Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sound FX Recording

Not much new to report on the movie progress, as we're still working on the musical score. I did, as promised, make it in to Andy's Darkhouse Productions recording studio to do a few extra sound effects for the movie, including ripping a broaster chicken limb from limb (to simulate bones cracking,) and recording children screaming. I posted a guest blog on the subject over at the Darkhouse MySpace page, which you can find here.

Friday, November 16, 2007

DVD Package Almost Complete

Well, I've resolved the issue with the chapter skip button; turns out it was a problem with Encore itself and a quick update solved it. The DVD is basically locked down. I've made a test disc to make sure all of the navigational links work correctly and think it's shaping up pretty nice. We should have a bunch of cool features for you, including a commentary track, a deleted scene (audio only - since I never did any animation for the sequence), an alternate version of the main title sequence, an alternate version of the movie made up of quick Poser test-renders, the teaser trailer (2D and 3D), the trailer (2D and 3D), trailers for Raven and Raven 2, and a never before seen trailer (2D and 3D) for Raven 3-D, which was made from test footage.

All that's left to complete the package is the soundtrack.

Speaking of which, tomorrow I am due to pay a visit to the Darkhouse Studio to generate the final couple of sound fx and begin work on sweetening the fx and vocal tracks.

Stay tuned...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

As Good As It's Gonna Get & DVD Authoring Problems

I've settled on an anaglyph version of the movie that's going to have to do... it works reasonably well on my Panasonic HDTV and very well on my CRT monitor. This will be the one going out on the DVD.

And, speaking of the DVD...I'm using Adobe Encore to author the disc, but despite the playback preview offered up within the Encore program itself, when played back on a set-top DVD player the disc does not match Encore's file directory. In fact, many of my programmed commands seem to be completly ignored.

For instance, I've programmed the disc so that when a user clicks the special features menu a short intro plays, and when that ends the special features menu appears. If the intro is allowed to finish, the disc does as it's supposed to and launches the special features menu. However, if the user presses the chapter skip button the disc jumps ahead to another video file on the disc. If the user keeps pressing chapter skip, he can continue through all the video files on the disc without encountering the menu at all (which is the desired result when the chapter skip button is pressed.)

I'm reading the Adobe help logs and forums to see if there's a solution to this problem...

Friday, November 9, 2007

3-D Headaches Continue

I've made multiple test discs now and tried them out on multiple NTSC monitors and none of them produce satisfactory results. I've been doing my research and determined that, as far as I can gather, there is no foolproof way to get perfect anaglyphic stereo reproduction on a television monitor. Two factors that figure into this are a) your NTSC television screen, and b) limitations of MPEG 2 video encoding.

From what I've read, MPEG 2 bleeds a bit of the green & blue channels into the red channel, resulting in a red channel that is not 100% red, and therefore it is impossible to reproduce the red that is needed to be cancelled out by the left eye of the 3-D glasses.

I am having better success playing the DVDs back on my HDTV display, which makes the ghosting more tolerable but still not a complete success. I am still frustrated that I cannot replicate the effect that I get with the Windows Media-encoded version that I stream from my PC to my Xbox 360.

What's more baffling is that on the same computer monitor, I had fine results watching the DVD using Cyberlink's Power DVD player and so-so results (more pronounced ghosting) via Windows Media Player's DVD player!

This raises all sorts of issues. I have prepared at least six different versions of the movie now, and testing suggests that there will never be one that works in all situations. I do have a version that works better on a computer monitor, or one that works marginally better on a TV set - which version do I put on the DVD? On a computer monitor, the effect is noticably better. There is still some ghosting, but it's within a tolerance range that I am willing to accept. Do I make the DVD for computer viewing and put a disclaimer on the front of the anaglyph version? I notice that the Spy Kids DVD has a similar disclaimer.

The field-sequential version remains unaffected and the preferred way to experience the movie in 3-D. The question remains about how this latest problem will affect theatrical exhibitions of the movie... if a theater can project the movie off of the Windows Media file, they'll get the best result. But can most of the film festivals take digital files? Will the DVD work better if projected?

Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The House of Cards Begins to Fall

It looks like when I said that the MPEG-2 compression did not affect the red/blue 3-D effect, I was wrong. I've had time to make a test disc and try it out on my progressive scan 16x9 TV and two other standard def NTSC television sets, and in all three cases we have massive ghosting - so much so that the anaglyph movie is almost unwatchable.

