Here’s my latest project. A feature length science fiction film which was filmed in my garage in a small spaceship set I built. It was shot during the month of november. All shots are work in progress. Most still have green screen unkeyed. I’m messing around with different grades for different scenes/situations, although the main focus right now is to lock the cut. We are still missing some exterior shots and there will be many shots of the exterior of the Titan Cargo Ship which will be done in 3DS Max and AE.
The format is still undecided. 2.35 or 2.66. Will probably stick to 2.35 to save precious pixels. These are about 2.5:1 at the moment.
These are some of my favorite screenshots so far. Enjoy!
During this Spring semester of 2011, I was having trouble focusing on my production classes. I had a studio class in which we produced infomercials, live music recordings, and recreated scenes from Seinfield among other things. Unfortunately, I learned nothing from the instructor, who was a great guy, but didn’t seem to be motivated in actually improving our knowledge. Anton Goddard and I became gaffers and lighting designers by trade, since nobody else would do it and it was one of the only ways to inject some artistic sense into a nonsense of blandness seemingly encouraged by the instructor. We could never have enough lighting contrast, because he just “didn’t like it…” Nevertheless, we found this to be our only motivation to come to the 5 hour studio sessions, and we actually learned quite a bit, while mostly everyone else helped build the set and then sat around for the next four hours. We were graded on, huh, making little drawings on what we wanted the set to look like and writing reflections about the production, which I failed to turn in on multiple occasions.
Jobless and with a woman to spend my money on, I could only dream of getting new equipment. I didn’t even have a decent tripod. Campus Movie Came around, and this was my chance to get motivated and produce something enjoyable. So I gathered my leftover cash and made my own rig on which I mounted my t2i for about $100. The Canon sat, alone, but in a very stable rig. I had no tripod, and only one nice lens, a Carl Zeiss 50mm 1.7 which I purchased from eBay with some fungus. After borrowing a 24-70mm Canon L 2.8 from my friend Jennifer Dominguez and running through ideas with my friends and actors Trevor and Thomas, we spent about 6 total hours during a windy weekend to film a 5 minute short. It was a 3 man team, out of which two were actors. Then, I skipped most of my classes that week to work on the editing, and cleaning up the audio which was recording in-camera with the little t2i Microphone. Since the story was all improvised, it was hard to piece it together. What was supposed to be a comedy ended up being a nostalgic comi-drama with a strong indie feel to it. I liked the way it looked, but to me there was little story. Still, it was fun to watch. I color graded everything using Magic Bullet Looks, and it all began to fall in place. Audio cleanup took the longest, and I managed to get decent sound. Sometimes I had to add massive amounts of atmospheric samples to cover up dirty audio, but it worked. Once the cut was complete, Trevor and I went to the studio to record “the score.” This consisted of recording our less-than-average guitar skills into a Protools session. We also did some mock interviews, and had a lot of fun. To top it all off, I decided to try whistling to one of Trevor’s improvised original songs. It took us like five takes to be able to do it without laughing.
We submitted the project which we called “Hopeless” and thought we’d never hear about it again. I had to work the day of the Campus Finale, but I managed to get there barely on time. Late actually. On the way there, I remember the conversation I had with Becca. I was pretty certain that they wouldn’t screen it. After all, there were about 80 entries and they were only showing 16. Oh well, I thought, at least I’d get to go and see what other people at IU were up to. There were two screenings that stood out to me. Firstly, Ed Wu’s “Sparks.” I say Ed Wu, because although it was a collaboration of Jesse and a large team, it was Ed that made it happen. He’s an incredible cinematographer and he’s great with lighting and grading. The short looked fantastic, and it had some really great choreography as well. I’m not one to start rumors but I know the director just sat on his ass while Ed this the work, and this saddens me. That’s why I say, it was Ed’s movie. We both agreed however, that neither of us really cared for the story. My favorite short was by Anton Goddard. Another genius on campus. The name of his short escapes me, but it was a magical drama involving stop motion, and some really crazy cinematographic techniques. Anton will go on to do great things in the future, I’m sure of it. Then “Hopeless” was screened. What? Yeah, they showed it. I was happy, but they messed up the compression to h.264 and the result was an over contrasted and saturated image. I enjoyed watching my film on the big screen. It turns out, it got nominated for the Golden Tripod Award for Cinematography, competing with “Sparks.” I was stoked. But the best and most appreciated recognition came from Anton, after the screening. I came up to him and congratulated him. We discussed some of the shorts, and he mentioned “I really liked that one with the two guys, what was it? Hopeless or something…” He didn’t know I had directed it, so this genuine appraisal meant more to me than everyone else saying “yeah it was really good!”
