Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Wrath of Grapes Is Complete!

The movie I've been editing for the past month-plus is finally complete! I got together last Monday with the rest of the folks who created "The Wrath of Grapes", and we had the world premiere. Everybody seemed to like it. Ryan Locante's performance as the cyclist was the biggest hit. Jackson showed up for most of the film, but I don't think people really realized how much he contributed until we watched the rough cut later (without the soundtrack). Also on hand were the star, Nick Borgerding, Megan Stein, Joe Stanton, and our host Lisa Palmisano. We all worked together to create the film, born from a long-distance suggestion by Austin Nava. The whole thing was brainstormed, written, storyboarded, costumed, and filmed in twelve hours. Then I took a little longer to edit it.

Now you, too, can enjoy our little ten-minute film. If you haven't seen the trailer (and why the hell haven't you?), you can view it here if you'd like. The finished film is here, and the outtakes are here.

Done? Excellent. I had fun editing this together. The opening logo for the movie was created by Ryan, and then I tweaked it a bit. He also came up with the logo for Scrambled Video Eggs and 80 Acres Productions. I took the latter and came up with the idea of flipping and animating the clouds in the background, which made it look even cooler.

I agonized over what to do with the opening interview segments. I wanted to set them apart from the rest of the film, but when I tried them in black and white, they didn't have the contrast against the intercut logos that Ryan made. Then I tried doing basically a duotone in a dark shade of green and a light shade, along with a sort of "stamp" effect to reduce everything down to two tones. Loved the way that turned out.

This was the first live action semi-dramatic type project I've tried to edit, and I now have a greater respect for movie editors. When I do the CageMatch videos, they're all played out in my head already, but with this project, I had to think of dialogue and dramatic effect and camera angles and all that. I did most of the original camera direction when we filmed, but still had a lot of work to do back on the computer trying to figure out how to place the different cuts and scenes. I had a lot of fun doing it though.

One bit that took a lot of work that nobody would notice is editing out the "talkover" in the filmed scenes, either where I was verbally directing actor and thus ruining the audio of the shot, or other people were talking in the background. Luckily, I remembered to record a little bit of the amibent noise at each scene, so I had stuff to dub over and replace the tainted bits. Took a while, though.

The scene where Ryan was riding his bike was hilarious to film, and I think it shows in the final cut. He has such a unique flair for facial acting and body movement, plus his costume was fabulous. It took me a while to figure out that I needed to show the crash in slomo and repeat it over and over to get a good bit of comedy out of it. The three "flying through the air" shots, by contrast, are three DIFFERENT takes, and are just Ryan jumping off a park bench. The closeup of the grape fouling up the bike's gears was shot later, but happens so quickly, you can't tell there's even a grape there.

Megan's scene was fun. It took several takes to get the final "trip on the fallen grapes" shot, but the one used was fabulous.

Lisa's scene in the van was hilarious. The very idea that grapes could blow up a car was funny. We forgot to shoot an insert shot so you could see he was actually putting grapes in the engine, so that angle is actually my hand and my little Honda. The scream was shot earlier in the day, and if you go back and watch it closely, you can tell it's a different location. The explosion and fire was done in Motion, and I was lucky enough to find a burned hulk of a similar vehicle on Google. The hilarious "gas pump as evil mustache" shot was Ryan's idea, and he shot that.

The "family flashback" scene was probably the most fun. It took some careful thought at filming time to set that up. Somehow the camera moved during the shoot for "Ma Myrd"'s bit, so that had to be adjusted in post. The whole scene was shot three times, with vocal stand-ins, and then composited with masks. It looked crappy at first, but a simple bit of feathering on the masks and it clicked together beautifully. The fade from Young Myrd to Present Day Myrd was shaky, but I added a slowed-down growl at the transition that made it flow nicely.

The bluescreen for the grape-throwing scene was really primitive, as we had horrible lighting, and there was a window *behind* the screen casting light onto it. In my death, there wasn't nearly enough blood on my forehead, so I put more in in post. You can tell if you look closely--I couldn't match it up well enough where I moved my head slightly. (It's hard to be dead and push karo syrup out your mouth without moving!)

The final scene was a bit daunting, as I had to insert the mocked-up Raisin Bran ingredients label in post, and it was a lot harder than I thought it would be. There are several jokes hidden in that bit. The whole scene was capped off with that incredible long scream by Nick.

Even the credits were harder to do than I thought they'd be. I really need to spend more time learning Motion. Maybe after Rape Stove is finished. (The shoot is this Wednesday!)

So anyway, this was probably the most complicated video project I've ever worked on. I'm pretty proud of it though. Couldn't have done it without all the other actors who were all involved with the writing and creation of the movie---definitely a big group effort. And the movie wouldn't have been a tenth as effective without the soundtrack born from the musical minds of Jackson and Scotts. All in all, a big success, methinks.

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