How did this happen?

My original test movie was rendered out from After Effects via the Windows Media 10 codec, and streamed to my TV via the Xbox 360 - and it looked perfect. The best red/blue 3-D I've ever seen on a television. (This version, incidentally, will be made available for download - likely via BitTorrent.)

This new version is rendered out via After Effect's MPEG-2 compressor, and it appears that it has subtlely altered the shade of red. This MPEG shade is darker than it needs to be, so the red eye of the glasses can't filter it out properly, resulting in double images.

Yesterday, I went and rendered out another MPEG 2 compressed version. For this one, I cranked the Red Gamma of the left eye channel up from 1.5 to 2.0 (a significant difference.) When I tested it on my home TV, it actually did work much better. Not quite 100% ghost free, but acceptable. The downside is that all color information is completely lost. The movie is basically purple, and the red eye version is starting to get a bit washed out.

I've sent this disc home with Andy for testing on a standard TV, so we'll see how he says it works. In the mean time, I got to thinking that since the luminance of the red needs to be brighter, what would happen if I increased the Red Gain instead of the Red Gamma? So, I've rendered out yet another version! This one resets the gamma to 1.0 but boosts the red luminance, resulting in an extremely bright red. The image retains more of the original color information, so hopefully I'm on to something that will work.

Unfortunately, I'm out of DVD-Rs at the moment.

Monday, October 29, 2007

MPEG Videos Created + Subtitles!

It's been a while since I've made an entry here but work continues! Andy's been hard at work on the score to FvTWM. I've heard a couple of demos of cues so far and I'm told it will sound even better once it's given the full orchestral treatment through East West.

In the meantime, I've made the DVD-ready MPEG 2 video files for the three versions of the movie: a 2D version, 23.976 frames per second, progressive 480p 16x9; an anaglyph 3-D version, 23.976 fps, progressive 480p 16x9; and a field sequential 3-D version, 29.97 fps, interlaced 480i 16x9. I haven't been able to test the field sequential version yet but the other two are working quite well.

Recently a new 3-D DVD hit the market, a remake called Night of the Living Dead 3D. The 3-D effects are better than some videos I've seen, but the producers solution to ghosting images (where you see double images even with the glasses on) is to keep the depth in the frame pretty shallow. Frankenstein vs the Wolfman sometimes uses "super-depth" in it's images so I had to work to find another solution.

I've outlined this process in a prior blog entry but I use the Night of the Living Dead 3D disc as an example: in each sequence of that movie, when you close your blue eye and look through the red lens, everything appears extremely dark. My solution was to boost the gamma of the red eye view so that the picture through the red lens appears as bright as that seen through the blue eye. This has served to lessen the effect of ghosting and produce a more satisfying anaglyphic 3-D experience.

I'm happy to report that the MPEG compression's color matrix did not have an adverse affect on how the red and blue colors are reproduced (unlike the YouTube video compression - which I believe is Shockwave Flash.)

Also, I've been working on subtitling the movie, using Adobe Encore. It's a pretty nice setup, allowing you to type your subtitles directly onto the monitor window. These subtitles will only be available on the 2D version of the movie (they ruin the 3-D effect on the 3-D versions) and can be chosen by selecting the subtitle track once the movie has started.

Monday, September 3, 2007

The Trailer Has Landed

The moment we've all been waiting for has finally arrived - the brand spankin' new trailer for Frankenstein vs the Wolfman is live! You can download high quality Windows Media versions by visiting the Trailer page of the site; watch lower quality (either 2-D or 3-D) versions via YouTube below; or you can visit Veoh.com and download versions for your iPod.

Frankenstein vs the Wolfman trailer 2-D
Frankenstein vs the Wolfman trailer 3-D

Thursday, August 23, 2007

New Composer + Vacation

I've had to make a hard decision recently to replace Ryan Wummel, my longtime composer, on Frankenstein vs the Wolfman. Ryan started with me on my filmmaking hobby back in 1998 by doing songs for my vampire(?) opus Gothik, and then providing the scores for both Raven movies. As we were working on Frankenstein vs the Wolfman, it became apparent that the score would have to be a more "classical" orchestral score, which ended up being at odds with Ryan's background in Trance, Techno and loop-based music. Currently, Ryan is working on ads for Nike, if you can believe it, with a production outfit based out of Chicago.

