Sunday, 25 January 2009

Captain's Blog 25.01.09

Finally beat out Episode 5 and sent it for proofing; slight writing break to sort some mods and do a little bit of initial filming to recharge the batteries, then full speed ahead with Episode 6 and the season finale... then onto Part Three of War of the Worlds.

Once that's out of the way, Secret Project #2 onto the desk in conjunction with Secret Project #3, and filming begins in earnest on the season, interspersed with other stuff along the way, no doubt (VOs for several projects, etc, etc).

All go at Chez Cave at the moment...

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Captain's Blog 22.01.09

Have broken the back of Episode 5 at last and it's flying along (phew :P); two more scripts for that and Season One writing is completed. Then comes the task of putting it all together :)

VOs coming in thick and fast from the guest cast for Episodes One and Two; regulars slowly filtering them in (end of the month please, people :P).

"Secret Project #1" completed and sent off to the "requester"; "Secret Project #2" and "#3" still in the design stages and need to get some work done on Part Three of WotW this weekend to try and get that finished off. All but one set of VOs from Part One actors are in now, I'm given to understand, so Chris will start putting that together over the next few weeks.

With Marine's and GP's VOs in, I can start putting together Ep1 on the side as a break from writing, so might do a bit of that as well this weekend and get some screenshots out to pop on the production thread.

So much stuff to do, so little time... god, I love my hobby ;)

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Captain's Blog 21.01.09

Busy time of year coming up at work, so time to update this bloggette will be limited for the next few weeks, so I'd best make the most of it :)

Hunting still for a M'raal (got a certain someone who has expressed an interest in possibly doing the role, so am awaiting a response)... some more roles for Episodes 2-4 outlined and 3 more episodes in the pipeline to write.

Episode 5 is being particularly awkward to work out, due to the streamlined cast. The 6 or so main actors, only 2 of which are regulars, is making the dialogue iffy to write believably. However, I will persevere with it, as it's an integral definement episode for M'raal and Cross and fills in a lot of backstory to the Stellar War between the Canis and the Alliance.

And then, of course, there's War of the Worlds Part Three to complete...

So it's busy, busy, busy at the moment...

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Captain's Blog 20.01.09

Great topic posted by Kate and exactly the kind of thoughtful and insightful thread we need after all the promotional ones and silly time fillers. Hope it gets the attention it deserves.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Captain's Blog 17.01.09

Writer's block pretty much conquered, due to my old chum K4 beating me around the head and neck with a baseball bat last night (figuratively, not literally!). So, Ep5 is back underway; Secret Project #1 coming along at warp factor 9, so it's all good.

I hate calling it "writer's block", though. That conjures images of a huge blank space in which I am sat with a typewriter in front of me and utter silence. How bizarre... less cheese before bedtime in future, methinks...

Equally, the so called "writer's block" (or "creational imagery disassociation syndrome", to give it a poncey name (CIDS, not to be confused with KIDS, which is an entirely different way of preventing any writing getting done:P)) could just as easily be down to "burn out"; write too much, too fast too often and sooner or later your "creativity pool" dries up. No amount of poking around in the mud will come up with anything (except maybe a shopping trolley, some dead fish, a single lost wellington boot and a rusty bedstead), and it's merely a point of locking the brain room up, walking away for a bit to watch movies, read, exchange witty banter, etc, and allow time for the reservoir levels to build back up again to a sufficient level.

Well, hopefully, I have topped up my pond, retrieved my key, unlocked the brain room, blown the dust off the typewriter and launched back into it again, after an awkward week of false starts and some uninspiring few pages.

Once more unto the breach, I utter....

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Captain's Blog 15.01.09

Work proceeds apace at fleshing out the cast of the season...

For Episode Two, so far I have Biggstrek signed up to repeat his all-star performance of an old bugger for the Bishop; for Episode Three I have Roger doing a dramatic turn as the main guest role, ably supported by Norrie and WX_IVAN in two of the other key parts for that episode.

Episode 4 is quite heavy on dialogue, with only 4 guest actors and a sizeable chunk of lines to deliver each; hoping that will come off nicely as that has some nice lines in it (in my opinion; well, I wrote it, I have to blow my own trumpet (although I am given to understand that it could make me go blind, so I best be careful there...))

Episode 5 is going to be another "hard work" episode, especially for Marine and the actress playing M'raal, as it's quite a claustrophobic episode, touching on prejudice and how it affects people's perceptions and actions; hoping it will come out ok (once I've finished writing the damned thing! Having a smidge of difficulty concentrating on this one for some reason, so might have to switch the running order around and write Episode 6 first).

