Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Prog report for you peeps

We've made leaps and bounds in the last couple of weeks!

The ADR was successfully recorded at
Entirely Sound 2 two weeks ago with Kassie and Bevan - and sounded terrific.

Meanwhile the compositing is all but finished - bar a couple of shots that need some polishing up. Then it's off for grading... which the film needs badly - - colours, contrasts and lighting jump around something dreadful, plus the whole thing just needs to be Marsified. It still looks way to "Earthy".

Dylan has been working his magic on the music and come up with some real moody, evocative stuff and will be forwarding it on to Entirely Sound for a first rough mix, which is exciting!

The plan is to have the whole thing ready to go by February... hard to believe, I know, but we'll get there.

I mean, eventually we just have to, right?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

ADR Monday

That's Automated Dialogue Replacement to you, pal! We're redubbing all the dialogue in Last Flight to get a pristine, consistent sound throughout. We're also using it as an opportunity to add some more character to the astronaut - grunts, sighs, and comments that hopefully will help the audience to connect with her.

We're also recording with Bevan Chuang - who has graciously agreed to read a version of the newsreader in Mandarin, which will be mixed in with the other versions we have.

In other news - all the CG renders are completed! Woot!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Back to it...

Got home from the US at 8am and started working on the film again by the end of the day. That didn't take long! Let's get this puppy wrapped up - before Christmas anyway.

Took a few photos of the Grand Canyon while in the States, among other things(!) and bought a 4.5 billion year old meteorite - as old as the planet.

Lord help, me I'm a geek.

Anyhows, moved all the remaining shots into one folder - and somehow it all looks more manageable... Unfortunately I'm starting my first day at the new Super City today, which I imagine is going to interfere with what I'd rather be doing (the film), so stand by for progress.

(Darn; 2 weeks away and I've forgotten the short cut keys in After Effects!)

Friday, October 15, 2010

All's quiet on the Martian front

I'm in the process of rendering the last two shots that need to be spat outta Vue: a Martian sunrise, and the penultimate shot of the giant canyons. Both are pretty heavy-duty and going to take about a week or two to finish.

Meanwhile, I'm off to the US for a couple of weeks, so will leave the computer to it - there's not much I can do while it's chewing through the renders anyway, so don't be surprised - or concerned -if the site goes quiet for a bit - - Last Flight is still flying! ;-)

Incidentally, I will be taking a helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon while I'm in the States, which I imagine is about as close as I'll ever get to a view like the one that' I'm rendering at the moment... Not that I'm complaining; Mars is only my second favourite planet; Earth is still number one with a bullet!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Oh well....

...So much for getting it done by the end of September... You live and learn I suppose...

Anyway, we've made huge progress, completing the majority of the compositing and recolouring. There's two major renders left to do, each which will take 2 weeks, and then finally we should be ready for sound, and the grade - assuming the rest of the compositing is completed by then.

And this film seriously needs a good grade! Colour jumps all over the place - and the whole thing needs to be reddened up considerably.

Anyway, enough for tonight... bed is calling!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Nuke 'em!

Our friendly CG expert, Oana, has been been using Felicity's artwork to create a 3D projection of the cliffs in Nuke - a tricky proposition, as the shot features quite a high-angle rotate, as you can see in the video below.

Still a few issues to work though apparently, but as you can also see, it's going to be a dynamite shot!, I love this stuff!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The inevitable HUD...

Slightly arty shot of the inevitable HUD...

What, you didn't think we'd have a POV HUD cause we're a "serious" sci fi film?

HA! I'm ALSO a geek, people!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Concept art from SauceFX

Felicity - working out of Sauce in Parnell has illustrated some beautiful concept art of the cliff shot we're planning on creating. See the large version here.

We now need to find someone with mad 3D skill to help us make this shot a reality! Please get in touch if you'd like to have a go at it - or you know someone who might be capable.

The shot involves a quarter track around the astronaut as she stands up, with the ground plane and cliffs moving in sync with her... the background comped in on cards. It's going to look fabulous.

In the meantime a huge thanks to Sauce and Felicity for the wonderful work!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Details details details...

I guess everyone knows how much work is involved in a film... But man! I've been flat out compositing Last Flight for weeks now, and there's still no shortage of things to do.

