Anyone can do that!]

-Don't ever turn the RECORD button off after you've activated it. You may have a lot of pre-roll for the first 2 minutes before show-time, but you just might have the nightmare of re-activating 10 seconds in.

[quite stupid of me, really, especially since I stress pre-roll to every person I know who handles a camera. Well, now they know, they have my example.]

-Not everything needs to be shot in "scope".

[plays utilize a wide stage, but a only a very narrow area of it is used at once. Pan-and-scan just might be beneficial this once]

-Carrying around camera equipment, including bags, tripods, cameras and other good stuff, can give you a very weird walk, and a lot of back pain.

[get a cart, or get over it]

Concepts are formulating for my film school final project, and I'm going to get new editing software soon. Hopefully, if I ever get an e-mail response.

31 December 2006-
Well, it's that time of year again. Yes, the end of the year.
Richie elected to squeeze one last movie out of the year of 2006, which was only slightly more eventful than 2005 in that we got some projects unfrozen and quickly released (The Last Fight Movie in the Universe, SCHEDULE). My new favorite of the films I've made, "N", was quickly finished in a day when other projects are still spending months in halted production.
He wanted to film a chase scene... actually, a practice version. Which was fine with me until last night, when he sent examples that finally confirmed to me what I think of chase scenes: they're boring, and repetitive. I wanted to experiment with improvisation and long takes, and he refused to pre-plan the film we made today. It would be improvised on set.
As it turns out, our cast members, Kevin and Sean, had also seen "Children of Men", and the three of us were crazy about the idea of long takes shot documentary-style. "Children of Men" is the first time I could say shooting documentary-style actually made a movie realistic. Not so much here.
It was a very fun shooting experience due it its unrestrained nature, but I think I'd puke if I saw the finished product, titled "CHASE! a documentary". Yes, there are interviews. And cameramen are captured in-shot, as both Richie and I were operating our own cameras. Not to mention highly unsteady camerawork.
There were conflicting viewpoints on the manner of shooting: Richie pointed out that I could call "CUT" and ask the actors to repeat their actions, shooting from another angle. I personally felt we had gone too far to make this like anyone else's chase video, like the many on YouTube.
We blew around 30 minutes' worth of tape on this, but I'm not wasting that much computer space! I'll wear down those tapes for only the takes I'm using, as I have more important things to use my hard disk for.

4 January 2007-
If "CHASE! a documentary" ever gets released, you won't hear about it from me. That's my take after workprinting the raw footage on VHS. Why I workprinted it:

-Computer space is precious. For "Visions", it hogged my external drive, and I still didn't get a satisfactory middle sequence. Since there really isn't space to waste anymore on my hard disk or my external, uploading everything is out of the question. Especially for a film that we deemed garbage even when we were shooting it.
-Sifting through the original DV tape to find the right clips would wear it down and garble up potentially useable footage. It's much safer to sift through a workprint copy, however worthless the film may be.

I'm taking this as a second documentary editing exercise, after "Visions"... possibly even practice if I'm motivated enough to attempt a recut again. Taking advice from film school, I wrote very, very rough notes down that are garbled descriptions of each of the takes, in addition to a very rough transcript of the interview. This gave me a perspective as to how much of the footage we shot really isn't useable... and even worse, isn't remotely funny.
Afterwards, by a very, very rough edit from the VHS copy of the raw footage to Digital8 tape, I'll see if it's structured good (enough) then do a final edit on computer using only the "good" footage. "CHASE!", finally, will have a private funeral- I mean screening- attended by the cast and crew involved. That number is four, myself included, so very little people will have to suffer through this abomination.
Well, Richie predicted the film wouldn't be released days before we filmed it, when it was always intended as a one-day affair and an exercise for a future chase scene project. I probably ruined it with my stylistic intervention, but personally, I preferred trying something new that had a chance of not working, as opposed to yet another static-angled imitation of every other chase scene that would die on YouTube, and probably guarantee even less viewing of our other films (if that's even possible).
Every bad movie is a good learning experience.

