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Old September 23rd, 2005, 10:13 AM   #1
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DVC3 "The Visionary" - Feedback

Hello all,

Looks like today is my The Visionary’s day.

If you haven’t seen it, you can download it at:

http://www.palacecam.com/hugo/dvc3/

Wow, now this was a rush job. The Visionary is my second short film ever. For DVC3, I originally had an anti-war, contractor-gets-caught-by-extremist-group kind of script. On the first couple of competition days, I shot the finale (very dramatic thing), and found out that I couldn’t squeeze it to less than two minutes, much less the single one minute I was aiming at. After a period of denial, I finally dropped the idea.

I had some creative limitations: having no non-work-related acquaintances in the Netherlands, I was limited to 1-2 actors (me being one of them), and a schedule that was becoming shorter and shorter. To make it worse, as you certainly noted, my camera’s CCD has a dead pixel. Found it out bitterly at the editing station, having originally discarded it as an LCD problem (“better in the LCD than the CCD”, I thought). Fortunately the thing is still in warranty.

After some depressive (working) days, on Thursday 15th morning I came up with something that would fit into my limitations and could work as a short. Wrote the script in late afternoon, and shot the chat dialogues that same evening. On FRIDAY, after coming from work, we shot the rest of the movie (basically until very late night Central European Time), got it onto a hard-drive, edited and scored the whole thing.

Overall, even though it was done in a rush, it was incredibly fun to do. At one point, I had the policemen guarding the courthouse (our “Old Hospital” where they supposedly meet) watching the shot and laughing at me with the roses in my hand. When policemen laugh at you, you tend to remember the moment, even if you’re freezing and running against the clock.

I feel a bit sad since I feel that I could have polished it a LOT more. Trimming some cuts a bit, enhancing and correcting color, and, most of all, getting the “chat dialogue” scenes more fluid. And, if only it could have lasted 10 more seconds, I’d be a happy man (boy, could I pun with that line). Total running time (without credits) is 3 min 59 sec 24 frames - really.

I’d love to get your opinions and critiques. Good or bad, keep them coming.

Materials used:
JVC GR-PD1 with dead pixel
Manfrotto tripod
Sinclair ZX Spectrum schematics (on the monitor)
Two webcams (one was ruined after crashing on the floor)
El-cheapo Skype headset mic for the voice-over
Two dozen roses
Final Cut Studio for editing
Garageband for scoring

Cheers,

Hugo

P.S.: Must get myself a real actor next time!...

Last edited by Hugo Pinto; September 23rd, 2005 at 11:56 AM.
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Old September 23rd, 2005, 12:52 PM   #2
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Hugo,

I really got into this one! Some people think the chat/messenger shots are overused, but I liked it.

Tell you what I especially liked--the outdoor scenes were great, plus I thought you did a very nice job with the passage of time. I didn't get bored because you did a good job of looking happy, then hopeful, then concerned, then....

In my opinion, you have "presence." Besides an interesting story, your acting kept me involved.

Your behind-the-scenes comment about the cop and the cold---I could just see it!

Good job!!!!
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Old September 23rd, 2005, 01:16 PM   #3
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i'd have to agree with lorinda. you're a pretty good actor for a camera guy.

two things:
1) i had this figured out too early (the second he headed toward the phone booth), which flattened out the climax and resolution.

2) i thought the music came on a little strong at times. maybe some counterpoint would be more effective...like the music cued us that something bad was a-foot before the character even knew.

lotta work went into your short, clearly. fun to watch.

always a hoot to see dvinfoers bright shiny faces in our own work!
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Old September 23rd, 2005, 01:18 PM   #4
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Lorinda,

I'm very glad you liked it. I guess chat shots can be overused, nowadays. I balanced the fact that I was doing webcams, and decided going for it anyway. Hope it's not too distracting.

As for the acting, thanks - still, I do feel better behind the camera than I do in front of it. It was more kind of "acting out of necessity" than acting for the sake of it. The goal was to pass on the character's emotions. If I managed to touch that, it's good to know.

I was a bit afraid the camera woudn't cope that well with the outdoor by night. Still, I guess we managed to get some usable footage. Even though it's grainy, I was a bit surprised by the look of it, since I was expecting much worse.

All the best,

Hugo
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Old September 23rd, 2005, 01:26 PM   #5
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Meryem,

Thanks for your comments,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Meryem Ersoz
1) i had this figured out too early (the second he headed toward the phone booth), which flattened out the climax and resolution.
That's either your extra wit or my bad writting. I go for the later ;) But I believe your next point adds to your first one,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Meryem Ersoz
2) i thought the music came on a little strong at times. maybe some counterpoint would be more effective...like the music cued us that something bad was a-foot before the character even knew.
...since you're actually quite right. At the time I was scoring it I didn't notice it, but the music does give some of the action away for free, indeed. I could excuse myself with the almost-nil level of consciousness that I had by then (it should have been 6? 7? a.m. - so almost midnight Dylan-time), and I was just getting glad that the footage was matching the score almost always on the beat. Will be more careful next time for sure.

