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My new (kind of) blog!

http://whatyatesdidnext.wordpress.com/

Hi guys!

I see from my email notifications that some of you lovely folk have started following this blog, as you can probably tell it hasn’t been used in well over a year! This was a blog specifically to document the progress of production of my graduate film so isn’t going to be updated anymore.

However since leaving University I have started a new blog with much more current looking stuff on there – it’s my ‘blogsite’ for the moment until I can get a proper website together!

I’ve provided a link but here is the address here as well: whatyatesdidnext.wordpress.com – have a gander if you please and if you like you may also follow that one!

Thanks for following!!!

Helen

Finished!

Yesterday, after much fiddling about with exporting settings and testing the film on multiple screens with Stan, and adding the meta info to the file, I finished the film completely. The problem with the video quality just turned out to be dependent on the screens it was played on, with bigger/better quality screens and projectors showing it best, so big sigh of relief there! Before this I jigged around with a couple of shots (timing) and also decreased the volume of the dialogue again, I felt it was a little distorted when louder after all that fuss the day before!

I think the best way to end this blog and sum up the last few months is to put my evaluation here, so here it is:

 At the beginning of this project I hoped to achieve a film that would finally represent me as a creative, something that was not possible in previous projects. The most important aspect to me was telling a well-rounded story, possibly laced with a positive message. I also wanted to build upon my basic technical abilities in production, filming and post-production. This aspect of filmmaking has always been my weakness, so I hoped to improve on this at least a little. I also wanted to collaborate with other people in certain aspects of my film that I knew would be a real struggle to accomplish alone, for example getting a Creative Sound and Music student to do the music, a second year to help animate or make models, someone good at painting to help me with backgrounds, and most vitally, in my case, anyone to help with post-production. I had a story in mind that I had developed over the course of a couple of years and hoped to use the concept and theme of it for my final film, as the full original story was quite long. Having always been inspired by films (both animation and live-action) with historical and fantasy themes and wooden, golden, warm, rustic tones, I wanted to create a story with these elements in. I wanted to develop characters the audience could relate to in some way, and ones of elf or goblin origin, which are characters I have wanted to give my own twist on for quite some time. I wanted to also schedule this film well and plan in detail, even in the event of severe setbacks. I wanted to showcase my main skills that I feel show me at my creative best, and also show improvement in ones I may have lacked in the past. I also ultimately wanted to make the most of an opportunity to make a film with the amount of time I had and creative freedom that I am more than likely not to have when going on to working in the industry.

I have achieved these aims to the extent that I have made a film that I feel represents me as a creative. I have told a story I’m proud of and managed to squeeze quite a lot of content in a relatively short duration, but in a way that has been neither rushed nor dragged out. I was also able to make a film with the themes I had in mind from the very start, which is very satisfying. My technical abilities, especially with Adobe After Effects, have improved greatly considering I was not confident with the program when first trying it. I have made characters I really like, both in appearance and personalities. The puppets were a little challenging with certain aspects of animation because of their weight, but other than this they were relatively straightforward to work with. I feel I made the very best of the materials I managed to gather, particularly with finding unique-looking bells for the Bell Control Tower set piece. I also feel that I’ve been quite inventive with materials, for example covering plain MDF with old wood-look adhesive flooring to the set pieces to give them a real authentic look. I was also lucky enough to collaborate with a wide variety people on different levels, from being given advice to full-on assistance. I managed to get a talented and committed first year Creative Sound and Music student to compose and edit all my sound and music, I had a good friend and classmate help me with making my armatures, assistance in the studio from a second year student, a classmate to paint my backgrounds for me, managed to get old props and set pieces to recycle from Tracy Spottiswoode from Chapter Arts Centre, advice on puppet construction from Gill Bliss, lighting advice from Humphrey Trevelyan, and Stan Evens and Charlie Rawlins to help me with after-effects, to name the main examples! In terms of scheduling I feel I have coped very well, what with the move from Caerleon Campus to Newport City Campus half way through the year and the changes that came swiftly with it. This was certainly the case as far as studio access was concerned, circumstances changed from one week to the next, which meant a weekly change of plan as far as puppet/set construction and animating was concerned. It was certainly good training for the future!

