script specials

7/1/2004 - I never posted the results of the premiere?? Well, no matter, I can tell you now:

It was a success! It was shown to about a hundred people at once. Perhaps the most amazing thing was the silence - everyone remained silent through the credit-roll and only clapped when the last name went off the screen. It's been shown several times since then to smaller groups at a time and they all liked it. I can't wait till it can be uploaded to this site so that everyone can get it easily.

But there is still one more substantial hurdle - the soundtrack. A good, complete soundtrack must be created or bought before the film can be uploaded onto the internet. I'm working on this and hope to have something together soon.

5/24/2004 - I haven't posted in a while, but with good reason: I have been working hard on Light of Life as well as shifting around the globe a little. I scrambled to finish as many effects shots as possible in the last few weeks of the Spring semester and then had to store my computer for the summer. But before resigning it to uselessness for a few months, I yanked out the harddrives and brought them to Israel in carry-on. After installing them here, I've been plugging away again at the last few shots... and I'm very happy to announce that Light of Life is in its first complete form! In other words, the film can be premiered! So over the next few days I'll be pulling together an audio track (in a newly-bought sound program called Adobe Audition) to have it ready for a premiere in June. Unfortunately, I'll be shipping off to Japan after that, so the final-tweaking will be delayed for a bit. But I'll continue working on the audio... and preparing the full Light of Life website (to replace this "the project" website).

Check back for the results of the premiere!

4/29/2004 - I'm done with the creature shots now and have started in on the sky-replacement shots (which also involve crowd-work and much color-tweaking). Actually, I've done most of them already... I've been staying hopping on Light of Life over the last week.

There really aren't much shots left to do... after I do a couple more sky-replacements/crowd shots, there's basically just the grand-finally! If I have time, I'd like to try some expiramental crowd-shots involving dolly-camera motion. But I doubt I'll have spare time for a while (college finals coming up).

The end is drawing near!

4/4/2004 - All goes well with the post-production or Light of Life! All of the rain shots are done as well as all of the ground-collapse shots. Both of those are effects-heavy portions of the film, so it's a relief to have them out of the way. Most of the creature shots are also finished, though there are a couple of tricky shots, in which the creatures disintegrate into dust, that remain to be completed.

After I finish those, there are a few more crowd shots, several sky-replacements, as well as the grand-finally shot that need to be worked on... the end is getting closer!

3/16/2004 - The Dirt and Dust Special is up! Go here to take a look!

2/27/2004 - Work has not slacked with the completion of the trailer; I have just completed one of the toughest composites of the film - the ground collapse scene. This scene required the ground to collapse with debri falling down the newly-formed cliff while dust billows up as the main character leaps and clings to the cliff-edge. The shot was bried, about 4 seconds long, but was one of the toughest to create. It requires dirt elements and dust elements to be shot (I will make a special on those shoots soon) and required very large composites to add all those elements to the scene. Seventy-seven layers were used in the primary composite along with sixteen other composites to prepare the various parts of the shot. This was the first shot to be pieced together from so many different elements - a photograph, two video clips, and stills from another video clip, plus all the dirt and dust clips. Anyway, now it's finished!

Check back for the Dirt and Dust Special!

2/10/2004 - In case you haven't noticed that nice new button at the top of the page - THE PREVIEW IS READY FOR DOWNLOAD! This a climax of sorts in the production of Light of Life (second, of course, to the premiere... which is yet to come). It's the first time that any video of the actual film has been released, so you can now see the results of those effects specials!

We've attempted to sculpt it into a truly intriguing preview for a truly unique film. Take a look!

2/4/2004 - The shot's done and here's the special! I'll be moving on to a closeup shot of Matt falling on the ground with the creatures attacking him. That one will be messy because it involved the characters actually sticking to Matt and the ground as well as sky-replacement. It could be a fun shot, though, because the creatures will be close enough to see clearly.

2/2/2004 - Things are going great on the first creature composite! It's almost done, I'm going to add one more creature and then it'll be done. It probably takes the cake as the most complex composite - the creature flies into the scene casting and shadow, flies around the main actor twice, casting a shadow on him, and two more are also flying around the scene, and it's all at night. So... a good special to look forward to!

