Editing update – Audio

The second part of my 2 minute opening is focused around the narrative that will be recorded explaining whats happening in the scene and so on, its pretty key to the films opening and establishment of the main protagonist so its got to be down right. As already stated in a previous post on the script of the film, the narrative had already been scripted and was ready to be recorded however due to the films shorter duration i have had to make a few changes to the narrative in order for it to fit. It is now as follows

Back in the year 1984, i was taking a walk home when i detoured and went under the bridges on the lower east side it was quicker but riskier. i was in a bad mood so taking the shorter walk seemed better. As i came out from the other side is saw a dark hooded figure walking towards me so decided o turn back and go around but just as i did some thug in a mask jumped me. I ran as fast as i could but there was no escaping them. It was the height of a gang war between LA’s most notorious gangs and i got swept up in it, beating me to near death and robbing me of my wallet. Left to die on the cold hard ground, i felt my heart beat become slower and slower, then i was struck by lightning and i blacked out. I swore an oath that day against injustice i would fight it thats when i became … Thunder Eagle! 

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Editing – Titles

This post is dedicated to the opening titles and credits including the logo at the end of the 2 minute opening.

For the logo i aspired to create a classic 80’s style title so i conducted some research into ’80’s style logos’ and it produced some interesting  ideas, most followed the blue and pink colour scheme with bright neon lights and interesting fonts some of my favourite logos have been posted below.

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After establishing what specific features made an 80’s style logo i decided to go ahead and make my own. I opened up photoshop and made a bright green background (so i could key it out in post production) i then opened a text box on the same layer and typed the name of the film ‘thunder eagle’. I then went on to the internet and downloaded a VCR font which produced the old font often seen on VHS cameras stating the date and time and so on. I then loaded this font into photoshop and set the titles font to VCR. To make my logo look more like the images shown above i decided to add a gradient to the text, by simply clicking on FX and selecting gradient, i then changed what type of gradient i wanted eventually selecting the brown and blue gradient. After this had been selected it was just a matter of colour correction, i changed the titles gradient, mildly adjusting the colours to make them darker and lighter whilst also editing where the gradient would end and so on. After this was done i added an inner and outer glow to the text and it was complete.

The rest of the logo was simply the STILL TIME font, another font i had found on the internet. I added a custom text box to my timeline in final cut pro typing in the rest of the films name ‘Rise of the Cyborgs’. To make it look more like an 80’s logo i added a glow to the text and made it 3D by clicking the 3D option and then adjusting the text, moving it and changing the direction of the shadow and so on. For the background i placed a star filled sky image i had found on the internet and some red neon bars. Rounding it off with some flashes and sparks to make it look bright and bold.

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Below is an image of the way the titles are arranged on the editing board in final cut pro, i have arranged these in a specific way with reason. Firstly the addition of the slim grey boxes at the start of some of the clips is simply a transition effect in this case its cross dissolve, as you can see the duration of each of the transition effects is different as i wanted different sections to become more clear quickly than others. I put no transition effects on the actual title as i wanted it to burst forward with sparks and lighting, and if i used a transition effect on it it would be too slow and not pack enough punch!

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Editing – Explosions, lightning and guns

The lightning strike

For the lightning bolt i used an image of a bolt of lightning on a green screen, an image i found on google i pulled this into the timeline and trimmed it down to 2 frames, i then pulled the ‘keyed’ effect on to the clip which keyed out all of the green in the background leaving the lightning bolt on the screen, i fiddled with some of the keyed settings to make the image just right. I then clicked on the clip of my actor and hit the letter B on the keyboard which brought up the blade toll, i then trimmed a hole 2 frames long which was lined up with the lightning bolt image. I once again clicked on the clip of my actor and selected the exposure and colour correcting menu changing the overall tones of the scene to a light blue and boosting the exposure levels so they were brighter and bolder on the screen. To round off the scene i imported a video of some small explosions/charges that i had bought a while back for some other projects i was working on, i added these in once again selecting the portion of the clip i wanted and keying out the black and then finally lining the clip up with the exact time the bolt of lightning hits my actor. Rounding the piece off with some sound effects and its done.

