Harry Potter VS Transformers

The last couple of weeks, I had the fortune to get out to see 2 films.  “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II” and “Transformers 3 – Dark Side of the Moon”.

The reason I wanted to just do a quick review, is because I think for anyone that reads this site, you pretty much know that I am a serious film goer and I don’t enjoy crap.  So if your a person who loved “The Phantom Menace”, there’s nothing here of interest for you, move along.  For those that do enjoy a good movie, and I’m really not trying to just pick apart either, some of what I say may resonate.  Let’s get started.  (Spoilers to Follow – Look away now)

So we got to see both HP and T3 within a 3 day span.  I enjoyed both movies, but one clearly fell short.  Can you guess which one if you’ve also seen both?

Harry Potter.  Let’s just jump right in.  The film carried itself very well in my opinion and much of the VFX was just phenomenal.  This was the first of the 2 movies that we saw.  Why did it fall short?

They had a 10 year storyline and in the end, it seemed very apparent to me that they lost focus to generate a great ending.  I would even say, the ending fell VERY SHORT of what they built upon in the film.  Each arch presented more of an excitement for me and when I was expecting that final arch, Harry Vs. Tom, it just dropped off the cliff for me.  I was not wowed, and I was not impressed.  I’m not saying at all that I could have done any better, let’s be clear.  But what I would have loved to have seen was that story arch peak to a point that drew you up to the final battle, and to me, it just happened.  I thought it was going to really begin when Nevell took out the sword and Harry turned out still alive.  But it was like, “Here you go Voldamort – Now we’re going to kick your ass!” but then they all ran away…  Is it just me?

And the final part when Harry and Tom did finally duel, they again were alone in a courtyard with no witnesses..  I felt that after 10 years of this poor kid having to face these demons on his own, they really should have brought everyone together in the end.  I could go so deep on the story here, but I think that would only be a waste of time because I’m not a writer and probably wouldn’t do the film justice.  And perhaps that’s what the writer intended, I don’t know.  Would I spend $12 to see it again?  Probably not.  But I’ll probably rent it again on HD Streaming or something when available to see if I was sleeping behind the wheel.

Compare this to T3..

Let me just say, no one does it like Micheal Bay.  He is definitely one of my favorite directors when he can curb his 13 year old humor (Which is hard to deal with at times) but he clearly listened to his audience complaints about the 2nd film and I thought he did a brilliant job.  The story was for the most part, well crafted and the delivery of the action was really really pumping and seamless (for the most part).

I thought the CG was incredible and some of the stunts performed in the film (3D) were just jawdropping.  I don’t know of another director who could pull off what MB did.  Was it perfect?  No.  I think the only perfect films are the likes of “Jaws”, “Raiders of the Lost Ark”..  pacing, music, dialogue, story, they are just brilliant and I consider them perfect classics.  This was clearly the best of the 3 films, but I was surprised to see the Rotten Tomato scoring for both.  Actually, based on my my last write up, not very surprised, but didn’t expect the tomato ratings to be reversed from what I just watched.

Anyway, the point being, if you have the chance to see either, I would say both are good movies but Transformers 3 clearly wins.  And you really should go see it in 3d before it’s out of theaters.

Just my 2 cents..  I needed to vent.

First Private Screening of “Despondent”

Israel and reached out to some folks to see if they’d be interested in seeing an unfinished, finished product.  Right…

Okay, so where we’re at with the film.  We are showing our first private screening of the film.  The only thing missing?  The music.  We are however using all the temp tracking that we’ve been using to line up and score with.  We’re doing this to venture into uncharted territory.

As a storyteller and film maker, you tend to produce your own level of pride andor ignorance towards the audience.  It’s, in my humble opinion, unavoidable.  Sometimes, as we’ve seen through the latest round of “Star Wars” films, a blatant arrogance to the audience.  I’m talking specifically about George “Bring me another Goblet of something cool and refreshing, along with the Head of a Pig!” Lucas. (Courtesy Brian Regan)..   While I think our arrogance is not intentional, the fact is, you can lose site of your audience because YOU as the film maker already know the details of your story.  So perhaps arrogance is a strong word when in fact I would say, it’s more ignorance.  Arrogance would be ignoring your own ignorance.  So there, settled.