1/23/2004 - Back in action! Now in a dorm room (with a new 19" monitor), post-production resumes. I've already finished up a few crowd shots, a colorizing shot, and, most importantly, began work on the creatures. The model is mostly done (have to finish the wings), but texturing and rigging still have to be carried out before animation can begin.

The creapy demonish creature is looking good (or bad, depending on how you look at it). I want to make a special covering the whole creation process, but I'll wait until a little closer to completion.

12/11/2003 - Well, maybe it took more than a week, but a new special is up! It's the first look at the inside of the scroll!

I have been busy on the short film. A couple of key crowd shots have been completed, as well as most of the river scene. The colorized look of both scenes is established and can easily be copied to other shots. All is going well!

Unfortunately, in a week I'll be packing up my computer to move back to the States for college. For about a month I'll be without my system and therefore unable to work on Light. But look for more specials and updates in January... and, before long, a trailer!

11/11/2003 - Working on the final temptress shots - where the temptress blows a stream of white particles and disappears in a cloud of black dust. It's turning out great! The particles are being created in Lightwave and then tracked onto the footage in After Effects. After this I'll probably go back to work on the rain scenes, which I'm thinking of finishing in AE rather than DFX due to DFX's tracking problems. Another special probably coming in about a week!

11/6/2003 - A special on the creation of a temptress shot is finally up! The temptress scene, as a whole, is over half done. The formula is well worked out now and I can repeat it pretty quick. The main challenge coming up is the the temptress blowing a stream of particles and then disappearing in dark smoke. Obviously more Lightwave work to look forward to!

10/22/2003 - I've officially gotten fed up with DFX. The standard DFX base seems incapable of pulling an accurate deinterlace which causes trackings to vibrate which, in turn, causes the final clip to vibrate. This is actually just the last straw because DFX already seemed too complex to be practical for this kind of project. Also, DFX didn't support the DV codec which meant that I had to store everything in uncompressed video, which makes it hard to backup to CD.

Anyway, I've switched to AE and the pace has quickened. I've re-created the temptress shot I had previously done and created three more temptress shots - all in one evening. I'll have a special about a temptress shot up soon!

10/22/2003 - The new special is up! I'm working on more temptress shots. You go take a look at the special!

10/21/2003 - Another filming trip successfully completed! We made a trip up to the Sea of Galilee to shoot the closing river scene of the short film. We considered filming at the Jordan River, but it is rather small and the script calls for a large river. The Sea of Galilee, for those of you who don't know, is not really a sea but rather a large lake, so it worked perfectly. The trip was fun and the footage is fantastic! I've already captured and looked it over and I think it will serve very well!

I also completed another rain shot, after much aggravation. This shot was more complicated than the one featured in the special and I set up the structure of the composite badly. I ended up having to do some hand-tracking to finish it. But now it is finished and I have moved on to another scene completely for a while - the temptress scene. I completed a disappearing effect and, most importantly, worked out the "look" of the temptress scene - glowy, foggy and dim. I'll be sure to post a special of one of the temptress shots.

In the meantime, Special 4: The Galilee Shoot is coming! Check back soon!

10/13/2003 - Yes, I do plan on making log entries more often than once a month! For several weeks, I was very busy and not able to work on Light of Life or its site very much. But now I am back to full work! All of the needed footage has been captured (20 gigs worth) and editing has been kicked off. One problem with editing, though, is that I don't have the background music to work with. I would like to be able to shape the final edit and then move on to effects, but all I can do is approximate it since I don't have the music to base it on. I am working on figuring out how I'm going to create the music (seeing that I am NOT musically inclined, it could be difficult) and in the meantime I'll scratch together an edit and work on effects. Four effects shots have been worked on, with one being totally completed. I'm leaving slack on the beginning and end of each effects shot in case I need to adjust the edit later.

