"Broken Minds" - short filmed with Mod'ed Letus at DVinfo.net

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Old March 2nd, 2006, 02:58 PM   #1
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"Broken Minds" - short filmed with Mod'ed Letus

Hello,
I originally posted this in the Letus35 Redesigned thread but I was persuaded to make a new thread.

I recently completed a film shot completely with the Letus modified--The diner scene was shot with the original Letus GG, everything else was basically shot with the Beattie installed. The only shot that isn't using the Letus is the very last shot at the end.

I know it's not a large frame size, but it's 10 minutes long, so I wanted to make it playable.

http://media.frozenphoenixproduction...rokenminds.mov

EDIT: Larger 538x320 version
http://media.frozenphoenixproduction...enminds_hi.mov
I should add that you guys are the first ones to see it outside of class--I submitted it to its first festival just today.

Let me know what you think.
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Last edited by Ben Winter; March 3rd, 2006 at 08:02 AM.
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 03:49 PM   #2
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ill tell you again that i loved your footage.. if you're ever looking to do any shooting up here in canada my door is always open.
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 03:51 PM   #3
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Nice!

Great looking clip you got there Ben. Cinematography, lightning, all the technical stuff looked great. Escpecially the scene in the restaurant looked absolutely stunning. You actually shot it with GL2? I would love to see this in better quality! If you don't have bandiwith I can host it for some time.

Your storyline was quite good but I felt there was too much of story to tell in just 10 minutes. The ending twist came way too fast. Acting was surprinsingly OK, not great but OK.

The thing that really bothered me was the fight sequence! I myself love coreographing and shooting fight scenes so of course my focus is on them. It's all about reactions and usage of camera angles and cutting.

In the end that was one great short there! Can't wait to get my hands on Letus35 or SG35 unit!

EDIT: BTW, happy birthday Ben! (even tough it won't be 3rd for many hours back there. Meh, who cares about the time zones anyway?)
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 04:06 PM   #4
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Excellent short Ben...or shall I call you Steve? =) Very well done. Shot with a GL2 eh? I was going to ask what the cam was. It didn't seem like a DVX. It looked great. Some of the shots were a little dark, but not overly dark. I liked the story, it definitely kept me watching. The only question I have (oddly enough) is who was the other guy? What was really going to happen? Just wondered. I REALLY wish I had all my parts here for my adapter now. :( I really want to build it.
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 04:36 PM   #5
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ben.. take mikko up on the hosting offer!! i really want to see that full size!!
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 06:16 PM   #6
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Ben,

Great job. It's an interesting piece with a bit of suspense. It's definitely something to be proud of. My favorite things were (in no good order):

1. The Steves. Great idea, Great execution. Which are you?

2. The opening credit sequence... very cool. What did you use for that?

3. The realization shot on the female lead. I think that was the best shot of the movie by a fair margin. Perfect color, levels, expression etc.

4. The female lead's acting. I thought she did a good job.

5. The shooting of the diner scene. Those were nice shots with nice lighting. Good all around.

6. Some of the other shots. I don't have a list, but there were some nice ones. It was a bit inconsistent though.

I think it can do very well for you. There was no writing credit given... was that you also?

I have some constructive comments as well (which I will only bother with if I think something is good enough to merit my time spent on it...)

1. The audio in the outdoor scenes is really not up to par. Especially when you go from the good sound indoors to the continued conversation outside - I could barely follow what they were saying. If you have the time before your next submission I would definitely try to loop that dialog.

2. The editing is a little uneven and jumpy. For instance, when they are hugging goodbye there is a cut from over her shoulder to over his, and then back to another shot. I thought it took us out of the moment - the two shot did just fine. Also in the diner there were some cuts between two different angles on the lead - one looking between the Steves and one not - that didn't help and were a little jarring.

3. The male lead was not a strong actor. Not too much you can do there beyond working with him more in rehearsals and maybe reworking the dialog to give him less to say. Particularly the opening scene was tough.

4. The framing on the opening scene was awkward. The lead's head got chopped mid-forehead pretty often, and that's very uncomfortable for a medium shot. If you shot 4:3 and are masking in post, you can reframe some of that I and I would suggest playing with it.

(3&4 together are tough because they are both the first things you see. If I were really pressed for time today I might not have made it past that. As it is, I'm certainly glad I did.)

5. The warp effects were nice, but I think the male leads reactions to it are un-needed (the "not again") etc. His performance isn't great, but even it is were I don't think his reactions help you there... the warp itself is fine.

