Adventures of Thomas Brin--(Gardens Of Tomorrow from DVC2 & 3) at DVinfo.net

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Old February 19th, 2007, 08:57 PM   #1
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Adventures of Thomas Brin--(Gardens Of Tomorrow from DVC2 & 3)

Dylan has graciously allowed me to post this in the DVC forum. Thanks, Dylan!

---

It's been a while since I participated in a DVC. DVC3 was my last one. I submitted Episode 2 of The Adventures of Thomas Brin as my entry. Since then, life took some unexpected turns. I got sick, very sick, and spent the last (almost 2 years) getting better--which, I'm happy to say, looks like I accomplished!

My first DVC--DVC2 in July 2005--occurred a few months after my treatment began. I decided to participate so as to give me hope, have fun, and of course learn some new things. It was such a great experience, that I participated in DVC3. After that, though, I needed to retrench and focus on the battle at hand. So, I have not participated in a DVC since. However, I do hope to begin again this summer or so--DVC9 or 10 maybe?

Last summer (2006), I decided it was time to revisit The Adventures of Thomas Brin series. The comments many of you provided me on the first two episodes spurred me on to continue. I shot both Episodes 3 and 4 last summer then waited until this past December and January to post produce Episode 3. I worked on that (off and on) for over two months.

For all you original Thomas Brin fans, I'm happy to say that Episode 3 is finished and live on my website. The series has garnered quite a cult following with the first two episodes (combined) having been downloaded over 1.5 million times. That's from my servers directly--no YouTube, no Revver, nothing else!

I realize that this episode was not a part of any DVC, but it did have its start in the DVC. I wanted to share the continuing story with all old and new DVCers a like.

Please take some time when you have a chance and view Episode 3. You can view it in two ways:

- on my website at www.thomasbrin.com/GOT3mov.html
- or via the iTunes Store at http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/M...st?id=83434502

It is almost 9 minutes long (with credits), so it takes a while before it begins playing. The website version is a larger encode (640 x 360) than the video iPod version (320 x 192).

If you are wondering what Thomas Brin is all about, then please visit this page and watch the first two episodes (which were entered in DVC2 and DVC3):

- www.thomasbrin.com/seasons.html


As I hope all who watch will see, I believe that I'm making positive progress in my technique--but of course have long way to go. But to me, much of the fun is learning, experimenting, making mistakes, and then improving my technique and craft in the next effort.

Your comments (in any form positive or negative) are always welcome.

Enjoy!
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Old February 20th, 2007, 05:18 PM   #2
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Hey Jeff
I changed the title to include "Gardens Of Tomorrow" as most people (including me) will remember it by that. I'm downloading it right now.

For those who haven't seen any of these, Jeff probably took on the most visually ambitious project we've had yet. If anyone ever complains that they can't get VFX done in a week, I'm just going to point them straight at Gardens Of Tomorrow.

Done downloading, watching now.
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Old February 20th, 2007, 05:27 PM   #3
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Wow!
Well, it isn't hard to tell where your time went! :)
The surrealistic feel of the environment caught me offguard at first, but by the end my brain accepted it as normal, and I ended up liking it more than a "real" look.

I can't say too much more without spoiling it, so I'll just shut up and say "NICELY DONE!!!" :)
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Old February 20th, 2007, 06:22 PM   #4
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Has a Dr.Who feel to it... very cool. I really enjoyed it. I also liked the music as well, seems to fit perfectly. Very well thought out and executed!

Nice work! Glad you're back...

Mike
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Old February 21st, 2007, 08:26 AM   #5
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Dylan, thanks for the compliment! DVC gave me the spark I needed to begin learning about VFX. It is a challenge, after all, so I did just that--challenge myself to expand my boundaries. I have a long way to go in truly understanding what it takes to create good VFX, but the surreal, virtual set feel struck me as something relatively unique.

Also, thank you for changing the title to include Gardens of Tomorrow. You're right that most people would remember it by that name.

---
Mike, thanks for the compliment as well. It is amazing what a big role music plays in something like Thomas Brin. When I watched it before the music track was added, it had a very flat, unemotional feel.

After working on just these three episodes, I have a much deeper appreciation and understanding of all the diverse skill sets that are required to create compelling cinema. If I can become proficient in just one of those roles, I will have accomplished something!
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Old February 22nd, 2007, 01:50 AM   #6
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Hi Jeff!

It’s been a long time; I’m sorry to hear you’ve been through so much, but it’s sure good to have you back and feeling better!

Gosh, the amount of work you put into Episode 3 boggles my mind! Because I don’t have the first clue about VFX I’m sure much of what you do is lost on me, yet I know it looks great—like nothing I’ve seen. Two things struck me while I watched. First, the fact that I haven’t seen Eps 1 and 2 in a long time, yet still remembered them and picked right up with the story speaks well of your concept. The other thing I noticed is the lighting on Brin—particularly when he’s standing/walking in the courtyard. Your other lighting is really good, but that segment looks spectacular! The closeup is beautiful.

Congratulations on the success of the series—you sure earned it! Looking forward to seeing you here later this summer, if not sooner. :)
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Old February 22nd, 2007, 07:25 AM   #7
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Jeff,

Just watched all three of your short films. Wow, that's a lot of work. I've dabbled in VFX and know how much work it is to complete something like that.

What are you using for compositing?

I know how tough it is to shoot in your garage. I've done it, and my garage is half full of boxes. It's hard to move your lights around to get the lighting just right.

I noticed what looked like a Z1U, is that what you are using?

I'm looking forward to more episodes.

Keep up the good work.

Jim
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Old February 22nd, 2007, 09:06 AM   #8
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Lorinda:

Thanks for the nice compliments! Lighting was one area in which I worked especially hard. The first two episodes were shot with a one-zone lighting set up--meaning the green screen and the actors were illuminated by the same lights. This causes all sorts of issues in keying and gives a very flat look to the actors' faces since there are few shadows to help give their faces depth.

With episodes 3 & 4, I spent a little money to upgrade my lighting kit and more importantly learned how to use it! We were able to set up a two-zoned system (green screen being illuminated on its own) and have a key, a backlight, and a fill. The cramped garage space made it difficult to set the lights, but I think we managed to get a more realistic rendering of the "outdoor" scenes than in the past.

Even with the new lights, I have to say I still feel pretty clueless on how to set lights. I watch many movies and TV shows and am amazed what true professionals can accomplish.

---

Jim:

I'm glad you liked Brin! You're right, the garage is a challenging space. But you know, it is fun to think that we can create this imaginary world in a crummy garage. It reminds me of HP, Google, and Apple who all came from humble beginnings in their garages. Hum, do you think Thomas Brin can have an IPO? :)

All of the keying (of the green screen footage) and compositing of the scenes were done in Apple's Shake. It allowed me to do tricks I could not do in final Cut alone. I also used Apple's Motion to do some of the graphics. As far as the camera, you're correct! We shoot with a Sony Z1U.
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Old February 22nd, 2007, 10:25 AM   #9
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Ah, that's a nice camera. I have one too.

I'm on the PC side of things (keep wanting to do a spoof on those great Mac/PC ads) and use the latest Adobe Pro suite with Lightwave 3D.

I've actually found if you don't light your background too bright (greenscreen that is) then you can actually pull a decent key.

Looking forward to the next episode.

Jim
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