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

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Old May 6th, 2009, 04:40 PM   #1
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DVC 16 - "The Luncheonette" - Robert Martens

Hey, guys, sorry I'm so late; thought I could throw a thread up before I left this morning, but no such luck. Should have started this last night.

I was almost set to be proud of this one, but a lack of motivation and some very poor last minute decision making sent that plan right out the window. I seriously think this thread could turn into an excellent lesson in what not to do when making a movie, but I'll wait for a few initial comments before getting into the details. Fire away!
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Old May 6th, 2009, 05:47 PM   #2
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I liked it...

very nice job...I liked the lighting ... Did you chroma key because on 2 of my monitors it showed bad edges.... and the end... I was waiting for the scary monster head to stare at me or make me jump like a movie trailer.
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Old May 6th, 2009, 07:51 PM   #3
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Yeah, the lighting made me think a scary monster head thing too. Very cool lighting. Then the big knife came out. Pretty sure some evil thing was going to get the knife, but then the ending. He hears something and turns, and then it is darkness? I can't make out what happened. Perhaps it is the gamma on my monitor, but I was expecting to understand the ending, but it was so dark I felt I was missing something.
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Old May 6th, 2009, 08:25 PM   #4
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Yes, Craig, I did end up pulling several keys, which is why I asked about yours in your thread. Yours were comparatively crisp, where I wasted untold hours screwing around with pre-key color correction, RGB arithmetic, inverted luma keys, and every other trick I had up my sleeve, only to end up with absolute filth.

Originally only the tracking shot of me walking through the jungle would be a key, to let me add a bit more depth to the jungle than my basement set would allow. The second scene would have been in a small cave, maybe a seven or eight foot cube, that was intended to be a practical set we built. Unfortunately, Struct-O-Lite is incredibly difficult to spread on half-inch chicken wire (it just oozes right through), and it took far too long to build the cave entrance, so I made an executive decision late in the game to make the cave a "simple" rock bridge kind of thing with a little pillar/altar at the end where the action would take place. Even that was a pain, despite having grabbed a few sections of galvanized lath from a local mason's supply, and reusing a section of the original cave wall as the new rock floor.

By that time it was way too late to find any, let alone enough, matte black fabric that was thick enough to be opaque, so instead of just photographing a real black void as a background, I needed to use the blue fabric I had to manufacture one in post. You see how well that worked.

Interestingly, the H.264 compression from the camera was the last thing I needed to worry about. I also didn't have enough blue, as it turned out, and ended up settling for a different material with a different hue, but even that, the washed out color from the bright lighting, and the seam between the two pieces of material were miniscule issues compared to the old standards you run into in the visual effects world: uneven lighting and spill from being way too close to the screen. I thought I could deal with them, I was wrong. If I'd gotten off my behind within the first week of the competition I'd have had time to get the black fabric and avoid pulling many keys, if any at all.

Dick, I knew the movie would be dark, but I didn't realize it'd be quite this bad; the shot where he turns around shows a pair of eyes in the darkness, presumably those of some kind of creature, after which we cut back outside to the cave entrance, where it was intended you'd see the lantern light shake, drop and go out as he's attacked by the thing. Sorry it's as bad as it is. I thought I had my monitor adjusted reasonably well but I guess I went too subtle as far as color correction is concerned.
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Old May 6th, 2009, 10:59 PM   #5
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Hi Robert,

I thought I got the ending by what was heard, even though it was pretty hard to see. So my question is what was holding the can of food down? (Is that Spam?) :) That was one big knife, by the way.

The beginning sucked me in completely; I thought it looked fantastic and was tickled to see that your hard work had paid off so well. Your accent, to me, sounded great, too! But then you know that I am a fan of your acting so I appreciated the "stretch."

Hope this doesn't embarrass you but you looked very cool with your stubble and no glasses. I think you should find a solution to wearing glasses, pronto. :)
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Old May 7th, 2009, 05:44 AM   #6
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The food in question was a can of corned beef. We had a can of Spam on hand, too, but those are all pop tops now, they got rid of the key. This one had it, though it's never really visible on screen.

The stuff holding the can is a plumbing item called "oakum". It's part of a process that's far too much effort for most guys to bother with these days, but we still use the stuff, and it makes great looking vines. The story was originally about carnivorous plants, as a matter of fact, but having seen "The Ruins" not too long before the contest started I thought it might be a little derivative. And too hard to pull off, or so I thought. Probably wouldn't have been any harder than the rest of this crap.

I can't say I'm embarrassed by your compliments, I just disagree. What you call stubble I call a neckbeard. Patchy, half-assed attempt at a genuine beard worn by overweight twenty-something shut-in computer nerds because they think it makes them seem older, or more intelligent, when it really just looks dirty. I finally shaved it off yesterday, thank God. Those things are disgusting.

