Winners, Losers, and Survivors: A Crime Blog [Production & Post-Production]

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The majority of my movie is shot, and I’m currently editing everything. Things didn’t turn out how I expected them to during the process, but at least the cinematography is looking pretty classy. Instead of separate posts to show the production and post-production of my film, I’m going to talk about shooting specific scenes and the work it took after they were shot to make these scenes look nice and coherent. 

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This is the first shot of my film. There is a shadowy figure barely visible by the light. He is standing in front of a forest. This isn’t how this footage looked beforehand. The man isn’t even standing in front of a forest. He’s standing in front of a green screen in a musty basement. There is no way in hell I could get lighting like this on my actor while having him stand in the woods at night over a streetlamp. I had to green screen him into a shot I took of Golden Gate Park at night.

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The woods in Golden Gate Park don’t look green. Those street lamps that illuminate the sidewalks make the trees, bushes and grass look rust colored. Before I could even green screen my actor into the footage, I had to color correct the image to look more green. I still can’t actually use this shot I took because filming at night adds a lot of digital noise to whatever is being shot, so it looks really shitty and pixely. I’m going to have to go out and reshoot this at an earlier part of day for it to mix well with the green screen footage of my actor. I hate day for night. When scenes are really shot at night they look so much cooler and realistic. The problem is unless there is really good lighting, and a high quality camera, the footage will look like shit, so day for night is preferred.

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Now here is my actor before and after I green screened him into the shot of the woods. First I had to shoot him standing in front of a green screen. I then cropped out the excess parts of the green screen shot, and color corrected my actor to look like he was covered in shadow except part of his head which I kept visible. The part of him that’s still seen makes it look like a street lamp is shining on his head. I then put him into the shot and make him look mysterious and intimidating, as he is hidden by the shadows except that small portion of his face which looks almost skeletal.

Screen shot 2014-12-15 at 9.04.36 AMSurprisingly the thing that seemed the simplest to me continues to be the biggest pain in the ass. The TV in my shot is broken. That doesn’t even matter because I don’t have a copy of the Animal Planet episode I need which describes the mating process of the praying mantis to play on a TV. I found a low quality version of the Animal Planet episode on youtube, and I have to composite it into the shot of the television. I thought it would be easy, yet it still confounds me. I cant key out the black TV screen for some reason and put a condensed image in the keyed out area. I have to put the image in front and track it to the screen. I now risk the possibility that it will look really fake, or block part of my actress. I have to keep the praying mantis video in the same spot on the TV. This means I have to go frame by frame on the video and key frame that image to that specific spot. The shot with the TV is a subjective point of view shot (it doesn’t stay still) so if I leave the image as is on the TV it will end up floating around in the same area while the rest of the footage shakes around.

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I fixed the TV shot for when my actress turns it on, but when she turns the TV off, her head is in the way –– so I’ll have to find a different method to put the praying mantis footage on the TV. I also can’t take out the praying mantis aspect altogether because it is the setup for the backstory, and the main plot device for telling my film’s story along with it’s themes of primal nature in all beings.

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This is just another classy looking shot from my film. My actor has a bottle with a dead cobra and scorpion inside of it, and I thought it would be cool to have in my movie, and since my movie has a lot of stuff with animals in it, it works.

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This is another shot solidifying the whole animal man thing that my movie has got going. It’s a composited image of a roaring panther over my actor’s face. It makes me think of the TV show Manimal (guess what that is about). I could just imagine a deep voiced dude saying Manimal with some cheesy 80s music in the background when the panther’s roar pops up in my film. Maybe my movie should just be a remake of that show, that would be kind of funny.

Screen shot 2014-12-15 at 9.06.19 AMHere’s the image of the panther before and after I put it over my actors face. It works well. It is my favorite part of my entire film.

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This is a very well lit moody night shot (that’s actually shot at night) in my film. The thing about it is the lights I used to get those sweet shadows, that makes my actor’s actions look so much more intimidating, are powerfully bright. I have to color correct in post-production to bring out the darker images, by turning the mid tone and lighter parts of the image bluer, while also making the shadows darker and harsher. Color correction is actually really easy and one of the most useful parts of editing.

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Here is a quick showing of how a shot looks before and after I color correct it.

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One of the saddest changes made to my film is that the mafia aspect got cut out. I had filmed a couple scenes with my actor who played the mob boss, but when I showed the footage to my media teachers, they said it was confusing and that I should focus on the femme fatale aspect. I don’t like the fact that the actor who played the mob boss had to sacrifice time for my movie without his stuff actually making it into the film. I do see my media teachers point, and it does mean that now I only have to film one more very easy scene with my main actor.

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Another downside about losing the mafia aspect is that it separates my film even more from the Parker story, The Hunter; I don’t really have a problem with that. I would love to one day make a Parker film. Hell, I even know exactly what Parker stories I would like to make into movies. I know what order I’d put them in. I know how I’d market them and I know how I’d film them. That all requires a budget. Pursuing that dream is farther down the line. This film tells a basic crime revenge story in a wild way and that is its purpose. It’s very much me going through the motions of how I can tell a story that anybody can tell in my own creative way. It remains a crime revenge tale with elements of dark comedy and horror, so not much has changed. I intend to keep the title Animafia, because I love that title. Even though there is no longer the mafia, in Animafia, it’s still a fun title. The only other title I would consider would be Manimal, because that’s a good title and nobody would get the reference.

Written by Tyler Ducheneaux

Images by Tyler Ducheneaux

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