I've tapped Andrew Kalbfus for FvTWM. Andy was recommended to me by my producer & brother-in-law, Andy Carlson - and thus, will hereto be known as Other Andy. We had a pretty good initial meeting in which we discussed what the music should do, influences and generally determined where the music was going to be present in the movie. Other Andy tells me he's always wanted to do a movie score... so now he gets his chance. He promises me that the music for the trailer will be done by the end of August.

Now that everything, sans the score, is virtually in place (a few sound fx remain to be recorded), I've been spending time watching movies and playing videogames. It's almost like a vacation from the rigors of animating. I've been playing Bioshock for the Xbox 360 this week, and it's very cool - taking place in an elaborate, Art Deco underwater city (circa 1960) with some of the most realistic water effects I've ever seen.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Science of Screaming

Leeta and Milo's ADR has been recorded... Grace and Amanda came over and spent some time whimpering, breathing heavily and shrieking into a microphone. Grace had some trouble screaming for us, so it sounds like we'll be using a scream double for Leeta.

In other news, the DVD cover is pretty much finalized. We'll be printing out a stack of them soon.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Audio Commentary Recorded

I sat down in front of my little PC mic yesterday and recorded an audio commentary for the Frankenstein vs the Wolfman DVD. Hopefully it'll prove insightful to those of you who actually want a copy and choose to listen to it. I've been doing a bunch DVD programming, creating DVD menus and working on the DVD cover. I've had a couple of proofs done of the cover art and am making corrections to it (mostly in terms of highlighting certain items and brightening the image overall.)

Over the weekend I was also able to lay in Chuck's Wolfman vocals to the movie and they sound pretty good. I had to do a substantial amount of EQ-ing and applying some filters to make his natural tones sound more bestial and ragged, but now the Wolfman has a personality!

We're set to record some more ADR tomorrow - Grace Carreno is coming in to do some Leeta gasps and whimpers, while Amanda Pearson is coming in to do Milo, one of the other orphan heroes.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Special Features Intros Shot

This week, a colleague from work came over and shot a couple of intros for the various DVD special features. We shot the video in my basement using a Panasonic DV cam and a pro light kit. Thanks to Brent for the assist!

I took another crack at the opening title, this time using 3D Invigorator. When checking my last attempt, the parallax gap between the left and right images was too far apart so everyone that I showed it to complained of seeing double images. We'll have to see if this new version works any better.

I am set to get the audio recordings of Chuck Reeder's wolfman performance this week and will cut them into the movie over the weekend.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Making the 3-D Composite Part II

So, I made an anaglyph 3-D version of the movie, described in the process here and played the thing back on my TV. Although it works quite well on a computer monitor, it doesn't work so well on the television... what I end up seeing is a substantial lack of color and double images. Looking through the blue filter of the glasses yielded a clear, single image but looking through the red lens revealed the problem: not only is the picture significantly darker through the red lens, but the double images originate there.

Thinking that this is likely due to the fact that the red channel is so dark, and therefore not reproducing at the same color as the red lens of the glasses, I went back to After Effects and raised the red gamma of the left eye from 1.0 to 1.5 and re-rendered the movie.

This version worked significantly better. The biggest draw back is that now we're pretty much dealing with a black and white movie. If I would have planned better, I would have incorporated more purples, greens and yellows as they seem to retain their color even through the 3-D glasses. All other colors are drained down to a kind of purplish netherworld. However, the 3-D works! Ah, the tradeoff. Looking at the image on the TV without the glasses, the whole thing looks reddish and the red/left color appears really bright.

Some of the effects work well (a shovel handle during the opening credits protruded well into my viewing room,) whereas I could percieve more off-the-screen action when characters were reaching towards the audience when looked at on the computer monitor.

In other news, I completed the end credit sequence last night. The movie's final run time clocks in at 19:56.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

DVD menus

I'm still working on the DVD features... now I've moved on to the menus. I'm repurposing animation already done for the promotional campaign and retooling it - the main menu opens with some video previously featured in the teaser trailer (only color corrected to match the hues of the film, and the Monster's coat has been replaced with what he wears in the movie), then segues into a shot of the foggy woods. The menu options come flying up from the bottom of the screen (courtesy of 3D Invigorator) while electricity snakes over the logo above. I'm using claw marks as the highlight selection.

