Tag: art film

Directing, Editing, Winter Storm Short

Winter Storm Sound Pick Ups

June 1, 2012

Yesterday was an interesting day. Running around in Griffith Park with a sound recordist and an actor, wearing winter hunting gear, is always fun. Waiting on planes, trains and automobiles to pass is not as much. Actually, omit the ‘trains’ part and replace it with buses and circling helicopters. No doubt, LA is a noisy city.

Griffith Park

Still, it was a beautiful day and we grabbed everything I needed for ADR. We didn’t really record much, just some SFX and a few missing lines, but even that took us a couple of hours. Many thanks to Travis Brown and William Stamey for making it happen.

Winter Storm Sound Pick Ups

Directing, Editing, Winter Storm Short

The Colors of Winter Storm

May 22, 2012

Once I was finished with the rough cut, I wanted to address the color issues I had from using two very different cameras and from shooting in unpleasantly great weather. This SoCal winter was the hottest one we had, sometimes above 80˚F, in the past 100 years! How was that supposed to look cold? I went to see my colorist, James Knott, and we spent a few hours on examining the project. He confirmed that it was going to be a rough ride. He could only make it work, he always does somehow, if we made realistic decisions about the look and came up with ideas to create an authentic winter feel. I believe I have a few of those ideas up in my sleeve…

Shortly after our meeting, I received a few reference frames from James. They are pretty rough, but good enough to get things rolling.

Winter Storm Color Ex1

As a starting point, I chose the very last frames of both examples. This process seems to work the best for me. It tones down the bright spots and desaturates the colors, which helps us to convey a colder feel. I think it’ll look spectacular, once James starts cranking and I throw some After Effects magic at it at the very end.

Winter Storm Color Ex2

Directing, Editing, Winter Storm Short

Winter Storm Pick Ups

April 22, 2012

Finally, it was time to get the rest of the shots needed to complete Winter Storm. It’s been way too long and waiting for this moment has been just as agonizing as the hardship I’ve encountered throughout making of this film. Right after principal photography, I lost my lead actor to a theater play in LA, then he performed in New York and he did all of this clean shaven. He started to grow his beard as soon as he returned to LA. He was 3 weeks into the beard growing process when the film’s DP suddenly became available too. I had to seize the moment.

I knew we couldn’t get the ARRI Alexa again (I’m not that lucky), so I started to search for a Canon 5D. Knowing the shots inside and out, I felt that I could get away with a semi-grown beard and a lesser quality camera. I also felt that color correction will be an additional headache, but we’ll deal with that later. Bottom line, I had to get my shots. We went out early in the morning and shot a bunch of different takes for the hunting and searching scenes. We grabbed some details, shot at different angles, long and medium shots and we also played with the pacing of the takes. I had a list of insert shots for other purposes, such as compositing, so we grabbed those as well. Even I was able to shoot a decent amount of footage, which is always fun and working with a word class DP you tend to pick up cool tricks. The stuff they don’t teach in film schools.

Winter Storm

As you can see above, my biggest obstacle is the weather. It looks too bright (again!) for any kind of storm, not to mention a winter storm. It’ll be a laborious color correction process to tone down the sunshine in the footage. I have a few ideas on how to create a cold environment and I’ll revisit the issue soon with a nice little example. Stay tuned.

Directing, Winter Storm Short

Sound? Speed. Camera? Rolling. Slate? Slate???

January 19, 2012

Apple had saved the day again. We didn’t have a slate on the last day of our shoot and I’ve only realized this after all of us have climbed a rocky hillside with the full camera package (lenses and sticks included). Sound and camera were already synced up through a click-box, so we were ‘jamming’, but I felt that some visual reference was still needed. Didn’t need to worry much as Harrison pulled out his iPhone and loaded up an app called iSlate. I was blown away. Apparently it doesn’t take much, but still…

slating with iPhone

Designed by ibuiltthis, iSlate has been around since 2008, so I was a little baffled as why I didn’t already know about its existence. Especially because there are a few apps out there for the iPhone and iPad, most notably the beefed up Movie*Slate.

slating with iPhone

I guess the question is: is it the real deal? No, but it’s pretty close and super convenient. iSlate is especially helpful when all you want to have is a sound reference and some basic numbering sequence for your takes. Changing scene and take numbers is fast and easy and now as I’m going through my files I can appreciate it having it on the set even more. I have clean reference frames and iSlate has made the first steps of post-production a lot easier.

