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The Portal

Posted: Tue, 22nd Apr 2008, 11:00am

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Aculag

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A seemingly normal day in the park turns into an out-of-this-world experience for a couple of normal guys.

We had some troubles while filming, and not enough space on our recording medium to get everything we needed, so there's one scene missing at the beginning of the movie.

I am also aware that several of the shots are out of focus, but I don't think these problems affect the final product too badly.

Anyway, it's the result of months and months of tweaks and re-cuts, and I'm finally happy with it, and I hope you all enjoy it.


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Posted: Tue, 22nd Apr 2008, 12:25pm

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Mellifluous

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That's just brilliant.

I loved the way it started out with the meeting of the two guys and the concept of maiming someone as a means of introducing yourself to them! The actors were good and understated.

Technically, it was very good though the lightning bolt wasn't as convincing as it could be - maybe a flash frame/flare would help sell that effect? But the portal effect was awesome and felt unique to the film, not resembling Star Gate or Sliders too much. The pan at the start jarred as it wasn't smooth, while the reveal of the portal was.

Great work though. Planning any longer projects?

Last edited Tue, 22nd Apr 2008, 3:03pm; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Tue, 22nd Apr 2008, 3:01pm

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SilverDragon7

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Your guys comedy never ceases with me. To be honest when I came to watch this I thought it would be some spoof on the game Portal...

5/5 stars
Posted: Tue, 22nd Apr 2008, 3:09pm

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Simon K Jones

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Once I got over my disappointment that this has nothing to do with Portal, I loved it. The ending left me rather flummoxed, I have to say (it fell into Atom's "random" category for me this time), but the rest worked perfectly.

The absolute highlight, however, is the portal sequence itself, which is quite masterfully done. Starting with that flawless pan to the left, revealing the portal (quite unique and fascinating, as Mell points out), to the utterly brilliant shot as the camera pulls backwards through the portal as the guy approaches it, with the music hitting a crescendo.....absolutely loved that. Where'd the music come from, anyway?

Crucially, there's an understanding of film technique here that is quite a level above your other stuff. Often you hit some technical marks but not others but, in that portal sequence, every single bit of your filmmaking skill came together perfectly to quite a magical effect.

I also rather enjoyed your makeshift, cartoon filler for the missing shot. smile

My only real criticism would be the visible traffic passing on the road beyond the forest. That whole sequence would have worked far better for me if it had seemed to be a natural wilderness with no human presence. And, as mentioned, the ending was a little TOO random for me - although the juxtaposing of the big orchestral music with the end credits song was most amusing.

Last edited Tue, 22nd Apr 2008, 3:41pm; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Tue, 22nd Apr 2008, 3:29pm

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Xcession

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I've got mixed feelings about this - the camera work was particularly good, as were the portal effects, but it lacked in other areas.

As Tarn said, the ending seemed oddly below par. The "incongruous conclusion" has become one of your hallmarks, but this was obtuse even for you. Theres a fine line between incongruous and meaningless and if the ending did have some meaning, it failed.

The opening conversation was particularly good. On paper it worked because it was a painfully normal conversion and was appropriately stilted and awkward, but it was let down by the acting of Lonely Frisbee Guy who (not for the first time) seemed to get lumped with unnatural, implausible dialog which went directly against the underlying concept of a 'real' conversation.

He's often the weird character in your films, so acting weirdly is fine provided that you can't tell hes acting, which unfortunately, we can. If the conversation wasn't meant to be real then it failed for the opposite reason: Guy In Cap's lines were delivered too well and too naturally.

To be clear, I've got nothing against your wacky stuff - grand orchestral music over abrupt credits is funny because of the juxtaposition. However having one character seeming to act deliberately badly while talking to another who is acting conspicuously well, isn't funny - its just deeply confusing. Its like you aren't sure what you're taking the piss out of - the character or the film-making itself. As a result neither work well.
Posted: Tue, 22nd Apr 2008, 4:14pm

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ben3308

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I really, really liked this.

The opening shot was extremely out of focus, and it did take away for me. Soft focus as a result of tricky backfocusing (which I've heard can be a pain in the ass with the M2) is definitely passable, but complete obscurity as far as sharpness goes is jarring for me. Still, as you said, it's over rather quickly and ends soon enough.

In the future, however, I think you might want to schedule more time/resources (in this case, P2 space and time enough to focus properly) because, as the animation (which is ridiculous, but funny) makes it obvious, you overstepped your abilities a bit with the higher-end, more time-consuming equipment, and it shows. The opportunity cost of using it is definitely prevalent: better shots, HD quality, more cinematic looks; I just think you might want to pare down your necessary shots next time. I'm sure you already know this, though. biggrin

As for the story/comedy, I thought it definitely dragged in the middle, almost to the point of me skipping through. Even so, I watched the whole thing beginning-to-end, and though the midpoint has a bit of awkward conversation (hitting what Xcession states as a weird contrast between natural and unnatural) the final weird, offbeat ending is great, as are is the ENTIRE portal sequence.

The end reminded me A LOT of an episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, most particularly Revenge of the Trees. I dunno if this was intentional, but this was like verbatim Aqua Teen. But even though the joke felt a little recycled to me, it worked extremely well here.

