How to be an acrobat...

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Finished assembling/first cut of the opening scene.

It holds together very well. And lo and behold the ‘original’ cut assembly wasn’t all wasted – I ended up using large chunks of it and modifying other parts of it to fit into the new whole.

“Leap and the net will appear.”Julia Cameron


Chaos - Tears - Monsters and Fears

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I’ve been editing the opening sequence over the week-end. So, yes, I’ve started editing the second last day of the shoot (not counting day 6 since that was a ‘repeat’ of the shoot). Nearly there…

Very nervous – this is it – this is how the film opens – I hadn’t watched the scene since we had shot it.

Some amazing stuff – Danielle cries on cue - all in close up – even at low resolution you can see several tears welling in her eyes and cascading down her cheeks – this was one take –I worked the whole sequence around it.

Her panic and tears are dramatically countered by Luke’s and Chris’ cold and Zen-like manner. Hot and cold. Shocking and arresting. Love it.

For a writer/director, it doesn’t get any better than this; this was the way I wrote it – this is the way it was performed and shot – this is how it plays in the edit. I got to enjoy it three times.

So I cut - remember we’ve got ten cameras – cut - shot angles – cut - many takes – cut- reaction shots –cut – shouts – cut – screams –cut –ECU - cut– soundscape – cut etc etc…

And I made a complete mess of things… not just a little mess but huge utter custard of images and sounds – you’d think I had just got the program out of the box and started editing that day. I’ve been doing this now for over three months – on any other scene I can drive that thing like a F1 car. Usually, I’ve been working with vision from a minimum of five cameras to handling up to 8 to 10 video tracks – I’m a high performance machine.

[As an aside – I do not refer to my script as I edit – so the continuity is all in my head and based on the good take.]

This should be a cinch yet the beautiful designer baby had turned out into a monster…

How could this be?

What happen I think is that as I worked around the performance I lost track of the logic of the scene – my mind couldn’t recall what happened when and where and…disaster.

I looked at it – I’ve been working on this scene the longest of all – tweaking every nuance. Fourteen hours over three days of solid work.

My eyes were stinging – my mind was numb. My heart was – well - bleeding lifelessly on the floor...

Late Sunday night - I started back from scratch. Yes – threw it all out.

Still not there yet – but as is the case, I’m rediscovering the scene and I can tell you that there are more great moments…it rocks.

[yet to edit the closing sequence – I will have to watch my step there too.]

Nearly there boys and girl – nearly there – I hope I can surprise you all with the finished product.

Will keep all posted…


Unafraid of the dark

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Had a great session yesterday – till 1 am – fantastic stuff...sounds images cuts, cuts, performances...

I was enthralled by everything - and I’m tough audience - usually fall asleep watching action flicks (don't ask)...

I’m either extremely deluded or I got something special – time will tell.


Sneak Previews

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CHW came over for lunch a sneak previews...if any one's interested in seeing some rough cut footage drop me a line...No i didn't tell him the real name of the film or show him the opening credits(!)


Thanks for the laugh CHW

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Chris (‘Paris’) Hilton-Woods left a message on my voicemail saying cast and crew are at the studio all waiting for me to do pick ups (!)

I wish…

Anyway – this was funny because:

1. We shot a s*&^load of footage…who needs pick ups.

2. if everyone was on set – they probably wouldn’t wait for me and go ahead and shoot something; I’d like to think that this is because everyone is so prepared and has a clear idea of what I want as a director – and not because they think I'm an idiot who should not be listened to (!) and that indeed I can make a creative contribution.

3. We shot a s*&^load of footage…who needs pick ups.


Over the ½ way mark

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Looking good. Looking very good.

Last night I was working my way through day 3 and 4 footage– Crikey we shot a s*&%load…who was the maniac director? Man, I was knackered just logging.

Isn’t it interesting? In retrospect you think – good enough take – but on the day –I can get better – or I need better than this – mind you it doesn’t hurt to have the footage for one reason or another (technical (camera, sound), performance (never!), variety)…

Day 3 was a particularly interesting day – full of cooing pigeons and barking dogs;

What I find interesting – because I never noticed on the day – is to see the actors’ reactions up close before “action” and after “cut”.

The shear fury in Danielle’s eye every time we had to cut and go for a further take – is a short film itself - and here I was worried she was too sweet-looking. Hell hath no fury like an actress upstaged by cooing pigeons…

To be fair - she wasn’t he only one with daggers in her eyes – I could see fury and rage even in lovely Luke’s visage. Reckon it all improved their performances…

The only one to take it on the chin was Chris – unfazed by this or that problem – he just kept putting his performance out…very Zen.

It is a strange feeling making a film I get to spend so much time on my own - writing first, then reliving it all in the editing.

I still miss production and the shoot – not as bad as previously – I don’t have ‘withdrawal symptoms’ – but I am itching to go at it again…I will have a first draft script by X-mas.

There, scoop.


In the end - it all works...

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The other night I thought that a particular card (the 'leading' Red camera none other!) had not been digitised (Nooooo….)

Yeah, I know why would I think that with such an efficient and reliable onset postproduction crew? Well – to cut a long story short – all the other cameras recorded the card/shots – Blue and Green had the card and the log book had it recorded but the red Card was nowhere to be found on my hard drives…And I was certain I had transferred all the cards across to the Firewire HDD (see this post)

I then checked the original slave drives and lo and behold it was there.

Anyway – it was a painless exercise to then import the folder and edit.

Again, I’d like to thank all those involved in designing the system – it wasn’t perfect – and may do it differently next time - but things in the post have worked out well so far.


Somewhere between 1/3 and ½

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The mid point is fast approaching – I don’t know if this is a meaningful milestone – but I’m making it...

Everything is working really well – in fact, it will be interesting to go back and revisit the earliest scenes now that I’ve gained more experience with the material and the process.