Thanks for commenting once again.

Hugo
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Old September 23rd, 2005, 01:57 PM   #6
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Hey Hugo!

Very nice job!

It is absolutely incredible how much thought and work goes into each of these pieces...and yours was no exception.

I can relate about having to act in your own film...lol...did it in mine too. You can be very proud of your performance!

Your night scenes looked great to me and was wondering what kind of lighting you used for the indoor scenes?
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Old September 23rd, 2005, 02:02 PM   #7
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Hugo, nicely done. I think the pacing was good, you did well as the lead and the story, while predictable for some, had me. I thought it was good.

Ready for the constructive criticism? You need more light outdoors. You already know about that. Here's a tip that I have used once or twice. Here in the US we can buy inexpensive voltage converters that hook to our automobile electrical system either through the cigar lighter plug or directly to the battery. It provides us with 110v AC, our common house current. We can run small appliances from that, including those flourescent shop lights. I have a dual bulb 300 watt lamp that is nearly daylight balanced. Takes little current and helps a lot.

The second thing, your voice overs were a bit weak. They need to be louder and stronger. You might try fading out the music a bit when dialog enters. That's how I do mine. Leave music full when nothing else is going on, place a cut in the music, bring the level down where it will be under dialog and put a dissolve in between those sections so it fades under smoothly.

That's it, just those two technical things. Other than that, well done.

Love Portuguese music by the way.

Sean McHenry
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Old September 23rd, 2005, 02:05 PM   #8
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Bradley,

Thanks for your kind words - more that "much thought" this short had to be about "fast thought", so I'm really glad it worked out fine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bradley L Marlow
Your night scenes looked great to me and was wondering what kind of lighting you used for the indoor scenes?
The night scenes were fortunately shot under a street light's spot, which helped a bit to the overal feel. The indoor scenes were lit with home-grade halogen lights. I was a bit afraid I was over-lighting it (and could certainly have used less lights), but in the end the result wasn't bad. You can see my "lighting kit" at the movie's mini-website above.

Thanks,

Hugo
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Old September 23rd, 2005, 02:12 PM   #9
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Sean,

Thanks for you comments,

Constructive criticism is what this thread is all about, I hope. :)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean McHenry
You need more light outdoors. You already know about that. Here's a tip that I have used once or twice. (...) Takes little current and helps a lot.
You're absolutely right. I'd love to have had one of those in here. I'm still getting aquainted with proper 3-point lighting, and definitely need the equipment. My halloween piece will certainly improve on this. :)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean McHenry
The second thing, your voice overs were a bit weak. They need to be louder and stronger. (...)
This was a bit my fault (sleepy) and the mic's. I use the damn thing for skype, not pro audio. ;) Still, technically, the sound mix could have been A LOT better.

If we go forward with the DVD I will do a finetuned version of it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean McHenry
Love Portuguese music by the way.
Just tell me if you need to borrow any CD's.

Hugo
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Old September 23rd, 2005, 02:23 PM   #10
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I forgot to add, in the notes I saw you actually have a Sincliar ZX Spectrum. Man, unless they have kept that thing going outside the states, we were playing with Sinclairs back in the late 70s early 80s. I myself had a TS/1000. Loved that thing and finally tossed it out last year in our recent house move.

Using Skype here once in a while on my Dell Axim 30 (Palm Pilot like device). Interesting.

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Old September 23rd, 2005, 02:26 PM   #11
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Hugo that was great. I wasn't expecting that ending. Thought it was a boy meets girl online flick. Nice job with the whip pan hidden edit. Overall well done.
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Old September 23rd, 2005, 03:18 PM   #12
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I think you're being too hard on yourself Hugo. This was good. I genuinely cared about the character (you). I felt terrible for him. When he realized it I was crushed for him/you. That itself is awesome! I still can't get over how bad I felt!!
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Old September 23rd, 2005, 11:14 PM   #13
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Wow! you started on thursday? I can't believe that! (In fact I believe you but I can't imagine how I would have been able to make it this way).

You are a good actor, but espescially a good screenwriter! You got a really good story, but I guessed the end when I understood that the boy was waiting for nothing.

I hope you will be able to have your camera fixed! ;-)
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Old September 23rd, 2005, 11:27 PM   #14
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Hugo another strong concept that made this one stand out for me.
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Old September 24th, 2005, 12:16 AM   #15
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Mitchell, Sean,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mitchell Stookey
I think you're being too hard on yourself Hugo. This was good. I genuinely cared about the character (you). I felt terrible for him. When he realized it I was crushed for him/you. That itself is awesome! I still can't get over how bad I felt!!
Thans for your words... Well, what I can say is that it's good to know you felt bad... :) In a good way, of course...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean Buck
I wasn't expecting that ending. Thought it was a boy meets girl online flick. Nice job with the whip pan hidden edit. Overall well done.
The objective was really that one, to raise the expectations in one way, and then deliver the punch in the oposite direction.

Glad you both received it well.

Thanks,

Hugo
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