Monday May 28, 2012

You Never Can Tell

Our new tutor was pretty good and made made us feel a little bit more comfortable with the paper. ut we still had to produce an animation. I clung onto an early lesson where she bought in video onto a 2D plane in Maya and one could follow the action frame by frame as a template.

I decided to do John Travolta dancing to "You Never Can Tell" I did 505 frames. It was complex and I couldn't really add much more in the time I had. I rendered it this weekend, 3 times over from different cameras and multi-cammed it in premiere. I handed it in today, though not with a character stylesheet which just seemed like a pointless addition that was orphaned from a project that really became all about animating a pre-rigged character in maya. Then Jackie told me that was worth 30% of the mark. They should change that, it's really pointless.

It's done and I'm happy with the result.

    Monday May 28, 2012


I gave up writing for a while because I was so disillusioned with the way things were going. My friend and ally in the group and I had a bit of a spat so communication there was getting difficult too which was a pain for me because without her I was just in some really crap group.

We had the meeting up with the tutor who gave us pretty okay feedback but I really think he was being a bit generous. I had a long list of grievances that I was going to bring up but it suddenly felt like a bad time to do it. So I felt like it was time to just give up and back out slowly. But the group wouldn't let me.

So we discussed some script revisions and how to further proceed then went our separate ways. For quite a while. I drew up a storyboard even though it seemed a bit pointless because I knew what would happen with it.

We booked the equipment and the actors time one weekend. A Friday and a Sunday. We got to the Parnell Gardens to do the scene that is there and I discovered that the intention was that the actors sat at a park bench. My storyboard had them walking. Turns out Jackie and Ros both thought it was walking too. Yeah...

So we made up shots on the spot. It was getting darker and the light was changing. We got it all and left. Didn't get a copy of the footage.

Sunday was planned from the whole day early in the morning. Daniel called in sick. WTF. We decided to continue and do the shots without him. The park scene was changed on the spot because apparently our director had always visioned the thing from a different angle. Once again it rendered the whole storyboard useless. We seemed to waste a lot of time but it wasn't so bad at this point. Rebecca, who was unimpressed with Daniel not turning up - but not surprised it turned out - said her boyfriend who is an actor could fill in if needed.

We then went to Joyce's house to film interior scenes. I'd lost control of all camera once again and was boom operator. Oh, this was a theme. Yup, cinematographer holds a boom while Director controls everything. Producer letting shit happen because she just feels like Director is controlling the show, and I'm trying to get her involved because she did want to do something of value too (she is operating the sound recorder and Ros is doing the clapper board).

The whole thing devolved though with ALOT of stuffing around.

I got the footage finally today and looked at it. None of it cuts together. Shots are badly framed. Too much depth of field.

On our facebook page she had said how she thinks in our next meeting we should plan shots more so we know what we are doing. Hmmm... Why didn't anyone else think of that?...

This is a really short version of all the events of the past 3 weeks. But you get the idea.

    Saturday May 5, 2012

Actors meet up

Jackie had arranged for Rebecca, George and Daniel to meet up on Saturday. The original plan was to also have Blair meet up later on but seeing as he didn't want to come to another audition that was out and we really wanted Daniel anyway. It was short-sighted of Blair really as this was for his showreel which he doesn't appear to have much of.

It turned out Rebecca and Daniel knew each other which I half expected to happen. Actors in NZ who actually get work probably all know each other.

I was unimpressed that we gave them the old script to work off when I had written a new one. Sure it needs work but it had more dialogue.

Aside from being nice and friendly to the actors I sat quiet the whole time. I was silently annoyed. I had expressed my concerns privately to Jackie about group dynamics and lack of organisation (mostly because of the group dynamics) in a message but she wanted to meet and talk about it. Well, we never got to meet. She tried to raise it before the actors turned up but I wasn't really interested by this time.

Once again Joyce not having studied the script and clearly having her own idea of what would be happening despite it being on paper for the last few weeks showed it itself to us and to the slightly confused actors. Also just her shooting the whole thing annoyed me. The director directs the actors, but our director seems to think she has creative control over everything. Which would be fine if she was any good at it. Well it wouldn't be fine but it's definitely not fine like this. So once the actors were gone I left, not even wanting to talk to Jackie. I'll save it for our meeting with our tutor. That will be fun.