The Special Features menu is a shot of a graveyard that was used in the discarded opening title sequence. Unfortunately, although the old title sequence was rendered in 3-D, I seem to have lost the right eye sequence so you'll only be able to see this one flat. The trailer, the teaser trailer and the Raven 3-D trailer will all be viewable in either 2-D, anaglyphic 3-D or field sequential 3-D.

I've also been giving some thought to the eventual premiere of the movie. We'll likely do it somewhere here in Rockford, but I was trying to figure out if there was a way to project it in color (polarized) 3-D. The only methods I could work out were using two projectors and somehow synching up playback of the movie on two laptops (a method fraught with timing difficulties), or rigging up some kind of beamsplitter rig. I made something similar when I was a kid that involved projecting a side by side version of the movie toward a clipboard containing two mirrors held in place by bookends, glue and a hinge. The way the rig worked was you would project an inverted, mirror image of your movie at the mirrors with one image falling on one mirror and one in the other; one mirror would be on a hinge so you could fold the on screen pictures (which fall on a silver screen 45 degrees and across the room from your projector) on top of each other. You'd have to put some kind of polarizing filters on the mirrors or on the projector lens for this to work and you'd be unable to tilt the projector to get a good angle at the screen. Needless to say, this approach is also a minefield of problems - so maybe the old red/blue anaglyph approach is the way to go.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Making the 3-D Composite

I'm using After Effects to do the final 3-D mix of the movie, so for those of you who are more video editing/technically oriented, here's an explanation of how I'm doing it:

1. Rendering out right eye/left eye versions of each scene from Poser. Each shot is saved in an AVI file format with a sequential, numeric labeling system - i.e. 0101, 0102, etc. The right and left eye files have identical names but are saved in separate folders, Right and Left.

2. Editing the left eye sequence in Premiere. The project file is saved as FvTWM_Left.pprj. Then, I rename the "Left" folder as "~eft", so when I reload the project in Premiere, it asks "where is the file 0101", etc. By pointing it to the "Right" folder, and since the clips have identical names, it loads up the right eye version of the movie with all the edits to the left eye version still intact. I saved this as FvTWM_Right.pprj.

3. In After Effects, I import both projects. Then, I use the Layer>Pre-Compose feature to flatten all the clips into one layer for each eye, giving me a Right layer and a Left layer.

4. Create a new comp in After Effects which contains both layers stacked on top of each other. To the Left layer, which is on top, I apply the Set Channels filter - taking the Green channel from the Left layer and combining it with the Green and Blue channels from the Right layer. Now, in a perfect world I should be taking the Red channel from the Left layer, but since I wasn't planning ahead when I made the animation, I made certain clothing and prop items red. In the red channel, these read as bright red, but when you look through the blue lens of the 3-D glasses, it reads as black. This produces a flickering effect, known as retinal rivalry.

To compensate for this, I'm extracting the Green channel from the Left layer, which alters the color of the scene and makes the reds appear dark in through both the red and blue lenses. Unfortunately, it also saps more of the color from the movie, so the anaglyph version of the movie looks a bit purplish. Yellows and greens retain their colors ok, but every other color becomes a muted version of itself.

The HQFS (high quality field sequential) version of the movie will be a bit easier to do in this regard, as it simply means applying After Effects' 3-D glasses filter to the Left layer and selecting Interlaced. However, there's another challenge to overcome there, as the movie must run at 29.97 frames per second for the interlaced effect to work, and the movie is rendered out at 24 frames per second. I'm assuming that I'll have to find a way to compensate for problems with audio sync.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Buried Treasures

Last night I went back through the archives trying to dig up some stuff to prepare for the DVD and was surprised by some of the stuff I turned up. The first item consisted of audio takes for a scene that didn't make it into the movie, where two of our heroes, Milo and Eddie, consult a pawnbroker named William Henry Pratt (Boris Karloff's birth name) in their search for silver weaponry.

I was also able to recover just about all of the test renders that I did for the entire movie. These would be low-resolution Poser AVIs that I used to check the animation before setting the computer off on a multi-hour rendering mission. I strung them all together and came up with a rough version of nearly the entire movie which includes extra dialogue, alternate camera angles, and in some cases, new shots.

