Sunday, August 11, 2013


A much better week once the green screen scenes were done and it's in the home stretch for the video editing.  I'm taking a few days of vacation during the next week and reserved studio time to edit so I'm sure I'll have a majority, 90% if not more, of the project done in a few days.
Then it will be the audio work, some fx, and a few pick up shots.  There is a scene where they are having a dinner and I need footage of the dishes, etc, so most of it is pretty easy.  I'm hoping Sara can spare an hour some Saturday so we can do a few shots of her as November.  
After that it's the music that needs to be done.  I'm hoping the guys who were going to do it will still be able but it's right before classes start and they may just not have the time.  Starting to look at plan B in case that doesn't work out.  The problem is I have no idea what plan B is.
I was hoping that, at some point in the production, I can get an emotional response from the viewer.  Even if it's just a smile in reaction to something good happening to the characters.  GOT IT!  It's one very light hearted moment but it's in the middle of a very dark story.  This week I'm working on the action and the serious drama scenes.  

Sunday, August 4, 2013


Last week I finished feeling like Steven Spielberg but this week started feeling like Ed Wood.  I can only think it was because of outside influences, mom's health, etc, but I got very little accomplished.  Went back on Thursday and got much more done.  Sort of.
There is a simple scene with Sean, David Mione, and Hank, Kevin Litten, in a garage.  There's no fx or fancy lighting, etc, just some camera movement.  You can even hear me saying it'll be an easy scene to shoot on the sound track.  I think that's a curse just like "How hard can it be?" or "What else can go wrong."  
I wanted to get some actual camera movement for this scene.  As much as I like the ability to keyframe scenes and create movement with Final Cut Pro I still wanted the feel of actual camera movement but it turned out to be harder than I imagined.  I put the camera and tripod on a Radio Flyer and gently moved the whole thing across the floor in front of David.  I kept the frame wide so that would cut down on any vibration.  In itself that sounds like it should work but when you add the uneven surface of a well used garage floor it just isn't so easy.  It was just to hard to get a smooth surface and make the movement work.  I tried several takes from several angles hoping I could get enough good footage to string them together in editing.  I looked over every second but I couldn't get it to work especially when I added the reverse shots of Kevin talking to him.  Luckily I also shot the scene from a still tripod so I could use that footage instead.  Still, at four hours, it's the longest time I spent editing any scene in the production.    

Friday, July 26, 2013


I took advantage of my vacation year starting over and took some time off from work and spent three days editing for 4 hours a day.  I've got 8 scenes down and it clocks in at 15:05 as it is. In theory it supposed to translate at one minute of screen time for one page of script.  At this rate it's just a bit more than one minute per page.  
The only major change I've made was to swap some of the scenes around.  Three of the characters have scenes outside of the main building where the story takes place so I could poke around and give the viewer a hint of what the world they are living in is like.  Originally it was two drama heavy scenes then a third lighthearted scene.  I swapped the last two scenes because I thought it would balance the feel a bit better.  They also give me a chance to slow the pacing down a bit. It just feels like it's going so fast.  Spent about 45 minutes editing one of the few exterior scenes into a series of 12 cuts.  Watched it and realized I was doing it completely wrong and found the best take so it's now in one shot with a very short insert.  When it's said and done it really comes off as a much more personal conversation between two characters.
Also edited the first of only two scenes that involve green screen.   I have the basics down and got everything across in the scene it needs but need to try and expand it a bit later.  We took some footage of Jenn facing the green screen and delivering her lines.  My goal is to get just one shot of the two actors together, even though there's 4 months between the actual shooting.  It'll take a great deal of time, trial and error to get it right but my goal is to have a video edit done first.  That way I can pass it on the two people who, hopefully, will do the music and then work on the details.  Same thing with turning the video we shot during the day into night scenes.  I found a tutorial on how to do it with Adobe After Effects but it's a complicated process so I'll do it in the second draft of the edit.
For the most part the scenes I've edited remain very close to the written page.  Twice I changed the dialogue order to flow better and there were a few lines I got rid of.  Also have to admit there was one cringe worthy line of dialogue I took out.  I'm sure there was some logic when I wrote it but once I actually heard it and saw it I just shivered.  Luckily none of the other actors in the scene reacted to it so it was easy to remove.  
Plan is to take a few days away from it, nothing this weekend, then go over two evenings next week.

Sunday, July 21, 2013


Only got over one night this week for editing.  I was editing one of the very first scenes and it turned out to be a bit trickier than I thought.  There is some sound contamination that will have to be dealt with later on.  It's not bad, just a steady buzz in the back ground from all the lights and microphones in the small room.  Planning on doing a few intensive days of editing, with time off from work, next week.   

