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Suburban Plight - re-edit: feedback wanted

Posted: Mon, 21st Aug 2006, 4:36am

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effstops

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Rating: +5

Hey guys! I haven't posted here all that much but I'm really interested in what you think of my latest movie, Suburban Plight. It took me a ridiculous amount of time to finish (almost two years!) mainly because of this GOSH DARN Snurgle model:




That thing took me forever. I spent months working in Blender to figure out how to create and animate a semi-realistic 3D creature, and to integrate that with live-action footage. (Check out the walkcycle here:http://peerlessproductions.com/animation/pages/BabySnurgle_Walkcycle.html)

Anyways, without further ado, I present Suburban Plight!


Enter the site!



And, if you're interested in the vfx process, I did a little outline of the creation of one shot in Blender, where I composite 3D with live-action: Snurgle Shot Overview Quicktime, 22 mb (Right-click, Save As!)

Anyways, I'm completely open to criticism and opinions and whatnot, so post away! I'd love to hear what you think. Hope you enjoy it! Thanks for watching. smile

--Colin

(P.S. On an unrelated note, I just graduated from high school this spring and in two weeks I'll be a freshman at Savannah College of Art and Design. Are any of you going to SCAD?)

Last edited Fri, 25th Aug 2006, 11:09pm; edited 2 times in total.

Posted: Mon, 21st Aug 2006, 7:26am

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Serpent

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Effstops, nice to know you're still around! That was brilliant, original, etc. I love shorts like this, Pixar style almost. Though, I would have grabed the Rebel and photographed the "pest." wink The animation was brilliant and the camera work was PRO. Mind telling us how you did the long panningish shot? You are one of the biggest contributers to the CG/live action integration on the net, and you did it again. Congrats on college etc. You're going places.
Posted: Mon, 21st Aug 2006, 1:53pm

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Mantra

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Hi!

Just wanted to congratulate you on your work, especially the fact that you persevered over such a long time. I really liked the 'Snurgle'. The film itself is a little too long in my opinion, it felt like the part up until the 'Lawnmower Man' was over extended, but the twist was excellent and you had a plethora of good looking shots dotted through out the film.

Congrat's on a short film that stands out and features impressive CG character work.

Keep On Keepin' On
Mantra

Edit: Just watched your overview. Really enjoyed it. You have a lot of patience as well as talent smile
Posted: Mon, 21st Aug 2006, 5:26pm

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Jazzmanian

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That was simply brilliant. Though I'm with Mantra in thinking that the lawnmowing scenes dragged on a bit too long for my tastes before you got to the "meat" of the film, it was just very professionally shot and the snurgle was fantastic. Your story twist was also great. I immediately sent the link to a lot of friends. I'd have to give this a five if it was in the cinema.

(Ooops. Wait... I noticed you didn't use any FXhome products in it so you probably couldnt' load it there. Still beautiful, though.)
Posted: Mon, 21st Aug 2006, 5:50pm

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devilskater

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That was simple...but brilliant. You have alot of talent !!!
And believe me, the 2 years were WORTH IT !!! you just need to show that to some producer and you have a job in the film industry. AMAZING !!!


HOWEVER, what did disturb me, since you paid alot of attention to the wiggling of the animals trunk....you missed out on the "floppy" movement of the trunk, when the little things are jumping around !!!
Another thing which I didnt like is, as mentioned before, the quite long bit of your dad mowing the lawn...good camera angles (maybe that is what you were testing), but for a spectator that bit was way too long, you could have shortened that to a minute !!!

but all in all, it was really cute and amazing and you should be proud of your work. I wish you all the best for the future, but you better watch out for one thing: MEEEE =)

cheers,
d.
Posted: Mon, 21st Aug 2006, 5:57pm

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Nutbar

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That was.... absolutely amazing. I wouldn't be suprised to see that opening the next big pixar film.

