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Old September 23rd, 2005, 11:45 AM   #1
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DVC3 "Grim Parallax" - Feedback

Well, it looks like I’m up today, so I guess I shall start my feedback thread also.

I’m generally not one for tooting my own horn, so I will try to keep this basic….I ended up spouting too much as is in a ‘late-night-ramble’ immediately after posting my movie, so the following is either a wrap-up, or just a few extra thoughts mulling over in my head through the past week.

The basic timeline is as follows:
-Scripted Sunday night
-Storyboard Monday night
-Night 1 of shooting on Tuesday
-Night 2 of shooting on Wednesday (lost anxious time getting a Powerbook on loan from Apple because I went in to capture footage Wednesday morning and found my logic board was dead.)
Edited on Thursday night
Re-cut on Friday to shave 2 minutes off and then tweaked the audio and added the music.

I think I posted with less than 5 minutes to spare.

I knew that several entries would involve getting trapped inside a camera, but I wanted to take it a little further and suggest that there was already someone stuck in there – and what would happen if the main character trades places with that person and lets the other guy out?

I think the final movie is about 95% the way I envisioned it being. I used mixes of choppiness, saturations, B&W’s and skipped frames to create a sense of imbalance in the way that the main character was slowly ‘trading places’ with the presence trapped in the camera.

I was able to shave off the extra time by trying very hard to make every frame count. I didn’t have to sacrifice any of the actual ‘scenes’ to do this, but did a lot of cleaning up. Mainly, I had to sacrifice some voiceovers that give a little backstory during the flashbacks, but they also made the flashbacks way too long and I figured I would let the viewers imagination fill in the pieces of the puzzle from quick clues I zapped in here and there. A closing VO had to go also that included broadcast updates as a follow up, but to include them in the credits would have rendered them part of the movie ‘content’ and officially exceeded the final time restriction – so I made an eerie audio composite and layered it into the background of the website itself.

I was going to add a few things to the site like a behind-the-scenes write-up with photos, as well as some outtakes, but I just haven’t gotten around to it as work has been overwhelming.

What I used:

To shoot;
Canon XL2
Canon Powershot Elph S110
Nikon E2100
AT897 sgm
Sennheiser Evolution G2 wireless
Sony Mini-disk with Radio Shack lapel mic

To edit;
iMovie (busting at the seams to get this one done on time, but I did it.
MoveEdit 3D to repair one cut that needed fixing (that I mostly cut out anyway)
GeeThree iMovie plug-ins
SmartSound’s Sonicfire Pro
A whole lot of soundeffects from lots of libraries I have collected over the years.

To post;
Apple’s .Mac Homepage
Macromedia Contribute 3
Apple Garageband 2


I’m really not a dark or scary person – just the movie is (dark and scary, I mean). I wanted to see if I could fit the requisite scenes into the time restriction without making it too frenetic – allowing time for some of the ‘relaxing’ lapses that lulled the viewer into being a target for the next ‘jump’. I wanted a ‘nice’ opening scene that at least made the viewer ‘care’ about what happens to the characters in the end. I wanted a few ‘jumps’ to give the viewer a bit of a thrill ride.

I had the opportunity to play the final version for my neighbor – who is also my landlady. After watching it – looking a little shaken – she turned to me and (jokingly I hope) offered the best line: “So….you’re on a month-to-month, right?”

I need to work on my lighting techniques as well as getting more familiar with the limitations of the accuracy in the XL2 viewfinder. Lighting and dialogue are my two current challenge areas. I always try to come out of a DVC with a new list of topics to learn from.

I hope you had a chance to view one of the ‘cleaner’ compressions. I was not thrilled with the quality of the lower size files. I guess my compression technique is also on my ‘to-learn’ list.

Comments, critiques, tips or any other input is greatly appreciated. I always appreciate the constructive thoughts that I can learn from. I am happy with the results of this one, but there is definitely lots of room to grow.

