Archive for August, 2012

Trailer Launch

Posted in Hypothesis the 6th on August 29, 2012 by PoPS blog

I never make a trailer for an episode until I can put a release date on it. While in the throes of VFX work, I never have a real idea of how far away we are from release. An effect shot can suddenly become infinitely more difficult than originally thought and destroy any projected timeline. So as I saw effects actually wrapping up, things started to come back into linear, structured, measurable focus. As soon as that happened I wanted to get a trailer out right away. This episode has been a really long time coming and I wanted to finally give our audience my promise of when they can actually expect it. I came home from work Monday night and started cutting away. I cut it together, scored it using a Kevin MacLeod drum track and some guitar and bass stylings of my own, color corrected it (we shot and edited it flat, so this was my first time seeing it full contrast and saturation), ran it by my lovely wife, Eliza, who helped me pull some of the more difficult color corrections together, and wrapped it up around 1 a.m. I’m quite pleased with it and the audience reaction has been fantastic. It’s generating a really nice rumble of anticipation. Here it is.

Also this week, Ryan (D.P., Producer, VFX dude) came over and we did a final rundown on VFX adjustments. That was last night actually. We decided there were a couple tweaks needed here or there and off he went to tweak his stuff while I tweaked mine. Uh. Right. I feel like it just got a little phraseologically uncomfortable around here. Anyway, I have a couple more VFX shots to adjust tonight and then I’m off into finalizing music, adding a ton of sound effects, and color correcting the whole episode. The release is only two weeks away now. That should be just about enough time to lock everything.

Tim and Eliza (Producers) have started the ball rolling toward fulfillment of donation prizes from our Ep6 IndieGoGo campaign and it’s about time to start thinking about launching our Ep7 one. I want to run the IndieGoGo drive to coincide with the release of Ep6, so we’ll see how everything goes. Lots to do on all fronts. Am I really calling this a hobby?

Thanks for reading.


PoPS video update 129-Kickin’ It in the Kitchen with Craig

Posted in Hypothesis the 6th on August 27, 2012 by PoPS blog

The 70.5-hour Shot

Posted in Hypothesis the 6th on August 22, 2012 by PoPS blog

In the immortal words of screen legend Shirley Temple in the classic film Poor Little Rich Girl: “Oh…My…Hi-dee-hi-dee-hi-dee-hi… Oh! My goo’ness!” In other words, that sure was a hell of a shot I just finished. I guess I could have just opened with that, but then how else could I have slipped in my impressive knowledge of an esoteric quote from an obscure 1936 musical? BOOM! You been Temple’d.

For the last few weeks, it’s all been about one shot. I’ve been saying it’s 35 seconds long, but now that I’ve crossed the finish line on it, it’s actually around 40. I may have to tweak some of the roto yet, but I finally feel comfortable moving on from it.

Final work totals for this shot: I rotoscoped (traced moving foreground elements out to composite effects into the background) 3,123 frames, which took a total of 64 hours. I then layered a ton of other effects into the shot, which took an estimated 5 and a half hours, and had to tweak for about an hour between renders. That’s a 70.5-hour shot. Not including the hour and a half it took to render the thing out to see it play in real time. 4 full renders (for tweaking) would add another 6 hours to this shot’s total time consumption, but I can just watch TV while things render so those hours don’t count. I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that a person tends to have several moments while working on a 70.5-hour effects shot where they think—What the hell am I doing? Irreplaceable hours of my life are slipping into a roto-hole. But now that I’m done, I feel really good about it. It looks awesome and adds some pretty cool scope to the show.

List of hashtags I tweeted during the process: #RotoDope, #TheresRotohopeYet, #ItsASlipperyRotoslope, #TheRotoIsland, #RotoTrope, #OneFrameAtATime #RotoTruths, and #RotoVictory.

I also received the final VFX elements from Ryan while I was working on that shot so now I just have to drop those into their respective shots, blend them, add some environmental adjustment layers, and the effects will be done. I still want to sit down with Ryan and Eliza to watch the completed effects sequences play and make sure we don’t need to adjust anything. We’ve worked too long and hard on the VFX this time for something to be a couple of hours away from perfect.

After VFX, I still have to do sound effects and color correction and then it’s finally go-time for episode 6. It’s been a long year of hard work, but I finally feel confident saying that we’re just a few weeks away. Please, Lord, let that be true. I’m really tired and I feel a little emotional. Everything’s fine.

Much like last week’s bonus clip of Alison Brie and Yvette Nicole Brown singing “I’m-a die by werewolf,” this week’s random bonus clip is also a song. Allow me to present the delightful, blithely racist, Shirley Temple classic, “Oh, My Goodness!” from Poor Little Rich Girl:

Thanks for reading.