Decided to cut the season 1 episode short in order to avoid me exploding (the other drafted episode was going to be another "heavy hitter" and after the other two this season, wanted to lighten the mood a bit before the season ender), and to bring the finale forward an ep... but it will be a double-length (i.e. 2 parter) to make up for it. Some big shocks coming for the Odyssey crew in their first full year... hoping it comes out well. Plus, with each ep pushing upwards of 25-40 mins, it will be hard enough getting one out to a decent standard at a time as it is, without 2 more episodes complicating the issue :)

Hopefully, if I can get some interest from "outside writers", the pressure will be off a little for the next season; Season One is there mainly to flesh out the characters, show some of the universe and give people a feel for how it looks, acts and works, so they can potentially write an ep and ease the pressure on me a bit; Odyssey is my baby, but I also like to stretch my wings a bit (evidenced by me taking on the job of doing WotW, for some insane reason...)

Speaking of WotW, Part Three is underway as a "side project" to this; some ideas starting to germinate for Secret Project #1... Secret Project #2 will be next up after these are completed (will be writing these in conjunction with producing and shooting Odyssey, which should help alleviate some of the "writing burnout" I think I'm starting to get with so much sci-fi on the go (love it, but one can have too much cake all at once :P)

(Lashes himself); back to work, Killy... you know the golden rule:- "It won't write itself!"

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Captain's Blog 14.01.09

Freezing cold again today; oh how I hate winter.. let me count the ways...

It looks pretty, everything layered in a rime of glittering white; the full moon twinkling from the edges of shiny ice... the puffs of hot breath in the air...

Until you have to go out to work in it at some ungodly hour of the morning and your unmentionables develop a hard coating of frozen water, that is... even my luxurious tresses were crispy with ice this morning... and it was mild as hell when I put the rubbish out last night; bloody weather...

Oh well... enough moaning, on with the writing :)

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Captain's Blog 13.01.09

Whither Machinima?

Where is the hobby/obsession that is machinima/anymation heading?

We've come a long way from the original screen captures from first person shooters; a long way from sappy and crappy toilet humour Halo/Half-Life/Counter-Strike etc comedy shorts. With the plethora of software available today, where does this seem to be leading?

Increased control of every aspect of a machinima production and better graphics/animations seems to be the way forward; already, iClone and Moviestorm are leaping ahead in the "do as thou wilt" areas; with better avatar graphics and smoother animations, they will soon be streets ahead of most of the "none-propriatory" software that's available, and leading us firmly into the Third Age of home 3d animation movies.

So, what waits around the corner? Each age has it's casualties (The Movies, for example, died effectively stillborn; woefully unsupported by its makers due to terrible marketing decisions, it would now be a dusty relic if not for the dedication of a small band of modders, writers, directors and voice actors who have injected it with energy and life and kept it going, even 3 years after it first appeared, with no sign of it stopping, but sooner or later it will be left by the wayside as better tools appear), but each age also has it's stars (currently iClone and Moviestorm). What's the next thing that may be lurking round the corner?

Who knows? Accessibility is a big thing to pursue, I feel; the more accessible something is, the more likely it will be that people will become involved in it. Make something too esoteric and only the die-hards will stick with it; TM was very good in this aspect of it's design, in that it was very easy to get started without hours and hours of paging through the manual to find out how to do stuff. Personally, if I had the time to delve into iC or MS, I probably would be away now, plinking at shorts and learning the program. Unfortunately, at the moment I have far too much on my plate to devote the time to learning a new suite of tools at this point. I'd love to get cracking on these programs, but the lack of time prevents me doing so right now.

A slight hindrance to me picking them up is the need to "swot up" a lot on the intricasies of the new engines (I'm an old Luddite and if I have to spend more than 10 minutes to get something working, I tend to not bother with it). I'd love both of these to be more user-friendly than they are (not that they're exactly rocket science to figure out at the moment, but "Luddite" here :P); time is a luxury I don't have a lot of, unfortunately, even though I don't sleep and have no life, but I'll get there in the end.

Anyway, enough pontificating from me; I have ten million things to do and only 1 pair of hands, so enough waffle... on with the work!

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Captain's Blog 10.01.09

Interesting development following a brainstorming session with the story arc of Odyssey has me quite stoked. Won't say more at the moment about it til its laid down a bit more solidly, but some nice potential indeed has appeared...

