Monday, 29 November 2010

Falling Out - Developing the Screenplay

It has been about five months since I first mentioned to my writer Tom K McCarthy that I wanted to make a short film which focused on a small group of people dealing with the immediate aftermath of a nuclear blast in Scotland.  Last week he delivered the first draft of the screenplay.  There are several redrafts needed before we get to a shooting script but we both agree this draft holds the essence of the story we want to tell.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Gareth Edwards

Gareth Edwards' 'Factory Farmed' won the 2008 SCI-FI-LONDON's 48 hour film making challenge.

Gareth Edwards is a director / VFX artist currently making waves with his new film Monsters. He has an extremely integrated approach to directing and VFX, previsualizing how he can use effects to solve the production problems of working with a tiny crew and small budget.  Edwards better tells the story by adding elements from subtle signage to giant monsters and adds production value by recontextualizing 'run and gun' location footage and multiplying background actors.

This multidisciplinary approach must come at the risk of neglecting some production challenges in favour of others, however Edwards seems to be able to tackle each creative and technical objective from a storytelling perspective. This approach avoids the
problem, common in less well integrated VFX movies, of including effects which distract from the story rather than help telling it.

Listen to Gareth Edwards' fxguide interview with John Montgomery
Watch his fxguidetv interview with Mike Seymour here.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

My Welcome Intruders

I have recently finished the live action shoot for DJCAD animation undergraduates Daniel Borg and Michael Wilbourn's animation short 'My Welcome Intruders'. After seeing their great character designs and previous cg and match moving work I jumped at the chance to collaborate and came on board as live action director, editor and post production consultant.

Post production on Scott Davidson's music video

This week I finished post production on fellow masters student Scott Davidson's music video. Scott is a director with a background in documentary and drama and has recently been in talks with a local band to produce a budgeted music video for them. In the interim he directed a no budget promo video on which Ian Forbes was cinematographer and I was editor and colourist. The piece is a documentary realist slice of life in Dundee, something which Scott is in a unique position to capture as he seems to know everybody in this town!

The films of James Cameron: pushing the state of the art.

Digital Domain's work for Titanic seamlessly integrates live action, model work, cg and matte painting. They had to develop their own 3D motion tracking software to be able to do so.

I am using James Cameron as a study of a director pushing the state of the art of visual effects for my research presentation on the MSc. By charting his films from The Abyss through Terminator 2 and Titanic to Avatar we see how the needs of his films to show previously unseen imagery lead to some of the most dramatic leaps in effects technology in the past 20 odd years. This is preferable to industry lead developments which tend to reaffirm cinema's novelty aspects and disrupt our suspension of disbelief, cutting us off emotionally from the film and it's characters.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Constructing Meaning in the Collaborative Meaning of Film

This is an abstract I wrote for the research methods module of my MSc. The podcast I refer to can be found here.

Director Ron Howard (2007) describes his ‘six of one, half a dozen of the other rule’ as a way of fostering a creative atmosphere. He explains that if an objective for the film can be achieved as successfully using a collaborators idea as using his own, then it is a better choice. This is because ‘..they own that, their execution is going to be pure’ rather than guessing at an idea in the directors mind.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

3D Video Capture with Kinect

By combining the color and the depth image captured by the Microsoft Kinect, Oliver Kreylos has projected the color image back out into space and create a "holographic" representation of the persons or objects that were captured.

The possibilities of this technology are of great interest to me, could we see a shift back to deep focus small sensor cameras where the defocus is a post effect? If your focal plane could be dialed in after the shoot then producing an extremely shallow depth of field look could become a lot more practical. The same goes for other depth effects such as haze and atmospheric effects. What if depth compositing could eliminate the need for roto? Maybe I shouldn't hold my breath for that one.

The 8 camera projection project that I am working on for the Scottish Arts council could certainly have benefited from multiple depth witness cameras.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Akira 1988 - Cinematic Design Without Constraint

First three scenes of Katshhiro Otomo's 'Akira' 1988.

James Cameron's 'Avatar' 2009 has been cited as heralding a cinematic revolution, using cutting edge technology to portray an imagined reality in greater detail than previously possible. Over 20 years previously, Katsuhiro Otomo's 'Akira' 1988, showed us an example of world building based upon a cinematic reality which broke free from the physical constraints of live action film making. This was a film made for cinema, created with 16000 with large cels of animation designed for a 35mm print, requiring eight companies to provide the immense budget.
Akira's visual language owes a lot to the study of photographic realism. In the few scenes shown above, we see realistic use of spherical and anamorphic lens flares, interactive lighting, texture, motion blur, camera angles and focal lengths, perspective and parallax as well as incredible fidelity of detail.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Where's the Money Ronnie?

'Where's the Money Ronnie?' directed by Shane Meadows

I had an interesting class on the Animation & Visualisation MSc course this week. We were asked to critique short films or animations which made interesting use of story.

I chose 'Where's the Money Ronnie' because the choice to give conflicting information to the audience made what would otherwise be a simple linear narrative very rich and complex. The film is comprised of four police interviews featuring men who were involved in a series of violent incidents including armed robbery and murder. Each man, Jock, Ronnie, Benny and Zico give contradictory accounts which are sometimes supported and sometimes contradicted by the camera showing the events as they unfolded.