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Marathon

Posted: Mon, 24th Sep 2007, 10:50am

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Atom

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"It's not about winning, but finishing."

This is not only the tagline for the movie itself, but was the mantra for the team that made it. Despite multiple setbacks, including reprimands from the authorities, life-threatening medical issues, and technical difficulties, we managed to create what you see today.

After an intense brainstorming session at Cici's Pizza, 'Marathon' was written, shot, edited, and rendered in under 48 hours with specific guidelines. We tried to make the coolest-looking, most dramatic movie we could, and we think that came through.

This has been posted before, we know, but we still hope you enjoy the movie.


More Info
Posted: Mon, 24th Sep 2007, 10:08pm

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ben3308

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I'm the one that put this back up, not my brother. So don't give him any backlash for taking it down only to put it up. That's all on me, simply because I don't have a gold account. Yet. biggrin

I hope this can be judged (close to) objectively, and that people enjoy it. We had a blast making it.
Posted: Mon, 24th Sep 2007, 10:39pm

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Kid

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As well as the arguments we did discuss its main highlights and shortcomings in the other thread. I think its good for it to be back on here because it worked in so many ways and not in others and anyone can learn from that.

Are you working on anything new atm?
Posted: Tue, 25th Sep 2007, 2:14am

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ben3308

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Kid, here's a small peek at the next things to come from Atomic Productions.
Posted: Tue, 25th Sep 2007, 3:34pm

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jmax

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Wow. That's gonna be really good. You've got some damn fine actors there, although their Boston accents aren't exactly flawless, they didn't overdo it, which is good. The sound was a little dodgy between cuts at points, but that'll probably be cleaned up. This "Madison Street Boys" project could really turn into something special.
Posted: Tue, 25th Sep 2007, 7:28pm

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Biblmac

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I agree that was pretty sweet. I enjoyed every bit of it.
Posted: Tue, 25th Sep 2007, 8:24pm

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sfbmovieco

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I really like that clip, but as a smoker I can assure you that cig wouldn't last long in a smokers mouth without getting lit. Either light it and have him not inhale or ditch it. For me, it really stands out. Especially when he has to talk his lines like he has a mouthful or marbles.
Posted: Tue, 25th Sep 2007, 10:19pm

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neoglitz

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I never voted on this the first time around due to all the "crap" surrounding the thread previously and I was not sure if I could view it objectively without influence. So it is nice to see it back to view it with fresh eyes.

Outstanding. I don't know if I missed it the first time or if my view was critical due to the "crap," but it seemed to be a more of an accomplished work of art overall. From title to end, the damn thing is slick, professional and good. No if, ands or buts about it. I liked the cinematography with the sometimes jerking movements that went well with the action. No compliments. Very well done. 5/5

Question, did you re-edit the film?
Posted: Wed, 26th Sep 2007, 1:58am

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ben3308

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sfbmovieco wrote:

I really like that clip, but as a smoker I can assure you that cig wouldn't last long in a smokers mouth without getting lit. Either light it and have him not inhale or ditch it. For me, it really stands out. Especially when he has to talk his lines like he has a mouthful or marbles.
It is explained in the preceding bits of script why he doesn't smoke the cigarette, but why he keeps it. It makes sense, fact-wise and story-wise, trust me. It's a real cigarette, too, not a fake one like in 'Redemption'.
Posted: Wed, 26th Sep 2007, 3:28pm

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SGB

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Its always frustrating for me to try and rate your movies guys. They are always so mixed.

I'll first say that technically, this movie was the best I've seen from you guys so far. Really, excellent camera work, great sound (a few small things here and there with backround noise, but overall excellent!), I loved the voiceover, thats brians voice no? And a lot of the acting was just great. And of course, i love the grading you guys do.