Overall, a 4/5. It's not a 5 because of the few glaring technical issues (missing a whole necessary shot brings it down a peg, haha sorry, even if the rest is genius! biggrin) and the midsection that lags a bit. Other than that, great stuff!
Posted: Tue, 22nd Apr 2008, 5:18pm

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Bryce007

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Months and Months of work?

I'm mildly confused as to how that's possible. It's a very short film, it's nonsensical, and the technical side of things are, as it's been said, rather faulty.


This seemed like one of those "Me and friend were at the park, so we randomly decided to film a sort of test" things...

Not trying to be harsh here, I'm just voicing my opinion...


(Also, I did laugh at the animated scene, even if it was the only laugh I had)

Last edited Tue, 22nd Apr 2008, 5:24pm; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Tue, 22nd Apr 2008, 5:22pm

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ben3308

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I'd say not the standard technicals (editing and camerawork) are what's been 'polished' a lot, but the effects, grading, and general credits/music timings. I can see how that could drag on, despite the few shortcomings in the general stuff. wink
Posted: Tue, 22nd Apr 2008, 7:54pm

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Aculag

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Xcession wrote:

As Tarn said, the ending seemed oddly below par. The "incongruous conclusion" has become one of your hallmarks, but this was obtuse even for you. Theres a fine line between incongruous and meaningless and if the ending did have some meaning, it failed.
This was the biggest problem with our time restraints. The script had a much longer scene of dialogue between the guy and the tree where everything got wrapped up, but we just didn't have time, so now he dies. Heh. All it boils down to is that the guy with the frisbee was supposed to go through the portal, but he didn't.

ben3308 wrote:

Soft focus as a result of tricky backfocusing (which I've heard can be a pain in the ass with the M2) is definitely passable, but complete obscurity as far as sharpness goes is jarring for me.
Never seen that episode... It wasn't supposed to be like Aqua Teen at all. Not even a little bit. Also, this was one of the first things I shot with the M2, apart from test shots. But the reason that first one is so out of focus is because I was stupidly trying to pull the dolly back, focus and pan at the same time. Not a good idea. It was a pretty tricky lens, too, hence most other stuff is also out of focus. Anyway, I've improved at using it since then, but have also realized that it's not a one man job. Check out "811" or "Everything's Coming Up Roses" for better examples. wink

Bryce007 wrote:

Months and Months of work?

I'm mildly confused as to how that's possible. It's a very short film, it's nonsensical, and the technical side of things are, as it's been said, rather faulty.
The months and months of work is BECAUSE of the faulty technicals. At first I didn't even want to work on it because it was so horrible, but eventually I decided to try and make the best of it, and I think I did a pretty good job.
Even though I know the sound on this one isn't that great, you should hear the original track. It's much worse, and incredibly sloppy. I've spent a long time on just getting the audio right.

Also because I kept changing the style for the portal and the tree spirit effects. I went through probably 4 different variations of each before settling on the final looks. And while we did have a script written a month or so prior to filming, it was essentially a "let's go film something in the park" day, so you're mostly right about that. wink

This is why I tried to point out the major flaws of the movie ahead of time. I'm very aware that it's not well shot for the most part, and this is what I get for trying to do everything myself. Oh well! The two guys you see in the movie were two of four people there that day, and the other guy held the microphone while I wrestled with lenses and the dolly track, etc. etc.

I agree that this was a little too ambitious for the amount of time and people I had at my disposal, but it was fun, and I'm glad it's finally done. I'm calling it a good exercise for myself, because I learned a lot through the course of making it and editing it all together. Y'all should have seen this thing before it was edited and color corrected and had music and effects. Garbage. smile

Okay, this is starting to look like a ben3308 post wink, so one last thing.

Tarn wrote:

Where'd the music come from, anyway?
The music is from Wagner's Faust Overture. I'm not sure how I decided to use it, because it's not something I normally listen to, but it works well.

Thanks for watching, and commenting!
Posted: Tue, 22nd Apr 2008, 8:38pm

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ben3308

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Aculag, I don't think this is too much like ATHF, but the talking tree at the end with the 'drink the sap of your veins!!!!", etc. is EXACTLY like something that's in ATHF. The Willie Nelson episode also comes to mind.

I'm not saying you copied it, rather, that the similar style is why I like it, intentional or not. biggrin
Posted: Tue, 22nd Apr 2008, 9:26pm

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Aculag

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Huh, weird. I'll have to keep an eye out for that episode I guess...
Posted: Tue, 22nd Apr 2008, 11:26pm

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RodyPolis

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That was cool. I really liked the portal effect. 4/5 good job. One more thing, why is the tree flipping me off?
Posted: Tue, 22nd Apr 2008, 11:59pm

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Aculag

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It's not.
Posted: Wed, 23rd Apr 2008, 12:31am

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CX3

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lol 5/5 from me. This had me crackin up.
Posted: Wed, 23rd Apr 2008, 2:23am

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Atom

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Ben somewhat ruined the laugh-out-loud-factor of this for me by saying "It's like that tree episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, it's hilarious!"; but other than that this is an easy 5/5.

