For the first time in years (and first time on a feature), I’m doing storyboards. With all the CGI that will need to be done, I figure it might be a good thing to have for the actors. I bought a 6″x9″ top bound spiral notebook and can get 4 frames per page. I haven’t really drawn in years, so they’re pretty rough, but I think the point carries across. These illustrations will be cut into the mp3 file from readthrough.com with temp track and basic sound effects.
Thursday, June 28, 2012
The Leap 3 team (actors, a PA and the composers) all have the script now, and feedback is flooding in as I had hoped. In these films, there’s two storylines going on at once: The Leap Crew and the CDF (bad guys). The storyline for the Leap Crew was pretty well fleshed out, but I knew I really need help adding character development to the CDF. My leads for that storyline have been giving me some great ideas that I’ll be incorporating into the second draft.
The audio file I downloaded from readthrough.com has been a huge help to me as well. Last night I watched the first two films and listened to the mp3 for this one. It’s helping me to see where the weaker parts are and what needs more work. When I get my new computer (I may end up being able to get the one from my old job, it’s a beast) I’ll add a temp track and a few boards/animatics to it as well as photos of locations and such. It’ll be a strange collage, but with a project this ambitious, every bit of pre-viz helps.
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Happy to say that the first draft of the script is finished! That makes seven completed feature screenplays that I’ve written, the fourth I’ll actually produce (fifth counting Twinkle Adams’ film “Run”). This first draft comes in at only 73 pages, but that’s not unusual for my films to have short scripts like that at first. By the time we shoot it’ll probably be 80 or so, and with all the action, things should time out nicely.
I should be nervous with this being my first big effects piece, but I actually feel pretty calm. I’ve been spending a lot of time in prayer about the story and such and I’m confident in the skills God has blessed me with, that we’ll be able to pull off this very ambitious project.
The one downside to doing almost everything myself is that the final sequence in the film is going to take a very long time to complete. Many shots will be completely CG, which I can do, but it takes me time to do it right.
I should note that the last 20 or so pages of script were completed using Trelby. It was rock solid and I’m very happy for making the switch. It actually has taken me a while to get used to not having to type set the script to get my count. I used to write for a spree, take a break, and type set to see how much was accomplished. Now the breaks are unnecessary and I can just write. It’s a different mindset to get into, but a very productive one.
I should also add that we’ve started up a Twitter feed for STARS Pictures. The name is stars_pictures
Out with the old, in with the… Trelby?
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
When I got out of high school nine years ago and decided to make movies, I was clueless. I knew I needed some software to format a script, but couldn’t afford anything, much less find one that would run on my Windows 98 laptop. I did some poking and found a Macro Template for Microsoft Word called “Drama Dog”. Being free (remember when things were free?) I grew rather fond of it quickly. After writing countless shorts and my first feature (“Wulf”) in it, I decided It was high time to upgrade four years later. During my time with Drama Dog, I experimented off and on with Celtx, but didn’t understand that you needed to “typeset” the script before you could print it, so I kept going back to Drama Dog. When I did decided to upgrade for real, I went for the “industry standard” (if there is such a thing), Final Draft. I wrote two screenplays in Final Draft (“Wulf II: The Feeding Continues” “Cryptid”) and kept looking over at Celtx. The more I looked, the more I understood and eventually I abandoned Final Draft because I wanted the scheduling features of Celtx. By then I understood “typeset” and was willing to put up with it because the benefits of Celtx were great. It was free, regularly update, and available of Mac, PC and Linux, so it didn’t matter what computer I owned, I was set.
I wrote three movies in Celtx- “Leap”, “Leap: Rise of the Beast” and “Derek”. While a Celtx user, I predominately used Linux, and got to watch a small unknown piece of software go through many upgrades. I was one of the first to purchase their writers pack add-ons that gave you fullscreen mode and the ability to change colors of your writing environment. I figured I was a Celtx user for life and started writing “Leap: Revelation” in it.
You know that saying, “The grass is always greener on the other side”? Well, recently my grass was starting to look a little brown. How I wished I could get an accurate page count in Celtx. I also missed the simpler interface of Final Draft. But I’m a filmmaker first, writer second. I need the features that Celtx has. Today, I started poking around on Google looking for “Ubuntu Screenwriting Software”. Wouldn’t you know it? A name popped up I’ve never heard before: Trelby
On their site, I was instantly drawn to the clean interface. It reminded me so much of Final Draft. Even more exciting was when I saw that it was available for free (remember when things were free?) for PC/Linux AND it could import Celtx scripts! I downloaded the .deb package and installed. Trelby has a wonderfully small footprint of only 2.2 MB gotta love that. First thing I did was import my half completed Celtx script for Leap: Revelation. Not a single issue with the import. Just find your .celtx file and hit OK.
Once my script was up, I started poking around the settings. I saw I could change my interface colors (I prefer writing with a black background and baby blue text), so that was nice. I also noticed right away that I had a true and accurate page count right inside the software! Next I decided to write once scene to try it out. The keyboard shortcuts were mostly the same as my beloved Celtx, there was only one or two differences, which are easy to adapt to. Celtx was starting to look a little browner. Seeing that this software was strictly for writing, I knew I’d have to be able to get my script back into Celtx somehow.