My girlfriend loved the snurgle, where can you get one from?
Posted: Mon, 21st Aug 2006, 6:00pm

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Maxy

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you clearly pack some real talent...... clap

people like you remind me of what hard work is all about......the 2 years were worth it.
Posted: Tue, 22nd Aug 2006, 8:24pm

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CurtinParloe

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It's clear from the excellent results that you've put a lot of work into this. I agree with other people's comments about the length of the beginning sequence - I understand why it's there, but it doesn't work as it is - perhaps there's another (shorter) way of showing his love for the grass.
At the moment, Love and Marriage provides a nice, light mood, but it's doubtful you can get rights to use it in a film festival from Sinatra's estate (not to mention those of Sammy Cahn and James van Heusen, the composers). By all means give them a try, but you might be better getting a composer (or band) to do something, using that track as the inspiration, perhaps even something about loving grass!
Posted: Tue, 22nd Aug 2006, 9:20pm

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Sollthar

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Hehe, this is indeed a fun little shortfilm with some solid modelling, animating and compositing skills put into it. The idea is also quite hilarious and the camerawork is solid.

The directing leaves some stuff open to wish for, as it has - even as short as it is - some pacing issues that reduce it's impact quite a bit, which is a shame. Some of the editing is also slightly off. On otherwise so high standards, this is a bit of a shame really.


But you did your job well, kudos! smile
And by working on something for 2 years, you indeed proved a high level of professionalism, which I salute you for!
Posted: Tue, 22nd Aug 2006, 11:46pm

Post 10 of 29

effstops

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Rating: +1

Thanks so much, guys! Sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you - I just got my wisdom teeth removed. (UGH.) I'm glad the overview movie was helpful, and I'm glad you all seem to like the movie!

Serpent wrote:

The animation was brilliant and the camera work was PRO. Mind telling us how you did the long panningish shot?
Thanks a lot, man!! For that particular shot, I used a Glidecam 2000 (a basic steadicam sort of thing), which made the shot very smooth. I just walked along the grass keeping the camera as steady as possible. But even then it wasn't perfectly smooth - there were a lot of jitters and stuff in the footage. So once I brought that shot into the computer, I ran it through Shake using its "SmoothCam" feature. It's really really powerful - check out this before/after shot!


devilskater wrote:

That was simple...but brilliant. You have alot of talent !!!

HOWEVER, what did disturb me, since you paid alot of attention to the wiggling of the animals trunk....you missed out on the "floppy" movement of the trunk, when the little things are jumping around !!!
True! The only times I neglected to animate the trunks and stuff was when the animals were moving very fast. I guess I thought that you wouldn't notice... but I was wrong. Blah. biggrin Anyways, I'm glad you liked it anyway!

CurtinParloe wrote:

I agree with other people's comments about the length of the beginning sequence - I understand why it's there, but it doesn't work as it is - perhaps there's another (shorter) way of showing his love for the grass. ...you might be better getting a composer (or band) to do something, using that track as the inspiration, perhaps even something about loving grass!
Yup! I think I'm going to try to do exactly that. smile

Sollthar wrote:

The directing leaves some stuff open to wish for, as it has - even as short as it is - some pacing issues that reduce it's impact quite a bit, which is a shame. Some of the editing is also slightly off. On otherwise so high standards, this is a bit of a shame really.
Hey Sollthar, thanks for the crits! I know what my pacing problems are but I'm wondering what segments you're referring to when you're talking about the editing? I'd like to fix both of these problems now that it's apparent that I should go back and re-score the film. So can you elaborate about the editing problems? Thanks a lot!

Thanks again for everyone's comments. See ya!

--Colin
Posted: Wed, 23rd Aug 2006, 12:41am

Post 11 of 29

Sollthar

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Rating: +2

Sure, if you want me to, I can point out where I think the editing could be improved (Allthough the "editing problems" I referred to are connected to the directing and pacing issues).

And I know, the hardest thing is always the GET RID of footage you don't need. Especially after working such a long time on something, every shot you lose hurts, I know that. smile
But it's the main problem of this edit. it's too afraid to get rid of shots you simply don't need because they don't tell anything new.



