THROWBACK THURSDAY: Explainer Video for “WhoAPI” (plus a bonus video)

I’ve done a lot explainer videos over the years, although I stopped doing them after the margins got impossibly tight. It was no longer profitable to make them from scratch, and I didn’t want to spend my weeks kit-bashing asset packs and presets.

The WhoAPI video was one of the last ones I did. I collaborated with the business owners wife, who was an amazing artist and created a custom comic book for the company.

I composed the music track, did the voiceover, and turned the comic book into an animated book. It ended up being one of my favorites.

Another company I had a long working experience with was Intraboom. Below is one of many video I did for them:

I don’t think I’ll ever get back to doing animation work, because the gig economy has priced individuals in first world countries out of the market, and I don’t want to run an animation studio. However, I feel like I gained a lot of good experiences over the dozens I made at the time.

MUSIC VIDEO “Fin Rah Zel”: how to light on no budget, and my thoughts on the a6400.

Having been out of the industry for some time, I needed a small project to re-calibrate myself, and get a better connection with my new camera.

This video was done on essentially zero budget. Shot completely handheld, and lit with some basic household tungsten bulbs.

In terms of light modifiers, I had a $2 china ball, and a piece of tattered old blackwrap. And a desk lamp with kitchen baking paper diffusion.

FINRAHZELstill01
(click for full 4k resolution)

Looks pretty damn good if you ask me! The biggest limitation was not being able to cut the light, as I would have liked to have been able to drop the wall exposure another stop. But with less than $30 worth of lighting gear, all in, I’m pretty happy.

I didn’t even have lighting stands, so I used a mic stand and an old music stand I modified. Where there’s a will…

Finally, the a6400, and the OSS sony lenses. This changes everything. When I first got the camera I was a bit concerned about rolling shutter etc, and I don’t think I would use this camera without OSS (“optical steady shot”, Sony’s version of in-lens Image Stabilization).

(Sony 18-105f4 OSS & 35mmf1.8 OSS)

But the OSS works beautifully. It makes this sub 1kg camera look like it weighed 10kg with a traditional lens on it. I think this is a big turning point for me, because I no longer have to frankenrig my cameras out just to add weight. My back will thank me for it.

(FrankenRig from 2011)

Now for the star of the show, autofocus. Dirty, dirty autofocus. That thing we were told never ever to touch if we wanted to be “proper filmmakers”. Well, you know what, 70% of this video was shot with autofocus touch-to-focus. And I think I had about a 95% success rate with it. The tracking is dead on, no hunting. The focus shift can be set to fast, normal, or slow. I had it set to slow and got the nice cinematic style focus changes. I wish there was a speed between normal and slow, but honestly, that would just be icing on an already amazing cake.

Finally, would you believe that this video was shot at both 400 and 3200 iso? I can’t see the difference between the two. It wasn’t that long ago that iso 800 was a grainy mess. We really do have it good, it’s so liberating as a filmmaker. Less money, less gear, less lighting heat, less back pain.

(my entire kit for this video)

I remember having a film camera fully rigged in lightweight “handheld” configuration on my shoulder. I think it was around 8kg or so. Also, this exact same music video would have cost at least $5000 on film, as opposed to $0. I think this is what people mean when they say “filmmaking has been democratized”.

THROWBACK THURSDAY: “Budapest Pride Parade” – 2015

I remember the first year I lived in Budapest I woke up one morning and looked out my window. I lived on the busiest intersection in the city, but on this particular morning the streets were deserted. Thirty minutes later police turned up by the dozen wearing full riot gear. I had no idea what the fuck was going on. Eventually I heard music coming from far away. Not long after the Gay Pride Parade was coming through a deserted metropolis. It was such a surreal moment that reminded me that I most certainly was in Eastern Europe.

The following year I wanted to join the parade. I shot this little short video whilst marching for Hungarian LGBT rights.

