behind the scenes at StrangewerksFilms

Posts tagged “indie filmmaking

Gory Goings-On…

Here’s another bunch of behind-the-scenes set photos from our shoot this past weekend on Long Island. We had a bunch of slayings that the crew had to do makeup for. You can kind of get an idea from the pictures below. Of course we’re not showing them all to you, we don’t want to give away all the goodies we have in store for our viewers!

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Gary with a fork in his head–’nuff said!

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Gary realizing he has a fork in his head and that he’s laying in a body bag. 

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Ryan looking a little more demonic than usual–but only slightly more…

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Broni with a knife in her chest. Yes cutlery can kill, folks!

There’s a lot more stuff to be shot, including shots where we have to bring in the…blood tubing! That’s all we can say at the moment. I’m looking forward to some arterial spray. (Wow, watch three seasons of Ash vs. Evil Dead and you get so jaded about all this stuff.)

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Meet My New Body…

Okay, so it’s not really “new,” and it’s not my body, though as an aside, it would be cool if we could have alternate bodies/”sleeves” to port into like on Altered Carbon. (Who would you port into? Me, anyone awesome like Nikola Tesla, Albert Einstein, Florence Welch, Freddy Mercury.) But the body in question–the one shown below–is new to the blog and to the film it’s being used in: Demon Nun, our new horror film!

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Gory George at home…

 

 

 

 

I call him Gory George, though if it was a girl I’d call it Greta Gangrene or something.   I don’t know what they called him in his previous life. Maybe I should get his dental records checked out?

 

 

 

 

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Really gross hands, needs some hand lotion.,,

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No stomach.,..,

 

 

 

 

 

 

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He’s got a few friends moldering around in the apartment somewhere. Also, my familiar, um, cat Tabitha likes him, as you can see from the pictures. They hit it off right away.

 

 

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His toenails are sharp! I keep gouging my feet on them every night!

I can’t believe all the crap I fit into this place and neither can my wife. I dunno how she can sleep at night with George and his friends in here. Sometimes you can hear them whispering (or playing cards).

 

 

 

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The crowded life of a filmmaker/toy nut/animal lover…

Anyway, he will make his second film premiere in Demon Nun this weekend! Can’t wait to shoot the bastard. I had to open the lens way up just to get a detailed shot of him. He tends to soak up the light. (Also souls, but I digress!)


Shooting with the Saints

On March 24th, we had the pleasure of shooting in a lovely little church in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. If you ever need a church location for a photo or video shoot, this is definitely a place you will want to check out. Call Andrew Samaha for more info at 917-796-0574.

You can see more pictures of St. Philips here.

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CHEAPO DOLLY TRACK

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Strangewerks Films’ new high tech dolly track–ain’t she a beaut?

So I have a dolly for my camera. It’s one of those “Glide Gear” systems they sell on ebay. It’s pretty nice for the relatively inexpensive price. The only problem is, I don’t have any track to go with it.

They have a track system on ebay as well, but I didn’t feel like dropping the $150+ for it. So I went down to the Home Depo and bought a 2 X 4 and some plastic pipe (one inch in diameter). Oh, some screws too. Cost me about $18 bucks. I went with one inch because it lifts the glide wheels off the ground a little more, in case you’re shooting somewhere outside and there’s gravel around that could obstruct the wheels.

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Unfortunately, I had to do the construction in my tiny NYC apartment, not much room to maneuver around, esp. with curious cats like Madame Sylvia here…,

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I had to cut down the pipe to around five feet because I don’t think it would fit in the company SUV if it was much longer. I would’ve liked it longer to provide for more tracking shot time,  but at least we got this muich. Maybe I can devise some kind of interlocking pipe system to make it longer…! Mwahahaha! Oh and I only stripped one screw!

It’s crucial to get as much camera movement into your project as you can and not just the handheld stuff. (I’ve had distributors tell me that overseas audiences don’t like the handheld stuff that much.) Getting smooth camera motion into your film is key to making it look professional. Also, it’ll set your film apart from all the other low-budget crap a distributor has to weed through. That and using a boom mic instead of a camera mic! Ditch the camera mic you guys/gals/gender fluid types/whomever is reading this. (Ol’ Max is open to everyone!)

