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General >> 21st Century Bohemian Productions >> Letter Home video finished

Message started by J_MacKay on 15th Mar, 2009 at 7:23am

Title: Letter Home video finished
Post by J_MacKay on 15th Mar, 2009 at 7:23am
It's finally ready for release and you guys get to see it first.

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What started out as a small, two week project turned into a 5 month odyssey. For some reason the line from the Gilligan's Island theme song "a three-hour tour," kept going through my head.  It wasn't suppose to take long because the aircraft modeling had been finished. But then I ran into scenery design in FSX and the adventures began. In an effort to get an accurate model of hangers I came across a group of scenery designers at Flight Ontario. In exchange for hangers built for their BCATP project, I helped them with building and texturing 5 aircraft as scenery objects. I still have an AI Harvard on back order for them.

Then came a side journey into the world of Trainz. What an incredible world of their own they have. I even found a tutorial that shows how to have aircraft "flying" around. Actually it's a gmax model of a plane following an invisible railroad track that goes through the sky. I imagine FS scenery designers would have a wonderful time if they had the same tools the Trainz folks do.

In the end, one of the hardest things to deal with was the YouTube 10 minute time limit. A large section of the final page of the letter had to be left out and many other scenes had to be drastically trimmed. Its a struggle movie makers have dealt with for ages. Maybe there will be a "Director's cut" version of "A Letter Home" someday.


Title: Re: Letter Home video finished
Post by Fr. Bill on 15th Mar, 2009 at 12:37pm
Thanks for all the hard work. I really enjoyed the final version. Bravo Zulu, sir!  8-)

Title: Re: Letter Home video finished
Post by foxwolfen on 21st Mar, 2009 at 1:23am
Impressive work. Outstanding really. I would love to hear it narrated.

Sorry it took so long to comment. Been workin hard on a project of my own.


Title: Re: Letter Home video finished
Post by J_MacKay on 21st Mar, 2009 at 6:04am
Thanks Shad.

99 percent of comments have been good. One aviation machinima website rejected it, saying it didn't meet their production standards. Now that stung for awhile. Then I got mad for a second. Then I decided this site wasn't worth the worry and moved on.

Interesting how one bad comment blocks out all the good if you let it.

Glad to hear you're busy on a project and I look forward to seeing it.

Title: Re: Letter Home video finished
Post by foxwolfen on 21st Mar, 2009 at 11:11am
In some ways I think you may have encountered the same sort of thing that caused me to stop making websites. There is so much work on the back end that people do not see, and they only focus on the pretty visuals, not the technical prowess.

Did the site give you any other feedback about the vid, other than "production standards"?

It might be a good idea to listen a bit to the lesson in that rejection for the same reason I mention above. Production standard might mean more than just the story or animation, but also the look and sound of the presentation.

Right now a lot of the new shorts with machinima are pretty slick looking, and sounding. I think with some narration and post production effects, you could get it to a standard they might like.

I think that you could probably build more emotion with a change in music. The music is nice, but somewhat generic. As you know, I have been working on music for the last year (hard to believe its been a year, eh?). Since then I have made some 19 songs, which I think are progressively getting better and better all the time. The last six were all written as part of a story I am writing as well (63 pages long and 22000 words so far, and about 30 minutes or so of music to go along with it).

I am not suggesting you use any of mine, though you are welcome too. I have been hanging out at a music site software site (Cakewalk). The song forum there is populated with loads of talents musicians many of whom would love to work on a vid project like this. I would join up and start checking out some of the music or artists out for a few week, then post your project needs. You could probably find both a narrator and music.

For the visuals, I would think about sharpening the lighting effects (overbright and halos). You would need to do this on a scene by scene basis but it can be done with good effect in post. This would warm the visual up, give them a more natural feel and so on.

Editing wise, I think you have some scenes that are perhaps overly long. It seems that some of those long scenes are also a but stuttery due to sim slowdown. You could edit those out with out much loss to the film and a potential gain in flow momentum.

There are two scenes that I would reshoot. Both are the "inside the cockpit with a pan" scenes and should be quick to redo. With FSX, if you hold the space bar you can use your mouse to pan more naturally. Make a recording and let if fly while you use the mouse to pan and jiggle so it feel like you are in a plane with a large spinning radial driven prop. There is a "stop" when you cross forward center when panning with the mouse, so you will need to edit to start just after that part or it may look odd.

The scenes with the characters looking around are a bit unnatural looking. While a cool animation in FSX, for a film people might wonder why it is like that. I might edit the scenes so that there is less of the linear movement and capture only emotive moments like the blinks and so on. Put movement there with a slight camera vibration to enhance the sense of realism as well. Combine the pan scene with the figure scene for continuity.

I hope you realize that these are just some observations that I think might help take it to the next level. It is a great FS film otherwise, but I would not stop there. I think you can take this much further. It may take time, but it would be worth it I think.


Title: Re: Letter Home video finished
Post by J_MacKay on 22nd Mar, 2009 at 4:41pm
At the beginning of the project, the goal was to make a small promo video for the SkyUnlimited Harvard for FSX. It was suppose to only take two or three weeks.  After the fourth month and not even half way through the 4 page letter I began to be concerned that it was taking too long to make. As I finished up the third page I realized that I was faced with another time problem, and that was that the movie would run over the YouTube time limit of 10 minutes.  Making it in two parts did not seem to be a viable option. At the end of the production the overriding concern was to get it finished, even if it meant leaving parts unpolished or sections of the letter left out.  

I appreciate you taking the time to write out some of the things that you thought might make the video better. Even if I had the time and resources I don't think I'd go back. I've got too many projects ahead of me to think too much about the ones that are now behind me. If someone said if I made one small change and it would only take an hour and then I would have the approval of the folks at this  one website that turned down my application, I wouldn't do it. While they did have some nice things to say about the video, they still came across as a bunch of IL2 snobs.

Title: Re: Letter Home video finished
Post by foxwolfen on 23rd Mar, 2009 at 10:47pm
Da Vinci said - art is never finished, just abandoned. You would seem to be the proof of that axiom.  ;D

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