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July 9, 2005

teaser assembly, more blizzard

by sven at 11:14 pm

I put in 5 hrs 15 min on LSGL today. My goal was to put together a quick'n'dirty cut of the teaser-trailer. Mission accomplished! I put together about 45 seconds of footage: from leaving the plane to first sighting the creatures.

I put together three new shots inside the hive; rendering from LightWave, but doing color correction and the addition of lavamen in AfterEffects. I used the latest Elder Thing models -- high-poly versions in the front of the crowd, low-poly versions in the rear -- and it looks pretty darned good! This is the most advanced version of the hive interior that I've rendered to date, and I'm feeling happy about the results. [Pictures tomorrow, probably.]

I also did more with the blizzard outside. It looks great! No -- really!! It creates a great contrast with the cave interiors: noisy and chaotic outside, then creepily still inside.

I feel like the look of the film just took a big step up. ...In fact, I may be reaching an "uncanny valley" issue because of it. Previously, the film had an amateur look to it -- but it was going to be better (allow me the hubris) than anything else at the fest. Now, however, I have some footage that almost looks pro -- in which case, I'm competing with a higher standard, and all my flaws are suddenly less forgivable.

["Uncanny valley" is a robotics term -- between mechanical robots and truly life-like simulacra, there are automotons that are creepy in how they imitate humans. Like the robot Abe Lincoln at DisneyLand, y'know? I use the term here to mean "good enough that the bad bits really show".]

On that note, G has raised an issue with the blizzard: why do the explorers get out of their plane in it? That's a good question. I'm not sure that I can do anything about it, though. I'm just thrilled that I've solved the problem of "why do they suddenly act like they're discovering a cave if they're camped by it?" -- which seems like the more aggregious flaw. Me, I can generate excuses like "their plane was forced down and they're looking for shelter", or "they stay in their plane until the blizzard lightens up". Hopefully the audience will join me in rationalizing.

[G also points out that it would be nice if we could see the explorers shivering and rubbing themselves when they get into the cave. Sigh. More re-shooting than I'll allow myself.]

Using the blizzard concept, I could fade out and then have folks wake up the next day, the weather totally clear... But I think just having the storm merely lessen will be more compelling. That'll require futzing with a few shots I thought were in the can -- including the signature shot where the camera's inside the cave, looking out.

Although I really like the still of the camp I PhotoShopped, I may wind up cutting it. I could probably just go from the parked plane to the cave. But, you have to give up favorites when editing. I'm almost decided to give up the shot of the plane flying overhead -- but I don't think I can give up the plane entirely yet. It establishes that the explorers are a long way from civilization. And... And it looks cool!

Big lesson that keeps thwacking me on the head: work these issues out while you're still writing the script -- not in production. ...It's just hard to think of this project as even having a script -- y'know, when there's no dialogue. You miss stuff like "why are they here?" when all there is is storyboard.

Tomorrow: work on the title card, and on modeling an eyeball for the critters. ...Possibly fiddle with a "Scarlet Star Studios" logo for the beginning.

posted by sven | July 9, 2005 11:14 PM | categories: let sleeping gods lie, movies