The glasses will never leave my face as long as I have anything to say about it.
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Old May 7th, 2009, 08:55 AM   #7
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Okay; sorry I mentioned it! Thanks for the explanation on the other stuff--makes perfect sense. :)
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Old May 7th, 2009, 11:50 AM   #8
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The opening is great. Really professional and grabs your attention. I also couldn't make out the ending. I figured it was some sort of scary monster from the audio and I could make out those two light dots (that you said were eyes) but it didn't read visually. Also, everything was so dark that it was hard to tell what the food was. It seemed like a very interesting beginning to a much longer movie that i would want to watch. Are you thinking about extending the plot? (Like- this is the scary opening sequence, then the title fades up at the end and the rest of the movie happens and they find his remains, and start tracking the monster etc.)
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Old May 7th, 2009, 06:34 PM   #9
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I agree with what everyone else has said. Good opening. Didn't love the keying and couldn't really make out what happened.

The opening shots were good though. A little more variety in your shots and better lighting will make a big difference as you move ahead.

Cheers,

Mike
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Old May 7th, 2009, 06:55 PM   #10
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Keith, I appreciate you saying it could be interesting as the start to something bigger, but I've had more than enough of this stupid thing. Did a bad job, learned my lessons, time to move on.

Mike, that makes at least two of us (no doubt more) that hated the keys. It was a case of either try to make do with what I've got and have a chance of forcing it to work, or just throw up my hands and walk away. I do enough quitting, so I took the risk. Getting it done was good for me, even if the end product blows chunks. I'd say it's a case of the means justifying the end.

As for shot variety, I think this is the most I've ever had. Not that that's saying much, but the end result of all my editing includes a greater number of camera positions than my previous entries. There was one extra shot, between my cutting the vine and turning to leave, that may have fleshed out the story a bit more, that was a low angle looking up from the darkness below the altar. It was abysmally dark, however, and no amount of color correction could save it. You think the movie's dark now, you don't know the half of it.

And that you couldn't make out what happened, well, I was worried about that initially. In the end, however, I decided to just upload the movie as it is, since upon watching the entire thing Sunday evening, I found it wouldn't make the slightest amount of sense even if you could see everything I wanted you to. Dark, light, it didn't matter with all the details I lopped off in my constantly changing "plan", nothing was going to make sense.

Technically speaking, then, I suppose I did eventually just throw up my hands and walk away.

Thanks to everyone for taking the time to stop by!
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Old May 7th, 2009, 07:02 PM   #11
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I still thought you did quite well and I'm glad you stuck with it. That's how we learn.
If you can get one to finish like it opened you will do very well.

Cheers,

Mike
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Old May 7th, 2009, 09:20 PM   #12
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Here's what I think is really wrong with Robert Martens films:

Robert Martens always sells himself short.

Case in Point:

Robert apologizes for his insulting accent. I thought the accent was great! Seriously! It was a great dialect! Very reminiscent of the Indiana Jones/Dr. Livingston adventures. (Harrison was an Indy reference, btw?)

Robert apologizes for his simplistic sets. Cannot be further from the truth! The opening tracking shot was beautiful! I had to watch it a few times to figure out how you did that. The trees in FRONT of you during your tracking shot, followed by the POV shot next to your lantern, both create this beautiful illusion that you are in a large jungle. It's Robert Rodriguez technique 101. No key needed for this shot.

Robert claims his beard is yucky. Hey, you can see in my piece that I'm a computer nerd who struggled with keeping a beard. If people like it, it works. Well, people like it, and combined with your costume, it's a great look for you.

Robert claims he does not have the skill for problem-solving. Rubbish! In fact, I think when Robert stopped wallowing on how awful he is, he created some very creative solutions for this piece. Can't shoot it one way? Try another way. Original solution didn't work? Rush off to the local hardware store and create another one. Robert did this.

Robert practically throws any credibility of this movie away. He's doing this when we, the audience, want to see more. In fact, I think this piece only suffers from being too short, and that's about it. I think I can speak for everyone when I say we'd love to see more about the character, more about the adventure, more of the story!

Robert claims he isn't a ladies man. This I can prove to not be true as I have six signed statements from women whose hearts have been broken by "Playboy Martens" or "Roulette Rob". In fact, the 84-year-old, broken hearted woman, "wants her teeth back!"

