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Clones in Sixty Seconds - A Monty Python Tribute

Posted: Wed, 2nd Aug 2006, 8:50am

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Jazzmanian

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EDIT: (8/7/06) Added new copies in both .wmv and .mp4 with a new try at grading the film properly.

This is my submission for the local "Clones in Sixty Seconds" competition where you will have to create a short (one minute or less) film entry using the cloning of one or more actors. The film is titled, "A Tribute to Monty Python" and that's exactly what it is. While this is a very short piece, it is *not* a test clip, etc. This is the finished product, so feel free to tear it up and critique as you will.

The film is shot in two settings. The first ('tea preparation') takes place in a kitchen and I attempted to grade it in a more bright, harsh, heavily contrasted fashion to give it a sterile feel. The second part, where the actual cloning happens, is in the "sitting room" and I tried to grade that with a softer, warmer glow feel.

I'm attempting two different types of SFX in this film for the first time. The first is cloning, obviously, being the theme. The second is a short bit of flash-bang SFX for comedic effect. Also, this is my first published film shot on my new 3 chip mini-DV camera, so the quality is hopefully better overall. On all technical aspects, please let me know how I did. I have tried to learn from all of you here at FXhome.

I generally go for darker stuff, but I "stepped outside" myself here and went for some old fashioned, Pythonesque comedy. I hope you enjoy it.


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Posted: Wed, 2nd Aug 2006, 9:56am

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MST productions

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can anyone tell me wht the gross on the movies are?
Posted: Wed, 2nd Aug 2006, 11:26am

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Jazzmanian

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MST productions wrote:

can anyone tell me wht the gross on the movies are?
It's just tied to the total number of downloads.
Posted: Wed, 2nd Aug 2006, 1:37pm

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Arktic

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Right - here are my thoughts on this piece.

Firstly, you own the world's greatest tea-kettle. Fact.

Secondly, you need to work both on your grading and your graphics skills. Both of those let you down badly, imho. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but I'd rather be direct about it than sugar coat my reply and not let you know what was wrong.

It's good that you've decided to grade in order to alter the feel of the scenes, but they weren't graded enough that you could tell the difference. In the first setting, you seem to have lost a lot of contrast (the tea-maker's coat is grey looking, rather than black) rather than gained it. There's also a subtle blue-ish tint, but not enough that I would have noticed it had you not pointed it out. The sitting room scene is similar, it looks a bit orange, but washed out and dull. I have to go to work soon, but if I get time later, I'll post some example images showing how I would personally have graded those scenes.

And the graphics - they looked a little dated. I think you should maybe invest in a motion graphics package - or an NLE that has some better title/graphics creation options.

However, aside from those negative points, you did several things very well - the cloning was very well done, and it was timed perfectly too. Though the explosion could have done with a little work, the overall effect was good, and it was great for a first attempt.

Best of luck with the competition!

Cheers,
Arktic.

Last edited Wed, 2nd Aug 2006, 1:47pm; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Wed, 2nd Aug 2006, 1:40pm

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Simon K Jones

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Arktic wrote:

And the graphics - they looked a little dated. I think you should maybe invest in a motion graphics package - or an NLE that has some better title/graphics creation options.
Isn't that because they're meant to look like classic Monty Python animations?
Posted: Wed, 2nd Aug 2006, 1:48pm

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Arktic

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Quite possibly - but to me, at least, they looked more like an early 90's wedding video's graphics more than anything else.
Posted: Wed, 2nd Aug 2006, 3:00pm

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Jazzmanian

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That's exactly the kind of feedback I need, Arktic, thanks. And I look forward to your grading examples. I'm still learning about that kind of thing almost entirely in the dark here. (And I still have time to recut this movie if I"m fast!)

As to the graphics... yes, that was supposed to be an imitating the look of the old Python TV series, and their graphics really were two dimensional, flat and still damned funny. But yeah, I have zero experience with graphics and definitely need to learn more. I've never even considered buying a separate program just for doing graphics, but maybe I should.

Oh, none of those titles and graphics came from the NLE, by the way. I created them all in Paint and worked them into the film using CLab.