Right, here my - completely personal - suggestions:



0:00:16 - There's quite a few frames before the camera actually goes into motion. If you lost some of these (ideally exactly one step of your actor) it'll be a bit sharper.

0:00:23 - Thats a hard one to describe. There's a bit of countermotion in those two shots, but you can get rid of those if you lose just 4 or 5 frames of the shot from behind, before you cut to the one showing him picking out the ipod.

0:01:14 - That frameblending seems utterly unnecessary and unmotivated. A straight cut would be much preferred. Cause filmwise, there's no real reason for a frameblending there. In fact, I'd lose that closeup shot entirely, it shows nothing new, nor is a very good shot (while the glidecam one is and the next one too, with cutting to a mediocre shot, you kinda destroy the nice glidecam feeling too)
I'd say definately lose that shot.

0:01:26 - I'd say at this point, you HAVE to give the viewer new information. We've seen him long enough, now, something new needs to happen. I'd argue, this is the part where it starts to feel "too long". Get rid of it all. The closeup shot isn't especially nice and the next one is awfully wobbly compared to your beautiful glidecam shot. Besides, it's again absolutely uninteresting.
I'd say lose both shots from 1:26 to 1:34 and just go there directly. (because otherwise you'll get a continuity problem, assuming you have no other footage)

0:01:49 - Again, get rid of the frameblending. Have a look at my filmlanguage tutorial in the forum, a blend does again not fit in.
Actually, the whole montage of him, again doing the same thing we've already seen, is pointless. I'd say lose it completely too. It delivers nothing new. Plus we've seen the snurgle now and we all wonder what's up with him. Leaving the audience like that will feel "weird" in an unpleasant way. You don't want that.
I'd say lose everything from 1:49 to 2:21. While it's alright material, it's not as good as other material you have and, as said, it just serves no purpuse for the storytelling. Everything that doesn't deliver new information is redundant.

The next sequence is great!

0:03:01 - You underestimate the viewer there. Frankly, your actor runs quite slow. And it feels like there could be some time saved there. One sees the camera simply for too long. I'd suggest to leave the cam sharp less long, then speed up the focus pull, then cut immedeately to the door opening (since it's a static shot, you should be able to fake all this thus making it faster)

0:03:06 - A continuity error. There's a least 1 metre he runs twice. He's already almost gotten to that dark furniture in the last shot, now I see him move at least one entire step again. Cut shorter.

0:03:11 - Again you underestimate how quick a viewer can gather visual information in my opinion. You should get lost of at least 20 frames in total in that sequence. First, get lost of a few frames of that closeup - he sees something, got it, next - then get lost of some frames of the camera at the beginning of the next shot as well as some frames of the ending of that shot. Try it out, believe me it'll work better. the human eye can pick up an information in less then 6/7 frames.

0:03:15 - Same, lose the frames of the hammer shot all up until the first pixel of his arm comes in. As it is now, it stops the feeling of motion the shot before conveys.

0:03:17 - Get rid of that shot entirely, it's very ugly sad . We saw him running away with the hammer in the shot before. Cut straigt to him leaving the house.


The hammer-Slam sequence is a bit off my taste of camerawork and editing, but since all the footage looks like that, I don't think there's really something technically wrong with it.




That's it. I know I talk of "frames" a lot, but you'll find out, the sum up. Sometimes, a cut can really be brilliant or meh depending on just 3 frames more or less.

Right, that's where I see improvements that could be made. I hope you can take something out of it and try some of my suggestions out. Maybe you'll find they work, maybe not. biggrin


And don't let the impression that I wrote a lot about "bad" editing fool you, you have a very cool little short on your hands with some excellent stuff in it. That's exactly why smaller problems become so aparrent and I think you could improve the film by 100% if you sort out these problems. Which is the goal at the end: Having the best possible result. smile
Posted: Wed, 23rd Aug 2006, 1:28am

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effstops

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WOOOO!! Thanks so much for those suggestions! I went through them all with the video and I agree that most of them make a whole lot of sense. And I'm happy that at least none of my Snurgle shots need clipping because those are the ones I've spent the most time on.