But the movie made even less sense than redemption. With redemption I could tell myself "oh its some sort of religious philosophical redemption and I'm just not understanding it", but its pretty clear that maration does not make any sense. Brian runs over, unhurt, all of a sudden he's got a bullet wound, he carries the kid for a long time, and then he dies (???) but its ok cause the kid can actually walk. Thats a cynical way to put it, but really, it doesnt make a lot of sense. And then all those cuts to Brian, unhurt, wearing something different. I feel like, just with redemption, there was something big that you guys didn't film or forgot to add in. Now I remember you guys telling me somthing about Brian pulling a hernia? ouch, sound painful. I hope he's ok.

Still, the movies theme was clear, and even if it didn't make sense, all the determination and perstistance of the characters was clear and came across excellently. I'd say you guys have gotten better since redemption, but you need to work on the line between "puzzling, confusing, but holds together in a mysterious sort of way" and "flat out doesn't make any sense". I was really waiting for a sort of reveal sequense at the end of marathon, waiting for that little thing that would explain all this bizzareness (not a word), I was loving it and it was just amazing, i could feel the rush of the characters, i could feel brians determination, but there was no reveal, no explanation. Admittedly, the beautiful image of the headlights on the kids (reese?) face was so well done that i forgot about it momentarily, really that was cool. But it just keeps on bothering me how there was so much that just didn't hold together. Now I am sounding very harsh, please dont think i didn't like your movie. I did. It definitly wowed me. I just wish it actually made sense.

I'm gonna have to think for a while on what to rate this.
Posted: Wed, 26th Sep 2007, 3:44pm

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Staff Only

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I have to be honest: I didn't get what was going on some of the time. It was more than i little confusing. But having said that, the "It's not about winning, it's about finishing." was pulled of very well. Not to sentimental. So, kudos to the narrator smile. I just saw you made it in under 48 hours! I have to edit my rating: 4 stars.
Posted: Wed, 26th Sep 2007, 7:20pm

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scannon

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Bravo!
Posted: Wed, 26th Sep 2007, 10:55pm

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ben3308

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Let me preface what I'm about to say by saying that Brian (main runner) pulled a hernia the first time he heaved Reese (the kid) into the air. This was after the first filming day was nearly half over (all the stuff in the tracksuit, the opening shots, and the running stuff, along with the Bill Black scene had already been shot), and as soon as we're ready to break into the story arc of our script, Brian pulls a hernia.

He's out, unable to barely even walk for about 8 hours. We even contemplated taking him to a hospital. So that's about the point when my dad, who sees us at home desperately pulling rewrites says, "hey, just do a ground hit of the bullet (which can be seen in the movie), imply that as a bullet hitting him, and film the rest of it with Brian being the one dying" (the kid was originally supposed to die halfway in).

We rewrote some bits, and my brother and Brian penned a voice-over to explain a few things in between. I relented, because I didn't want to do voice-over like Cover's Story verbatim, but it worked in the end.

Anyhow, here's what you have to get, movie-wise. IMO, the clips are there for it to make sense, but perhaps I'll have to explain it. Here goes:

The movie opens with Brian in a white trackjacket running by a lake. It follows with some clips of Brian and Cole (other runner) both running against other people, which implies that the two are in a race. One thing people don't notice is that the costume worn in half the beginning shots is the same as the rest of the movie, and half isn't.

The latter is a flashback to other times Brian has run. These early-morning clips signify his memories and the general feeling he gets when he runs. Tying his shoes while out of breath, sprinting up a sidewalk, rubbing his cold hands together amongst the sunrise, and stopping to view the city (shots of which are referenced several times in the movie, all of which include the trackjacket costuming) are meant not to exist on the same timeline as the rest of the movie, but symbols of the sport, endurance, and "the rush, the feel" of running.

Essentially, the movie functions on two parallel timelines. One is completely linear (save the "HELP ME!" in the black at the beginning), which shows Brian and Cole running alongside the road, then racing others, then racing on the levee, at which point they rescue the kid and the rest of the movies ensues. The other timeline is merely a small non-linear flashback to Brian running at daybreak, which as has been aforementioned is just a symbol.

