by Peter Rasmussen

Rough-cut finished

Posted by Peter Rasmussen on March 6, 2007

Friday 2006-04-14
The rough-cut is finished (hats in the air)
It didn’t take as long as we expected but that means fine-cut will take a little longer. But at least now we will have a sense of the whole thing. As I write none of us have yet sat down to look at it all from beginning to end. It’s all part of the fine cut process. I want to try and experience it, as much like someone seeing it for the first time as is possible. I’ve had my head in the details. Its similar to what I imagine a painter does, in close on details and then step back for the full picture. 

The rough-cut is seeing all the elements together for the first time. It’s typically where the film looks at its worst, before sound effects and music have been added. But you have to persist until you find stuff you know is in there.

Weather it’s a texture for the skin of a model or the choreography of a scene it can be not working all day. I suspect this is where many people unnecessarily give up on things. But if you just stay on track and follow your instincts it only takes what seem like a couple of minor adjustments and it seems to miraculously appear even better than you imagined it could be.

From the way some of the key scenes are working it feels like we’re in great shape. I’m looking forward to seeing how we can lift it all further.

I’m also really looking forward to working with the composer Phillip Johnston. Music is like an additional character in the story. Like a good performance it can bring things out of a scene you didn’t know were there.

This being a new medium throughout the rough-cut we struck some diabolical technical problems. As it’s grown in sophistication the animation system has become complicated. Everything is connected to everything else. You have to be careful making additions or changes. If you make a change it can have unexpected side effects that can make life difficult.

To extract the final film from the game engine so it can be used in digital video it has to be stoped for every frame for a screen capture. This process thankfully is automated.

Particle effects like smoke or fire behave differently to “solid” objects. I was getting a surge in a particular effect every time the camera cut in that direction.
I had to devise a system where the screen capture process would idle on the firs frame of the new camera angle until the effect settled down and then continued on the capturing process. But this had to be done without dropping or adding frames. A few frames moved here or there can put the whole thing out of sync.

It’s a little scary when you hit a new technical problem in something you’ve constructed yourself. There’s no one else to complain to. But it’s very satisfying when you work it all out.

We’re putting together a showcase of clips from Stolen Life. (Denise will be presenting it at Dragoncon and the Farscape convention later this year) Putting one of these together can be tricky. Sometimes the scenes that give ideal story set up aren’t so visually pleasing out of context. But if you just show the eye candy people don’t know what it’s about. We want to give a taste of what to look forward to without spoiling the first experience of the film as a whole. We want to give a feel for what the story is about without giving anything away. After all this time it’ll be great to get reactions to this presentation. This showcase is a big event for all of us.

Peter Rasmussen
Nanoflix Productions

Stolen Life is a feature length Machinima movie starring Claudia Black of Stargate and Farscape and Chris Jones of Tex Murphy.


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