Checkpointier

Posted Monday, April 2, 2012, 8:18 PM

Over the last ten years, I have had a hobby that has occupied an awful lot of my time, but has taken a long time to show results. Visual Effects was, at one time, what I hoped my career would be, but it hasn't worked out quite that way - currently I do 3D animation, which is tangentially related but not the same thing.

So instead I do it as a hobby, which means I've only ever done it for the films of my friends. Luckily, my friends make loads of films, some of which have needed a lot of visual effects, both very visible, and very much hidden. Sure I've had to make digital video displays, and flying spacecraft, and firing a rocket launcher, all spectacular and obviously not real, but I've also had to hide cables and film equipment, extend sets, and block in trees on the horizon, things that go by without you noticing.

Last Friday night we debuted the Finally Finished Film Festival, three very different films from three very different Directors, each of which had taken a long time to get made.

For Next, a comedy by Peter Sims, it was his first film, which I'm sure made him nervous, and the responsibilities were sometimes a little overwhelming for him. Plans to edit it himself were eventually put onto someone else to do. Visual Effects, done by myself, took some time to do as I had other priorities. Sound and music always take time to get right.

For Red, a dark take on a familiar fairy tale by Darren Maxwell, it was pre-production that took the time. A lot of money, a lot of people, a lot of details to get ready before you can shoot. Post production was relatively speedy, but the visual effects were a bit of a struggle. Some of the photography was a bit rough, and a couple of on-set effects needed tweaking, so fixing that and getting a decent result was hit-and-miss. We did our best, though, and after grading it looked pretty okay.

For Checkpoint, a WWII film by Rob Hamilton, it was a huge effort. Post production is where most of the delays happened, some of it because we kept adding new shots and scenes to the film. I had to model a huge steam locomotive, a DC3 plane and an airfield, an Opel Blitz German truck, the streets of a French village, and more besides. It was a huge effort on my part. Plus I co-edited, and we wanted a talented music composer to create our score (and he lived overseas), plus sound effects always take ages. Couple that with a little bit of despondency for a while that interrupted our post-production flow, and it was quite a long period of time before it was complete.

But they are now done, and they coincidentally happened to be ready at approximately the same time, which was perfect for all three films, plus a few teasers for upcoming projects, to be shown.

Around 60 people showed up to watch them with us, not all of whom were directly involved with these productions, which was very gratifying. And the reaction was overwhelmingly positive. Checkpoint was the film I had the most involvement with, more than everything I've ever worked on before, so the encouraging reaction was a real boost to my self-esteem.

We already have plans for new productions, some are quite challenging, some very exciting. Only a few are likely to progress to the next step, so I won't reveal any details of them just yet, but rest assured I will have a lot of fun making them, and cannot wait to start.