Big thanks to Paul, who has taken on a bunch of shots and given me lots of really useful pointers with my own work - which I'm still struggling with at times. Don't let anyone ever tell you that compositing is easy! It's detail-focused and time consuming: I've gone back to shots a number of times just because of some nagging detail that was eating away at me. And tracking... @#!$!*! Try tracking a computer display to some tiny screen that is jerking around like a bastard. The horror.

The screen-grab below is a shot that Paul has been chugging away at. I gotta say, he swears a lot less than me while he's working. Better results too.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Back to work

Another week off work - - to focus on - you guessed it - Last Flight... Sweet!

Plus I have help! As well as Adam, who is coming to work on the computer displays on Thursday, I have Paul working alongside me, who has graciously offered to do some of the compositing. You can see his reel here and his blog here.

Hot damn!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Yeasayer goes to Mars

This is without a doubt the most realistic video of astronauts on Mars I've ever seen. I loved it - and am a bit jealous about how successfully they've recreated the red planet!

YEASAYER - 2080 - MyVideo

Thanks to Dylan of for the heads up!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

One off the wrist

I've noticed quite a few sci-fi films sport the Astronaut wrist display - including the music video in the previous post - and here is ours, courtesy of Mr Sheffield, who spent days last week agonizing over its birth.

Iphone-style touch-screen of course.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

White Island in spaaaace!

Had this pointed out to me... We are far from the only peeps using White Island as a interplanetary destination. Our spacesuit is far superior however.

Sound bite

Cool news - we have Entirely Sound working on the mix for Last Flight!

Entirely Sound is a boutique audio studio run by Kahra Scott-James, specialising in custom sound design for animation, film and more.

Kahra actually gave us some training in production sound, prior to filming, to bring us up to speed on various dos-and-don'ts; which was a great help for our rather inexperienced little team.

We'll shortly be recording ADR with Kassie, and then Kahra will start in on the rough mix. I can't wait to hear what she comes up with!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Mars gets ratty(er)

This is a shot I'm working on which is a POV from the Astronaut's transmitter... Using a plug-in for After Effects called Damage... It basically makes your shots look much worse! Very nice.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The final countdown

For all you After Effects geeks out there: If you've ever tried to find the code to make a digital clock count-down in minutes, seconds and milliseconds, here it is.

I only mention this because it took Adam two and a half hours of frustration and swearing to worry this out on the interweb, so I figured the more links to it the better.

In other news, major progress over the last few days with the compositing of around 20 shots, and completion of wrist display computer graphics.

Go team LF!

Knock the bastard off...

It's time to finish Last Flight. I've set a deadline, folks - the end of September. That's right - - the end is in sight!

I've taken this week off to work exclusively on compositing. Adam has joined me on Weds, Thurs Fri to work on the computer displays... And damn if we aren't making progress!

I'll be back at work next week and then I'll take another week off to get the rest done.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Here's some recent examples of shots I'm putting together in After Effects...Steep learning curve, but fun!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

After Effects first draft...

Been slogging through After Effects... Here's one of my first attempts at compositing in it...

As well as a sky created in Vue, the image features animated dust clips and an optical flare, and the footage (shot at Sunset Studios) was cleaned up in PhotoShop...

Whew - it's been a real geeky weekend, but I freakin love doin the detail stuff!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Awesome tech discovery of the week....

...I can open video in PhotoShop and edit it directly there! OMG!! I Looove technology!

Spot the difference below - I have removed an annoying thread from an LF shot, frame by frame... in PhotoShop!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Another Mars film in the works!

Here's a quirkly looking independant film that's just come out in the States... Mars by Geoff Marslet (Perfect name!). More here and an interview here.

MARS - The Movie [HD Trailer] from Geoff Marslett on Vimeo.

Monday, June 28, 2010

...and nearly there!

This is a POV shot, hence the oblique view.

I've layered a reflection of the astronaut onto the display, which is quite effective.

I might need to add a small amount of jitter in there as well, to give it a slightly handheld effect, but otherwise I'm pretty pleased with the result.

Martian computer graphics from Damon Keen on Vimeo.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Future grunge with added static, scratches and scan-lines.

I guess the technology of 2038 is a bit crap...
You know what they say; you can put a woman on Mars, but you can't make an iphone work in space...

