Monday, September 29, 2014

I'm Gonna Need You To Shoot Me In The Head

This is an actual album apparently.

Did I mention there's a fuckload of compositing work in this 12 minute short?

First, every shot with my pumpkin guy requires--at the least--me to fill in the holes we made so the actor could see. They're tiny drill-bit sized holes, but visible nonetheless. Damn you, hi definition.

So I gotta motion track each hole, then clone a section very near to the hole, and parent that to the motion tracks. Fun. most of the shots with my pumpkin guy you can see the actor's hair in the top of the pumpkin. That's trickier because he turns his head at times and the angle he looks down changes. So creating a fill and just motion tracking the hole doesn't work. I had the crazy hope that tracking position, angle and scale would help me out.

But what's really killing me right now is that we were running out of time toward the end so I was cutting corners to get it shot. Time to pay the piper on those.

I have a shot where an actor is dead on the ground. He has a big gaping hole in his skull. However, the actor in question told me five minutes before we were to apply some blood that he cannot do that because--and I quote--"Blood will ruin my highlights."

I try not to judge. But he's had the script for 6 weeks. The hole in the head was there the entire time. A little heads up?

The thing is, I only wanted a ring around the area on his head because we have a prosthetic head with a gaping hole. If I have a ring of blood on his hair I can see clearly where to composite the hole.


What happens is that the character's girl runs near the scene, sees something in the distance and then zooms her camera to it to get a better look. And see her dead boyfriend on the ground with the hole in his head.

With time I would have put the camera on a tripod, shot the actor on the ground and zoomed in, and then added motion to it later. Then I would have put the prosthetic in and shot that in the same position.

What instead happened is that I had to rush, so I just shot the shot handheld, then also shot a handheld of the prosthetic. I was also immensely exhausted by this time and shaking like a fucking epileptic.

Now I'm having to frame by frame the hole in his head--and you see, I'm also zooming in toward the body at the beginning, so I have to try to make the zoom on the hole look the same. Also the camera blurs as it zooms, and in erratic patters, so I have to keyframe a blur on every frame to try to match the original blur.

I have been working on one fifteen second clip for 7 hours now. It's still not rock solid.

Later today I'm meeting the actor to get a few shots I missed in a random woods near me. Hopefully I can make it match.

Then Friday I'm going to L.A. until Tuesday.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Rough Cut Done

I have edited more this week than in a LOOOOONG time. Finishing the paid auction video, then diving right into this short.

And the short's not easy. Having to sync the audio to the picture without a slate. On occasion we clapped. I do have the reference audio on the camera that helps a little, especially if there's a loud noise I can see in the wav form.

Also we shot two camera--so I'd sync the two clips together then sync the separately-recorded audio to those.

I started with the end scenes because I knew that's where I'd missed shots, not having time to consult or follow my shooting script at all.

Whole thing ain't bad, either. And now I have a list of pick-up shots to do.

The most egregious miss was a reaction-shot from one of my actors that's pretty important. Am waiting to hear if he can meet me at a local woods to get it real fast. He's going to San Diego for like a month, so it's now or WAY later, and the color's gonna be gone from the trees...

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Not bad, not bad

So I'm rushing through an assembly edit on the last half of the short so I can figure out what pickup shots we need. We're gonna go out and reshoot a few FX shots, get a couple of inserts I need. All without any of the actors other than Matt who plays Jack.

Zig's gonna double for Johnny's hands, arm and gut. That Zig is multi-talented.

With the speed we were working mixed with the complexity of the shots I was going for and the fact that all the FX shots were what we were speeding through...I kinda felt like the end of the shoot was one big fuckup.

But it's not half bad at all.

Note: When you change the battery on the 5d, apparently it loses white balance. That would have been nice to know. Got a lot of color work to do.

Couple of questions not to ask a guy who's just finished shooting a flick:
1) How's it look?
2) When's it going to be done?

I get your enthusiasm and interest. I appreciate it. But the magic takes TIME.

Stumbled on an interesting set of LUT's--they're settings for color correcting film. Here's the site:

It's only like $69 for 9 settings, which isn't bad.