Now, the only thing is, if I want to use this thing for a scene where two people are talking as they walk down the street, I’m gonna have to move it like twenty times to cover the whole scene.IMG_4245-min

So, if you see some strange guy moving his homemade dolly track down the sidewalk, again and again, don’t make fun of him, he’s just trying to save a few bucks!


Giving Life to Lifeform…

We’re in the midst of creating 3D animations for our film Lifeform. The software we chose was Blender–a free and open-source 3D computer graphics software product used for creating visual effects. Here at our studio we’re doing the animation, lighting and compositing. Modeling and rigging were handled by talented Blender vets Kevin Hayes and Nathan Taylor, respectively. At last count there were forty–odd (and we do mean odd) 3D fx shots in the film, which, while it doesn’t sound like a lot, is a HUGE amount of work, not to mention render time. Currently we’re averaging a day-and-a-half to two days of render time per shot, so you can imagine how long it’s taking to wade through the list. Still, it’s worth it when you see the results…   One of the more interesting facts is that you actually output the animation as a series of still images, .pngs, which you then import into Aftereffects, in order to create an entire animation, who’d have figured that? When we designed the actual creature, I was looking to invest attributes from actual creatures in nature, in order to give it a more authentic feel. Some dinosaur plating here, some praying mantis there, a scorpion tail over here… Now we’re trying to emulate some of the physical movements these creatures make in the real world to bring the illusion home.


One tip I would give to any fledgling animators: don’t forget to use the animation curves to smooth out the model’s movements. You can use the bezier tools to make them less “roller-coaster” like–some of mine were looking like the Cyclone at Coney Island before I smoothed them out!
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The goal is to finish all the 3D shots in the next few months and then on to color correcting and sound mix! Ugh…


Cyber Brain Machine Props…

Recently I got a call from Drew Bellware at Pandora Machine. For his latest film–starrring one of my favorite actresses–Kate Britton— he wanted some type of consciousness transference device, that would enable a person to download themselves into an android body. Not having one on hand, I was forced to construct said device from scratch–with no time or no real budget–as usual! Fortunately, I had a bunch of vacuum tubes laying around that I’d bought on ebay years ago and never had the chance to use. I love vacuum tubes, they add an arcane tech feel, especially when used in conjunction with new sci fi tech. Just feels French for some reason–there’s a certain “je ne se quois” about it, which means “I would like my croissant toasted and dipped in curdled goat’s milk.” So after a trip to the Depo for parts, I came up with this. Hope you like it:

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I had to make two of them, one for the user and another for the android to wear….

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We also had to have some kind of control base–which I had no idea for. No clue. As I was wracking my brain and walking down Third Ave, I looked down and saw a big, disgustingly dirty fan someone had unceremoniously dumped in the street–lighting struck. That was what I’d build the thing around!  I carted it home, threw it in a plastic bag for fear of BEDBUGS and eventually got around to taking it apart. Threw some parts on it including popsicle  molds, a spark plug cleaner, a base from a Babylon 5 doll, some volume control knobs, etc., along with some lights I rigged  on the inside and –voila! A conscious transferral device. Looks great in moody lighting, don’t you think?IMG_2687


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Tentacle action

Hazzah! Here’s a first-ever attempt at Blender animation on my part. It’s a tentacle that’s going to be used in our feature film Lifeform. (Still in Post!) It’s not perfect, you can see a light panel in back and the thing goes out of sight at the end, but I think it looks pretty cool. I have to thank a number of people for helping me get to this point, including Nathan Taylor, who rigged it, Kevin Hays, who was the modeler and Drew Bellware, who actually told me I had to skin the darn thing with the texture files and showed me how to do it. Couldn’t do it without them and their impressive talents!

Various animations of the tentacle will the composited into scenes with Virginia Logan as she “monsters out” and attacks people with tentacles coming out of her…back–just her back, I swear. What do you think this is? Species?

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I wish we had their budget, or Natasha Henstridge. Heck, I’d settle for a 8 1/2 by 11 glossy of H.R. Giger at this point. Probably give me nightmares though.

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One neat tutorial I looked at, regarding working with the Cycles render engine is located at Blender Guru. Andrew’s site has many great tutorials wherein he takes his time to actually show you how to do things and he’s a really nice guy as well. One of the neat things about Cycles is that you can use a mesh plane as a light. He says it works better than a regular lamp object, as a light source. So, I used a few planes to light it.

Nate is rigging a few more models for us and I can’t wait to see how great these things animate! Thanks guys!

Here’s my test animation: