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Films and FX tests

Saberfight 2004

View Film: YouTube
Download Film (MOV)


Before I get into the overview, I must announced that though this film won nothing for the contest it was originally created for (explained later), it was entered into a second contest automatically... Which it WON.

So, one day I see that the forum members at TFN are running the Lightsaber Choreography Competition III. I thought it would be a cool thing to get an entry in that one! But, I wanted to do things a little differently than most other entrants would have thought. I wanted there to be a reason that there were people fighting with lightsabers. I also wanted there to be more than one set of fighters. I thought variety would be a cool thing.
Then I remembered carefree days of my early 20's when my friends and I would play fighting video games and bust each other's chops... It gave me the idea that that would be a fine premiss for this film!
Like, get these guys playing this game, where the characters look strikingly like real humans - incredible graphics!! But, never make mention of that in the film...

Unfortunately, I guess I took the story/character aspect a little too far. The film had too much film and not enough fighting and was disqualified from the contest. I suppose I always knew that might happen, so there's no hard feelings about it.

It's relevant to tell that story because that is precisely the reason that there are no real sets or costumes used. It's all very plain-clothed. We were up against a tight deadline because of the contest. I'm not making excuses. I'm still happy with the final edit of this film. But, if I was producing this without a deadline, I would have put a lot more effort into the look of the film.

After all, this whole thing has been funny as hell. The day that we did the saber fight filming was a friggin riot! I look back on it now, and really don't care that it obviously takes place in my back yard and that I'm the only one wearing a costume. (That's me in the mask).

After all, I hope you enjoy this lighthearted film for what it is, and don't go to hard on the lack of costumes.

Technical stuff about this film:
Just like every other film I've ever done, this proved to be a bit of an experiment. First off, I've never had more than one or two people help me with a film. For this one, because there were so many different parts to make it work, I had to develop a team. This meant relying on a bunch of different people to deliver things in a timely manner. That's not an easy way to work at all!

Anyway... Then there was 2 completely different types of sets necessary. The game scenes and the room where the guys were playing the game. I actually don't know anyone locally that fit the parts of the guys playing the game. So, I contacted Teague 'Fig' Christie, half way across the country, and told him of my idea, and asked him to take over the shooting and editing of the "guys playing the video game".
That actually worked out really well. There's a lot of editing to his original footage. But, that was mostly because he shot his parts before we did the fighting. Then, he did some pickup shots afterward to help some of it make more sense. In any case, Fig shot a lot of material, and did a great job with his part!
Fig is always working on something new. Here's a link to a blog he's keeping specifically for his upcoming feature.

Next up, I had to learn how to fight with a lightsaber. I don't know from lightsaber fighting other than what I've seen in countless films. For that matter, neither did the two guys I brought with me to film the fighting. We literally choreographed and shot our fight scenes on the spot. And, after looking at the other entries that made the aforementioned contest, I can certainly see the difference now.
But that wasn't enough fighting. I needed at least one more. So, I contacted another guy, completely on the other side of the country, and had him film another fight with a friend of his.

After all of the shooting was done, it was time for the post production FX. Mostly lightsaber rotoscoping (trace it frame by frame, and make it glow). I had a couple of guys help me out with this part. It's very tedious monotonous work. But, the results make it well worth all the trouble!

The FX are all done in Adobe After Effects 5.5 and 6.0. The editing was done in Vegas 4.0.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about any of this stuff. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope you enjoy the short flick.

About me:
This is the 5th film I have produced. I'm getting a little bit more comfortable calling myself a filmmaker. Honestly, I do this for entertainment purposes only. I have no aspirations of doing films or special effects for a living. If I can make a few people crack a smile while watching the films, I feel I've accomplished my task.

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