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watch My Group's First Completed Short

OddGinger

Member
Recently, I brought together a team that wants to make regular content. So far, the sets have ran smoothly and everyone with zero experience has had a good time. What follows is our first completed short together. I am hoping to get some feedback and critique from people who are not friends and family.

 

OddGinger

Member
Thanks!
Amazing. 2mins of understated pathos.
Can I ask... How long was this in development, to final release?
That is a bit difficult to answer. I originally wrote the script a year ago in about 10 minutes. It was meant for my DP to use as a practice shoot (he has experience as a sound guy). He wasn't ever able to get a small crew to help him and so it just sat around unused. I, eventually, sat in as the main actor myself for him and brought in a friend for the female character. It wasn't great but I was able to teach him (and he figured things out on his own) about lighting and framing.

When we decided to start this crew up, we started out shooting some other ideas (one is being re-worked in post right now, the other is shelved, possibly for ever). When trying to decide what's next, he suggested to reuse this script. I said sure, and the next week we shot it.

For post work, I did the edit in a week. I couldn't find music that fit so I grew frustrated. Sat on it for a couple of weeks because the sound wasn't up to par without the music to "hide" the sound issues. Eventually, my DP's brother agreed to do the music. I asked for something super simple and to not overthink it. He sent me the music back the next day.

All in all, I would say development was a week and 10 minutes. And post was 3 weeks because I sat on it for a couple of weeks.
 
The positive :cool: : it's got a nice look - coherent colour palatte from start to finish, and a cool one that matches the mood of the script ; can see that someone has paid attention to the choice and placement of lights/lighting ; if there are/were sound issues, they've been well hidden.

The :( : it's ... short! Yet almost 60s of credits for 1m28s of action. 😯

In the sequence @ 27-39s, the door frame is not vertical in the shot, but not obviously and deliberately "wrong" either (to symbolise a life disrupted). Looks like the cameraman just didn't check his tripod was level. :blush:

And immediately after, the wipe is disconcerting: Chad gets up, walks off screen to the right (as we watch), then we have an upward wipe to the cupboard door opening to the right. You could have followed Chad as he walked out of shot, which would have naturally filled the screen with the dark wall, and then cut seamlessly to the cupboard door opening.

Before you explained the background, I was going to say that it felt more like a tutorial, than a "story" - so in one sense, you've got good value for an investment of ten minutes, and with another minute or two, it'd make a good start to the trailer for the full movie! :hi:
 
Since you're looking for critiques rather than praise, here I go……u'

The score has a bit too much low end for my taste.

Production sound was pretty good. As a note, I might have had "Chad" sigh a bit.

The dialog mix could have been a bit smoother, more balanced, and it needs a bit of EQ.

I would have put a fair amount of Foley in there; the characters seemed a bit sonically disconnected from their world. Footsteps, sitting on the bed and on the couch, pulling the towel from the rack and from his hands. I would have made the closet/cabinet door crisper and more defined.

Also, I don't think that it needed 60 seconds of credits, could have been 15- 20 seconds.

Hope this helps.

Uncle Bob
 
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OddGinger

Member
@CelticRambler Thank you for the input. Sorry about the credits length. I used the built in credits creator in Vegas. I couldn't figure out how to make it go quicker. They were also a last second addition since I decided to put it out there for others to see.

As for the door, I think you are noticing the distorted left side. The right side is straight. You can see the top of the frame bend back in when the camera tilts up (which was a mix between practical and digital). I think we set the camera up just slightly to the right which is why the distortion is only seen on the left. I checked the straightness in post because that stood out to me and really bothered me.

Your idea for the move is probably best. I thought a typical cut would work to switch scenes but it never felt right to me. That's when I decided to use the transition that I did and try to match it to the next wipe transition which was deliberate and planned.

@Alcove Audio I was really looking forward to your input. Are you the only audio post person on IT these days?

Can I ask what you watched it on? I got a pretty terrible low rumble when watching on my phone (Samsung S8) that I didn't get with any other phone, laptop, or desktop when I tested the final cut.

As for the rest of your advice, I think you just talked me into getting the rest of Adobe's suite (my wife and I are photographers so we have that) so that I can edit my sound in Audition since the tools in Vegas felt clunky (or maybe it is Vegas itself).

All of the sounds you heard are foley except when my actress speaks and you hear her footsteps. There were other sounds I created, they just felt terrible using. Again, just trying to mix those sounds in using Vegas's tools felt clunky. I would make changes and it didn't sound like anything changed.

Thanks again both of you for your critiques.
 
As for the door, I think you are noticing the distorted left side. The right side is straight. You can see the top of the frame bend back in when the camera tilts up (which was a mix between practical and digital). I think we set the camera up just slightly to the right which is why the distortion is only seen on the left. I checked the straightness in post because that stood out to me and really bothered me.
As a still photographer, I sympathise with finding out "after the fact" that the camera was very slightly off centre, messing up the perfect symmetry I was trying to capture. :cry: Of course, it's a darn sight easier to correct a bit of skew in a still. On my screen, the right side of the doorframe (as seen on screen, so on Chad's left) is about 2° off vertical. In the opening clip, the left is almost perfectly vertical, but very slightly bowed ; in the second, it's about 1° off vertical, but more markedly bowed, exaggerated as the camera tilts up. My first thought was that it was lens distortion, but perhaps the correction in post contributed?

