WIRED: Episode one

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James lundy
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Joined: Dec 14 2006

Hi Guys,

Episode One of my new web series WIRED is now online - It's around 4mins long, with a slight Grindhouse feel to it.

Check it out on our IPTV channel on Veoh:

thevideocompany.tv

We begin Episode Two in October.........:D

Cheers,

James.

WIRED - HAVEYOUBEENWIRED.COM & also a blatant cheap promotional link. :D

branny
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Joined: Nov 6 2001

Hi James, Long time no hear.
Well . . . I watched and nothings really grabbed me so far. Dialogue seems a little slow. Mind you, I'm not an action thriller watcher, or expert. So maybe others will find the potential in it.
Thanks for putting it up though.

Do not follow, I may not lead. Do not lead . . . I may not follow.

James lundy
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Joined: Dec 14 2006

Thanks for the reply Branny.

This is the prologue as it were, and Episode 2 will continue the story. Rather than try to cram everything into 4 mins, I'm going to continue producing a series of 4 minute episodes.

Therefore, I'll be able to shoot the entire episode in a day and still earn a crust whilst doing my other work. :D

WIRED - HAVEYOUBEENWIRED.COM & also a blatant cheap promotional link. :D

foxvideo
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James, I watched it but I'm not sure what I saw!

Is this intended as a professional piece or is it just a bunch of pro's having fun and winding down after shooting/editing pro film/video all day and using amateur actors who just fancied having a go at acting?

For me the sound was one of the worst features - don't think it's down to web compression but it sounded like it'd been shot in an auditorium with an on camera mic from 20 feet away. The script was about as wooden as it gets, the dialog delivery was just as wooden. The scene lengths are too long with not enough interaction, the colour grading seemed to me that you were just trying out Magic Bullet and not yet got to grips with it. Why the editing 'effects' ? - what were you trying to achieve?

I've been involved in two productions like this, the first was done without any involvement from anyone within film or video, shot auto everything on 20 x 3 hour SVHS tapes with broken timecode and I had to try and pick up the pieces in the edit - it was later shown at the Swansea Film Theatre after I'd finished with it. The second, was better shot but unfortunately the money run out and I'm still sitting on 30 Beta SP's - I have dubbed it to DVCAM and produced a couple of 'preview' edits but thats as far as it'll go, so I do understand something of the mountain you're trying to climb!

If this was shot as an experimental piece to promote debate and discussion then that you've done, but I'm not sure I'd want to go shouting the fact it was done by member of a pro video organisation.

Dave Farrants Fox Video Editing

James lundy
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Joined: Dec 14 2006

Hi Dave,

Thanks for taking the time to produce such an extensive comment, and I hope I can draw some positive influence from your reply to make my future episodes better.

Regarding 'Episode One', it was a 'NO BUDGET' production, Meaning that apart from me personally paying for food and people's travel expenses, there was no money put into it. It was also the first time I've written, directed, produced, filmed, edited and done a cameo in a such a piece. Sure I've worked on a few 'low/no budget' films, but I've never been responsible for more than one task at a time.

Therefore, I would consider it to be a success and when you consider the following it was a great success:

1. Location: Great for a 'NO BUDGET' production.

2. Steadicam work: Smoooooth, and usually unheard of in a 'NO BUDGET' production.

3. Lighting: Good, especially once you've experienced the location as it normally is.

4: Schedule: It was all shot in around 6 hours, including a break for lunch.

Now looking at the bad points:

1. Sound: It wasn't great, but it was all recorded to the camera. We used a Rode NTG2, which was attached to a boom pole and connected via an XLR cable. In future I will purchase a Fostex FR2, and try to secure a seperate sound man, but only once I have a spare £600-£700.

2. Actors: Only 2 had experience, and one of these had to learn their lines at the last minute due to 'promise breaker' not showing up.

3. Dialogue: The dialogue wasn't great, but I will get better at this the more scripts that I write.

I won't include the 'Grading & Effects' as a bad point, as you need to watch the film 'Planet Terror' to fully understand everything. As the look was heavily influenced by that particluar Rodriguez flick, I do consider this to be a success as well. This may be a matter of taste, and one that won't be apreciated by all, but this particular aestetic was what I was after.

Overall it does have it's BAD points, but these are things we can work on and improve as we move forwards. If we can do this for nothing, and improve on it as time goes on, then with as little as £10k we could produce someting rather lovely.

