Project 1 Complete

Tuesday, July 04, 2006
I believe I'm finished with the short MTC film, and I have to say I'm relieved about it. Not that I didn't enjoy it; I did, very much. But I'm about done watching this film now. I'll be curious to hear responses to it, since I myself can't see it the way a typical viewer might. My own thought processes are too deeply embedded to be able to tell whether it'll make sense to anyone else.

But for the most part, I'm happy with how it came out. There are a couple of technical problems -- I did one exterior interview, which was great and very effective except for a sound problem. My own lav mic was stolen (along with my last camera) a couple of years ago, so I had to borrow someone else's to do the interview. It's a nice mic, and it did a great job on interviews in controlled settings, but it wasn't quite up to the job on a public street on a breezy day. While I was shooting, the wind noise sounded minimal through my headphones; in the editing room, it was more pronounced. Not enough that it obscures the words of the interviewee, just enough to really annoy the hell out of me.

But there's not much to be done about it under the current circumstances -- no amount of digital fiddling with the audio has accomplished anything helpful, and a high-pass filter only distorted the voice and robbed it of its expressiveness. If we had the money and time, I'd go re-shoot that interview, but we don't. And even if we did, I'd hate to lose the immediacy of that first interview. I think it's best chalked up to experience -- and an indication that I really need to procure a quality radio lavolier microphone of my own.

The only other significant technical annoyance I encountered was a quirk in Final Cut Pro. Towards the end of editing, I devised a design for the credit sequence that was based on still images taken on the trip to Hollandale. I was going to go all Ken Burns on them, which is simple, albeit fiddly, to do. And it looked fantastic, except that I couldn't get the motion control and the widescreen matte to play nicely together -- any attempt to zoom on the image blew out the aspect ratio. So now I've got a credit sequence using still images that are nice, but not as lovely as they were when they had an element of motion. It's always frustrating to see something not live up to what you know is its full potential.

There are at least a dozen other little nitpicky things I'd fix under perfect circumstances, but then, that's always true. Film is made of compromise. I said to a friend yesterday, "I think I'm better at this (documentary)..." as opposed to dramatic work. But thinking about it later, that's not necessarily true. I think this film is better than my previous one; it just happens to be a documentary, and the preceding happened to be drama. I think/hope that my next film will be better than this one, and the one after that, better still. And I always tend to prefer whichever cinematic mode I'm working in at the moment.

Anyway, I'm still wrestling with Compressor to squeeze out a web-worthy mpeg-4 to put up here; I'll post again when it's ready. It would be good to YouTube it as well -- I'll have to ask Ben G. if that's cool. Optimistically, I've got another project coming up imminently which will be a departure from this project and, I think, huge fun to do. And then (actually concurrently) I'll be looking to get dug in to the larger MS Teacher Corps film, hopefully this time at a more measured pace. I think the short came out well, but I can do even better with nine or ten months at my disposal.

PS: I've switched to HaloScan commenting, which is now fully functional. Just so you know.