Leap

Leap3NewLogoBW copy.png

Backstory:
I've completed three independent feature films, plus countless shorts and adverts. My first feature was a no budget slasher I shot in 2007 for a budget of $600 called "Wulf". It played a few festivals and then I buried it, considering it my trunk novel. In 2009, I turned my back on horror and decided to be the Christian I considered myself to be. I still wanted to make movies and had an idea to combine parkour and the last days into a movie that was ultimately called "Leap".
Screen Shot 2022-04-27 at 2.12.21 PM.png


I shot it in 2009 on MiniDV (a Canon ZR800) for a budget of $200. I spent three months teaching my actors parkour and they did most of their own stunts. It screened at a local theater and we sold 200 DVDs. Let's be honest though- it's bad. My heart was in the right place, wanting to share what I was finding in my own personal Bible studies with the rest of the world, but it was poorly executed.
Screen Shot 2022-04-27 at 2.12.32 PM.png


In 2010, I made the sequel, "Leap: Rise of the Beast". It was the first feature film shot on a Canon Rebel T2i and we only had the kit lens. The budget was $2000 and continued the story I began in the first film: a group of college kids trying to save the world while the Vatican hunts them down. My goal was to make a Christian version of the Bourne series. We had a theatrical screening for it, sold 100 DVDs and then I stuck it on YouTube in 2012 and it now has over 1.5 million views and has made over $10,000 over the past ten years. Most of that money has gone toward purchasing better equipment because hey, tax write-offs :)
Screen Shot 2022-04-27 at 2.12.47 PM.png


Immediately after Leap 2 came out, I wanted to do something different before finishing the story. So I wrote a supernatural Christian thriller but everyone kept begging me to do Leap 3 next instead. I caved and wrote the script called "Leap: Revelation". It picked up in the middle of Leap 2, followed a new parkour crew and took us to the end of the world. The only thing stopping me from shooting it was the financing. I figured that I'd need $20,000 to do the movie on a "low-budget" while paying for actors and a few key crew members. Unfortunately I never raised the funds.

The past ten years saw me being homeless, getting a dream job as a VFX supervisor, losing everything I owned (including my dog) in a house fire, rebuilding my life, getting a wife, a new dog, and moving back to Montana. Now I run my own production studio called Pyro Studios and I feel like I'm at a point where I want to revisit this material again. I've grown a lot as a person and as a filmmaker and finally feel like now is the time. I've been keeping a production journal on my computer and I'll be sharing that here.

I hope it is useful and I welcome you all along this journey.

-Chris

Ten Years Difference
Screen Shot 2022-04-27 at 2.16.58 PM.png
 
Last edited:
Finally getting into the really fun VFX! Right now I'm turning rivers to blood. To pull this off, I'm just creating a black and white map of where I want the change to occur, and using that as a mask on a color correct node in Nuke. It's really pretty simple. The difficult part is keeping track of which rocks need to be clear from shot to shot as the characters leap across them. For a shot that's close on their feet as they cross a river, the camera pans around a lot. The trick to this shot was to screenshot all the different positions and stitch them together in Photoshop to make a large canvas of the entire shot. Then I just painted the mask there and tracked it back to the shot in Nuke.

In other fun news, we've had a lot of bear sightings over the last few days around our new house. Most of them have been down by the mailbox, which is about 100 yards aways, but we've had a few come right up to the house and knock over my BBQ, and just now one climbed our apple tree. Here's some of the best pics I've gotten:

tempImagegoxxBP.jpg


tempImageQUvtns.jpg



BearInTree.jpg
 
Last edited:
Spent yesterday and this morning compositing the shots where a raven brings the main characters bread (a callback to the Old Testament where ravens provided for Elijah). I had done a similar shot once before for “The Days of Noah”, so I already had a good idea as to how to accomplish this.

The big secret is stock footage. I used Pond 5 (www.pond5.com) and found a 30 second shot of a raven on a green stage where the bird flies into the shot, hops around, then flies out of the shot. The single clip cost me $80, but it’s a million times better than doing a CG bird. I didn’t want something that looked like the opening of “Jurassic World”. Using a real bird was the best way to do this.

At one point, the raven pecks at the pedestal it’s standing on and I thought it would be cool to digitally “nudge” a piece of bread to match. My wife then suggested having the raven actually take a bite of the bread. I cloned on a bite mark on cue, and also added some debris elements to look like crumbs dropping. The final effect is pretty convincing.

Raven.png


To be clear, I knew back when we shot this that I was going to use a stock asset of a raven on a green screen. I picked out the one I wanted in advance and knew that I could get two shots out of it. I just had to make sure while shooting that I accounted for where the bird would be.
 