I got a pretty terrible low rumble when watching on my phone (Samsung S8) that I didn't get with any other phone, laptop, or desktop when I tested the final cut.
For info, watching on a laptop with a stereo feed to a 5.1 sound system, I didn't hear any noticeable low rumble until I turned the subwoofer up a good bit. I suppose this is the kind of artefact that those of us working at the lower end of the tech spectrum introduce with less-than-perfect equipment, and don't notice on a less-than-perfect playback platform. :tear:

Out of curiosity, how much of the colour palette was deliberate choice, and how much was chance? Did you nominate someone as production designer (not credited) to dress the set and actors with complementary colours?
 
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OddGinger

Member
Out of curiosity, how much of the colour palette was deliberate choice, and how much was chance? Did you nominate someone as production designer (not credited) to dress the set and actors with complementary colours?
The house is my DP's house so I knew what we were getting into. I mostly just complemented things in post grading. We removed things from the walls to give a slightly empty feel like someone had taken things that should have been there and made sure to leave bottles and garbage lying next to the bed and couch. I originally envisioned close-ups of obviously empty areas but that never felt quite right in my head when I was trying to pace it out so we didn't even shoot anything like that.

As for what they wore, I didn't worry about it. Like I said before, this was mostly about teaching people the behind the camera work. My actor wasn't even my actor until about 30 minutes before shooting. The guy who was supposed to play the part was sick and so was his 3 kids. John was there because he and Savannah were dating and he tagged along. Those were the clothes John wore to set. The character wasn't supposed to be gay, either. He just didn't have any pictures of himself with another female (feeling the time crunch, we almost printed a picture of John and Savannah together before someone spoke up and reminded us that Savannah was playing the other role).
 
I was really looking forward to your input. Are you the only audio post person on IT these days?
Nope, there are a few others. You just have to remember that as working professionals we don't always have the time to critique things. I was waiting for a client to show up (he got stuck in the horrendous Tri-State traffic), so I had a few minutes .

Can I ask what you watched it on? I got a pretty terrible low rumble when watching on my phone (Samsung S8) that I didn't get with any other phone, laptop, or desktop when I tested the final cut.
I have some really nice computer/media speakers (hey, I'm an audio guy) hooked up to the computer I have connected to the world. (My DAW system in my studio is not connected to the internet and is used exclusively for audio purposes.)

I didn't find the audio "rumbly", I just thought that there was too much low end in the score. Without bringing it into my studio I might have rolled off the lows at about 100Hz, maybe notched a bit out in the high hundreds to 1.5kHz range Hey, audio is an entire skill-set in and of itself, and it takes time to develop those skills and techniques, as well as developing your "ear".

When I used to freelance at other studios I would always bring my copy of "Aja" by Steely Dan, probably one of the most perfectly recorded and mixed albums ever released (IMHO). It sounds great on just about every playback system, and I used it as a reference to acclimatize my ears to the new listening environment, so I'll know if the sound is "tinny" or "honky" or "boomy".

I think you just talked me into getting the rest of Adobe's suite (my wife and I are photographers so we have that) so that I can edit my sound in Audition since the tools in Vegas felt clunky (or maybe it is Vegas itself).
You can use whichever DAW you want, as long as you are comfortable with it. I personally use Pro Tools and sometimes Digital Performer. I haven't used Vegas in many years. (Did you know that Vegas started out as a MIDI/DAW program?) Just as important is your audio interface, and even more important are your speakers and your listening environment. Audio professionals use speakers that are very "flat" in terms of audio frequency response; consumer speakers tend to have exaggerated frequencies. Audio pros also have very balanced listening environments, which can be a VERY pricey proposition, although budget solutions are always possible.

All of the sounds you heard are foley except when my actress speaks and you hear her footsteps. There were other sounds I created, they just felt terrible using. Again, just trying to mix those sounds in using Vegas's tools felt clunky. I would make changes and it didn't sound like anything changed.
Okay, first off, it's Foley with a capital "F". It is named after Jack Foley, the father of the craft. He may not have created the process, but he codified it and expanded it far beyond anyone before him. He was a fascinating guy, and a bit of a joker. You may be interested in this article:





As with all film crafts, Foley is a true art form. I'm not a Foley walker/artist by profession, but I do Foley on most of the projects that come into my studio.

So, here's lesson #1 - The props you use do not necessarily need to be what you see on the screen. Let's face it, a cotton towel doesn't really make much sound. I may have tried corduroy or canvas or who knows what else, and, once I found the sound that I wanted, it may have taken a half dozen or more takes to get the "performance" that I wanted.

Lesson #2 - Sounds should be a bit bigger than you think they should be so they have more definition when pulled back into the mix. To quote Randy Thom "If you need a pistol, use a rifle; if you need a rifle, use a shotgun; if you need a shotgun, use a mortar; if you need a mortar, use a cannon; if you need a nuke, drive down the highway at 80mph and stick a mic out the window." Not 100% accurate, but gets the point across.

Just as important is your mic and preamp. What are you using currently?

You may want to check out "The Foley Grail" by Vanessa Ament, a very solid overview of history and basic techniques.


And a couple of videos to get you started:


 

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