So no crossfades, eh? Very interesting!

But the one short sequence I reeeeallly want to keep is the one of him smelling the grass. Doesn't that deliver new information? Doesn't it show that he loves his lawn a little too much?

Anyways, I'm really glad you told me how I underestimate the viewer and give them too much time to "see" stuff - I think that's a problem I've been having in general. I want to make sure people get it. Thanks again for the great suggestions and I'll definitely try them out for the re-edit!

--Colin

edit: I'm reading through your suggestions again because I'm about to begin re-editing. And I have a question:

Sollthar wrote:

0:01:14 ...In fact, I'd lose that closeup shot entirely, it shows nothing new, nor is a very good shot (while the glidecam one is and the next one too, with cutting to a mediocre shot, you kinda destroy the nice glidecam feeling too)
I'd say definately lose that shot.
By deleting that shot wouldn't I be crossing the line of action? That's the only reason I included that shot there in the first place. In editing, if the character is not in the frame at the beginning of the shot - if he enters the frame - do I still need to worry about the direction he's moving?

Last edited Wed, 23rd Aug 2006, 3:53am; edited 2 times in total.

Posted: Wed, 23rd Aug 2006, 2:35am

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Serpent

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Awesome. Thanks so much for the before and after shot. I'll have to look for software like that. My steadicam/my hands are less than perfect. I haven't yet been able to balance my GL1 on it yet though, it always balances fine when I calabrate it on a flat surface but tips over when I put the camera on it. But after seeing that shot it inspired me to fix it. +1 to you and Sollthar (your editing tips taught stuff wink)
Posted: Wed, 23rd Aug 2006, 4:48am

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EVW2K

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That was really really cool, very good job. And i have one question, unrelated to the movie. I've read your tut on motion capture with icarus. And i need to know, is there anyway i can get the data from icarus and put it into premiere without using after effects? That would work miracles on my films, and my budget. Again, great job on that movie, your time was not wasted. And were are you going to college?
Posted: Wed, 23rd Aug 2006, 9:15am

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ssj john

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Mantra wrote:

and you had a plethora of good looking shots dotted through out the film.
I just want to acknowledge how niave this sentence comes across to me. EVERY shot in a movie should be "good looking" Not just dotted through out.

I personally thought most if not all the shots were "good" Not nessecarily jaw dropping. Although the shot where the camera moves along the yard was spectacular.

You don't see hollywood just pointing a camera and pressing the record button, and then every once in a while taking time to set up a "nice" shot. (well sadly sometimes I think they do, but we do not consider those good movies.) No, every shot is planned out carefully.(not to say you didn't take time on your shots, as I am confident you did.)

Sorry effstops if this post seems to tear on your film. That is not my intent. My purpose was to give my opinion on the above quote. No offense intended to you either mantra.

-John-
Posted: Wed, 23rd Aug 2006, 9:46am

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Sollthar

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Cool you can use some of it!

Yeah, I was maybe a bit too drastic with cutting stuff out. wink
It's just that I'd really shorten the sequence before the snurgle appear and I wouldn't get rid of any of the really beautyful shots you have.

So no crossfades, eh? Very interesting!
Crossfades are difficult. Generally, they communicate a lot of time passing by. The crossfades in that one shot are great, since they show how long it takes him all. But doing a crossfade in the middle of a scene, to the SAME scene is redundant. Plus you put the stress on how long this scene is going subconsciously too. smile

Doesn't that deliver new information? Doesn't it show that he loves his lawn a little too much?
Heh, yeah, it does. And it's fun one. I thought about leaving it in, but I couldn't figure out a way to leave just that part of the montage in. If you find one, keep that part, as he actually does something new and it does deliver new info. You're absolutely right!