I always knew I was going to play with the material but I never realised how much fun it would be.

Editing is more like a performance, or even sport – you cut and move and use material like a footballer uses the ball and the arena – you guide the eye at will – sometimes you hang on a performance longer - other times you shift focus on purpose – then you lay down sounds effects and play with their levels…enchanting.

Anyway – getting to the halfway mark of the assembly/edit.

A great place I tell you – after the shoot I was in a real funk – withdrawal symptoms from not being a set with all the creative decisions - was dreadful...

Editing replenished me - it’s a great feeling – it renewed the pleasure of working creatively…


The weight of silence

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Sound and silence are very powerful in the edit. This is probably a banality to some – I was certainly aware of the theory -yet it is not until full immersion into the material that one can appreciate the power of sounds and its counterpart: silence.

For me another discovery was that the silence between dialogue gains a whole new weight/meaning now that I’ve introduce even the barebones of the soundscape.


Laughing During Sex - What is the sound of fear?

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Working on the soundscape

Not the obvious screams and squeals and horror movie staple – I’m talking about those undefinable and intangible sounds that inexplicably grate against your bones.

Those sounds that sink their teeth into your soul.

Anyway – these are elusive since we all carry personal baggage.

One man’s nightmare is another man’s joy. E.g. I had a friend whose girlfriend would laugh uproariously every time she and he had an orgasm (See how this pays off on the title of the post?). Now – some (many?) men would find these peals of laughter a little ego-deflating – an effing nightmare! Yet he thought it was the sweetest most romantic thing she could do with him – anyway – back to MbM soundscape…

Been working on the soundscape – no, haven’t completed the picture edit yet but the plan was to do the two contemporaneously (try saying that three times when you’re really tired…) -

Anyway, Soundtrack Pro 2 is a dream as it allows the monitoring of the sounds across the 7.1 points, so I’ve been playing with sounds coming from the room at various points and panning and other effects – I’m like a child with his first bicycle…

In any case – I’m designing the soundscape then editing the visuals against it…

Very interesting effects…


Learnings from the film editing trenches

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Here’s what I learnt last night:

Some actors are so precise in their actions (hand, leg and head gestures), that no matter what material you use (shot days apart and out of continuity) – you can cut it together effortlessly.

Others replace the discipline of precision with the discipline of enriching the performance and not one take is the same (I’m exaggerating blocking is blocking but compared to the ‘precision actor' there is a vast divergence) – but their offerings mean that with hard edit work one can create a performance that has greater nuances. Others are somewhere in between. I won’t name names – it’s irrelevant…

But when this opposite forms of discipline happen at different times in a shot/scene not only it’s easy to edit them together – but also the shot/sequence sparkles and cracks with drama.

It’s when things happen simultaneously - you need to cut across performances to have a shot sequence that holds. Great challenge – and when it works - it’s pure bliss (relief?).

I wonder - how does one direct these talented individuals for the camera? Multiple takes? Multiple Cameras? Or does one just let them roam free?

I certainly found that ample coverage provided a solution.

Speaking of coverage, lo and behold the same is true of other creative especially the camera operators - this is very apparent when see the same take from multiple angles – even the fixed camera have their own personalities (!)

Each cameraman with their own style – very much like the actors – some are precise in frame and operation – others are more fluid and seeking the new.

I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised but I find it always interesting that each mind see things - and thus reacts - differently.

Appropriate for a film about perceptions…


Editing and other loves

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Edited way passed my bedtime last night – got caught in the excitement of it all - everything clicked – the camera work, the direction – oh yeah - and the performances(!)

The edit is reaching a point where the film in my mind approaches (and becomes) the film on the screen…which is a special and unique place to be for any film maker.

I was tempted in sharing some footage with you all – but I’m going to be selfish and hang on to it for a little longer…in good time though I will have a cast and crew screening…


1/3 Mark - Some further thoughts on editing

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"Film editing is now something almost everyone can do at a simple level and enjoy it, but to take it to a higher level requires the same dedication and persistence that any art form does. "
Walter Murch

"The essence of cinema is editing. It's the combination of what can be extraordinary images of people during emotional moments, or images in a general sense, put together in a kind of alchemy."
Francis Ford Coppola

Currently working on the edit (what else?) and approaching the 1/3 mark.

My feelings about the project grow more positive as I work on it - getting more and more footage into each scene.

At present, each scene /sequence has typically about 5-6 video tracks – at times more, if some shots/takes were exceedingly promising. This is just assembly remember – I haven’t even started the fireworks yet…

Some further thoughts on editing.

Some of the performances weren’t as good as I thought at first.
WTF? Where was the director?

Specifically – there were reactions shots that I would have wanted – that are just not there. I searched believe me - but we all seemed to be focused on capturing the actor who was talking that we forgot to get the reactions shots - anyway…

Again I chided myself - had I made more time for rushes maybe – but no, I couldn’t seen this even with rushes – it’s only when you start editing and developing a rhythm that you see what is missing.

No panic – can easily be fixed (cheated) - because of the one location, I can grab a shot from one scene and inserted in another – but it’s a little annoying that given the coverage I gotta cheat.

However, other aspects were better than what I had first thought or realised. There were reactions and looks that are very precise and worthwhile – maybe I’m just being hard on myself – maybe this is as good as it gets.

Anyway - I’m glad we go a lot of footage/coverage because in addition to the missing shot here and there - continuity is non-existent – and having lots of footage is making a great difference to the cuts/performances flow etc – mind you at times the sheer choices mean that it approached analysis paralysis.

I have been spoilt though – I am planning my next film and will need to go with two cameras at least just for comfort.


Audre Lorde Quotes

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“When I dare to be powerful - to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid”

“I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.”


