Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Xmas 2012...

Well, there goes another year...  2012 was full-on in many ways. Good and bad in equal measures but always a learning experience as usual.

We finished 'The Addicted' and premiered it and now it's got multiple distribution offers on the table. It was a hell of a lot of work in post production... i spent hours and hours on the edit, the grading and the audio mix. I know Jon spent ages on the music too... but i'm happy that the final result is exactly as we'd hoped for when we started back in 2011... so a massive thanks to everyone involved...especially Lawrie Alderman, without whom it wouldn't have happened.

Over the next month we hope to have the distribution sewn up and then we'll be moving into pre-production on the next feature which we hope to shoot in March. We've been working on this next feature for a few months in the planning stage and we're sure it's another big step up for us.

In 2013, we hope that Recoil Films will develop even further. We're really pushing our Music Video packages and the aerial filming department is looking amazing. We've just added a new Quad-Copter to the list. It can hover, almost motionless at a set altitude and fixed on a GPS co-ordinate. It can fly very far away from the control point and get some amazingly smooth footage. We'll be shooting a new aerial showreel early in the year.

Thanks again for all the support on this blog in 2012. The stats have been going through the roof this year, which certainly helps make me feel less like i'm talking to myself...  A huge thanks to Atomos for their support this year too... and finally a big 'thanks' to Sony Europe. I finally got my replacement charger for the one that died during the shoot last year.

Lastly, the Canon 5d Mk2 is finally retired... Canon have just put it on the discontinued list. The camera that started the DSLR video revolution. I loved the full-sized sensor look for while... but for me, the biggest revolution was the 550D. It brought 1080p interchangeable lens shooting to the masses...  but without the 5D Mk2, it wouldn't have happened. to drink, mince pies to avoid and turkey to cook. See you in 2013.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

FCPX - After Editing 2 big projects

If you've read my blog for a while, you'll know that i've dipped in and out of FCPX since it's release...with varying results.

Back in 2011, i started editing 'The Addicted' with it, but 5 hours into the start of the edit, FCPX crashed and lost all my work. I didn't look at it again for a few months.  I've always kept it on my editing machine and now and again i have used it for specific little jobs little titles or sometimes just for transcoding footage.. but with the 10.0.6 update (now 10.0.7) and with Magic Bullet Looks now running on it, i decided to give it another proper go.

A few things have changed since i last tried it... the import window is better and there isn't a separate one for camera import now (not that i use it)... and a lot of the menus have moved about. Another change i like a lot is the share menu... it's much better and works really well. I'm also a big fan of the time saving features...mainly:

  • Multi-Cam syncs to audio and really works amazingly well.
  • Re-Time with Optical Flow... in some case, better results than Twixtor.
  • The new copy and pasting of either Effects and/or other attributes from clip to clip.
  • Massive increase in render speed... it's soooo fast now. You have to try it to believe it.
After only 2 projects i can now zip around FCPX and edit far quicker than i could after 5 years on the old Final Cut Pro. There's some new shortcuts to learn and new ways of working, but it really doesn't take long at all.

The new dual viewer is really useful... i have it turned off most of the time, but for checking colour matching it's vital. I absolutely love the background rendering. I have it set to only kick in after 5 seconds of no activity. So i can edit away without stopping until i fancy a rest or until i need to think about what comes next and FCPX automatically uses that 'downtime' to render what i've done... and it renders fast. The only things that slow the render up are some 3rd party plug-ins. Magic Bullet Looks is better than ever, but it won't playback in realtime on FCPX until it's rendered... and it still takes a little while...the same goes for NEAT Noise Reduction. But...most if not all of the included 'Looks' and effects work in realtime before the render has taken place. Awesome.

Things i'd like to see. (unless there is a way to do them already...please let me know)

  • Drag settings from colour board to multiple clips.
  • Drag any effects settings from the 'inspector' to any clip.
  • Let me have 2 viewers split over 2 screens, rather than 2 on one screen.
  • Let me save favourites for FX settings
I don't have the problems some people have reported about file management. I have moved projects from one drive to another with no problem.. as long as you stick to the file structure and keep things in the right folders on the root of your drives, it's no problem. The 'Duplicate Project' feature works fine too.

Things that really help with using FCPX as opposed to FCP7:

  • RAM - You need lots. It's 64bit, so it can see and use as much as you can throw at it. I put an extra 8Gb of RAM in last week and the difference in speed was amazing. No more spinning ball.
  • No more scratch disk. It all lives in the 2 folders - Events and Projects. Use FW800 drives at the minimum for speed. Upgrade to Thunderbolt when it's feasible... then it will really fly.
  • Learn to use Keywords when importing. It'll make sense of the events window and you'll find your footage much quicker when you're working on big projects.
So there it is... it's not the crock we all thought it was a year ago... it's matured and continues to do so. It's still got a few issues, but i'm going to stick with it and learn it inside out...  i've still got FCP7 if i need it.

Oh, and it did crash once in the middle of a pretty big edit... but it re-booted fine exactly where i left off... so i can deal with that.

In other news...

