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The Coalition of the Ring

Posted: Wed, 15th Mar 2006, 12:56pm

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Simon K Jones

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Directed by Andy Bennett, this is the interval movie from the February 2006 production of The Coalition, by Norwich theatre gods Axis of Evil Productions.

The Coalition is about the unlikely adventures of three flatmates - Andy, Tom and The Yank. So far they've had to deal with zombies, homicidal girlfriends, murderous neighbours and even William Shakespeare.

Each performance consists of two 'episodes' live on stage, interspersed with spoof video segments. FXhome's involvement was with the extensive colour grading. We'll be putting up an in-depth tutorial on the various techniques in the near future!


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Posted: Thu, 16th Mar 2006, 12:28am

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SyroVision

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Nice use of visuals, Grades and effects achive the fantasy like setting.

Very Nicely Done.
Posted: Thu, 16th Mar 2006, 4:36am

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rypcat

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I really enjoyed the costumes and the imitations of the many shots from the real LOTR trailer, this really has some potential. However, the editing, narration, sound design, and music left much to be desired. I think this could have been much more effective and really been a brilliantly funny piece with the material you have, if only it had better editing. You've obviously spent a lot of time in costuming, planning, and production, don't let it go to waste by short shrifting post-production. Editing should enhance–not detract–from your movie.

Good Luck!
Henry Reich
Creator of the Lord of the Rings: the Much Abbreviated Account
Posted: Thu, 16th Mar 2006, 9:47am

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Simon K Jones

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Thanks for watching guys. I'll try to get Andy and the other Coalition members to post their thoughts here, but in the meantime...

Syro - Glad you liked the visuals and grading style. I'm planning on doing an in-depth tutorial on how to use FXhome products to do that kinda thing soon.

Rypcat - I'll let Andy comment directly on the editing as that's his baby. We're aware that the sound needs lots of work, though - that's the trouble with no-budget productions, especially when on such a tight schedule and when you have a 2 hour live performance to direct at the same time!

The guys are improving the video segments massively with each episode. As you say, the costumes, locations, makeup, props etc work brilliantly in this, so the next step will be to get some of the other technical aspects up to a professional level.

Fingers crossed they'll get some nifty funding soon, which will enable them to get hold of more advanced sound equipment etc.

Thanks for the comments, keep 'em coming. smile
Posted: Thu, 16th Mar 2006, 12:45pm

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ragnar

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This short piece has nice production quality, good camera work, nice props and costumes and nice grading. The audio, as pointed out, was a bit rough at times. The thing about the 'joke' reminds a bit of the Monty Python sketch about the most dangerous joke, though I'm a bit confused how a donut represents a joke, but will reserve judgement until I see more. Anyway, it appears the best actor is the guy playing Aragorn. He's good. Not to take anything away from the others, but he stands how in some way. Nice job all 'round. 4 stars.

Ragnar
Posted: Thu, 16th Mar 2006, 3:14pm

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Sollthar

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Hmmmmmm.... smile

Well, obviously, the grading is the work of someone who knows how to handle the apps and is what I like most about this - grading is excellent. Some of the costumes were great and the locations were well spotted.

I wasn't much impressed with any of the rest though.
It's obviously going into a nonsense-humour kind of direction; wich is in my opinion a difficult thing. The difference between something then beeing funny or simply randomly silly is a thin line - and mainly a matter of timing or a question of how it's delivered.
As some other "comedies" in the fxhome cinema have already shown, I'm obviously not much into nonsense comedy and this is no exception - it left me completely cold in every way. I couldn't even smile at one point. unsure

Therefore, this piece didn't manage to suck me in except for the cool grading, which stands in no relation to the quality of anything else, be it the acting, the sounddesign, the editing or the writing.
Posted: Thu, 16th Mar 2006, 3:25pm

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Simon K Jones

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One tricky aspect with viewing this on its own is that it is intended to come halfway through the stage show, at which point it is very effective as it plays off the main characters played by the actors. The contrast of Andy showing up as Aragorn and The Yank appearing as Legolas/Agent Smith/etc is very, very funny, as evidenced by the audiences at the performances who found it all hilarious.

Of course, none of that helps if all you've seen is the video segment. smile But I hope people do bear it in mind when watching.
Posted: Fri, 17th Mar 2006, 3:47am

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miker

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The most amazing thing to me, is how closly the characters look to the actual LOTR characters. This doesn't look like another one of those sad attempts at a Medieval aged film. Everything seems to look really authentic. Great use of color correction and good camera work from what I could tell. Not only did you mimic similar scenes from LOTR, but they actually seem to have many of the same camera angles as well. Great stuff. The audio was off in a few places. This will obviously be one of those films that takes a certain type of sense of humor to enjoy. Goodluck!