By deleting that shot wouldn't I be crossing the line of action? That's the only reason I included that shot there in the first place. In editing, if the character is not in the frame at the beginning of the shot - if he enters the frame - do I still need to worry about the direction he's moving?
Well, the crossing the line rule is especially important in dialogue with several people, because it'll be confusing if you cross the line several times. As this whole sequence has a bit of a "montage" feeling to it, I'd say that's perfectly fine.
(You do cross the line at 00:04:08 too, but that again, is no problem)
Posted: Wed, 23rd Aug 2006, 3:42pm

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Oeyvind

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clap Awsome! This was great! Two well spent years! I liked the story twist.. razz The camerawork was excellent! I loved the smooth movements and the shaky shots. The Snurgle was really stunning, it looked as if it could be taken straight out from IceAge or a Pixar movie..! The character animation was superb and the compositing of them was great! Cute thingy! wink The text in the beginning was actually very proffesionally.. Amazing piece of work! I'm completly sure you'll be something big!

Oeyvind
Posted: Wed, 23rd Aug 2006, 4:24pm

Post 18 of 29

effstops

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Thanks for the followup, Sollthar! biggrin I would +1 your posts if I could. Heh.

EVW2K - Sorry, I'm pretty sure you cannot go directly from Icarus to Premiere. However, if you're concerned about your budget, try using Blender for this purpose. It's free, and it actually is a lot more compatible with Icarus than AE is. And for your other question, I'm going to Savannah College of Art and Design next year.

And thanks so much Serpent and Oeyvind!

--Colin
Posted: Fri, 25th Aug 2006, 11:00pm

Post 19 of 29

effstops

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Rating: +1

Hey guys! I'm in the process of re-editing, and I need your help.

As you might have observed, the main problem with the film right now that the beginning mowing sequence is too long in the original. I have edited out a full thirty seconds from the sequence and I want to know if it is enough.

Editing this down is incredibly difficult for me. I don't think I was meant to be an editor. biggrin I would really like to see what some of you guys could do with the same footage.

ANYWAY! I've uploaded the mowing segment of the film and I'd really like to hear your opinions:

http://www.peerlessproductions.com/misc/movies/SP_reEditv1.mov

First of all, is it an improvement? -- does the reordering of "scenes" work better?

Do any cuts stand out? Each time I watch it I see different things. I don't know whether to trust my intuition anymore. And finally, is it now short enough? or would you cut it down even more?

I'm in the process of getting the film scored, so the "Love and Marriage" track is just temp music. (It's incredibly difficult to edit this without music in the background.)


THANKS!!

--Colin
Posted: Fri, 25th Aug 2006, 11:09pm

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Sollthar

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Works a lot better! Yes! smile
(except there's still an unjustified frameblending in there, if you leave that one out, then it's close to perfect I'd say) wink
Posted: Sat, 26th Aug 2006, 12:25am

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blindapprentice

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Nope. Sorry, I don't agree. I think it's actually too short now. The previous version tells a story and establishes a relationship between the man and his grass where as this truncated version doesn't. Now there's not enough time for the viewer to really absorb the message you're trying to portray. I'd prefer there be too much time spent on the grass than too little. Don't assume the audience is able to gather information in a short amount of time; some people are slower than others. But that's just my opinion. I really respect Sollthar's crits though, and agree that some of the cuts could be pulled in a bit, but I personally don't think it was too long. Give us time enough to really understand how much this guy loves his grass. Currently, with this new edit, I don't think people would understand why he went to all that trouble merely to put up a -keep off the grass- sign. But either way, it's looking really great! Keep it up.

~Alex
Posted: Sat, 26th Aug 2006, 12:29am

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Sollthar

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Hm, interesting you and blindapprentice share the same IP adress. Is he a friend of yours?
Posted: Sat, 26th Aug 2006, 1:21am

Post 23 of 29

effstops

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He's my younger brother, LOL, and he likes to post in my threads. razz

Anyway I'm really glad you think it's an improvement! And about the frameblending - I tried that cut with a crossfade and without, but thought that it looked better with it. Now, I must know: is this something that every good editor would have a problem with? Is there some respected frameblending rule that I'm breaking? I'm tempted to leave it in, but I know you have a lot more experience than I.

Thanks again for all your input!