I did an all day shoot last week on a 5D Mk2. It's been a while, but it was interesting to go back to doing a proper shoot on a DSLR. I had some gorgeous lenses...all Canon 'L' range zooms... apart from a Zeiss compact prime 50mm. It all worked great... but i really missed the stuff i've got used to on my FS100 and Ninja2 combination...namely:

  • Focus Peaking
  • Zebras
  • Proper playback - with scrubbing
  • Manual Iris on manual lenses
  • 1080p Slow Mo...
Having said all that, the 5D Mk2 performed as it should and it was nice to be so compact for the day.


Friday, December 7, 2012

Premiere of 'The Addicted'

On the 25th November, we held the premiere of our latest feature, 'The Addicted'. After 16 months, it's finally finished.

I've already been through the greif we endured to get the DCP made in a previous post, but the day of the premiere wasn't exactly without drama either.

I'd just flown back from Copenhagen and hadn't seen the final DCP QC test... i'd left that to Jenny. Both Jenny and the guys at SDC were happy that the final file was perfect. I got to the cinema in Letchworth an hour and a half before the screening time to check it and set up a few things..  This was made slightly harder by the crew from Simon Pegg's 'The World's End' being all over Letchworth town centre rigging lights and props for the following day's shoot. They'd even turned the outside of the cinema into a pub called 'The Mermaid'... not ideal when you've got people coming miles looking for a cinema called 'The Broadway'.

'The Mermaid' complete with swinging pub sign...

Anyway, i got to the cinema and went into the big screen one room...the film was already being tested... i stood and stared in terror. The audio was over a second out of sync with the picture. I went to get the manager, Jason. He didn't understand why that would happen.. the screen had been showing SkyFall all day and had been fine. We put some trailers on...they were spot on...perfect sync. Then we put 'The Addicted' back on.... out of sync again.  At this stage i was worried. I phoned SDC's helpline. They'd never had an issue with a client's audio being out of sync. They said it was the exact same file that was Quality Controlled yesterday...not a copy. It had to be ok. They suggested the cinema's Dolby Surround System had to be at fault.

I spoke to Jason (the manager) and he said any audio adjustments had to be done over the internet by the people who installed the system. He gave them a call.... straight to answerphone.

I spoke to Jason and explained my day job as a sound engineer. I assured him that if he let me have a play with the Dolby controller set-up i would definitely not break it. He said ok.

I found the page where you program in the delay for the audio. It was calculated in Perfs (perforations) and was set at 48. I dialed it up to 72 and tried was better. Then i pushed it up to 85...not so good...  there was a lot of running backwards and forwards from the projection room to the cinema as i dialled the perfect amount of delay in. Then i noticed something within the menu of the Dolby system... there were presets for 7.1, 5.1 and stereo.... it had been set on 5.1. 'The Addicted' is in stereo. I put the stereo preset on and tried again... it was the closest it's looked.... 99% there.

I told Jason and we tried putting on some of the 'Virgin Media Shorts' that he had been screening as these were also in Stereo. There delay was also there when it was set to 5.1.... Phew... that meant our file was ok and it was the dolby preset screwing things up. I put it back into stereo and things were back in sync. I explained this to Jason and he was happy to let us proceed. Bless him, he even helped us set up our stuff while i was fiddling with the Dolby stuff.

Guests start arriving...

Jon Atkinson (Producer, Composer) Sean J Vincent (Director) Jenny Gayner (Producer, Casting) Lawrie Alderman (Executive Producer)

Kim Wilde and her brother Ricky arrive for the premiere...

Annnyway.... after much stress and sweat, at 8.15pm people started arriving and at 9pm.. we started the film.

Watching it with an audience is pretty cool.... i was proud of our work and very happy with both the colour grade and the audio mix. It looked and sounded great. People covered their eyes in the scary bits and lots of people jumped at the right times too. The cheer during the end credits makes the endless sleepless nights not seem so bad.

It was great that so many people came and we're really grateful to those that came such a long way.

Finally, i'd like to say a huge thank you to Jason and the team at The Broadway Cinema for making such a big effort to help the evening go to plan and also to Lawrie, our Exec for supporting this project right through all the ups and downs.  Distribution is the next hurdle, but with plenty of offers already on the table, we should have some news soon.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

GoPro Hero3 Night Driving Test ' DRIVE'

This is a little short i've shot using just the GoPro Hero3 Silver Edition. I wanted to test how it performed in the dark for some night driving scenes in an upcoming project. I worked out pretty quick that complete darkness or anywhere without some street lighting is a no go... but anywhere with some ambient light, such as a car park looks great.  I shot this over 2 evenings using 2 of the included sticky mounts and a couple which i made myself. I used 1080p at 25fps and a combination of wide and medium lens settings. It was all captured using the ProTune mode.

I edited this quickly in FCPX 10.0.6... it's definitely getting better. I might even do my next feature with it....maybe...


Atomos Storyboard - Vote for 'Alone'... please!

I totally forgot to post this... but my short film 'Alone' which was a test of the new Atomos Ninja2 is included in the November issue of Atomos Storyboard. (Yes...i know it's December now...i forgot)
   If you go here>   You can..(if you feel that way inclined) vote for it in the vimeo competition for the month's best video.  You might win an Atomos 'Connect'... and if i get enough votes.... so might I.  Get voting...