Thanks so much to Dylan for being so cool and hosting these Challenges, and thanks to Chris Hurd for making it possible. A big thanks also to the vendors who provide such tasty treats and motivate growing numbers to stand and compete. Mostly, thank you so much to anyone reading this for taking the time to view my movie, read my rambles, and if it applies – for posting your comments. It is so very much appreciated.

I will be in and out today running errands, and trading my Apple loaner back for my newly repaired one, so I will respond to any input when I get the chance. (And I promise to keep them short and sweet so as not to keep harpin’ on my movie or exposing you to my ramblings – unless I come up with more to ramble on about.)

Thanks again.
Cheers, Gang
-Jon
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Old September 23rd, 2005, 12:31 PM   #2
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Not bad at all. I liked it. As you know by now, it suits my taste in dark films. Since this is about constructive criticism, here is the only one I have for now.

I would have kept all the shots of the "bad guy" in B&W. Maybe even use the same film effect on all the shots. That places him in a particular box if you catch what I am saying. It places him in a particular time and place that isn't "right now" or places that character in the past. I would then go color only when the flash goes off in the leads face. The first time we see the bad guys red flannel shirt, we'll get it.

Wizard of Oz like, going over the rainbow changes from B&W into color. You know somethings changed then.

Just a thought.

Looks like it would make a good story if you put just a bit more into it. Lighting, etc. I do like it. You done good.

Sean McHenry
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Old September 23rd, 2005, 12:46 PM   #3
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Jonathan,

You were aiming at extra points for an halloween+cameras combo, hum? :)

I liked it a lot. The reaction-inducing shots are all in the right place, and the story is a good twist on the sucked-into-camera concept - in this case, a pulled-out-of-camera one ;)

If I had th time, I would have shot more at oblique angles to induce extra unconfort on the audience... But, then again, that's just me, and this is not my work.

You did a very good film.

All the best,

Hugo
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Old September 23rd, 2005, 12:48 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean McHenry

I would have kept all the shots of the "bad guy" in B&W. Maybe even use the same film effect on all the shots. That places him in a particular box if you catch what I am saying. It places him in a particular time and place that isn't "right now" or places that character in the past. I would then go color only when the flash goes off in the leads face. The first time we see the bad guys red flannel shirt, we'll get it.
Thanks Sean, much appreciated,
For the frame of reference on the bad guy, you may be right - in the limited scope of presentation I struggled with weather I would do this. Originally, the design for the 'murder scene' was to be shot a little differently, but given the time, we were unable to find a space that would work the way we first designed it. The killer was supposed to take photos of the scene, and then see himself in a mirror, and on a whim, take a shot of himself at the scene (to better taunt the police perhaps) - that is the shot where he transitions to color as it begins the process of capturing himself in the camera that is completed when he drops it while running away and he is finally frozen and trapped. We see the B&W transition to color as flashbacks playing out in the psyche of the Steve character to illustrate that the trapped presence is being brought more vividly to life in the process of trading 'souls' with Steve.

At least that was the intent - somewhat lost in the inability to finesse the process on our time and space constraints - so I thought about blocking and tweaking it more simply in the manner you suggested - it actually would have been easier - much easier - but after some thought, I decided to at least stick to my original concept and risk it being a little lost in the limited scope of presentation. If I had more time to shoot and present it as a slightly longer piece I probably would have been able to express the intended artistic merit with a little more aptitude.

You've got a great eye for honing in on exactly one of the core issues at the heart of this piece. Much appreciated.
-Jon
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Last edited by Jonathan Jones; September 23rd, 2005 at 03:06 PM.
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Old September 23rd, 2005, 01:24 PM   #5
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dang, that was spooky. well-made spooky. i really liked the opening sequence quite a bit, the purple was a nice contrast to more gritty overtones of the rest of the film. i can't believe what you were able to squeeze out of little iMovie. phenomenal.

as you know, jon, it's not to my personal taste, but it's really well-crafted. i'd love to see what you can do with a more uplifting concept!
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Old September 23rd, 2005, 02:23 PM   #6
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Jonathan. That was freaky dude. You have a good head start for DVC4. I think everyone in the office jumped a couple of times. We should combine your scary films and my girls. Definate B-Movie horror. We should get Dick involved he's got a great title going. Hahaha.
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Old September 23rd, 2005, 02:24 PM   #7
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Hey Jonathan!