As for shouting about it being produced by a member of a pro video organisation, I think that's a bit unfair mate and doesn't really add anything to the topic.

Cheers,

James.

WIRED - HAVEYOUBEENWIRED.COM & also a blatant cheap promotional link. :D

foxvideo
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James, I agree with all your points, as I said - been there. Spent 2 weeks on the Gower coast in exactly the same situation with the 'director' feeding everyone with money from his pocket and sending a runner by car to Cardiff to buy tapes as he got money in on a daily basis!

The point I was trying to make regarding the pro organisation it that to achieve that qualification, you had to submit work to a certain standard - Without the explanations you have given in your reply above, anyone watching that clip and not knowing all the facts about the inverse budget, might think that was the standard of your normal work....

Dave Farrants Fox Video Editing

Chrome
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Joined: May 26 1999

Hi James,

Whilst I can't fault your enthusiasm, and b@lls for having a go, I too agree with Dave on many points, especially the audio. I agree the use of steadycam is to be applauded, but the lighting just does not cut it.

However on the point of the audio, I would suggest that your replacing recording to camera with an FR2 will not really make very much difference (after all they're both essentially digital recorders). The fundamental problem with the audio is either the quality of the mic (not familiar with the mic you are using), or the mic was simply not close enough to the actors mouths and 'on axis' (pointing directly at the mouth of the actor speaking at all times). When an actor turns their back on the camera during a scene (such as when the woman is asking for a pen) the view should re-locate, so that we see her from the other side and because we have relocated the camera we can can therefore mic accordingly - thus achieving good quality audio and overall a more watchable scene. You need a good boom operator and someone mixing the audio rather than an FR2. We record almost all our audio directly to camera.

To be honest I think you need to pick up the pace and make the whole piece much snappier. The dialogue sounds very contrived and false, but even this should be able to be improved on with tighter editing. I am familiar with the look and feel of what you say you are trying to achieve but I think the over use of effects is not helping the pace at all. The fight could be much tighter and the 'toilet' scene needs shortening considerably; removing some 'pregnant' pauses. You also need some kind of 'hook' when producing episodes... so far, there is no compelling reason to watch the next episode as far as I can see. You need to write one into each episode if you can.

I hope these comments prove constructive and helpful. I don't want to be negative, but equally I don't think pussyfooting around and being overly 'diplomatic' would help in this case. :)

branny
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Chrome wrote:
I don't think pussyfooting around and being overly 'diplomatic' would help in this case. :)

Guilty :)

Do not follow, I may not lead. Do not lead . . . I may not follow.

James lundy
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Joined: Dec 14 2006

Hi Chrome,

Nothing negative taken from your reply, and I too don't believe in dancing around the daises. It has taken a LOT of nerve to go ahead and do this, and I've experienced a lot of 'nay sayers' who would rather I didn't follow myself and conform to the way they do things.

Anyway....

What was wrong with the lighting? Can you offer an expanation, and tell me where it fell down & how this can be rectified. On the day we had to hide lights from the steadicam when moving, watch out for reflections in the mirror behind the bar, and basically illuminate a dark & murky room. If you can offer advise on how this can be better I'm all ears, as I might end up back in this location for another production sometime in the future.

I understand what you mean about relocating the camera for the girl turning her head, but I didn't like how this hinged on the other shots. Therefore, I wanted to keep things a bit simple when I was planning the blocking of the footage. If you watch it again, you can see that a shot from the other side of the bar wouldn't have been that effective, and I would have to come back to the GPV when the bar maid hands over a pen.

Also partly to blame for the audio was the male's lack of projection, which after some encouragement improved. However, I still had to increase the amplitude in post and cut off the top end hiss with a low pass filter. Like you said having the mic closer would have been better, but I will also have to watch out for 'talkers' more thoroughly when casting. It did cross my mind to do a little ADR back here at my studio, but for what it's worth I decided not to.

Again on the audio, surely having the boom pole operator use an FR2 would allow him/her to assess how far/close they should be with the mic, and free up the camera operator to concentrate on the image alone and ensure the mic isn't in shot. I also feel this would be an advantage in future, should we ever shoot some footage where the actors are walking and talking, in case the have to avoid obsticles.

