Friday, November 30, 2007

That's it for now

I'm done filming. That's about all there is to say about that. The shoot went well last night, took a little longer then I thought, but then again I shot everything from about 4 different angles. There's probably more footage of those scenes then I can ever use, and one shot that I didn't expect to get. I can't really say what it is without giving away too much, however it was great looking and extremely dangerous - so we never bothered to try another take of it.

I guess I should more accurately say I'm done principal photography. So by all accounts I'm not really done, but what's left are a couple minor pick up shots that require no more then a few minutes attention. I'm not too worried about those, might get them next week, maybe next year even.

All that's left is an added scene, which I'm not filming because I'm in - although you'd never recognize me. This scene requires a bit of money to shoot, so it's on hold and can be shot whenever. It will be awesome though.

There won't be any shots posted of the last scene, it's a bit of a plot giveaway so I'm avoiding showing anything from it. Both Derek and Steve did a great job though.

I have a couple meetings today about other projects and I need coffee, so I might be done filming, but I still have a lot to do otherwise.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Gearing up for one more shoot

I'm just going over my shots for the last scene. It reads pretty simple, so it should be a simple shoot. Right? Nope. I don't say that to scare anyone involved should they read this before Thursday night though. It's more difficult for me then the actors.

The scene is simply this: Grayson (Derek Martin) finally assembles everything he needs to translate this prophecy in order to figure out just what the hell is going on. He's doing so as Malice is off to fight some evil elsewhere. Now there's some previous references that Grayson's method of choice isn't exactly safe, in fact he's supposedly dealing in some serious dark magic.

However when I started looking at it and thinking about it, there was no payoff to all this talk of dark magic. He just reads it and that's it. So with the help of a few visual effects, I've added some spice and we got ourselves a nice tasty bit of dark magic gumbo. We will get to see a result of these warnings about using this sort of magic. I had to keep it simple though since it intercuts with an action scene and it'd be stupid to pause and explain crap - so I'm hoping to rely on some serious visuals to sell the point.

The effects are simple, nothing groundbreaking as far as what I've already been doing. If it holds up on screen as well as it holds up in my head, it should be a pretty cool little scene. And it marks the reappearance of the Delvian Demon Rum.

I also want to point out, while I was working on this I was checking out some movie stuff online and apparently the first stills from the new Indiana Jones movies have been released:

While Indy looks pretty clean in his adventurer duds, I have to say Ford still looks pretty good in character. There's only going to be two good movies next year folks, HellBoy: The Golden Army and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (both of which feature John Hurt). The predecessors of both, by the way, were partial inspirations for The Monkey Rodeo: Malice.

Monday, November 26, 2007

1 more left (part 3)

I haven't edited anything in ages so I took a quick stab at the scenes.

The Two Ricks.
This part of the shot is just old-fashioned
split screen. It works pretty damned well too,
Rick's eyelines are perfect.
However right at the end of this both characters will walk
offscreen together - that'll be fun to do.
Everything looks like it should work just fine. I did some rough comps of the Twin Guards shots and they look awesome. Rick's timing and placement in the shots was perfect. It's going to take quite a bit to really clean the edges up and even add some shadows here and there to really sell it, but it's well worth it.

In going over all the shots one thing I noticed, and I was thinking of this last night, is how hard it is to focus the camera in this kind of light. It's got a touch of orange to it, so it tends to look slightly blurry even when it's in perfect focus. A quick couple tests and I should be able to tweak the shots to make them look a little sharper, as well as really fix the major out of focus shots.

This helps with some previous scenes as well. So in conjunction with all the visual effects, there's going to be a lot of work in just cleaning up the footage to make it presentable. Overall I'm pretty impressed, it was a bit of a bugger to organize, it well was worth it though.

After this coming Thursday, our last shoot of this year, I'm going to try to get a rough estimate of the running time of the whole project. I have no idea how long it'll be at the moment.

So that's it for now. One more to go and we'll see how it progresses from there.

