I have fought off posting any clips of the Twilight Ballrooms safe for the trailer. However, this year marks the 20th anniversary of me starting this website and I couldn’t let it pass without doing something.
In 2015 I posted a clip of an opening scene from the movie. It was chiefly my first attempt at playing four characters at the same time and the technical challenges that involved. Well I’ve decided that given the script hasn’t changed, I will post the same scene again but from the finished film, so you can compare the two. The accents are still dreadful but YES it’s a first glimpse of the movie and the weird animated world of Wits End! Enjoy.
In the last post, we took a look at AI image generator Firefly by Adobe. Now it’s the turn of Stable Diffusion which can be used at clipdrop.co along with a host of other features and, unlike Firefly, is free to try. And in my opinion, it is superior to Firefly.
Judge for yourself. Below is the latest episode of the Twilight Ballrooms Movie Diary which starts with the prompt I gave it and the result it produced. I will add that all of these pics were also enlarged using Adobe Photoshop’s generative fill and I have added a Lumetri filter to make it really atmospheric.
And finally, a Happy 100th Birthday to the Big Dipper rollercoaster at Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach. I took my family there last week and for my kids it was their first time on a rollercoaster. We also went for a cream tea dance at the Tower Ballrooms where we were taught the Charleston accompanied by, you guessed it, the Mighty Wurlitzer! Ah heaven! Thoroughly recommend it!
I’m working on a big sweeping shot from the foyer of the Twilight through to the auditorium. It’s one of my biggest shots so far in one take and brings with it a variety of challenges and workarounds.
The biggest challenge involves the strain I put on my computer. The greater the strain, the longer the rendering, the longer it takes to complete. Good workarounds can not only radically reduce the time it takes, but it can also open up more possibilities and options in your post production workflow.
For example, the video below shows the shot I have in mind. At this stage I’m refining the movement of the camera shot as it pans around. This is easily done with keyframes – you do a start and end position and then tweek the journey in between making adjustments. However, seeing if it works is a challenge as the scene is so object heavy, its hard to get a smooth preview – it just jutters from frame to frame. One really needs to render it to see it at proper speed. Rendering in Wireframe is a much faster option.
I think when it comes to full rendering I shall use lots of object buffers and perhaps do two versions of the render, one of just the lobby and another just the auditorium. Stacking them together on After Effects will allow me to control the two rooms separately in post production – allowing for greater control on the final edit.
I ran into a problem trying to key out the greenscreen on a character who already had bits of green in their costume. There is actually a simple solution and I share it here on this, the latest episode of the Twilight Ballrooms Movie Diary!
This unique archive footage taken in 1979 shows the dilapidated state of Wits End. The footage was kindly donated to us by the Tour Guide of the closed Twilight Ballrooms.
Of course Wits End is fictitious. And any sharp eyed seaside fan would realise straight away that it’s Blackpool. And naturally it wasn’t filmed in 1979 but over 40 years later. Effects to degenerate it include saturation reduction, augmented green and red channels, white noise, dust and specks (created using fractal noise and random seed at 25p/s). And not to forget the fantastic Video Copilot Twitch plugin (the only plugin that WAS used mind) plus various other tweeks here and there. Weird, I used to dream of having a good HD camera 20 years ago and here I am with great footage degenerating it. Funny ol’ world.
Wikipedia says “Synthwave (also called outrun, retrowave, or futuresynth) is an electronic music microgenre that is based predominately on the music associated with action, science-fiction, and horror film soundtracks of the 1980s. Other influences are drawn from that decade’s art and video games.”
So, think Tron meets Bladerunner. The colours are usually neon lit or based on old computer graphics. There is quite a nostalgic sometimes melancholic quality about these graphics. Themes usually promise adventure and reward in a brave new electronic world whilst using quite basic shapes and perspectives. The accompanying music is almost always synthesiser with artists like Vangelis, Tangerine Dream and Jean Michelle Jarre. Indeed I listened to the entire Equinoxe album by JMJ recently (listen to Part 5). For electronic escapism it simply can’t be beat.
I hope to try and compose some original tracks in the future of this style. But in the meantime I’ve used a two minute excerpt from an apt song by Pet Shop Boys called “This Used To Be The Future” – a great song featuring Human League’s Phil Oakey and vocals from BOTH Pet Shop Boys. The song was never released as a single so I’ve created an unofficial video using a montage of some of my Synthwave Art clips. Enjoy.
A demonstration on the wonders of stabilising footage from handheld cameras using motion tracking. Who needs a tripod on location when you’ve got a 4k phone and stabilisation software? This is taken from my jaunt to Blackpool, just before lockdown!
