Posts tagged “Dreamer

Catching Up

Wow — what a couple of months it has been.  Not only have we had a fair amount of ‘real’ work come thru our studio (the first decent run in a while) but we have also just wrapped up hosting our new film festival here. The theme for our first year was comedy shorts, so naturally we called it “Show Us Your Shorts,”  with giant boxer shorts as the logo.  Our anchor sponsor was  Stella Artois, and they were great to work with.  We had  strong crowds, a successful show, and we are utterly exhausted.

We have managed to keep Dreamer going thru all of this, although the strain has shown. Some of you may have seen the typo that floated for a while on Episode 8,  and I’ve still got a few things to clean up on Episode 9. The biggest problem, however, has been Episode 10, which shot the morning after the Film Fest opening Gala party.  Epi 10 had the makings of  our best one yet by far, and I just totally blew it.

The Episode called for our title character to have a conversation with a Rabbi, and we were thrilled to have a real Rabbi agree to do the part. He is an amazingly bright and talented individual, and we were very much looking forward to the shoot. When we got on site and saw that he had floor-to-ceiling windows in his office, I made the fateful decision to leave the lighting in the truck and go natural.  We were really running on fumes from all the energy spent on the festival, and I figured I could shoot with reflected window light, drop the  background a bit in post and we’d be fine. We’re not trying to cinematic excellence with Dreamer, we’re trying to kick off a meaningful conversation.

I had a bit of a brain cramp during the shoot (sleep deprivation was rampant in our group during the festival) and I managed to wipe out a couple of clips on one of the P2 cards. That wasn’t a biggie, but what I saw when I got back to the studio was. The ‘natural’ look just totally sucked. I spent two full days days key-framing virtual lighting, and have not been able to save this thing — it looks like a TV news interview.

Okay, we’ve all had bad days from time to time, that’s why we have pickup shoots. Yeah, well….the actor playing our title character went and got himself a really bad haircut two days after the shoot. By ‘bad,’ I mean the type that will take a while to recover from.  I have not seen it yet, but from what I hear, it’s pretty awful.

Hey — the scene takes place in a temple, maybe we could just get him a really large kippah…..


Feels Weird

Spent much of today doing drive maintenance, and a lot of the things that had to be dealt with were Dreamer-related.  A lot of the elements in episode 1 were built up in un-compressed 32-bit 1080P layers. Although most of the shots were short, there were a lot of them and the folders were getting a little bit bulky.  Even though everything is fully backed up, it still felt a little bit weird to be deleting things that I have been working so much with for so long. Kinda like a re-doing a room after a kid left home……

Release Date

August. Early August. Finally.

Getting here has been interesting, and we have learned all kinds of things.  Having cast at a focus group showing? Bad idea. Shooting green screen footage thru a wide angle adapter? Really bad idea if it is a full-body key. I’m not even going to mention my idea for music under episode one — please, oh please, let the new music be ready in time.

The good news is that, even with all these bad ideas that I have managed to plague us with, the project is coming along nicely, and the modifications we have made to the story are a lot of fun. What we will be bringing to fruition in August will be much more than we originally anticipated, and some of the concepts we are going to explore will be catching a lot of folks by surprise.  Interesting times are ahead…..

End of the world

Oh, dear — the world is going to end tomorrow…just as we’re finally about to release Dreamer.  Darn it – wouldn’t you know….

I’ve  been reading the press reports from these last days guys for a while now, and their reasoning is just amazing.  They’ve got all kinds of evidence, all culled from the same place and all based on a central premise that is utterly unverifiable. One of the key players in this nonsense has seven kids, and is so convinced that his gig is up that he’s neglecting his responsibilities for his family’s future. Needless to say, he’s having trouble in his marriage.

The daffy, circular logic that I read in this doomsday theology reminds me greatly of the logic professed by so many of the conspiracy theorists these days….some stories get spun up, a lot of facts get twisted, and somebody makes a lot of money. This doomsday church is worth millions…..has anyone see any of them giving it away?