(edit) Oh, and what was the problem with the explosion? The timing or how it was composited in? I'll be glad to fix it, but I'm not sure what the issue is with it yet.
Posted: Fri, 4th Aug 2006, 12:29am

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Garrison

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Hey Jazz,

Before I comment, I am not a grading expert, and I'm not familiar with Monty Python (I know what it is, just never really caught the show) so I'm at a disadvantage.

Having said that I did like the cloning a lot. Your lady friend seems to be so willing to be a part of your projects and that's great.

The titling, tone, and music seemed to fit really well (again, I don't know the show). Loved the joke.

I liked it.
Posted: Fri, 4th Aug 2006, 12:41am

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Arktic

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Rating: +1

Right - here's my thoughts on the grading.

Just remember, though, this was a rush job, and it's a re-grade of a previously graded image. With more time, care and the original footage to work with, you should be able to acchieve a much better result.

So, for the first scene, you wanted a cold, clinical look. This is a bit harsh, but it's what I came up with in about two minutes:



On reflection, it's a bit too high contrast, but I didn't save the project, so I can't go back and change it.

How did I grade this? Well, this is a two-layer setup - the layers look like this:



The lower layer is a less harsh grade, but lacks the glow/blur of the upper, more contrasty layer. The upper layer is set to an 'add' or 'hard light' composite mode. It's also set to semi-transparent. The reason for this was that I wanted the highlights to 'bleed' into each other, and have a subtle glowing effect. There are a lot of different filters used, mainly to increase the amount of blue in the image, but also to alter the contrast and brightness. It was basically a case of playing with the grade filters and seeing what worked.

As I say, I could do with more work, as the higlights on the left hand side are severly blown out, and there's a loss of detail on the cups - but it's a basis.

Here are the settings that I used, by the way:
LOWER LAYER SETTINGS:

UPPER LAYER SETTINGS:


And here's a side by side comparison of your grade and mine:


The second scene's grading was a lot less complicated. All I've done here is up the contrast, up the saturation, and added a slight glow using the 'composite > glow' effect. Here's what I came up with:


I hope these examples are usefull to you!

Also, about the explosion, I'm not 100% sure exactly what it was that didn't sit quite right with me, but I think it's that the explosion didn't appear to give off any light, and there was a gap between the explosion happening and the smoke appearing (I think). The smoke thing is just a timing issue, and to make it appear that the explosion has given off light, there are a number of techniques - the most simple of which would be increasing the brightness of the whole image for a couple of frames, or using an optical effect. I think there may be a tutorial somewhere on this site about adding artificial lighting. I'll see if I can dig it out.

Hope this helps smile

Cheers,
Arktic.

EDIT - One of the image links was dead, let me know if any others go and I'll fix em smile

Last edited Fri, 4th Aug 2006, 10:25am; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Fri, 4th Aug 2006, 1:29am

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Jazzmanian

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Holy cow! Tons to work with here, Arktic. I can't thank you enough. Between this and your PM, I have a good weekend's work ahead of me, and while it's too late to help in the competition, I think you've just provided me with an invaluable service in my future movie making efforts. First things first, I'll try to calibrate my monitors, both the big one here at home and my laptop, as they both failed the calibration test you sent me. Then I'll start digging into the settings you used. I'm sure it's my crappy monitor calibration, but to be honest, your grading of the tea setting looks kind of dark and hard to pick out individual features on my monitor. (Probably one of the things messing up my amateur attempts to grade initially.) I'll let you know how it goes as I move through this process.

Again, thanks a ton. I'm still fumbling in the dark as a rank newbie trying to figure out this grading process, and your help is most appreciated. Hopefully I can pay you back some day with some better graded films as I certainly plan to continue doing this.

Cheers!
Posted: Fri, 4th Aug 2006, 1:32am

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Jazzmanian

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Garrison wrote:

Hey Jazz,

Before I comment, I am not a grading expert, and I'm not familiar with Monty Python (I know what it is, just never really caught the show) so I'm at a disadvantage.
Oh, you simply must check them out. You can pick up their work most anywhere, and while a lot of it is old and probably annoys the new age, high tech cinema buffs, they are classic.

Having said that I did like the cloning a lot. Your lady friend seems to be so willing to be a part of your projects and that's great.

The titling, tone, and music seemed to fit really well (again, I don't know the show). Loved the joke.