The Tripods is a cult BBC sci-fi classic from the mid-80’s, a Satuday teatime tv trilogy which sadly got the boot after series 2. I, like many, was gutted and years later I’m still not quite over it. In fact only the cancellation of Channel 4’s Utopia has equalled the feeling. So as a kind of therapy I’ve recreated the opening titles using the brilliant original theme music by Ken Freeman
If you’ve happen to stumble across this, I hope you enjoy this sneak-peek trailer of the project I’m currently working on. Introducing my latest character and protagonist in “The Curse Of The Twilight Ballrooms”
To celebrate the news that the next Doctor Who is Jodie Whittaker, I’ve extended what I did back in 2014 and have produced my version of the Doctor Who titles. The new time-tunnel is essentially a donut in Element 3d – check out this tutorial to see what I mean
Since becoming a dad, the Twilight Ballrooms project has ground to a halt. That’s parenthood, there’s just no time to engage in the work required. So to sate your appetite and in a rare entry for the Twilight Ballrooms’ Movie Diary these days, I’ve decided to release this rough clip of an experiment I did a while back with a genuine scene from the film. The acting is rough, the cuts are crude but it was fun to explore the green screen environment (the set is CGI by me). It also explored the feasibility of playing all the parts myself – if I can brush up on the accents that is! (which, if you hadn’t noticed are English, Irish and Scottish for the pub regulars and American for Buster Cristo) This would certainly help save money as I can’t afford to pay anyone being a zero budget project, nor do I wish to exploit anyone’s talent for zero pay.
Also on a practical note, it would be easier for reshots and dubs! When I did A Life Of Brian (my first half hour project) my friends all worked for free. It was their 30th birthday present to me. However I only had them for a few days and in the proceeding months, during the edit, I was frustrated when I found I needed a link line recording or a clip redoing. I remember having to edit a conversation together from two recordings I’d recorded in different places and revisiting the location with my partner to shoot more clips. All of course without the actors. So this project, given its virtual environment, I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that life would be easier and more flexible if I just play all the parts myself. Well, not ALL the parts, but more on that anon!
At the start of this year I became a father! As any parent will tell you, the new responsibility is a full time job. And that’s as well as the other full time job that pays your bills. Naturally, progress on my film projects and posts to this site have become few and far between. That is, until I realised on my walk in the park the other day that the pram I was pushing would make a terrific dolly. So I purchased a Joby Grip Tight and Gorilla Pod stand – basically a tripod for the pram and my iPhone. Then using the Instagram Hyperlapse app, had a go. The result below has been speeded up and stabilised even more with After Effects.
Happy New Year, but also Happy Anniversary. Yes can you believe it, 2013 marks the 10th anniversary of Tranquility Base Presents. To mark this milestone, I’ve put together a short film documenting the slow but steady evolution of this, my film making website! From the first ever shots with a webcam up to todays experiments with computer graphics and post production and the bits in between! Plus some previously unseen footage (lucky you!) I’d like to dedicate this film to all those who have got involved with the projects! Enjoy and Happy 2013!
Anyone who doesn’t know, my flat is undergoing extensive repairs since a flood last November… and yes, it’s STILL going on. So I’ve been quite preoccupied with that on what feels like a full-time basis. I’ve also been doing lots of web-design favours for friends. So what I’m saying is basically it’s been a while since I last blogged. But before you get the violin out…no don’t… there have been some exciting stuff going on too. Like I’ve purchased a Zoom H4N for sound recording…more experiments from that anon…stay tuned viewers. Also a NAS drive, more or less my very own 3TB cloud, though it’s video streaming leaves a lot to be desired thanks to Seagates badly designed app. However, I’m not disheartened as knowing the geek community it won’t be long before someone releases a better one than Seagates miserable effort.
Anyhoo, here’s a video clip. Pretty basic….
…except that that was originally just a photo!
The flies are created using the png on the left with a particle system, whilst the clouds are used moving masking and a simple skew. Skew is better than simply moving the cloud layer as it allows the clouds at the top (and therefore nearer) to move quicker than the clouds at the bottom (the ones further away nearer the horizon) A simple technique yet very effective. Considered adding a lens flare but thought it might be overkill. Sometimes simple is best.
I have been working hard, honest. The thing about pre-production and/or learning anything new is that at the end of the day, you don’t really have anything to show for it. Well, I thought I’d change that and have edited a quick montage of all tester clips and stuff generally marked on my hard-drives as “CANDELETE” – that’s all files that I create just to experiment and test an effect or process that I’ve just learnt. Other than that, the clip is usually redundant. After all, when am I going to need a tube train on the New York subway, unless they script a film called “The Taking of Balham 123”) That is until now, where, before the files ARE deleted or permanently archived in that warehouse where the Arc of the Covenant also lives, they can have pride of place in this montage. Enjoy.