Despondent - On the Web

So, we’ve opened the doors up to a small handful of people where we will screen the film, in it’s entirety while providing pens and paper for constructive feedback.  We’ll take this feedback and use it (where applicable) to make necessary changes or additions to the film so that we don’t have to necessarily “go back” and do it again after we’ve locked it for scoring.  It’s a pretty significant hurdle for us and we’re pretty excited about it.

Am I excited to hear the criticism of the film?  Nope, not at all.  I hope EVERYONE Loves it..  However, we know that there will be pretty significant suggestions and we’ll have to weigh these suggestions out against time, scope and cost.

We are shooting for Sundance submission in August.  I think we’ll get it in and even if it’s not accepted as a screener, we’re hopeful that someone who’s interested in up and coming film makers who can tell a good story while keeping an audience interested will see it.  That could lead to more opportunity to do what we love.  Isn’t that the goal of every filmmaker?  To make a film people enjoy and give you opportunity to do what you love and get paid for it.  Wows that would be something.

So, the next update will be, “what did people think”.  I’ll give a general take after the fact and what’s planned.

If you are a film maker with some talent and are interested in the screening, contact me here through the website.  It will be on Saturday at 7pm in Gaithersburg, at a private theater.  Cheers!

Mocha Tracking – Quick Tutorial

The Tutorial is linked in the Tutorials/After Effects Section – Watch it in FULL SCREEN or Windowed Mode for the Best Results!

One of the things I’ve been working heavily on, is tracking.  Mocha, in my opinion is one of the better options for anyone out there with a budget.  Yes, there are many more available and work better, but they also come with a hefty price tag.  All that said, I took some time this evening because as promised, I’m doing what I can to provide more information on the website so this seemed like a decent start.  While trying not to give everything away for free in terms of the film I’ve been working on, it’s still pretty good stuff and I think you’ll like it.

There is one mistake, at least one that I saw in the tut, it’s with the transparencies, I forgot to hit the stop watch to set the keyframe and went back and started it again.  Anyway, instead of trying to make it perfect, I just left it in.  Not because of laziness mind you, it’s just that, I know I’m not the all around pro here, but I wanted you to know, that I know that you know so you know I don’t mind leaving my mistakes in because they’re real.



All Roads – Come to an end… Soon, not yet though.


As promised, going to try and give out more information as fast as I can make it available.  Here’s just a quick snapshot..  We are currently in an ‘unlocked state’ for Despondent.  The reasons are simple, we had clear areas that required improvement that we were both seeing.  Either both seeing the same thing, or differently in different sections.  I can tell you this though, we are very close to having ALL the renders completed and those changes, I count 6 from this evenings meeting that need to be shored up.

So where are we in all of this?  What’s left?

For those following us and for those who have ever made a film, long, short, mid..  we are at a good place productively.  A lot of sound engineering has been done, however almost no mixing.  We have a day or two for foley (I think a day should do it) and about 2 full days of mixing, maybe a bit more.  However, all that can be done AFTER we lock the film.  The simplest definition of a film lock is, once you lock the film edit, you don’t change a darned thing.  Period.  If you keep going back to make changes to your edit, you throw off timing for the rest of the film because music will no longer line up for anything after that point in your timeline.

So this means, once we’ve ‘locked’, I’ll start doing a lot more mixing in tandem with scoring.  Most likely, we’ll break it out that Israel and Roger Hooper will be doing the scoring while I mix.  I’ll be a part of it, however, I don’t understand musical language other than, “how about trying this or that”..  whereas, they talk in “let’s throw a bridge in here, run through to an E sharp”.  I’d be better off studying another language.  That doesn’t mean that your ears lie to you or notes don’t sing, it’s just that I can’t express it in a way that makes much sense because I know what I want to hear in my head, I just can’t get it out.  Make sense?

So as the project is about to reach another milestone, we do have some things in store.  One, a website we’ll be posting shortly.  Two, the final trailer for the film which divulges a lot more detail and is JUST like the film is supposed to be.  No good trailer, crappy film here.  We hope anyway.

All this to say, as we approach locking the film for the first REAL TIME, we are liking what we are seeing, I hope you will to.

The film time is nearly exactly 45 minutes.  So from a 1 hour, 20 minute film including credits, down to 45 minutes including credits.  I’ll just have to go into the reasons and concepts for this deviation at a later date.  I can say, it was the best thing we ever did and I’m grateful for Israel for pushing me that direction to run that exercise.