Excellent work!

I enjoyed the dark creepy feel you achieved and was most especially fond of your editing techniques for the slasher. I liked your choice of music and SFX too. Forgive me for missing that...did you write the music for your film?

I noticed a wonderful grainy film texture in the BW quick cuts and was wondering if you used a certain filter for this effect...or how that was achieved? Am curious?

Where you ever a fan of the X-Files? I found myself having a recognition or relation to an X-Files concept (this is a good thing).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Jones
I had the opportunity to play the final version for my neighbor – who is also my landlady. After watching it – looking a little shaken – she turned to me and (jokingly I hope) offered the best line: “So….you’re on a month-to-month, right?”
That is hillarious Jon! You may have lost one vote there...but gained several here.
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Old September 23rd, 2005, 02:27 PM   #8
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Oh, I see, "his girls" eh? And here I was going to offer them more money, well, some money anyway, to shoot in my videos.

Sean McHenry :P
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Old September 24th, 2005, 12:11 AM   #9
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Doggone it, Jon, you scared me! I don't do slasher films, so this sort of freaked me out for a bit. And why is it that the quick hand on the shoulder routine always makes people jump? :)

The shot that made my blood run cold? The back of the killer and that slight turn of his head. Creepy. You're good with camera angles/shot choices, btw.

This movie was thoroughly engaging. You did it again, Jon. Good job!
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Old September 24th, 2005, 07:04 AM   #10
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The hand on the shoulder works every time!

Most slasher/horror stuff seems predictable to me. This was well done. I'm with your LandLady, you do the spooky stuff this well, and people have to start wondering about you. I did not see the end. I thought the dead woman's spirit might be captured in the camera, but I loved the shot of the knife and the digital camera together in the frame at the end.
Then, just to show the flashes through the window. That's the way to end it.
Well done.
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Old September 24th, 2005, 07:23 AM   #11
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I quote "I’m really not a dark or scary person" ...... are you sure ?

This was very enjoyable to watch, not that I`m into slashing people. The film had great angles on the camera and good music.

I feel the story was told really well apart from the bit where they swapped places. Did the guy swap places, or did the slasher come out and slash the bloke and then his wife.

Great stuff !!!
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Old September 24th, 2005, 03:23 PM   #12
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I'm not a fan of the crime scene, slasher types of stories --as I've said in other threads. But, I must admit, your movie kept my interest. I actually enjoyed it! The pace was great for the seriousness of the story and I loved the twist that the killer was trapped inside the camera and was released when the husband triggered the camera release. It is indeed a nice variation on the soul-stealing theme.

Congratulations on an entertaining movie! I'm, looking foward to your next one. Uh, will your slasher character return for DVC4. If so, maybe I should go lock my doors and put away my cameras.

EDIT: And by the way, I liked the newsish audio you had playing when your website loaded. It was a nice touch.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Jones
I’m really not a dark or scary person – just the movie is (dark and scary, I mean).
-Jon
Okay, Jon, I find that very funny since not only was your movie dark, but you played the slasher!
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Old September 24th, 2005, 08:32 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean McHenry
I would have kept all the shots of the "bad guy" in B&W. Maybe even use the same film effect on all the shots. That places him in a particular box if you catch what I am saying. It places him in a particular time and place that isn't "right now" or places that character in the past. I would then go color only when the flash goes off in the leads face. The first time we see the bad guys red flannel shirt, we'll get it.
I am revisiting this thought once again Sean as I have gotten a small amount of sleep in between some more busy projects and again, while this particular issue is still pretty close to the way the I wanted it, your thoughts still hit at the heart of something I might have done a little differently -but still keeping with my intent even in the limited scope of a small web window - but I have been mulling it over and I think I might have a great idea that would still fit into the 'time and place' concept you mentioned - In a way, I kinda finished this one and have moved on into a busy schedule of projects, but if I get the chance in a couple of weeks, I might be able to finesse this one a little bit. There is a moment in near the end that I can't stand that involves a license plate that I needed to 'key' out. I did it very sloppily having poor tools for the job and ended up with a few frames that accidentally divert the attention due to poor key framing, so that is something I think I want to clean up also. Once again, thanks for the thoughts - it gives me some direction for my creative energies and more to learn from in these challenges - the real reason I do them.
Best regards,
-Jon
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Old September 24th, 2005, 08:57 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hugo Pinto
If I had th time, I would have shot more at oblique angles to induce extra unconfort on the audience... But, then again, that's just me, and this is not my work.

You did a very good film.
Thank Hugo,
I think I agree - given the press for time we were challenged by this, as we had already torn up the apartment to get the angles we achieved. However, some extra oblique angles would have definately improved the intended feel for a couple shots - especially the flashback murder scenes I think.

If we had the time, we probably would not have intended up with two of the 'mistakes' that crept into the shots - the first being that when the Steve character goes into the kitchen to get some aspirin, the wall clock says 10:25....oops - right after the establishing shot for the scene places the time sometime after 1:14 a.m...oh well.....The second one happens when the camera falls to the floor next to what are now the killer's feet - HEY, IS THAT A CANON XL2 HARDCASE IN THE BACK OF THE ROOM? - oops again...oh well. But it was a very small space and we were constrained for camera angles and moving furniture during filming the scenes while people were sleeping in the next room (Johnie's girlfriend, Maricela who plays the girlfriend in the movie had to be at work very early in the morning so we shot her scenes first, and then had to work quietly while she slept - we shot a few of those scenes in my house, but again we had to work late and quietly because my 2 year old was sleeping and we didn't want to let her see what we were doing because a) moving the furniture around would have confused her and b) seeing evidence of the violence were were staging would have frightened her - in the end she never heard or saw anything which was important to us.

However in a more controlled and professional environment (and maybe a little more time) some additional angles and imagery would have lent alot to the project. However, for the time constraints, I am very pleased, and I knew after we finished storyboarding, that if we were able to produce it the way we had laid it out - it might not win - and might end up being seen as 'too much' for a 4 minute short - but doggone it, it would be scary and some folks would appreciate that it made them 'jump' a little.

Thanks so much for checkin' out and sounding in on some ideas...much appreciated.
-Jon
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Old September 24th, 2005, 09:11 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Meryem Ersoz
dang, that was spooky. well-made spooky. i really liked the opening sequence quite a bit, the purple was a nice contrast to more gritty overtones of the rest of the film. i can't believe what you were able to squeeze out of little iMovie. phenomenal.

as you know, jon, it's not to my personal taste, but it's really well-crafted. i'd love to see what you can do with a more uplifting concept!
Thanks Meryem, very much. Coming from you, I take that as an incredible compliment....What I mean by that is that I know from your posts and our typed exchanges that this would not be on your 'feel good' list by a long shot, but aside from that you recognize the amount of effort we put into making it be what it was supposed to be...I really appreciate that. The opening title sequence was actually supposed to be slightly more drawn out and even slightly spookier, but we found that it serious crimped our time factor, and didn't add to the necessary comfort that was supposed to be achieved in the opening picnic scene - the viewer would be too disturbed by the spooky opening title to be comfortable with the 'feel good' sense of the two lovers having a picnic..

As far as the uplifting concept...you should see what I do for real work. My entry into DVC2 was slightly tasteless (pun) also, but that concept was an idea surfaced by one of our crew, it was not mine - Admittedly this DVC entry was my concept, but I was trying to stretch myself into an area that I typcically don't work with (horror). I do have a fascination with imagery that works to tap into the raw levels of human emotion, and fear is among them - but in my work, I typically produce media for family or community development and charity organizations - from which I build imagery that builds on emotions that tie into such concepts as 'need', 'longing', 'giving', 'belonging', 'love', 'tradition', 'sacredness', etc... and can be very satisfying. Grim Parallax probably won't do much to further my career in this arena, but it was still alot of fun.

Thanks again for your words. I really appreciate it.

Best regards,
-Jon
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