11 January 2007-
After a week, I've jotted down a word-for-word transcript of the raw footage of "Visions"... specifically, the problematic middle sequence. Yet again I'm attempting to fix this film once and for all, as I realize that segment is turning viewers off due to its slow nature. I might also redo the first and last movie-within-a-movie sequences, though I personally like them the way they are... and I really don't want to transcript those sections, either. It's a tedious process, and I'll only edit on paper what's necessary.
This will be a complete re-edit of the entire film, so cuts between individual shots may be lengthened or shortened. Audio will be cleaned up as much as possible, with background hiss removed, and new reframing of shots to be color-timed. In terms of audiovisuals, differences might not be noticeable for the non-technical online viewer; this is just something to appeal to my own pickiness. The new edits, though, will hopefully improve the film.
(the originals are safe in editing files, as well as music-free DV-AVI masters in the event I don't get all the rights to the stuff used)
As for future projects, we're still working on it. Richie wants to do another practice chase movie due to the failure of the last one, and the big script we're writing for a chase scenario does have some creative conflicts:
The plot he wrote gave me characters I wanted to know and develop. Richie, essentially, had a chase quota- as in, specified that he wanted XX amount of minutes for a chase at a time. We then checked it in with Jessica, who along with Richie worked on a potential script for a "Code of 'Con'duct" prequel.
Jessica has problems with romance overall, and thinks the plot is too "soap opera".
Kevin is popping with ideas, and I don't have any- just techniques I'd like to use.

26 January 2007-
First of all, the Best Picture nominees:
Babel, The Departed, Little Miss Sunshine, Letters from Iwo Jima and The Queen! While I would replace the last two with "The Illusionist" and "Children of Men", I've never seen an awards slate that solid... especially not from the Academy Awards, who usually tend to pick awful 5th nominees. Or as with last year's awful awards slate, "Munich" was well-made but had the wrong message, and "Good Night, and Good Luck." was one of the many boring political films out there.
I'm hoping that "Babel" wins; it's one of the best things that's ever happened to the cinema. It's not that often you get a work that respects your intelligence and allows you to think for yourself, instead of being constantly manipulated and told what your political views should be.
"The Illusionist" remains my favorite of 2006, and it's a shame it didn't recieve any awards recognition- Neil Burger is one of the few indie filmmakers who remembers that cinema CAN be used to entertain people, and not depress them, or bore them with talking heads, as seems to be the standard for most indie films.
Currently, I don't have any new film ideas that I've successfully materialized; I want to do an animation film (preferrably one that cuts animation segments together with live-action), but I have not the money, the time, or the skill to do so.
Thus, I am retooling old projects... well, not really "old"- in fact, it's my most recent project I'm currently reworking. "N", which I've converted to 24P and color-corrected, is going to be re-released with better edits and sound. I'm basically going to do what I attempted with "another walk in the park" two years ago, but it'll be more successful this time because I actually know what I'm doing. As time is running short for something to submit to Monta Vista Film Festival during my final year at Monta Vista High School, unless I can pull something better and fast, "N" has already received positive feedback. I am adding sound partially for the creative opportunity, but also because I really don't want to risk my film having raggy-time music added because the festival organizers somehow think there's something wrong with the speakers.
As "N" was my light project, my next one will switch back to something dark. I've just got to find the right concept, the right storyline, and the right script.
The battle for "Code of 'Con'duct I" is still going on, and there is a meeting due to happen. Jessica wants this to get filmed right away, or at least get a definitive answer out of Aniket.
Kevin, Nikolay and I, on Tuesday after-school, had fun with camera exercises, similar to what Kevin and I did earlier over at my house on the three-day weekend. While I'd never release it online (or at least announce that I did), this was fun to shoot and we did get a few nifty little effects out of it. I personally find after-school loads better than wasting weekends for shooting practice, and I'm thinking of also writing a script specifically with that timeframe in mind.

30 January 2007-
It's another Tuesday, and I decided to use the spare time we all had to test out a boom mic setup, testing the range of two different microphones.

To my surprise, the black "deaf 2-year-old" mic got better results; the other mic, which is one my mom used to utilize for tape recording, was too sensitive and captured a lot of wind noise. The black mic, while it has background hiss, captures only the dialogue- which is what I wanted to achieve with the boom mics. Editing is a lot easier and can be more flexible if you insert the environmental sounds later, instead of having them in your raw sound, which if not visually, will audibly create jarring cuts. Richie eventually got the hang of being a boom operator, while in our test footage the mic was in-shot several times.

But that's what a test is for.

Today, I was supposed to begin dubbing for "N", but compiling an ADR reel was surprisingly tedious, so I completed it this afternoon. I'll see how this works out, and see what things need to be fixed. Both the insertion of background sounds in post and ADR are techniques I'd like to utilize extensively in future projects.