I’m not a fan of importing in Celtx, things usually get screwed up and you spend a few hours re-formatting everything. Under the “Edit” menu in Trelby, I found a copy option that said it preserved formatting, so I clicked it. Back in Celtx, I pasted it and EVERYTHING transferred over perfectly! The cleaner interface of Trelby with proper count and formatting has won my heart. And the ease of integration with Celtx means I can still handle my pre-pro business on a Linux laptop. For the Mac users out there, sorry, but Trelby isn’t currently available on your system, but they are working on it. When it does come out, I highly suggest you look into it. It’s so clean, so fast, so perfect.
If I have one feature suggestion though, it’s this- A scene list that can be brought up and allows you to move scenes around when you’re reworking a story. Oh, and I’d like to be able to zoom out a bit of my page while I’m writing too. View it at closer to real size.
Turns out all you have to do in order to “zoom out” is pick a smaller display font size. I found 10 works great for me. Changing the size shrinks the pages with it, essentially just zooming out. Since writing this, I’ve also installed the Final Draft Courier font, so it’s as close to a free Final Draft as I can get =)
For more information, visit trelby.org
It was raining today and I needed a break from the script, so I made this
Thursday, June 14, 2012
WARNING: TECHNICAL INFORMATION AHEAD
Great news today! Just two days after placing the order for the firewire cable I needed, it arrived (I’m going to give the seller an amazing review). When I got back to where I’m staying, I connected the macbook (which if you remember has a dead screen) to my Ubuntu laptop via the firewire and a firewire adapter. Pressing “T” on the mac, I turned it on. The screen was dead, so I didn’t know if it was working until I turned on the other laptop. Once it booted, there on my desktop, was a mounted drive with the name of my mac, in this case- El Director.
Next I opened the drive and sure enough, there was the macbook’s directory. I navigated to my home folder and almost cried- all the folders there were X’d out, meaning that I didn’t have permission to open them, much less extract data. I took a few seconds to pray for guidance and an idea entered my thoughts. I vaguely remembered that linux has another file browser called Nautilus and that it could circumvent permissions. So I fired up the Terminal.
Once the black window with a flashing cursor popped up, I punched in sudo nautilus and hit enter. For those that don’t know, Terminal allows you to enter commands to get the computer to respond. Just typing the name of a program in the Terminal will open it. Attaching “sudo” to the beginning will open the program with “root” or super admin privileges (in this case, allowing Nautilus to bypass permissions). It prompted me for my password and after I entered it, Nautilus file explorer opened up.
This time when I navigated to my “Leap 3” folder, the X’s were gone and I was able to get access. Next I tried to copy the celtx file for my script to the desktop. An error popped up saying I didn’t have permission. So instead I opened the script in Celtx and was able to save to the cloud and “Save As” a copy to my Ubuntu machine =D
So now I’m able to “copy” any of my files by opening and re-saving, but this will be a tedious process. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll get online and see if there’s a way to fix the permissions so I can just copy stuff. I’d like to copy the entire Films folder that I have. It contains 13 folders for my past and future feature films. Data includes synopsis, reference pics, research for the subject matter, all that good stuff which would be nice to have. But I can’t complain right now, because God is good and allowed me to recover the script, saving me from rewriting 20 pages (and a lot happens in those 20 pages).
With that, good night everybody!
Wednsday, June 13, 2012
Can you believe it’s June already? I can’t. Time has certainly flown by. On to the updates!
Came up with a new title for my Ruby White film. “Ruby White and the Antediluvians”. Has that Indiana Jones sound, tells what the film is about, but still raises intrigue. Bible scholars will know that the title references the pre-flood world, and that’s the topic our heroine will be dealing with.
Bad news. The graphics unit in my Macbook Pro went bad. I can’t even hook up an external monitor 😦 This means two things for me. First: I won’t be using the Mac to cut the film (Leap: Revelation). Second: I was about fifty pages into the script when it happened. Stupid me, the last time I backed the script up to the Celtx cloud was at the start of the month. I’d written 20 pages since then! Fortunately I discovered that I may be able to recover the data by turning the macbook into one big firewire drive. I ordered a six pin to six pin cable and should have it next week sometime.
In the meantime, I’ve set up an older laptop that my Grandpa gave me with Ubuntu and Celtx. It won’t help me edit, but I’ll be able to finish the script at least. All that’s left is to wait for the cable to arrive, grab the Celtx file, and off I’ll be 🙂 I’m using this time to study more and jot down future plot points.
One of the big themes in this film is family and how families interact with each other. Christ summed up the ten commandments by saying “Love God and love others”. The first four commandments tell us how to love God: Don’t have any other Gods before Him; Don’t make idols; Don’t take His name in vain; Remember the seventh day Sabbath. The last six show us how to love others: Honor our parents; Don’t kill; Don’t commit adultery; Don’t steal; Don’t bear false testimony; Don’t covet what others have.
I list them all here for a few reasons. First-ask anyone to name 10 movie stars/music artists. They’ll rattle them off. Then ask them to name the ten commandments. Most can’t, and if they do, not in order. Point made. Back to the original thought, we have to put our love for God above our love for others, including that of our own families. Society today has inverted this concept and says that we must love others and then we love God. In dealing with the concept of family, one of the questions the film raises is, “What happens when you do put your love for God above that of family?” The Bible says that families will turn against each other in the last days. It’s nice to think we’d stick together, but that’s not always going to be the case. Also, what would you do if your spouse started to suffer the bowels of wrath while you remained protected? How does one handle that?
While this is a movie for the fans, it is also the most sobering of the series and raises some serious questions, most importantly, “Are you truly ready for Jesus to return?”