FULLY AGREE on the 'dialogue' & 'hook' aspect, and I do have many hooks throughout futher scripts. The cliff hanger to Season One is really good, and will lead nicely into Season Two and an ongoing story arc. As I said to Dave my scripts will get better the more I write, along with the dialogue.

Regarding the 'effects' and 'fight', I DISAGREE. You'll need to see how the story unfolds and how the effects fit into the overall feel of the production. The twitches are particulary significant, and tie in nicely with the concept. The pan across the toilet cubicles was also in B&W because it was shot in the 'PINK' ladies toilet due to height restrictions in the 'BLUE' male toilets. The fight was performed without any practice, as a nicely choreographed scene would have taken a lot of time, and time equals money which we don't have. Therefore, the twitches make the fight tighter, and hide any jumps in the cuts due to the placement of the actors.

That said though, whilst talking about tightness, the shot of the male in the toilets washing his hands is a little long. However, shortening it didn't flow well with the other shots on either end. Therefore it had to remains as it was.

Again, thanks for the reply Chrome and I appreciate the time you've taken in putting the response together.

WIRED - HAVEYOUBEENWIRED.COM & also a blatant cheap promotional link. :D

foxvideo
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James, Was this storyboarded? A drama type film needs to be storyboarded or it becomes a fly on the wall documentary!

Did you do a rehearsal before the start of each scene? It might add longer to the overall time to shoot but a rehearsal allows checking of actors lines, actors interaction, it relaxes the actors and allows camera moves to be tested.

I agree with Steve, the shot of the girls back as she asks for a pen is a basic no-no. Camera angle should have been planned in pre production and incorporated into the storyboard and shooting script.

PS.

James lundy wrote:
It was also the first time I've written, directed, produced, filmed, edited and done a cameo in a such a piece.

Not sure of your reasons for making this, I understand it's not for financial gain, last time I got involved in a similar situation I 'lost' around £2k, so if I was in your situation I'd consider taking on more experienced help - there are hundreds, if not thousands of cast and crew who do work on inverse budget stuff for no pay, just for experience and the promise of a showreel at the end of it - shootingpeople.org is the place to go.

Dave Farrants Fox Video Editing

James lundy
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foxvideo wrote:
Shootingpeople.org is the place to go.

lol - Where do you think I got the actors? ;)

I got them from Shooting People to begin with, but Casting Call Pro actually transpired to be a much better resource for local talent. I did get a decent response from my adds, but all the more experienced actors made excuses once they found out it wasn't paid or that they'd have to travel to Edinburgh for auditions. Therefore, I had to settle for the less experienced, but more enthuastic ones, especially as time was running out.

However, I am more than happy with what they have done and I'd be tempted to use some of them again. It was obvious from the word go that this was going to have some serious problems, given that we had no money, it was 'my' first production and most of the cast and crew hadn't worked on such a piece before.

Crikey, you should see my first wedding video, it STINKS! :) Although this didn't stop me from making more, and I now earn a respectable living from producing wedding videos year round. In parralel, I intend to make the same progression with such productions and will have a nice portfolio put together in a few years time.

foxvideo wrote:
Was this storyboarded? A drama type film needs to be storyboarded or it becomes a fly on the wall documentary!

Everything was storyboarded, and we had a shooting plan which we stuck too. Trust me when I say that a shot of the female from behind the bar wouldn't have fitted. There was no decent shot to hinge it onto, and without such a shot we would have pretty much broke the basic rule of 180. Try this out on paper if you don't believe me, and you'll see that without a moving camera crossing the line it wouldn't have worked.

The beauty of shooting this ongoing series, is that we'll bang out episode after episode for as long as we can. Whilst doing this we'll learn from all the mistakes and problems we encounter, and earn up fine tuning things. As each episode will be around 5 minutes, they can be filmed in a day and done when people are available between earning a living.

WIRED - HAVEYOUBEENWIRED.COM & also a blatant cheap promotional link. :D

MAGLINK
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Joined: Mar 8 2007

As said you need to get the mic a lot closer and the sep sound will not be a magic help.

Bear in mind that your framing needs to take this into consideration and the boom needs to be no more that two feet from the actors, overlaping sound from takes can also be a help.

You run the scece at least three times once for the establishing wide shot and then a pass for close up shots of the actors so that close dialogue can be shot.

