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Old December 30th, 2008, 05:08 AM   #1
The Last Outpost - Color Graded Narrative Short
Jon Fairhurst Jon Fairhurst is offline December 30th, 2008, 05:08 AM

In this survival tale, a hiker emerges from a snow covered mountain to find a remote cabin. The rescuer inside takes action to become a hero.

It's at the top of the page here: ~ The Murder of Dirk Snowglobe - A Not Dead Detective Series ~
Here's the link to the feature: ~ The Murder of Dirk Snowglobe - Article: The Last Outpost ~

Our latest short film shows how the 5D Mark II stands up to color grading in the snow - a definite challenge for dynamic range and scene to scene matching. All the work was done in Vegas without any film-look plugs.

Our workaround for the Quicktime error was to create a custom profile to boost the blacks above 16 (as much as we could using the profile editor). We underexposed by eye to keep the whites in range. To remove Quicktime-bug banding, we made a custom color curve in Vegas.

Fortunately, we can now solve the QT problem by re-wrapping the MOV files. http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/canon-eos...something.html . Had we been able to do that, we would have had less banding - and more time.

BTW, I scored, produced and mixed the music and effects. Don't listen to it like YouTube video. Crank it up like in a theater! ;)

Let me know what you think...
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Old December 30th, 2008, 09:03 AM   #2
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Other than the pubertal approach to dramatic tension I thought it was entertaining.

Wha-wha-WHAT?! Your first comment on Vimeo was so far out there that the alien mothership is having trouble catching up with that guy. Let him try to make something entertaining in under a minute.

I think the color looks great. There is detail in the snow and dark clothing. It still seems like the blacks are getting crushed but I can find detail in dark clothing like the hat if I look carefully. Good job actually getting out there and making a movie with a finicky camera. I knew it was possible.

I think your pride in the score may well be justified. It is a convincing symphonic background. Do you care to share some details on how you arrived at that quality?

Ignoring the score for a moment I did find one flaw in the audio. I thought the surprise prop that makes a loud noise at the end needed a more appropriate presence for the location. It should give a sense of remoteness and emptiness with some slowly decaying reverb. Besides that I was surprised to learn that some of the sound was recorded with the onboard mic. I guess it can be handy after all.
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Old December 30th, 2008, 11:34 AM   #3
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Hi Marcus,

Thanks for your comments. Our in-camera profile wasn't bad at recovering the blacks and whites, but I'm looking forward to using it artistically and letting the MP4 wrapper trick take care of the technical details.

The 5D was very usable for a narrative piece. We have to take time with props, costumes, makeup, locations, framing, rehearsing lines and stuff anyway. What's another few minutes with the camera? ;)

Regarding sound, the score was done with Sonar as the sequencer, GigaStudio 4 (now defunct) as the sample player, and GigaPulse (also defunct) as the convolution reverb. (And you're right, I needed a more distant sound at the end. My first mix was more subtle, but after listening on some cheap PC speakers, I found I needed to put many of the sound effects in your face, or they quickly get lost in the mix.)

For strings I layered Vienna Instruments' Appassionata Strings with Kirk Hunters' orchestral strings. The real key was layering Kirk's Solo Romantic Violin to give some definition and intention to all that string soup. For horns I used a pair of Westgate Studios solo legato horns. Add to that ProjectSAM's timpani, G-Town cymbals, a Vienna trombone ensemble and a Westgate clarinet, and that pretty much covers it. Add Garritan's glock for the bumper.

Each instrument was given its own location or range of locations with GigaPulse to fill out the soundstage. I used the "medium hall" setting.

Our next project is to document every step of the workflow. There are a number of things that took hours for this production that will take minutes or seconds next time.
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Old December 30th, 2008, 06:14 PM   #4
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BTW, some people had asked on another thread about 5D MkII stabilization with the SteadyTracker Ultralite. We used it in two shots: one following the hiker over the shoulder, and the very next shot with the cold hands. Both of these were with the 50mm f/1.8.

These weren't ideal conditions - the camera operator was trying to be smooth while walking in a foot of snow. The hand shot is pretty smooth. The shoulder shot, not so much.

We're thinking of modifying the SteadyTracker with a longer main rod and longer balance rods. That should give more stability with almost no additional weight. If we do it right, we will be able to make it adjustable, so it can be short, when needed, and long in most situations.
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Old December 30th, 2008, 06:40 PM   #5
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Great job, Jon. You guys nailed every aspect. The color choice is excellent.
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Old December 31st, 2008, 10:36 AM   #6
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Thanks for posting. I liked seeing what the 5D can do and enjoyed the scoring.
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Old December 31st, 2008, 03:15 PM   #7
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HAHAHA! That totally cracked me up. I didn't expect that ending at all. I loved that they guy took time to fill his mug before going out.
Nicely shot, edited and graded.
Simple and fun and harmless. Good Show!
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