Friday, August 17, 2007

Script to Popcorn

I have discovered a fast and efficient way to 'produce' a film with the use of software for scheduling, budgeting and shooting. Or from script to popcorn ;o)

Here is how to go about it:

STEP A: Write the Script (a.k.a. screenplay) with Final Draft.

YING YING arrives at a bar in London sporting bright pink hair.
All the men in the bar are looking at her.
Two men (MOB 1 & MOB 2) wearing black suits walk towards her.
She makes a break for the back door.

I like London.

Oh, can you bear the shit weather?

C'mon, this is a cool city, very fun.

The men (MOB 1 & MOB 2) are chasing YING YING down a London street.
YING YING's shoes race along the pavement.

Save it as a "Movie Maker" file (*.rpt).

STEP B: Open Gorilla and make a New Project.

Choose to import the script (*.rpt).

STEP C: After the import and deciding on the start and end of the shooting days, Gorilla shows the Calendar of the Principle Photography (a.k.a. the Shooting).

Click to enlarge: Calendar, automagically generated from the imported script!

STEP D: Next by pushing the Breakdown button we switch to the Scene-by-Scene (or breakdown) overview.

Click to enlarge: Breakdown of scenes

See how it relates to the original script, with Scene heading (EXT. LONDON BAR - NIGHT) and Characters involved in this scene (e.g. STRANGER A, STRANGER B).

NOTE: Since the characters YING YING, MOB 1 & MOB 2 didn't have a dialogue in this scene they are not (yet) listed in the right hand column, but I will do so by selecting and moving them in there. Problem resolved!

One of the many conventions in film making is that we colour code the scenes depending on if they are taking place inside (INT.) or outside (EXT.), if it is day time (DAY) or night time (NIGHT). The following diagram shows this and it is reflected in Gorilla as you can see on the righthand side.

NOTE: The top bar is 'red' but that is because we are currently on that scene's page, if we step off it it will be .... 'GREEN' of course (EXT. NIGHT).

STEP E: Very useful for the casting (linking the script character to an actor or actress) for your film production is the Characters screen.

Click to enlarge: Lead Character YING YING linked to actress KATHLEEN

STEP F: Films are directed by directors. Directors are directed by... Money. So switching to the budget and accounts views.

The individual budget lines are divided into two categories: "above the line" and "below the line" expenses.

In the "above," or ATL, category, you'll find costs associated with a film's cast, writer, producer, director, stunts, and story rights. The remaining expenses -- set design, camera rentals, special effects, film, editing, etc. -- are categorized as BTL, or below the line.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Life has a Steering Wheel

I took the wheel and gave it a spin...

Now I have a job with ScotSys, Apple's Premium Reseller in Scotland.

They are the only company in the UK to be both a Microsoft Gold Partner and an Apple Premium Reseller.

They are in fact Apple’s No. 1 Education Partner in Europe. They are therefore uniquely placed to combine the best of Microsoft and Apple technologies across your educational establishment, and to understand the complexities involved in providing innovative and robust solutions.

Is this a tiptoe into the US?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Song as Scripts

Songs that read as Scripts is what this web log entry is all about.

Let me start by one of the songs that was playing on the radio and inspired me to write about it.


Song: "I think we're alone now" by Tiffany Darwisch (original by Tommy James And The Shondells in 1967, writer Ritchie Cordell).


Children behave
That's what they say when we're together
And watch how you play
They don't understand
And so we're

Running just as fast as we can
Holdin' on to one another's hand
Tryin' to get away into the night
And then you put your arms around me
And we tumble to the ground
And then you say
I think we're alone now
There doesn't seem to be anyone around

I think we're alone now
The beating of our hearts is the only sound

Look at the way
We gotta hide what we're doin'
'Cause what would they say
If they ever knew
And so we're

Repeat chorus

I think we're alone now
There doesn't seem to be anyone around
I think we're alone now
The beating of our hearts is the only sound

How would this look if we story boarded it? Perhaps the video clip will give us an idea.

Video clip of "I think we're alone now" by Girls Aloud

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Stick Meets Board

After trying to construct a methodology for storyboarding following a few well-defined steps AND having built a shared library of stick figures representing characters in a story we can now mix them in. Welcome Stick Figure, please enter the Storyboard!

So, to put things to work, here is an example picture which we will accept as being the main character in a heavy crime story ;o)

Alicia Keys as a bad girl

Now since we (the audience) will be at eye level with her, that is where to draw the red line (i.e. eye-line) and also the horizon leans a bit to the right bottom side.

Sketch phase of the storyboard with main character features shown through (blue) stick figure.

A good point to notice is that the fierce eye of Alicia (showing her emotion) is well placed at a crosspoint of the pink thin lines. This crosspoint - according to the rule of thirds - is a position in a picture that attracts us by nature.

See that apart from the character, the important item in the frame (i.e. the gun) is also part of the sketch phase. Make it a habit to sketch in blue lines. If we trace over them in the Ink phase (folowing) blue tends to 'hide' itself from our attention thus focusing on the Ink lines (in brown).

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Guys and Girls on Shelves

This web log entry discusses the solution I have found for re-using 'stick figures' in my storyboarding projects.

If one wants to use something over and over again without re-creating, establishing a library is a good idea.

For comparison, to learn about 'anthropology' one can simply go to the library, get the book (or a few books) and use them as 'references'. The same approach works for me with the exception that I will source 'stick figures' rather than books.

Stick figures as explained in a previous web log entry 'represent' (human) beings in drawing, for example in storyboards for movie productions. The stick figure can be male or female (or a hybrid). As soon as I 'stick' (pun intended) such a sketchy drawing in my library I can re-use it over and over again. That speeds up the process of drawing, and I can concentrate on the narrative (i.e. the story) rather than the technology (i.e. drawing).

Here is an example of a stick figure's parts (skull, chest, hips).

Stick figure from three angles: side, 3/4, front

I see the advantage of shelving the head, upper-body and lower-body for each angle separately in my library so I can move them around individually, to arrange more different poses.

Below is an example of how a stick figure underlays a more detailed sketch.

Dean Yeagle's sketch of girl 'Mandy' follows the general shape of the side view of my stick figure. Although to accentuate the female body he has decreased the chest, increased the breasts and the head. Also, whereas her body is 'drawn' from the side, her head is actually facing 3/4 aside (i.e. profile). Had I used the 3/4 head of my stick figure, the 'match' would have been even closer.

Excerpt from an interview with animator Dean Yeagle:

How important is color to you when designing characters?
"Not important at all in the beginning stages. First the line, always. Color adds mood or indicates a character's state of mind or general health perhaps, and is therefore a very important component eventually, but first of all is the character, expressed in line. The ultimate color may be in the back of my mind as I design, but usually that comes later. In designing backgrounds, however, the color may well be the first thought and the determining factor in the end result."

Rather than using one (big) library where I could store all re-usable items (such as stick figures) to make a specific storyboard, I have decided to store the stick figures in a 'shared' library. This way I can develop different storyboards, whilst sourcing from a single, specific library of stick figures. I need only to keep my stick figure library updated and well-organized to have all using storyboards benefit from it.

Shared libraries, rather than one massive single storyboard-tied-in library.

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