Power the Pixel videos are now live. Timo Vuorensola explains how he and his team fully embraced the concept of crowd-sourcing. Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning was a huge collaborative effort made by a core group of 5 people in Finland, and a community of about 3,000 volunteers from around the world. The film was a major online hit and has been downloaded over 8 million times.
Over the next few days we’ll be posting various videos from the DIY DAYS LA event. The day consisted of a number of keynotes (Robert Greenwald, Marshall Herskovitz), panels (Tommy Pallotta, Femke Wolting, Alex Johnson, Micki Krimmel, Mark Stolaroff, Ondi Timoner, Hunter Weeks, Saskia Wilson-Brown), case studies (M dot Strange, Arin Crumley, Lance Weiler), a series of special video presentations (Matt Hanson, Brett Gaylor, Brian Chirls, Christy Dena, Timo Vuorensola) and a conversation with director Mark Pellington.
M dot Strange, Hunter Weeks and Ondi Timoner – photo by Mike Hedge
The Realities of DIY
There’s been much discussion about the democratization of the tools but what’s really involved in taking your film from a concept to something an audience will pay to see? How can you fight your way through the clutter and what are the pitfalls to avoid when you decide to go it on your own?
Discussion Leader: Mark Stolaroff – panelists Arin Crumley, Ondi Timoner, Hunter Weeks and M dot Strange.BTS DIYDays animation audience biz case study deals discussion distro diy doc dvd education event festivals funds how to narrative online panel podcast producing production promotion resource sponsorship tech theatrical tools tv web 2.0
Power to the Pixel is a conference that focuses on funding, producing and distributing films in the digital age. The next edition of PTTP will be held in Paris this coming June. Liz Rosenthal the founder of PTTP was kind of enough to share the following video. Please feel free to embed and spread.
audience biz case study community cross-media crowdsourced deals delivery digital downloads discovery discussion distro diy doc dvd embed event experiment festivals funds online panel producing production promotion remix resource roundtable screening sharing social change software tech theatrical tools tv web 2.0
The final Power to the Pixel session brings together five pioneering filmmakers who are reinventing the way that films reach audiences and audiences reach films. Lance Weiler, Arin Crumley, Susan Buice, Matt Hanson, Jeremy Nathan explain why they chose the DIY path. Moderated by Liz Rosenthal.
by Marc Lougee
:: Digital Image Capture and why we went there
From the outset, I wanted to shoot the film utilizing a high resolution source. My experience with digital capture for animation started while Animation Director on MTV’s Celebrity Deathmatch in New York, where we had used three-chip cameras built for medical operating theatres. The image resolution & color was great for standard definition television, but held no promise of great results when screened in a theatrical.
In addition, the body of the camera was tethered to a control box, gamma scope and computer via cables, power cords and whatnot, limiting maneuverability and placement options dramatically. The necessary antics to work around this assortment of cabling and hardware (on an already cramped set) often landed folks on a chiropractor’s table.
Our plan was to shoot The Pit and the Pendulum with Nikon D70s Digital Single Lens Reflex cameras, sending single frames of animation to Mac Mini’s and then to an external hard drive for storage. Animation referencing was handled with Frame Thief, a low cost, highly cool tool for Macs (apparently not yet available for PC’s). The high resolution RAW or NEF (Nikon) files were captured using Nikon’s remote capture software, Capture NX. This allowed for quick uploading and preview of each frame or single image. Capture NX was extremely helpful in making focus adjustments, saving much tucking behind the camera on set. This requires a little getting used to, rotating the focus ring on the camera while staring at the computer monitor, but it may prevent your having to perform diabolically difficult maneuvers to peer thru the camera’s viewfinder while crawling on the set to do so.
Here’s the equipment & software used for shooting The Pit and the Pendulum;
Apple Mac Mini computer
17” Flat Screen Color Computer Monitor
(we used flat LCD screens for portability & minimal footprint)
Nikon D70s DSLR camera w/ 18-70 zoom lens
(we switched the package lens for a manual lens)
Canopus ADVC 11 analog to video converter
500 Gig external hard drive, (non-partitioned)
Mini B&W security camera (for viewing thru the camera viewfinder)
Frame Thief capture program (low-cost animation frame grabbing software)
Adobe Photoshop CS2
(great for batch converting RAW files to TGA’s, JPEG’s, etc.)
Adobe After Effects with The Foundry’s Tinderbox 3 ‘De-Flicker’ plug-in
(De-flicker is an excellent tool to remove inadvertent ‘image flicker’; see below)
iMovie HD (shipped with the Mac Mini’s)
Final Cut Pro or Express
(I prefer FCP or Express to Premiere or Avid for editing. Very handy for test comps on the fly, when shooting green/ blue screen animation or elements).
