But don't close the tab yet. The film isn't excused from some things that should be discussed, so, on with the details and worthy points, 'ey? I'll start off by commenting on the premise and technical aspects, and I'll mark where I transition into the deeper elements of the screenplay (for those who care about such frivolities as "spoilers").
I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that Hugo is the most gorgeous piece of motion picture color styling that I have ever seen. Nearly (I'm using "nearly" just to be safe) every frame is a work of saturation and gamma depth art that can be studied and learned from. The relatively small-scale, yet intricate sets are breathtaking. Ben Kingsley, whom some of you may remember from Schindler's List and Moses, does not disappoint.
The film, in a nutshell, is about the re-discovery of imagination, especially imagination that may have been buried in hurt and loss over time. This journey, through which the protagonist discovers home and family, is told beautifully.
Now, on to the nitty-gritty. This is where the spoiler-concerned would probably want to stop reading.
Georges Méliès, the pioneer filmmaker whose works are featured in Hugo, and whose true story this film revolves around, was a man of creativity and imagination, to be sure, but the dark and twisted tones in a lot of his works bring up something I believe is key here. This was before the time of the Frankfurt School, before the great aesthetic agendas of our day. The men crafting these early films had no motivation besides their wildest dreams. What drove men like Méliès after that which would eventually become a dabbling in the first horror films?
The simple answer is that imagination comes from inspiration, and inspiration at it's heart is birthed from worldview. What inspired Georges? It's safe to say that his worldview was not one of created order and beauty.
You may be wondering how this is relevant to the Hugo viewing experience. Well, I'm happy to say that, in the interest of keeping the lighthearted spirit of imagination, all of Méliès' film excerpts that made it into Hugo are happily horror-free. I found most of it quite enjoyable, in fact. It was only on occasion that I was able to pick up on the more twisted side of Méliès' creativity.
The reason for this discussion is that, as discerning Christians, when we see a beautiful film about the wonders of imagination, we must ask ourselves if the film's concluding suggestion is honest and true. Is all imagination positive? Is it possible for the darkness of one's worldview to affect those who view one's creative works?
Lastly, does any of the above make Hugo a bad film? No, not at all. I reiterate that it is a delightful story and theme. These are simply things that must be considered with all discernment as it becomes increasingly vital that we test everything against our Biblical worldview. Remember, every film is a sermon; every frame is a message; every so-called "entertainment" experience, an opportunity to instill and teach so that our children will have the foundational worldview they need to face culture on their own.
This year's San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival's Jubilee Award for Best of Festival went to Agenda, a documentary explaining the continuing Marxist agenda in America today.
Agenda did a superb job of outlining the connections and strategies that have been formed since long before World War II to destroy our nation from within. In the film, maker Curtis Bowers states that he chose to title his film "Agenda" to highlight the difference between it and conspiracy theories. A conspiracy is defined as "an evil plan devised in secret by two or more persons," while an agenda is "a list of things to be done." The facts presented in Agenda aren't hidden secrets in any way. They can be found in the writings and sayings of members of the radical left all throughout history, and in the modern day.
If such an agenda really is present in today's society, then why isn't the general public aware of it? Mainly because the effects of these agendas are subtle. They happen slowly and over time, making them difficult to observe. Agenda pieces these changes together, traces them to their source, and gives hope for how we can help counteract the downgrading of our culture.
A definite must-see for all concerned citizens -- as well as unconcerned citizens who SHOULD be concerned.
First of all, I'd like to state that I do not in any way suggest that anyone should go out and watch either of the films discussed below. This article regards these films solely as the representatives of different standings in the filmmaking industry, and does not endorse either of them. I also do not suggest that anyone watch the Academy Awards (I received all of my knowledge of them via live blogging.).
This year's Academy Awards were frontlined by James Cameron's Avatar
and Katherine Bigelow's The Hurt Locker
. They were complete opposites in more ways than one.