-miker.
Posted: Fri, 17th Mar 2006, 3:53am

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Serpent

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Hah, I enjoyed this. A lot of the humor was excellent and absurd. Good costumes, editing, and a few good camera shots. 3/5 Crowd scenes and grading were most impressive. Amazing how many costumes and people he got together.
Posted: Fri, 17th Mar 2006, 3:00pm

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Simon K Jones

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Thanks for the comments! Glad you both enjoyed it, Serpent anad miker. The orc scenes in particular really show how important costumes can be - it's an area often overlooked, I feel.

For people interested in the grading processes, I've added a new movie file that shows a before/after comparison, so you can see just how much some of it was changed.

I'm currently working on a tutorial going into detail on the grading process that will hopefully be posted next week.
Posted: Fri, 17th Mar 2006, 3:40pm

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drspin98

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Great!!! Very impressive urk-hai garb! Very well done overall! Obviously lots of time was spent on the costumes. One question-is the narrator English? He sounds like an American doing a rather poor British accent. My apologies if he is in fact form the U.K.
Posted: Sun, 19th Mar 2006, 11:41am

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BlackNumenorean

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Thanks for all your comments guys - as Tarn points out we're still really new to this so the comments will be taken on board as we embark on future projects.

A few responses to specific points:

Drspin: Yes, it's the Yank doing his best Ian Mckellen accent. Which is why it sucks =)

I'm aware the audio is bad at some places - unfortunately a lot of the original sound was ruined thanks to a fire engine in the background so we had to re-dub in a rush. Some of it works (if nothing else as a comment on Orlando Bloom's acting - another running joke from the show) but some, I admit is plain awful. If anyone has any good tips or tricks (or can recommend some good wav software), I'd be grateful.

The excellent costumes were provided by the orcs themselves - we are fortunate enough to know a large community of live role players who have the kit and will happily spend a day rampaging through woodland if you offer them beer at the end of it =)

Ragnar: Previous film segments have taken popular films and shoe-horned the characters and humour from the show into them - ie we ripped off Revenge of the Sith and had the Yank tempting Andy to turn to the Dark Side of Comedy - so it made sense to continue the theme and have the Yank being the bad guy. The donut allowed us to copy many shots from the original trailer, whilst making it clear that this macguffin was made by an evil, fat American wink

As Tarn pointed out, the film is intended as a bookend to the live show rather than a stand alone piece, so a lot of the humour depends on the audience seeing the characters from the sitcom being forced to exist in a different (sur)reality. I mean, what would you do if an elderly man burst into your house and kept asking if it was Secret and Safe?

Rypcat: I'd be interested to hear further thoughts from you on why you felt the editing let it down for you. PM or email me with your thoughts: andy[at]axisofevilproductions[dot]com
Posted: Mon, 20th Mar 2006, 5:46am

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Waser

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So there is a God....
Posted: Mon, 20th Mar 2006, 6:27am

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ben3308

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This was....interesting. I didn't find it really that humorous or technically great, in a sense (I felt the editing was a little off), but this is most likely because I'm viewing it out of the context of its original intention.

The grading, I thought, was a bit meh for my tastes. I liked the oversaturated colors, and if you take a still frame from it, it looks awesome, but as a moving video I felt the grading didn't work. Personally, I try to grade my footage high contrast, in an attempt to mimic that of reversal film stock. So things with not a significant amount of contrast (a la the orc scenes) I just don't find that appealing. I can really see the power of FXHome working here to grade this, it just wasn't my cup of tea.

Nonetheless, it's clear a sufficient amount of effort was put forth here to coordinate costuming, shooting, and such, so I'm gonna have to give this a solid 3/5, and good luck on future projects.
Posted: Tue, 21st Mar 2006, 6:43am

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Avenger111

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Wow, so this is my compitition. I'm doomed. Man, every time I think I have somthing someone else out does me. Well, koodus to you my friend. This looks like it will make a damn fine movie.

If you'd like check mine out on the site or visit my website at:
www.goldenrodmovie.com

You have a website?

