Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Well...assembly edits suck...

I could stare at that picture above for pretty much forever.

Anyway, put in 11 hours yesterday editing, then another 12 today, and I have an assembly edit done of the final segment of Ttory 2, the one we shot first.

Wow, does it suck.

It is pretty clearly one of the toughest scenes I've ever had to edit. We shot it all out of order because of the people who had to leave early, then the special effects that take place that we can't shoot out of order because of how different people's appearances are after the effect takes place.

I got guys who switch frame sides, and multiple people talking to each other, so keeping shit straight on the shoot was tough.

There are many scenes that require compositing--a couple of scenes where the actor's not even there--gotta put them in. (they're 10, and I wasn't dragging them out to the woods til 5am) Another actor whose face SHOULD have been messed up for the shot, but we couldn't mess it up because we had the earlier scenes to shoot. (I had to have this shot now because we'd be losing people early who you could see in the shot)--this actor whose face should be messed up has to GET messed up via compositing.

Now, the reason I'm not TOO down on myself yet is because it's an assembly edit. They all suck. There's zero rhythm to them. The sound's not fixed AT ALL, so every edit jumps out and screams THIS SUCKS DONKEY BALLS AND YOU'RE A SHIT EDITOR.

This was basically just getting the form of the piece. Finding the best takes, and where they will fit.

Next I'll go back and try to massage it all so it's not so ugly. Ten, twelve more passes and I might even find it tolerable.


But first--gotta edit the final scene of the film so I can get it to my brother to see if he thinks he can do the effects I need in Cinema 4D. I mean, he can definitely do them--but can he do them well enough they don't scream CGI?

That's the question. The sooner I can get it to him, the sooner I know he can do it, or if not, that I gotta go shoot a lot of green screen shit.


Man, time is flying.

And Wednesday night I work. Friday early I have to go see this place I'm supposed to shoot a wedding video at. (Jesus, if I didn't owe my brother big time I'd have told him there was no way I was shooting one of those) Then I'll head to Zig's for Friday fun, which I haven't been to in like 2 months.

Then next week I go to Orlando for work, come back, shoot the wedding two days later, then the very next day I head to Virginia Beach for a week.

See why I'm doubting the whole timeline of October 1st?


Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Blog Will Suffer

I've been keeping the Ttory blog up to day the last 4 days, chronicling some of the hardest days of work I've ever experienced.

Go check it here:

That's why I haven't been so busy here.

I'll tell you one thing I haven't told anybody yet: It is looking less and less likely I'll get this done by October 1st. That is literally 9 weeks away.

If all I had to do was edit what I've shot, plus do all the effects, all the CGI, the titles, add the music, master the audio, and all the other small things I need--MAYBE I could do that in 9 weeks. But I still have to shoot two segments, then do all that stuff for THEM?
(and I'll be away for a full week in August)

hahahaha, I don't know what I was thinking. May have to start thinking of what plan B is as far as a release date.

I'm working on the 1st segment we shot now. Finished cutting up the audio. It's got issues--I mean, when we got to what I'm unaffectionately calling Spider Forest, my plan went out the window. I didn't take time to mic Josh up--just sort of stuck the mic in his pocket. It's a terrible idea, so the sound is fucked.

I remember thinking--fuck it, get his breathing, and just foley it in better woods. But now time is bearing down on me.

On Thursday I had to shoot a paid video and edit it, get it all uploaded so they can pass them on to their customers. I busted ass and had them done and uploaded by Saturday evening. (45 minutes of edited video)


I'll tell you another thing I haven't been spreading yet--the chances of me doing ANYthing for Ttory 3 are pretty much nil at this point. I think they'd like me to do the wrap story, and part of me wants to finish the whole storyline, but after this experience I think I'm calling it quits for the woods.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Updated Ttory blog

Figured why not just keep it in the one place? You can see it here:

I'm anxiously watching the weather. There are thunderstorm threats nearly every day we're scheduled to shoot. But most claim not a lot of rain.

If it's not raining hard, it's not going to stop me.

I am worried about one scene on Saturday--I've clearly under-estimated the time of 2pm-6pm. It's not quite four pages, but involves two FX kills plus some drone shots, plus maybe a dance sequence. I'm waiting for the song guy to license it to me, but he's acting buggy. It's weird, he certainly seemed like he wanted to put it in the flick.

Just another little straw trying to break the camel's back.

Friday, July 07, 2017

The Shoot Looms

So tomorrow(okay, technically today but I haven't slept yet) is the makeup day for last week that we called off on account of the thunderstorm and me being very old.

Weather's looking better--there may be a shower during the day, but the night temperature's gonna be like 64 degrees which is SWEET. Not only so I won't sweat so much, but because the FX should work better. Keeping prosthetics on the face when your actors are sweating their asses off is tough.

I'm feeling pretty good about the shoot--we've only got about 4.5 pages to shoot. It's a complicated scene with some heavy effects, which is why I scheduled an entire night for it, but I'm pretty confident we can get it done nicely. My only real worry is the fire, and keeping it consistent throughout the shoot.