But check out #1--they're little video under tutorials that expounds on Stu's now-famous color correcting tutorial. The prepping a digital negative video is also interesting, and not something I knew.

Then go to downloads and download the 2gigs of free film grain. I haven't had time to test it, but it's free if you like their site on FB.

Yeah, I keep a fake FB account just for that sort of thing.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

After Action Report

Do me a favor and don't spread these pics. 
Since nobody reads this blog I feel relatively safe posting them here.

So, the weekend from hell is past. I'll skip the nitty gritty.

Friday night Zig came by and spent the night so we could be out the door by 7:15am. Grabbed two dozen donuts and some ice for the cooler, and headed to the parking lot near the woods. Everybody showed up on time, which was sweet.

We load everything up on carts, plus(of all things) a little red wagon Cutting has in his truck. We start wheeling and carrying it all--seems like we can do it in one trip. Things go bad fast as Zig dumps a dozen of the donuts on the trail. Oh well, I told people to eat them in the parking lot.

We make the long walk to the camp site and drop all the equipment. Me, Johnny and Melissa head back a ways to try to get a quick shot at one of the rusted car wrecks. I shoot a couple--we get an awesome lens flare in the background and then we realize, they're not wearing or carrying their props(a camping bag and a mini-cooler).

Fuuuck. Someone runs back to get those, but by the time they get back the flare is gone. Well, I'm gonna try to recreate it in AE with you-know-who's awesome program.

Then back past the camp for the first scheduled shot. A crane shot where the couple is coming up the trail and I crane to eye level from very low. I have to rack focus manually without disturbing the crane's motion.


Take the amount of time you think the shot with the crane is going to take. Multiply that by ten and you're going to be far more accurate.

And this was the mini-crane. But anyway, we weren't TOO far off schedule at that point. We went back to camp in time to eat some subs my brother had gone to get everybody from the local deli.

Then we shot the whole scene that takes place at the camp site. It went okay I thought. There was some issues with the tent(the stakes were little tiny metal spikes rather than anything actually, you know, VISIBLE to the naked eye), but the cops didn't come when we repeatedly fired the gun and the blank gun.

We walked out of the woods at like 5pm, having only missed like 5 shots. But the next day was the tougher day in the woods.

Six of us went to Stewie's house to film the "interview" scene. We ordered some pizzas and waited for them to come, ate, and then shot the interview. It went pretty smooth. We ended eight minutes earlier than I'd scheduled: 7:52pm.


Back at it--in the parking lot at 7:45am. We have to shoot the quick car scene. I look at attaching a camera to the outside of the car but it looks like I'll get a weird shadow and maybe reflection, and I don't need this kind of shit.

I say fuck it--we'll do the angles I didn't want but it's a short scene. We bang through it and are back in the parking lot at like 9:15am. Forty five minutes early.

I show everybody where the day's camp is, and the good news is that it's only like 500 feet into the woods from the parking lot.

We wait for everybody. I set up the ghetto steadi-cam. Did I tell you about that? I'm too lazy to go check. Basically here's where I got the idea:

The problems for me were this: The tripod I got used metal spokes on the legs. Not comfortable to grip. I wrapped grip tape around it. Bigger problem--the camera outweighed the legs even fully stretched out. My fix, when I tested it the night before, was to put batteries in ziploc bags and hang them on the legs.

It seemed to work during the test, and now that I've seen the results I gotta tell ya--fuckin' amazing. Here, check it out:

I chased Johnny and Melissa around for a while, and did I mention I'm out of shape? By the time we were done I was SOAKED in sweat. And it was only like 10:30am.

So we head down to the gully. Have to pick up the scene we didn't do the previous day. I wanted to dolly but wasn't gonna attempt it. Cutting had a slider so we set that on the ground and I discover that the plate on it has a screw roughly double the side of a regular screw. My camera won't mount on it.

I jury rig it. I hold the camera on half the plate--if I put it on the screw it will wobble--but I have to hold it tight as I slide it to keep it steady. I think I get some good shots though.

