5.18.2010

No More No More Villains

It has been far too long since I last updated this blog. As you all may have guessed, there really has been no progress on the movie. What started out as a collection of ideas, dreams and hopes, has really become just that. I realize now that the only time I can really work on the movie is when I’m back at home for summer break. I cannot begin to claim that school work is the real factor for the lack of progress; the fault entirely resides in me. Whether it is being lazy, and making up excuses for why I am not able to get any scenes shot, I accept full responsibility for what appears to be a now indefinitely halted production.

As much as I would like to finish just one episode, I have hit a wall in my life. The suffocating environment I currently live in has pushed me into a rut. I realize that the only time I get filming done is when my source of inspiration and positive encouragement is by my side. It is for this reason that almost all of the progress I have ever made for this film only occurred during the summer

For the longest time I have always thought this film would be my crowning achievement. I wanted to show the world just how much I have learned throughout the years and to make something I can be proud of. When I look back at films I’ve made in the past, I see so many flaws and things I could have improved. But I don’t forget about the great memories I have shared with others during the process. However, I was always embarrassed to share my previous works as I felt I have technically improved so much over the years. I wanted to let them know I could achieve so much more. The saddest part of all this is I never had anything to show for it, just empty words.

I initially had the mindset that this would be my most personal film—that I was making this to test my limits and to see how well I could translate my ideas into a real and tangible movie. But now I have come to realize that this film wasn’t about me. As insane and eccentric the story was, the plot and meaning was never the point of this project—likewise with all the special effects shots that were inserted just so I could show off what I could do in After Effects. What started out as a pet project spiraled into something much more—a gift.

This film was supposed to be a gift for my greatest friend. She gave me all the positive encouragement I needed to keep moving forward. She always stood by my side and fully supported me through all the times where I thought I could not do my film justice. All this time, I was too scared to film anything because I was too caught up in trying to make everything perfect. I realize now that I wasn’t trying to impress myself, but I was trying to impress her. The ironic part of all this is that I know she would have been proud of anything I made regardless.

I still struggle with the fact that I may never have the chance to work with her again. The future of this production is uncertain. I may eventually release the incomplete scenes that have already been shot and edited. I still have hope for this project though. One day my pillar of support may return so I can finish what I started; and so I can show her my appreciation for everything she has done for me. I would like to thank everyone who has supported me and maintained interest in this production. But for now, No More Villains is no more.

9.08.2009

The Orange II

I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, but progress is still moving along! Albeit slowly, as once again I have hit a rut in this film’s ever prolonged production. This time it’s related to the difficulty in procuring a key necessary location for a certain scene that simply cannot be changed due to its overall importance and impact on the deeper themes found in the story. And yes, although the movie may seem like a loud and insane action flick on the surface, there is actually a much more sophisticated deeper meaning. At least, those are my intentions for the viewer. Whether they see otherwise is a different story.

As with the nature of how little and late I update this blog, I don’t exactly have an accurate time frame to reference when I decide to talk about things I have already completed. Today I will share my experiences creating the hardest prop I ever built. A non-functioning, transforming bastard sword with a 4ft blade akin to those found in many video games. It was definitely the most complicated prop I’ve made due to the physics of the design. The largest problem was figuring out how to make a strong enough handle to support the heft of the large blade. Well I’m not going to give any secrets that will spoil the illusion, but the end result came out nicer than I had hoped. I can credit that with the nice paint job it received.

Seems like in the end, I’m still a “do it in post!” kind of guy. As I had a much easier time animating the transformation than I did with actually building the physical sword. Like all videos and pictures I post here, everything is still a work in progress and the final version may look different from the test video I posted. Everything will hopefully look more realistic once this transformation is mixed in with the live-action footage and correctly motion tracked and lit.

Click for the HD version

4.20.2009

The Introduction

It has been quite sometime since my last post and a lot has happened since then. First and foremost: Don’t worry! This film is still being made and there has been quite a lot of progress. Essentially the first introduction sequence has been completed with most of the effects included. I have spent upwards to 35 hours doing the laborious rotoscoping that was required to add in the other 2d/3d elements. I’ve come to realize that working on an effects heavy film is a lot more daunting than I first believed. On average it took me roughly 2 hours to implement the multiple layers of 2d elements for a simple 5 second cut.