Adobe's Premiere is being used for editing and Newtek's Lightwave for the 3d work. Compositing is being divided between two packages. Most of the crowd-work is being done in Adobe's After Effects Production Bundle because it's timeline based and therefore manages dozens of layers well. Most of the other work will probably be done in Eyeon's DFX because it more flexible, especially with tracking (which is important for sky-replacement and 3d element work). The only problem with using DFX is that I'm not as familiar with it as I am with After Effects, but hopefully I'll remedy that problem shortly. Another problem is that it's missing its keying pack which makes pulling mattes for difficult. After Effects is excellent at this, so I'll pass any keying work to it. But if anyone cares to donate the DFX keying pack to the cause, I would appreciate it!

9/14/2003 - Welcome to new site of Light of Life! Light of Life (or Light, for short) is the new short film under production at Tranquil Storm. It was planned about six weeks ago and shot about a month ago. Below is the basic story of the shoot. If you wish to see photos and get more details on certain parts of the shoot, see the special.

As Outright Israel was being wrapped up, it became obvious that there was a choice that must be faced - when to make another film. Micah was due to go back to college in the States (Tranquil Storm is currently residing in Israel) in the Fall, so it was generally understood that whatever was going to be made, must be shot in a fairly short amount of time. Peter, however, wanted to make something grand despite the short amount of shooting time available, so he suggested creating an allegorical short film. The idea was to make it only 5-10 minutes long, so as to make shooting easier, but to make it loaded with effects. That way, once the film was recorded, it could be soaked in post-production for as long as it needed. Peter came up with a storyline of sorts and went over to the Tibb's house on Saturday, July 12th and presented the idea to two characters that tended to think on the same wavelength as himself - Matt and Andy. They bought the idea and a shooting plan was laid out - the film would be shot in three days, August 1-3, in Mitzpe Ramon, a town in the Negev desert of southern Israel. Considering that the script called for primarily nighttime shots and also called for a storm, it was an ambitious plan. Actually it was more like an insane plan. But it was the plan, none the less. The only thing left to do was write a script and shoot it. And so, with the combined writing efforts of Micah and Peter, a script by the name "Light of Life" was created.

Over the next three weeks, the Alliance of the Willing began work on props and costumes. Dozens of yards of cloth were purchased in Carmel Market in southern Tel Aviv, poster board for the parchment was bought at a local Office Depot, and wood for making a bluescreen frame, watering buckets and lighting equipment was bought at a hardware store close to Netanya, and wood for a platform was purchased from a wood store in Herzliya. The parchment had to look authentic, so it was put through a rigorous aging process that involved large amounts of coffee. The platform went through a couple of designs before it was decided to simply make it a reinforced board between two ladders. The rain system was originally going to be a tray with hundreds of holes poked in it, but eventually common sense struck and plant-watering buckets were tested and approved for use. The costumes were worked on by Peter and Micah's sister - Esther. She had to make six sack-like, first-century-ish costumes out of rough material that were to be worn by the star actor and the "crowd". Then she had to turn around make a flowing, pure-white dress for the temptress. Jess, who was chosen to play the temptress, tried various makeup schemes and hairdos to find the most tempting one. Food was purchased shortly before the trip so that it would be fresh. Eight bags of pita (six pita to a bag), six large containers of hummus (a staple Israeli/Arab food; a sort of paste), an eight-pack of large bottles of Coca-Cola, five packs of water (six large bottles each), two bottles of grapefruit juice, and a pack of chocolate chip cookies were purchased. Finally, just before production was due to begin, pre-production was wrapped up. All the gear was assembled in the living-room of the Granderson's house, and people dispersed with the command to regroup at 8:00 the next morning.

The next morning, the group sleepily loaded the van and left for Mitzpe Ramon, about a three-hour's journey away. Peter tried to concentrate on scribbling shot-plans into the margin of the script while everyone else listened to music and talked.

