Film & Video

Film and Video work that i’ve worked on.

Want a free Escape Studios Digital Effects Course?

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Hey guys & girls,
Escape have just put up an online questionnaire and if you fill it out you are put into the pot to win ANY escape studios course!

I copied and pasted this from their site…

“Escape Studios are offering you a chance to win a course.

The winner, who will be announced in one week’s time on Monday 9th July,
will be offered the course of their choice at Escape Studios absolutley free!

That doesn’t leave much time so if you’re interested you’d better get a move on!

To enter the prize draw all you need to do is fill out the questionnaire that can be found on the
following link.”

http://www.escapestudios.com/news_07.php?id=36

The first film…

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Many moons ago at the start of time my Bro and me created a film… the film was for a competition. The rules were to create a film which was 60seconds in length and to do with “Lost Identity”. So we took the challenge. We did learn a lot doing the shoot… I think the main one being its impossible to create a complex storyline and fit it into 60seconds. Oh and never work with animals, children or matches.

The first is the actual 60second film and I remember having about 3 hours of other footage which made the thing make sense but we strangly couldn’t fit it into 60secs. The second is a test reel we did to try out a couple of locations and how we were going to do things…

Well you have to start somewhere!

Lost Identity

Lost Identity Test Reel

Festen & Kenny

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I’ve just got back from my melbourne trip. While I was in melbourne I managed to get tickets to ‘Festen‘ which happened to star Jason Donovan at the local arts centre about 5mins walk from my hotel. The play was based on the original film which was released in 1998:

The Father turns 60. His family, which is a big one of the kind, gathers to celebrate him on a castle. Everybody likes and respects the father deeply…or do they? The Youngest Son is trying to live up to The Father’s expectations. He is running a grill-bar in a dirty part of Copenhagen. The oldest son runs a restaurant in France, while the sister is a lawyer. The older sister has recently committed suicide and the father asks the oldest son to say a few words about her, because he is afraid he will break into tears if he does it himself. The oldest son agrees without arguments. Actually he has already written two speeches. A yellow and a green one. By the table, he asks the father to pick a speech. The father chooses green. The oldest son announces that this is the Speech of Truth. Everybody laughs, except for the father who gets a nervous look on his face. For he knows that the oldest son is about to reveal the secret of why the oldest sister killed herself.

It was quite a good show, I especially liked how they represented everyone getting ready for bed. They had one bed centre stage which was used by all the characters in the scene at the same time but acting out their own little scenes totally independantly… worked really well 🙂

On the way back on the plane the cabin crew announced that the film was about to start and I overheard a passenger saying that it was a really good film, so I thought I should tune in… The film is called Kenny and was about Kenny Smyth who delivers pora-loos. He’s ignored and unapprciated, but its hilarious! … It was really bizare! on a plane at 30,000 feet, trying not to laugh. In the end I just gave up trying to hold it in, the rest of the aircraft was laughing so much! Toilet humour at its best! From what is says on IMDB it doesn’t have any release dates outside Oz at the moment, but I hope it does! Its the second film in as many months that has come out of Australia that has been great.

The ideal Digital Compositing Laptop.. the long way around!

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As people may know I don’t complain much… if at all but here it is. My first complaining blog entry (ok excluding the Lacie incident which I can say is now all sorted and i’ve received back a fixed lacie drive!.. love you lacie!). Ok where to begin:

It all started one dusty day in April. I embarked on a research project to find the best laptop to do digital compositing and digital effects. It needed to be a laptop because I knew I would be travelling quite a bit over the next year or so and I wanted to had a bit of a beast to process all the high-end graphics. The first decision was do I go with a Mac or a PC… in the end I decided to stay with a PC because I knew how to use it 🙂 ok probably not the best argument but hey!

The Research:
My list of requirements was this:

  • The system needed to run Shake for Linux; this is a digital compositing package which I will be using the most
  • The system needed to run Maya for Windows
  • The system also needs to run Adobe products ok enough to do work on them… so After Effects, Premiere etc
  • Built in microphone for conference calls
  • Bluetooth for linking to my mobile

The main thing which I knew was going to be an issue was the graphics card. After looking at the technical specs your basically locked down to an Nvidia Quadro graphics card, there was basically an alienware MJ-12 or a… alienware MJ-12 the only problem being that it didn’t have built in bluetooth, but hey I can live without that.

End of May: The purchasing:
I knew that I was going to Australia at the end of may, so I looked into seeing if it was cheaper to buy the laptop in australia or the UK, because alienware have a website in the UK and Oz. Now the Australian website didn’t sell the MJ-12 laptop so I went onto the UK website and changed the delivery address to australia. When you do this all the prices change to dollars and it became VAT free. I checked the import duty to Australia and it was 10% so I made 7.5% saving already, and also the price was a lot lower so I made in all an 800 saving. Some eStores have difference prices for products depending on where they are being shipped, so if they want to get into a market they drop the price.

I mulled over if I should get it went back to the site and suddenly when I changed the delivery address to Australia it changed the price to… wait for it… Euros!?!?!?!! ok it was working with dollars the week before I’ll ring them up. So I rang them up basically saying I can pay either in Oz dollars or pounds but not euros otherwise I would get charged 2.5% in bank charges. First of all I was fobbed off that there was a problem with the website. I rang back a couple of days later and still a problem. So I ask them if I could buy it over the phone and pay using pounds, they said they would find out and ring me back… they didn’t … so I ring again and again each time being old something or other, in the end I gave up and ordered it on the internet using Euros… I rang my bank just to say that a large transaction was going through and it was a mail order which wasn’t going to my house in the UK. They said that would be fine and they would authorise it. Just to be on the safe side I ring them up a again and ask them if there was anything on the system and they confirmed that I had asked for this transaction to be accepted.. cool!