Intellpuke: The following article is by Daniel J. Callahn and Marc P. Miles, the lawyers representing the families of four American contractors who worked for Blackwater and were killed in Fallujah. After Blackwater refused to share information about why they were killed, the families were told they would have to sue Blackwater to find out. Now Blackwater is trying to sue them for $10 million to keep them quiet. This article was first posted on's website.The families of four American security contractors who were burned, beaten, dragged through the streets of Fallujah and their decapitated bodies hung from a bridge over the Euphrates River on March 31, 2004, are reaching out to the American public to help protect themselves against the very company their loved ones were serving when killed, Blackwater Security Consulting. After Blackwater lost a series of appeals all the away to the U.S. Supreme Court, Blackwater has now changed its tactics and is suing the dead men's estates for $10 million to silence the families and keep them out of court.

Following these gruesome deaths which were broadcast on worldwide television, the surviving family members looked to Blackwater for answers as to how and why their loved ones died. Blackwater not only refused to give the grieving families any information, but also callously stated that they would need to sue Blackwater to get it. Left with no alternative, in January 2005, the families filed suit against Blackwater, which is owned by the wealthy and politically-connected Erik Prince.

Blackwater quickly adapted its battlefield tactics to the courtroom. It initially hired Fred F. Fielding, who is currently counsel to the President of the United States. It then hired Joseph E. Schmitz as its in-house counsel, who was formerly the Inspector General at the Pentagon. More recently, Blackwater employed Kenneth Starr, famed prosecutor in the Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky scandal, to oppose the families. To add additional muscle, Blackwater hired Cofer Black, who was the Director of the CIA Counter- Terrorist Center.


Solutions: cryptogram challenges

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They both use a Caesar shift.

The first cryptogram (with a shift of 3) is the first names of the actors:

Encrypted-text: gdqlhooh, oxnh, vzhhqhb, fkulv
Plain text: Danielle, Luke, Sweeney, Chris

The second one – with a shift of 4 - is the dummy title of the film:

qsqirx fc qsqirx
Moment by Moment


On-Line Caesar shift encryption

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This site is very good - it will encrypt plain text using a Caesar shift.


Cryptogram Challenge 2

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Or this - this is easy now...

qsqirx fc qsqirx


Cryptogram Challenge

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Now that you are experts - solve this:

gdqlhooh, oxnh, vzhhqhb, fkulv


Caesar Shift - Cryptography

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In cryptography, a Caesar cipher, also known as a Caesar's cipher, the shift cipher, Caesar's code or Caesar shift, is one of the simplest and most widely known encryption techniques. It is a type of substitution cipher in which each letter in the plaintext is replaced by a letter some fixed number of positions down the alphabet. For example, with a shift of 3, A would be replaced by D, B would become E, and so on. The method is named after Julius Caesar, who used it to communicate with his generals. The encryption step performed by a Caesar cipher is often incorporated as part of more complex schemes, such as the Vigenère cipher, and still has modern application in the ROT13 system. As with all single alphabet substitution ciphers, the Caesar cipher is easily broken and in practice offers essentially no communication security. Example:
The transformation can be represented by aligning two alphabets; the cipher alphabet is the plain alphabet rotated left or right by some number of positions. For instance, here is a Caesar cipher using a left rotation of three places (the shift parameter, here 3, is used as the key):


When encrypting, a person looks up each letter of the message in the "plain" line and writes down the corresponding letter in the "cipher" line. Deciphering is done in reverse.


Try this

Some say that Kubric used a 1 shift when he named the computer HAL in his 2001: Space Odyssey.


If you work back one letter you get...



e e cummings

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To be nobody-but-yourself -- in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else -- means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.
e e cummings



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Had a dream last night.

Shooting a film all on location: a city street - I felt a perfect joy.

It was only 5 people all up including cast and crew (!): DOP/cameraman, one producer/1AD, myself and two actors playing the lovers.

I somehow knew there was no script – just a few sketches of what each scene is about and ready to improvise the whole story. Very À bout de soufflé feel to it.

This morning I made some notes – very loose - a story about desire, money and true love:

It’s about a girl called Max – who likes to set things on fire.
And a boy called Robin – who likes to steal fast cars.
And a hitman called Mr K – whose car they are in.

Can it be shot on a Red one in one week-end?

Any takers?


Editing @ 23 September 2008 - MXF, FCP and speed...

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Did some major technical updates to the file system in FCP - and have sped up considerably the MXF files workflow. Essentially what I’ve done is limit the number of files imported and send off-line the unused MXF files. As soon as I figure how to, I will post a tutorial with screenshots etc.

I don’t like to overpromise to myself or others (and then risk to underdeliver – a recipe for disappointment) - but it does make it considerably easier/faster for me to assemble/edit the footage. So possibly move ahead of schedule or at least spend more time creatively – either option a positive.

The approach that I’ve taken so far is to do a standard edit first – i.e. as if we’re watching a normal drama – then go back to each scene/sequence and intercut the additional footage/angles to give the ‘thousand eyes’ feel (I might have already said this before…) – then go over once more to give the ‘this could be a dream/nightmare’ feel, which includes the most experimental component. This last part is aimed at overhauling and reinventing editing conventions (how’s that for a small ambition!) – so 3 levels of creative decision-making with a fireworks last effort.

It sounds a little mechanical (1-2-3; X-Y-Z?) – in reality it is more integrated – and in fact at times I’m doing all aspects at once. Plus, eye of the mind makes the movie – what’s inside my mind/soul/heart is desperate to reach the screen. And I’m not going to stick to rules – even my own.

I know – I know - I’m changeable and impulsive. But my ancestors were pirates and mercenaries (no hyperbole here – this is a historical fact) – so it’s in the blood - no apologies – because as the women who love me say, it’s my mercurial and relentless nature that gives me the X-factor…

So to date - parts of scenes already incorporate the multiple dimensions approach. Is it magic? Don’t know - but it is undeniably an interesting result…

Anyway - picking up speed…


Editing @ 22 September 2008

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Had wonderful time editing yesterday.

