Hitchcock

Just stumbled across this in the iPhone app store. Hitchcock is a “mobile storyboarding” app – you take photos on your iPhone and then drop in camera moves, stand-ins and audio. You can even set timings for the shots, so you can experiment with pacing.

At £11.99, it’s a little pricey, but it looks like it could save a hell of a lot of time. My draughtsmanship isn’t great, so an application like this could be very handy for me – looking forward to testing it out.

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=6030115&server=vimeo.com&show_title=0&show_byline=0&show_portrait=0&color=ffffff&fullscreen=1

Hitchcock Mobile Storyboard Composer from cinemek / Hitchcock on Vimeo.

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Chopping and Changing

Well, with a magazine deadline week and two days of editing out of the way, I finally have some time to sit down and blog.

The first two days of the edit were… a little fraught. It turns out that Wilmot’s old Macbook, while fine for cutting SD video, really struggles with HD. And when I say “really”, I mean “20-hour rendering times”. A few tweaks brought the speed down to manageable levels, but it’s still running like a crippled snail swimming through treacle. At this rate, we wouldn’t make the deadline.
Fortunately, there was one time-saving measure we could resort to – instead of using specially-composed music, we could pull the music from our previous film. Luckily, it’s quite ambient and spooky, so should work well in a zombie film.
That saved us a couple of days, but another thing became increasingly clear over the course of those two days. The film, which can’t be more than two minutes long, is looking like it’ll run to three or four minutes. There’s plenty of fat we can trim, but it’ll feel a bit truncated to me.
The solution, we think, is to cut a two minute version for the Zone Horror competition, using repurposed music from A Stitch in Time – then we cut a longer version, properly graded, with original music, and send that around the festivals.
Either way, tomorrow’s crucial – a full day’s edit, sound mixing and music, which will basically determine whether we can make Zone Horror’s deadline. Wish us luck!

District 9

Went to see District 9 yesterday – good stuff. Neill Blomkamp’s one to watch out for – and I suspect James Cameron will be kicking himself come the end of the year. 14 years and $300 million to make Avatar, and Blomkamp’s snuck in with a truly epochal sci-fi movie that only cost $30 million to produce. Not that you’d know it from looking at the screen; the visuals are very impressive. Check out some of Blomkamp’s previous short film work (including Alive in Joburg, the film that inspired District 9) here.

But what does it all mean for the film industry? Once a film like District 9 blazes a trail, Hollywood moves quickly to emulate its success. In the short term, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a couple of big studio pictures trying to emulate District 9’s aesthetic – wobbly hand-held cameras and steadicam, snippets of faux-documentary footage, grotty-looking real-world locations, and so forth. CGI has clearly advanced to the point where it’s possible to drop blockbuster-quality effects into a mid-budget film, so we can probably expect to see a few more issues-based sci-fi flicks with small budgets and no star names above the title.
In the longer term, perhaps the suits will draw some lessons from how the film was created – especially if District 9 does end up out-performing Avatar.
If you haven’t heard the story… Briefly, Peter Jackson was impressed by Blomkamp’s short films and adverts, and poached him with a view to him directing a blockbuster based on Microsoft’s Halo videogame franchise. The deal fell through, and they turned to Blomkamp’s short film Alive in Joburg for inspiration, spinning the basic premise of the short into a mid-budget feature. I wouldn’t be too surprised if the studios look to take a similar approach, sniffing around ad showreels and YouTube in the hope of finding another Blomkamp.
Short film-makers will doubtless be hoping that they do; I wonder if we’ll see more film-makers producing shorts that are written with a view to being expanded to feature-length, in the event that they find a patron.

Monster Mash

Our zombie, Lea, has blogged some more about Baby Steps and her other current projects here.

I find myself playing the waiting game at the moment; Baby Steps is in the can, but we won’t be sitting down to edit it until the weekend. Of course, my natural response is Oh Sweet Jesus We’re Going To Miss The Deadline, but there’s plenty of time to cut it together yet. And on the plus side, it gives me a few days to punt out some festival applications for A Stitch in Time (oh, Stitch, how I’ve been neglecting you…).

More pressing is what to do with the piles of baby toys we used as props, now cluttering my bedroom. I’ve managed to find takers for all the magnetic letters and the rattle, but what to do with Giggling Baby Luke? Anyone in need of a dead-eyed plastic ghoul-child in possession of an electronic giggle that will Haunt Your Very Dreams?

Zombies!

Well, Baby Steps is in the can – the shoot went pretty smoothly, on the whole. Our star Lea blogs about her experience of being made over as a zombie here – luckily I’d given her the zombie contacts earlier in the week so she could practice with them; even so, she was suffering for the first hour of shooting (sorry, Lea!). Something to bear in mind in future.

Things over-ran by a couple of hours, but we’d anticipated this, given that we were shooting in a flat whose inhabitants were around during the day. We even had time to get a few “interesting” shots above and beyond the stuff I’d storyboarded (though only after we’d sorted out the safety shots – my director-paranoia kicking in).

On to post-production – and the race to meet Zone Horror’s September 18th deadline!