Lines day today; got a bunch to do for an upcoming movie, got the missus to gently remind about doing some as well... it's all go at Killian Caves at the moment :)

Taking a WotW break for a coupla days to get started on Episode 5 of Odyssey so I can try and get that out in between drafts. Still working on ideas for Secret Project Number 2 (but I have a vague plan for it); Secret Project Number One is basically down in very rough format, so dependant on how things pan out with WotW and Odyssey, that might be the next one into the writing tray :)

Taking a break for a day or two to consider recent events. I'll post further once I have gone over things in a calm and considered way and decided on the way forward.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Captain's Blog 08.01.09

Onto more pleasant thoughts... Part Two of WotW completed and passed to Chris for his views and comments; one more Part to write then it all just needs putting together :)

Episode Five about to go onto the desktop; big character piece for the Doctor and Ensign Cross, which should be a character defining piece if I can pull the threads together :)

Birthday looms; quiet one this year (the "credit crunch" tends to curtail festivities, after all), probably some wine, maybe a pizza... wooo, big spender :P

I might treat myself to a lie in; that's about the limit of my spoiling, I reckon :P

Chunk of lines to record for an upcoming movie tomorrow, so that (coupled with consultation on WotW, writing and drinking lots of coffee) will probably be my Saturday... meh, it's a life :P

Ranting time

Need to get this off my chest as it's really stuck in my craw; majorly pissed off that someone who is such an attention whore manages to drive valued members of the community to attack each other, drive people away and still manage to come out looking like the victim, when it was the attitude displayed by this elitist prick (towards the very people he purported to be supporting in a previous rant on another thread on another forum, I might add...) that started the whole thing in the first place.

Ok, the thread in question got a little out of hand, mainly due I think to the frazzled tempers, but it's exactly the attitude that this person (I use the word advisedly) has displayed towards new film makers and the blatant disrespect for others that was publically posted that caused the whole uproar in the first place, which ended up with a quitting mod and 3 other members walking away from the whole thing. A sad, sad day indeed for the whole community, "in my opinion"...

One does NOT lambast new and potential film makers; a proper reviewer will critique, sure, but not just concentrate on the bad stuff in ANY movie without giving some advice, and one certainly does NOT make elitist comments like "I will only be reviewing movies made with TM", when the whole idea is to bring the disparate communities together, not drive them apart. Still at least our iClone and MS bedfellows won't have to suffer the unique brand of crap being spouted at them... at least for now.

Sadly, the situation will basically make a lot of newcomers think "Jesus, what a shower THIS place is!" and might very well result in newbies avoiding the forums and ultimately the movie site like the plague; it's already cost us 3 respected members of the community (no doubt there will be some who think "good riddance", in which case they need to seriously adjust their attitudes, "in my opinion").

"Honest reviewer", my arse... it's an OPINION, not gospel, and if people ask not to have their movies reviewed, that request should be respected... blatantly refusing to honour that request is effectively telling everyone that this individual has absolutely NO respect for anyone at all... it's not like I expected it, though, to ne honest, based on the previous rantings made about specific individuals in the community, the entire moderating team and the site and its members in general...

My ignore list is now one name longer than it was before last night; no loss "in my opinion" (which is what all this is, ultimately; make of it what you will).

/rant over; piece said, moving on.

We now return you to our regularly scheduled programming...

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Captain's Blog 07.01.09

Episode Four of Odyssey completed and distributed; War of the Worlds Part Two well underway; Episode Five to commence work on. 3 more scripting jobs in the pipeline, all for fellow community members; 1 for a series, 1 for an old friend and one for a dear friend :) Not at liberty to discuss who or what yet, so we'll leave that little snippet dangling, shall we? :)

Coupla roles to get down as well, which I'm planning on recording this weekend for an upcoming movie. Lines to record for Ken for Daedelus as well over the next few weeks, so that's something else in the pipe... and, of course, Odyssey to continue. Halfway through the planned episodes for the first season, all of which are character pieces of one sort or another, so pretty much on track at the moment to meet my self-imposed "production schedule".

The first two "arc" episodes are complete, with two more in this season and a linked series of 3 episodes and the season opener for Series 2 all in synopsis form. It's all go in the Cave at the moment, I tell you!

More tapping away to complete, so I will leave you to ponder this ages-old question: What is an occasional table the rest of the time?