Spent over 6 hour uninterrupted and was able to edit three scenes and one sequence with multiple takes - multiple angles into – I reckon - a seamless whole - not without its challenges I might add.

There were scenes where the tail of one did not match the emotional intensity of the head of the next (great lesson learnt with regards to performances and direction of that performance across scenes shot out of continuity but which will then be cut together)

Thought I had it sorted – yet – there are small things like a body leaning in and then not leaning in – that I found jarring i.e. why would the character do that? And then you start to ask questions: how much time would need to elapse for the emotion to change to the next?
Also what can be done by un-synching audio from the visual? Namely, can the emotion be lessened if we only hear the words and see something else (not the body language)? The short answer is yes - but it depends!)

There were other takes where the emotional intensity – or whole performance really - changed mid scenes – but this was a plus as it enabled me to shift gears in the scene – which is the very essence of film making – the pure choices available to the director. – As I edit I must say that I am still spoilt for choice – yet to curse the director for not having covered this or that angle. Let’s hope it will all be this way.

As you read the above you can gather that I am moving beyond mere assembly and actually editing – oops – I was going to keep that a surprise.

The intention with regards to workflow was indeed to do a mechanical assembly but you know me - if you don’t you will now – ‘mechanical’ is not me - I just can’t resist temptation – after all ‘The path of excess leads to the tower of wisdom’

Or ‘If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise.’

That William Blake was a wise man indeed…

However, this is still a (rough) rough cut – there are still many aspects that I haven’t even touched – yet it is far more than sticking things together.


Buddhism in the edit

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Buddhism says that Buddha-nature is within all things - i.e. that the truth of something is already within it - so the journey of discovery is inward to that realisation - rather than outward or towards some external yardstick.

The truth of the film is within it.

And as I edit each scene - cutting from shot to shot - I discover it.

Looking at the coverage I realise the weaknesses/strengths in the writing/direction/performance/camera moves that I hadn't realised during the shoot.

Some of the writing/performances/direction - which I thought were accurate - on closer inspection look false and forced.

Others which I thought were at the time loose and unfocused - are now more truthful.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised by this but it still caught me by surprise - looking at the many takes - I kept wondering what was it that I or the actor the cameraman were striving for and why we missed it or why did something else appear?

What is left on the cutting room floor reveals more than what is in the finished film...


The edit - choices- choices-choices

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Going very well - very good material - the shots are great - shame the performances are okay (kidding...) - choices - choices - choices.

The software (FCP v6) is a dream and easy to use. Can do special FX, soundtrack and cut all at once - too many choices - need to develop my own working methods so not to digress - ha but what fun digression...

To date - 5 scenes out of 30 are at assembly stage. At this pace reckon end of October for the full assembly - but I might be able to move faster as I progress and get better accustomed to the short-cuts of the software....


I'm a lucky man...

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The edit is going well – can’t say it’s flying - because there is tons of material.

And having the many angles, one starts to ask the inevitable artistic questions: when do I cut? Why? What will this next cut reveal that the previous didn’t?

Am I cutting because I’m getting bored looking at the actor or actress or is there a motivation to the viewer to cut?

Great questions really – it s the very reason why I get so much out of film making – without taking anything away from the actors – it is the edit that makes the film.

And I haven’t even begun to talk about the soundtrack –whose voice is loudest? Why? What is the soundscape?

I’m a lucky man…


End of Logging - Assembly started

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Yippie ya yay!!!!!!!

Finished the boring part of logging – although – still missing some footage from the HDV and the Sony (John!!!!) – nonetheless started to assemble/edit the Steganographer monologues using the footage from the 3x HVX’s – very good - lots of material /coverage – great performances – good-onya Sweeney.

The assembly (I call it assembly rather than edit, since it is a very rough 'stitching' together) is taking approximately 1 hr per minute of screen time. Subtle differences can be seen thanks to the many camera angles/choices available.

I suspect though that it will take longer when working with the other material with the need to cut across three actors performances (XYZ) instead of one – we’ll see. I could just focus on Deep (for those of you joing us now - Deep is a running gag - you'll need to read old posts).

I have done approximately 5 minutes of screen time. At this pace reckon should have something by end of October middle of November – so certainly not faster than expected…but it is exciting to start cutting – mind you as I said above - this is pure assembly – no finessing of cuts, post-colour, SFX ect…

Although I’m doing some experimentation on the side with Motion v3 – so that probably slows me down a bit (playing around, rendering, etc).

Having lots of creative fun - at last!!!

The photos are of two of my favourite actresses...
For those who live under a rock 0 that's Sofia (Loren) and Monica (Belluci)...


Memorable Dialogue - Dirty Harry (1971)

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I know what you're thinking. Did he fire six shots or only five? Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I've kinda lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya punk?


Importing MXF files - or logging Part Three

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I have found a faster way to import the MXF files - I do this during the day when I'm working elsewhere or overnight since it takes time - but it requires less effort on my part as the computer takes over - the plan of course is then to go back to each take and analyse it for details like slate info and performance.

Given the large digital data available - it is critical to 'chunk' the process - so that I can focus on each scene/sequence - with its many angles/shots.

Estimate 2-3 weeks before I can actually start cutting.


Real Title of MbM:

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Steganographic protocol: XYZ

Well some entries anyway...Well done to all those who submitted these – very imaginative and noteworthy.

I will reveal the real title in due course – but let me give you a clue – in all my communications there have been many clues…but you have to work at them – as Louis Pasteur put it better than me ‘Chance favours the prepared mind’.

Otherwise there’s suspense - suspense is fun…for me – for you? Dunno.


Logging - parte due - the horror...the ecstasy...

