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Old December 1st, 2006, 09:20 AM   #1
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Ten Films in Ten Weeks

Wow. It's been a year since I've posted anywhere on DVinfo, and I wish I'd kept up, even with my reading. There's a lot of nice stuff being posted here.

A few weeks ago I decided I would shoot some stuff on my VX2100 before it went completely obsolescent. So I'm shooting ten films in ten weeks, concluding in early January.

Check out my progress at www.amplecatnap.com.

(Other technical details: editing on Avid's FreeDV software; also have been using a Nikon CoolPix; and wondering how to avoid the desaturation of colors I'm seeing when I transcode from OMFI to QT/H.264 and from that to Revver's final versions.)

Michael
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Old December 11th, 2006, 10:04 PM   #2
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Film 5 of 10: Wednesday is Annie's Birthday

Posted on Friday, the fifth of ten short films.

"Wednesday is Annie's Birthday" 9m16s

(Find it at www.amplecatnap.com)

Shot in two days in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Edited on Avid Free DV in 16 hours. VX2100, two Sennheiser 100ew wireless pacs with Tram microphones, the three light Impact lighting kit (all incandescent) plus practicals and available light. Sound exported to Sonar Home Studio for final mix. Three actors (plus a couple who phoned their roles in, literally) and me.

Lessons learned:

The $200 Impact lighting kit from B&H comes with a convenient soft-sided case. Convenient, that is, until one of the buckles explodes, and you can't carry the damned thing properly anymore.

Follow-focus with the VX2100 is maddening, but can be done, sort of.

Having more than one sheet of CTB is awfully convenient.

34th Street & 7th Ave is full of interference, at least on Sennheiser's channels.

Turning up the contrast and lowering the brightness gives me a pleasantly saturated, crisp look when uploaded to www.revver.com.

The more I use Avid's work flow, the more I like it.

Michael
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Old December 15th, 2006, 09:00 AM   #3
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Film 6 of 10: That Guy in 4F

Just posted, film #6:

"That Guy in 4F" 5m5s

(Find it at www.amplecatnap.com.)

Pretty much the same rig, although I bought another one of the Eiko 5500k spiral compact fluorescents. Although these work fine as a low-wattage, high-efficiency fill light for daylight (the poor man's Kino-Flo), they're still a bit warm, and I found myself having to color correct scenes where the Eikos were my sole illumination so they'd match the partial-daylight scene.

Also I got a considerable amount of RFI shooting outdoors with the Sennheiser 100ew's. The guys at the rental house (dctvny.org) suggested that it was caused by taxicabs, which I took to mean dispatch radios in livery-cab base stations. Thoughts, anyone?

Michael
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Old December 20th, 2006, 07:53 PM   #4
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Leaves is a fairly interesting experiment in psycho geography. I think if you went that route, you could push it a bit more.
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Old December 24th, 2006, 01:13 AM   #5
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Wow. "Psycho geography?"

Do you mean psychic geography? A metaphor in which our hero's progress through the dream world is physicalized?

Perhaps I could have pushed it further. But the point of this particular exercise is to make Ten Films in Ten Weeks, so I had to stop fiddling and post the damned thing.

I don't know about any of you, but I've spent a lot of time on various projects--some finished, some never even started--paralyzed by perfectionist indecision. At some point you have to just make the thing, and then finish it, and then accept the flaws.

All this may not be entirely apropos of Riley's point, but I got all worked up.

Thanks for watching!

Michael
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Old December 24th, 2006, 01:24 AM   #6
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Posted on Friday, film #7:

"Night" 4m3s

It's a single-character V/O narrative about loss and not wanting to sleep.

(Find it at www.amplecatnap.com.)

Fairly simple lighting. As always, the first set-up of the day was excruciating as I tried to remember basic principles. Successive set-ups got easier, but I still find myself experimenting a lot to get what I want. I don't think it's just the fact that I'm working with a cheap-ass Impact light kit.

Camera all locked down, since I was the actor and didn't have a camera operator. Boy, I wish I'd had a camera operator.

Edited with Avid Free DV. What it taketh away with one hand (only two mono audio tracks) it giveth with the other (I prepared a scratch narration, which sat on one track, and was able to restore full stereo captured during the shoot by finding the original stereo clips with the correct time code).

Sound came from the VX2100 on-board mic and was then supplemented with clips from the FreeSound Project. Sound assembled and mixed in Sonar Home Studio.

Have a happy happy Holiday!

Michael
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Old December 30th, 2006, 02:00 AM   #7
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Posted on Friday, film #8:

"Forgotten or Abandoned" 4m3s

All about things that got left behind.

(Find it at www.amplecatnap.com.)

Shot entirely with a Nikon CoolPix L3 in movie mode, using available light, over the course of two days. Edited with Avid DV Free (ho hum). No external sound mix.

This one was fun due to its simplicity. Plus, I got to go to sleep Thursday night.

Next one will be more ambitious.

Happy New Year!

Michael
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Old January 5th, 2007, 01:51 PM   #8
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Film #9:

"Professor F's Party" 6m51s

When it's time to go, it's time to go. Unless it isn't.

(Find it at www.amplecatnap.com.)

Shot on VX2100. Mic'd with SonoTrims and Lectronix 190 wireless packs, which seem much more RFI resistant than the Sennheiser 100ew's, but which also sound fatter in the midrange with practically no top or bottom. Installed a bunch of practicals and gag lights (e.g. a hanging bulb with a piece of party gel taped over it) and, in most shots, used only one of the Impact stand lights, with a piece of CineFoil wrapped around it to make an improvised snoot. Edited on Avid DV Free, sound mix in Sonar Home Studio (with Sound Soap, just bought).

Oh yeah, and I shot the whole thing--seven pages of script, fourteen actrors, eleven scenes--pretty much by myself. In six hours. (And sometimes, yes, it shows.)

Somehow, during the sound mixing process, everything slipped a frame or two. I kind of fixed it. I've got to figure out how to prevent that happening again--or I'll have to break down and buy a real version of Avid, so I don't have to export it to an application with a completely different way of working. I keep slipping tracks when I just want to move the "now" time.

Anyhow. Back to my catnap.

Michael
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Old January 12th, 2007, 07:57 AM   #9
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"I'll meet you by the train" 9m3s

He gets off a train, looking for his girl. But that's not who meets him.

(Find it at www.amplecatnap.com.)

Shot on VX2100. Again mic'd with SonoTrims and Lectronix 190 wireless packs, very happy with them second time around. Shot outdoors with available (and gradually changing) light; indoors with my cheap-o Impact light kit. Improvised aluminum foil snoot--definitely ready to graduate to real lights, aside from spending the money. Still struggling to keep consistent light levels on actors faces between angles. Hate white walls. Anyhow...Edited on Avid DV Free, sound mix in Sonar Home Studio. Sound Soap is awesome, especially if you have time to clean up each clip individually (which I didn't; as I still haven't perfected my workflow).

Oh, and: This is film Ten of Ten...in Ten Weeks! I'M DONE!

I don't know what I'll do next. Anyone?

Michael
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Old January 12th, 2007, 09:49 AM   #10
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I just watched #10

Nice job! I really liked it. Interesting characters... great story, nice music as well!

BTW, you could try this next...
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=83036

Come join in the fun...

Mike
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