1 more left (part 2)

It wasn't the most awesome sleep in the world but it was more or less sleep.

Right now outside my window there's these two people who have been walking up and down and staring at, going up to the door and wandering away from the dentist's office next door. Some people are really weird.

Anyway, I started porting all the footage from the storage drive over to the computer this morning and I think we ended up with somewhere near 45 minutes of footage. I'm going to assume that means we caught everything.

I was noticing while we were shooting Steve's closeups that he reminded me of someone - not really acting-wise, but he just reminded me of Ralph Fiennes a little. Could just be me though.

We started with Grayson's entrance, which included Rick playing twin security guards. It was a little clumsy at first, I think we got it all though. It was rather amusing shooting with music constantly playing in the background, so when we did Derek's shots of him entering the boardroom the theme from Shaft was playing. I'm not sure if anyone else noticed that.

We then had quite a bit to shoot in the boardroom and a lot to cover considering how very little transpires action-wise in this scene. I wanted to make sure I got all my extras in at least one or two good shots. Steve and Derek were pretty simple to shoot, I just did two basic shots of each to cut back and forth and a few in between on certain lines.

They both did a good job. Derek I never really worry about, he has no problems adjusting his lines if he thinks they won't work - which so long as it doesn't change the plot I have no issues with. It's one of those things where what you write doesn't always translate well to be spoken.

We shot Derek's angles first so Steve could read off the page a few times and get into character - that's not what I told them, but that's why I did it like that - and when it came time to do Steve's stuff he really did a good job. When you take someone who's never really done acting then sort throw them into it you either end up good or horrific. Even more so when you give them 3 pages of lines to remember. Luckily another "good" situation.

I then took some cutaways of the extras doing their thing, to add in here and there and cover up awkward lines or even lines changes when we start doing dialog recording. There were two characters that will need post work, Pete Murphy as Cthulhu Jr, a bit of an H.P. Lovecraft reference and Dan Caseley as The Invisible Man. Any shot with Dan I really had to pay attention to, since in order to make him invisible I had to make sure I had a clean background behind his head and hands. So every shot with him was done twice, once with and once without.

I think I got them all. If not, it's not the end of the world, most can be redrawn, unless he's covering Andrea and Richard sitting beside him - then I'm kinda screwed. Although I was paying pretty close attention to certain shots like that.

Anyway, here's some behind the scenes stuff for a moment:

The ceremonial adjusting of the lights.
Everyone was quite excited by this.

Dan and Rick, this is Dan pre-invisible.

Dan, Wendy, Pete, Holly and Sandy.

Sandy and Holly.
They way Sandy looks with a beard,

he should be playing an Exorcist I think.

Steve and Derek.

And some "Demon Skin Chinese Takeout".

And the Fish Faced Psychic, Myk Hambly.
Here's Rick with his very dangerous prop.
That thing is pretty heavy and very sharp.

And this is pretty much everyone except for Derek.
I had to make sure to shoot around the
Christmas tree in the background.

Dan, Wendy, Rick
(and I think Sandy and Holly are still there),
Pete and Draper.

I think this was around when everyone had to act dead.

And we're done at this point I believe.
Richard, Andrea, Rick, Dan and Myk.

And a delightfull little video of Myk
struggling out of his makeup.

And that was it. We started around 1 doing the makeup and I think I got home at 8:30, there was at least 45 minutes of just gathering ourselves up and loading the equipment at the end. So we were pretty much on schedule.

I'll probably take a closer look at some of the footage today, I might do some quick visual effects composites with some of the shots to see how they'll look. Otherwise that is it, it's lunch time. So thanks again to everyone who showed up, and thanks to everyone who endured makeup and a toasty warm location.

Check back for part 3 coming soon.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

1 more left

...well, that's a lie. There's 2 more left, but the other one is going to be too much fun so I don't count it.

It was a long day. A long day in a good way though. I'm pretty tired, haven't slept too well the last couple nights and on top of this it's really wiped me out.