Then farther down the gully to do another crane shot. Only this time I'm going to be using my remote pan head to tilt up as the crane comes down and then when the camera's low enough I have to rack the focus as Johnny comes to about 4 feet in front of camera.

We did, no shit, seventeen takes. Took a while. Never got the timing perfect on it. And then when we were done I had to carry the 30 pounds of weights up the hill back to our new base camp. I am fucking dying already.

And I can already feel us slipping behind. We've got the FX stuff all coming up and I'm guessing we got about five hours of good light left.

We order lunch, try to get some stuff done while we're waiting. Long story short, we start falling behind bad. The FX at one point aren't working(a slash doesn't blend in enough to be believable), and I'm having to abandon my shooting script in the name of just getting it done.

But I have some fairly complicated compositing to do, and when you're rushing it's bound to fuck things up. I'm pretty sure I'm going to be spending months working on the painting out of things, and I don't think some of the FX will work, so I need to figure out how to pick them up.

We shot well past the good light. I had to go from ISO 650 to 2000 by the end, so matching this shit is gonna be a nightmare. I may have to look into some grain removal programs. Fun.

We packed up, ate at Wendy's, and came home to unpack. Dead tired, body hurting. But I couldn't go to sleep because of how much stuff I had to do. Dozed off for like 2 hours before I took my kid to school, came back and dozed another two hours but kept having a dream I was directing a film that was going wrong because the DP wouldn't do what I wanted. I finally took the camera from him and started shooting.

I woke up and decided I'd go back to the woods today and get some POV shots I know I missed, plus some ambient sounds, and maybe a few pics.

So I did. Here's me, wishing I was dead. I had forgotten how much walking it was.

Anyway, spent today working on the video for the auction coming up--paid work, gotta do it, but was feeming to look at the footage we shot.

Now I've looked at all of day 1 plus a little of day 2, but it's getting painful now. I'm reliving the moment shit starts going wrong...

But much of day 1 looks good. Will get back to ya on day 2.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Happy B-Day To Me. Or Not.

Yeah, today's the day. And like a cruel jab at me I have been feeling like shit lately. My neck hurts when I wake up.

And now for the past three days my lower back is KILLING me. Worse every day. Not good when I have to be DP on a flick in two days.

Anyway, my mission today is to go to the woods where we're shooting this weekend and do my last minute walk though. Make sure I know how long it takes to get from location to location in the woods, and in what order we're going in.

I figure hey, I got 25 pounds of weights that are needed to counter-balance the crane, so I might as well take them with me. I'll drop them behind a tree or something--one less thing for the crew to carry in. PS: Weather's supposed to be clear all week long.

I get to the woods. Keep in mind I've only been there twice, and both times with my brother who knows his way around. I head in. There's an immediate fork, and I'm pretty sure our main camp area is to the right, so I go that way.

Spider-webs cross the trail and I walk into a few. I pick up a stick and wave it in front of me as I walk so it won't happen again. The trail splits a few times but I keep walking in the direction I think is correct. After a while I come to a clear-ish area that looks familiar. I think--yeah, here's the main camp.

I spend some time there picturing the shots in my mind, where we're gonna set up a tent, etc. Then I drop the weights behind a tree. Good riddance.

I head all the way back to the first trail split, knowing I have to take the other direction because there's some shots that way too. I follow that for a while but get lost. I call my brother who talks me through but then mentions that he thought the main camp area is in the direction I'm currently walking.

I keep walking and sure enough run into the real main camp area I'd chosen. Also there's no sun whatsoever right now and the woods are pretty fucking dark. Getting kind of creepy for 3pm in the afternoon.

So I know I have to walk ALL THE FUCKING WAY BACK TO THE OTHER SIDE to get the weights and bring them here. My back is hurting like a bitch, and hey, are those rain clouds I can barely see through the canopy?

I walk briskly back to the weights, grab them and lug them all the way back to the main cutoff. I'm out of breath, sweating, tired. I call Zig to tell him what a shitty time I'm having. Then I walk the weights back toward the camp.

