Monday, 28 June 2010

New tracks and Thank yous!

First of all I want to say a big thank you to everyone who has come to this little blog as we are now over 1,000 page views! So to reward you all I'll create a little picture like I did with the last landmark (500, remember?) so keep an eye out for that! It should be up before the end of this week.

In other news I've completed 3 new Demo tracks for my little music side project titled: "Digital Sun", "Symmetry" and "Fight The Masses". They still need a little more work but their fairly rounded off, save a few production tweeks here and there, Lyrics are to follow on the tracks "Digital Sun" and "Fight The Masses" but as of late I'm still waiting for the correct facilities to allow me to record audio at a high enough standard. USB Microphones are not the way to go...

To check out these new tracks and other ones such as the infamous "Dr. Jesus Removed my Appendix" just click here.

Remember to keep an eye out for the 1,00 hits thank you and check checking for updates, I know I've been a little slow this month but I'll try make it worth your while.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Ken Recommends: Neon Genesis Evangelion 1.11: You are [Not] Alone

Neon Genesis Evangelion 1.11: You are [Not] Alone
Release: 01/09/07
Running time: 98 mins.
Studio: Studio Khara (in association w/ Gainex)
Genre: Action/Adventure
Rating: 12+
Director: Hideaki Anno
Writer: Hideaki Anno
Starring: Megumi Ogata,
Megumi Hayashibara and
Kotono Mitsuishi.

15 years ago a TV series was created that changed not only the way giant robot shows could be presented but also the medium of anime as a whole. Now Hideaki Anno has recreated his beloved series condensing in into 4 movies known as the "Rebuild of Evangelion". Using the advances in technology to wow a new generation of audiences does Anno recapture the magic or has he completely sold out on fans of the original?

Before we get to that burning point, those unfamiliar with Evangelion are probably wondering the rough plot. It's the year 2015 and the world is recovering from "Second Impact", an event that wiped out half of the life on Earth. In Tokyo-3 Shinji Ikari has come to meet with his estranged father after being sent an offer to come work for his company, whilst trying to find his assigned contact Tokyo-3 is suddenly attack by a behemoth creature known as an Angel. It's revealed that Shinji has been drafted into Piloting the giant robot known as an 'Evangelion' to combat the threat of the Angels. Whilst this seems like a fairly standard concept Evangelion is rich is theology and character development, it's this attention to detail that really makes it stand apart from similar films/series.

So how do this updated movie compare to the original series? The first thing that has to be noted on is that this film covers the first 6 episodes of the series and obviously condensing 6 lots of a 25 min tv show in to a 90 min slot is going to be hard, whilst watching "You are [not] Alone" it's clear details have been sacrificed such as the building of relationships between other characters and Shinji but, there has been so much work put in to animate this film that it's almost forgivable. The new designs make sure add something new without alienating older fans, infact much of the newer content isn't really apparent until much later in the film but again for older fans of the series this new content is beyond stunning and will be worth the wait and sacrifice.

Whilst much of the emotional content between characters has been cut in this rendition the likable characters from the series are still there, I would recoomend the series over this for people looking for something more substantial but as an action movie this should fit the bill. This is a must for anime fans new and old, but I also suggest that anyone who hasn't tried much Japanese animation to watch this as it's an example of it done with the up most care and love resulting in a quality piece of entertainment.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Digital Film Production: Dream: The Final Cut

After weeks of development, planning, filming, editing and adding special effects I finally have my completed film. Whilst the final out come is not 100% what I had envisioned I feel that I have done justice to my original concept. And with a few convenient accidents that helped make the film have it's own weird charm, one such accident was when I was developing music for the white room space I decided it didn;t fit but I kept on developing it. This piece ended up being the melody that you hear over the ending credits.

Overall I'm happy with the outcome and glad to have completed it but I feel that my directing skills are not as good as some of the others in the class as I feel if I had explained my idea to some one else they would have been able to create a better overall piece of film. It was a fun experience to organise people effeciantly to get work done as quickly as possible and to help create a friendly environment to make sure people weren't feeling pressured.

By using my Scheduling plan I also managed to complete the film on time with no stress or hassle. The greatest challenge was creating the rotoscoping effect as that took a lot of time to create and then when importing it into final cut to use with the film it seems I had under esimated the frame rate and had to cut in half again to 6 frames per sec. These slight problems aside the overall project has ran fairly smoothly for myself.

Check out the final cut of my film below.

And with this film finished so is my first Year of University at the Leeds College of Art on the course Digital Film, Games and Animation.

Digital Film Production: Music Supervisor

Whilst chatting with others about the progress their own projects, it turns out that Dave Harris needed some assistance with his music. I agreed to help at to look at what the problem was, he showed me the melody he planned to accompany with his film. I noticed the problem right away being that his piano section was out of beat with the set time signature of 4/4. I suggested that we go down to the AV suite to use the more advanced computer software to complete his meoldy section as a single sample and then re-import it on his original composition as a sample.