One other thing to consider if you are having problems getting the boom close enough is to get a radio link for it, also the pole needs to be long, I have used hand held booms up to 18 feet long.

James lundy
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Joined: Dec 14 2006
JGNattrass wrote:
then a pass for close up shots of the actors so that close dialogue can be shot.

Bingo! That should make things a lot better next time. :D

The entire dialogue scene in the bar was shot in the one take with three cameras. If I shot the close ups seperately, the mic could have got a lot closer and the audio would have been cleaner.

We were 'close' with the mic, but not close enough. It was offscreen pointing upwards at who was talking for the GPV, and didn't get any closer for the close ups. DOH!

You live & learn.. :o

WIRED - HAVEYOUBEENWIRED.COM & also a blatant cheap promotional link. :D

branny
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Joined: Nov 6 2001

Got to admire your tenacity James - Knowing the full circumstances, it's a brave man who continues his quest.
I know it's mostly been painful reading but taking these very, very experienced opinions on board and moving onward with this added knowledge at this early stage, it can save and enhance your initial reputation in this genre.
Keep going!!

Do not follow, I may not lead. Do not lead . . . I may not follow.

MAGLINK
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Glad to help if it does, every drama I have shot on location over the past 28 years has been done mainly on one camera and the discipline is well established for getting takes that are good for dialogue and pics. Keep it simple and this helps the actors too as they only have to concentrate on the shots in hand, also most things are shot out of sequence so a bit of storyboarding will assist in the process.

Also if you have one camera it far easier to get the boom close and it concentrates everyone on the shot in hand, to do multi cam drama you need a studio but even then the cameras are slaved and you tend to spend as much time doing pick-ups anyway as no one knows where they are with continuity

dominicwitherow
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Joined: Apr 2 2006

I quite liked the performance of the younger man who provokes the fight, but must agree with most of the other comments regarding acting, script and especially sound.

The sound could do with more detailed design. It's that echoey quality that makes it seem rough and unfinished. I would rerecord all the dialogue as ADR and spend much more time sweetening the voices and building atmosphere tracks and spot effects.

Edit-wise, I think you could cut another minute. Unfortunately, taking on all the major creative tasks yourself is a recipe for disaster. A writer/director should never attempt to be primary editor, they just aren't objective enough. If nothing else, get someone else to do that bit. I know Rodriguez does everything (including scoring) on his films, but he's the exception to prove the rule - hence his multi-million dollar success!

All that said, at least you're making movies! Keep it up and they will get better and better!

Dominic

James lundy
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Joined: Dec 14 2006
dominicwitherow wrote:
but he's the exception to prove the rule

I bet his first film is a world apart from Desperado or Sin City.....:D

His short Bed Heads was a festival winner, but he had made bucket loads of movies growing up before he even reached that level.

WIRED - HAVEYOUBEENWIRED.COM & also a blatant cheap promotional link. :D

dominicwitherow
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Joined: Apr 2 2006

El Mariachi is very good, considering it was made for under $10k. But he certainly shows that practice is the key! D

James lundy
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Took this closer to my original Grindhouse tribute by adding some film damage and crackling audio effects throughtout. Makes a huge difference, and I wonder why I didn't do this from the start.

I'm also moving my IPTV channel to Vimeo, as the encoding on Veoh doesn't seem to be as good.

You can see the updated file here:

http://www.vimeo.com/channel16996

Also don't cringe at the interview with Jon Robertson, this was a last minute idea when he was at my house and I didn't have my lights set up. You'll be able to read more about this, and other trials & tribulations of the production in FOCUS. I've been documenting my progress for the last 7-8 months in the mag, and writing has been an experience in itself.

WIRED - HAVEYOUBEENWIRED.COM & also a blatant cheap promotional link. :D

Lusky
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Joined: May 8 2006

Hi james,

don't know if you have seen but GFT is showing grindhouse in full on 31 August the way it was meant to be seen rather than the hacked up versions we got in the cinemas here (although I have not yet seen it)

http://www.gft.org.uk/content/default.asp?page=s4_1&filmid=4054&weekid=1&date=8/31/2008

just thought I'd let you know as you seem to be a fan

Cheers

John Paul

James lundy
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Joined: Dec 14 2006

Yee-ha - You Dancer!

Now who will I get to go, mmmmm.............

WIRED - HAVEYOUBEENWIRED.COM & also a blatant cheap promotional link. :D