Upon arriving in Mitzpe-Ramon, lunch was eaten and gear dumped at the hostel, but almost right away the shooting began. Everyone assembled, loaded the gear needed for the day's shoot (crowd shots and the creatures), applied sunscreen, and began the decent into the Ramon crater (not a meteor crater, some sort of huge crack in the earth's crust). The crowd shots were generally painful for everyone except Peter (the director got to wear sandals) and the crowd scene was not completed before the sun got too low. A brief shot of Matt reaching the top of a slope was shot, and then the scene in which Matt is attacked by the winged creatures was recorded. Finally, however, the sun set (just as Matt was blasting the creatures with his scroll) and the group headed back up to town. After getting some supper, some night-shots were recorded of Matt opening the scroll. A large 12volt floodlight had been bought for that purpose and it worked pretty well. It is doubtful that the footage will be used directly, but it may be blended or used for reference. The rest of the evening was spent at a coffee shop and hanging around the hostel swapping stories. Finally everyone put their little sunburned-selves into bed.

The next day began early with gear loading and sunscreen applying, while blasting music from the van's dinky speakers. More crowd shots were recorded. The shoot was complicated by the fact that the lighting was the opposite from what it was the evening before. Finally, the crowd scenes were completed and everyone except Matt tenderly put on their shoes with oaths of vengeance upon the director's feet. Matt, however, had to do the slope-climbing scene before he was allowed access to his shoes. The decision was made to take a break for lunch and come back down in the afternoon for the temptress shoot.

Lunch consisted of hummus and pita. By this time, most of the water was already consumed, so Peter and Micah went to buy three more packs along with some ice cream. Jess took forever curling her hair, applying makeup and dressing up, but finally she was ready and the group descended into the crater again. This time a different location was chosen, one with a hill and some plants (which are rare in the Negev). Peter, by this time, was cooked and adopted Andy's technique of wearing a cloth headdress. The scene of Matt almost getting kissed by the temptress had to be shot over and over, but, on the whole, Matt did pretty well. After that shot, he had to pretend like the ground caved away - which entailed him making a flying leap onto rocky ground with only cloth wrapped around his feet. Esther had given him extra-thick cloth (the equivalent of a Nike foot-wrap), but he still sustained alot of injuries. As the sun set, Peter, Andy and Matt headed out across the desert, recording general walking shots. In the crater, the sun set very suddenly and as soon as it did, the temperature plunged. After a long day of shooting in the hot sun, it was a relief to sit in the cool dark and drink water. Matt was probably especially relieved - he finally got to put on his shoes.

That evening, probably as a result of far too much Coca-Cola and hummus, the group got a tad insane. The events included facepainting, stage makeup and a toga. But eventually everyone dispersed, cleaned up and went to sleep.

The next day began with the customary loading and sunscreen-applying to a random selection of music (including Sting's "Desert Rose" and The Muppet's "Rhyming Song"), and the group headed out for its last shoot. This shoot would be primarily the rain scene, so the van was loaded with two ladders, the platform, the "stunt scroll", the watering cans, and three five-gallon jugs of water. Before the rain, though, there was more of the ground-collapse scene to record. A ten-foot cliff next to the road was selected and a ladder set up. Matt had to jump at, cling to, and climb onto the cliff. Due to the failure of the ladder holders, he fell on the first attempt, tearing up his shins and feet pretty bad. But we he was put back on the ladder and did it again. He was successful and after a couple more shots was turned over to Andy for repair (Andy is an EMT).

The rain shot was next, purposefully coming last so that Matt's wet state wouldn't mess up other shots. Peter chose the most far-from-the-road location of the filming to shoot the scene requiring the most equipment. The five-gallon jugs, watering cans, ladders, platform, and a pack of drinking water were hauled out to a hillside and the set was assembled. Andy was the designated rain man while the others helped hold the ladders. Once those shots were finished, several distance shots were taken. Then, finally, all the planned shots were in the can and the primary shoot was over. Peter was forced to do penitence by wearing cloth-wraps on his feet on the way back to the van and paying for the celebratory lunch.

The van was repacked at the hostel and the group headed north to Tel Aviv. The trip, and the shoot came to an end... but production had barely begun.

Now the film is in post-production! In fact, it has been in post for a month, due partly to the fact that Outright Israel was still being finished. But now OI is done, and Light is the project sitting on Peter's hard drive. The opening crowd-shots, some of the toughest effects shots of the film, are now being worked on.

During the rest of post-production, I will try to regularly post updates onto this log to let everyone know what is going on. Check back soon!