First we needed to establish what keys Dave had played, once we had done that, I played the meoldy in Ableton but suggested that we added some chords underneath to give it a bit more depth. I presented this altered sample to Dave and he agree that we should stick with it. There was some confusion to gettting the piece to sound just right, after trying a multitude of different methods Dave and I cracked that it was the compositions Tempo that needed to be altered. With that implace I looped the sample and gave it back to Dave, who in turn seemed pleased by the end result.

Overall I felt that there was good communication between Dave and myself resulting in a sample that should help round out Dave's Film.

Digital Film Production: Music Design

For the sound design there were two main things that had to be considered and many other little things that needed attention. One of the biggest things to consider was the sound of the voice speaking to the character, I had envisioned a voice with distortion and reverb to create a weird echoey kind of voice. The whole concept is to have the voice be the same character but to have it changed in a way that it'll only be reminiscant of the original recording.

The audio program I used was Ableton as it's the one I'm most experienced with and have access to. I created one variation of the vocal lines but unfortunately the effects I added made it un clear to what was being said so I started from scratch a bit more simply. I created two tracks with the audio adjusting the settings by transposing one track down by 2 notchs and another up by 1 notch, this already creates a weird sound. I then added beat repeaters and reverb adjusting it accordingly to a point that I feel it fits.

The other main point was the sound of the white space, for this I wanted an ambient but disjointed track. I experimented with a few instruments but none of them really fitted my vision until I came across one titled "Abstract & Endless". With some tweeking it created a weird collection of sounds that mimicked absract sounds of information, I then added a vinyl crack that I feels completes the sound that I was after.

With these two aspects complete all I needed to do was adjust the audio attached to the footage, this was easy enough just by adusting the audio settings to get rid of the slight crackling of the audio.

With the audio development complete all that's left is to put it together with the footage to create the final version.

Digital Film Production: Special Effects

When it came to the adding of special effects it was generally minor touches such as adjusting lighting and digitally removing stage equipment. The lighting was very easy as all I had to do was select the clip that I want to adjust and add a filter and adjusting the brightness there and then to the desired level.

When it came to mapping out the the visable equipment all I did was create the video filter "8 point mapping" which add 8 markers to the sellected film strip, with this I then pull in the corners where I don't want anything to be seen. This creates a pretty weird image so I use the adjustments "choke" and "feather" to smooth of the edges but where I've nipped and tucked the scene there is only a black bacground. To combat this I create a slug layer of pure white and place it underneath. with the choke and feather effects it creates a seemless look.

With the imagedry of the film complete all thats left to do is complete the sound design and apply it to the final production.

Digital Film Production: Rotoscoping

When it finally came to the rotoscoping it was a fairly simple but lengthy process. With the rough cut all I had to do was export the sequence that I wanted to rotoscope as an image sequence and then import them into photoshop to animate frame by frame, to try make this process less time enduring that it would be already I decided to use a technique I had learned from my previous Rotoscoping venture which was by animating every second frame. Due to this when it comes to adding it to the final pruction I will have to render these frames at half the rate (the standard rate being 24 fps making the animation's frame rate 12 fps).

The Style that I used for animating was similar to that of my Ghost graphic novel but without the backgrounds, a very free flowing and sketch look I comepleted this by using only white backgrounds and a black, size 3 brush. Overall there were 209 frames to animate this took play over many hours across 4 days, the end result was quite pleasing making the time spent drawing the frames out, hopefully it should fit quite well into the final piece.

Digital Film Production: Rough Cut

When it came to editing together all the footage I had filmed the process was fairly simple as I used the tape recording sheet and my storyboard to help me guide how to product should look. One huge problem that presented it's self was that the film is only supposed to be 1 minute long, my first edit attempt clocked in at around 2 minutes and 30 seconds. To try and address this severe over sight I looked over my script and cut out bits that weren't nessesary, my aim was to present the bare bones of the concept I had created. With the rough cut made I started making notes on what shots needed special effects such as digital mattes and the rotoscoping. Below You'll find the rough cut without any sound or effects added.

The real challenege will be when it comes to the rotoscoping as I know how to digitally delete things such as shots where light spands and the boom mic are visable, due to the nature of my shots it makes it even easier to cover up any traces of these things.

Next on the list of things to do is the rotoscoping and the music design.

Digital Film Production: Last Day of Shooting

The last day of shooting took place on Friday 28th May. I had collected my crew consisting of myself and Will Farrell to pick up the filimg equipment such as the camera, tri-pod and red head for lighting. There were some delays in recieveing the equipment to start shooting but this was soon resolved as I decided to use this time to record some of the lines needed from my actress, Jess.

With the sound recorded I picked up the equipment and hired a taxi to take me, the cast and crew to the shooting location. From there we set up the equipment very carefully as we would be working with water in our location of a bathroom. For ligthing we positioned the red head outside the room pointing up at an angle, because of the white ceiling this helped illuminate the room by a substantial amount. For sound equipment we used a simple boom mic like before attached into the camera.

The filming was fair easy to do as this scene didn't appear much in the final product. Overall management of the team was fairly simple just explaining what was need and discussing how we could achieve that. We had a great communication between each other making it the whole filimg process much easier. Once all the shots that we needed had been recorded we packed the equipment back up and returned the equipment, next is to create a rough cut to start making the final version from.