I feel my work has fulfilled most of the assessment criteria, the main criticism I’d have for the film is certain segments of the animation and the technical side of things, this has come as no surprise to me because, as mentioned previously, I have always struggled greatly with the technical side of filmmaking. I could have made my puppets easier to animate, but it was because we were not able to have a mould-making workshop with Gill Bliss that we had to think on our feet with the advice she gave in puppet construction. I did not plan to make the puppets as big as they were, but that’s how they turned out and I just had to work around them. Certain aspects of character animation suffered a little because of this, but again I think I made the best of what I had. I have kept a pretty regular and thorough account of each stage of production in my blog. I have completed each stage of filmmaking to the best of my ability and considering the trouble stop-motion students have had with space allocation and technology I think I have scheduled well. Considering we had one workshop on lighting I felt I covered this part of the film well, as well as learning (previously alien) aspects of post-production e.g. working with green screens and using de-flickering software. I feel I have overcome a lot of challenges, with the computers in the studio constantly corrupting my video and still files, studio lights blowing and flickering and certain features of Stop-Motion Pro freezing whilst shooting, to name the main hiccups.

The other positive outcomes in this project include that fact that I have generally grown a lot more confident about approaching people for assistance and advice, which is a considerable achievement that I would deem near-impossible a couple of years ago. I feel like I have become a better researcher as well, not just in finding visual reference in the pre-production stage, but also with locating materials both online, in the high street, and tracking down specialist stores for very specific materials e.g. the bells for the Bell Control Tower. I also really got to grips with the fabrication for the first time since the specialism project in second year, and learnt different aspects of machinery and construction techniques again. Making this film also led me to attend a producing workshop in the Ffresh Festival benefited my scheduling skills. All this will come in handy in building my confidence in producing, one of the roles I’m considering specialising in after graduating. Overall, this film has made me able to identify exactly what it is I enjoy about animation and has helped me narrow down my role choice in the industry.

What I have learnt that I could apply to other projects is that no matter how well you plan, things still have the potential to go wrong, it’s not your fault and you can’t help it, it’s how you get around it that is the skill. With the lighting workshop, setting up shots was much easier than first anticipated to an extent. It has taught me more than ever that it’s not what you know; it’s who most of the time that can really benefit you and your projects.

In future projects I will simply continue on improving my scheduling skills, and with continue to develop my model making, puppet making and story telling. Seeing as my next project is likely to be one on my own I would downsize the project a little as well, although this one was manageable, I would like to do something a little simpler next time. And as I will soon be reaching the stage of employment I will continue to build my confidence in working with other people. Seeing as I’m thinking of becoming a Producer one day this is more than a vital skill, but a necessity. If I had the opportunity to do this project again, I would have considered working with someone else more seriously, I felt I got a pretty good balance with a variety of people helping me out with various aspects of the film, but if I went back I feel I would have more actively tried to look for someone to work with who I could rely on relatively well. The experience I have had with this project has certainly proved to be a good learning curve, only a little taster of what is to come when I try to find work in the industry, but nonetheless I feel pretty confident about heading into the world of work now, of course it’ll be tough, but still, I’m really looking forward to getting out there.

H.Y

It feels really weird saying this, but my film is almost finished! I got the last of the green screen work done with Stan in the morning and spent the rest of my time fixing the credits and going over the entire film’s sound and visual timings again, just had to cut a couple of clips slightly, increase and decrease dialogue decibels and generally twiddled about with audio timing until it was perfect. I also added in the SkillSet credit template and the Newport Film School credit template too, which annoyingly might be changing, just have to wait on Caroline to tell us whether it actually is or not.

I decided in the end not to go for this vignette effect Caroline suggested at the rough cut, with whatever effect I put over a certain shot I always preferred it with nothing added, so that was that out the window! Leonie reckoned it was not necessary as well, guess it depends on the tutor really.

All that remains to be done (after probably another final check) is to add the Meta Info onto the film (Staaaaan!) and then export  it. Unfortunately this is turning out to be more complicated than it sounds as currently the export quality doesn’t match up with the original clips put into Premiere in the first place! Stan said he’d research tonight, as it looks like alot of the class will be having the same problem! The answer might be to export it into After Effects then straight out of it again, we’ll see what he comes up with!

With all the other bits and pieces all I need now is the two film stills, which is currently impossible with the film not being exported yet.

Will update again when hopefully my film will be exported and I can momentarily collapse with relief!