Maybe this makes sense. In Redemption, things were so ambiguous it was up tot he viewer to figure out the meaning. Here, I think all the audio and visual components are there for it to makes sense. wink
Posted: Thu, 27th Sep 2007, 12:36pm

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Bryce007

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ben3308 wrote:

Kid, here's a small peek at the next things to come from Atomic Productions.
Yeah. See, THAT'S proper cinematography.



Let it be known that I'm fairly envious of your having access to actors that are decently trained.
Posted: Sat, 29th Sep 2007, 7:31pm

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ben3308

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Compared to our previous stuff, Bryce, or cinematography in general?
Posted: Sun, 30th Sep 2007, 3:02am

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RodyPolis

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Cool movie. Just a quick question, could u give me the basics of ur grading? i really like it
Posted: Sun, 30th Sep 2007, 3:07am

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ben3308

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Rating: +1

'Brightness and Contrast' settings in Vegas are standard practice. 'Levels' can also work, if you know how to use them.

From there, instead of the 'Black and White' and 'Color Curves' filters, use 'Color Balance' (to add the colors you want, rather than shifting those you don't) and 'HSL Adjust'. On the HSL settings, generally reducing saturation by about 10 to 30 percent is a good idea. Upping luminance a tick or two also helps.

The next optional step after that is glow with very high suppresion and low glow percent, or standard 'Bleach Bypass' as some applications call it.

Search the forums for "grading" by my username and you're likely to find some before-and-after examples I've given in the past. Look for the generally more recent stuff, I gave a few examples in 2005 that I don't stand by as much as my newer practices.
Posted: Sun, 30th Sep 2007, 4:49pm

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nfsbuff

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As this was previously submitted, albeit through the forums only, any potential "OMG freaking shock and awe cool!!11" is gone. Meaning an academic like approach to my rating is possible. First is how I grade things, second is the grade.

A.) 1 = Story. Did it grip me? Did it make sense? Did it have a point? Could it be followed? Were there definable characters?
B.) 1 = Cinematography. Stylism. Consistancy. Believability. Watchability.
C1.) .5 = Sound. Did it drop me in the story? Did it match the visuals? How was it balanced and mixed?
C2.) .5 = Music. Did it fit? Was it mixed well? Were musical choices appropriate?
D.) 1 = Effects. Were there any, and if so how were they implemented? Were they overdone/underdone?
E.) 1 = Lasting Impression. When finished watching, what was taken away by the viewer? It is re-watchable? Is the overall presentation professional?

Marathon:
A) .5 | B).5 | C1).5 | C2).5 | D)0 | E)1
Score = 3

Factors like limits imposed on filming (48 hours), actor troubles and expected quality based on previous work were taken into account. You'll notice there is no separate category for acting. This is done deliberately as 99.2% of all fxhome submissions are by non-professionals, and so would unfairly skew a rating if acting was a separate entity. Thusly, acting is included as part (usually half) of point A.

Good job on Marathon. I liked it. If you want a more detailed breakdown, PM me.
Posted: Sun, 30th Sep 2007, 5:41pm

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Atom

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Thanks for the reply, nfsbuff! Your system makes sense and I appreciate you taking the time to draw out your thoughts like that. The only thing I don't really understand is your rating for effects.
Posted: Sun, 30th Sep 2007, 5:46pm

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ben3308

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As Atom said, thanks so much for the calculated review!

I, too, am a bit perplexed as to how inclusion or execution of effects composes 20% of your rating base, specifically when some movies are seeking to include effects or hold any importance to them; but to each his own I guess. In the same respect that not every FXHomer can convey actors to participate in his films, not every user is capable of composing an effects masterpiece.