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The gun shots 

This section is the transition into Thunder Eagles origin story, its a medium close up of the protagonist as he guns down the villains. For this i had to create a convincing and cinematic muzzle flash. For this i used a few separate elements they were as follows

  • Action Essentials charges pack
  • Smoke Puff stock footage
  • muzzle flash JPEG
  • Desert  Eagle gun shot sound effect

When combined they make a convincing muzzle flash, heres how they were constructed in my film. I levered all the clips first ensuring that they all went off at the same time and when my actor makes the gun firing motion. I then trimmed the muzzle flash JPEG down to 1 frame after keying out the background and adding some distortion effects to it such as ‘Gaussian blur’, i then keyed out the black on the smoke puff and Action Essential charges pack layering them over each other and adjusting the speed of each clip by clicking cmd > r  which brought up a green bar allowing my to adjust the clips speed. Finally some quick flashes when the muzzle flash JPEG is present and the addition of the desert eagle gun shot sound effect made for a realistic gun shot effect.

 

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Editing – VHS static and colour correcting

And so the post production begins, as my film heavily reliant on VFX and editing to establish it as part of the science fiction genre it means that this portion is going to be the longest part of the process and is the section that will require the most diligence in order to produce a good final media product.

For the entire film i wanted to replicate the VHS static thats present in most 80’s films and as this was the time period i had set part of my film in i thought that the static, sharpened and slightly de colorised picture would add to this theme. In order to achieve this i simply downloaded a royalty free VHS static overlay which is essentially just TV static on a black background, i then imported this into final cut pro placing it above my already imported film clips, i then went to the right hand side of the screen and selected the blending mode, i then set this to ‘Exclusion’ this just removed the black from the clip leaving me with the white static now residing on my clip. To further the effectiveness of the clip and make it look more realistic i added some colour grading affects to the film clip,  firstly i added the sharpen raising it to about 0.7 this function defined the blacks in each clip making the highlights stand out and making the footage look even grainier. Following this was the prism effect which i kept at a low rate 0.1 or 0.2 was enough as it gives the footage a slight distortion and de-colourisation that would have accompanied an old VHS tape. After this it was just a process of colour grading and tweaking the exposure and saturation of each clip as most pieces of footage were shot in different settings with different light sources etc.

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Some of the images below represent the style i was aiming for when creating my VHS static in final cut pro. The research i conducted into VHS static helped me a lot when deciding on what to do with my film. In the end i decided to go with a VHS overlay i found on the internet, the user when messaged agreed that the use of this footage in my film would be fine. This VHS static was just the right amount as it didn’t show too much crackling on screen or colour distortion, however it did show small grains of static which was just enough for my footage to look like it was straight out of the 80’s

Production

Production has finally begun, the project has been split into two sections, named portion one – the robbery and hospital and portion two – origin story, which will be filmed on two separate days due to location distance and actor availability, as both settings are reasonably well distanced (out of walking distance) we have to film on two separate nights to ensure a lift to said destination can be secured. Further more actor availability is also important as some nights of the week my actors are otherwise occupied with external activities so we have come together using various social media platforms to discuss times and dates that fit everyones personal calendars. Following the script and storyboard to rough degree allowed me to insert and remove particular scenes of lines from the film that i felt didn’t work as well, removing completely or swapping for more suited lines/scenes. One problem with the production was the percentage of charge left in the camera we were using ( Canon 7D ) as we reached the set for the second portion of the film – the origin story we soon realised that the camera was low in battery power meaning we had to use its limited life strategically turning it on when we were all certain of what we were doing.

In conclusion i found the whole production process to be a success, i feel that all went smoothly as i relied heavily on a lot of the work and research i had conducted prior to the shoot, next is the editing process which i will include with screenshots on this blog.

pre – production

This is my plan as to what needs to happen prior to my production, including final script checks, finalisation of costumes and props and ensuring that my actors are prepared for filming. I had to check that both locations for filming were available, the first set which was were the robbery and hospital scenes were set to take place were fine however the second portion of the film was set to be shot under Hilddeshiem Bridge but due to an abrupt gypsy establishment we have been forced to with hold filming for this section until the settlement has moved on, as it could endanger some of the crew and or actors involved in this production.