Both Judy and Kun-wei have okayed doing a dub, so all is good. Provided things work out well, you should see this new edition quite soon.

2 February 2007-
Well, today, we were finally able to get our first ADR sessions down.

With only Judy and four lines to dub, this was more than enough to fill the remaining 30 minutes of our lunch period, each line being recorded 9-12 times, along with a viewing of the film (silent) to find other sounds that might have been missed when constructing the ADR reel. Overall, I find this to be very good experience, but what amazed me is when I brought it all into the editing room, almost everything was in perfect synchronization!

...and I don't think my camcorder has crystal synch... I had huge problems synchronizing a recording studio video a few months back.

My $9 microphone is proving to be a worthwhile purchase. Sure, it has problems, like background hiss which I'm sure I can erase thanks to Audacity, and since it's not a high-end mic some sounds are bound to distort. Personally, I enjoy the distortion when it comes to characters yelling- it's not nearly as intense when it's crystal-clear. It's clear enough, though, to where not everything is distorted like a phone call (a good example of what it does NOT sound like, try some Evanescence vocals like the opening of "Going Under").

It's strange hearing "N" with sound, but it's something I'm sure I'll get used to. I know I'll have to re-adjust my edits to go with the sound this time (so I'm re-editing the re-edit), but it should be something well worth watching. But first, creating new sound effects and getting Kun-wei's lines down.

As well, on Sunday, my 25-cent boom mic rig is being put to practical use- Jessica, Richie, Yuki, Kevin and I are shooting a couple of scenes for the "Code of 'Con'duct" prequel, and we'll see how well it cuts off background sounds. There is discussion of how it should be cut for the upcoming Monta Vista Film Festival; whether we should 1. find out what doesn't NEED to be there in the editing room, 2. re-adjust the script, and potentially risk the original, longer version seeming like "filler", or 3. show snippets in a "fake trailer" of sorts.

I brought up Bertolucci's epic "1900", running at 5 hours, 15 minutes, whose US release was being held back due to its length. Bertolucci, after being outraged by a 3-hour cut, made his own 4 hour, 5 minute cut. Why 4 hours is suddenly more marketable than 5, I have no clue, but the point I'm getting at is Bertolucci made this re-cut himself, and he did it "without removing any sequences". Instead, he tightened the edits, and shortened down most of the scenes. (I'm curious to see this shorter version; the DVD contains the original cut)

Richie, on the other hand, brought up the tastes of the Monta Vista Film Festival audiences: if it's not funny or obviously amazing, they won't like it. If it doesn't provide for instant gratification, then it's not worth anything to them. Which explains why "Leviathan" recieved thunderous applause, and "Visions" only recieved moderate. A fake trailer would get people excited to view it online.

My opinion: If they care to remember the web address. If that's our plan, though, we'll see if we can't get our sites printed on the program, so they can bring it home.

4 February 2007-
Well, wow! For the first time in what seems like forever, we finally got back to filming a real, big project, this time with "Code of 'Con'duct I" and some scenes in an office. It was also the first time we used the new boom mic rig, this time using a more adjustable pole instead of my rig made with cardboard wrapping paper tubes. The whole time, it was surprising how easy it was to capture sound from this thing.
As Kevin and Richie were in the scene, and I was operating the camera, Jessica operated the boom... and is the credited director for the time being. Personally, I felt I was being a control freak like usual, but we'll see when the final credits are on.
Taking a lesson from Soderbergh's "The Good German", I removed the concept of "coverage", and was almost tempted to have this shot like an old movie (in respect to the camera angles and shot lengths, not musical arrangement or lack of color). The latter didn't happen, though my film teacher would be disappointed with the amount of close-ups we didn't secure.
While I enjoyed shooting, editing and watching "N", if there was *one* thing I felt disappointed about, it wasn't the fact that I didn't catch that extra close-up, or that I didn't reveal more backstory on the characters; it was that the editing was too confined within the rules. On the other hand, the fast cutting was probably more appropriate for the story than the "Maltese Falcon" editing I'm currently obsessing over.
Our minimalist selection of camera angles were more than enough, though; a filming session that was planned to be one hour ended up taking three. Not since the original "Code of 'Con'duct" did one day of filming produce around 20 minutes of raw footage, 4 useable.
The other scene planned today wasn't shot, but we hope to get to that soon. I definitely can't wait until we do more shooting on this.
And let's finish it, for once!

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