If effects are indeed a necessary element in your ideal film, then I hope you did notice the ground blast- albeit overdone a bit- in the opening scene, as that's completely practical and took some time to set up. Altogether, that's how you feel, and is completely understandable- especially considering how carefully you've deduced your score- but the effects emphasis sort of struck me as odd. biggrin
Posted: Sun, 30th Sep 2007, 6:22pm

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nfsbuff

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It’s understandable how my effects rating of 0 may seem odd, but bear with me for a moment. To be honest, I should have included grading in point D's description, but I kinda forgot to. That being said, I'll pick apart point D a little more deeply.

First off, yes. I did notice the ground impact and was impressed with its inclusion. Practical effects always boost production values and on that point alone would have yielded a full point for the piece. However, and maybe it’s just playback/compression on my end, there was a gun shot with no flash, and then one with. That inconsistency knocked half a point. Finally, as grading is also part of my effects critique I have to say I didn't like the grading for several reasons. First, because I've seen it all too often in your other work and second (and more importantly), for me it was the wrong style for the piece. I realize you were going for a harsh look, but in dealing with human emotion and death, I would have liked to have seen more skin tones brought out. Perhaps using warm and cold to emphasize the life and death distinction. The blood shown didn't look very "alive" if you know what I mean, and I didn't even notice the blood splatter until a second look through. With something as overarching as grading, and for my reasons above, the effective end score was 0.

Hope this reasoning was able to be followed.
Posted: Sun, 30th Sep 2007, 8:19pm

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Atom

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Thanks again for the clarification, nfsbuffs. It's likely the compression on the muzzle flashes as, yes, there are 2 flashes and one ground explosion to warrant the 3 sound effects for gunshots.

The grading. This is something tricky. I know it wasn't your taste, and that's all it really is to each his own, so I can't say much on that. However, you have to know that I was going for a very desolate and lifeless feel throughout parts. It's something I personally take into account and change for each movie, not just to 'stylize' them.

And sometimes it gets to me how people say all my grading is the same or warrants the 'this is an Atomic Production' mark. Really, I pride myself on fitting a consistent style in my work with something appropriate for each movie and in that, each scene. I'm not asking you to reconsider your rating or anything, but since you brought up the grading, let me elaborate on some of my frustration with comments like yours- (and also the positives/substitutions to the "warmer/colder skin colors" you noted. Good insight, by the way.)

Let's take Marathon, Redemption, and Cover's Story. Frankly, if you sit them side-by-side they (to me) scream with different elements of different styles. And in fact, as I see the footage and write the script (written the majority of all 3 of them) I get a feel for what type of colors and transitional grading points I want to use. Now, I've stated before that this drastically changed with Cover's Story early-on, but that's a different story. The point being, each grading choice really is meticulously chosen for a reason, and accentuated for, yes, 'style'. I hope this will explain and (hopefully) help others with their grading.

Marathon
This grading is the most varied. It begins with high oranges and some purples of a peaceful high-noon that contrast with the natural blue and grey tones of early-morning running to convey a continuing-motion-feel that is somewhat serene.

High Noon. Dawn Blues.


From here, we cut into the desolate landscape of the levees, which show a cold/warm feeling with the purple skintones and high greens and blues. This is intended to convey a sense of action and desperation.


From here we move into the initial realization of the gun wound. The grading changes for this character slightly, retaining the greens and blues, but making the skintones and backgrounds far more desaturated to give that 'lost' and 'hopeless' feeling. I think it's basically warranted.


Then we move into the "I owe you an apology" speech, which cues the montage/moment-of-truth music. For this, the contrast is upped and the oranges are brought back into the chase/fight storyline.

The vibrancy and triumphant feel I meant to return as the other story going on shifts in grading yet again, this time into nighttime.

This returns the grading from the middle-beginning of "desperation" and mixes it with a somewhat majestic graininess and glow that are subtle yet added on purpose. Then we cut back a few times to continue the vibrancy and contrast of the two scenes "life and death", mixing the grading for both together a little bit in the end of the fight to amalgamate the feels of both. The result is this.

