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Mitigating Impatience

Still tinkering with the FX work on the re-do of BITTER OLD MAN. I indulged by obsessive-compulsive side quite a bit, working until past 11:00PM after work tweaking and experimenting. The thing about FX work is that you need to try things out, audition them in real time, which means a long “render” then look at it in context. This means tinkering, then waiting 20 minutes to see if it works, and then go back and adjust settings minutely.

I do not have the matte paintings yet, so in my impatience, I created some temporary ones. That way I could audition some virtual camera moves, particle effects, and blurs. I’m very happy with the things I’ve made so far and the overall “look” is achieved, but without the final artwork and style. When I put the current drafts against the original shots; I feel ashamed for what I did 10 years ago. I learned so much in the last 10 years about not only FX in a practical sense of HOW to do it, but my interest in a style and framing are much better. I’m sure there are other directors who are much more visual than me and would even direct this in ways I cannot conceive, but alas, I am me and not them.

I’m thinking of abandoning the 5.1 surround mix. Already this project has taken a great deal more of my time than I anticipated. I do not want to spend this much time in my past with old works. I want to move forward, move the new works forward. I have added some new sound, tweaked the overall edit, and remastered a lot of the sound as it was. The cleanup of 10 year old audio is easier now, but not easy. Some all new audio effects have been applied and a new score added to the end section too.

On my plate exists another project shot months ago that I have not edited myself since the assistant editor did a pass. I need to get to that too. Moreover, that is a new piece and has a stellar look, so it represents my more current cinematic aesthetics. As for OPENFILM.COM and the GET IT MADE CONTEST 2, I still have no word. I have no doubt getting James Caan, Robert Duvall, Mark Rydell, and Scott Caan even on the phone together at the same time is a scheduling nightmare. No one is handing out $500,000 without a great deal of consideration. I do not think ACCIDENTAL ART will win, though. The competition and bar is pretty high. Most of the other entries are substantially longer, and I chose to go short and sweet.

Also, I represented myself as more of a professional, someone who has made a feature film in distribution already. Some of the other entries went with the “never made a feature, have never worked with a budget” which may be more of what they want to have win the chance to do so. But then again, no one really knows or could know what they might think or decide? Let’s just say, I’m moving on because I don’t think I have the kind of luck to win this kind of opportunity.

Maybe I’m obsessing over Bitter Old Man Redux to keep from thinking about the contest….

Posted by: Peter John Ross on Feb 26, 2011 at 1:36:57 pm

Something’s in the Water

My old video on the 180 Degree Rule has been featured in VIMEO’s VIDEO SCHOOL, a project where they highlight the best videos to demonstrate making your videos better. The views spike from 1,200 to over 12,000 in less than 3 days. I love as a site, but I hadn’t been able to get the # of views I sought. Now I am seeing bleed over into the hits on the other videos too.

Upon my return from a week long shoot for a friend, the first thing that nagged at me was getting back to the 10 year old short Bitter Old Man. I promised myself I wouldn’t work on it more until I finished Episode 3 of FRAMELINES, and I didn’t get that done until 10:00PM before leaving for the shoot.

I began by tweaking the picture lock and made some tweaks. Then I started on the new shots done also the day before I left. Adding these into the mix and making the dolly shot work took some After Effects noodling, then I decided to blend that into the 3rd shot as well, which meant creating a CGI element in 3D to gel it all together.

I want to have all the FX done before I do a final sound mix, but in the original rough cut 10 years ago I used a Vangelis song from the Blade Runner soundtrack called “One More Kiss Dear”, which in itself was a major homage to the 1930’s music. In the end, I went with a sound design intro sans any music then. Now I found a truly royalty free song with no copyrights that happens to be very much in the style of that temp track. I’m going to use it for now and see how it works in the mix. I may go back to the simplified, no music aspect, but why not try it out?

Started compositing and FX work on the shots that don’t need matte paintings, just get ahead a little. I’m so glad I took notes in Google Docs because I forgot to add some elements that I notated to myself weeks ago, so already all 3 shots need to be re-done come Monday. Or Sunday depending on if I can stave off my OCD.

Posted by: Peter John Ross on Feb 19, 2011 at 7:19:35 pm

Nongregarious Nomenclature

Big news up first… ACCIDENTAL ART is now officially a Top Ten Finalist in the OPENFILM.COM “GET IT MADE COMPETITION 2”. My little film will be viewed by film legends James Caan, Robert Duvall, Mark Rydell, and the no-so-legendary-but-equally-important Scott Caan. As much as this surprise hit me, I have no prayer of actually winning. The other 9 films are so good, there’s not much chance for us. It’s truly an honor to have gotten this far along.

It is quite miraculous to have gotten into the Top Ten. At least 1 cast member and about half the crew never even voted on the movie (yeah, ‘go team’). To get 1 of 3 siblings and my own mother to vote took more effort than it does to get someone to vote in an election year.I have no idea when they are going to announce a winner. It may be a week or a month or the contest may decide “eh” and not do it. Who knows? Not me. No one’s gonna hand out $500,000 without a great deal of consideration.I was on a shoot when the news came. Doing the hefty 12+ hour work days and digitizing at night for someone else’s enormous multimedia project would have been the perfect distraction if I hadn’t made the Top Ten. Instead, actually GETTING into it was a distraction for my work ethic and all the emails and phone calls that ensued.