Somehow, “Hopeless” made it to the final 5 round of the GTA Nomination, surpassing “Sparks.” We were also one of ten staff picks. This meant we made it to the Hollywood finale twice. Trevor, Thomas, and I could not believe it. So Trevor and I drove to California in two days to make the finale. We saw “Hopeless” screened at one of the screens in Universal Studios. I got shivers thinking that Spielberg could have been in the same room, watching a screening of his own film. How cool. We didn’t win the Golden Tripod, and rightly so. The winning film had by far the best Cinematography. They used a Steadicam for some fantastic action shots. We did, however, make it into one of the 35 finalists. This was out of the 200 entries to the finale, and in perspective, out of an initial field of over 5,000 films.
What I learned, is that you have to have fun doing what you’re doing. We had a blast. The small team made it easier to Direct, and we were all friends. My favorite moments included shooting Trevor do crazy things for the camera. I also really enjoyed making original music for the film. It was all really laid back. In a way, Trevor and Thomas really never acted. They were just acting they way they always act around each other. What a blast. I hope to do it all again next semester, and hopefully retain the enjoyment. I think it shows on the film itself.
I made this spaceship using Google Sketchup. The most challenging part is making it fit in with a background imagine. But overall it looks pretty good, I’m open to any suggestions though. I went with a very geometric design, and muted green color to resemble an army ship.
Since Matt always does research on everything he does before doing it, I decided to follow on his footsteps and do the same. I didn’t have very many good ideas so I typed in “Afraid of the Dark” into a Google Image search. It was very helpful, lots of junk but also lots of good stuff.
I sketched out the triptych and arranged it the way I’ll want it. It’s too bad we have to stick to one aspect ratio. I’m also thinking of having a candle or really experimenting with lighting. I really like the idea of the middle image, only seeing part of a person’s frightened face and a veil of black surrounding it, hopefully I can get a shot like this with the crappy camera I currently own.
I hard a hard time getting good pictures in low light situations, oh what a surprize… But I was patient enough and got some decent pictures. I really like my left picture, it came out really well. The picture on the middle came out really really grainy, so I blured it a bit with Photoshop, but that’s all the manipulation I did. I arranged these with overlapping black areas, to continue the “dark” feel. For all these pictures I used a shop style portable reflector, which produces a nice bright warm light. I also would like to comment on how important the positioning of the pictures is. Originally I had my left and central picture flip flopped. But I didn’t like the way that looked. You can call me crazy but a simple change in arrangement makes it look a lot better. I think it’s because the closeup pretty much has to be in the middle. This is my final:
This week I’ve been doing some sketches to figure out what I want to make on Sketchup for my later concept art. I have considered both a scene from inside the ship, or one from earth, invaded by the aliens. I think I will end up with one from earth, and use a common object such as the statue of liberty, surrounded by aliens, to give a pretty general picture of what’s going on. I will be meeting up with Fabio to work on the sketchup model, and hopefully we can get a nice result since we both seem to have a handle on the program.
This will be manipulated later to be turned into some type of concept art, although I’m unsure that it doesn’t say as much as I’d like it to.
by German Tabor and Fabio Monticone
I did some photoshoping to it, and I’m trying to make it more like Concept Art. I tried matt’s method but since this already has shadows on it, it doesn’t work so well. I will call this a draft because I think I can do a few more things. I’m trying to put more emphasis on Aldana. I’m going to mess around with saturation and contrast some more, later. I might have to redo my rendering because she’s a bit too far right, respective to the frame.