First of all, a few facts regarding each film.Avatar
is James Cameron's first blockbuster film since Titanic
held the world record for the highest gross revenue of a film in history, until James Cameron broke his own record with Avatar
grossing (at the time of this writing) $2.6 billion. He spent $237 million to make it.The Hurt Locker
is Katherine Bigelow's eighth feature film. It was independently produced, and it cost $11 million to make, and so far, it has grossed $21 million.
Thanks to it's dazzling special effects, gripping action sequences, and attractive (among other things) characters, the mainstream world absolutely loved Avatar
. But when it came time to give out the Oscars, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had a decision to make. They could choose either to give the Best Picture award to the film that was produced on an enormous budget and backed by a huge studio, or they could acknowledge that it is still possible for an independent filmmaker with a good screenplay to make a commercially successful film.
They chose the independent film. And we, the Christian independent filmmakers, are grateful for the encouragement that we too can reach this world with our independent films.
I am pleased to announce that Adventurous Tails: Sugar
available on DVD! The DVD includes special features, such as Behind the Scenes,
Outtakes (bloopers), Original Trailer, and an exclusive featurette "The Dogs and
The DVD is Available now at the Adventurous
We pray that this film will be a blessing to you. Please pray for us... that
the Lord would give us wisdom and blessing to pursue future projects.
Our film became a Finalist at the San Antonio Independent Christian Film festival, and the other film we participated in, The Widow's Might, won Best of Festival, as well as Audience Choice! Praise God!
On a side note, we have created a Facebook Page for our film company [LINK] (where you can find in the Fans list a certain Daniel Rivera who wouldn't mind you adding him as a friend... )
Be praying for a major motion picture project that is rising.
God bless you all in this New Year,
Well folks, here is one of the reasons why I've been busy...
I am pleased to announce the upcoming launch of our short animal film, "Sugar", which is the first installment of our "Adventurous Tails" series!
Sugar lives a wonderful life with a family who loves and cares for her and all her friends’ needs. One day, however, all that changes. Sugar and all her dog friends are off to the rescue in this delightful adventure about respect and a thankful attitude. A film for the young and young at heart.
Out of 250 film submissons, this film is one of the few that will be screened as semi-finalists at the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival. [LINK]
View the Teaser Now at http://www.adventuroustails.com/
And be sure to subscribe to the E-Mail list to be the first to know when the DVD is released: [LINK]
God bless you all,
The Globe Reacher
I recently had the great privilege of making a promotional video for a ministry called Trucks for Huck. I call it a ministry because it really is more then a political group; they minister the gospel to the truckers they talk to all the time.
The representative from the ministry only sent me some pictures of the truckers with the Trucks for Huck signs, some video clips of the ride in the trucks, and some quotes from the truckers.. I had to get creative, adding stock footage of trucks and roadways, graphic overlays and transitions, and the music. This just goes to show that with a little creativity, virtually anything is possible.
The video was posted on Mike Huckabee's campaign blog before his loss in Texas, resulting in his website being re-directed.
Here is the video:
I made this Demo Reel following Rick Green's Demo Reel Tutorial [LINK].
Even if you aren't a potential client for us, comment and tell me why or why it wouldn't would make you more likely to hire us if you were.
I use Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0 [LINK] to edit all my projects. And believe it or not, I rarely use something like Adobe After Effects [LINK]. Premiere is packed with fully customizable effects built-in.
After Effects, however, has it's place. If you need heavy, advanced effects (i.e. Lightsabers, fire, etc.), After Effects is worth looking at. Together, they work very well.
There has been a significant amount of debate about whether or not to go with Apple's Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere, and rightfully so; Final Cut is a very good editing software as well. But there is an interesting rarely known secret about this: Final Cut and Premiere were created by the same person. The workflows through them are almost identical. Here's two of the reasons why I stay with Premiere on Windows: There are thousands of little useful applications out there on the internet for free. If you want to get the equivalent for Mac, you're going to have to pay something, if you can find it at all. Another reason is the virtually seamless workflow between all of the Adobe products.