Directing, Winter Storm Short

As The Winter Sets In

January 16, 2012

My short drama, titled Winter Storm, is finally in-production. This intimate father and son tale tracks the morning of their first hunting trip together. I was excited to share a few Winter Storm storyboard frames a while back so I’m definitely very happy to finally reach the point of beginning.

Winter Storm

We have created a Winter Storm Facebook page to ramp up some support. We’ll be documenting our progress there, so check it periodically. Heck, hit the ‘like’ button if you’re in the mood for it, you know we appreciate it!

I must return to the work that lies ahead, but let me leave you with the words of Willa Cather: “There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.”

Editing, June Gloom Short

Sometimes I Jus’ Git The Glooms

April 19, 2011

Some get the blues, but I got myself a case of the glooms once I finished my latest short film. It wasn’t a surprise. After all, I did spend the past four months with her and now it was time to release her into the world. June Gloom required a lot of work and sacrifice, coupled with obstacles and frustration, but she was also full of hidden treasures, lucky breaks and pleasant revelations. It all happened for the better but only later I’ll be able to know it for sure…


However, when a film is finalized and post production comes to an end, the filmmaker must keep on going. While it awaits the reviews, opinions, questions and criticisms, I have to create the circumstances for them to happen.

Therefore, in the following days, I will master HDCAM tapes and DVD screeners, design press materials, fill out festival entries, and create some buzz so more and more people can come to see my take on drama. And if the work I’ve done and risks I’ve taken are unique enough to thrive, then this 14 minutes of digital celluloid will move on to the next life.

So I completely agree with the words of my friend LB, who helped me every step of the way, “There’s nothing quite like watching the soft colors of a motion picture fade off the screen to black.” Absolutely…the bigger the screen, the better.

The End

Design, Editing, June Gloom Short, Motion Graphics


March 28, 2011

This post ties right into my Keepin’ It Real blog. My short, June Gloom, is almost done and I don’t mind sharing a couple more frames before the finish line. The below frame is from a 3 seconds long clip, right after the long shot of the prison pickup. I felt a need for the prison to be in it in order to reinforce the location and help the story line. Since it’s a handheld shot, I started with motion tracking along with establishing a cut off line. The red squares are the trackers and the purple line is my vertical guide.

I prepped my prison picture in Photoshop, a combination of a still and a screen-grab of the actual footage. I composited the jpeg in After Effects and made it into a 3D layer. I assigned a virtual camera to the layer, which had created the desired perspective (after some adjustments to the x, y and z axes).

But it was too sharp, as you can see, so I added a lens blur to soften the image and the edges. I also created a null object with the tracking info and linked my jpeg to it. Now my prison was nicely moving (shaking) along with my footage.

Lastly, I changed the depth of field settings of my AE camera to the one we used during the shoot for a more realistic feel. It’s not as noticeable here as it is on the big screen but the closer parts are actually more in-focus then the further ones.

Design, June Gloom Short

June Gloom Posters

March 2, 2011

Another great day for the Gloom! I just picked up the finished posters and they are gorgeous. To me at least…

I couldn’t find a more fitting month for our screening than June of 2011 and I’m really looking forward to it. The good news is that all the backers who requested artwork won’t have to wait until June, as we plan to start mailing these posters out shortly.

Design, Editing, June Gloom Short, Motion Graphics

Keepin’ It Real

February 23, 2011

We’ve been making a lot of progress on June Gloom and even though the short is in the hands of the sound mixer and the music composer, I find myself still working on stuff. What kind of stuff? Things like finalizing the poster and DVD artwork and finding a decent printer. Creating title cards, quotes and end credits for the film (the actors’ cards are looking mighty good). And for the most part, some tedious special effects work. The funny part is, there are no special effects in this film…

Let me explain with an example. When we set out to shoot this film, we couldn’t find a taxi cab for our budget. Sooo I posted an ad on Craigslist for a Crown Victoria and we had our cab for $100/day plus gas. Then we dressed up the car with decals and a TAXI sign for a few bucks more. But we were still missing the main company logo so I marked its location with a piece of black tape for post work.

June Gloom ex1

What further complicated things is that we got shot down by the cops at the prison (I couldn’t afford the hefty location fee) and we had to steal the following shot from behind my car. As you can see, there’s also a post next to our man in the shot.

June Gloom ex2

So I spent some quality time adding a post and a cab sign (my design) to our footage in order to maintain continuity. In other words, I’m keeping it ‘real’. Click on the image below to see the final clip.