Learning to use sketchup has been one of the most frustrating yet rewarding experience I’ve had in this class. I started trying to use it without any guidance, and quickly realized I would be better off watching a couple instructional videos. Then as I went, I looked up my questions using google or youtube videos. Altough I think I only know about 20 or 30 percent of the software, it was enough to get started. I made my room back in my hometown, using my memory. All in all, I think it is fairly accurate. I want to take a picture of my room later so I can compare. Some of the components I made myself, some I imported, and some I took apart and modified. For example, I made the bed myself, the top portion of the desk, the shelving, the calendar, the lamp (not shown in this angle). But I imported other objects from the internet, such as the computer (which I took appart to place on the desk), cups, books, the keyboard, etc. The software is fairly intuitive but it doesn’t quite read my mind, like I would want it to.
I saw in some of the videos some rendered models and decided I wanted to render my own. I downloaded a free online trial of a rendering Plugin, and I amvery happy with the results.
Here’s a link:
You download it, then restart Sketchup and the plugin appears under a new plugin menu. Pretty sweet,
Here’s what I have so far:
First, the unrendered model (with Sketchup Shadows):
And, the Rendered Model (Irender Shadows, 40 Passes):
Unfortunately this Software has a max render size of 800×433 pixels, otherwise I have no complains, the rendering does take about 15 minutes though.
For my final turnin, I think I will install a roof in my room make window slots so that the lighting looks more realistic, right now the lighting is natural sunlight that comes in through the open roof. I will also post more angles of the room, since this is only about half of it. We’ll see how much time I can put forth for this effort.
I tried messing with interior lightning but I couldn’t get it to work right and since I’m lacking time I just opened up the ceiling again and made a couple more renderings. Maybe next time.
I’m pretty stoked about this midterm project, but I really haven’t had too much time to think about what I want it to be about. My required line is “My toe itches,” which from the get-go means whatever conversations the characters have will have to be really laid back and informal – no problem. For the setting I was thinking a dorm room, or my room at home. The room will have to look comfortable, warm, and pretty messy. That’s really all I’ve thought about right now, I have some camera angles in mind too but that will have to come later, once I finally decide on the location.
So. I read the assigned scene and at first was really confused. It’s hard to get the right context for this scene as I don’t really know what the “games” are or if these characters are superhuman or something, or if they’re being forced to do something against their will. But anyways, I went ahead and made my own interpretation of what was going on. The setting is going to be somewhat futuristic looking, but in a Star Wars kind of way (I vaguely remember a scene from Episode I, where there’s a lot of people around this street that leads to the queen’s/king? throne, I’ll try to find it). Anyways, I did some sketching and I think I have something good going, but my concern is that it’s going to be too complex to fit into 800×600. We’ll see how it goes, I’m trying to use the 5 step process and I came up with a couple decent sentences, I think I’m going to focus around “Glorious Flames” and I am planning on making the two main characters stand out quite a bit from the rest of the “Districts.” Speaking of districts, this made me think of the movie District 9 (great movie btw) and Ijust might incorporate some spaceships in the distance. I think what I’ll do is hand-draw some of the main features of the set, scan it to photoshop, then use some other pictures from the internet (for the chariots, and other objects I am incapable of drawing) and try to smooth everything out so it doesn’t just look like a collage. I really like the set that Matt created and showed us in class, I want mine to look somewhat like that, but that will take a lot of time in Photoshop. We’ll see…
Like everyone said, my final image doesn’t look much like what I had in mind when I began with it. I am pretty happy with it, however, I don’t like the fact that you can’t see the main characters very well and it’s hard to see that their capes are on fire. Also, I think I went for a setting that’s way too big for 800×500. Regardless, it came out ok. I treated this assignment mostly as set design/production because that’s what we’ve been talking about. I would have liked to focus on a closer single shot but that’s not what I understood the assignment to be.
The set is supposed to look somewhat futuristic, at the same time a bit rustic.
I hand-drew most of the set and then inserted other objects in there. The buildings on the right are on a weird perspective, but it’s the best I could do with them… If there’s one thing in this picture that I am pleased with, it’s the heroe’s shadows, which I made from scratch, they look believable!
So, I got bored at the library and decided to give this a second, more clean (and easier) shot. And I like it a lot.