6. It could use some scene-to-scene color correction to even it out a little bit. Some scenes are just a little bluer than others.

Anyway, great job overall. Good luck with it, and show us more when you have it.
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 06:17 PM   #7
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sorry, I missed the move and posted my compliments at the old thread.

Great work Ben. Very impressive. Especially the opening credits and the soundtrack (and especially considering your age and the time you spent on it).

Well done. Thanks for sharing.
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 06:29 PM   #8
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Haha :) thanks guys. I'd like to respond to people:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikko Parttimaa
Great looking clip you got there Ben. Cinematography, lightning, all the technical stuff looked great. Escpecially the scene in the restaurant looked absolutely stunning. You actually shot it with GL2?
I'm flattered! To be honest, after looking at the footage for so long it sort of gets tiring and boring in my mind. But to a fresh pair of eyes--that makes me feel a lot better. There's some footage that I shoot where I say "that looks so cool" every time I watch it--and there were very few of those in this one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikko Parttimaa
I would love to see this in better quality! If you don't have bandiwith I can host it for some time.
Have no fear! I have a nice big fat 1mb/sec 538x320 version uploading as we speak.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikko Parttimaa
Your storyline was quite good but I felt there was too much of story to tell in just 10 minutes. The ending twist came way too fast.
I would do anything for an extra 10 minutes. Unfortunately the constraints of the project limited our time to 10 minutes excluding credits. And to think we had 2 other scenes to shoot...unfortunately they had to be cut out due to time constraints both on the production's timeline and the NLE's...they were mostly character development anyway, but it still feels compressed to me as well, believe me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikko Parttimaa
Your storyline was quite good but I felt there was too much of story to tell in just 10 minutes. The ending twist came way too fast.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikko Parttimaa
Acting was surprinsingly OK, not great but OK.
I might lose some recently-gained respect here in revealing this, but coming into the project I had been supersaturated with DVinfo.net talk about Letus35 adapters and seeing beautiful test footage that completely skewed my perception of what makes a movie good. I posted a while back (Dinkins remembers) about how it's not so much the equipment that one shoots on, but the talent you're shooting that makes the movie. Somewhere between then and the beginning of production, I totally lost that perspective.

Well, rewind to the beginning of the shoot: Here I am, this naiive teenager with a nifty Letus35 and a bunch of lenses, a rod system, thinking that no matter what I shoot, if it's got some out-of-focus parts mixed with some in-focus parts, it'll look great.

ERRRRRRRT! As soon as we had shot Act 1, Scene 1, Take 1, I realized that if I didn't rethink things quickly, the project would be a disaster. The actors simply weren't taking to the script. I had approached writing the script with a completely skewed perception of how well the actors would take to it. To be honest, the actors aren't that good. The girl makes a good effort, and I like her, and although Evan was a good sport (He even told me he knew he wasn't a good actor) he just wasn't cut out for it. I tried to direct him the best I could, but I just couldn't get him to break out of that box that professional actors already live outside of. Believe me, I'll settle for "OK" :).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikko Parttimaa
The thing that really bothered me was the fight sequence! I myself love coreographing and shooting fight scenes so of course my focus is on them. It's all about reactions and usage of camera angles and cutting.
I gotta be honest, I suck at choreographing and editing fight scenes. I should've watched a bunch of movies that had this type of realistic fisticuffs, to get a sense of the camera movements and angles and such. I know there's a 'sweet spot' to it, and I know I definately don't have it. It's funny how we kids, who love to pretend fight, do it the worst. The most valient effort I tried to make to that whole thing though was the sound effects for the punches, which I think are realistic--realistic in the sense that cars in movies start up as soon as someone gets in them, answering machines pick up after only one ring but only when no one's around to answer, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikko Parttimaa
BTW, happy birthday Ben!
Thank you! 18 tomorrow--I plan on buying the fattest cigar I can find, dressing up in my 3-piece baby blue suit with a fedora and blue suedes, and smoking it with my best friend. That's how I want to turn eighteen.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Oveson
I liked the story, it definitely kept me watching.
I hate it when I'm watching a movie and I suddenly lose interest in it. As stupid as that sounds, it happens all the time when I'm reviewing films over at studentfilms.com. It's a very high compliment to say that my movie kept you interested, because most filmmakers I know take that for granted--that the audience will sit and read every word, and see every detail, as long as it's on-screen.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Oveson
The only question I have (oddly enough) is who was the other guy? What was really going to happen? Just wondered.
I'll sort of lay everything out in a "spoiler" of sorts below. Highlight it if you want to read it, otherwise watch it first!