So on 28th May 2006 I purchased the laptop, knowing I was going to be in australia in a couple of days time for just over a month, plenty of time to ship the laptop.

On the 30th May I get an email asking me to ring up and confirm my order, which I do and they say that they have processed the order and everything if fine, I ask when it will be dispatched and they say its about 7 days sometimes less.

31st June:

I get and email saying:

“The bank will not allow us to perform an AVS check (a name and address check on the card). The country you are resident in does not allow us to perform an AVS check as either they are a data protected country or will not check the details over the phone for security reasons”…

Interesting! its a UK bank card… all banks that I know use AVS and the country is the UK?!?

1st June @ 15:53 (isn’t skype great!):
I give them a ring and ask them whats going on. They say I need to photocopy both sides of my card, and a card statement or an offical letter from the bank. I said it was a british card and its been authorised and I can’t see how it could have POSSIBLY been declined. Me now being in australia, I just didn’t think about bringing a bank statement with me, silly me! So they want a photocopy of my card! BOTH sides after thinking I decide that they aren’t getting it… I can’t even get to my bank statements anyway. So I know i’ll ring the bank just to check whats happened. I ring the bank.. they reply saying that no transactions have been declined at all. In fact no transactions from anyone in the last couple of days declined or otherwise. Right… so what your saying is Alienware isn’t telling the whole truth…

3rd June @ 10am:
I ring alienware and manage to persuade the person on the end of the phone that they can charge my card with the delivery address details and it will work FINE!… and after a bit of persuading they do it… and guess what … it WORKS!

I took a look at the alienware website and they have a nice little page which tracks your order status. It says on Pre-processing.. it hasn’t even got to the card charged bit, I wait a day or two because it may just update at night or something so it could just be out of date. I say I need it quite urgently and they put the order on priority.

5th June:
Its still on the pre-process stage. I ring them up to be told that the status page is not linked to there system and has to be updated manually and sometimes this doesn’t happen… GREAT! But you must be nearly done because I was told it would take 7 days to dispatch? and I am told its been delayed because of missing parts. Great only 2 weeks before I leave Oz!

13th June:
For the last couple of days it says its been saying that payment has been received but not a lot else. I give them another ring to check the progress and they say they have received the parts today and they are building now and it should be dispatched on friday! yupiee!!

16th June:
I ring up to check the progress of the order and its been shipped! I ask for shipping ref and it was on DHL Express so I would get it on wednesday for my flight on the friday to New Zealand for a filming project that I needed the laptop for.

I track the shipping online and see it going from Dublin to London to Sydney…

19th June (5days before flight):
I check the DHL website and it says “Clearance delay” … clearance delay? its in sydney but its stuck in customs. I ring up DHL and ask what that means and they say that its been delayed because it has missing paperwork! ARGH! and could take up to 3 days to be approved. ARGH! I ring up alienware, they ring DHL and fax over the paperwork.

20th June:
I go to the depot and pick up the laptop as I need time to install things on it before I fly to New Zealand. Yupiee!!! I have a laptop!

I install things on it…

I start doing some graphics work and try and increase the resolution… strange I can’t get higher than 1440×900. But the laptop I ordered was 1920×1200… they have installed the wrong screen! ARGH! no built in camera, no Wide UXGA 17″ screen.

22nd June:
I can’t bare to ring Alienware so I send them an email saying about the problem with the laptop… I get no reply. But I need to use the laptop but I make sure I keep the plastic over the screen.

8th July:
I send them another email… still no reply…

12th July:
I ring them and ask what I need to do, they ask me if I notified them… which I did and after AN AGE they find my emails…

After communicating with them some more I they ask if I want a refund as its cheaper than sending the laptop back to them. Which I would love to do but unfortunately I need the higher res and better screen so that I can see the colours better for my digital comp / graphics work. The screen and the graphics card was the only reason I got the laptop in the first place. So I suggest to them that I send it to Australia as they are based out there… Each time they say they will call me back .. each time they do not.

One point I ring them to be told by a sales or receptionist that they are all in a meeting… ALL of customer service!!! how bizarre!

29th August:
I ring them and I get someone who says that someone else is now dealing with my call, but he’s unavailable but will call me back by the end of the day. So I ask her to DEFINATLY send me an email by the end of the day or ring me even if nothing happens. You never guess what happens… yup… nothing… I even say that I will be contacting Trading Standards on wednesday next week if this hasn’t been cleared up.

3 months and 3 days since I attempted to purchased the laptop online … and counting.

The Caterpillar Wish Australian film

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As I’m in sydney I thought i’d take the chance to take a look at some Oz films, its also Sydney Film Festival down here… so expecting the worst I headed to the cinema. In Oz they seem to show a lot more home grown films than in the UK. I’m not 100% sure that its not because of political reasons, so I went in expecting a “the government has told us to show at least 10% of our films as Oz films as this is all we could find” type film. But I was presently surprised. The acting was good (mostly), the cinematography could have been a bit better in places but overall a really good piece of work! Better than The Da Vinci Code and that had a blockbuster budget! Well kept be more gripped anyway, prolly because i’d read the book before but hey! :).

You can take a look at the trailer at the Caterpillar Wish website. Just hope its one of the very few Oz movies that gets out of the country. But so far no release dates, maybe see if I can salvage a DVD when/if it gets released.

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