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I'm getting better - no really - really good at copy files from one drive to another and then labeling each one with the right slate is soooo much fun - fun- fun - oh look! butterflies! Pretty, pretty butterflies...

Okay - why does one lose his mind doing this?

Here's some maths - there are 62 cards for each camera x 4 cameras = 248 cards.
each card carries 4-6 takes/shots = between 1000-1500 shots to view and label...

No - I enjoy it - No, really - don't get up - I've got it sorted - would you like me to get you a drink while I'm up? San Pellegrino chinotto with ice and lemon?

I've got quiet good at it - when I see Deep (clapper) trembling - I know that there is really something special after the CLAP!

When he's too laid back - I just know there must be a plane or a dog - or pigeons or some other problem that will make the take NG (that's no good for those not familiar with the film world lingo) - so i just erase the take.

The problem is that many times he looks a little blank so I've gotta go through the whole take! Can you believe it - actually have to watch the footage!

(I kid I go through every take regardless - you never know when you can to discover the little diamonds in the rough - actors are funny creatures - sometimes you only see the truth before action and after cut).


Three Kinds of Free From Chris Anderson

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3-kinds of Free


HoW tO bE REmArKaBlE - From Seth Godin

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1. Understand the urgency of the situation. Half-measures simply won't do. The only way to grow is to abandon your strategy of doing what you did yesterday, but better. Commit.

2. Remarkable doesn't mean remarkable to you. It means remarkable to me. Am I going to make a remark about it? If not, then you're average, and average is for losers.

3. Being noticed is not the same as being remarkable. Running down the street naked will get you noticed, but it won't accomplish much. It's easy to pull off a stunt, but not useful.

4. Extremism in the pursuit of remarkability is no sin. In fact, it's practically a requirement. People in first place, those considered the best in the world, these are the folks that get what they want. Rock stars have groupies because they're stars, not because they're good looking.

5. Remarkability lies in the edges. The biggest, fastest, slowest, richest, easiest, most difficult. It doesn't always matter which edge, more that you're at (or beyond) the edge.

6. Not everyone appreciates your efforts to be remarkable. In fact, most people don't. So what? Most people are ostriches, heads in the sand, unable to help you anyway. Your goal isn't to please everyone. Your goal is to please those that actually speak up, spread the word, buy new things or hire the talented.

7. If it's in a manual, if it's the accepted wisdom, if you can find it in a Dummies book, then guess what? It's boring, not remarkable. Part of what it takes to do something remarkable is to do something first and best. Roger Bannister was remarkable. The next guy, the guy who broke Bannister's record wasn't. He was just faster ... but it doesn't matter.

8. It's not really as frightening as it seems. They keep the masses in line by threatening them (us) with all manner of horrible outcomes if we dare to step out of line. But who loses their jobs at the mass layoffs? Who has trouble finding a new gig? Not the remarkable minority, that's for sure.

9. If you put it on a T-shirt, would people wear it? No use being remarkable at something that people don't care about. Not ALL people, mind you, just a few. A few people insanely focused on what you do is far far better than thousands of people who might be mildly interested, right?

10. What's fashionable soon becomes unfashionable. While you might be remarkable for a time, if you don't reinvest and reinvent, you won't be for long. Instead of resting on your laurels, you must commit to being remarkable again quite soon.


Great Heights

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"The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night." Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Moore To Release New Film Online For Free

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Moviemaker Michael Moore has decided to post his new political documentary online so fans can download it for free.
Slacker Uprising, which chronicles Moore's attempts to fire up the youth of America to vote during the 2004 election, will be available as a free download for three weeks from 23 September.
Moore says, "I thought it'd be a nice way to celebrate my 20th year of doing this, and also help get out the vote for November. I've been thinking about what I want to do to help with the election this year."
Moore's move marks the first time a major movie is released in such a way.
The director's last film, Sicko, was leaked online and downloaded illegally in large numbers.



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Still logging data...

and writing my next feature...


Hal Varian: 14 Free business models

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From Chris Anderson's blog:

Hal Varian: 14 Free business models

I had a great interview today with Google's economist-in-residence Hal Varian on the economics of free. He pointed me to a 2004 paper he wrote on the changing economics of content and copyright in a digital world. It includes 14 business models that allow content creators to make money even if they cannot stop the content from being distributed for free. Here they are:

"Most information is born digital and that digital information is typically very easy to copy and distribute, it is conceivable that copyright laws may become almost impossible to enforce. Are there ways for sellers to support themselves in such an environment? It is worth considering some of the options. Here is a brief list of business models that might work in a world without effective copyright.

Make original cheaper than copy. This is basically the limit pricing model described earlier. If there is a transaction cost for a copy-a direct cost of copying, an inconvenience cost, or the copy is inferior to the original in some way-then the seller can set the price low enough that it is not attractive to copy.

Make copy more expensive than original. The "cost of copying" is partially under the control of the seller, who could use a "digital rights management system," some anticopying technology, or threats of legal action which would increase the cost of copying and, therefore, increase the price that it could charge for its product.

Sell physical complements. When you buy a physical CD you get liner notes, photos, and so on. Perhaps you could get a poster, a membership in a fan club, a lottery ticket, a free T-shirt, as well. These items might not be available to someone who simply downloaded an illicit copy of a song.

Sell information complements. One can give away the product (e.g., Red Hat Linux) and sell support contracts. One can give away a cheap, low-powered version of some software and sell a high-powered version.

Subscriptions. In this case, consumers purchases the information as a bundle over time, with the motivation presumably being convenience and perhaps timeliness of the information delivery. Even if all back issues are (eventually) posted online, the value of timely availability of current issues is sufficient to support production costs.

Sell personalized version. One can sell a highly personalized version of a product so that copies made available to others would not be valuable. Imagine, for example, a personalized newspaper with only the items that you would wish to read. Those with different tastes may not find such a newspaper attractive. Selling works with digital fingerprints (encoding the identity of the purchaser) is an extreme form of this. (Playboy has allegedly put digital fingerprints in online images.)

