Wednesday, May 30, 2007

h264 rocks

Wow. Today I was preparing files to take to a sound engineer who has agreed to critique my sound mix. He recommended that I bring the film as a QuickTime H264 movie and the final mix on a data CD. When I first exported the H264 movie using the default settings, the file size was huge, so I reduced the bit rate in half, thinking there would be a reduction in quality. and being a bit apprehensive because of the amount of time it takes to export the movie. Well I was wrong about the quality and it was certainly worth the 2 hour export time. I now have a 1280x720 QuickTime H264 that weighs in at 265 mb, that looks beautiful (and the mix sounds pretty good too -- but that is really for my sound engineer to judge ;o).

I've also been preparing the documentation and promo stuff for festivals and looking at the various festivals in which to enter the film. It feels like an uphill battle because it will be rejected from most -- in fact this is the statistic -- most films only make it into 25% of festivals they are submitted to. Knowing that it was rejected 5 times from funding agencies isn't helping my motivation right now. Reading all the rules and figuring out the deadlines and whether I can afford the projection format requirement they want and the publicity materials ... ughh it's a bit overwhelming. I'm hoping that once I get a complete package done, it will only be a matter of duplicating it. Next up is to create media screeners and a poster.

Anyhow, I have lovely DVD covers and labels waiting to be affixed to the DVDs. Here is a postcard that I'm working on:


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

testing the DVD

I made a first test DVD last night and made fixes to the DVD menus today. I've tested the sound mix on a few different systems in house, but still need to go to a sound studio and have a professional check my levels. Then I can go to the video house and have the digiBeta and betaSP tapes made. I'm only going to make NTSC tapes for now (unless the Video house convinces me that it would be more cost effective to do PAL at the same time -- we'll see).

The Festival de Nouveau Cinema requires subtitles in French and I'm not sure what the best way is to do that. I started to add them in Final Cut Pro, but I stopped myself and got back on my priorities (the FNC deadline is June 15th so I have time to decide what to do). An option other than subtitles in FCP might be to record a French dialogue track and have the Video house make a digiBeta with the French sound track, of course then they might want English subtitles. I'll need to check the rules again. In the meantime, I can always translate the dialogue into French.

I had wanted to animate the end credits, but I've left them with still images. I think it'll be ok. I've just gotta get this thing out the door.

Here are a few screen shots to wet your appetite:

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

every day I get a bit closer

The cough is done and is better. I have a test version of the sound mix that I'm burning to CD to double check on my stereo -- I'll still need to double check the final on "real" studio monitors, but this should tell me how close I am. I encountered a software crash in SoundTrack Pro exporting the "real" mix. I can work around it by not using the mixer but just animating (they call it "automating") the levels in the individual tracks rather than through busses -- it'll be a bit more finicky work but that's ok -- hopefully only one more day of "mixing".

So tonight I'm encoding a test MPEG 2/AC-3 to see what it will look and sound like on DVD.

To top it off, I noticed a color pop on the window -- I couldn't believe it -- I was sure I had fixed all the window issues. Anyhow, not to worry, I've rendered a few more window "frames" ;o) to fix it and am re-compositing the 400 frames now ... I had considered just ignoring it, but I spent so much time trying to get it right, I would have been sad. I hope it's really fixed this time.

I'm also working on the DVD menu (background image) and it's looking pretty good -- I just need to get the buttons done.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Sound and more sound

I've re-recorded the dialogue and am hoping that it is a bit funnier. I've added a bit at the end, that I don't want to be too specific about (I don't want to give it away), but I'm having difficultly deciding which take to use -- there are 2 that could be funny to different people. I may need to get a second opinion on it.

The only other sound track that I'm really not satisfied with yet is the moose's cough. So I've just ruined my voice by recording the cough and am now about to splice it up and slip it in and see if it works better. In order to get a good cough I did the number one thing singers are not supposed to do -- I ate dairy products. I'm amazed but it really worked. I suppose I could have taken up smoking ... hmm, if these takes don't work, maybe I'll go buy a pack of smokes.

On another note, Rick May has finished his short animated film. I can't wait to see it. He has gone through pretty much everything I have -- he even has a recent post about aspect ratios ;o) He did the smart thing and used a render farm service.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

moosic is done, well ...

Ok, the music has been finalized, recorded and sent over to SoundTrackPro. It all fits nicely with the picture. I'm not 100% satisfied with one instrument on one track, but I don't have any bright ideas right now of what would make it better. It is possible that in the mix it won't bother me so much. If it does, I can play with different instruments later, as long as the timing doesn't change (and it won't)!

Now I'm finalizing the sound edit and getting ready for the mix.

It still feels strange not to be rendering.

I've also started to prepare the DVD assets. I had forgotten how much fun making DVDs is. I'm being a bit sarcastic here -- Although I love making the menus and buttons, especially making unique/fun buttons -- what I don't like is standard definition video and non-square pixels and aspect ratios stuff. I have only seen HD listed as a possible DVD submission type in the requirements of one film festival .. all the rest are NTSC or PAL, so I'm stuck with dealing with that. I can only burn SD DVDs here anyway.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Sound edit and music

Currently (still) working on the sound edit and music. I've been using SoundTrack Pro for the edit, but I am seriously considering switching to ProTools. The limitation of SoundTrack Pro that is driving me nuts is that I can't edit all the tracks simulataneously, so if I make a tweak to the picture edit,I need to adjust all the tracks individually, rather than being able to select them all and insert or cut out time. This is one of those times where I think "I can't believe the software doesn't do this". Of course I'd have the same problem if I were editing magnetic tape on a Steenbeck, but this is computer software for goodness sake.

It is strange not to be rendering or compositing. For the first time in more than a year, I actually turned my PC off for a while. It's nice to work on my laptop, partly because I can take it downstairs where it is not so hot and I don't have to run the air conditioning.