DVC 16 - "The Luncheonette" - Robert Martens - Page 2 at DVinfo.net

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Old May 8th, 2009, 07:33 PM   #16
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Those are great photos, Robert. I love your mom and dad and I don't even know them. What glimpses I get to see of them remind me a lot of my parents. Always willing to lend a hand, come up with solutions and have fun doing it.
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Old May 9th, 2009, 10:32 PM   #17
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I love the behind the scenes photos. It looks like a lot of pre-production went into this.
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Old May 9th, 2009, 11:29 PM   #18
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It's a bit dark on the monitor I'm using at the moment, but so was my entry - probably need to calibrate. So I bumped up the brightness in VLC and it works fine.

I liked the feel of this film. The lighting worked well to set the mood.
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Old May 10th, 2009, 02:52 AM   #19
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The soundtrack was terrific. Way too little attention is paid to that or congratulated on that. I thought your sound was amongst the best of all the entrants.That said, assuming the main character was eaten... the sound starting with the machete drop at the end was somewhat lacking.

Overall though the lighting and image capture in the lighting was superb. That was not an easy siuation to capture and you did it well. No..better than well... excellently.

The eyes might have been better as point sources on "it".. and I would have liked more of a closure... ( loud munch)

I liked and learned from this...Thanks

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Old May 10th, 2009, 03:59 AM   #20
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Jeremy, you have no idea. Two weeks to get my thoughts together and form a script (I went through nine revisions of the damn thing, starting with a futuristic story about a crashed spaceship on an alien planet, changing to the 1920s Amazon after remembering recently reading David Grann's "The Lost City of Z", then changes in dialogue, names, scenes, sets, and pacing before finally giving up on script and shot list and charging ahead with set construction not even really knowing what I would shoot when it was done), another week and a half to screw around getting all my stuff together. Production was only the end of the last week, editing was Friday night, and visual effects and audio were Saturday and Sunday in two marathon fourteen hour sessions.

Andrew, thank you, I'm pleased with the lighting captured by a purely auto-exposure camera. And who doesn't love VLC for situations exactly like this?

Chris, thank you very much! I wasn't a huge fan of my sound work, except maybe the bed of rain underneath the whole thing, but it's nice to hear positive feedback in this area because I did do quite a bit of work on it. I count eight tracks: ADR (which is only half accurate; the jungle shots used dialogue recorded wild a few nights after I shot the video, but the indoor scene was just a double system setup since the acoustics of a concrete basement make for a good cavern sound), two tracks of hard effects, a mono rain background recorded with my Sennheiser/VX2000, a stereo rain effect recorded with the T500's built in mic (enhanced with a Stereo Separation effect in Liquid cranked all the way to 'wide'), two of what I called "undercurrent" tracks (one the absolute lowest note of a B4 organ from the Native Instruments Kompakt soft synth bundled with Acid Pro 6, the other one of the lowest notes from the same synth's "Nitemare" special effect instrument), and some desperately needed room tone thrown in at the last minute.

The rain effects and room tone were all C-looped to make the proper length sounds, and the indoor rain was the outdoor rain plus a low-pass filter in Audacity at 6khz, then again at 3khz, which was itself then repeated. Reverb was done in Liquid, but thanks to a single frame silence that only existed when all the tracks were exported, I did my final mix in Audacity. Exported each Liquid track as its own WAV, brought them into an Audacity project, adjusted volume levels a little (not too much, I know, with not only a bad sound system but monitoring through headphones), then rendered that as a WAV and recombined that with the fused M2V in Staxrip when I compressed the final MP4 for Youtube upload.

You're absolutely right about the ending sounds; that's mostly thanks to leftover nonsense from earlier revisions of the story, though a lack of experience on my part didn't help (I got plenty on this movie, though). As I mentioned earlier, it was initially going to be vines that were the movie's antagonist. I pictured miles-long meat-eating things that squirmed up out of the cave, into the jungle for their meals. Happen upon this can of food, bring it back to the cave as bait for a larger creature (hence the film's title, said cave serving as a little eatery for this carnivorous flora), then get him when he comes for it. As such, my scream at the end was to be choked off, the lantern dropped and the glass cracked, and the last sound you heard was the machete clanging down into the depths of the pit, fading away as the rain built to a torrential downpour.

When finally completed, however, and after the change of replacing the vines with a single, two-eyed creature (had my dad stand in the dark with two Brinkmann Max Million spotlights and turn them on; I actually used a few frames from the end of the clip, when he turned them off, and reversed it so the eyes fade up from the black; doesn't look so monstrous, I guess, but that's what brilliant ideas at the last minute do to your movie), the end of the choked scream and clattering knife--glass crack effect never even recorded, I honestly can't remember why--felt empty (I do however count it as a victory that you were able to correctly identify the sound of the knife falling, I was worried it wouldn't register the way I wanted it to). There's a monster there, you hear it attack, what next? At the--you guessed it--last minute, I added a sort of ripping sound that I thought would make things a bit more interesting. I never really decided whether or not he was eaten, or just killed, or what. A roll of masking tape, peeled in front of the microphone, gave me a nice sound. I added reverb to it, and lowered the volume slightly, but it sounded the way I wanted it to without any further processing. I agree the sound design as a whole suffers at the very end, and is missing something vital, if only I could figure out what, but I am rather pleased with that one particular effect. It sounds more like ripping flesh than I ever thought it would, and I did the least work on it compared to all the other sound in the project. Then again, I'm no sound guy, so what do I know?
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Old May 13th, 2009, 09:45 PM   #21
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Robert,

Like most of the others I feel like you sold yourself short. Not having your expectations, the first time I watched this I marvelled at the feel you achieved as your character makes his way through what looks and feels like dismal tropical vegetation in a miserable rain (how did you do the rain BTW?).

The lighting and the very definite "film noir" visual aspect really set the stage and the first time I watched it the ending immediately made me feel the can of food was bait in a huge trap.

It worked for me and the "no post" version you put up on youtube gave me enough insight to have enjoyed it even more.

I think ya done good.
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Old May 13th, 2009, 11:23 PM   #22
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Thank you, Bruce, I'm thrilled to hear you caught the "bait" angle on only one viewing! I tried to be realistic about the movie and assume the worst, but without enough perspective from my own work I guess it wasn't as hard to interpret as I thought.

When I get back from work tomorrow I'll try and get a picture of the rain rig my dad and I built. A few half-inch brass nipples and fittings formed a T that had two shrubbery sprinkler heads on the ends, "Rain Jet" I think was the brand. Yet more from the odds and ends the old man's got lying around. Each had a hundred and eighty degree spread, and the intensity could be fine tuned by adjustable stems in the actual heads, or by a ball valve we had on the feed end of the setup. That went into an IPS by hose thread adapter, which then got what I suppose you'd call a gender changer on it, to allow it to then connect to the end of a garden hose. It took hours to design and rework to get the heads in the right place and at the right angle. Unbelievable amounts of time, but of all the things in the movie I think the rain is one that worked out the best, so it was definitely worth it.

The garden hose was attached to a bib in the basement that, just my luck, was part of a line that had gone to our house's sprinkler system, long since disconnected; turns out the line never got capped, and when I went to test it I got a nice bit of water on some of the sundry crap stored nearby. A quick last minute solder job solved that problem, and after we attached our rainmaker to the joists with band iron and cable ties to allow adjustments (not even a foot above the camera with the tripod up so high and on the dolly in such a low clearance space) we went to work.

There was a three by five foot copper pan we laid down on the basement floor to try and catch water (lined with rags to quiet the drops, though I ended up not bothering to record dialogue so that wasn't really necessary), but most of it missed. The pan was underneath our foliage table, too--a pair of wooden planks laid across some double high milk crates--and that caught the brunt of the artificial weather. As did my face.

The one worklight I used to light the backdrop was raised up as high as it could be (as part of a cost-is-the-only-object development of the early 70s, however, our basement is only seven feet deep, which made the whole movie that much harder to shoot), as were its cords and the outlet it was plugged into, so nobody got shocked. But hey, it's only 110, right? Real men can handle that without batting an eyelash, so I wasn't worried. The height provided a second advantage in that I was able to clamp a flattened piece of smoke pipe right to a joist, for use as a flag in front of the worklight. My left arm still gets a little light from it during the dolly, but most of my body and all of the plants stay in the dark thanks to that one piece of metal. Real movie lights, with real scrims, flags and filters, would be wonderful, but without money for those I worked with what I had.

The water mostly dried overnight, with a fan blowing on it and some of those plastic moisture absorption baggies hung up around the area, and after another day or two the place was back to normal. I managed to keep the takes short enough, but I did a lot more than I wanted. It's unimaginably hard to act with ice cold water spraying in your face and down your neck, as it was at the end of the dolly shot where I turn to the camera. Six takes of that shot, three of "fantastic" (where we just rearranged the plants, turned off the worklight, and shot from the same position on the dolly as the tracking shot), and another two or three of the over the shoulder where I'm looking at the entrance. The rain coat (which for trivia buffs has the name "Gary" written on the left side in orange marker; yes, I'm aware that an English character would write that name with two Rs, but that's the way the coat came to me) did diddly squat, since with the lantern held in front of me and rain spraying more out than down I got most of it down my arm and neck. I was soaked by the end of it all, which is what I meant when I said I wasn't going through the scene again. I screwed up the "fantastic" shot, though, and the clip you see in the finished film is from a reshoot. It's a damn good thing I redid that stuff while I could, because the cave entrance was destroyed immediately after to make room for the altar (same day, I think, but don't quote me on that), which as you can see from the photos I attached earlier was itself molded onto the end of a piece of the first set's walls. Cracked off some Structo-Lite, snipped the chicken wire along one edge, spun it around, laid it on the floor, leveled it with some shims to stop it from rocking, and built the pillar right into it.

The indoor rain didn't cause the problems pulling keys that you'd think it would, thanks to the other more pressing matters I've mentioned elsewhere. The outdoor rain--the bit with the camera strapped on the lantern--used the same rig, and was shot by some rhododendrons on the side of our garage, though admittedly you don't see any plants in the final footage (I should have walked the other way). I just dropped a Ziploc bag over the camera to protect it from the water and fixed up the contrast in combustion.

I'll get a clearer shot tomorrow, as I said, but for now you can just about make out the rain thing in the upper right corner of the attached photo, above the two lights. There was way too much going on for me to get much in the way of good making of material (though I've got plenty of less-than-good material), but this is the closest. The bluescreen is soaking wet, you can tell I grabbed this shot after production was done for the day.
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Old May 14th, 2009, 12:15 AM   #23
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I'm exhausted just reading about it, Robert! You and your dad are quite resourceful, aren't you. Although....you surprised me with the cold water rain. I figured you two figured out a way to warm it up!

Thanks for sharing these details. What you achieved was well worth all the effort.

Bait! *slapping forehead* Of course!!! :)
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Old May 14th, 2009, 06:20 PM   #24
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We'd considered pulling our rain direct from the water heater, since it was right nearby, but that plan never materialized. I don't know if condensation in the lens is a problem only with larger equipment or not, but better safe than sorry.

Here's that closer look at the rain doodad. Initially both sides of the T were the same length, but that put the heads too close together, so we ended up with a male adapter soldered on the end of a piece of scrap copper to widen the spread. The way you see it here is mostly how it was attached to the ceiling; the heads stuck straight up, and sprayed out to what in this photo is the left. Halfway along the piece sticking to the right is the ball valve used for adjustments (the handle is invisible here because it's underneath, directly opposite the camera).

It's a neat little design, and may prove useful on future projects, I'll try to keep it all in one piece.
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