One thing I noticed, and I've actually always been very conscious of this, is leaving my extras just sitting there in between shots with nothing to do. I freaking hate it. It's always in the back of my mind while I'm shooting something that doesn't really involve them. Are they bored? Is one of them sitting there pissed because they feel like their time is being wasted. I'm trying to plow through some major technical shots and I feel distracted because I'm worried about my extras.

Mind you when you have about 10 of them all cooped up in a very warm room, you should feel distracted by them - otherwise you're probably a dick.

I was doing some really hard shots with Rick tonight, who I'm sure felt like a bit of a confused ass (and he shouldn't, I did a lousy job directing him tonight, so I feel like a confused ass), where he played twins. So it's a basic split screen sort of deal for a couple takes. And I'm pretty sure they're going to look awesome, but the whole time I'm worried about the room of extras sitting there waiting.

I need a 2nd Unit Director or something for this sort of thing.

So, makeup. It went well, nicely on schedule and everything. I didn't feel rushed. I was able to do what I wanted for the most part - so that really helped set the tone for the entire day. I was originally doing 7 people in makeup. Our schedules got juggled and messed up, but ended up working out and I only did 5 people in makeup. In 3 hours at that. Thank god I had Devon to help out.

Me putting some horns and
a little brow piece on Wendy Poirer.

Devon McGregor helped out a lot,
she's doing some work on Rick here.

Myk Hambly's makeup took the longest,
but looked pretty damned cool actually.

Richard Haines getting a final touch up.
And Andrea MacDonald looking like a green DareDevil,
but way less annoying then Ben Affleck.
Sandy Carruthers and Holly Noel were also supposed to be in makeup, but judging from the repeated phone calls all afternoon they seemed like they had a full, if not confusing day, already.

Everyone else involved, Pete Murphy (who hung out at my place with us during makeup and became my driver) played "Cthulhu Jr." (there will be pictures soon, it's a CG character) and on set we met up with Dan Caseley: "The Invisible Man", Steve Gillespie: "Crais", Draper Bulger: "The Guy Not in Makeup or Playing a Character for a Change", Derek Martin:"Grayson" and finally Sandy and Holly showed up as well.

It took awhile to get things going, but everyone seemed pretty patient - even if they weren't. The folks at Sim's Corner were great to deal with, no one seemed to have an issue with demons wandering around their restaurant and going out for a smoke. Well, if they did they never told me so it doesn't count.

We also had to deal with the sudden appearance of a Christmas tree on out set, which I really wasn't expecting and was really not thrilled to see. The manager actually came down and move it for us with no problems at all. And then we were set to go.

I'm going to break this into 2 parts because I really need to crash, so stay tuned for the 2nd half tomorrow afternoon.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Almost done

Kind of hard to believe this thing is nearly done - well, nearly done shooting at least. There's a pretty big shoot coming up this Sunday and although I qualify it as a "big" shoot, it's a pretty easy one.

It's the Boardroom Scene, I've gone on about it dozens of times I'm sure. We're finally getting to it. There was a slight glitch when I lost 6 actors, all extras, but that quickly turned around and I ended up with more then I really needed in the end. I'll be doing makeup for about 3 hours, with the help of an assistant this time, Devon McGregor - who happened to be the first person ever in makeup for this project - will be helping out with the last big makeup scene. Which should have about 6, maybe 7 people in makeup.

I'm pretty happy to be getting this scene over with. Not because it means I only have one scene left to shoot, but because it's the last scene I really have to worry about wrangling several people together at the same time. The following scene is just me and two actors on a readily accessible location.

So things will pretty quiet here once I'm done shooting that last scene, Thursday the 29th. I'm busy getting things back in proper order for a long overdue project I'm working on for someone else. I'll probably post a few things here and there during the course of post-production though, so you never really know.

I've got a busy couple days ahead of me, a schedule was worked out for the other project and right now I'm working on delivering certain aspects of pre-production by certain dates. That should run through for another month and then I'll be into animation. It's a totally animated project, so it's all up to me to get the work done on time.

