Saturday, February 28, 2009

Killing Rasputin Scene 2

Each time I work on a scene it gives me a chance to further fine-tune the look I'm going for. I'm pretty happy with how this one has turned out. For some reason it took FOREVER (lots of weird technical crap). One addition you might notice is that on the close up shots I've made the actors' eyes brighter with more contrast, making them "pop" a lot more in the images, and letting the nuances of their acting shine through the effects a bit more. For the temp music I've used a Debussy track (it's listed only as "track 1" in my itunes, I should probably find out the actual title). It syncs up pretty damn well if I do say so myself.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

"Stubbing Your Toe" (2006)

One of our editing projects in Dusseldorf was to convey an emotion or feeling through editing. My group was assigned "physical pain", and this is the result. For a lot of our class projects over there we were given only a few hours to complete, with very little planning and editing time, which was challenging but a lot of fun. Featuring Mike Litzenberg as the stubbing victim. I shot on a DVX-100.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

"Killing Voltaire" (2006), Dir. Mike Litzenberg

Another of my old roommate Mike's films I shot. This was his 300 project in the study abroad program we were both in over in Duesseldorf, Germany. We had to do documentaries, and Mike decided to interview various Germans and discuss free speech rights as they relate to Holocaust denial. This is a sticky subject for them, so we got a lot of interesting perspectives. The most engaging interview we conducted was with a 91-year-old Holocaust survivor living in a local retirement home. She got pretty ruffled by the subject and kind of got in Mike's face about it before we ensured her that our motives weren't sinister. I shot using a Panasonic DVX-100, in my opinion the best standard def handheld digital video camera in existence. I really miss being over in Germany, but I'm sure it's cold as hell there right now.

"Trash" (2008), Dir. Mike Litzenberg

This is my former roommate Mike's LMU thesis, "Trash", which I worked on as director of photography. We encountered a number of obstacles in shooting, including bad/constantly changing weather, street noise, LAX landings every 2 minutes, not enough sandbags, and having a small crew. It's definitely not the most polished-looking thing in the world, but the plot and acting still make me laugh every time I watch it. I shot using a Panasonic SDX-900. It's a great standard def camera, but it weighs a ton and isn't ideal for handheld shooting unless you've got it rigged to a steadicam. I remember the handheld stuff on this shoot being a real bitch. Watch and enjoy, and if you're squeamish, consider yourself warned.

Friday, February 6, 2009


I just designed this fake fitness magazine cover tonight for my girlfriend's web series, "Dancersize", which is currently in production. I don't want to give too much away, but it's a mockumentary series that follows a larger-than-life fitness celebrity named Jesse Mansfield, pictured here on the cover of "Tight Bod" magazine.

The source image:

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

"Cougar Security" (2007)

This was a project for a motion graphics class I took at the beginning of my senior year at LMU. I had almost forgotten about it until I stumbled across it on my hard drive. Featuring my former roommate, Michael P. Litzenberg.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Yusupov Palace in Motion

This is the palace I was working on way back when. I eventually got around to finishing the sides, then moved the whole Photoshop doc into After Effects, where I realized 30 layers rendering simultaneously at print-quality scale would be a slight problem. So I went back into Photoshop and made a lower-res copy and consolidated and combined layers.

Back in After Effects, I set all of the layers as 3D and set about painstakingly arranging the layers along the z-axis and positioning the camera in a way that created the illusion of 3D as it moved in closer.

For the sky, I first tried using some time-lapse footage left over from my 300-level film, but the effect was a little too intensely surreal. So instead I found a high-res sky image on google image search and placed it in the After Effects composition, made it 3D, made it HUGE, tilted it forward at a 45 degree angle, and moved it quite a ways back behind the other 3D layers. I had it move a few dozen pixels to one side to simulate movement of clouds, and I'm actually very impressed at how well the illusion comes across.

The river water also surprised me with how believable it ended up looking. I don't have any footage of running water, so I found a high-res image of an ocean, cropped it, stretched it, and played with the levels until the contrast was ideal. Then I took it into After Effects, in a separate composition, and duplicated it twice. The second one I flipped horizontally and the third I flipped vertically. I offset them by a few dozen pixels, gave them all a right to left motion path, gave each motion path some "wiggle" (randomized movement) between their start and finish, and played with their opacity along the timeline so that only one layer was fully opaque at any given point.

(I'm not sure any of this explanation makes sense without pictures, so that might be a future update.)

Anyway this was my first time messing with 3D in over a year, and I forgot how fun it can be.

Scene 15

Another short scene from my thesis, reworked slightly. It may be slightly too dark, it seems some detail went missing. Once again, the Nutcracker seems to work with these scenes in a fun way.