If you are based already off of the Windows platform, and are interested in professional-level editing software, I recommend that you stick with Windows. To switch completely to Mac will cost you an arm and a leg.
More detailed tutorials on how to do things in Premiere and After Effects coming soon!
This is the first episode in the Globe Reacher WebCast series.
A simple rubber band can greatly increase the value of your pan and tilting shots.
Special Thanks to Martin Beal for showing us this trick. http://www.bealmedia.com/
Be sure to comment if you have a trick that could become one of these episodes, or if you think this is helpful.
By God's grace, HeartStrings [LINK] won the Audience Choice and Young Filmmakers' Awards. This is the first time in SAICFF history that a young filmmaker takes Audience Choice. Praise be to God.
Yes yes, I know, I know. Why aren't I in the picture? Well, we aren't "officially" the filmmakers of HeartStrings. But we helped with HeartStrings. When you watch the Behind the Scenes of HeartStrings on the DVD, you'll understand. Ok, yes, I admit that John Moore wrote the script and was the official director...
On a serious note, John Moore was an excellent director and manager of things. I truly admire his skills.
Do be sure to pick up a DVD complete with the Behind the Scenes (I'm in there ) and other special features. You can do so at www.HeartStringsTheMovie.com
Hello, Folks. Sorry I've been so long in posting. Been very busy with several projects lately, including helping with HeuMoore Productions' [LINK] HeartStrings [LINK]. Our family helped with basically everything, including providing the equipment, working on set, and supporting the script.
HeartStrings is a Semi-Finalist in the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival.
Be sure to check out the teaser below.
Ok, we now have our fish rigged, lighted, and placed. We are ready to animate!
Before we animate, we must record the dialog audio so we can make the animation fit it. I used the Blue Snowball [LINK]. It's an excellent microphone. However, the audio in the clip below was recorded in a cheaper microphone... hence the popping... I did re-record the audio with the better microphone.. not to worry... It's just a prototype.
To animate, we must set keyframes.
Almost all virtual motion is created in frames. A frame is an image in a series of images. Movie cameras take about twenty-four frames each second. When the pictures are displayed one after another, the object that is filmed looks like it is moving. It isn't exactly twenty-four frames per second, so we call it 24p (Twenty-four frames per second progressive). For web video, to get smoother motion, we use 30 frames per second. That is what I am using for this project.
Keyframes are basically motion markers. Let's say I set a 3D object at the left side of the screen on Frame One in the timeline. If I switch to frame 30, then move the 3D object to the right side of the screen, when I play the animation, I will see the 3D object move across the screen in one second (because I used 30 frames). In this way, I can animate things growing or shrinking (scaling), rotating, or, of course, moving. This is how 3D animations are done.
Because this is probably going to be a TV commercial, I am going to render it out in High Definition (HD).
Ok, I move the camera to get it framed just right... oh, perfect!
Alright, I will start by lip syncing. This is when we make the motion of the character's mouth match the words that he speaks. I like using a built-in plugin called Morph Mixer. Basically this is just placing a keyframe for each morph as the character says each sound (called "phonemes") that makes up words. For example, if I wanted to make the fish say the word "fluffy", I would keyframe in the following phonemes: F-V, L-D-N, A-I, F-V, E, than back to Base (speechless) .
For this project, I do all the lip syncing first; than animate fins and tail, etc. I want the tail to have a nice flowing motion in the background, as you will see in the clip.
Alright, all of the lip syncing is done for Shot One. I now add a few keyframes to make the head and tail move to add more realism.
Well, I'm going to render Shot One out now. Rendering is basically when you tell the computer to generate the images. I am using a render farm. A render farm is basically a group of computers working together to render the shot. This shot took about 30 minutes to render. I will be including more information on how to set up a good render farm and use it efficiently in a future blog post.
