Four Men in a Pub – Twilight Movie Diary

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!


So the last few weeks have been a mixture of different Twilight related projects. Lots of 3d drawing, notably the top of the Twilight tower which has now been added to the Ballrooms. I have also been designing numerous posters from the Twilight’s history. I did something similar to decorate the set when we took the Twilight’s live show to Edinburgh in ’06.  However, these new ones are far more superior, even if I do blow my own trumpet. The new posters not only appear in the film but are also needed for the new live show this August 2011. Indeed much of the current pre-production is dictated by Richard Leigh’s deadlines for set building for this show. It’s been great fun thinking up old variety act names (“The Wimple Sisters – There’s Nun like’em”). It’s also started making the Twilight come alive.
Today, to try something completely different, I’ve been working on manipulating 2d images to make a 3d aerial pan. Here is the result of my experiment. (Very rough, you can even see the edges of each photo, but you get the general idea)

Great tip – if you use the advanced search bar in Flickr you can choose pics that have a Creative Commons License, some even for commercial use! (IF IN DOUBT – ALWAYS ASK THE OWNER). Some of the pics in these shots were CCL but I hope to use original shots once I get my new DSLR. More of that anon!

Softbox lighting

2 x 5500K 85W 5000lm pure white daylight bulb

Bought 2x85W softbox lights and stands to use with my green screen from Amazon. There is a slight problem with fluorescent flicker but at the moment I’m putting that down to having a cheapo camera. It’s not too much of a problem at the moment anyhow as you can see in this demo below. The only faff at the moment is having to assemble and then dismantle all the equipment  – you do need a lot of space for green screening, particularly because you don’t want shadow hitting the green, nor do you want green reflected onto the subject. Things should get a little easier once I get a camera with a wide angle lens, something my current cheapo camera lacks.

This clip marks my first official visit to Wits End where the film is set. As you can see, service at the pub is not great!

Greyscale Gorilla & C4 Cafe

“I am the gorilla!”

A blog worthy of mention, Greyscale Gorilla This one covers all my favourite subjects on Post Production, namely After Effects, Cinema 4d, Photoshop and others. Some great video tutorials (video tutorials are always the best) and a competition called the 5 Second Project which is very entertaining, check out the superb entries, inspiring stuff. All this done by a fella called Nick Campbell (he is the gorilla) from Chicago, USA. Nice one Nick!

As I explore the demo of Cinema 4d even more, I have subscribed to – who have some excellent tutorials too.  However it took me 3 attempts to get my subscription accepted, (you can’t view anything until you have subscribed which is annoying) and once you’ve completed their rather interrogative questionnaire, they hint heavily for donations. I hope some day they take a leaf out of other sites more accessible walk-in setups and deal with their funding issues by advertising or selling their own products, such as my favourite site Video Copilot or indeed Greyscale Gorilla! Another brownie point for them!

Red Giant Software

Not only a great selection of post-production software and add-ons, the website also has a great selection of videos and tutorials on how to get the best out of these products. From Grading software with fabulous presets, to lens flares, text effects (including the ubiquitous Matrix generator), vintage effects, state of the art video noise reduction, ray effects, keying software, oh to name just a few!
But Red Giant’s “Pièce de Résistance” is its Trapcode Collection of particle generators, most notably “Particular”. This effect comes in many forms and categories and Red Giant have been wise to subdivide its possibilities into various different versions of software. Also worthy of mention, and one of my personal favourites, was “Psunami” which is a sea generator like no other. Incredibly realistic, you can also have huge control over its environment including camera angles giving you the power to make some amazing effects which would only otherwise be possible shooting from a helicopter. In can take a while to render but its still significantly faster than doing it on 3d modelling software, and the wire mesh preview gives almost realtime rendering which is ideal.
So check out the website, the software, Red Giant TV and give their demos a try. It’s not so much whether you’ll buy something because you will, but more that you find the perfect solution from its vast array of offerings.

Movie Poster Font

Give your movie poster a touch of class by using that font Hollywood uses on the base of all of its posters.
Download it free from
The small credits “Directed By, Written By, Produced By” etc… are all achieved using one lowercase letter shortcuts. There are also extras like DVD and Caption logos and much more. It couldn’t be simpler. Great stuff.

Creative Cow

What this site hasn’t got for the serious movie maker isn’t worth knowing. It certainly has a comprehensive collection of external tutorials covering a wide array of categories, including many Adobe products, specific camera equipment and the main 3d modelling programs. And when you’re on a tea break have an explore of the rest of the site too. The showreels people have submitted are awesome and inspiring, there’s a jobs board, excellent resource and links to some other fab sites.


Site of the Year – Video Copilot

Video FX guru Andrew Kramer and his team run this website that sells their own VFX products and After Effects plugins including Action Essentials 2, ProScores, Twitter, Optical Flares, Riot Gear and more. These are very professional looking products at a snip of a price that you’d expect to pay elsewhere. But it is not just these that makes this site my Number 1 choice for any creative artist starting out on their own. It is the 100+ online tutorials by Kramer that are…free to watch! Kramers enthusiasm and passion for the subject is infectious. If the software, the tutorials or his positive personality don’t inspire you then I’m sorry for your loss. And it is your loss! Don’t be a loser. Visit and buy their products! Now!