I have a non-film related project that I’m planning to kick off in the new year, so I knew I needed to get some footage up for everyone to see. Now’s your chance to watch the opening number, “At the Drive-in,” masquerading as a trailer. I think this represents the longest two-minutes I’ve ever experienced. I hope you enjoy it!
Attack of the Tropes trailer from C. Lewis Pinder on Vimeo.
Delays and VFX Breakdown
So, I’m further behind where I’d like to be. That’s okay. I’m getting used to it. One the reasons I wanted to do this project was to take a crash course in film making: from writing to shooting to post-production. I learned a lot about writing and shooting and now I’m steep in the curve on post-production. I hit a bump in that curve on shot 20.
I was prepping to finish the shot: clean up the key and add shadows. That’s when I hit the bump. Shot 20 is the last of the choreographed chorus shots. In it the actors dance toward the camera and then move laterally in pairs. That’s six actors moving on three separate planes. Rendering the shadows was going to be no simple task. I spent a day trying different tactics and then settled on the only approach that would work: brute force. read more
Mental Ray has been a good, solid renderer for a long time, but there comes a time when we have to move on and that time has finally arrived. While some of the camera matching has proved to be difficult, the shots with the car were turning out to be impossible. The car has a lot of subtlety in curves and lines and was shot with 35mm, 50mm, and 85mm lenses. To make it work, I was going to need a better camera system. Enter Vray.
Vray has become, over the years, the de rigueur renderer in visual effects. I had to give it a chance. I installed the demo version and went back to work on the CG Chevy Nova, trying to match it from each camera. Using Vray’s physically correct camera, success! Of course, now I had to update all the existing assets and move over to Vray. Not to mention that really expensive USB dongle that now hangs off my USB hub. read more
What About Kickstarter?
If you’re anything like me, your Twitter feed is inundated by pleas for Kickstarter funding for films, shorts and features alike. The quickest way to earn an “unfollow” from me is to tweet nothing but requests to contribute. Not to deny that Kickstarter works for funding some projects, but I have an honest question for those that donate: why do you give?
I tend to support local theatre (though Indiegogo is more prevalent than Kickstarter) online, as well as through tickets and fund-raisers. Small theatres rarely manage to break even and wouldn’t survive if it weren’t for the support of the local community. And it doesn’t hurt that many theatres are 501(c)s and, therefore, donations are tax deductible. I’ll include Kickstarter campaigns for documentaries in this category. Maybe the funding is for a doc on a subject that you think others need to see.
When I want to support films, I do it in the customary way: I pay the roughly $20 for a ticket to watch your movie. If you have a $20 Kickstarter level that allows me to see the film, I just might kick in for it. That’s about it. You’d better have some nifty perks if you want any more out of me.
The typical high-level perks that I see are somethings like this: “$1000 – Executive Producer credit and tickets to the premiere (airfare not included).” That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t really make me an investor in the film. If your unique zombie apocalypse movie (let’s face it, there are a lot of people trying to make zombie movies) is the next “Blair Witch Project” or “Paranormal Activity,” do I get my investment back? Or better yet, do I earn more than my investment? I haven’t seen that in a Kickstarter project yet.
So I’m genuinely curious, why do you contribute to Kickstarter campaigns for independent film?
Also, look for my upcoming campaign “Kickstart My Rent.” For only $100, you get a personalized photo of me in front of my house and for $1000 you get to stay with me for the weekend (airfare not included).
I made a bit of an oversight when I added the resource links. Somehow I forgot to include my composer, Torin Borrowdale. wouldn’t have much of a musical without Torin’s composition. I’ve talked a little about Torin in the past, but I don’t think I’ve taken the time to properly praise his work.
With each successive song that we worked on, I was more and more impressed with his work. By the time we got to the third song, I was a little overwhelmed with work and gave him very little direction. “These are the lyrics” and “this is sort of the sound I want,” is about all I was able to give him. Even with so little, we changed nothing when he delivered the first cut of the music. It was perfect.
I’ve only met Torin once, we’ve otherwise done everything over e-mail and Dropbox. Still, it felt like a very colloborative effort. I’m very much looking forward to hearing the score that Torin puts together for the final film. If you need a composer, you should absolutely consider Torin–just wait until I’ve finished.
There is now a resources list on the sidebar. These are helpful links and resources I found during production of “Attack of the Tropes.” I’ll add new links to the list as I go through post-production and the festival submission process.
Here’s a little about each of the resources: read more
Day 3, Disaster 3
I knew from the beginning that Day 3 was going to be difficult. The third day is when we scheduled to shoot all the scenes that involved any direct interaction with the car. Between renting the 30′x40′ green screen cyc at Stereoscope and the car rental, this would be my most expensive day and the only day I couldn’t make up later.
To add to the difficulty factor, Stereoscope is a large, unlit stage. I had to rent half-a-dozen Kino lights and a ladder to hang them. read more
Day 2, Disaster 2
We’re coming up on our third day of shooting on Saturday, so I thought I’d better get a post up about day two. For the second day we returned to Fat Eye Studios for what was planned to be our easy day of shooting. Shoot a couple of scenes in the morning with Aryiel as the Giant Woman, have the chorus arrive and rehearse their number, and then spend the second half of the day getting four shots in.
Around 8 o’clock, when I was arriving at the studio, I got a phone call from Nicole. She had a flat tire and was still in Santa Monica. At early rush hour on the westside, it can take quite awhile for AAA to arrive. Their estimate was 40 minutes. The first problem was that Nicole brings the bagels and coffee in the morning. The second, perhaps more important problem, is that Nicole also brings the wardrobe for the day. Time for a new plan. read more
Day 1, Disaster 1
On Thursday afternoon I received an e-mail from Jon Monastero (who plays the assistant) that he had a callback for Cirque du Soleil on Sunday and would have to miss part of the shoot. My first thought was to rearrange the shot list to give Jon a break in the middle of the day. It would be risky if his meeting ran over. Once I reviewed the list, I realized Jon was in too many of the scenes to make it work. I couldn’t ask him to choice. If I were in the same situation, I would have put Cirque du Soleil first, too. I put the word out and started looking for a replacement actor. By Saturday morning, I was getting close to finding someone.
Then, as Aaron and I were prepping on Saturday afternoon, I got an e-mail from Stephen Simon (Dr. Semiotic) that he also has a callback for Cique du Soleil on Sunday. Now I was in real trouble. I couldn’t find two replacements, nor did I want to. Stephen and Jon were the actors I wanted. I had to come up with something. Fast. read more
Magic Arm to the Rescue
We’re coming up on the first day of shooting pretty quickly. There’s only five days of prep left. There’s still one set piece left to finish for Monday’s shoot. For Sunday, I still need to reserve a rental truck, rent a 4′ table and cloth, and drive up to Sun Valley on Friday to pick up some rental props. There’s catering for both days to arrange. For every one thing I do, two things take its place. If I didn’t have Aaron and Nicole working with me, I’d never be ready in time.
And still, there was equipment to check. I tested the microphone boom tonight. I’m glad I did. The shock mount on the boom was too large for my Nady mic and too small for my Marshall mic. The threads on the shock mount for the Nady got stripped when we were doing the vocal recording. I wound up making a hybrid shock mount from the two I had that fits the Marshall. The Tascam portable recorder works well, but there is still some noise from the pole even with the shock mount. I hung a sandbag off the back end of the boom and it was manageable. If you don’t move around too much the audio should work. I’ll be recording four audio sources on set: a shotgun on the 5D, the internal mic on the T3i, the Marshall on the boom, and the audio stream from the Kinect. Which brings to my last problem. read more