Both portions of the film take place at night to further emphasise the films dark and mysterious themes, consequently this also means that filming is going to be harder as the noise levels at night tend to be higher than they do during the day as not a lot of light is let into the cameras lens. This therefore means that lambing equipment will have to strategically placed in order to reduce the noise imbalance and boost the films quality. However the noise/static on the clip can be passed of as VHS style static and therefore linked to my 80’s theme. For this project i will be shooting on a Canon 7D, a cinematic camera with a 55mm lens. A high quality but relatively cheap camera that produces high quality clips and is ideal for my production. i have also equipped a 12 strip LED light to the camera to make the outside shots more visible, making them easier to edit and colour correct on post production.

I also brought the script, storyboard and shortlist as a guideline for my production, although i added in a few lines here and there that i thought would improve the overall quality of the film and make it more interesting for the audience. I also brought the props, these included the hockey mask for the second portion of the film and the guns and costumes for the first portion of the film.

Making Thunder Eagles cyborg eye

For the future rendition of my main character Thunder Eagle I had to create a futuristic looking eye piece similar to the one in the original terminator 1984. After doing some research and rough sketches I finally came up with the way that the eye piece was going to look. The look I had in mind was a piece of silver scrappy metal covered in wires, with a red light in the middle symbolising the eye. After coming up with the concept I then attempted to build the eye piece.

The inspiration for this introduction of the futuristic eye piece came from my research into  the science fiction genre. I concluded from the research i had conducted that the introduction of new technology was key to setting the films genre as science fiction. Films such as The Terminator introduce advanced technology in this case, a full alloy and robotic skeleton. The aspect i liked the most was the scene were Arnold repairs himself in the grotty bathroom of a cheap apartment, the reason i like this scene is because it shows the harmony between man and machine in the future and aspect i would also like to reflect in my film. It was at this point i decided to use the eye as the focus for my technological advancement.

The breakdown of the eye piece

The base to which everything is glued on to was a piece of a cheap plastic mask painted firstly in a grey paint primer and then in two coats of silver paint. I then covered up the eye with a piece of card which was also painted silver, above this I cut a hole for the lights battery pack, the rest of the prop was just old wires and bits of electrical equipment.



The video below is a time lapse video of how I made the prop, to provide some context I shall explain in this post what’s happening throughout the duration of the video. The first attempt at the eye prop was to make the light on the eye piece wired so that the wires would go round the back of the actors head and out of sight, after an attempt at soldering we found that it didn’t work and would be to flimsy to be used on set. Leading me to my second design.

Props, Costumes and Characters

This post is an in depth look into the costumes of my main characters and the props they’ll be using. As my film is set on both the 80’s and the future from the perspective from the 80’s, i had to design my costumes accordingly.

The first robber 

For the first robber and the first character on screen i decided to go with the classic NWA / 80’s rapper look, which was a popular and recognisable look well associated with gangs and gang culture in LA during this time period. For the costume i used a red and black checkered shirt buttoned up to the top, a army green and brown mesh scarf, a pair of aviators and finally a new york baseball hat. I thought this would allow the audience to easily identify the character on screen as a ‘bad guy’. Below are the images of the items of clothing used in the film and photo of the look i was trying to achieve with this character.


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The second robber

For this character i decided to go for a more covert, ex-military look, someone who looks like they can do some damage. In order to achieve this but to still maintain some of the gang related themes i decided to dress this character in a german military camo jacket, and a green balaclava. This, in my opinion gave the audience a character who was easily identifiable as dangerous, the balaclava was in place to conceal the mans identity and is therefore already a shifty character as it leads the audience down this path questioning who is this man? why is he concealing his identity?