spoiler
The two men are essentially a single evil entity. There is good and there is bad--Steve is bad, the whole way of representing him with two people who speak in unison is simply creative license. Jake's situation envokes the long-debated issue of what's known as "causality", a big theoretical road-block for time travel that says that effect cannot precede cause. By telling Jake that his girlfriend has died (or will die, since he's getting the chance to relive the day), Steve has set into motion the very act of Jake's girlfriend dying--if Steve did not intervene with Jake, his girlfriend would not be dead, but then Jake would never have tried to stop her from dying and then killed her accidentally in the first place, because it wouldnt've happened...you get the idea. Something to chew on over lunch hour :). But this "causality" puzzle gets even better...

The other kid, "Gavin", was essentially hooking up with Jake's girlfriend behind his back. Had Steve not intervened, Jake would've worked things out with Liz outside the school in the parking lot ("will I see you this weekend?" etc.) However, Steve's intervention disoriented Jake, angering Liz ("This is our problem! We can never talk about anything!") causing her to continue her relations with Gavin.

As soon as Jake enters the house and finds Gavin there, it is assumed that Gavin is the one who is about to kill Liz--for whatever reason, whether it be jealousy or hatred (there was supposed to be more backstory, but alas, time limitations--but you got the sense there was tension when Gavin bumped into Jake in the hallway). So, naturally, Jake tries to put a stop to it with a waving around of his gun. When he finds himself pointing the gun at the very girl who is supposed to die, and seeing Steve standing in the yard through the window, he realizes Steve's plot and lowers the gun. Gavin, (follow this carefully) having been there since Liz continued her relation with him since Jake angered Liz by not responding since Steve sent him back to the beginning of the afternoon, tackles Jake in an attempt to disarm him. In wrestling for the gun, Liz gets shot, completing exactly what had been predicted from the beginning. Steve accomplishes exactly what he wanted to, setting in motion the murder of the girl at the hands of someone else. But wouldn't Steve have to know exactly how his plan would work out in order to plan it in the first place? And, of course, this simply adds to the mysticism that is, "Who (or what) is Steve?" Is he the Devil? Maybe, maybe not, if you want him to be. This is something I leave up to you.


Hope that clears things up. I was worried that the majority of people wouldn't understand the story, but I didn't think I'd be able to get 100% of it across in 10 minutes anyway. It seems most of you get 90% of it anyway.

Anyhoo, cheers!
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 06:55 PM   #9
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Just read Barry's post, responded, then got an error about a post being too long and lost it all. I'll sum up:

Basically, I agree with all of your criticisms, which is comforting, because when someone says "what are you talking about" you just know they're not at the level they should be. I tried ADR'ing Evan but sadly, his ADR skills are about as good as his acting skills. He tries though, so I have to give him credit. Once it was edited and shown to the class, and he saw it for the first time, he said: "Ben, if I knew it was going to be that good...I would've tried so much harder."

I know those editing spots were jumpy, especially the diner scene. I've been meaning to fix that one. I actually didn't realize that over-the-shoulder hug thing you're talking about was that awkward, but now that I think about it I realize that cut isn't neccessary. That will be remidied :) Part of my problem is that I haven't watched any actual movies in a while, and that usually helps me a lot in my decision-making for cutting scenes. It's like editing osmosis, if you will.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Barry Gribble
The framing on the opening scene was awkward.
Don't get me started. I would redo that scene in a heartbeat, but alas, everyone has dispersed. Part of the problem was that Allie's five foot three and he's a good deal taller, and I'll admit, I was looking at her a lot more than I was at him ;) Ahh, gotta love those high school days.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Barry Gribble
There was no writing credit given... was that you also?
Indeed it was, with a little input from the rest of the group. A lot of these ideas are previous brainstorms that I have already going into the project, but my group helped finesse it a lot. I couldn't even begin to describe the weird contraptions I had going in my head the first time. Just...weird. they helped smooth out the story.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Barry Gribble
The warp effects were nice, but I think the male leads reactions to it are un-needed.
Unfortunately I had written the script with a completely different emotionality attached to it. I realized that in the world of teen students as actors, you have to mold the script to the person rather than the other way around thats expected in Hollywood with pros that get paid millions. You can't just hand a script to a bunch of kids and expect them to deliver it the way you envisioned it, even with hours of coaching. You have to adapt the script to the person, which is something I didn't learn until I sat down at the editing machine and realized what bad dialogue I had.