Daffy as they may be, conspiracy theories can be a lot of fun, and we’re going to lift the lid on some big ones in Dreamer. Our focus group gave us some  solid information last week, and we are busy now making the changes that our first ‘real’ audience suggested. Stay tuned — the dreamer will awaken soon.    Yeah, I know….the end of the world is tomorrow…..darn…..

Focus-Group Ready

Finally — it rained in Dreamerland….an effects shot that I have been working on for seemingly forever came together, and it rained in the composite.  I am not yet totally happy — the water we had sprinkled on the actor’s umbrella when we shot the green screen footage did not read, so now we have an actor standing in the rain with a seemingly dry umbrella. This I can deal with — the drought was getting old.  We are now close enough to fini on the establisher episodes that we can bring in a focus group to let us know if we are telling our story with any kind of clarity.  That will happen on the evening of Sunday, May 15,  and their report will tell us our launch date.  If they’re happy, we can probably pull the trigger on Dreamer in early June.  If not, well….we will see…..

This is not, as it turns out,  the first time it has rained in our studio. Several years ago our A/C got stuck in sub-artic and the temperature fell into the upper 40’s. It happened in the middle of the summer, so it always felt kinda nice when we first walked in.  The work crews our landlord sent over could not figure out what was wrong, and at one point (after about a week of putzing) they simply opened some induction vents to allow some of the hot outside air to get drawn in to our space. They did not fully appreciate the reality of the humidity levels on East Texas, and before long a cloud formed up in our lighting grid. Then the rain started, inside our studio.  I’m glad we were not paying that power bill…..

All Together Now

What a ride it has been — much longer and bumpier than I expected, to say the least.  We are, however, almost there — I dropped into place the last two green-screen shots needed to fill all the gaps in the establisher batch of episodes. All I have to do now is add rain to one shot, and we’re ready to launch. Oh, sure — I have no frickin’ idea how to do add rain….I tried it once on another shot and failed miserably.

I’m told it is pretty simple — add a ground plain on an overlay in LightWave and motion-track in a hemisphere over the umbrella.  Stretch out a particle emitter over the top and set a multi-particle re-emit routine on the hemisphere. Replace the particles with hypervoxels and its all done. That sounds easy, except for the fact that I have no idea of what any of that is or how any of that works.  I’m hoping there’s some tutes on YouTube…..

The good news is that this particular rain shot  is a really short night scene.  The elements on this shot composited beautifully, so anything that even resembles rain will carry the day.

So here we are — all major holes are now filled, and the project is looking better than expected. We will be focus-grouping the first round of  establishers to make sure we didn’t miss anything, with any luck we will not be in tweak mode for long. After six years of steady plugging, all the pieces are together now, and I’m ready to launch.  Let the fun begin…..


We had our first group viewing last week — four cast members and a visiting artist. The verdict: we’ve hit a snag.

I had originally designed this project with two things in mind — it would advance the story thru rotating ensemble casts, and the episodes would be really short.  I was thinking newspaper-comic style bursts,  the quicker the better.  The snag is that some episodes gave themselves to brevity better than others, which means that there is no consistency in what the viewer can expect. Episode one, for instance is 4:55, while episode two runs 5:15. Episode three? 45 seconds flat. The viewer is left dazed an confused, as well as feeling a little bit cheated. If we run episodes three and four together we can get things into a more reasonable three minutes, but then we have two casts appearing in the same episode and the viewer is left confused.  Keep in mind that when I say ‘viewer’ here I am talking about cast members — people who know the story! If  we were to launch this now to a ‘real’ audience, we wouldn’t stand a chance.

So, by night (even as I write this) our computers are continuing to crank out plates for the few remaining cgi shots. By day, we’re doing our regular paying gigs while working diligently to build bridges to give the story a better flow between episodes.  The cast had some great suggestions on Friday, so we do have a plan. Its just another snag —  Arrgh.