Oh and Ros didn't show up, couldn't make it apparently. yeah.

    Thursday May 3, 2012

Dating & Social Networks

I have had a very very slow start to the year with Studio and it was getting me down. In Year 3 we must come up with our own projects, and they will be a year long. I had been fortunate enough to have been warned a few weeks before we started semester that this would be the case, and really, it was something I was half expecting anyway. But I still wasn't really prepared. My team mate from 4 projects in a row starting from midway through year 1, Anneke was quite down about how last year went (as a lot of us were) and she was non-committal about everything. When I revealed my idea for a web application, a type of social calendar, she really didn't want to do it. Her two reasons were that she was sick of doing techy things that were beyond her skill set (I don't think that this really was, but last years project was though) and that she wanted to come up with her own ideas. I didn't pursue it any further but was a bit bummed that our working relationship was about to end. She was one of the few people that I really liked working with and worked well with. And because of that I didn't really look elsewhere for partners. I presented my idea to a new tutor who understood it well and said it was a good engineering project but BCT of course is also conceptual and because of that I'd have to work out a question and perhaps I could plumb my solution into the answer of that question or maybe I'd find something else. An example might be "how can cloud computing aid social networking?"

I understood this and drafted a presentation together. I mentioned Facebook and Google Plus and the original idea and it was a bit of a muddle. But it bought me time and I could think about it further. The feedback I got wasn't wonderful and I found that disheartening and I really wasn't feeling the project anyway. I had doubts about my calendar, and decided I cant be bothered making predictions about social networking. Especially now that Facebook is like... Microsoft. Crap, but big and business saavy enough to survive regardless. I was enjoying Digital Cinema Studies and that paper also had things to do. Where as Studio is always waffly to begin with. And if you don't know what you are doing then it's even more waffly if that is possible.

Also a social calendar has been done before (though nothing like I was planning originally), I just can't see how to get something like that to a tipping point of usage. I don't really think I care about organising other people's time either. I hardly organise my own time and I'm not sure I can be bothered working out how a tool world make me use it or help me. It's... boring.

So 5 or 6 weeks in I still had nothing really and was very down about it. I skipped a formative assessment because I had nothing to present. Well it turned out I wasn't the only person to do that and plenty of people who didn't skip had nothing decent to present either. Not that this really helped me, but at least I wasn't alone. The following weekend I decided to change to something I had been working on for a few weeks prior to starting this semester.

I hadn't been able to get work in my previous industry (if I'd told potential employers that I wanted to work there for years, not a few months until I went back to uni, I'd have had a job. Too honest for my own good it seems). I decided to build a website. I had a few website ideas, but this one was something I'd thought about previously but didn't have the skills to execute. But I was desperate for money. Alas I didn't just build some quick and dirty site, I spent a lot of time on one part of it then semester started so I shelved it. What was it? A dating website.

Now, it's not going to be a straight build a dating website and hand it in. That is not a BCT project. But I have questions, many, I can ask. And I can explore avenues. I can explore avenues that I wouldn't bother with if it was a home-job. I'll get more into that soon. But this is my basic project, build some kind of dating website or social network that is fun to use and solves some current problems that exist within the current crop of sites.

    Thursday May 3, 2012

Auditions 2

The following weekend - last weekend (I was a bit behind) we had 2 more people to audition. A guy called Blair for the boyfriend and a kid called Lochlan. Lochlan was for 12pm but he pulled out because he had some other part in something else and I guess that was enough for him.

Blair was a second choice from the pics as far as I was concerned, Jackie was a bit more open-minded and Joyce seemed to be favouring Blair before we'd seen him. This was mildly predictable behaviour as she had the row with Daniel on email and would want to then push her point forward even if it didn't really make sense. I was glad I'd predicted that would probably happen to Jackie a week or 2 prior. She probably knew it too but it was good that we had verbalised it before it materialised.