I’m quite pleased with the end result but I do have one major fear: people skipping around when I finally upload the completed movie. I’m not going to lie and say that the first whole minute can be a tad tedious. That was completely intentional and I think that viewers will understand the reason once they watch the movie in its entirety. This movie is supposed to make a statement and I think it does it in quite a creative fashion. My greatest concern is that the people that do skip around will jump to something more exciting and decide to rewind to the beginning and watch it in its entirety, thus spoiling the “transition” scene I have in-store for them. One full minute may not seem like much, but for an estimated total running time of 15 minutes, that is quite a chunk. It’s not to say that the first minute is completely boring, but everyone has a different tolerance and appreciation for what I would deem as “artsy”.

The actual meat of the movie has yet to be filmed. During my latest break, I ran into location problems and could not find the right backdrop that would do the movie justice. I am really wary about doing these shots in front of a greenscreen because it would be a nightmare to edit due to the fast moving nature of the movie. Regardless, all is not lost as I built all the essential props that are needed and completed the choreography for what’s in store. Now I just have to wait until summer rolls around so I can actually finish filming.

I was really on the fence about posting stills from the film but have since decided I should upload a few as proof this movie actually has progressed. To avoid spoilers I have selected specific portions from the intro that do not really give anything away. You won’t find any of the special effects in the included pictures as most of the effects would spoil the story. Here are select screens from the movie completely untouched:

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12.23.2008

Dealing With Roadblocks

Hey true believers! You are the elite few if you are reading this post! The kind of dedication you guys have for checking up on a blog that hasn’t been updated for a good four months brings tears of joy to my eyes. Or perhaps this is your first time here because you were played a horrible prank by your friends who decided that rickrolling you just wasn't enough. Regardless, I will bring you up to speed with the film's progress. The few people who actually visited this blog have pointed out that it has been quite some time since my last update. I’ve been meaning to post about my recent escapade but never knew where to begin. So today I have finally decided to sit down and explain what happened before I took off for school.

Two days before I had to leave for my fall quarter of college I attempted to shoot as much footage for the movie as humanly possible. Unfortunately, I had the worst luck with authority that night as the law enforcers were out in full force and had nothing better to do than harass a couple of upstanding students. The following is an accurate rant of what went down.

The first scene that I wanted to shoot took place inside a mall. I attempted to do it all without a permit since I didn't run into any trouble filming test footage a day earlier. Of course, I didn't expect to run into any trouble since the rules of the mall fail to mention any ban on photography. Still, it's always a little nerve-wracking to see a large man with a baton walk in your direction. While I was setting up the camera, a security guard approached us and asked what we were doing. Surprisingly he was actually a cheerful guy and allowed us to go about our business since we were filming at a secluded spot during the ghastly time of 11pm.

The test footage I originally shot was with only one person on camera acting as a place-holder to make it easier for the cast to visualize what was going to happen during the actual take. After piecing together the footage, I had the timing down to approximately what I wanted the final product to mimic. Apparently I had miscalculated and the timing became a lot more complicated once we threw all the actors in at once. After filming roughly five takes, trouble came stomping through the set.

A bellowing voice shouted, "Just what do you think you're doing" in the most condescending way imaginable. I looked over my shoulder to see what looked like a young man in his mid 20's with a face full of anger. I explained to this security guard that I was filming a short film. Upon hearing this he screeched, "Well, you can't film here. Nor can you film within 200 feet of the mall". I explained to him that a different security guard had passed by earlier and gave us permission to film. This new guy looked at me as if I was lying and promptly replied, "That guy has no idea what he's talking about! You people have to leave now!”

In retrospect I should've asked him what he meant by "you people" since we were a group of Asians and he was Caucasian but hey, I don't want to be the guy that plays the race card. That kind of thing really isn’t my cup of tea, and I’d hate to think that other people have to forcibly act nice towards me. Then again, it’s probably because I’m not exactly a minority in our predominately Asian neighborhood. I didn’t want to argue with him over a non-written rule that he was so adamant on enforcing and decided to film elsewhere. I was desperate to get as much recording done as possible and decided that a change in location could work (albeit I had already planned every single camera angle I was going to use for the original mall setting). I told the cast and crew the new location and we immediately took off.

By the time we arrived on the new location it was already past midnight. Lighting was going to be a problem so I had one of our cast members turn on their car lights to brighten up the makeshift set. Just as he finished putting his car in place a security guard at this new location (a random parking lot) drove by in his little golf cart. He stared at us as if we were dangerous and floored it. I didn't think much of it at the time because it was late and there shouldn't have been anyone at a parking lot for a pearl milk tea joint anyways. Actually, the fact that the tea shop had security patrolling at all impresses me to this day. I just assumed the man was tired and wanted to go home. A few minutes passed and suddenly something miraculous happened! Our dark set was magically lit! Unfortunately for us, it was by a third party: a sheriff.

