Archive for the ‘General Advice’ Category

Goofs In The Credits? Don’t Wreck Your Film!

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

I know, I know, this is a blog about post production problems, not necessarily about a film’s content. But content is king and I have seen more than a few times when bad judgment on content bleeds into the post sessions to wreck a film and unnecessarily break the budget.

Many times, I see indie filmmakers(of both shorts) and features fall into the trap of being so in love with their footage in the cutting room, that they just HAVE to put all the outtakes in the end credits. Ok, this is a bad, bad, bad, idea… unless your film is of the Will Farrell variety.

Here’s an example. I recently worked on this extremely powerful project about a woman’s struggle to tell authorities about being raped. It was a well-written and smart drama that had all the elements of a successful film festival hit. Cool.

But the director just could not bear the idea of leaving out the “hilarious” out-takes during the credit sequence.  Yeah, hilarious. This huge drama unfolds on screen and we are thinking the film is brilliant and moving… until the credits roll and we see all the gaffs and f-words that were supposed to be left on the proverbial cutting room floor (actually, these days there is no “cutting room floor”, just a delete button.)

Why would this director ruin my experience by making me sit through the absolute cliché of cliché bloopers. Everybody knows these bloopers and even if it’s Tom Cruise falling on a banana peel or Gweneth Paltrow having trouble yielding her whip in the dominatrix scene from Iron Man 2, it really isn’t funny or cute.

But after a filmmaker works so hard to achieve a certain tone, why torpedo it with a lame bit of outtakes that ruin the whole mood that was masterfully created by the film?

Whenever I see those bullshit outtakes, I see amateurs at work. People, outtakes are not funny. But what is funny is how the director’s credit card was declined for the EXACT amount of hours that were billed for making these hilarious outtakes. No joke. We spent about 4.5 hours making the most “knee-slappingly funny” credit sequence, using all kinds of software like After Effects and Photoshop. And when the bill was totaled, her card was past its limit for that exact amount. We held the master until she called in for reinforcements to help fund the genius credit sequence.

I’m only this bitter because I was really enjoying the movie. But I felt like an idiot for liking it once the underbelly of outtakes ripped the film out from under me.

And looking back, it is always the first time filmmakers and amateurs who love these bloopers. Like I said, if you are going for a Will Farrell tone for the whole movie, then knock yourself out in the credits with some crazy fart outtakes. Otherwise, rape just isn’t that funny.

Don’t buy into whiz bang gizmo hype!

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

Alright. I was working on a job at Universal Studios and asked for After Effects to be installed on my iMac work station so I could do some animation moves. But the IT guy (name withheld) tried to tell me that the After Effects won’t run on an iMac and he tried to get our show to upgrade to a Mac Intel 8-core!

WHAT THE… !!!?? So I told him that I sit on my couch at home 2 nights a week with my macbook G4 laptop  (the white one) and run After Effects all evening long while my wife watches reruns of Nip/Tuck from Netflix. Then I render my movies at bedtime and in the morning, dump the resulting files to a flash drive and bring my work in to impress the director and producer. The stuff looks amazing. Well, the files look perfect. But maybe the director isn’t always over-the-moon with my ideas. Never-the-less, After Effects works great on my little G4 laptop.

But the Universal IT guy says it’s impossible and it could never work. So I go deeper into exactly what I do with After Effects and he finally gets it… I’m only using it in “draft” mode for previewing and working with the content. Then I render it out in full HD.  The IT guy’s eyes finally light up: “Ohhhh, I get it.”


See, he was thinking I wanted to actually watch HD real-time rendering on my little macbook.  But if I didn’t speak up, our show would have had a kick-butt new 8-core mac… and the price tag to go with it. Then I would look like a bad line item in our budget and they would undoubtedly hire someone “cheaper” next time.


Cut to another day. We wanted to upgrade our offline Avids from (believe it or not) OS9!  So in the process of figuring out the requirements, the Avid vendor dude said we need Nitrus DX for $14,000. I said, “thanks, buddy, but we are only going to offline and the $3000 Mojo SDI (the pro-sumer version of the Nitrus) would be more than sufficient.  But no matter what I told him about our workflow and how we only want to OFFLINE, he would never get it! He kept saying that we would eventually, maybe down the road, want to online and we should make the right purchase the first time. Okay, so the guy is  a salesman. And some people might fall for that. But the fact is, if we are only offlining, then pro-sumer is more than fine, even for a big movie studio like Universal. 


I guess my point is… gadgets are really cool and fun to play with, but when money is an issue, there is absolutely no point in overkill.  Sure, there are times when I need a screaming, blazing, rocket ship piece of hardware…  and that’s the time when I should pay for it. At that point, it’s just the cost of doing business.