Sunday, July 7, 2013


I had an idea for a promo for the video that included shots and dialogue of all the characters.  I went through the script and singled out which scenes would be best to build up the mystery and excitement of the  video to hook viewers.  I had some other ideas and collected some photos and sounds to use to make it more colorful.  I went down to PATV today and started to collect the clips and put them together and after about 90 minutes at it realized I was doing things completely wrong.  I was wasting lots and lots of time putting together special clips for a promo and would end up repeating a lot of it doing clips for the final edit.  I saved that idea for later and just spent some time reviewing the footage.
I watched some of the scenes that I tried camera movement in.  It's a very difficult thing to do right with the resources we have.  We don't have space for dolly tracks so some times we had to try some pretty basic moves.  Some worked and some didn't.  There were other times that we just did a simple pan as a person moved and I think those cam out best.  There are also some editing tricks I can do to get movement in the frame but I'm resisting to use some of them.  Camera movement can be very effective if it's used properly but some times directors can get carried away with it and it takes away the effect. "Star Trek 5," the Shatner movie, was one of them.  I remember how often he used camera zooms and, by the end of the movie, it was getting pretty obvious and had no effect on the scenes.  I remember there is a scene in 2010 where two characters are sitting and talking about what they miss from Earth while they are on a ship to Jupiter.  I didn't even realize it the first time I saw it but the camera was very slowly closing in on them during the scene.  It was so subtle I didn't catch it while it was happening but it really enhances the characters.
Going over to the station and focusing on the editing on Monday.  I'm hoping, since I did so much prep work that it won't take long but there is lots of footage to go over.  My target is to have the video editing finished in August but, I've learned, it always takes longer than I plan.

Sunday, May 26, 2013


We are so close to getting the shooting finished I some times want to scream!  Almost there. One full scene, 2/3rds of another, then the exterior fight scenes and this portion of it is done.  The biggest difficulty in this production has been organizing to get people together at the same time.  It's a constant process with last minute changes.  There are things I've had to throw out because of scheduling but we are getting lots of good performances.
I was trying to get the other half of a trading post scene done yesterday.  We shot Jenn's footage a few weeks ago in front of a green screen but had to get the other two actors together at the same time.  Luckily in the scene Jenn's character was on one side of a table full of weapons and the rest were gun dealers on the other side.  We could shoot them separately and edit them together in post.  I also shot a few seconds of Jenn with her back to the camera looking at the green screen so, if possible, I could put her in the foreground.
I found an actor, John, to play Rick the gun dealer and had an actress to play his wife.  I tried to schedule the actress for ten days but got no response from phone or email messages.  I tried to line up someone else in the last few days but nobody was definitely interested.
I got to PATV and set up the scene.  Someone had used the tarp I had bought to stand in for a tent wall and there was lots of stage blood on it so I had to clean that off.  I managed to get it into presentable shape.  John was there and ready to go but still no actress.  I decided to shoot the scene twice.  We did it once as written, camera on John, and had him look to his left as I read the actresses dialogue.  Then we shot it again but I gave John the wife's lines, changed them a bit, and had him refer to his wife as being off in another part of the tent.  This way I have the choice of how to use the scene.  The small bits we had to rewrite we did keeping in mind that Jenn's dialogue was already shot.  
Right off I can call the scene done and edit it with the second version.  I'm planning on keeping it that way unless I would hear from someone who really wanted to be in a scene.  
Still waiting to hear from one actor for next weekend's shoot.   

Sunday, April 7, 2013


I had hoped to have the 3rd book finished by May but I don't think I'm going to make it.  It's just moving slower than I expected.  At least it's moving and that's much better than I can say for a while.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

In the Shadows of November March 23

This video for PATV is coming together after a few months of problems.  It seems like it was cursed from the weather gods because every time I'd plan a big shooting day we'd get ice and snow.  It's spring now and I planned a shooting day for Saturday and by Saturday night it was snowing again.  Yes, the weather gods are pissed at me for something.
By my estimate we've got 60-70% done.  I did some editing on part one and we have only three scenes to shoot and I'll have that all together.  I have a copy at home to look at and take notes on because I want to get all the pick up shots I need by next Tuesday, April 2nd.  We have our last big shooting day planned, hope no ice, and I'd really like to get as much done as possible.  It's difficult to put these days together because we are all volunteers and have classes, jobs and families to take care of so I figure the less time spent on this project the better.  I'll still have lots to do with editing, etc, but I've met with someone who will take over the sound editing and that will be a big help.  
They are really great actors and I owe them a lot for investing their time and energy in to the video.  There have been a few times that I was so in to their performances I completely forgot I was behind a camera and had to give them exit lines or read other parts.  There are some moments in there that will really kick ass.
I've been very active at promoting the production as we've gone along.  Doing more proper announcements and releasing photos on Facebook.  It's kind of tricky because there are some things, some shots, that I think are really cool but might give away to much to soon.  Will have to decide when it gets closer to the finish if I'm going to post them or not.   

Sunday, March 17, 2013


Oh, my, it has been a long time.  Didn't realize it had been 7 months since I updated here.  Forcing myself to get back into the habit.