Hmmmmm.... bye for now :)

My thoughts on Writing for machinima (Part Two)

Character... that's the thing I enjoy most in a movie, TV show or book. Show me a well rounded character and I'm happy.

It doesn't have to be a sickly sweet, white hat hero (in fact, that's probably the WORST kind of hero in my book :)), but if a character is believeable, flawed, makes mistakes, grows and develops as the story progresses, it'll do nicely, thank you!

A lot of thought SHOULD go into character "design" for a movie, and (it goes without saying) a lot more thought into any ongoing series! The audience has to be able to empathise in some way with the portrayal; make it too artsy, too incomprehensible, too vulgar, etc, and you risk losing the interraction with the viewer.

Never give away too much about the character in an ongoing series, at least at first; let the viewer see the broad strokes of the part in the first viewing, so they get a rough idea of that role in the production. Then, and ONLY then, start peeling away the layers until (eventually), the audience knows that character almost (if not better, at least as well) as themselves. Stand their preconceptions on their heads (if the story demands it and if the Character would believeably do those things); make the viewer CARE about what happens to that person (animal, etc; don't be constrained by what you "HAVE" to do). It doesn't matter what the story is, without well drawn personalities, the best tale will fall flat.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

My thoughts on Writing for machinima (Part One)

Story, story, story; the framework upon which any tale is constructed.

Without a story, there is nothing; no meaningful interraction, no conflict, no nothing. It's impossible to create a movie without a story (ok, well, maybe not impossible, but certainly very difficult); even a one scene film has SOMETHING which it is telling the viewer, even if it's not much of any interest!

When writing, always have at least an IDEA of where you want to end up; without an end goal, you will wander about all over the place and, although you might eventually get to where you want to be, it may very well have taken a lot of wandering about to get there :)

When writing for Odyssey, I usually start with a 3-4 line synopsis listing the key points of the story. Each episode script is aimed at around 38-43 pages, which should translate to 35-40 mins of on-screen time when filmed and edited. I'm a firm believer in writing character first and foremost (more on this later), developing the persona of the actor in the role through the telling of the story, and showing how the characters handle the situation they find themselves in.

It might not always be evident at first sight what the story is actually about, but each episode so far written has shown a little more of the principal characters, building on their burgeoning personalities, back stories and interractions with others as they face the issues in that episode. Hopefully, this rounds them out as more "real" and builds believeable characters which will grow and develop as the series progresses.

With one-offs or mini series, its a lot harder to develop character, so in these cases the plot itself is of at least equal importance. These tend to be much more rigid in their structure, at least for me; I'll do a broad-strokes run through of at least the first half of the movie in very rough form, to give me an idea of the key conflict moments, set piece scenes, snippets of dialogue, etc. I then use this as a "guide" when writing the full script.

That's not to say that I stick rigidly to this "route planner", but it allows me to avoid the "wandering pen" trap that a lot of writers can fall into; ambling aimlessly around from one situation to another until the bemused characters reach the end :)

I find that using the plan allows me to keep it tight, focus on the emotions and scenes I want to portray and stay on track, rather than going down the "scenic route" :) It also allows me to insert specific moments into the script and plan towards them, but again this is a flexible thing that grows out of the writing process as the characters develop on the page.

My scripts tend to be light on the camera and shooting notes, at least when I write for myself. A brief note of the specific shot set-up is all I tend to use, as I usually work "on the fly" when shooting, as a perfectly sound idea on paper doesn't always translate as well onto film. I also tend to write "instinctively"; I never worry about particular set-ups until I come to film it. If I've written "character shakes the phone", I will work around it (as there is no suitable scene in TM to do this). I don't try to constrain my imagination, as I find that blocks up the creative channels; write the script how it appears in your mind, then try to find the right scene to shoot it (whether that be direct out of the game, a combo scene utilising creative camera angles and set dressings to maintain the mood or even planning up chromakeyed shots to insert a particular scene in where you want it).

Thursday, 1 January 2009

New Year: 1 January 2009

Well, the next 365 days is upon us already; hope everyone had a rich and fulfilling new year's eve; had fun, saw friends and family, etc.

Ok, now that's out of the way, what's up in this opening blog?

Nothing much that you good folk don't already know, I'll warrant :)

Work beginning on Odyssey Episode Four; work underway on War of the Worlds... thought processes working on two other projects (still barely in the ideas stage) for two community members... and sundry other bits and bobs.

Nothing much to report in this initial posting, but thought I may as well get something down to get me started, or I'll faff about all week :)

Toodle-pip for now.