As his car approached, we decided that I should talk to the guy and explain what we were doing. Without warning the officer pulls out his loud speaker and forcefully tells me to step in front of the car. It was then I sensed that I was dealing with “one of those cops”. When I was directly in front of his bright headlights he told me to stay right where I was and he proceeded to phone something through his walkie. After he was done chatting with his buddy on the other line, he stepped out of the car and proceeded to power trip. I wasn’t allowed to say a single thing as the man had a nasty habit of interrupting my sentences and pointing at me with a stern look and finger.

Once he finished abusing his power and harassing us he told us to scram and waited for us to drive off. I’ll admit I was quite terrified at the time but thinking back on it I feel like I should’ve been slightly more miffed at the guy. Here we are in one of America’s richest, smartest, and safest cities. All of the public schools in our area are ranked among the top in the nation and the only violence that exists is on television. You would think that a group of nerdy and scrawny Asians from an affluent neighborhood would pose little threat to a hefty donut eater with a 9mm. But hey! Enough complaining! The poor guy was only doing his job right?

After our second failed attempt at filming we decided to give it one last go before calling it a night. We met up at a new location that was roughly 15 minutes away from the previous botched attempt. At this point we were all a little shaken and decided we weren’t in the mood to film. As we said our goodbyes, we noticed a bright flash of red and blue light. Apparently the source came from the same police officer we had met earlier. This bothered me quite a bit as I have never realized I was such a popular guy worthy of a good stalking. I still don't really understood the point of letting us go if he was only going to secretly follow us to our new destination. But alas my 15 minutes of fame were cut short because he apparently decided to set his sights on someone new and had pulled someone else over. I don’t really blame him for showing excessive force. I’d be bored to death as well if my job was to serve and protect in a city that doesn’t need any protecting. All the crimes committed here are digital. We Asian kids sure love to download!

To make a long story short, the first day of shooting went terribly. We ran into a total of three separate security guards, and one police officer within a time span of less than three hours. Sadly, I ended up with only 5 seconds of useable footage from one of the good takes. The night definitely didn’t go as smoothly and productively when compared to the test footage I painlessly shot a day earlier.

As grim as all this may have been, those 5 seconds have kept me going for the past three months at school and I have come up with a lot of ideas on using those 5 precious seconds to my full advantage. I’ve developed a new script that makes use of the complicated footage we shot, and it should blend smoothly with the rest of the film. Sure, the original story has been slightly changed but it’s for the better as it’s now streamlined and improved. These past three months have made me even more excited and anxious to pump the first episode out. Hopefully it will be completed in early 2009. Until then, don’t stop believing!

8.09.2008

Prop Making

Progress! I have finally found the time to work on the props for the movie! This was my first time dealing with spray paint so I was quite surprised to find out that the lids don't just pop off the can. Apparently you have to cut it open, which is quite nerve wracking since it's another reason to accidently slice up your hand, but enough about that. After the Beam Katana's dried, I used a dry brush method I found on youtube to add the finishing touches. Needless to say, I think the final product looks pretty awesome and definitely doesn't look like a cheap $6 piece of plastic I found at a rundown KB Toys.

Here's the first of many behind the scenes webisodes I'll be posting, hope you enjoy it!


No Name: Behind the Scenes Episode 01

7.15.2008

Pre-production Woes

Sorry for the long hiatus, I've been really busy with school and haven't had the time to post any progress reports. For the past few weeks I have been working on test footage for the effects heavy sequences and have pretty much figured out the ways to go about constructing each shot. There are a few CG segments that I'm particularly proud of and cannot wait to implement into the actual movie.

Unfortunately, one key prop has prevented me from kicking off the filming process. I'm currently trying to figure out the best way to build and paint the thing but alas I have no real experience with detailing. I'm hoping to get this pre-production stuff over with so I can hurry up and film the movie before it becomes yet another one of my ideas that never makes it past a mere scribble on my notebook. But hey, at least this time I've bothered to make a blog dedicated to the idea from my over-active imagination. Who knows, maybe this one will actually come to fruition.

5.29.2008

Summer Movie

As some of you may already know, I am currently in the works of a summer movie project. In this blog, I shall document the process and steps I'm taking to "git 'er done". The film's pre-production title is currently No Name and I'll touch upon the name in a future entry. I am aiming to make this a hyper-stylized flick with tons of action sequences that should hopefully impress and exceed people's expectations for a no budget film. I'm currently shooting for a 30 minute runtime and an end of summer release. This is definitely my most ambitious film to date, and I hope you'll be brimming with anticipation to watch the specatcle of it's creation unfold right here on this blog. So stick around, and enter the world of:

video