Tuesday, 10 July 2012

The thin brown line

It’s all going down to the wire in Charmed Central.

It’s the end of the long wait, as Jake and I try to assemble all the first passes on everything that’s happening in the Zombie Resurrection post-production into one place. It’s not going to look perfect; there’ll be CGI missing, green socks aplenty, and all our zombies will sound nothing like they’re going to in the finished film. But it’ll be enough. Enough, hopefully, to secure ourselves a spot in a couple of festivals.

All the best festival submissions happen in June and July. The global horror silly season appears to run from September to Halloween every year, and if you miss the boat there is a very strong possibility that the US premiere of your movie is going to be in front of twenty people in a church in Boise, Idaho at a festival arranged by a heavily-tattooed goth in their spare time. And there’s no way anybody’s going to let us out of a church alive after seeing the film.

So, it’s got to look nice. Not perfect, but nice enough that the programmers can see beyond the next few months of manic post-production activity at the finished movie lurking beneath the surface.

And, I guess more importantly, it’s got to be now.

Deadline one is at the end of this week. This is for the largest and most prestigious horror film festival in the US. Which probably then makes it the largest in the whole world. Within the extraordinarily vain world within which Jake and I operate, this would be a satisfactory place for the world premiere of Zombie Resurrection, and getting accepted can’t hurt when chatting to distributors and sales agents.

And being the conscientious programme managers that we are, we gave ourselves a week to allow us to bolt it all together. Everybody – can we have your homework in for Friday 6th, please?

A week seems reasonable. There are going to be important pieces missing, and the inevitable mistakes. A week gives people time to fix any major problems; dig out important elements that need to be in there; and for us to fill in the remaining gaps as best we can. And then enough time for us to upload an entire movie to the submission site over my woeful broadband.

So, you’d imagine that we’d be just about done piecing everything together by now. Er… not quite.

Stand up Dale-the-tunes. Charmed Apocalypse’s star performer. By Wednesday last week we not only had his first pass on the music for the entire film in all its 24-bit mastered finery, but we’d also had the opportunity to sit and watch the film with him, chat over a bunch of changes, and he’d managed to address every single one in time.

The man is currently sat on a cruise-liner somewhere giving his brain a well-earned rest and dodging over-age swingers. Just as well he works so damn fast, as it wouldn’t be much of a holiday if he’d had to shlep his keyboard and computer with him, and then spend his shore leave sat in a Marrakech internet cafe.

And the sound is also looking pretty good. About ¾ of the dialogue has been tidied up, and we have plenty of the juicier foley elements – the rips, hits and splats. It’s incomplete, and filled with what I can best describe as temporary zombie noises. But what we have got in is fabulous quality; when it’s finished the film will sound genuinely splendid.

Bang in a couple of workarounds, appropriate some bonus foley from the internet, revisit a couple of moments from the native audio footage, and we’re in business. So far, so good.

But the graded footage and the CGI. This is causing us sleepless nights.

As of midday on Tuesday, we have nine minutes of graded footage in our timeline; we are roughly seventy minutes shy of a sensible viewing experience. And only about twenty shots into our CGI list of 88.

This is the problem at our end of the movie machine. The guys that are pulling all our visuals together are all proper VFX artists. They have day-jobs in the industry, and even though the CGI is the single largest cost in the Zombie Resurrection post-production budget the whole thing still only equates to about 2/3 of what they would charge James Cameron for a single shot. This wealth of craft and expertise shows itself in the superb quality of the work that they are producing; however, when JC needs something done quickly we find out just where the pecking order starts and stops. Money talks, bullshit walks.

Great for the finished film; an extraordinary stressor when we’re also working to a tight deadline.

And from where I am right now, it’s touch and go whether we’ll actually have something to upload in time. It’ll be a few days longer of leaping out of bed in the middle of the night to start something downloading that will then take fourteen hours to complete. It might just be doable if everything works first time, but this is not the best of project management principles.

So we wait, crossed fingers poised over the download icon. Anybody know a good steak-house in Boise, or can recommend the best US health insurance for trauma and burns injuries? Excommunicated.

1 comment:

  1. Tis going to be absolutely fan-dabby-doozy. Cannot wait. Glad it got uploaded in time. Feedback awaiting :)