But the third I had nearly completely forgotten about. Way back in the day... and this would have been mid 2004 or earlier, when I was contemplating making Raven 3 as a 3-D movie, I did some full resolution test footage to see what Raven & Poizon would look like with higher resolution and a redesign (you can see stills from some of the footage here.) It turns out that I actually created a 40 second trailer! It sports a cloak wearing Poizon and a red-eyed, bat winged Raven... Ah, the movie that could have been.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

I Bet He's Hoarse Today

Chuck Reeder came over to the house last night, accompanied by Darkhouse recording engineers Andy Carlson and Rob Kalbfus, and howled his way towards sore vocal cords as he performed the Wolfman's howls and grunts. If the neighbors could hear us, I'm sure there were points when he thought we were killing him. We set up a laptop on the bar with the movie playing on it and recorded Chuck on a TASCAM multi-track recorder. We've used this setup for recording some of the other voices - despite the fact that Andy has his own recording stuido (he says he wants to keep the sound of the recordings consistent.) Once I get the edited wave files back I'll be equalizing and layering in real animal sounds to make the Wolfman sound like a real beast.

Also, last night I was able to lay in Tom Zack's grunts and groans during the Frankenstein Monster's final battle.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Re-designed Website Launch & New Blog

With work on the movie entering post-production, I've had some time to move into some other areas - one of which includes the relaunched Frankenstein vs the Wolfman website and some general retinkering with the Daredevil Films home site. All of the old Production Log posts have been moved over to this new home here on Blogger (welcome Blogger visitors!)

The sound FX track has been completed to the best of my ability. Andy was over yesterday to take a listen to it to gauge how much work will need to be done on it at the Darkhouse studio in the coming weeks.

One of the problems I ran into in the effects track was my small sound effects library's inability to deal with the growls, grunts and roars produced by the Wolfman. I was mixing in bear, lion, tiger, wolf and dog sounds but realized after a scene or two that I could audibly hear repeated sounds. I decided that the Wolfman is going to need a fully vocalized performance, so Charles Reeder is coming in tomorrow to record his third vocal role in the movie as the snarling beast. We've got some other ADR tracks still to go, and then it's on to mixing.

I just recieved an email from Ryan with a link to a rough version of the score on his server somewhere in cyberspace, and the file is downloading to the computer as I write this. Aside from an early sample theme that he let me hear a couple of months ago, this will be the first chance I've had to hear what he's come up with. His last message stated that he had upgraded his home studio and that he was extremely exicted about the new orchestral plugins he's gotten a hold of. I can't wait to hear it.

The trailer is still coming soon: Andy also just bought some type of orchestral sounds for the studio and spent most of his time yesterday playing with it. Other Andy will be going in to learn how it works some time this week, so hopefully you'll be seeing the final trailer soon.

With the website re-designed and the effects track in place, the next things I'll be working on are the end credits and some DVD stuff... which will likely include the multiple versions of the opening title sequence, some test renders, an audio only version of a scene that was cut from the movie, and even possibly the test footage I did for Raven 3-D.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Sound Design

The sound effects track is progressing faster than I initially thought, and is nearing completion. It may take another week. It's very cool to go back and watch the movie with sound after living with it as virtually a silent movie for the past three years. We're going to try and schedule some time with the voice cast to come back in and do some ADR in the coming week or two to add grunts, groans and other incidental vocals.

The effects track is really raw, so it'll probably take quite a bit of time to actually get into the Darkhouse production studio and "sweeten" the audio and do the final mix.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


This past weekend I completed the last shot in Frankenstein vs the Wolfman. There were a couple of memory issues that cropped up in Poser that eliminated a couple of planned shots from the movie (a shot which would have brought just about every character in the movie together,) which resulted in some downscaling - but work was finished and the movie is now in the can. To be at the end of almost three years worth of work feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

I've screened the final cut and am generally happy with it. The animation is an improvement over Raven2 (although it's still a long way from feature quality - which speaks to both my skills as an "animator" and to the amount of work demanded of one person to produce a film by themselves.) There's less action than the Raven movies, but there's more character development. Characters actually have some conversations rather than always rattling off details that will speed them on to the next plot point.

I spent the remainder of the weekend preparing graphics for and cutting together a trailer. Every once and a while during production I was tinkering around with a trailer... I ended up abandoning two different versions in favor of this one, which introduces us to our main antagonists, sets up a bit of plot, and then shows a rapid fire sequence of clips from the film. Using after effects I was able to come up with some cool looking title elements. The trailer runs about 1:05 or so, and is currently in the process of getting scored - a job I've handed off to Other Andy, not Brother-In-Law Andy, who is recording an album called Demontree with Darkhouse. You should hopefully be seeing it here in a couple of weeks. Oh yeah, and I prepared a 3-D version of it, too!