It starts to pour. I get them most of the way and say fuck it. I drop them behind a tree, and jog back the way I came. Only good news is that I now have an excellent idea of exactly how we shoot from location to location.


Since my parents live down there I stop by. I ask my dad if there's any way he can take the kid to school for me, and drop off his van, take my car. That way I can use the van for all the equipment. He says sure. But he doesn't have a key to my new door knob.

I give him mine. I then text my wife and say Don't lock the bottom lock on the door if you leave.

You know where this is going.

I go to my house and nobody's home. The door is locked.

I spend ten minutes trying to pick my lock. Good news/bad news. Good news is my lock is a very nice lock and is not pickable with my quik pick. The bad news is I'M STILL LOCKED OUT OF MY GODDAMN HOUSE.

I manage to push open the window next to my door(it's not locked) and climb in, sliding over my couch and down on my belly.

Happy Fuckin' B-Day To Me.


Went out to get the knife back from the FX guy. He gave me my original back plus the rubber one he created. It's pretty cool. Check it out, real one first:
 I told him not to spend time dicking with the rune lettering, cuz the only time we'll use this knife is if it's being swung, so you won't see those.

Pulling all the equipment together so I won't forget any. And oh yeah, the remote follow-focus that I went to Bel Air for last night...doesn't fit the rails of my rig. So that's a big fucking waste of time, and now my crane shots have to be all wides(or nearly).

Yay no budget filmmaking...

Monday, September 15, 2014

Soooooooo Much To Do

It's days like these that I wonder why I put myself through it all...

Not that today was overly-bad. It's just, the sheer amount of stuff still to be done before Saturday's shoot is pretty ugly, and since I'm doing it all myself...

Last Saturday I went over and had Matt try on the whole Smiling Jack uniform with mask thing and all. Here's a top secret pic of that.
The big problem here is that I had to digitally-fix that pic above. You could see his head slightly through the top even though he's not looking down too much. So I'm guessing I'm gonna have to do that in the actual flick, which is gonna be a lot of work in post.

I only wish I had his knife for that pic, but unfortunately the FX guy is casting it so we have a non-lethal version. I get that back this week.

I'm glad I got Matt instead of Cutting who was supposed to do it. Matt's willing to put up with the hassle, the shit that sucks, and he doesn't gripe. For instance, that mask was on him for maybe 5 minutes and this is what his forehead looked like afterward:
Ah to be young again. That mark on his forehead is where the nose indention pushed on him. I've now added a bit of cushion so it's not as bad.

As if I didn't have enough to do though, I got a paying video gig Wednesday morning. So Monday I get tortured knowing I can't look at any of this footage I shot over the weekend--I gotta edit the boring pay work first.

--WORRY: How long will it take to dump footage from a 32gig CF card to a USB hard drive? Odds are we'll fill up the 6 CF cards we have, so how long will all that take to dump Friday night because I won't be able to do it until we get back. So I gotta make sure it's all transferred before I get some sleep so that we can format the cards for Saturday.

--WEATHER: So far, so good. It appears it'll be mid to high 70's, partly cloudy. Partly cloudy will help me with the car shots, as the background shouldn't blow out as much as if it were sunny. However it won't help me in the woods, which are pretty dark as is. I gotta go back and make a last look at the woods.

Friday, September 12, 2014

More Blasts From The Past

 Man, I see this and I want a time machine more than ever...
I wanna go back in time and see this movie again for the first time!
 A Drive-In ad. You remember those, right?
 And another!
 Weirdly, I don't remember ever seeing this poster for the movie. 
It's pretty cool(but I prefer the regular one which sits on my wall)
This was labeled as the weirdest LP cover ever. I will not disagree.
On the We're About To Shoot A Segment For An Anthology Feature news, the shoot date is barreling toward me. I took the guy who's going to be playing the bad guy to Good Will and we bought him some old pants. I'd already gotten some shirts and had someone age them so they look very old.

We're still working on the mask thing. The FX guy is finishing up all the other stuff. Here's a shot of the head of someone in the movie. Fair warning--some people aren't making it out alive.