I liked it.
Thanks! I put a lot of work into it, even speaking as a newbie. I'm getting some good help from Arktic, so I'm going to start working on a re-cut to make it better, but I appreciate your support and I'm glad you got the jokes. smile
Posted: Fri, 4th Aug 2006, 1:48am

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FXhomer26634

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i love it great great great
Posted: Fri, 4th Aug 2006, 3:51pm

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White Balance Guy

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Well I have now watched it four times, I'd just love it. I was first introduced to Monty Python in 1977 here in the state of Florida. In my opinion you are dead on with capturing the essence of that show. I personally loved the opening scene I thought the grading/color balance and contrast is some of the best I have seen here on FX.com.
The first time I watched the cloning scene I was so involved with being entertained I had no technical thoughts.

But the second time I watched it I said to myself how did she get such perfect timing on the script between those performances excellent job. I would greatly appreciate some details on how you achieved such perfect timing on the audio. Was the cloned listing to a playback while it performed its lines? I hear people all the time here on FX.com talking about color shifting a scene to set a particular mood they call it grading I believe.

But for me when I watch a top-quality Hollywood movie on DVD I am most impressed when I see a scene where the color balance is textbook perfect like in real life. I personally don't get it about all of this grading. In the clothing scene where you tried to grade that with a softer, warmer glow feel, I agree with that choice. The only suggestion I would make would be just a little more color saturation that way it looks more professional and less like a home movie.
keep up the good work looking forward to seeing your next project.

Lou
Posted: Fri, 4th Aug 2006, 5:12pm

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Jazzmanian

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Wow, thanks Lou! I'm blushing from the probably unwarranted praise.

Lou wrote:

how did she get such perfect timing on the script between those performances excellent job. I would greatly appreciate some details on how you achieved such perfect timing on the audio. Was the cloned listing to a playback while it performed its lines?
Actually, that resulted from a couple of dry runs with me holding a stopwatch off camera prior to filming, and then acting as a partner to keep the timing down. We each had a copy of that part of the script, (hers was taped inside of the newspaper) and for each of the two cloning runs I read the other half of the dialogue at the pace we practiced. Then, when I went to combine the two clips, I ripped the audio from the second one in the NLE and laid it over the top of the audio from the first one. I split the film into segments of dialogue on both clips and muted the sections where I was speaking the lines in alternating sides, leaving only her audio intact. When that was done, I saved that audio track as a separate file. When the grading and SFX was all done for the segment in CLab, I put it back into the NLE with no sound and subbed in the audio track I'd already made. It was short enough that synching up the audio and video wasn't an issue.

Lou wrote:

The only suggestion I would make would be just a little more color saturation that way it looks more professional and less like a home movie.
Yes. Arktic has been helping me and I'm working on a new version of it regrading everything this weekend. Just not finding the time to rush it out as fast as I'd like but I hope to have a second version uploaded by Sunday night.

Thanks again!
Posted: Mon, 7th Aug 2006, 10:43am

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Jazzmanian

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Well, following a recalibration of my monitor and some input from Arktic, I regraded the film and put up two new versions of it in both .wmv and .mp4 (for the QuickTime folks) of the film. Strangely, the compression on that .mp4 came out, at least in my opinion, simply awful. But the new .wmv looks like an improvement to me.

Not sure about that .mp4 though... it almost looks as if it's being compressed down to non-widescreen, at least in some parts, and the contrast looks washed out compared to the .wmv with an overall degredation in film quality. Of course, I do almost nothing with .mp4 format material so I probably just messed it up on creation somehow.
Posted: Thu, 10th Aug 2006, 8:06pm

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Professsor

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Well as a huge monty python fan, knowing John Cleese through family and having all the other guys autographs i would just like to say, personally hat wasnt very "Monty python"ie.

Otherwise 3/5. Nice Clone Timing!
Posted: Sat, 14th Oct 2006, 1:22pm

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davlin

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As another "Monty" fan I thought this was a perfect tribute to the
brilliance of the "python gang".
Your cloning was absolute perfection....this is a really slick piece
and really funny.
I saw NO technical imperfections at all.......this fanatism of grading
which seems to have gripped the membership (almost like political
correctness) is the directors choice of vision and is purely subjective)

Sorry i missed this little gem on its first outing, this deserves to do well in competition.

O'l Dav