The D70s lacked live output/ video assist to review what you’re doing in front of the camera. We improvised with a miniature security camera serving as a video assist, which was plugged into a Canopus ADVC110 digital to analog video converter, then to the Mac Mini on which two programs ran simultaneously for image capture. Here’s a basic layout of the system;
The first program, FRAME THIEF, captured single frame ‘grabs’ from the mini camera for preview. While the mini camera supplies a constant ‘live‘ feed, FRAME THIEF grabs a single frame at a time from the feed, supplying a low-res version of the captured image in the viewing window. Once selected, the frame grabs are added to the Frame Thief timeline, creating an animation sequence. This would be the reference time line that can be reviewed as the shot progresses.
As well as being easy on the wallet and even easier to use, FRAME THIEF has several very handy features built in, virtually negating the need for surface gauges, etc. One very cool feature of note allows the user to place digital markers on screen (crosshairs or hand drawn lines, circles, etc), replacing any need for physical pointers or markers on the set. There is plenty more to make us of in the program, so I suggest tromping over to the site and have a look at the offerings. PC users fear not, as there are several ‘frame grabber’ programs available as well.
The second software program is Nikon’s remote capture offering, CAPTURE NX. Capture was used in tandem with Frame Thief, requiring both software windows be open simultaneously for the duration of each shoot. Capture NX captured directly from the D70s to the Mac Mini then onto the external hard drive, while Frame Thief captured the mini cam feed to the Mac Mini for reference use, thru the Canopus ADVC. Essentially, 2 camera feeds, one computer. This of course necessitated we have separate destination files for the two programs. The very high resolution images from the Nikon were stored externally on the external hard drive, while the much lower resolution images from the mini camera were stored on the Mac (reducing strain on the processors). This process requires two windows open on the monitor, one showing a low-resolution image preview (Frame Thief) the other a high-resolution image preview (Capture NX).
Additionally, each increment of animation, whether you shoot single or double frames, should be triggered equally on each of the two programs. Unless of course you’re a mathematical genius, then have at it you wild thing. Personally, it’s a lot easier to keep up if both frame/ image counts are reflecting the same numbers as I work my way through a shot. The fewer mental hijinks to wrestle thru, the more energy I have for the animation.
To be continued next week
Marc Lougee – Creative Producer / Director, Hand Hade Heroes Marc’s work as a director blends techniques ranging from 3D/ CGI computer animation to stop motion to classic 2D character animation. His projects integrate live action, special effects, puppets, miniatures, models and all manner of visual effects illusions.
Marc has lent his expertise of mixed-media animation production to scores of national commercial campaigns and broadcast interstitials, including work for ABC Saturday Morning, MTV, HBO, Epic Records, Fox Television, Kool Aid, Parker Brothers, Mattel, Hasbro, The Pillsbury Doughboy and the original “Bud Bowl” Super Bowl half-time campaign for Budweiser (which logged over 350 million viewers worldwide for the 1.5 minute spot).
Lougee enjoys applying his creative sensibilities to broadcast series programming. Working closely with Producer Susan Ma, he played a key role as Creative Producer in assembling the creative team for What It’s Like Being Alone in 2005/ 2006 and his contribution as Episode Director provided a major creative force behind the show. Marc’s directed animation on several series and pilots for MTV, Discovery Kids, Fox Television, Sci Fi Channel, HBO, BBC and the CBC. Several of these series are currently on-air, including the DiscoveryKids! / BBC’s Dinosapien, MTV’s Celebrity Deathmatch, and the BBC’s Ace Lightning.
Marc directed and co-produced (with Susan Ma) the award-winning short film, “The Pit and the Pendulum”, executive produced by animation and visual effects legend Ray Harryhausen (Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, 20 Million Miles to Earth, Clash of the Titans) and Fred Fuchs (Francis Ford Coppolla’s Dracula, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein).
Since it’s premiere, “The Pit and the Pendulum” has been chosen as an Official Selection in over 150 film festivals worldwide, garnering several awards and nominations, including Best Animated Film at Miami Shorts International Film Festival, Best Adaptation at the International Horror & Sci Fi Film Festival, Best Animated Short Film at the Dragon Con Film Festival, a Storyteller Award a the Redemptive Film Festival, an Ideology Award at the Cinepobre Film Festival and Best Animated Film at the HD Fest Awards.
More info on the film and the trailer can be found on the official film site;
For the latest news, screening dates, locations check the blog;
M dot Strange reports – This was part of a presentation called “Adventures in self distribution” I describe the journey I took with my animated feature film “We are the Strange” From my bedroom to Sundance and beyond and back to my little studio again after turning down Hollywood deals and deciding to self distribute and make my films my way.
M dot Strange is a mixed media animator from San Jose, Ca. He recently singlehandedly completed an 88 minute animated film entitled “We are the Strange” which made its world premiere in January of this year at the Sundance Film Festival. A reviewer that saw the film M dot made in his bedroom with 9 PC’s over the course of 3 years said “it looked like something Hollywood would make for 70 million” He has recently been featured in the NY Times, ABC World News , Wired.com and his youtube videos have been viewed over a million times.
Find out more about M dot Strange and his work