I went down to my brother's place to test his camera out on the car mount. Well, it vibrates. Worse part was that apparently my cheap monitor doesn't work with his camera, which is weird because it works with my damn camera and they're both made by Canon.

So trying to mount this camera so it was pointed in the right place and focused correctly was a nightmare. My choice for the car scene is now A) Sit in the passenger seat and shoot the driver's side from there, then cheat the passenger by putting her in the back seat and making it seem like she's in the passenger seat or B) Shoot the convo from the back seat so you basically get an ugly half profile from the back.

Other problem is how the shot would go from over-exposed to under-exposed to acceptable-exposed depending on whether there were trees in the background or not. Shooting from the back seat would probably minimize this problem.

Dunno, gonna think about it. Lot to do, especially since I'm pretty much doing all the pre-pro by myself. The big things are:
1) Locate everything I need equipment-wise and make sure it's ready to go.
2) Go shopping for everything from food/water/soda to batteries and more


Tuesday, September 09, 2014

More, ya know, Stuff

So I keep selling shit on eBay. I sometimes wonder whether I'll ever get rid of all the shit I had in my comic store. It's like neverending. I guess I shouldn't complain cuz it's money...

Anyway, sometimes you get douches who don't pay for what they bid on. I just got this excuse, which is at least more novel than most of the ones I get:
I am sorry I have not been able to contact you sooner. I am on VA disability, and my ex husband caused a lot of damage to my house that my landlord had to repair. I had alot of unexpected expenses I was not expecting which is why I did not pay the auction. 


More neato stuff I found online in my EXHAUSTIVE search. 

 I have no idea what this is for...

 Man, I totally had some of these. I also had some other ones, which I think were from Empire.

 I've never heard of this movie. It only caught my eye cuz it's the name of a script I'm writing. 

 Had this game. Lucasfilm made some great games for the Atari, like way ahead of the curve.

 I have never seen this poster for this flick(which I LOVE, btw--just ordered the Blu Ray)

Friday, September 05, 2014

More Cool Stuff

Man, I loved that Fun Dip. They still sort of make them but neither the sugar part or the candy stick taste as good as they used to.

A cool article that came out way back when about one of my favorite Harryhausen movies:

Seems like I had one or two of these:
Man, ads of the past...
Some random blasts of Star Wars from the past:

Thursday, September 04, 2014

The Rabbit Hole Pulls Me Under

That book I'm writing. I will confide to you that it's about my favorite holiday. Yes, the big H.

As I'm researching different things and every time one site leads me to another, THAT site leads me to another. So I've got 100 tabs open in my browser and 500 new bookmarks to go back to.

But man this is one giant blast of nostalgia. It's immense fun. I decided to do an entire chapter on ads relating to H--man, there's a buttload.

Here's some images I ran across that don't fit into the book for some reason but were great nonetheless.

I have some others but I'll parcel them out. Don't wanna image bomb this.

Speaking, clearing images for my book is going to be time-consuming. I've found a decent number of public domain but there's a lot of pics that aren't. Not gonna be fun.

Hey, this is a pretty great prank:


On the anthology front I'm trying to get all the last-minute stuff together. The bad guy's mask(which is a nightmare to make and make work). I had to recast the lead guy role, but I think the new actor I got makes a better couple with the actress. He's an actor I've worked with twice, and he's actually pretty well known around here.

I have to do some final tests in the next week or so--go back to the woods and do a walk through. Like, here's scene one, picture shooting it in my mind, move to scene 2, etc. Just so I'm on it on the day we shoot.

Next: Put the 5D on my car mount to see how much vibration we get. We didn't get much when we used it on the mini-dv camera when we used it on Bounty, but I gotta make sure. Yeah, we can shoot the fuckin' scene from the back seat if I absolutely have to, but I don't want to...


Lastly I have no idea what these freaky pics are from, but check them out. (Some password window will come up--just click the X to close it and you can see the site fine)


Ok, really lastly(until I find something else) is this bit of vintage spank material that's oddly mesmerizing.