H.Y

Wading through it.

Managed to conquer 3 green screen shots by myself today, and set up and fiddled with about 7 others until I couldn’t think what to do with them anymore, they will have to wait till Monday when Stan’s about! I also corrected the lighting on the remaining shots that needed doing so.

Tomorrow I will try to do 2 still shots and also apply night sky /light to the very last shot of the film. As said before everything else will have to wait till Stan gets back if I can’t fix things myself.

Tonight I’m going to work on the title clip of the film and also edit production photos for the publicity pack, the stage I’m at at the moment it’s all I can do really, which I guess can only be a positive sign.

H.Y

Today was a right stressy one! Stan has once again been a god send and help me tackle probably the one of the two hardest shots to green screen in the film, one is a pan and one doesn’t have a green screen behind it, so lots of mask tracking involved! Managed to tackle the panning shot successfully, and got half way through the non-screened one then couldn’t go any further as I hit a ‘wall’ and Stan had left! So decided to come back to my flat and get on finishing the publicity pack, no point in wasting time in getting nowhere.

I would have continued on with the night time shots, but Kate noticed I was finding it tricky altering her day sky to a night one as the clouds would either end up glowing or I’d have to dim the image so much that the paint texture wasn’t visible anymore. So she has kindly painted a a night sky for me which I’ll use tomorrow once I’ve finished tackling what I’ve now called the ‘devil shot’.

I’m still more or less on target to finishing green screening by next Tuesday, then hopefully the rest of this film’s journey was go smoothly. Will be back with more updates when there are any to tell!

H.Y

Just thought I’d give a brief update on the week so far!

Had feedback on my rough cut on Monday and I’m pleased to say it went well, only tiny things were flagged up; one transition needed altering and Guamotis’ initial telling-off could be a little louder than the other bits of dialogue. One thing Caroline said was it would be great if the film could have a vignette overlay, adding that bit more texture and ‘oldness’ to the film. I’ll make this the final task of the film,;after all the green screening is done, any re-timing is complete and the titles and credits are finalised I’ll be asking Stan or Charlie the best way to go about this, I only want this effect to be subtle!

Progress so far this week has gone really well. I’m surprised how quickly I’m picking up After Effects (with massive thanks to technicians Charlie and Stan). I’ve gone from having 33 shots to green screen to 25 already, and since Monday I have also added bubble effects to the shots of the ‘extras’ washing and have also improved the lighting in all the outside day time shots; it’s not orange anymore and it now matches with the backgrounds I’m planting onto the green backdrops. I’ve also learnt the neat trick of panning the sky just to add that extra bit of animation into scenes too. I have also de-flickered all the shots which has improved all but a couple immensely.

I’m aiming to have green-screening finished by next Tuesday at the very latest, this is based on getting 4 shots done a day though, so I’m hoping as I get more to grips with masking etc. I will be smashing that target. Then I want to completely finish my film and export it with all the meta info added by Thursday, leaving 3 days to tie up any other loose ends, burn everything to disc, on so on.

Feeling quite content now as I have a plan once again, I felt quite unsteady without one.

Right, will continue completing the publicity pack now, got the evaluation wrapped up the other night which is a good weight off the mind. Will update again towards the end of the week.

H.Y

Le Rough Cut.

I got some form of rough cut together today. I’m quite pleased with how it’s going so far, have timed the shots, leveled the sound out, added the pans and zooms (apart from a couple that just need their size changing) and have added all but a couple of the transitions too. The only concern I have at this moment in time is the resolution of the film, when I played the individual clips outside premiere pro, they’d play big and clearly, but when I exported the rough cut today it was a little on the pixelated side when in full screen, but fine if smaller than that. Ah well, something else to ask Charlie or Stan about tomorrow!

Tomorrow I plan to get started on the green screen business, Charlie seemed really enthusiastic about helping me with it when he saw my final shots last week so am glad to have him on board. I’m hoping he’ll be able to show me a way of doing it on after effects straight onto the video itself, would be nice not to have to go through the hassle of editing shots frame by frame, but we shall see!

Tonight I’m continuing with all the other bits we need to get done e.g. evaluation and publicity pack, will feel a little lighter once all that is out the way.

Right, will report on any significant rough cut related feedback tomorrow and fingers crossed I would have started the last real ‘techy’ job of the film.

H.Y