Friday, 12 August 2011

[Fo'tis'ma] - Score and Sound Design

My initial idea with score always gets changed and tweaked as I move along with the editing/finessing process.

Here are some films that inspired me on the score and sound side of things:

Always a favorite on every level:

Current Favorite - Mischa Rozerma is a genius!:

Just a bit of context on the scoring side of things: I was asked to work on another project and had very specific guidelines in terms of audio cues over specific sections of time. I was so eager to work on the project that I decided to work on this score even before there was sign off on the pitch. I finished the score in a day or two and send it to the boys Khalid and Jonathan at Next Level Pictures who I was going to work with on the spot. They loved the track but was informed that the pitch did not go through - I was bummed but immediately knew that the track could work for the [Fo'tis'ma] project that I had coming up.

People often ask how do I start a project. The simple answer; score. Before I even get thinking about the visuals - I work on getting the RIGHT score. I think its important to note here that my pieces have all been largely 'experimental/artistic/abstract' which helps when considering audio first. If I was working on a longer-form narrative piece I'd probably focus on story/edit first and then work the audio soon in after.

So I guess if I were to jot down my workflow, from concept to completion it would be something like this:

1. NOTEBOOK - Brainstorm Ideas
2. Search for Audio/Visual References [I do this all the time - not only when I'm working on projects]
3. Start scoring
4. Start editing to the score
5. Add visual effects/comps
6. Do VO [if required]
7. Add sound effects
8. NOTEBOOK - Write down revisions and things to tweak
9. Make revisions and Tweaks

My biggest Advice would be to focus on getting the part that tells the 'story' the clearest/strongest.

For [Fo'tis'ma] this would be the VO look at the processing happening on that channel. The thing that really helps the VO is the growl/noise/distortion that I've added - giving the VO a little bit more of a punch - making it SLIGHTLY dirtier and grittier - It ALWAYS helps with giving the performance a little more character

Check the screengrab with the 'Trash plug in below'...the other grab is just to give an idea of how many tracks I'm using for the score/SFX and VO - typically if the project is big I'll have different sessions for each step. I'll start with the score - Import the final score track into a new [SFX/VO] session and then record the corresponding VO/SFX

Hope this helps

Monday, 8 August 2011

[Fo'tis'ma] - The process

It is strange how much I love doing this! There is not always enough time to blog but when I do get the moment in between renders - I love it!

I thought I'd do a quick post on what happened in the process of making [Fo'tis'ma]

I remember reading Matthew 5:16 a while back thinking, 'its amazing that GOOD WORKS, in this context is not for the direct pleasure of God - it is because it draws others in to glorify him that is brings him pleasure - bringing grace right back to the centre of my understanding of how God relates to us [a very freeing thought].

I wanted to explore the concept of light as well, as its very central to that passage and also others - 1 Thess 5vs5 - from which I also pulled ideas from. It is also key to what I do - film, photography etc.

Furthermore I wanted to explore the concepts of revolution/reform/anti-establishment etc etc, but turn it on its head by showing an seemingly malicious character doing 'good' [for lack of a better term].

Thanks to Glenn Stewart, Dan Difelice, Warren Eltringham, Franzwa Roux, Luke Atencio, and Emile Freeman who all had hand in helping with some of the elements in here!

I think what was the hardest part was getting the script right - there were so many themes to pull together! Here's what that process looked like for me:

Here are some screengrabs of the ungraded/untreated footage.

Furthermore here are some images that inspired much of the work:

And here are the final Graded/Comped frames:

Thursday, 28 July 2011


I've been so slack in putting something on the blog - to those who follow - I sincerely apologize. Life just got a little crazier than normal - not unexpectedly so, but crazy still.

My wife and I are in the process of moving to Sydney, Australia - love that we're going, just hoping the going gets going; we've been stuck in South Africa, a 'holiday' which should have taken 3 weeks - we are still here 6 weeks later - no visas (and no indication of when they would come). Needless to say - I've got a bit of time on my hands (not loads - because I have been working hard on projects). I can blog while I wait for renders, and while I wait for files to upload to clients in the States. It sounds glamorous - but it is not.

This is me right now: I am sitting as straight as I can because I have a massive back-ache - this due to the fact that I have been sitting on a couch for 4 hrs already, not out of choice as this coffee shop I am currently at doesn't have any free 'normal seats' - I need the normal seats so I can use my computer like a normal person. I have to be at THIS coffee shop (Motherland Coffeeshop in Rosebank, Jo'burg - I do recommend them) because they have the 'fastest' (about 40kbps) interwebs connection. I can't upload from home because there's only a slow, capped internet connection - it would be capped in a few hours if I were to do all this stuff at home. Alas - Motherland Coffee it is - it HAS to be.

God is good tho! We expected our visas to pull through by the 1st of July, obviously that didn't happen. Soon after we realized we might be here for a while, I received an email asking whether I'd be available to help out on a certain project in the States. The concept sounded awesome - so I agreed. I am currently working on it - and its gonna be rad!

Below are screengrabs of another project I have been intensely working on over the last 2 weeks or so [among a few others] while in limbo here in SA. I have had the privilege of working with some awesome people on this project and some others. There are a few projects coming! Check back soon!

Stoked to be 'working' - sad its not at Hillsong yet!


Monday, 2 May 2011

Technicolor Tests

I wanted to test out the new Technicolor Cinestyle Canon Picture Profile for myself.

Here are my findings:

The raw [not RAW] Cinestyle image is VERY flat - ugly flat to be honest - but somehow I still like it - feels quite vintage! But it seems to have a bit more noise than the normal Picture Profiles - I might be wrong.

Image seems quite gradable - there's a lot of info that you can pull out - but as my friend Matt Fezz has mentioned - the images might start falling apart due to its existence in the 8-bit realm

Monday, 11 April 2011

Silent Transitions Color Grading

I have had a few mails and inquiries about the color grading workflow for Silent Transitions. So without going into too much detail - here are a few screenshots for comparison and a few detail shots in what I did in Magic Bullet.

As to the question, 'why grade so starkly?'

- There's not too much psychology behind it, except to say that if visuals [grading included] and music can engage people's emotions and stir them in the faith/to faith then we've done what we've called to do...

Part of the stark grading and scoring has to do with setting the scene for a mood of unrest/noise/unsettledness etc.

Standard workflow involves:

1. Import the edit from FCP into AE via a script called Popcorn Island.
2. Level all the clips to make sure tonally they all match [do this using the standard AE color grading tools: curves and exposure tools especially]
3. Create a blanket grade using an adjustment layer over all the edits [for a particular sequence - depending on the tone of the sequence]
4. Tweak each cut to fit the tone of the sequence but to stand on its own too

I will go into greater detail in upcoming pieces

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Midnight madness

I went to bed at 6pm tonight - thinking I'll nap for 2 hrs and then wake up - have dinner and work on some music and pre-prod for a church little docu. I have to shoot this weekend. 6hrs later I wake up - MIDNIGHT. Not going to get going the music now - but thought I'd work on a few grade options for the coming piece - well if not for that - then just play and come up with some grades which can be used at a later stage. These were all grades inspired by tones which I picked up from a cheesy music video [grade and cinematography is gorgeous tho]......not going to tell who the artist

I used some frames from ST which were not in the short to test here
If you have any preference let me know - would love to hear your thoughts

These are the grades [Telecine: James Bramford] that inspired my grades below.. [skip past the first 5 for mine]