I'll also be working out a shot list, designing makeup and pre-painting prosthetics until Sunday for The Monkey Rodeo. I'm hoping to have some cool pictures to show off that evening, so check back by Monday morning to see how things went.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Re-designing the Titan

I've been over and over and over this I don't know how many times, but I'm going over it again. Sometimes certain character designs just never seem to come easily, and if you've been following all this you probably recall that the design of the Titan definitely falls into that category.

The design of both Pyre and the Librarian seemed to come instantly. And so far even my attempts at designing Mal'Vash, the big bad of the movie, is going pretty well. But for some reason this one character has simply never worked well.

I'm in the midst of yet another design. This one had taken a few other elements into account. Such as scale, I think I was going too large with my original ideas. When he was composited into the shots with Derek standing before him, I couldn't even fit it into the shot properly. Then there was realism, sometimes simpler is better - to a degree. Personality was something I really hadn't considered until I saw how well Pyre had turned out.

So I went back to the drawing board. I had some ideas I worked out, and they seemed good, but when I started modeling the design started to stray a bit...Quite a bit. Once I had what I considered to be a really good start, then I began to wonder if I was approaching the whole thing wrong - did he have to be a giant living statue-like thing? I thought about it, maybe he could be organic looking, like just a big creature...that thought process didn't last too long.

So he remains pretty close to the original idea. Then there was a problem I had with the idea that if he's made of stone, I didn't want it to move like flesh. It's been done before and whoever did it I'm sure got away with it, but I wasn't sure myself. Until I added a new element to the design.

I decided he should look literally like he was a statue that somehow came to life and in order to move he had to be all cracked and broken around the areas that would move - it's a pretty simple concept actually, and it's been done before to pretty decent effect. However, I don't think it was ever really done with something that needed to speak and show character and emotion.

He's no longer 200 feet tall. I just couldn't see fit to do that. I think right now we're looking at maybe 50 feet? Maybe only as much as 20 maybe, it all depends. Still pretty huge by all accounts. I have the head designed and nearly done (a work-in-progress shot is coming up at the end), I'm still working on ideas for the body.

So there you go. There's a few spots where there's some major texture stretching - mainly around his eyebrows. Given that most of his shots will be up angles that shouldn't be too much of a problem. Normally this would be a huge issue, but I'm willing to let it go for this and hope it won't show too much.

I might also tone down the colouring of the cracks in the stone. While it helps in some cases to emphasize the cracks, it comes off a little too cartoony at times. It's an annoying balancing act. In any case, I still have a long way to go.

Meanwhile, I'm getting ready to take care of the last two scenes. I just found out in the last couple days that a good chunk of my extras might be unavailable - the guys from Sketch 22 are filming some of their own stuff on the same day. Luckily I made sure I had way more people lined up then I really needed, so it should work out fine.

That's all for now.

Monday, November 05, 2007

More Pyre stuff

Now that I have some footage to work with I started trying to figure out the best way to composite Pyre into the shots. I originally was going to make a form that would slide under the covers to represent his body, but any movements on the bed itself would've caused it to shift - so that, and the fact it would've been annoying as hell to create something that large and portable.

So I opted to do a CG sheet covering him., that way if I felt like it I could even move it a little bit here and that making it looks like Pyre shifting under it. The image below is my first pass at it.
It looks pretty good, a few problem spots here and there - if my computer hadn't been acting so pissy all morning I probably would've addressed already. In the original the blanket really picked up the orange/yellow glow from the lights, I need to do some major colour adjusting there. As well, the area on the right side of the bed, I need to cover over that edge of the bed and work at blending it in more around the area where Jordan is - that's pretty easy to do.

One thing I did that should help blend it a little more is I added a bit of a glow coming off the lamp, so when his hand passes in front of it the light spills over. I'll probably do more to recreate the look of digital video too with Pyre, straight CG is nice and crisp looking and lack the slight blotchy quality of video.

Shouldn't be too much work to make it all fit together.