Signed,
William A. McDonald
Posted: Tue, 21st Mar 2006, 9:41am

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Simon K Jones

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Rating: +1

ben3308 wrote:

The grading, I thought, was a bit meh for my tastes. I liked the oversaturated colors, and if you take a still frame from it, it looks awesome, but as a moving video I felt the grading didn't work. Personally, I try to grade my footage high contrast, in an attempt to mimic that of reversal film stock. So things with not a significant amount of contrast (a la the orc scenes) I just don't find that appealing.
My take on grading is that it shoud always be suitable for the project at hand, rather than what you consider to be pretty. I'm also a big fan of high contrast footage like yourself, but it simply wouldn't have been suitable for this project.

The main task for this was to mimic the appearance of The Lord of the Rings, taking reference from one of the early official trailers (which CotR was based on). As such, each shot is based on the grading in those shots, to some extent. As anybody that's seen the LotR movies knows, they didn't go for a high contrast, harsh appearance.

While the high contrast look works really well in a techno-thriller like your Splinter Cell trailer, it would look very out of place on a fantasy movie like this. Some projects suit really over the top grading that calls attention to itself, while others need to go down a more subtle, restrained route.

Avenger111 wrote:

Wow, so this is my compitition. I'm doomed. Man, every time I think I have somthing someone else out does me. Well, koodus to you my friend. This looks like it will make a damn fine movie.
You don't need to worry, Avenger, this is not intended to become a full feature. The spoof trailer was part of the larger stage presentation and is only intended to exist as you see here, there is no larger film. smile
Posted: Tue, 21st Mar 2006, 1:06pm

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BlackNumenorean

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Avenger111 wrote:

Wow, so this is my compitition. I'm doomed. Man, every time I think I have somthing someone else out does me. Well, koodus to you my friend. This looks like it will make a damn fine movie.

If you'd like check mine out on the site or visit my website at:
www.goldenrodmovie.com
As the man said, you'll have no competition from us! We're concentrating on the multimedia/stage format for the time being. Check the site at www.axisofevilproductions.com

Like the look of your Golden Rod project! You're right in that there isn't enough (intelligent) fantasy spoofing around at the moment (Ah, well, until The Hogfather...), so good luck to you!
Posted: Tue, 21st Mar 2006, 11:42pm

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visualchaos

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Hey this is friggin KOOL!! I can't wait for the finish product. Excellent Job!! biggrin
Posted: Wed, 22nd Mar 2006, 3:44am

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ben3308

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Rating: +1

Tarn wrote:

While the high contrast look works really well in a techno-thriller like your Splinter Cell trailer, it would look very out of place on a fantasy movie like this. Some projects suit really over the top grading that calls attention to itself, while others need to go down a more subtle, restrained route.
I understand, I tihnk you're reading my quote the wrong way. Because I favor high contrast, I'm inclined towards it. I know that it certianly doesn't fit in every LOTR shot, I was just stating why it didn't appeal to me.

In regards to the grading within context, I felt it was well colorized, but some was too washed out to look professional. Many shots looked as if they had been tried to have been properly graded, they were just missing a little something, I can't quite place it. This could also be because compression is lowering the sharpness of the picture.

Like I said, I was just trying to reason my vote, I'm not saying this wasn't technically proficient, because, in most aspects, it was.

EDIT: After just finishing watching the grading comparison, I've surmised the problem: the camera. Simply, I feel the grading was too ambitious for the quality of the camera on which the footage was shot.

After about the 1:16 mark I really, really like the grading; but most before that bleeds too many colors together, not leaving enough contrast between the talent in the foreground and the background atmosphere. I think if you'll go through this one more time, you can hopefully see what I mean. Perhaps if shto on something better, like, say a camera of the Canon XL- series, the grading would fare better, however, IMO, it suffers due to poor image sharpness.

Like I said, the only real problems are before 1:16, everything after is golden. When watching details in the comparison, I'm wowed by the attempts at fixing bad video (the enhanced sun rays hitting the camera in the opening shot) or the color options (the almost completely desaturated wide shot of the orcs. Though it hints at being B&W, there are still subtle, brilliant hues of red, green, and blue upon the moving orcs. I dunno if you isolated the orcs with garbage mattes, desaturated them slightly, then desaturated the bg drastically, or if it's just an easy filter in VLab, but it works)

All-in-all, though I stand by my vote, I've reconsidered my opinion on the grading.
Posted: Tue, 12th Sep 2006, 7:54am

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Simon K Jones

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To those that may be interested, the Coalition's new video can now be seen here:

http://fxhome.com/cinema/info_cache/movieinfo2428.html

Thanks again to everyone that watched The Coalition of the Ring!