PoPS Update 128-Chatting in the Chair with Eliza

Posted in Hypothesis the 6th on August 19, 2012 by PoPS blog

Everybody Quits

Posted in Hypothesis the 6th on August 15, 2012 by PoPS blog

Oh, man, did I have a breakthrough this week, or what? If you’re at all aware of my current undertaking on the show you’ll have heard that I’m currently rotoscoping like a madman at least four hours every night after work. As of last night, I have 38 and a half hours into just the roto of this shot. However, I know I’m more than halfway done, so I’m feeling pretty good. The revelation came while listening to Childish Gambino albums while working… (Even the “clean” version is a little dirty)

…I had been listening to a lot of music while rotoscoping. Great stuff. Driftless Pony Club, Metric, The National, The Shins, over and over and over. But Donald Glover (Gambino) writes so many fast lyrics with so many references and double entendres that he kept my mind constantly engaged the whole day. At the end of that Saturday I couldn’t believe how little I felt like I was emerging from roto-prison. It made me think that audio books would be a great thing for rotoscoping. Before I even got a chance to try that, I found Kevin Pollack’s YouTube channel. The dude specializes in doing in depth, two hour interviews with a ton of celebrities I’m interested in. It makes roto-time fly.

The first two I listened to were Damon Lindelof, creator of LOST (fascinating), and Dan Harmon, creator of Community (fascinating studio PR nightmare). It was very reassuring to learn that every showrunner goes through a period of constantly quitting. I have luckily made it through the darkest period of this in regards to our web show. I used to quit constantly. Only in the privacy of my own home, when talking to my wife Eliza. I’d say something like, “This is ridiculous! Why am I spending all my free time stressing myself out?! I’m done with this. I quit!” And she’d say, “Sounds good.” And we’d hang out, watch something, and I’d quietly un-quit over the course of a night of hanging out and get back to work the next night, looking for a solution to whatever problem made me quit in the first place.

I’ve never talked about this, but there was a time when I thought it was for real. Before we split up the shooting for episode 6 and 7, when we were ridiculously overscheduled and falling behind every hour of every day, it got really really bad. It got to a point where my friend Chris said, “I feel like you shouldn’t hate it THIS much.” And I couldn’t agree with him more. I outlined a plan for the inevitable destruction of the show for Eliza. I told her I would see 6 and 7 through and that was it. I would continue to write the show and act in it if someone wanted to carry the directing and producing torch, but I was done spending my nights trying to push a thousand ton boulder up a hill when it felt like nobody else cared about making it happen.  I knew that it pretty much meant the end of the show. I thought there would be a few people who would say they would take up the mantle, but it’s easy to SAY you’re going to do something. People say they’re going to do things all the time. It’s been my experience as a showrunner that the people who say they’re going to do something have to be constantly emailed, texted, and badgered into actually doing it. So I didn’t really see the show surviving. And I didn’t care. I was ready to walk. It actually took me three days and Eliza stepping up to take a lot of producing responsibility for me to calm down and step back into showrunner mode. We scheduled episode 7 shooting and planning in a much more realistic way for dayjobbers like us and it’s been going fine ever since. But it was nice to hear that it constantly overwhelmed the big boys too.

Also, the people carrying the updates keep misquoting me. Joe said I heard 6 excuses from 4 different people about why their VFX work wasn’t done this week. Wrong-o. Only three of the excuses and 2 of the people were VFX related. The others were from other departments. Record straightened.

Oh. And this…

Thanks for reading.


PoPS video update 127-VanAwesome’est Update

Posted in Hypothesis the 6th on August 12, 2012 by PoPS blog

Roto Hatch

Posted in Hypothesis the 6th on August 8, 2012 by PoPS blog

25 hours. That’s how long it took me to rotoscope one of the actors in this 35-second long effects shot for episode 6. Actually, the length of roto’ed screen time for this actor was 4 frames shy of 27 seconds, so that’s 644 frames. Now I have 3 other people to rotoscope out of the same shot before I can continue working on the other elements in said shot. I was hoping this shot would take me a few days, but just like every other part of episode 6, I’ve wildly underestimated the amount of work it’s going to take. Luckily, the other three people in the shot don’t move NEARLY as much as the first guy so roto’ing them should take significantly less time. Rotoscopers are hardcore, man. I can’t imagine doing this for a living, it would kill me. All the respect in the world.

I’ve found myself wondering if there was a better way for this shot. The scope is too big for green screen on our budget. I just keep coming back to the idea that this is the way it had to be. At least I’m the one paying the price for wanting such ridiculously long effects shots. There’s one other volunteer logging a couple hours on one of the roto-people, but we’ll see how much he can get done before I get the other two completely roto’ed out.

I actually had a rotoscoping dream the other night. I dreamt I was working on the same shot I’ve been working on for half-a-week now and I messed up and had to start over, so I did. That was my dream. Sitting in the office working on the shot that I work on every evening. I think I’m going to start calling my home office The Hatch, like the Swan Hatch from LOST. It’s small, the technology is old, and if I don’t sit there and keep pressing the button the world will end. Sure, it’s just the little web serial world I created with my imagination, but still. Every night I’m saving the world.

Thanks for reading.