Monday, May 18, 2009

Outsource or DIY...

I often wonder which is the better route as a director - to cater to your strengths and delegate other aspects to those who know better OR to develop your weak points, thus making you better overall.

In deciding how to tackle my next project, I often go back to why I'm doing it in the first place - to learn something new and develop my skills. But when does DIY become too ambitious? In a perfect scenario, I would learn how to write a good script, design and make my own clothing, build my own props and sets, rig, texture and skin (and heaven knows what else) my own non-standard characters, orchestrate my own soundtrack and I'm sure a whole host of other things I haven't realized yet. Tall order.

Would the result be a satisfying accomplishment and an awesome, probably frustrating, experience? You bet. But would it result in the best film I could possibly make? Probably not.

Jack of all trades, master of none? There are those that are excellent in one aspect of the film process, like clothing design for instance. It's something that takes time, practice and skill to do and do well. Odds are highly against me that anything I would produce would be half as decent. Would it be wise to attempt it anyway, knowing that that aspect of the film will suffer but that I would gain valuable experience in getting myself to a point where I can do better next time? Or should I take advantage of the skills offered by others and make the final film more as it should be but as a result, hinder my own development?

Case in point - my first project. By general consensus, it was good. BUT if I had other people doing the voice overs, would it have been better? Probably. But V.O.s can be a different animal - a necessity even, for a great film. Is it fair to compare it's value to the success of a film to that of clothing design, modelling etc.?

But then when you outsource, does it begin to feel a bit less like 'your' film? Does it seem to detract from the value of the end product because you didn't do it all yourself? Is your final product any less of an accomplishment?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

To Make You Believe...

That's the goal, I think, of a great storyteller or filmmaker. To draw you into a world of their construct and have you believe the story they tell you is plausible... within reason. When I think about it, I can break it down into 3 factors that are essential - imagery, sounds and plot.

One specific area of "sound" has been drawing my attention recently and that is of dialogue - the voice and the delivery. I'm not used to including dialogue into my works and as evidenced from my first film, if I must - I'd do it myself. Why? Again, probably my control freakish nature rearing it's ugly head but also because I felt there were factors about the voices that I needed to be able to control in order to maintain the illusion I constructed.

Now, when you open up the field to voiceactors, you gain diversity - yes. But you lose some control. This is where I am trying to find my balance. Trying to find a way not to control but effectively guide the performance of voiceactors of whom I can demand nothing. These people are friends and volunteers. All I have is the hope that they will try their best to perform the role for me and that I won't piss them off in the process.

I know how I am with my work - I'm nitpicky as all hell. Some things I can just let it go but when something bugs me because it's not the way I want and I know I can fix it if I just put in the time and effort - it BUGS me. And as such, my animations I tweaked and tweaked and tweaked some more. My voice overs I did over and over and over until I had it as close as I thought I could get. I can't do that to voiceactors! I'd drive 'em nuts.

So I've come to the realization that I just have to set myself up for as much success as possible by being particular not only of whom does the voiceover but for what character. Sometimes you may have wonderful voiceactors but when you hear them coming out of a particular character - something doesn't quite mesh. And I have to say for me - that jars me right out of the illusion and I start to 'believe' a little less. Doesn't ruin the production by any means but it just prevents me from enjoying it as best I could.

So in a roundabout way, I'm kinda going in reverse. I have a few people in mind already that I'd like to ask to help out. Once I get a feel of their voices I think I may try building their characters around THEM. Some personalities for this next film are fixed and I have to find the right voice to do them but others are more flexible. Maybe their character's personalities can be influenced by how the voiceactor sounds and the voiceactor's capabilities.

Again, these are all musings - thoughts playing in my head as I embark on this new film. Whether I'm being realistic in my approach - I don't know. I'll just have to wait and see how it all pans out.

Friday, May 8, 2009

4 minutes of powerful awesomeness...

Just in case anyone hasn't seen this animation - "Sebastian's Voodoo" by Joaquin Baldwin - it's a MUST! I can't believe how much personality and emotion can be conveyed by a character without a face or without any dialogue. Had me in tears - absolutely fantastic!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Go Big...

Or well, you know. So, guess I need to start thinking about making another movie, eh? Well, the hamster's been running around for a few days and I've got an inkling of what I'd like to do. I kinda base my projects on what I'd hope to learn by the end of it - what new skills I would have acquired. That being said, I don't know much about set design in iClone - can't really use the primitives provided to save my life, all pinkies with Sketchup and other 3D modelling programs I just haven't delved into that much. So that's what I'd like to focus on for this next project... and it's gonna be a big one.

I was sooooo tempted to return to my vidding roots. I've had some music video ideas that I was hoping to get done eventually (still might) but then again it comes down to - where's the challenge? Sure there are editing challenges and story telling to be done, but it's not something that by the end of it will leave me saying, "I did it! I conquered something!" In order to get better at this thing, I've got to step out of my comfort zone and push myself a little. Will they always work out as I hoped? Hell, no! But in the end, that's not the point.

So along with my focus on set design, I also want to try my hand at dialogue - writing a script and having proper voiceovers (any volunteers?). :) I really, really don't know how to go about integrating others into my work. Am I a bit of a control freak? Hmmm, maybe. I'd prefer to say that I have a vision and I tend to be reluctant to stray from it or half-ass it in any way (if it's avoidable). I very much do my work by "feel". It has to feel right to me. If it doesn't, it nags me EVERY time I see it and eventually, it's got to go. But then again, maybe that's something else I have to learn - to let go a little. Hand over the reigns and trust that it'll still be ok. I'll get back more than I'm giving up. My friends, you're gonna have to help me a little bit with this one! :)

So yeah, this next one is going to be challenging. I'm aiming for an action/adventure, more feature-lengthish than snippet. I'm going to work some After Effects in there, get learning in that program going as well. It's a big bite but I'm hoping I won't choke on it. If I do, I'm sure I'll have some friends standing by with the Heimlich!

To Boldly Go...

So here I am - entering the daunting world of *gasp* blogging. I tend to reflect and vent a lot as I work through my "creative process" so I thought rather than go crazy, I could rely on the support of my machinimating community (or at least entertain them a little as I careen into the void).

If you endeavor to follow this blog, I must warn you - everything I post may not be riveting morsels of incredible insight and sometimes you will wonder what the heck runs through my head. That's just how I work and it's served me well so far. Bottomline, I simply have a passion for creating stories and finding a means to share them with whoever cares to see it. If you think my ramblings might be a nice way to kill a minute or two, feel free to join me on my journeys across the bridge. :)