Thursday, June 17, 2010

moving day

you can find this production blog over this-a-way, now:

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

the new film

So, it's taken me far, far too long, but it is in fact happening. I'm one week into actual production of my new little film after months and months of redoing storyboards and agonizing over what the heck I'm doing with this project. I think I have to realize that each film is like a stepping stone, and none of them are going to be perfect. That said, I'm pretty excited about this piece and I'm hoping that it will turn out well.

I decided a while back that I will be doing this project on video rather than on film....this was a very hard decision to make as I have received a grant that gives me access to all the supplies and facilities I would need to make a 35mm, it does also give me the same to make a video, but I do have more of those supplies already myself so I feel like maybe it's not the best use of the grant. Really it boils down to the film itself -- I looked at it every way I could, and in the end realized that I would have to sacrifice a lot of what I wanted the film to be if I made it on 35mm (since I would essentially have to do it all on one layer). Thus - video it is, this time around. My next project I'll tailor specifically to film, I think.

This new project is called 'Collectables' under the grant I applied for, but that is a working title that I'm not a big fan of. However, the character in it is named Celeste, and I have pages and pages of title ideas, so perhaps I'll come up with one soon.

Until then, I've got to head down to the studio, but I'll leave you with this sheet of colour tests. Still not sure which way I'm going on this one.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

kate and bradbury: online at last

Just wanted to announce that Kate and Bradbury is now available in full for viewing online, here!

I've secured some studio space to work on my new film, and hopefully that'll help things start chugging along. Not too much to announce other than that!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hey, Kate and Bradbury was honoured with the Best Animated Film award at the EcoFocus Film Festival in Athens, GA this week. This is the first time a film I have made has been honoured in that way, so thanks so much to the good people at EcoFocus.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

just getting started

I haven't had too much time to get started working on my new project yet, which is somewhat distressing. However, my dayjob time goes down significantly after October is through, so I'm hoping to make November doubly productive. I think I may have a tentative design for my main character in the film, and I'm getting some cards on which to redo the storyboards this afternoon.

Also, I am going to try and start collecting things that I find on the ground to use in the film as the items that the character finds on the ground. Oh yes, and the character has a name -- Celeste. That may change as well, but it doesn't really matter as it will never come up in the film.

Friday, October 09, 2009

things that are new

So, here we are. It's been far too long, and for that I apologize. I feel like I'm never sure what to do with this blog, but I have a new project on the go and I think that's good cause to revitalize this old place and clear out some cobwebs.

Here's what's been going down in the past half year:

Kate and Bradbury:
All done, the sweat and blood part over with for the most part, and the applying to festivals when I have some spare time at work part is in full swing. It's been accepted to a few already, from screening on subways in the Toronto Urban Film Fest last month to the always wonderful Atlantic Film Festival here in Halifax, where I was also working at the box office. It played in Georgia down in the states last weekend at the Ecofocus Film Festival, and later this month it'll be playing in Toronto at the Planet in Focus Film Festival -- one of my favourite festivals to work with. The lovely folks at PIF have been so kind to me, and I'm really happy to be screening with them again this year. K+B will be up on vimeo so's you can see it in full if you haven't already. Until then, you can watch an edited (no credits), soundless version here.

The New Project:
Tentatively titled 'Collectables' (this will change, but hey, it's a working title), I recently was hounoured to receive the Helen Hill Animated Award from the Linda Joy Society to work on this film, and I'm really excited about it. My deadline is September 2010, and I am finishing up storyreel work this month. It will be animated with watercolours and crayons, and will be about a girl who starts collecting random objects on a whim. You'll most definitely be hearing more about it as the work gets done.

There you have it -- an update! I will attempt to not let this fall by the wayside for so long again.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

the rest of the story

I've been meaning to chronicle these ups and downs as they happened, but haven't had a chance thus far. So: I thought I was all good and such with my film once I had turned it in the first time, but it was not so! I managed to get my film back on the same day as the rough cut screening, and I ran in to chop it up a bit and make it more presentable, but the middle section of the film turned out to be totally blank! The beginning and end were there, but there was a chunk in the middle that was whited out (though not entirely; the black frames of the Oxberry were still there, just nothing in them).

I'm still not sure what I did that screwed it up, but it was a pretty sad time....until I was informed by the lovely people of AFCOOP that I could reshoot! This was wonderful news, as I had been trying to resign myself to the idea that after all that work I didn't have a film. Later that week I went in and reshot -- Martha sent the film out right away and it came back early the next week. Looking at that reshot film almost gave me a heart attack -- it would fade to black and my heart would start racing before remembering that there was an intentional fade-out that was supposed to be there. This second time round it all turned out fine, fortunately. Whatever it was that happened the first time didn't repeat itself.

I edited up my second take (or rather, spliced together the part that turned out the first time with the stuff I had to redo), and recorded some sounds at home. I ended up mixing the sounds with a combination of Audacity and Premiere (due to Audacity not being able to import video; I would create a certain sound by layering and cutting in Audacity and then drop that into Premiere and do a bit more playing around). The delay because of reshooting did mean that I had missed the audio deadline, but Natalie was kind enough to come in and dump my audio tracks to mag stock for me. After that the audio edits and sync went really well and I somehow had everything in on time!

So there you have the belated story of the rest of my technical problems. I am seriously so grateful to AFCOOP and all the people who helped me out because without their patience, understanding, deadline flexibility and last-minute assistance, I wouldn't have a film.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


So here's a shot of my little animation setup -- I have some more photos over at my flickr account of my sketchy line-test setup (my computer was too slow to be able to test anything over 80 frames at once, but it helped me get a sense of things at least) and of the process in general. Animation mainly happened in the week or two before my deadline (as these things will tend to do, as helped along by a trip to Alberta when I got nothing done and the holiday season in general), but for the most part it went well.