Blair's performance was okay and he would have been usable. I lost some interest by this time on who we had because I didn't want another fight and sort of felt like I wanted to concentrate more on things that I had total control over the outcome, like my Studio project. No emotional involvement in fail stuff this year. I pieced together an edit of Rebecca and Daniel and then Rebecca and Blair arguing to see how well they worked. It was clear Daniel worked better, but Blair was better than I had originally thought. Jackie agreed, Joyce had some long spiel that drew a different conclusion and Roslyn said nothing. This is a microcosm of the current group dynamic.

The rest of the week dragged, Jackie and I tried to re-work the script to have more dialogue and plan certain scenes better. We ran into issues and if I go into it, my blog will seem like a massive character assassination (not of Jackie). Basically the first scene requires a shot of a dresser, as Jackie and I had planned, and we'd all discussed at various times and I think the word Dresser is the second word of the script and it's description follows through the next sentence. So when we asked for photos of this dresser so we could plan it's layout were told that there is no dresser and a bunch of blah about the layout of a house that we hadn't seen as we weren't allowed into on the day we checked out locations. These are ridiculous obstacles. At the same time I'm not really willing to stick my ore in with everything.

Yesterday Jackie sent an email to all the actors and potentials asking if they could come in for a second audition to see how well they work together. Blair sent a short email back saying "you either use me or your don't". On one hand I can see his point, I suggested that it might be asking too much of the actors. They aren't being paid after all, and they don't know if our film will be any good (at the moment I don't know either). On the other hand, it annoyed Jackie and we agreed that if Daniel was to reply in a more curtly manner than that really sealed the deal in our opinion. He did respond much more curtly.

Today I re-wrote the script alone and sent it to Jackie. While I really liked the idea of collaborating with her on it I think it's probably mostly a solitary activity which is why we didn't get very far together on it.

The dialogue is not great but it's something which is more than it was before.

    Wednesday May 2, 2012


The following Tuesday after the 2 -week "break" we had a class where we had to present our script and production document. The Production document was to be created in a document from a program called Celtx. It's a tool for planning films. I'd started using the program and adding things in the 2 weeks preceding and Jackie has filled in a few bits too and taken over the document. While Celtx offers cloud services for collaboration, it didn't seem robust enough so basically I started the document and Jackie took it over. Also, we'd probably have been the only two people to bother working on it anyway.

We didn't have a cost breakdown of everything which bothered me but that was difficult to do without group effort and it had started to become apparent that real group effort was going to be hard to achieve with anything.

We were the last group to present and Roslyn did the talking. I wasn't terribly pleased with the way she told the story. She had a cold or something and didn't have a clear head and said someone may need to take over if she couldn't talk. I was beginning to wish that would hurry up and happen. So the script was mis-represented as a bit more crap than it actually was. So that when we got the feedback, some of it might have been relevant but much of it wasn't applicable. Great.

Our storyboard had been cobbled together. I had started drawing it but it was quite difficult to plan shots. I originally wanted to plan it because it seemed to be going nowhere. But it was time consuming.

Other groups had a budget breakdown. We did however have one thing the other groups didn't, that was actors. We had auditioned people and that seemed to impress our tutor.

All in all I wasn't terribly happy, and Jackie was unimpressed for being pulled up by Joyce on sending an email to a child actor who we discovered lived in Wellington. She turned the actor down obviously. Three things: 1) She had consulted in the Facebook group, and we had discussed it. If someone isn't paying attention then... 2) Being pulled up for something when a week prior we'd all just had a big argument about Joyce sending a rude email to an actor on the groups behalf. Hello? and 3) She is the producer. She CAN make those decisions because she is the boss and because she organises all of that stuff.

So between us it's become apparent that there is a slight problem here...

Lots of little reservations I had early on but never mentioned because they seem like wild extrapolations based on nothing to any casual observer seemed to be germinating. They will no doubt become apparent in this blog too. I wonder how this film will turn out really....

    Wednesday May 2, 2012


We had already auditioned Rebecca for the Role of Kate and really liked her. Jackie had scheduled 3 more people for Sunday. They were spread out unfortunately, from 11 to 5. Joyce could come after all, so 3 of us sat in.