Advertise yourself. A downloaded song can be an advertisement for a personal appearance. Similarly, an online textbook (particularly if it is inconvenient to use online) can be an advertisement for a physical copy. There are many examples of materials that are freely published on the Internet that are also available in various physical forms for a fee, such as US Government publications (e.g., The 9/11 Commission Report, or the National Academy of Sciences reports.

Advertise other things. Broadcast TV and radio give away content in order to sell advertisements. Similarly, most magazines and newspapers use the per copy price to cover printing and distribution, while editorial costs are covered by advertising. Advertising is particularly valuable when it is closely tied to information about prospective buyers, so personalization can be quite important. In an extreme form, the advertisement can be completely integrated into the content via product placement.

Monitoring. ASCAP monitors the playing of music in public places, collects a flat fee, which it then divvies up among its members. The shares are determined by a statistical algorithm. The Copyright Clearance Center uses a similar system for photocopying-a flat fee based on an initial period of statistical monitoring.

Site licenses. An organization can pay for all of its members to have preferred access to some particular kinds of content. University site licenses to JSTOR content, Elsevier content, or Microsoft software are examples. This is particularly relevant when there are strong network effects from adopting a common standard, such as in the Microsoft example.

Media tax. This a tax on some physical good that is complementary to the information product (i.e., audio tape, video tape, CDs, TVs, hard drives, etc.) The proceeds from this tax are used to compensate producers of content. For example, the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992 imposes a media tax of 3 percent of the tape price.

Ransom. Allow potential readers to bid for content. If the sum of the bids is sufficiently high, the information content is provided. Various mechanisms for provision of public goods could be used, such as the celebrated Vickrey-Clarke-Groves mechanism. This could be used in conjunction with the subscription model. For example, Stephen King offered installments of his book The Plant on his web site. At one point he indicated he would continue positing installments if the number of payments received divided by the number of downloads from his site exceeded 75.6 percent. His experiment did not succeed, perhaps due to the poorly chosen incentive scheme.

Pure public provision. Artists and other creators of intellectual property are paid by the state, financed out of general revenues. This is not so different from public universities where research and publication is considered integral to the job.

Prizes, awards and commissions. Wealthy individuals, businesses or countries could commission works. The patronage system achieved some notable results in Europe for several centuries. The National Science Foundation or the National Endowment for the Humanities are examples of modern day state agencies that fund creative works using prizelike systems."


More Fellini

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“I discovered that what's really important for a creator isn't what we vaguely define as inspiration or even what it is we want to say, recall, regret, or rebel against. No, what's important is the way we say it. Art is all about craftsmanship. Others can interpret craftsmanship as style if they wish. Style is what unites memory or recollection, ideology, sentiment, nostalgia, presentiment, to the way we express all that. It's not what we say but how we say it that matters.”

Federico Fellini


Transfer files

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The transferring of files and the setting up of the project continues well – I still need to go back and log all the footage – namely, name each file with the scene number, shot number and take.

I catch little glimpses of the footage – it looks great. Itching to actually start editing but I reckon two more weeks of organising the files before I can get into it creatively.

Some quotes that are appropriate for this time:
"Experience is what you get while looking for something else." Federico Fellini
"You exist only in what you do." Federico Fellini
"There is no end. There is no beginning. There is only the passion of life." Federico Fellini
One of my favourite movie shots from 'La Dolce Vita'.
Marcello and Anita in the Trevi fountain - Ahh - what every red-blooded Italian man wishes for - a beautiful, exotic woman fighting to be kissed...


Technobabble – Part Deux

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The good news

The files copied over without fuss. Lots of space still available in the third 1TB drive

I have reconnected the media from the FCP file – so that it now references the files in the speedy Firewire drive (not the tortoise-like USB).

The plan is to split the film into 7 sequences – for the sake of processing speed – at present to load all the data at once takes about 15 minutes - hardly reassuring that when I start to play with clips the whole thing will hold.

With the split into sequences (each sequence will reference a specific set of MXF files) the workload becomes manageable. 7 sequences = 11 to 13 minutes per sequence.

I’d be editing short films really – then save them as QT files and stitch them together in a master file of sorts.

Other good reasons to use 7
We shot for 7 days
It’s a prime number
My lucky number - I wore it on my jersey back in the days of the world game.


I’m going over this for two reasons:

First sympathy - I need a hug.

Secondly - for the sake of clarity - since many of you may be wondering what the f*&^ is Phillip doing instead of cutting his film?

Anyway – here’s how I spend my time - you tell me if it is the normal thing to do for a healthy young man…

Moved everything from the three 750 Gb hero drives (RGB) onto a 2TB Macpower Taurus LAN Gigabit NAS, SATA-II HDD.

This drive is considerably faster that the Phillips drives - since it uses FireWire 800 and not the USB port (Phillips drives). the Phillips drives we used do not have Firewire output and can’t be daisy chained.

The copying took well over 18 hours (overnight).

Why did you do this Phil - I hear you ask - and if you didn't - you should bloody ask...

Well - the USB port engages the CPU - so it slows down the machine – the Firewire doesn’t do this to the same degree - so faster read-write rates and better CPU performance – so say the experts. So given that Firewire 400 is even faster than USB too – you can do the math and assume that FireWire 800 is even faster still.

Disappointed that no one pointed this out at the onset when we were shopping for drives - as the USB drives we used have little post-production use as the system kept crashing…

The money keeps flowing out – I now have 7 drives that store the data but are pretty much useless in post.