--Colin
Posted: Sat, 26th Aug 2006, 1:36am

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Pooky

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Hmm I'd have to agree that now it's too short... it's better than before, but still needs some work smile
Posted: Sat, 26th Aug 2006, 1:46am

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Sollthar

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I wouldn't be fooled by the fact the sequence now stands alone, without the context. Sure, it feels much shorter then before - but if it works or not has to be decided in context of the entire film, not alone.

Editing wise, it works much better. If the pacing is now too fast, I can't tell.

is this something that every good editor would have a problem with?
One can't tell. A blend is unusual in the middle of a sequence, blending to basically the same scene again. So one could either love the fact you do an unusual thing, hate that you broke a rule or not even bother or see it. It's difficult to say like that.

At the end, the choice is yours alone.
If you can't find another way to edit or really feel it's better that way, then by all means leave it it, no matter what others say.

This is YOUR movie! smile
Posted: Sat, 26th Aug 2006, 3:59am

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effstops

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Gah!! Well, this is it. I've gone insane. I can't judge this movie anymore. It was way too long and then I shortened it. But then it begins to feel too rushed, so I decided to fill it out a little bit, and now we're back where we started!

Well, okay, I shaved off 10 seconds. Not much shorter, but I think it works better overall. The one change I made that I'm glad about is holding off on the first reveal shot of the Snurgle so that the actual encounter is temporally closer. The audience isn't left wondering about him for nearly as long. Before, that duration of time was about 45 seconds. Now, it's about 20.

Okay, so I don't know if this is going to do me any good, but I uploaded my final (?) cut. Please take a look at it and tell me that it's perfect. biggrin

http://www.peerlessproductions.com/misc/movies/SP_reEditv2.mov

Thanks again for the feedback.

--Colin
Posted: Sat, 26th Aug 2006, 4:11am

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Serpent

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The long shot from below (I think there's a creak in the shot) seems to be cut off too short. Other than that it wasn't too long at all for me. I liked the pacing.
Posted: Sat, 26th Aug 2006, 12:34pm

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Jazzmanian

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While I'm simply not good enough at this to judge how the entire thing will come out after only seeing the lawnmowing section re-cut, I'd have to say that I like the pace and length of this latest version far more than the original. It moves fast enough that I think you drive home the message of how fanatical the guy is about the lawn, but you introduce the Snurgle in a reasonable amount of time and whet the audience's appetite sufficiently to keep them engaged until we get to the real "meat" of the 3D work and the plot development.

But.... (and come on, now. After all of that glowing praise, you just *knew* there was a "but" coming, didn't you?) one of the really interesting and entertaining devices you used in this film was the lawnmower man's employment of the iPod to provide a visual backdrop to the switch in music tracks. I *love* that sort of thing in film. In your first version, there was a good period of time with the opening credits and early lawnmowing work where the first music track (Incredibles?) was playing before he pulls out the iPod and switches to the Sinatra track. Have you tried melding this new cut into the intro credits and footage yet? Because I'm wondering if it isn't going to be too short of a time on the first music track before the switch for that to deliver the full effect.

If it doesn't seem to work well, I'm wondering if the iPod shot couldn't be moved a little further back in the recut lawnmowing footage so you get a smoother transition? This edited and incomplete edition starts out with a few notes (obviously not how you're going to leave it, I know) and then scratches over to Sinatra. Just curious how you're going to make that play out in the final.
Posted: Sat, 26th Aug 2006, 6:55pm

Post 29 of 29

effstops

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Thanks guys!

Serpent, yeah I totally agree. The problem is, right after that my Dad looks at the camera. (GAH!) So maybe I'll find another shot. I'm glad you like it, though!

Jazzmanian, thanks for your comments! Actually, the introduction - the first shot up to the point where he takes out the iPod, is largely intact. I shaved off a few frames but it's pretty much the same amount of time. So hopefully this won't be an issue. However, I agree with you - it's one of the things I think works quite well right now, but I don't know if that moment will have the same effect with music tracks that are not recognizable. I'm having this re-scored with... well, it's a soundtrack. It probably won't work as well.