Solid, professional technicals and comedic genius make this a clear best from the Dennis & Ronnie bin. Hannigan Road, Roses, and Descent rival this. Good job!
Posted: Wed, 23rd Apr 2008, 6:13am

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Waser

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Dude, I loved this. I was completely drawn in legitimately through what was happening, and then you had to end it that way. This was great
Posted: Wed, 23rd Apr 2008, 6:48am

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Zephlon

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I feel kinda betrayed....the movie had so much potential...great effects. some really good camera work, as well as good acting, and then there was really no plot and a "haha I give you baby, and then I snatch it away from you" kinda ending?

was all the light stuff done in Effectlab or Compositelabs? it is very beautiful.
Posted: Wed, 23rd Apr 2008, 7:09am

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Sollthar

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Yes, this has some funny undertones and yes, the portal effect is excellently done. The portal effect is VERY excellently done in fact and the moment where the portal is revealed has indeed a great feeling to it. smile

However, the plot - which is kind of nothing for me - and the faulty technicals (image is often out of focus, the pans are jerky, the audio is oddly mixed etc) prevent me from sharing the "5 star" excitement of the others, sorry. :I
The shot that reveals the portal starts with a really cinematic feeling, but the jerkyness then kills that for me.

Your 35mm adapter is a great tool, but it also makes obvious that you now need more time planning and shooting in order to keep your shots in focus, which is tricky, I know.


I'm looking forward to see a short where you take that time and don't do a "hey let's film something" day and then try to fix everything in post. smile
Posted: Thu, 24th Apr 2008, 12:10am

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Aculag

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Zephlon wrote:

"haha I give you baby, and then I snatch it away from you" kinda ending?
I don't really know what this means, but okay..

Zephlon wrote:

was all the light stuff done in Effectlab or Compositelabs? it is very beautiful.
All of the effects were done in After Effects.

Sollthar, thanks for watching, I always appreciate your comments. It is my goal to someday create something that "cuts it" in your eyes. wink
Posted: Tue, 29th Apr 2008, 12:56am

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Aculag

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Just wanted to pop in and say that Norman Greenbaum, who is the artist who's song is used in the end credits of this movie, has officially given me the go-ahead to use the song, and even watched and liked the movie.

Here's what he had to say:

Norman Greenbaum wrote:


Hi.
Good show.
Allison [Editor's note: Allison is Norman's girlfriend] and I enjoyed it.

Norman Greenbaum
You see, FXHome? Even world famous recording artist Norman Greenbaum loves The Portal by Dennis & Ronnie Films. Vote 5. biggrin
Posted: Wed, 30th Apr 2008, 7:58pm

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Randito3

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I really liked the movie. The shaky camera when panning was a distration from an otherwise great shot. I did not like the abrupt ending though. The effects were very well done.
Posted: Thu, 1st May 2008, 3:32am

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SilverDragon7

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Aculag wrote:

Vote 5. biggrin
... *sigh*... Alright...
Posted: Sat, 3rd May 2008, 12:21am

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ragnar

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Ok, my ** rating was a tad harsh. After watching it again, the effects were well done and the tree-man was a neat trick. I'd go **1/2 stars if I knew how to do that, in retrospect. Still, while the Aculag gang certainly has it fans, I'm not one of them. It's clear they have access to pretty good actors and cameras and can edit, but I just never find their funny stuff that funny or their dramas very dramatic. It's a personal preference. Having said that, I still watch them all and when one them hits me the right way I'll be sure to vote it up appropriately.

Ragnar
Posted: Sat, 3rd May 2008, 1:33am

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Aculag

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ragnar wrote:

but I just never find their funny stuff that funny or their dramas very dramatic.
Well, thanks for being honest, but here's a tip for next time: we don't have any dramas.
Posted: Sat, 3rd May 2008, 5:05am

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Atom

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Aculag wrote:

ragnar wrote:

but I just never find their funny stuff that funny or their dramas very dramatic.
Well, thanks for being honest, but here's a tip for next time: we don't have any dramas.
Then might I ask what Hannigan Road is considered? If anything it's just an Atomic Production: A drama that ultimately is completely missing an ending.
Posted: Sat, 3rd May 2008, 9:20pm

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SilverDragon7

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Atom wrote:

Then might I ask what Hannigan Road is considered? If anything it's just an Atomic Production: A drama that ultimately is completely missing an ending.
This is true... But it is about a unicycle, I guess that's what makes it funny.
Posted: Mon, 9th Feb 2009, 1:55pm

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Simon K Jones

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Watching this again to check my 'best special effects' vote in the FXhome Awards, I realised that the ending was actually perfect. I just thought I'd mention that, as in my initial critique back in April I said it was 'a little TOO random'.

I now withdraw that statement.

Also, the portal sequence is even better than I remember. Brought a tear to my jaded eye.
Posted: Mon, 9th Feb 2009, 7:25pm

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Atom

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Definitely.

I needed to see this again this morning, spit out my drink at the "sap that flows through his VEEEEINNNSSS!" bit.