More technology fun; the files are in MXF format – no one informed me that these files wrap the video and audio components into a single file that then unwraps in Final Cut Pro (FCP v6) – well they unwrap if you have the right software! Again I was left in the dark about this – so I had to shell out more moneys to purchase plug-in software to read them…

Tonight I need to review the data and check that all the files were indeed copied over before I start the organising of folders/files/shots and takes…We're talking about over 2000 files - this is of course before the actual film assembly!

Now – isn’t this fun – hands up who wants to be a film director!

This reminds me of the following Murphy's Laws:

  1. Nothing is as easy as it looks.
  2. Everything takes longer than you think.
  3. Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
  4. If there is a possibility of several things going wrong, the one that will cause the most damage will be the one to go wrong. Corollary: If there is a worse time for something to go wrong, it will happen then.
  5. If anything simply cannot go wrong, it will anyway.
  6. If you perceive that there are four possible ways in which a procedure can go wrong, and circumvent these, then a fifth way, unprepared for, will promptly develop.
  7. Left to themselves, things tend to go from bad to worse.
  8. If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.
  9. Nature always sides with the hidden flaw.
  10. Mother nature is a bitch.
  11. It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious.
  12. Whenever you set out to do something, something else must be done first.
  13. Every solution breeds new problems.



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In Greek mythology, the Labyrinth (Greek λαβύρινθος labyrinthos) was an elaborate structure designed and built by the legendary artificer Daedalus for King Minos of Crete at Knossos. Its function was to hold the Minotaur, a creature that was half man and half bull and was eventually killed by the Athenian hero Theseus. Daedalus had made the Labyrinth so cunningly that he himself could barely escape it after he built it.

Theseus was aided by Ariadne, who provided him with a fateful thread, literally the "clew", or "clue", to wind his way back again.

The term labyrinth is often used interchangeably with maze, but modern scholars of the subject use a stricter definition. For them, a maze is a tour puzzle in the form of a complex branching passage with choices of path and direction; while a single-path (unicursal) labyrinth has only a single Eulerian path to the center. A labyrinth has an unambiguous through-route to the center and back and is not designed to be difficult to navigate.

This unicursal design was widespread in artistic depictions of the Minotaur's Labyrinth, even though both logic and literary descriptions of it make it clear that the Minotaur was trapped in a multicursal maze


Clues for the real title of MbM

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I have sent SMSs with clues for the real title of the film to a select few, who I thought were cluey enough (pardon the pun) to work things out. Alas, I underestimated my encryption powers. To make it easier, thought of posting all the clues collectively

It is a two word title
On offer a bottle of champagne to the one who gets the closest.

The Clues:
A compass won’t help you as much as a key
People come to watch
The eyes need it
Mallet and chisel build it in vaulted stones

Bon chance!


The Amor and Labour post

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Just in case you though WTF about my last blog posting on amor and labour – here’s some context - I am stuck on labouring on the administrative hell of post-production: logging etc see previous post.

So I thought to remind myself of what is necessary to overcome challenges – is it love or sheer labour?

Anyway the love quote is a tattoo I’ve got planned for one of my arms – not sure whether left or right – will wait until I finish the film – might change my mind – as I usually do – about fickle things like sticking needles loaded with ink and infected blood in my skin…

BTW – I have received many emails replying to the blog – all positive thank Christ for that – but it would be better if you included your comments in the blog itsef.


Amor vincit omnia — Labor omnia vincit

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Yes indeed - either love or labour conquers everything.

Although in the case of (amor) love - Virgil - who wrote the phrase - was warning of its power - he meant that love in its full expression was uncontrollable and could burn you and destroy you thus overcome you/everything - the labour quote is far less sinister...


Logging and other administrative burdens

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Spent the week-end trying to sort out the project management aspects of the edit (trying the operative word here - since I am not sure whether I've actually succeed - I'll know tonight) – i.e. where to put the files? How to log? Which drive is best? How to access them? What is the best way to chunk the project so that the whole edit doesn’t grind to a screeching halt? Should I buy another drive to accommodate the data?

For those of you who know me – you’d know how much I hate this – it’s against my nature to get bogged down with the minutiae of process – I can accommodate the big picture and think how each piece will eventually fit in the big puzzle – but to stuff around with drives and connectors (USB firewire) - and should I daisy chain this or parallel that and do I edit in sequences scenes or the whole picture at once? And which folder contains what?

Incompatible with my immune system…I'm getting a rash...

Anyway – enough of my ranting bottom line – haven’t started to edit a single frame yet – f#&* me … mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa - should have planned the post better…



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I’m going ‘back to school’ for the edit – I’ve been playing with the footage – which is my code for not wanting to take a disciplined approach to the logging and sorting of files/folders (I need an anal retentive assistant editor). But it is against my nature to play by the rules...even mine!

Anyway thanks to my undisciplined playing I got to discover wonderland – isn’t that worth the chaos?

By toying around with shots and music and effects the feel and look is very different from what I had seen in my mind's eye.

At first I was afraid that I needed to edit the film quickly in order to capture the moment but the opposite is true - the time it has taken to sort out the technical glitches meant I got time to review review the material in various formats (with or without audio - slow motion etc) that has give me a distance and new interpretation to it all. Some shots that I thought were dispensable are now powerful imagery.

All in all a wonderful feeling.

At the core of it all are the great performances – to watch them again and again on the screen cannot be described to the uninitiated - as a writer you live with a characters in your head for years, to see them realised on the screen in flesh and blood is spellbinding – like oxygen to a drowning man.

I will be forever beholden to Chris, Luke, Sweeney and the powerhouse Danielle.

I hate to single out actors as everyone contributed to a great ensemble cast - but DB reminds me of a quote about Fred Astairs and Ginger Rogers: when a critic complimented Fred’s dancing skills he quipped that Ginger had to dance in reverse (since Fred was leading) and notably in high heel! So who was the better dancer?

Well Danielle acted her socks off - while being strapped down…

All in all they more than respected the material – or to paraphrase DB ‘did not reduce it’ – indeed they added layers of humanity and truthfulness that are indelible.