Overall the theme of the grading is consistent in your mind so as not to look messy, but it varies throughout the movie on purpose. The end image in your head usually looks something like this:




So maybe, just maybe, that help explains the intent of the grading. Like I said, I get a little irritated with the generalization "it's always the same", as it makes me feel like it's slubbed off like some Michael Bay move. Look at the movies side-by-side and tell me they all look the same. I've gone into detail about Redemption and Cover's Story grading, so I won't here, but hopefully you'll notice the (I think) quite evident differences in style and mood of each and how they play into each film.

______________________________________________________________________
Redemption


Cover's Story


Marathon


See what I mean? Feels a little bit bad to hear something like you just slap on the same presets you make for everything and call it a day. Not saying that's what you did, nfsbuffs, I'm just trying to point this out- as we often get questions about how we choose/create the grading we do and ridiculed for it, too.
Posted: Sun, 30th Sep 2007, 8:28pm

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ben3308

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To make a long post short, haha:

Marathon = desaturated purpley grey-blue
Cover's Story = a lot of mid-saturated greens and oranges
Redemption = full saturation greenish-yellow

This also comes from the fact that everyone in Marathon wears white-grey or some form of blue (wifebeaters for the runners, trackjacket for flashback, deep blues on Bill Black and the kid, etc), everyone in Redemption wears green (dark green tie on interrogator, green-gray sweatshirt on Watts, green jacket on the addict, etc), and everyone in Cover's Story wears either red or orange (maroon-red on Jake, orange on his brother, orange on the shopkeeper's blouse, orange in the store, red in the diner).

biggrin
Posted: Sun, 30th Sep 2007, 10:28pm

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Sollthar

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Rating: +3

If you guys spent half the time you use explaining your films to your audience on making movies you'd have finished 5 features already... wink
Posted: Sun, 30th Sep 2007, 10:49pm

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ben3308

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Oh, Sollthar.

If only you knew...

The time we spend on here is basically the only time we can't make movies during. wink
Posted: Sun, 30th Sep 2007, 11:12pm

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Fill

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I'd like to point out that I think this shot is beautiful. It almost looks like a photograph.
Posted: Sun, 30th Sep 2007, 11:30pm

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ben3308

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A trash can lid as a reflector on someone's biceps can do wonders for shadows, heh. I personally like the bit where he has both arms outstretched towards the ground to lift himself up.
Posted: Wed, 10th Oct 2007, 1:53am

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Fyce

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Amazing film with an amazing message. I really liked that a lot. Great job on the compositing, especially how you made it look kind of chilly and gloomy. And the slow-motion sequences really added to it. Awesome job.

-Fyce
Posted: Wed, 10th Oct 2007, 7:09pm

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Atom

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Thanks a bunch, Fyce! We're glad you liked it!
Posted: Wed, 10th Oct 2007, 7:46pm

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ashman

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I really liked this. The cinematography in places is beautiful and the acting from both marathon runners definitely holds well. The only issue I had was from the younger talent, I felt he fell short of the mark for me.

The grading again works well with your style here and compliments the story. You turned around a short film that held my interest. I'm keen to see how your feature turns out, I really like the clip you posted on youtube. I wish, as I'm sure many others do, that you at some point release splinter Cell. Because out of all your short movies that is the one that I'd personally like to see the most. Something uncommon for me seeing it's a fan film.

Keep on keepin on
Ash
Posted: Thu, 11th Oct 2007, 3:43am

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Atom

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ashman wrote:

I really liked this. The cinematography in places is beautiful and the acting from both marathon runners definitely holds well. The only issue I had was from the younger talent, I felt he fell short of the mark for me.
Well, we've heard some of that, which surprises us quite a bit, but that's people's reaction. We love him, still. (And funny enough, he's actually half a year older than the second marathon runner. He's not even a 'kid'. smile)

Ash, Splinter Cell is something that is very dear to the hearts of those involved, but we've vowed never to return to it. Too much heartache and potential and time too fast lost. If you're lucky, one of these days when we get around to doing a DVD or sell Madison Street Boys, I'll put some of the stuff we have from it on there. But that'll likely be the end of it.