The first Audition at 11am was Matthew. We didn't know what to expect from a kid really, but he seemed okay. He overacted expressions and didn't know the script very well but we could work with that and direct him probably. The audition lasted about 30 mins.

We had a break and then waited for Daniel to turn up for the role of the boyfriend. This is the guy who had our group arguing as to whether he was rude or not and had received a shitty email from our director.

He turned up and seemed okay, gave us a bit of input on the script and acted. Joyce and him apparently got over whatever (I was inside the auditioning room while they met actors outside and showed them in). It seems to me he gets a lot of real work.

We then waited for a few hours for the next appointment, a kid called George also auditioning for the role of James. In the pictures that we had seen on the talent website, he was very blond which didn't quite fit with the part, however when we met him he was less blond. He was also very articulate and knew the script and the character. He described what he thought the character was like - impressively and when he read the lines he did very well with inflections that suited what was being said. We asked him to put on expressions of how he might be feeling at certain times in the script, including one that is mildly blank but complete anger inside. He did that very well and believably. The audition didn't last very long because he sailed through it.

Unfortunately a couple of hours prior to him turning up Joyce had decided perhaps other projects would be served better if she went home. So our director missed the most pivotal interview. We caught it on camera but it was only a low-res point & shoot.

    Friday April 20, 2012

Alien vs Predator - Requiem (2007)

Like eating... a burger king breakfast when you normally eat real food. I imagine after a while you'd get used to it and dislike anything real. However for anyone else it's not really digestible. I can't quite put my finger on it, everything is so formula. I was watching the cinematography and even that is like... bog standard. Everything you'd expect. You know an idea has reached a certain level of saturation when even this film makes reference to it, for example a crew of survivors are directed by some general or government rep or whatever to the centre of town for helicopter pickup and one of the survivors thinks that is fishy because it's full of aliens. Are they being directed to ground zero of a mass nuclear extermination (and... why)? This leads to a rift in the group and one woman who seems to represent some innocent conservative type says "but they government wouldn't lie to it's people!". Yes the idea just got dumb.

I can't say much good about this film really, I mean, yeah, kudos to the SPFX department I suppose and to everyone in the whole crew for producing... exactly what the money men told you to make. You did well on that. I'm sure 14-yr-olds everywhere (and 30-year-old socially inept guys with figurine doll collections) loved it. Well I can say one thing I suppose. It had a teenage love interest thing happening, a unpopular guy who represents that the target audience think they are, except this guy wouldn't go and watch this movie in his spare time, get a clue; and a cute girl who obviously was friends with him when they were kids but she blossomed and started dating all the nasty jocks. Anyway she drops her nasty jock (who gets ripped up by an alien of course) boyfriend and... well you know how this story goes if you've ever seen say, Transformers (ugh that took me 2 very forced sessions to finish). Well, halfway through the film she gets wiped out. It almost made it look like the film held no prisoners for the sake of fairytales. Of course, it's target audience will willingly let the love interest die for some gore all the while to a Pantera (or some modern equivalent) soundtrack I suppose. That's why they are all dateless.

    Friday April 20, 2012

Studio Y3


    Friday April 20, 2012


While doing Digital Cinema Studies I've also been watching training videos on Maya. They have been rather good in demystifying the application, which is incredibly complex. Demystifying is only half the battle. So now it doesn't look like some alien spaceship and I can work out what it does, how it works and how tasks are broken up. I still can't really use it. I could try but I really need to do some actual making tutorials. I think I'll understand them much better though having watched the videos that I watched. It's like learning phonetics before trying to learn a language. You'll be better at it if you learn the building blocks. Our animation teacher resigned to take on a commercial role so that leaves it all up in the air anyway. That actually leaves me with hope. The new tutor has sent out a questionnaire to get a feel for things. I'm going to give very direct feedback. It's rather unfair to have been loaded with such a heavy project with heavy expectations in a heavy application for a 15 point paper when I have other things to do and not even know the first thing.