The big thing is, we start the main shoot on Thursday for the wrap story, and shoot through Tuesday. Roughly 9-10 pages a day. I have a lot of little things I still haven't lined up, not the least is one small role I haven't cast.

Well, I cast it, but the actress just bailed on me. I then had another actress who--and you may not believe this--who told me that she couldn't take the role because she had a couple of auditions scheduled that day.

It's like being offered a job, and not taking it because you have some job interviews lined up.

Wait, it's not LIKE that, it IS that.

Mark's still got some FX to create, so I'm sweating that a little.

Gotta go try to get some sleep. Up early afternoon to load the car and head across the bridge to pickup the audio that was fucked up last week, get some additional foley, then head back across the bridge to the location to start prepping that scene.

Hopefully the bees have moved on or are dead, and the wood isn't too wet to burn.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Mo' Work, Mo' Problems

The above was generated by a sick, sick computer intelligence. We warned you fools not to continue working on A.I.!

Go try it yourself: http://inspirobot.me/

Anyway, cut much of what we shot the other night together into an ugly assembly edit. Definitely got the sound issues with her audio--have sent the actress an email to see if she can meet me earlier at the original location(it's only 15 minutes from where we're shooting that night). I can pick up the audio I need.

The first scene we shot is pretty ugly. Might get better with some work. The other scenes in the house look pretty good, and THEN--

--The footage in the woods. Lit by a flashlight I gave Josh.

I remember thinking, while looking at the monitor at one point, that I saw a weird flickering. But it wasn't always there, and I sort of thought it was either my imagination, or just a kink in the wire or something.

It was not. Turns out all the footage where the flashlight is being shined in front of the camera, there's a hideous black shimmery lines in the footage.

I took out the flashlight and camera and tested it, and if the flashlight is on its lowest setting, everything the camera shoots has this weird frequency vibration. If it was raised, or wasn't the primary light, then there'd be no flicker at all.

I don't panic--do some research. There's a lot of advice on free ways to "minimize" this problem, but they all involve putting copies of your footage on top of itself, shifting the clip by one frame, and overlaying.

Problem is, that doesn't work well with a moving camera. You get big ghosting. Further, it doesn't seem to fix the problem.

Found a $150 program that does though, so will have to get that. I tried the demo and it cleaned it up pretty impressively. Not perfect, but close enough.


Work continues on this idiotic crown. Thought Mark was gonna make it, but his looks pretty weak, so I have created two. One from cardstock. It looks cool, but don't know how it'll read on camera. Also, ain't no way I'm lighting it on fire, cuz it will all go up.

Second crown is a modified one my wife found at Party City. I painted it a burnished bronze so it looks old, added some jewels, and some paper spikes. But wasn't sure how great they looked(and again--no fire), so my brother and dad thought maybe I should replace them with sheet metal spikes.

So I did that. Had to cut a bunch of nearly identical sheet metal spikes, bend them to give them depth, and then gorilla tape them on, then reinforce them with glue.

Just what I wanna be doing when I should be working on other things.


Watched Adventures in Babysitting, and followed it up with Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter Is Dead. Totally not trying to make it a theme evening or anything, but funny how both movies share an actor(Keith Coogan), and Don't Tell Mom has a bunch of stars I forgot about--Danielle Harris, David Duchovny, Joanna Cassidy, and Josh Charles.

Also forgot how hot Elizabeth Shue was. Like, not even super-sexy, but like--absolutely the girlfriend you wanted to have in the 80's.

July 4th--Back's not feeling well. Not sure at this point if it's going to get better. This is going to be a tough week coming up. Saturday we shoot the pickup, then Thursday night we start shooting the biggest piece of Tttory 2, the main story.

Hoo boy, I hope things start to look up.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Fuck's Sake

Man, for once I wish this blog wasn't all "How bad does life fucking suck?" but this is not going to be that exception.

Day one on Ttory 2. I loaded the car with the fuckton of shit we needed for the day's shoot. Up bright and early at 9:30am to do it. Headed to my parents' house to unload all that shit into another car that I needed for the actual shoot.

Already pretty goddamn hot.

Picked up my brother and we headed across the bridge. Turns out, not so much traffic yet, so that was good. Went to Chik Fila for lunch, then over to Josh's house. I started unloading equipment and a car pulls up behind mine. It's Alex, the actress in the scene, and she's like 90 minutes early.

I'm like, cool. But maybe a little off my game for a minute. I shoot some drone shots, and my fucking drone all of a sudden says it's only got 25% battery and it's gonna return home. I'm not sure where it thinks home is(normally it's where you launch it)--it heads straight up into a goddamn tree, ignoring me on the joysticks.

Fucked up the blades bad. Awesome.