The CC definately needs work, no doubt about it. Nothing else to say there, I'm just really bad at it. The GL2 doesn't CC well, in my opinion, but that's mostly exposure, and that's mostly due to the shallow latitude of MiniDV anyway.

Anyway thanks Barry! The input is most definately appreciated.
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 06:56 PM   #10
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I think I agree with everything Barry said, good and bad. For me, the composition at the beginning threw me off. When they are arguing in the hallway, she is getting cut off and all of his backpack can be seen. The female lead is more important than a backpack. It really seemed that the production crew changed at the first "warp". The composition and editing in the first scene was oddly worse than the rest of the movie. I don't know how that could happen, because some of that scene was probably shot at the same time as later scenes (when he comes back from the "warp").

Minor note: Blood exposed to air is less magenta(purple) and more orange. Perhaps your color correction effected the color of blood?

I agree that the female lead did a good job. She's cute too! I've decided that I'm going back to 1983 to my high school with my VX2000. Elizabeth Hart could never resist me with a VX2000! I bid you adieu! Initiating warp sequence...

For a one-man-band sort of production (writing, directing, editing and music composition by Ben), it was great. That's a lot of responsibility for one production, but it seems to work for you.

What did you use to compose the music, and is the beattie screen vibrating or fixed?
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 07:10 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus Marchesseault
The composition and editing in the first scene was oddly worse than the rest of the movie.
I concur, and I attribute that to getting used to everything. I definately felt a learning curve. It was my first time out with the Letus, rod support, LCD screen and having a time crunch of 90 minutes to set up, go and take everything down. Everything else was filmed outside of class time with however long it took.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus Marchesseault
Blood exposed to air is less magenta(purple) and more orange. Perhaps your color correction effected the color of blood?
I actually worked with my dad, who's a doctor, and my mom, who's a nurse, about this, who both agreed that blood from the abdomen is deoxygenated and dark purplish red, especially blood from the liver and intestines. Assuming the girl got shot in the renal vein, the blood should be a dark reddish purple. Although, if the renal artery ruptured I'm sure we'd see some nice rich red blood in there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus Marchesseault
What did you use to compose the music, and is the beattie screen vibrating or fixed?
I use Cubase SX. The key is getting a bunch of VST pluggies to spice up the mix. The beattie is vibrated, I switched it out with the original ground glass in the Letus a while back. The Beattie is definately not a static solution, but it's better static than the original Letus GG, so if you forget to turn on the motor all hope is not completely lost in post-pro.

Higher-res version available:
http://media.frozenphoenixproduction...enminds_hi.mov
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 10:54 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben Winter
I actually worked with my dad, who's a doctor, and my mom, who's a nurse, about this, who both agreed that blood from the abdomen is deoxygenated and dark purplish red, especially blood from the liver and intestines. Assuming the girl got shot in the renal vein, the blood should be a dark reddish purple. Although, if the renal artery ruptured I'm sure we'd see some nice rich red blood in there.
The sad truth is that what would happen in reality doesn't correlate strongly to what plays best on the screen. Cars never blow up when they roll down a hill, airplanes never make the tire-screeching sound when they land (not that you can hear), and blood is never the color it should be -- but the audience becomes accustomed to things in storytelling and that's what we need to use as our basis more than the actual reality. I did notice that the color was not what I expected... not a biggie for me though.

I'm glad you took my comments in the context of support... not everyone is as good at hearing constructive comments that way.

Great job again, and let us know what comes of it all...
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 06:42 AM   #13
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is there something wrong with the high res download ben? ive tried to stream it and download it a couple times this morning but it keps cutting off right when they walk outside of the school
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 08:07 AM   #14
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Looks like the upload got stopped at 11MB. I'll reupload it when I get home. Actually, I'll recut it a little and then recompress it to take into account some of your suggestions.

I can't tell you how grateful I am for your comments! I was hoping to be able to release this on some pros who know what they're doing so I can get it tuned up for the Tartan Road Film Festival in mid-March.
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 10:44 AM   #15
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I downloaded the high-res version just fine. Looks really good. I'm impressed with the Steve's. They are probably my favorite "character".
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