Our Splinter Cell movie got raped. Both by our own hype and some of the severely negative attitudes of people- and I don't want our old baby to have more potential pain.

On the other hand, if you're interested I've just now posted the first video blog for MSB on it's YouTube account. Check it out here, if you want to.
Posted: Fri, 12th Oct 2007, 9:33pm

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stevehawking

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very nicely done, the cinematography was very well done and the acting was very real and moving. good job!
Posted: Sat, 13th Oct 2007, 3:26am

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RodyPolis

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he aint a kid. dang dude i thought he'd be like 12 or someth, but whatever cool movie.
Posted: Sat, 13th Oct 2007, 3:36am

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Atom

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RodyPolis wrote:

he aint a kid. dang dude i thought he'd be like 12 or someth, but whatever cool movie.
Nope. Reese (the 'kid') is 16, older than the other Marathon runner. Another part of it, though, is that we tell him to play the distressed juvenile character and he's very good at making himself appear weaker and younger. (which, as you can tell from thinking he's young, works)

For those of you that didn't like him much, I sure hope that changes soon. Reese is becoming the new 'Brian' and likely will be next year's frontrunner actor for our group, as he's getting older and honing his craft and all of the rest of us are becoming busy with college and work stuff.

Oh, and he's the star of our Hauntfest entry.
Posted: Mon, 15th Oct 2007, 1:07am

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Anne

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Great short... love the cinematography especially. What did your composer use to make the music? I felt that it was essential to the short--gave it the right kind of 'feel'.
Posted: Mon, 15th Oct 2007, 5:47am

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ben3308

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Glad you enjoyed it.

The composer is Sean Beeson. He's a user on this site with whom our production group has cultivated a small relationship with over the years. His wife was kind enough to fax us some signed release forms from across the nation during the wee hours of the night on the contest days, and for that we're eternally grateful.

Sean and Laura Beeson are really nice people. And the music is great, too.
Posted: Sun, 21st Oct 2007, 2:51am

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dudewitmoves12

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This had to be one of the most amazing movies I've seen on Fx Home. The acting, effects, and everything else was just pure genius. TWO THUMBS UP!!!
Posted: Sun, 21st Oct 2007, 4:39am

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Atom

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Thanks, dudewitmoves! Glad you liked it!
Posted: Sat, 17th Nov 2007, 12:49pm

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witchward

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Well you guys should be given the money to make a big movie...read some of the other reviews and I must be on your wave length cuz I got the whole movie. You are true visionaries and deserve to go far in the film business. it's a shame we don't live in the same country cuz it would be great to work with you guys. I've just recieved major sponsership to film and write a pilot to a new supernatural series for tv. Witchward. look out for it. will be uploading the trailer for it soon to this site and Youtube.
Happy future filming biggrin
Posted: Sat, 17th Nov 2007, 5:45pm

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ben3308

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Thanks so much, witchward, we're very flattered by your words!

Be sure to check out 'Redemption', which is another contest film we made earlier in the year.
Posted: Mon, 19th Nov 2007, 4:41am

Post 41 of 42

Klausky

Force: 1512 | Joined: 16th Jun 2005 | Posts: 392

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Ben. Did I see this actor in the trailer for The Mist?

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2214808/

Nevermind, that confirms it. Very cool!
Posted: Fri, 23rd Nov 2007, 7:24am

Post 42 of 42

Atom

Force: 4300 | Joined: 9th May 2004 | Posts: 7014

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Haha, yeah he's in it. I've yet to snag a glance of him in a trailer yet, though. Maybe I'm just missing it completely.