We go inside and I mic the actors. Here's where I fucked up: I gave the actress detailed instructions on where to place the lav inside her bra, but didn't double check it. See, I listened to make sure it was the right levels, but as I found out today when I listened to the audio, the mic was apparently loose. Whenever she moved, there's terrible rustling of cloth.

To make matters worse, Josh adjusts his tie in the beginning of the scene, so I can't even use his mic's sound for her line, because he's rustling HIS mic.

Fuck's sake. It's totally my fault, but with how short I was on crew(literally me and Mike, that's it), I was doing a lot of shit.

The racking of focus on the steadicam is a pipe dream on anything over 35mm, and even on the 35mm you better have it stopped down past 4(it's a 1.4 lens) to have a shot. The monitor I got is fucking NICE. Especially for how cheap it is. It actually shows you the RGB levels separately if you push a button, and the batteries last a LONG time.

So we got done early on the first scene, which was like 4 pages. I was feeling good and I let Alex go, when I should have done a wild line recording of all her stuff just to be safe.

Josh and his daughter wanted to go to Chick Fil A for dinner, so Mike and I said fuck it--we can eat there again.

This was at 7:45pm. Not even close to dark. I did enjoy the cool lens flare the sun threw in the window, so shot a couple of pics.

Problems start here. See, I had us shooting evening and night scenes between 7-9, but the goddamn sun wouldn't cooperate. Even at 8pm, it was brightly shining through the windows.

We run behind, and Josh's girlfriend gets home and his other daughter, and all of a sudden we're having to pause while they do something between takes. Shots I planned on doing, I simply can't do given the time.

We rush out of there to go meet Mark and some other actors for a scene in the DEEP woods. Like, Naked and Afraid woods.

We have to hump a lot of equipment into the woods--two big light kits, plus my camera and audio gear, plus Mark's FX stuff, plus all the props. There are spider webs EVERYWHERE. And even more scary, you knock them down to put a light up, then turn around to go back to where the other people are, and the spider has built his web again already, in like 3 minutes.

Ticks are all over us. Josh had three on his shirt just crawling on him like, no big deal. All the deet spray we put on, and they didn't give a shit.

And humid as fuck. I'm sweating, I'm tired. A lot of my shots, since I'm beginning to abandon my shooting script, aren't feeling great.

We move out of the woods to another section on the edge of a clearing. I head into the woods to place a light, and get the shit scared of out me by a giant deer that bounds off--scared by me I guess, but fuck it gave my heart a jolt.

The stuff in this section is supposed to be done by 1am. It's already 1am and we have the actual FX shots to do still. The bugs are getting into EVERYTHING. A wolf spider in my light kit makes me want to just leave all that shit and go.

We do the FX shot, but I gotta tell ya--I've nearly abandoned sound at this point. Josh has his mic, lav and all, in his shirt pocket. I'm guessing it's not gonna be useable but he doesn't have any dialog. Bad news is clearly I'm gonna have to take him out and foley his breathing and his actions.


Still got a shot to do with 3 cars on the road. I have it scheduled for 90 minutes, because I have a cool shot I wanna try.

All that goes to the wayside as the road I was going to use doesn't work. We go to another road.in bumfuck nowhere. Corn stalks on one side, woods on the other. I cannot, at this point, tell you how exhausted I am. We're going on hour 14 and we only had that one half hour break.

I've been bending my body, crouching, standing, jogging, doing all handheld most of the day with my camera on the shoulder mount. It's not light, especially since I've gone to the AA batteries to power it.

We got a couple of cool shots. Finally I call it. It's nearly 4am.

I head home--feels like the longest drive I've ever been on. And I still have to dump and backup all the footage, and plug all the batteries in.

I make it to bed by 6am.

I'm actually hoping the thunderstorm moves in, because shooting Saturday night feels like a lot of work.

Then I woke up and realized--I can't physically do it.

I'm not sure I've ever felt THIS sore before. Not just my back, which isn't good. But my arms, my legs. Rolling out of bed was agony.

If I was forced to shoot it, I'd put the fucking camera on a tripod and shoot the entire scene from one spot.

Luckily, the weather report said it wasn't going to rain/thunderstorm long, but it was gonna drop a lot of water. That means mud and wet wood, and that means we can't light a bonfire. I postponed it.

Still, had to unload the car I used, then return it and get mine. My body hurt so bad I just brought shit in one at a time and laid it on my living room floor. It's a mess.

Tonight, checked the scene and discovered the audio debacle.

My plan is now this--do a rough cut of the scene and see if the actress can meet me at Josh's Saturday before the evening shoot. I'll have her do all her lines wild--letting her hear the takes I'll probably be using so she can try to keep the readings the same. I'll have Josh do his too.

Then let them go out to dinner or something while I head over to the woods to prep the big scene.

See if I can save this thing.

Right now, though, feeling pretty low. Tired. Body still hurts. I'm on oxi and a muscle relaxer, and still...

DID see Police Academy was on Netflix and I haven't seen it in 25 years, so watched that. Brings back some good memories.