This is the second time I've encountered minor lighting problems, when we shot at Sim's Corner the light was a little dimmer then what I would've like, but it worked so no big. But once we were done someone noticed these little tiny dimmer switches next to the main switch - making it really bright. Well, while we were shooting at the Inns of Great George, same thing. I recall moving a light around at one point thinking "it'd be nice if these were tri-lights or something"...turns out once we were done and I went to switch the light off, turns out they were tri-lights. Ah well, maybe I'll learn next time.

So I'll leave you for now with this:

While doing a shot with Derek and Graham they decided to do a couple improved and totally unusable takes. Normally they made it right to the end at least, this one take kind of ended in the middle.

And since I had the girls all dressed up we decided to do a staged photo where I'll add Pyre to the middle of. I took another little video. I'm impressed how well that little camera picks up the light when the video camera doesn't seem to be able to quite so well.

There you go. I'll post some more perhaps when I get the pictures from Moe, or whenever something else really exciting happens.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

2 more scenes left!

It was a long couple days leading up to this one scene and I don't think anyone realizes how close it came to never happening. There were so many little things that kept popped up and nearly ruined the whole thing - luckily it happened and it's done.

I'm just getting home now, taking a quick look at the footage and then time to, more or less, sleep.

The first glitch came early this morning when Amanda Gallant called me sounding horribly stuffed up - it actually sounded a little like a kid pretending to be really sick in hopes of staying home from school, but I'm not complaining. She was looking forward to it, she was supposed to play the 4th wife and look really freaking ugly. Well since she had a cold there was no way she'd have survived even an hour in the makeup, it totally covered up her nose - I don't think I have to say much more. Bad cold + Nose Covered in a Prosthetic Mask = Something No One Really Wants to See.

I tried last minute to work something out and in the end I resigned to removing the character. I have figured up until Amanda volunteered that I'd have to cut it anyway so it was not the end of the world. I think there was enough going on in the scene for it to survive.

I checked into the room at 3 this afternoon, I had Rick help me lug down all the stuff I needed for it. I started setting up, Graham showed up and we started in on his makeup, then one by one everyone arrived, made up and I think it was shortly after 6 we started shooting.

It took awhile to shoot everything, there was just so much I wanted to get coverage of but I had to draw the line eventually. I think I was able to get everything I need - I hope at least. It's difficult when you're dealing with a CG character to make sure you get all their shots, but it's also easy to fix depending on the situation.

I feel like I managed to get enough footage though. I just took a quick run through it all an I think we're covered. It one of those scene that will require some post work to fix certain aspects.

Anyway, so here you go:

We ran this shot a couple time, it's fun to sort of wind Graham up and let him go. This was the first time Derek also really got to do some some stuff, normally things are pretty straight forward with his lines. There's a few outtake done on purpose I may post here over the next couple days.

Yes, for those of you who are wondering,
that is indeed Graham Putnam under there.

Funny how sort of sparse the room looks in this shot.

Nikkie Gallant (Aneska)

Kim Johnston (Emmaline)

Jordan Berzins (Anya)
In case you realize that Anya looks very similar to another character Jarrill/Vanya it's because it's supposed to be her 101st daughter. It all makes some sense when you see the movie, really.

Otherwise that's it really. The folks at the Inns of Great George were awesome to deal with, they let us sneak Graham down the stairs and outside to do a quick entryway shot - we were trying to keep as low a profile as possible. Kelley Keefe was the one I mainly dealt with, so big thanks to her not saying no as soon as I mentioned "a big CG demon and his four wives".

Derek and Graham did a great job, no surprises there really. Jordan, Nikkie and Kim were very patient to just sit there and look pretty. And of course I hope to have some Moe pictures to show off here soon, she made it to this shoot and I think she managed to get some good stuff.

So that's it. There was some debate about leaving this room I'd rented empty for the night, in the end Jordan ended up staying there. Hope she enjoys it. I had to lug all the equipment home myself afterwards, so my shoulders are pretty sore. I think that's all there is to say really...I might think of more by the morning though, who knows.