The detective 

The detective had to be like Don Johnson from the hit 80’s cop show Miami Vice, no exceptions! the cliche silk white suit with the low hanging pink vest was unavailable and we therefore had to improvise with a red and white checkered shirt with the buttons undone, a blue jacket with the sleeves rolled up, and as this is set in the future we added in some futuristic looking glasses. To ensure the audience can identify this character as a ‘good guy’ i made sure not to cover too much of his face to make him appear as normal as the audience.


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Thunder Eagle

The main character and star of the show, Thunder Eagle. Part cyborg part man and the perfect character for a futuristic 80’s science fiction film. For this character I’m going to break it up into two sections thunder eagle in the future and thunder eagle in the 80’s

80’s Thunder Eagle

For this section of the characters screen time i had to make it apparent that it wads the 80’s, to reinforce this idea i employed some cliche 80’s stereotypes, first and most noticeably the letterman jacket a classic icon of 80’s fashion, i also added some other small details including a pair of stonewashed jeans.


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Future Thunder Eagle 

I decided to go with a more terminator style for this character, i wanted him to come across as an anti hero, someone who does good using more than questionable methods after contemplating how i could do this i finally decided that i would go with the bulky ex-army look. To achieve this i used a brown leather jacket, a camo army bullet proof vest, a set of aviators, some dog tags and a futuristic cyborg eye. I thought that the eye would add to the badass look i was going for as it gave my character an edge on the bad guys he was fighting.


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Motorbike gang member

This character is the perfect image of the theme i am attempting to present, LA during the 80’s was a rough place and gnu violence was at an all time high consequently this often led to ordinary citizens becoming collateral damage as they’re caught up in gang wars and turf wars etc. i wanted to the audience to understand this, i also wanted the audience to understand that thunder eagle isn’t fighting particular people he’s, fighting injustice thats why i attempted to make the gang member in this scene similar to the robbers in the first scenes. To achieve this is dressed my character in a standard jacket and shirt, and wearing a hockey mask to once again conceal his identity. For this character i followed the sinister look of Casey Jones (displayed below)


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Hooded gang member 

This member of the gang was a simple one, a hooded and menacing figure that symbolised the threat to Thunder eagle. For this character i used a black zip up hoodie (with the hood up) and the same checkered shirt from the first scene to create a link and a possible sub plot line.

Props – weapons

Each character had a prop, wether it was a gun or a bike and so on. Below is a list of the weapons used in the film, hat they are what colour etc.

The first robber

  • pump action shotgun (BB gun) black and brown

The second robber

  • Scorpion sub machine gun with extendable butt (BB gun) black and silver

The detective

  • Glock 17 (BB gun) all black

Thunder Eagle

  • 9mm revolver silver (BB gun)
  • 9mm revolver black with scope attachments (BB gun)

 

Locations for filming 

As my film is set in LA, i need to plan my filming locations accordingly in order to not truly reveal the actual location of my film. I need to find some locations that don’t display a lot of the background, however if they do reveal some background it needs to be a city scape similar to the busy streets of Los Angeles.

The first section – the robbery and hospital scenes 

For the first section of my film I have decided to film at my grandmothers house in Bleadon, just outside Weston super mare. The house is old, which is easily visible on screen. I thought this would make a good setting for the opening of the film as the scenario is a house robbery involving two people, as the house being robbed in any scenario is usually a rich one I thought the house was ideal as on the face of it, it looks like a grand, old and rich house and is therefore the ideal location for the first portion of my film. I’ve also added in some photos of the stairs where the majority of the first portion will take place.



Other parts of the film such as the scene where thunder eagle is first introduced to the detective and where thunder eagle is placed in hospital where both shot in the same place as the robbery scene.

Part Two – thunder eagles origin story 

This portion of the film was shot under the bridge near the Weston train station. This was my favourite location to shoot at as it provided some rich scenery related to the theme for this scene. As this scene involves a gang robbery I needed the location to be easily identifiable as rough, gang territory and the bridge in Weston was ideal, at the time of filming gypsys had set up camp under the bridge and can be briefly seen in the background of one of the scenes, I thought that this would add to the mise en scene and amplify the rough and dirty theme.