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.