The short film version of ACCIDENTAL ART is also going to play at the Detroit Independent Film Festival next month. I don’t even remember entering it, but I sent so many DVD’s out that it wouldn’t surprise me if there are still 2-3 more fests that got the movie.Back to the grindstone of working on FRAMELINES and the re-tooling of BITTER OLD MAN… More soon, my pretty acolytes.

Posted by: Peter John Ross on Feb 15, 2011 at 9:02:44 pm

A Vassal for the Verbose

Okay, so the OPENFILM.COM competition initially said they were going to announce the top 10 and winners on Feb 8th, then changed it to 2 of the top 10 per day for 5 days starting on Feb 9th (today) and the winner of the whole contest later. Eh, I got a lot on my plate so my patience can take it. I don’t think I won. There were so many great films in the contest, most of the comparable or better than ACCIDENTAL ART. With the guy who did IRON BABY and all of his films not only in the contest, but the first one to be announced as a Top 10 finalist (even though his movie only ranked 2 stars out of 5, but most likely due to cheaters since it was a rocking good movie), means no need to get my hopes up – we ain’t beating someone of that caliber.

We shot a new establishing shot for Bitter Old Man yesterday. Mike McNeese came out with his Canon 7D DSLR and a tripod 36” dolly thing and I wiped the screen to make the new transition into the original footage. It was snowing hard, a crazy business owner complained at us for “being on his property”, even though the sidewalk is public property, but we got ‘er done. The Derek was there. He was AC on the original shoot and AC’d this shoot too. He thanked me for making him feel like in 10 years he hasn’t progressed at all on the crew totem pole. The Derek’s presence on this shoot was for more for sentimental reasons than any practical ones.

I did not permit myself to do any real work on BITTER OLD MAN until I finished episode 3 of FRAMELINES before I left to do a bigger shoot. I wrapped up the 3rd episode last night before doing laundry and packing for the shoot. I will most likely tinker next week when this shoot is over, but it’s done enough for closed captioning and review by the stations. I want to work on this short and get my laundry list of new FX and tweaks done, but patience prevails.

I did however re-do the opening and end titles. I added a more appropriate “style” to them. I could do those at home over the weekend where I no longer prefer to do any film work. Depending on the outcome of this short and if I can make the FX as top notch as I WANT them to be; Bitter Old Man might warrant an expenditure on film festival entries and I can start anew on a festival run on yet another short film.

Posted by: Peter John Ross on Feb 9, 2011 at 10:56:14 am

A Regrettable Recompense

So as I stated in my last blog, I’m revisiting my short film BITTER OLD MAN for the 10 year anniversary of that work. We (meaning Alex the Intern) have made the picture lock of the current edit, which technically is not a “re-edit” since we selected all the same takes (except 1 I think). Once I started down this dark path, a snowball turned into a miniature avalanche of ideas.

Firstly, the impetus was to update the FX work at the end of the piece. There are only 9 shots total, and of those, only 6 are from different takes and angles. Not that much work, but I wanted to take some decent time and put forth all that my skills had to offer. As I formulated a game plan for the workflow, I decided to put the call out to a friend who is an amazing artist/conceptual designer.

If I’m going to do this, why do it all myself when I can make the work much better than what I can do alone? So I have some matte paintings in the works now that might take a full 2 weeks to come in, especially in layers so I might add some virtual camera movement and have parallax motion in those shots. I am applying my current aesthetics and attitude towards work. I’m a lot more of a perfectionist now than I did 10 years ago. I strive for more quality over quantity/speed than I did before. Rather than rush to get it done because I am excited; I slow down and push my own expectations higher.

Another first for me will be to do a 5.1 surround mix on this. In the last 10 years my audio editing experience has increased so as I heard several sound and noise works that had to be done; I figured why not challenge myself and do a full short film in 5.1? I had tested a title sequence in 5.1 a few months ago to learn the basic tools, but I have no attempted to do an entire piece this way. Placing voices and sounds in a 3 dimensional space sounds like fun and a challenge.

Looking at the piece today, the opening two shots, the exterior of a building were subpar by my standards. Even though this existed in standard definition, and the HD is only an uprezzing of the original files, these two shots did not pass muster. Seeing the next shot is a nice dolly going left to right, I have decided to re-shoot the establishing shots as a dolly shot and I’ll wipe on a car passing to transition into the piece. Now I’m reshooting an element for the movie too.

So what was originally supposed to be a 5-6 hour simple hobby job is now going to take the better part of a month in my spare time. I will be much more satisfied in the end, but I really don’t like looking backwards into the past, but this piece warrants the extra special attention. BITTER OLD MAN delves quite a bit deeper into serious issues and the acting stands up to my raised bar for performances.

I cannot figure out exactly what is motivating this inside my head and heart. What drives me into thinking about this a lot, in that obsessive “must do it!” mode? I do not know. All I do know is that my subconscious mind into that creative zone and the muse visits me a lot more often when I’m awake, asleep, and in between. Never neglect the sweet voice of inspiration when she whispers to you. NEVER.

Posted by: Peter John Ross on Feb 4, 2011 at 6:57:08 pm videocopilot, bitter old man

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