And Max! What a fabulous job on set design with a $0 budget – Max – the footage will make you look like a god to your peers – they’ll want you to keep your secret or every other producer will put the squeeze on them to achieve more with less..
It looks rich – it looks real – it looks dreamlike…onyah mate – enjoy Paris with SJ.

But let's not forget CHW and his gang – for capturing it all despite the clock ticking – not to mention JH! for his single-minded dedication to my ‘thousand eyes’ concept and forever firing up cameras – it’s a nightmare of data wrangling John but one well worth it – footage coming out of my ears(eyes?)

Okay - enough thanks yous - you may start to think I want to adopt you - or shag you - now I gotta get the job done - I deliverd the script - delieverd the direction - now the edit - I promise I will be more disciplined – erase all the external hard drives of experiments and start afresh - This week-end I will start the assembly of all the master shots – the task-master has spoken...but if you know any anal retentive assistant editors please send them my way...


A technical virgin discovers desire...

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I now have the technical specs sorted out – was touch and go for a moment as various FCP and MXF import versions (virgins?) do not compute with each other. And it was looking like I had to recapture everything – it may be a case of both re-logging and importing – but it is doable with the current set up with the addition of 3TB external drive at the ready.


Changes to the film...

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I studied the footage with great focus - there was so much material before and after action and cut (just as well we weren’t shooting film – I gauged 70% of a take took place before I said Action! and the reminder 30% was the actual scripted scene…)

Nonetheless this accidental footage was so gripping that a new story emerged –so I have made a drastic change - the film is now a docudrama about Deep our clapper loader.

It opens with a shot of his feet shuffling out of frame – but the camera rather than stay on our ensemble cast (too obvious choice I guess) – creatively follows him as his tries to hide behind transparent curtains.

The framing is all Dutch/Russian angles - which adds to the otherworldliness of the piece.

The body of the film follows Deep, as he doggedly skips and hops, trying in vain to evade the cameras by ducking, weaving or standing very still in frame – albeit behind transparent curtains – and in his stillness we find poetry.

The middle of the film focuses on his attempts to show the clapper board to a growing array of cameras that are hidden from his direct view – as many voices yell at him – turn here! Go there! Closer! Tilt it! The other way! He takes all this with great humanity.

He looks both confused and befuddled by this turn of events – the professional actors - by now out of focus in the background - become mirrors of his own inner blurred world-view and he becomes our new centre of attention.

He is now a reluctant star in his own drama – but overall his performance is searing and above all genuine - as we see real panic and fear in his eyes – Kinsky would have been proud…

The last shot is the most compelling – I am tempted of not revealing it...

It’s the last day of the shoot and Deep has now gone through a major catharsis - he has accepted his role as star of his own drama. Yet – he retains that air of genuine puzzlement at the turn of events – with Nepalese stoicism and beauty he looks off camera and asks – ‘what is the shot number’ – for a split moment his words hang in the air - nobody pays him much attention – then suddenly - off camera - five masculine voices yell different instructions – a moment of pure cinematic beauty as he writes and erases all the numbers yelled at him - afraid of disappointing anyone – yes I know - I cried too…


F@#$ing External Hard Drive headaches

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So the current hard drives do not work – or rather the content as recorded onto them cannot be accessed by my FCP v6.0 system a tiny, tiny issue really (f@#$%!) – Okay - breathe – in – out – in- out - happy thoughts – happy thoughts…

One solution is to re-log and transfer each single take onto a new drive using the log transfer function of FCP v6.

F*&% me – this is a mammoth task – we have over 2 Terabytes of data - this is 2100 minutes of screen time – now even for those of you with a not so strong math bend you’ll realise that there are 60 minutes in one hour – 600 minutes in ten hours – so 2100 minutes equals to 33 hours of acquisition and logging! Easily three weeks worth of slog - That’s just to re -log the material. Then this material needs to be assembled…Wasn’t looking forward to this…

But let’s look at the bright side (yes ladies and gents – there is always a bright side – or rather if life gives you lemons make lemonade – and god knows I’ve made lots a lemonade) - it’ll give me time to review the material and select the good takes.

Now – where’s my cheque book – I need a very good 2 terabyte external hard drive…


The title of the film is...

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A'll know in time...


The edit suite - Final Cut Studio and P2

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Finally got the edit suite together – Mac book pro, Final Cut studio 2, five drives - all up for a total of 5 Terabytes of media.

The software was very temperamental and spent the week-end learning about MXF files and P2 converters – as much as I get seduced by technology – having to install plug-ins and patches requires the patience of a monk.

On the up side FCP v6.0 is very good. Lots of sophisticated effects and ability to tweak the images to suit the film that I’ve had in my mind for 2 years.

As is my nature (off centre?), I will be experimenting with various approaches to streamline the workflow. Likely to work off sequences. Each sequence a dream - each sequence a colour in the palette of the mind-maze.

The colour palette and the contrast and finished look will be last on the list – otherwise there is the danger of a rainbow effect across the scenes.

But I get ahead of myself - the assembly is not done yet - and it alone could take weeks.


The shoot ends - now what?

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So the shoot has finished.

It's like I've been travelling at hyperspeed and now I’ve come to a sudden stop.

I always feel a great void at the end of a shoot – during the shoot I have the luxury of being surrounded by multitudes of crew and cast with a million questions/problems/issues and the adrenalin-rush I get is very addictive. Combine it with 2 weeks of little sleep and the civilian world takes a new hue. Everything seems slower, duller.

I usually get very sick at the end of a production – like all the bugs gang up on a spent body – this time it was different – I felt stronger physically - I must be getting stronger (?) - but emotionally and psychologically very battered. Is it worth it?

Maybe. The footage is awe inspiring - and will demand much from me in the edit suite.