And I'll leave you for now with a pretty near completed image of Pyre, the centerpiece of the whole scene. If you're wondering why he's smiling like that, you did see his wives didn't you?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Another decent night of shooting

It was a pretty fast and simple shoot. I was just dealing with two actors, Will Beckett and Jordan Berzins, getting some shots I needed to fill in some gaps in the lead up to the ending of the movie.

The only really stressful part of it was hoping it wouldn't rain. It was supposed to, but it seemed to be holding off and around 7:00 pm I was thinking "Just hold off for 2 hours, that's all I need." And as soon as Will showed up to pick me up, the rain started. We drove to get Jordan, it started a small downpour, and hen once we got to UPEI (where we were filming) it had stopped and we had a clear night from there on out.

Not too much to say about it really, it was only 8, maybe 10 shots. It was one of those really nice, not rushed kind of shoots though. You almost don't feel like your filming and worrying about will it work or not - because I was able to check it before we left.

So here you go:

Will in his car, out in Stratford
The best parking lot for lighting and being empty.

And I decided as I was shooting this that it'd be part of a
digital matte painting since he's being sent out to investigate
something going on in an abandoned building, I thought it'd
be nice to see a big wide shot of a mass of buildings.

Will entering "Building 51" - where unbeknowst to him,
evil awaits to do evil things to him.

And it's right behind that door!

But don't worry, here's come Malice.
And that was it. It was nice to finally have these shots taken care of. I was even able to take a few cutaways that I wasn't planning on being able to take that night, nice to have those over and done with too.

I've been working like crazy trying to plan out the shoot for this Sunday. I kinda can't wait for this shoot. There's been a few little bugger ups, I'm not sure how I'm going to get around them, but I've got a few ideas that I'm sure will work out well enough.

One thing about this next scene that is a first, I'll actually have the centerpiece of the whole scene, the CG character of Pyre, completely done before the shoot. This gives the actors a chance to actually see what they'll be acting with in the scene for the first time ever on any project I've worked on.

Normally it's not a big deal, I'll just tell them, "you're looking at a this big, massive thing in the sky over there" or "there's all these things on the ground your looking at" and give them a bit of a description. Which I think it good enough for this level of production.

When we did the opening with Derek and the Titan, he had no idea what he was supposed to be looking at. Hell, I had no idea what the thing looked like. I still don't really. Same with the Wyrm Demon - which went from a multi-legged creature with several arms to a big freaking worm with teeth. When Heather was having a conversation with the Librarian, she was just looking at "some weird little floating thing" and the fight scene in the end was with "A giant 20 foot demon." This time though, I'll actually have some still shots and maybe a rough animation of Pyre for every to see before we even start shooting.

I think I've gone on about this before, I'm really happy with the way Pyre has turned out. He was the first breakthrough moment in the CG characters of this movie - when I was relieved to realize, "okay, this might actually look exactly like I want it to and look really good too at that". He's not ultra realistic looking by any means, how many giant, fat orange horned demons do you know to compare it to anyway? But he definitely has a personality without seeing him move or even speak - which is, without a doubt, the hardest part of creating a computer generated actor.

I've got a couple days to run through things again, solid up my ideas and shots. We're going to shoot the hell out of this scene too. I want as much coverage as possible. I've got a pile of really good actors, I've got Graham Putnam playing a thug demon with a flintlock pistol, I've got four beautiful women playing a harem of weird demon wives and a CG demon whose basically a cross between Homer Simpson and The Godfather - and poor Derek has to work through this pretending this is just an everyday thing that doesn't phase him at all.

I'm hoping to have a pile of images to slap up here shortly after the shoot and, if possible, within the following week I'd like to be able to post to near final animations of Pyre composited into the scene. Maybe stills of him in shots if I'm busy at the least. Who knows.

That's it for now. I'm going to play video games and drink beer, it's been another long day. Thanks again to Will and Jordan, it was a great little shoot tonight.