You should've posted the bread eating clip! The screenshot is cool though.

Fun fact: Birds are the ONLY land animal that don't fart.
They don't burp either, so effervescent substances are lethal for them to eat.
 
Movie is SO close to have the VFX done! I'm looking forward to starting on the other aspects of post to get this thing finished.

Also had another bear drop by this morning. Pretty sure it's the same one that knocked over my BBQ a few weeks back. He came in today and tried to get the birdseed out of our feeder. Managed to shoo it away and plinked its butt with a BB gun thinking it would get the message. Not twenty minutes later, after we took the feeder down, he showed up again.

The grunting that you hear is my dog. He's not a fan
 
Last edited:
Karissa and I went and saw "A Quiet Place: Day One" yesterday and really enjoyed it. Very much a character piece with a strong heart. Afterwards, we went to Walmart to get supplies for our upcoming backpacking trip into the Bob Marshall Wilderness. As we were rounding the back of the store, I found an Onn 65 inch TV on sale for $298! It was too good of a deal to pass up. I know it's not a Samsung, but it's a heck of a lot larger than my 48 inch I've had for nine years since the fire, so I pulled the trigger. Being able to preview my flick on that will help me out tremendously.

We had taken my wife's car into town instead of one of my trucks and ended up having to unpack the TV at Walmart in order to get it into her Ford Fusion. Once we got it home, I set it up and did a custom calibration across the board: Picture, sound and all that. We tested it out by watching a scene from Top Gun Maverick on blu ray. I'm not disappointed! Felt like Tom Cruise was in my living room.

We settled in for the evening and tested out a DVD by watching Arrow.

I tried to set up streaming stuff, but our internet went out and didn't come back until noon today. Such is life in the mountains.
 
Last edited:
Went huckleberry picking today up Nunya Creek on the backside of Notellem Mountain (yes, the names are a joke). We came home with 96oz which is double our previous record :) Karissa made jam.

Once we got home, I spent the afternoon working on some more shots. I have a particularly challenging one where a river has turned to blood and it's a similar airplane POV like I had before. The problem this time is that there's a tree blocking the river that is almost dead and doesn't have a lot of green I can use to make a mask out of.

I exported the camera track from Nuke, loaded it into Blender and imported one of my fir tree assets I had laying around. Positioned it to cover the real tree, did all the lighting and texturing stuff, and rendered that back to Nuke. Once I comped it in, I called Karissa in and showed her. She literally asked, "Which tree is the fake one?" She couldn't tell, and she lives with a VFX guy!

The reason I did a CG tree is is that I really, REALLY didn't want to go through the ass-pain of rotoing a fir tree in a shot with a lot of parallax. My solution took two hours whereas the roto would have taken 8 or more.
 
Last edited:
Went huckleberry picking today up Nunya Creek on the backside of Notellem mountain (yes, the names are a joke). We came home with 96oz which is double our previous record :) Karissa made jam.

Once we got home, I spent the afternoon working on some more shots. I have a particularly challenging one where a river has turned to blood and it's a similar airplane POV like I had before. The problem this time is that there's a tree blocking the river that is almost dead and doesn't have a lot of green I can use to make a mask out of.

I exported the camera track from Nuke, loaded it into Blender and imported one of my fir tree assets I had laying around. Positioned it to cover the real tree, did all the lighting and texturing stuff, and rendered that back to Nuke. Once I comped it in, I called Karissa in and showed her. She literally asked, "Which tree is the fake one?" She couldn't tell, and she lives with a VFX guy!

The reason I did a CG tree is is that I really, REALLY didn't want to go through the ass-pain of rotoing a fir tree in a shot with a lot of parallax. My solution took two hours whereas the roto would have taken 8 or more.
:shocked:
 
Watched the movie today on my new 65" TV! The primary purpose was to decide what scenes need ADR, but I also wanted to just watch the film on a big screen since I haven't really done that in six months. Overall, I came up with around 15 scenes that need ADR due to where we were filming (a public beach, a bar, a gas station...) We never requested that they close or stay late for us to film, so everything was shot during business hours and while we tried to capture the best sound that we could, some locations inevitably need to be re-recorded.

I came up with an insert shot that I'd like to get when Roman comes out to record his ADR next weekend, I also told him to bring his tear stick too since one ADR scene has him crying.

I'm pretty happy with how the movie looks visually, so that's good. It'll take me a few weeks to wrap up the VFX on these final scenes, but then I can start working on making it sound great too!
 
Back
Top