Ok, so I took some leeway with that last one, but you can see what I'm getting at. I liked this film, Rob. I just want to see more. You did a great job. It's truth. There.
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Old May 8th, 2009, 03:31 PM   #13
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Harrison, actually, was just a name I felt I could easily pronounce in a convincing English accent (London accent? I'm not sure what region the one I tried to use is actually from). I considered Carmichael, Jenkins, and some others, but Harrison sounded the most natural when I spoke it. Same for the rest of the script. He originally said "brilliant" when he saw the cave, but I didn't think I was really selling the accent with that. I thought about "wonderful", too, but that didn't work for me.

I added "miserable pests" for the same reason, to help establish the nationality of the character and add a bit more of an opening for the movie. Point of trivia, "pests" originally referred to the vines he was supposed to be tracking through the jungle (there was also an OTS of him examining some tracks in the dirt, but once I realized I couldn't hide the fact that the plants I used were in pots, I eliminated all shots below a certain height), but later changed to be more of a mosquito type thing. I swat at something when I say the line, and while it was in fact a plant I was walking past during the shot, it matched up nicely with the dialogue and I suspect most people will think I mean bugs of some kind.

To be clear, when I said the rock bridge was simple I put simple in quotes; I was referring to the fact that when I made the decision I thought it would be the simple plan. One measly rock bridge and a pillar, compared to making an entire chamber. It turned out to be an absolute trainwreck.

I thank you for the sympathetic ear regarding my beard, but while you may struggle with the same thing you don't (correct me if I'm wrong) have the "patchy" gene from Irish ancestry. I kind of like the way I look with it, sometimes, but it just won't grow in evenly enough to make it worthwhile.

I tried to make the movie as short as I could, so if I left you wanting more I guess I succeeded. I know most of the wanting more is from not understanding the story that's meant to be there, but still.

Just to add a teensy bit of extra value to this thread, I've taken the liberty of uploading an effectsless version of The Luncheonette to Youtube: YouTube - The Luncheonette - NO POST No visual effects, no sound effects, no soundtrack, no color correction, no nothing. Just the video and audio captured by the camera (which I half suspect would have served as a better entry than the finished film). You even get to see me taking advantage of that unexpected moment or two; as editing began, I felt the food item wasn't very well established, and decided to add a shot. The tilt up from the pit was the original opening for the cave scene, but I found a little snippet of me preparing to shoot a close up that I was able to throw in as a way of displaying the can of food before it would have otherwise been seen. It was still hard to make out thanks to the light levels, as I've been told, but that I was able to find this tidbit of footage to use was surprisingly satisfying.

You can check my Flickr photostream to see what kind of results the T500 gives you in still mode. Everything starting with DSC00030 was taken with this camera. The radio tower I got yesterday, and the shot of the moon was on the same night I shot the mounted-on-the-lantern footage and recorded my ADR outside.

I've also uploaded a few making of photos here for anyone curious. Enjoy, and thanks again for all the feedback!
Attached Thumbnails
DVC 16 - "The Luncheonette" - Robert Martens-caveentrancestep1.jpg   DVC 16 - "The Luncheonette" - Robert Martens-caveentrancestep2.jpg  

DVC 16 - "The Luncheonette" - Robert Martens-caveentrancestep3.jpg   DVC 16 - "The Luncheonette" - Robert Martens-altarstep1.jpg  

DVC 16 - "The Luncheonette" - Robert Martens-altarstep2.jpg   DVC 16 - "The Luncheonette" - Robert Martens-altarstep3.jpg  

DVC 16 - "The Luncheonette" - Robert Martens-lanternmount.jpg  

Last edited by Robert Martens; May 8th, 2009 at 04:29 PM.
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Old May 8th, 2009, 03:38 PM   #14
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Whoa! Sweet pics! Nice props! I like that papermache work! (or whatever that cave is made of)
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Old May 8th, 2009, 03:45 PM   #15
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That, it so happens, is Structo-lite. It's a basecoat for plaster applications. Smear it on the lath (that wire mesh you see in the altar photos), drag lines through it to rough it up, let it set, then apply the plaster. I think. I'm not sure, we really only use it for setting bathtubs and shower bases.

When I told my dad I wanted a cave, he immediately came back with that suggestion. He's my de facto producer, and is ninety-eight percent of why my movies exist. I'm not just being a kiss-ass, "oh he loves his parents so much" kind of person when I say that, I'm dead serious that I could not do this without him, or my mother for that matter, who bought the three "majesty palm" plants I used in the tracking shot, and found the five-by-twelve piece of fabric (Pro-Tuf marine vinyl, for your information. PVC coated polyester, according to what I've read) I used as my chroma key backdrop. It's quite blue when you light it right, doesn't shine, stands up to abuse.

I hate to attach my parents' names to a final product I'm so displeased with, but none of what went wrong is their fault, and they should be publicly credited with the work they did.
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