THROWBACK THURSDAY: “Rainbow” short film 2011

This was short film I made together with my family members as a means to introduce them to the process of film making. It was brainstormed, shot and edited in 24 hours.

I think doing 24 hour short films is an excellent exercise. It’s like a scripted equivalent of vlogging almost. Very liberating.

Shot on a 550d / T2i with Nikon and Tokina lenses.

THROWBACK THURSDAY: My first introductions to Stop Motion Animation

Back in 2009 I worked on a music video project “Turtle Pizza Cadillacs” by my friend Aleks Sakowski. After that I was really itching to do some stopmo of my own. It started with these little tests that I shot on a bookshelf in my 4 square meter room I was renting while I was studying (I managed to fit a bed, a wardrobe, a desk, and two bookshelves in there. It made Japanese apartments look big!

This is what eventually led on to me doing DISAPPEAR.

Here is the music video by Aleks:

THROWBACK THURSDAY: “V1Z1” Teaser Trailer (2010)

Going back 9 years to when I got my first video DSLR. I shot this silly fake trailer with a bunch of friends. Lots of After Effects, and lots of fun!

Shot on the Canon 550D / t2i, which in my opinion is the camera that democratized filmmaking. It was the first camera that anyone could afford, and it shot much more cinematic images than and of the handycams that were available prior. No more letus lens rigs, no more HDV tapes. Just simple filmmaking.

The only thing was that you couldn’t shoot sync sound, because the preamps sucked, so we all had a Zoom H4N and a pluraleyes plugin. Every take you had to remember to manual start the audio recording at the same time as your video recording. For one man run and gun, that was a PITA. But we didn’t care, we finally had a camera with a s35mm sensor that we could afford!

Progress. More than one minute into the film.

It has been a while since I have last posted. Lots has been done since then.

Late 2012 the newspaper for my region came out and did a story on the film, which was an interesting experience. Still, if there is one thing I have learnt from it, it’s: never trust the media. I had specifically asked them not to film certain aspects etc, but that was completely ignored. Moral of the story – have selective NDAs on hand.

For those who have not yet seen the article, it is available here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/taranaki-daily-news/entertainment/8062288/Theres-no-stopping-this-dedicated-young-film-maker

.

.

I have also, and finally, put together a showreel: (removed)

.

.

Furthermore,  I am at approximately 1 minute and 20 seconds into “Disappear” (I say approximately to leave room for tweaking/editing). So that means I’m about 30% of the way through animating.

Shot04

So, ticking along. Amongst juggling various other projects, and a life etc, I’m still aiming for completion before the end of June.

I’ve decided to build a motion control rig. It turns out that moving the camera by hand is proving to be far too distracting from the animation process. I will be building it in two phases;

Phase 1:  Dolly (1500mm rail), Pan, Tilt, Focus + 8 channel Arduino powered control box.

Phase 2: Boom and Swing (jib/crane)

Building it in two stages will allow me to finish the film sooner (and save some money initially). I have to say a special thanks to Doug Kropla for ideas and electrical advice, and also Leo Hutson, who will be helping me on the electrical and programming fronts.

I’m sure there is a lot I have missed, but that will have to wait for another time. Back to work!!!

Harrie

First shot is in the can! (and a sneak peak)

I finished my first shot for “Disappear” on Thursday night at around 11pm. After being in pre-production on and off for around 12 months, this is a major milestone. I can finally start to see my vision take on a life of its own.

——————————————————————————————————-

Stay tuned for some frames pulled right out of the first shot at the end of this post…

——————————————————————————————————-

I actually did a little bit of previs before I started animating to help me with the timing and spacing.

And after a very short practice run I kind just dove right in.

I have to say that character animation in stop motion is by far the single most difficult thing I have ever done in my life thus yet. It probably didn’t help that the first shot was a massive 40 seconds long! At 12fps I shot 488 frames over two weeks, including a camera move on the geared head.

It’s a pretty amazing feeling having this first shot done. I’m gearing up for the next shot now.