Shooting. After the last minute scramble to get all of the animation done (including animating all of the sponsor/afcoop/omf logos which took longer than I expected but which I think were worth it in the end), I first went into the animation room on the evening of the 31st of January. I had gotten my mentor to give me a quick reminder session and go through all the steps of loading the camera and shooting fades and such the night before, so I was feeling pretty confident. I still had a bit to ink, so I shot one chunk that day and one the day after -- the process itself went fairly quickly and I got into the groove and just went for it.

On my way to my second day of shooting I came across some NSCAD students in the parking lot beside the animation room, shooting a film about -- bikes! I took some photos of them (like a stalker) and we chatted for a bit about bike films. I deem it to be a good omen!

Turning in my film was a wonderful feeling, after a week of craziness and scrambling. The OMF coordinator had forgotten that I was still shooting and sent the main batch of films in so I had to wait a few weeks before it would be sent for processing (with everyone else's credits), but to have it all shot and done with was incredible.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

a month later

Here's some visual evidence of one of the more succesful moments described in that last post (Thanks to Ralph who came out and documented it):

My film has come back from Toronto and I am highly apprehensive about seeing it. However, since I expect basically nothing to be on it, it'll be a treat if anything IS on it! I hope. Regardless, the hand-drawn portion seems to be going pretty well....I got zero work done over the break, but since I've gotten back things have gotten off to a good start. I may post some pictures of my little workspace later.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

tales of woe

I can't say that everything went wrong with the shoot today. At the least, the rain held off until nightfall, and I got at least half of the shots I had indended to get. Plus, at least maybe having horrible luck for this end credits shoot means that I'll have good luck for the shoot in January that constitutes the bulk of my film. But seriously, after today I almost feel like never shooting anything outside of the animation studio.

My turn towards misfortune started yesterday night. At 11pm, Dorian (who I had enlisted as my assitant for the shoot) had a long way to go on his big final essay that was due for a class the next day at 4pm. Since my shoot time overlapped with essential writing time, I suggested I try to find someone else so he didn't have to me with me on the shoot for that long. That proved entirely unfruitful, as not too many people are available on a weekday morning/afternoon with almost no notice. The problem is, it is physically impossible for me to shoot my stopmotion chunk with only one person.

Fast forwarding to the next morning, the first immediate challenge was the lack of snow. As mentioned in the entry below, I had decided the night before that I would use my own, darker-coloured bike rather than the light-coloured bike offered to me by Dawn since the snow looked like it was there to stay. However it rained all night and by the morning the grass was as green as ever. That wasn't a huge setback, it just meant that I would have a darker bike on a dark background, which probably wouldn't be too big a problem. I enlisted Dorian to help me bring everything over (fortuately my shoot site was only a few blocks from my house), and set to work getting ready to start filming. Dorian had to go work on his essay for a bit, so I figured I'd hope that one of the people I had emailed might show up. Unfortunately no one did, so I tried to see if I could set up the shot myself. The wind was ridiculously crazy, and not only kept tipping the bike over, but broke the kite dowel as it crashed into a tree (we were able to fix it with tape). 

The worst result of the whole endeavour was a combination of the wind's strength, me forgetting that the tripod only needs the spacers on pavement, and my foolishly leaving the camera to go over to the bike to try and right it. Just like that, with a huge gust of wind, the tripod toppled over and the camera hit the mud. I ran back and picked it up -- it was a really soft surface so I figured it couldn't have been damaged, but when I looked through the viewfinder it was a bit askew. Figuring that something had just been a bit jostled, I tried to see if it was something I could fix, but I couldn't see what was causing it, so I figured I'd head down to AFCOOP and ask Al if he was around. 

The problem then was that I had too much equipment to carry by myself, and no one else there to watch it for me. I paced around in desperation for half an hour, watched everyone at the CBC building file out for a fire alarm, then back in...Dorian still wasn't back and no one else had showed up. Finally I flagged down a really nice random person walking down the street and asked if I could use their cellphone. The guy's name was Lucas and he thankfully obliged, so I was able to get Dorian to rush over to watch the stuff while I went to AFCOOP. 

I showed the camera to Chris at AFCOOP who informed me that not only was the viewfinder screwed up and would have to be fixed by Al at a later date (though Chris did try), but there was a chip in the prism  at the front, which is not reparable and really bad news, since they'll have to try and find a replacement from a broken down bolex or else have me buy them a whole new camera if that doesn't work. Needless to say, it was an emotional time, and I really appreciated how nice Chris was about it even though I had really screwed up and was taking up a lot of his time (not to mention limiting camera options for all the other OMF participants and AFCOOP members, taking up tons of Al's time as well and generally making things difficult for everyone). Chris got me set up with a new camera and I headed out to shoot -- Ralph came by to do some photo-doc and Dorian helped me out with getting some of the main shots done, but eventually they both had to leave and I was back to square one. I huddled on the hill for an hour or so hoping someone else might show up (since I couldn't do anything at all because of course after the accident I wasn't about to leave the camera for one second), but eventually headed home to send out another round of emails. No one was able to make it, so I headed out again and got a static shot of the bike and some unsuccessful kite shot attempts in before heading back to unload my film and return my equipment. 

So that was my first stopmotion shoot, and I have no idea how the footage will turn out. The exposure is really wonky because during the times I was actually able to shoot the sun kept moving in and out from behind various clouds, I'm afraid the kite shots won't turn out very well at all, and really the main thing is that I may have ruined one of AFCOOP's three Bolex cameras. Suffice it to say, it was pretty horrible. Let's hope the Oxberry shoot next month goes a LOT smoother.