The Time of My Life

     I always forget how much time color correction takes. Each scene always has it’s own set of color balancing challenges and it usually takes a while to establish the look. Once the look is established however, it’s pretty cut and paste in Davinci Resolve—the ass-kicking’est, free color correction program in the world. I’ll do a little more with visual examples in the next video update.

     As with everything else in the show, since we do everything ourselves, the more that I tackle a particular discipline, the better my understanding of it is. I’d still be useless without the Resolve’s Power Grades. There are a series of presets that help me settle into certain pro “looks” that I can then tweak and make our own. If it was just me and the three color wheels, it wouldn’t look nearly as good. See episode 6 for a prime example of that.

      My initial instinct with any new cool program is to push it as far as I can. That’s why episode 7 looks so extreme. Don’t get me wrong, I still think it looks awesome. But I had just laid hands on a powerful new set of tools and I went a little add-ons crazy. The main look in villain situations has a mild green cast in the shadows and I think that looks AMAZING! But for episode 8, I’ve dialed that look back a skosh. Added to that, we put the bad guys in a brighter section of the warehouse this time, so there are less shadows to be green in general. So it looks slightly de-saturated but not quite as manipulated. Pretty sweet.

     For episode 7, I wanted all the stuff with our main characters to be bright and color saturated. But I got overly enchanted with a Power Grade that misted skin highlights. So hot spots had a misty blur slightly blowing them out in most shots. I think I was sucked in because of the rampant skin misting in Deathly Hallows: Part 2. I’ve pulled back on that too, adding to the series’ overall push toward a more realistic feel. More consequences for everything.

     Suffice to say that before I dove into color correcting the episode this week we had dinner plans with friends (cancelled) and the only thing I haven’t pushed off of my free time schedule is our new gym regimen. Gotta get into shape for the last two episodes, you know.

     But the sudden surge of time I’ve poured into color correction has me thinking about my new approach to content creation with episode 8. It seems like I’ve begun giving us a little more breathing room and stopped actively stacking the deck against us. That’s why this post is called The Time of My Life. I’m very literally thinking about the time of my life. At the end of the day, all folks like me really have to give is our time. We don’t have a bunch of money. We have a few resources available to us and we try to make the most of them. But what we really have to spend are hours and hours of dedicated focus and effort. So, that’s what we do. But it doesn’t have to be hard.

     It’s particularly noticeable in our production schedule. Our first episode was shot in one weekend and an extra afternoon. We were moving like the dickens and essentially punishing ourselves for two days straight. Not fun. Even as I pushed our schedule to 11 day shoots spread over weekends and evenings, we kept the idea of a full, difficult, sleep-over weekend of location jumping and getting tons of pages, working laborious overtime hours (if there was such a thing as overtime in our world). Even on episode 7, when I finally started over estimating and adding safety days to the schedule, we had some unbelievably long days. One shoot night that ended at 3 a.m. had me practically limping to the car, throat raw, begging Eliza to stop at a gas station so I could get a Powerade and rehydrate. And that was a doggone three-day holiday weekend. Some vacation. The stuff we got was great, but why did I make it so hard?

     Finally, on episode 8 I scheduled us for for 28 days. Mostly weeknights, so they were like 4 hour days, but quite a few weekends as well. This time, instead of 12 hour days on the weekends though, I scheduled them lighter. A lot of times people were getting home before 9. On weeknights, we’d usually wrap before 11 p.m. That’s with a set arrival time of 7 p.m. I even scheduled enough days that we axed three off of the schedule, shooting it in 25. If it were a real production (as in, full production days instead of nights and weekends), we could have done it in about 15. We had a couple of really rough nights—because they were unseasonably, logic-defyingly cold or bone chillingly windy—but our on-set experience was pretty smooth and more fun filled. More days, fewer hours is the way to go because we put a lot of time into this, and I’d rather we enjoyed it. That way, the time of our lives isn’t wasted feeling rushed and put-upon.

     Well, that was a long blog post. Thanks for reading.

–Jake

 

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