The last time I spoke with Ryan he said he had 10 minutes worth of score completed. I packaged the final film version off to him in the mail on Monday, so we'll see where we go from here.

My next enterprise is the sound effects track. I sat down to work on it last night and burned up a good five hours to get about 30 seconds worth of effects. A lot of the effects need to be edited, equalized, and otherwise manipulated to be considered finished; Brother-in-Law Andy will be supervising the final mix once I get the tracks laid out, and overseeing recording of new effects to cover any gaps. We'll be calling in the actors soon to do the remainder of the ADR work.

After that, I plan to work on the DVD features and updating this site to bring it in line for the release. I'm considering methods of release right now, including 2D and 3D film festival versions, downloadable or Torrent DVD/XBOX360/PSP/iPOD-ready versions, DVD, etc, etc. We'll see which ones pan out.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Last Scene?

It's possible that I put together the final scene of the movie yesterday. We'll have to see how it plays. If it ends the film too abruptly, I'll have to manufacture a closing shot. This final sequence is 465 frames long; because just about every character that has appeared in the movie is present, it's rendering out at about 50 frames at a time before it crashes. Since I have to render a right-eye view also, we're actually talking about 930 frames that have to be produced. The movie should clock in around 19 minutes with end credits... More later...

Monday, May 14, 2007

Planning for Post

With the end of the narrative within my sights, I've been working on Frankenstein vs the Wolfman at an accelerated pace. I'm genuinely excited by the prospect of working on it again, which is something I haven't felt since I started production. The time it takes to animate and render these things is so painfully slow, it is almost like watching paint dry.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I have basically abandoned the script at this point and am generating action beats as I go. The events do line up with what was outlined on the page, so I'm keeping the recorded dialogue intact.

If I can keep up this rate of production, I could be done with the animation in about two months.

With that in mind, I've begun to start planning for post production. I am having a screening tonight with the post-production team - Andy, Mitch and Other Andy - all of whom will be contributing to the sonic landscape of the film. We'll be spotting the film for sound effect placement and trying to find out how much of the sound fx can be found in sound effects libraries and how much will have to be recorded.

Last week we recorded some ADR with Tom Zack, who plays the Frankenstein Monster, due to the fact that he's leaving us to move to Arizona soon. The recording consisted mostly of pained grunts and groans that we'll be able to lay in during the action sequences.

Once the movie is finished, I'll have my work cut out for me. I need to cut and score a trailer to show off what the film looks like in motion. I'll need to color correct the footage and fine-tune the visual end of the film, then get the multiple versions prepared. And, I'll need to get cracking on DVD menus and special features. That's one area specifically that I haven't given much attention to yet, as there really isn't a whole lot of behind the scenes footage you can provide when you're working on an animated movie on your home computer.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Score Meeting; Plus, Nips and Tucks

I had a chance to meet this past weekend with Ryan Wummel, who composed the scores for both Raven and Raven 2, about the job of scoring Frankenstein vs the Wolfman. Since we've been working together on these movies since my last misbegotten live action movie, Gothik, in 1998. In the intervening years since Raven 2 (for which Ryan won two film festival awards for "Best Score"), Ryan has gone back to school for music theory and music production in hopes of improving his sonic talents. He's also invested in some new equipment which ensures that his Frankenstein vs the Wolfman score will benefit from a fully synthesized orchestral sound.

In screening the 16 minutes or so of completed footage for it's first audience, I was made aware of a couple of small problems that needed to be corrected for the story to connect all the right dots. So, I spent some time re-doing a couple of shots, rendering new shots to clarify a plot point, and was also able to create a new sequence that continues the countdown to the day the movie will be finished.

One of the things that I am dealing with is the possibility that I'll have to throw out the final three pages of the script and improvise an ending; the scripted ending is proving to be too convoluted and technically difficult to pull off. To that end I'm using the existing audio tracks recorded by the performers but making some substitutions to shots, props and scenes. The movie will still end virtually the same way, but I'm just taking a slightly alternate route to get there.
Stay tuned...

Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Light at the End

I have just finished rendering a sequence that takes place in a bar called The Scabbard Inn, where our diminutive heroes go to investigate a possible wolfman suspect. With this sequence in place, we're now looking at a full narrative run of 16 minutes and 22 seconds. The only thing left is the "Final Battle" sequence between Frankenstein and the Wolfman. I actually started working on this project starting animation on that sequence first way back in December of 2004, so it's kind of fitting that this will be where it wraps up.

This final battle will be more complicated than those in either of the two Raven movies, involving more characters and more action beats. One of the glaring drawbacks I see when I look back at the Raven movies is how hurried their climaxes are. Even though they took forever to work on, when played back in realtime they go by in a flash. I'm hoping that I'll be able to correct that error with Frankenstein vs the Wolfman and actually deliver something that has a little more payoff.

I am starting to think about the audio end of the movie and am trying to gather sound effect libraries together and have preliminary dialogues about the direction of the music.
Today I came across a couple of items that may interest you that were buried deep within my computer - test renders from the proposed Raven 3-D project. Before I settled on doing Frankenstein vs the Wolfman, I initially was planning to do a third Raven movie - one that would wrap up all the loose plotlines from the first two shorts. In the end, those dangling plotlines dictated the story and I ended up not having enough interest in it to see it through. And, because it was the third movie in the series, I was planning to do it in 3-D. So, get out your 3-D specs, because here are a couple of test renders that I did to see what Raven 3-D might've looked like.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Passing the Fifteen Minute Mark

Today, the running time on Frankenstein vs the Wolfman in 3-D is fifteen minutes, fifteen seconds. There are two major sequences left to do that will connect the first section of the movie to the second, leading right up to the still-unfinished final battle. I can begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. With any luck, the movie might be finished this year. I expect it's running time will be about 25 minutes.

One of the things that I've discovered in the production process is how to correct mismatched footage that is produced when a Poser camera move produces a lens distortion in one of the left or right eye views. The scene I'm working on now had one such error in a shot where the camera dollys in on the Frankenstein monster; as we push in, the right eye view was distorted so that instead of the 3-D pair of images falling side by side, they were misregistered up and down.

I came up with a solution in After Effects that involved adjusting the scale of the right image so that it would match and overlay the left. This approach left a blank space in the top and bottom of the frame which shouldn't be noticable once viewed through 3-D glasses.

There was an earlier shot I had to correct as well, when our three heroes are talking with an inquisitive policeman; in this case, I had positioned the 3-D "window" incorrectly and had to slide the images together for better positioning within the 3-D frame. This resulted in some "windowboxing" on the sides of the shot, but it happens so fast you won't even see it--unless you're looking for it now that I've told you about it!

One of the next scenes I'll be doing invovles the inkeeper Mr. Talbot. Of course, his name is another nod to The Wolf Man. Initially, there was a scene that took place in a pawnbroker's shop, run by a man named William Henry Pratt - which is Boris Karloff's birth name. That scene (at this point in time, anyway) has unfortunately been dropped.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

New Screenshot Added

Finally, an update! A new image from the gypsy flashback sequence has been added to the gallery. The sequence finished rendering two days ago. I spent today going in and doing some color correction within Premiere and animating & rendering a short addition to a shot, originally finished months ago, that had been bugging me.

Also, I've discovered that my plan of attack for post production has been shot to hell due to someone's short sightedness (or my lack of understanding the software) at Adobe. It turns out that Premiere Pro shipped with some nifty color correction plug ins that After Effects 7 doesn't share - meaning that after I go and color correct my footage in Premiere, once I bring the entire project into After Effects, it loses my changes. I'm testing out the possibility of rendering the whole movie out from the Premiere timeline as one gigantic AVI file prior to importing it into After Effects to apply the 3-D effect

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Happy New Year!

It occurred to me recently that the original teaser trailer that I mocked up for Frankenstein vs the Wolfman announced that it would be finished in 2006. Ha! My work process basically limits me to working on it on Sundays, and now that the holidays are over I'm ready to move back into production. Actually, I've been working on it for the past couple of weeks, generating approximately 15 seconds worth of viable footage. This is a milestone actually, since this officially completes the "gypsy flashback sequence", and which was the connecting tissue between two large chunks of the narrative. All of the shots in this sequence have been memory intensive as they utilize many props and characters; in order to avoid crashes I've had to turn off bump mapping completely and disable texture mapping for background figures.