Once the shot has been completely rendered out and compiled, I import the clip into Adobe Premiere Pro [LINK] and add the dialog.
When you shine light into rippling water, you get what are called Volumetrics (also called Godrays). To get this effect, I will composite in a clip of the Volumetrics that I created in Adobe After Effects [LINK]. With all of this together, here is what we have!
IMPORTANT! Do NOT watch this until you have read the above post!
Setting Up in Layout
Ok, we now have our two fishies. One battered (hee-hee-hee) and one healthy.
I opened LightWave Layout and imported both models.
Some of you are probably wondering what LightWave "Layout" is. Well, I'll tell you.
LightWave works in two applications: Modeler and Layout.
Modeler is where you model ("create or modify") your 3D models (objects).
Layout is where you animate (making dem' move!) and render (export) your animation.
I have the models ready, so that's why I'm moving into Layout.
Ok, I get the fish side-by-side and the begin basic rigging.
"Ok", you ask, "What's rigging?".
Well, to make characters move at joints, they have to have joints. 3D joints. To do that, we use 3D invisible bones.
Bones? Yes, bones. 3D objects with joints have bones. When visible, they make the fish look more like a robot than an animal... it's a good thing they are invisible in the final export.
I put a bone to move the head, and a few for the back and tail. As said before, the fin didn't need bones because they are controlled by morphs.
Alright, so I have the bones in place. Now I make sure that the morphs have the right control over the object shape.
Ok, I'm almost ready to animate! One last thing first... lighting.
Lighting? You mean in 3D you still have to deal with lighting?
Yep! 3D actually has virtual lights that you can move, rotate, and adjust in 3D space.
The different lights are:
A light good for a general key light (main light source). These are the lights I am using in this project; one on the left, and one on the right.
These lights are pretty much exactly what they are in real life. They can be just a plain beamed light source, or we can make them project an image like a projector.
These are good for when you want light emitting from a certain point in all directions... like a candle, fire, etc.
I won't write anything about the other lights (Linear and Area lights) because... well... I don't know much about them myself.
Here is what they all look like; click on the image to enlarge.
Well, we have our fish in place, rigged, and lighted.
That's all for now, folks!
Next time Animation 1 !
Next page »
Good Day, all.
I have been working on a project for a Marine Livestock online store. I will walk through it here as I work.
I wanted the final result to be a sort of spoof of the Mac Ads [LINK] . So I sat down, and, very quickly, wrote a script. VERY quickly. I revised it very little before I set to work.
The concept was a couple of fish next to each other... one being beat-up looking, and the other looking good.
I skipped the storyboarding phase because, well, a couple of fish in a frame next to each other doesn't take a whole lot of visual planning.
I didn't have to do to much modeling... I simply went to a very good free marine models website [LINK], chose the Yellow Tail Clownfish, and downloaded it.
I use LightWave 3D (much to the chagrin of Blender [LINK] fans) to both model and animate. Yes, Blender is good too... I recommend it to those who would like to learn 3D, but don't have money to spend. Be sure to get some good tutorials to get a good foundation [LINK] .
I pulled the fish into LightWave Modeler, and gave it a basic 3D skeleton and mouth morphs. Mouth morphs are basically the different mouth positions that a character would use as he speaks. I made M-P-B, A-I, E, F-V, L-D-N-Th, O, and OO. Just move your mouth to figure out what each of those look like. I also included a few for emotions and basic fin movement... since I didn't really want to use bones for the fins.
I then made a duplicate of this new model file, and a duplicate of the texture. The texture was then modified to look like a beaten, sick fish. This was saved, and put on my new model. I then cut tears on the fins to simulate fin tear.
I then had my two fish... one healthy, and one battered (no pun intended ) and was ready to set them up in Layout.
Part Two: Setting up in Layout coming soon!