You’ll have to excuse the quality of the photos, these were taken on my cellphone because the 2nd slr was in the office.

The following is a still of the last frame in the sequence;

————————————————————————–

As promised, here are some still frames from the first shot…

————————————————————————–

Now, onto that next shot….

Till next time,

Harrie

My Theatre Debut!

So I had temporarily fallen of the face of the earth and lost contact with the world, so I will explain where I have been;

As some of you already know, I have been in a theatre production of “The Great Gatsby”, in one of the leading roles, Nick Carraway. The show went incredibly well and was very positively received.

This was my first show, having previously acted only in front of the camera and never in front of an audience. It was a very big role, so I certainly had to learn to swim as I was drowning, I was on stage for aprox 95 pages (/minutes).  It  was a very different experience and has taught me a lot.

Here are some photos of the play;

Thanks to everyone involved. I had a great time.

 

Cheers,

Harrie.

Character completed, hands, furniture started.

So, it’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’m gonna make it a “first week of every month” thing from now on, unless it’s just a few quick photos.

I’ve fabricated some new sculpting tools out of brass, after watching a tutorial excerpt by Marc Spess (very talented sculpter), and sculpted some apoxie sculpt hair onto the baked sculpy head. Then undercoated it with my new Badger 150 airbrush (which I am very happy with).

After that I spent a few hours airbrushing and matte coated it with some Krylon stuff when done. The eyeballs, which I had made and hand painted previously, were then covered in vasaline and inserted into the sockets. I then sculpted eyelids over them out of apoxie sculpt. The eyes can be animated by inserting a needle into the pupil. The eyelids can be animated subtly in post if need be, as I will be doing extensive secondary animation in post for the mouth to achieve subtle expressions anyway.  I finished the rest of the paint job by hand. The eyebrows are Van Aken plasticine, so they can be animated.

I’m fairly happy with how it turned out considering it’s a first attempt.

Life;

Over Xmas and New Years, we had some family stay, my aunt and uncle and their kid. Was really great taking a couple of weeks off to live a bit. My aunt sometimes works in project consulting and scheduling (I think?), so I sat down one afternoon with her and did a schedule for the film. Man, I really had no idea how much time this thing was gonna take me. Principal photography is scheduled to start on the 1st of June, Post production complete on the 31st of December.

I think they enjoyed it here. New Zealand is a very different country to the Netherlands.

Back in the studio;

I spent some time on the milling machine and made a whole bunch of brass knuckle brackets for the puppets hands.

After that I just did the usual, twisted aluminium wire and heatshrink . Then apoxied the hands into some brass tubes as to make them slot in to the armature, thus making them easily replaceable. Pre-coated them in PAX. They looked kinda freaky, as if the skin had been eaten off them or something.

Then started building them up with cotton wool and latex.

They are nearly done now. They haven’t turned out as good as I had hoped, but hey that’s life sometimes. They are totally usable, I just tend to have high expectations.

I’ve started on the furniture too. His bed is done and so Is the dining table.

I used 6mm open cell foam (cushion foam) sheets and some Ados spray glue to bulk out the armature, making sure to leave access holes for the tightening screws. After trimming the excess foam off I made a start on dressing it. The clothes required a fair bit of tailoring but they got there in the end.

He is nearly finished now. His shoes are painted with PAX. I made a tiny 1/6 scale belt buckle out of brass. I made his beeper. All he is waiting on now are the finishing touches on the hands.

Will probably upload some photos of the finished character in the coming month.

I think he is going to work pretty well in this film.

Life;

After having spent much time in a dark room over the last 6 months, I thought I’d go out and audition at the local theatre. I ended up landing one of the leads, Nick Caraway, in a local production of Ken Duncan’s adaptation of  “The Great Gatsby”. Should be a good little show.

Also, I’ve come across a location that has sparked some massive ideas for a feature film.

More on that later this year.