Sunday, February 22, 2009

Learning by doing

Work on The Afflicted progresses - though I must admit I took a little "holiday" this week, and did less than I intended to.
As the special mods that are made for me by MikeDeBoing for the TM content are still in the works, I'm shooting this film in bits and pieces, and almost all the stuff I've got right now is just scenes prepared to get the background footage implemented. So, not that much to show off via screenshots!

I'm happy to say that I'm slowly getting into the workflow of Vegas though - today, I pieced together a scene where the principle character, Terbing (played by Goofparade), stands in front of a mirror.

I finally found out how to resize and align footage I want to play in a mirror; or a viewscreen - and Vegas has a neat "Glow" feature, which enabled me to make it look more convincingly like an actual mirror surface. I think it looks nice as it is now - though if anyone wants to offer advanced tricks, I'm always listening!

I also found out how to place an overlay in a shot - the sign on the wall you'll see in the next screenie was actually made using Photoshop - and it was very easy to place it exactly where I wanted it. In case you're wondering about the black background - this is just another shot which is waiting for its background footage...

The one thing I'll need to do more experimenting with is the shadows function in Moviestorm. I'd love to have shadows - but I've tried all the different settings now, and still the shadows look - pixelated. I have some scenes which cry for shadows (in fact I think the mirror scene would look even better if it had them) - but at the moment I'm too perfectionistic to use them - seeing the ragged edges pulls me out of the mood of the film. Maybe my expectations are too high - I know realistic shadows are damned hard to do, and I know I could do them manually - I'm very grateful that Moviestorm has them (TM never did, not for actors) - but before I'll use them in a movie, I'll first have to find a way to make the edges appear softer. Oh well, things to keep me occupied... :)
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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Saving Grace premiere in Second Life!

Tonight, at 10 AM pacific time, Saving Grace will be premiered at Second Life - in Overman's Z - Studios Theatre - many thanks to Ricky Grove for choosing my movie; I'm very excited about this! :)

The film is also featured at Machiniplex now; and details about the premiere can be found on the Machiniplex blog.

I'm a bit nervous about it all - just took my first steps in SL yesterday - at least I know how to move around and chat... :D

Hope to see you there!

Edit: pictures of the event are here!
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Friday, February 13, 2009

Spotlight on - Nukester's "Temporary Night"

In november 2007 my friend Nukester sent me the script for a movie he was planning to make using the "The Movies" software - Temporary Night.

From the first time I read it, I loved the story - and was daunted by the scope of it - what a project! I never once doubted though that Nukester would be able to translate his vision into images - and today, on the premiere day of "Temporary Night", I was transported into another world, into the streets of Neon City....

This is a masterpiece - part drama, part romance, part musical - yes, you read right, every piece of music for this wonderful film has been written by Nukester himself, and his vision comes alive through expert and ingenious use of the TM engine, mixed with dreamlike sequences and effects - and a story that is superbly written and will grab your heart. It doesn't get much better than this.... and I consider myself very lucky to have been part of his cast. Thank you, Nukey, for the wonderful experience of working with you and this exceptional, beautiful film! :)

Temporary Night from Nukester on Vimeo.
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Thursday, February 12, 2009

About getting used to new programs and the lamentable lack of documentation

Okay, so I've been playing around with Vegas for nearly a week now - love it! So many advanced features, so many possibilities... I probably shouldn't do this while in the middle of working on a project, but I just can't stop myself from wanting to use it on the movie.

Which brings me to a thing that I'm not that happy about - I printed out the handbook that came with the program ( it seems nowadays nobody likes to waste paper on documentation anymore - I wonder why that is - okay, there's the cost factor, but with a program of this prize category... or maybe it's because I've got a "bundle-version" - or do the programmers naturally assume, as this is a technical product, that it will be purchased mostly by men who are bound to throw the handbook away at first sight anyway? :p).

Anyway - while the handbook is okay, giving details of general use and how to get started on a project, there's next to nothing on the advanced features on offer. You're forced to find out either by a) hours of fiddling around, not really knowing what you're doing and missing all the best things in the process; b) watching online tutorials - some good, some bad, and sometimes confusing things even more; c) pestering unsuspecting long-time-users you happen to know (thank you!); and/or d) buying a tutorial book.

I did that (haven't got it yet, unfortunately..)

So while I don't begrudge the people who write tutorial books their money, I still think a handbook coming with a software should have a comprehensive list of the things the program is able to do. Then such a simple thing as resizing a video you want to play on a viewscreen in another video wouldn't be so.... challenging.

Besides, I'm old fashioned - I like written documentation. I like to be able to look something up in written form, preferably with illustrations. Of course, I also like discovering things on my own, have to admit that - but if I'm not able to, the knowledge that it's there for me to read up is very comforting.

So yes, this is a plea for better documentation on software. Anyone with me? :)
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Friday, February 6, 2009

Fun with new and updated programs!

My Vegas arrived today - and just from playing with it for an hour, and testing the chroma keying abilities, I know I'll love this.... it's so incredibly much better than what I'm used to! :)

Only thing I need to find out about is which codec (?) to use for the sound of my Moviestorm renders - it definitely isn't the one I used before, 'cause there's no sound. But I'm sure I'll find out about that quickly...

Moviestorm got updated today - we now have a breathing function, and an advanced mood changer - I've been experimenting with that, too; the breathing is great! The rest will get tested over the next few days while working away on "The Afflicted".

So, generally a fun day in sisch's kitchen.... with lots of new spices.... :p
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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

New screenshots and update on "The Afflicted"

Work on "The Afflicted" progresses nicely - I've already completed (short of the background footage, which will be filmed in "The Movies") three of the many conversation scenes, started on the intro scene - which I'm still not sure if it will be kept as it is right now - it's a bit complicated, because I have to imagine how a TV scene in the future might look -
but so far I'm content with what I've shot.

Once again I'm very glad I've made the switch to Moviestorm - this film is very heavy (again) on dialogue; an intimate setting - I would feel incredibly constrained now if I had to shoot all that in TM.
With Moviestorm, I'm justing going "berserk" again in adding layers and layers of gestures, a feature I just love, love, love. Did I mention I love it? :)

Two more screenies taken from the film - I had an idea concerning the look, and I'm very curious how it will pay off in the finished movie.

I've also finally decided to switch editing programs - from Magix to Sony Vegas Pro 8 -
and I'm looking very much forward to immerse myself into learning how to use it.
Should be in the post tomorrow..... though I'm not sure I'll make the switch during filming this project - depends on how fast I feel comfortable with Vegas.
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