Friday, June 25, 2010

Details, details, details....

Here's a couple of examples of the animation that's being built for the computer displays that appear in the film...

We're going with monochromatic displays - on the assumption that power is at a premium within the astronaut's spacesuit.

Also note our usage of IAL - the International Auxiliary Language of 2038. This is a language being used by the European Union in our future, and is an actual working language, created by David Parke.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Canyons test

Here's a quick and dirty (low res that is) look down into the canyons of Mars, with clouds whizzing past, as created in Vue 7.

The clouds are going way too fast, and full blown rendering of the shot is looking like it will take 10 days, so I'm not sold on it yet... But I'm getting there...

Canyons of Mars from Damon Keen on Vimeo.

This shot will ultimately be composited with a cliff-edge and our astronaut's feet, as we see a POV of her peering over the edge... Original storyboard shot below:

Monday, May 24, 2010

The worm has turned...

Mostly moving between sky renders in Vue to PhotoShop and back at the moment...

While some of the work is about creating nice imagery of Mars, a lot of it is actually just fixing consistency problems... For example, adding clouds to the sky in one shot because it's part of sequence that was shot earlier - when it was cloudy.

Mars is actually not particularly cloudy, but I've taken a bit of artistic liberty and decided to stick with cloudy skies. This is partly because it's easier to leave the clouds in the footage already shot (and add clouds to blue-sky shots), than take them out, and also because it looks great.

It's kind of embarrassing in a way, because it's the sort of thing that the geek in me gets irritated about in other people's sci fi movies!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Thursday, May 6, 2010


So... 50 hours rendering 40 seconds of Martian sky early this week (for the scene below), followed my 35 hours for 7 seconds of fast moving Martian clouds Weds/Thurs. My poor old computer is crawling.

I'll say one thing though, Vue does a beautiful job of skies; it's clouds are beautiful - it's certainly a godsend for us.

Every shot has now been assigned a job bag and handed over to Sunset for coordination.

Also a big welcome to Harry from Melbourne who is experimenting creating dust for a number of shots. Can't wait to see his results!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

We're alive!

...But what have we been doing?

Well, Dylan is working on sound and music (exciting!), and I've been putting every shot into a separate job bag (Boring!), so we can systemize the visual effects work. What this all means of course is that the edit is locked down - YAAAY! - and the final film is 18 minutes long.

So what's the plan, stan?
Well, once I've got every shot in its own job bag (this week) it'll go to Zane at Sunset Studios to be given a first grade - essentially to give the whole movie a consistent look.

Then we hand out the shots to various people to work on. This includes compositing and a lot of keying. Adam will be working on the animations for the wrist display computer. Which, in case you're wondering, currently looks like this:

LAME! Once Adam finishes of course it will look AWESOME. Can't wait.

Meanwhile, I've been rendering out cloud sequences in Vue and creating backgrounds for the green screen shots... Slow, but enjoyable work, at least it is if you're a geek like me.

In short, there's plenty happening. And if anyone out there knows anyone who could create some realistic CG dust for us, get in touch! We'd love to hook up.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Leaky suit...

A POV shot from Herne Bay yesterday, showing our astronaut's precious air venting from the leg of her spacesuit...

A star is born

Lance and I went cruising for birds yesterday ...literally! ...driving around Auckland looking for seagulls, slowing down everyone once and a while and yelling "there's one!"

It turns out that working with animals is a dumb idea. For all the fish and bread we threw at our "blue screen" tarpaulin for 2 hours, the bloody birds refused to go near it. Eventually a star was born (below) when one of the birds finally plucked up enough courage to give us the performance we needed.

We also collected a difficult special effects shot: a POV with freezing aerosol blasting out of our body double's space suit leg down at Sentinel beach in Herne Bay. It looked fantastic however, and our new body double, Frances Wilkie, was a legend. Thanks also to Treve, for giving up a golf day to stand around and throw bread at the gulls.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Looking down into Noctis Labyrinthus....

Just a quick render, looking straight down -about 5kms straight down that is- into the canyons of Mars. Starting to feel pretty good about the way they're looking!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Fly birdy, fly!

Rendered the computer generated seagull (see previous post) in Vue 7 and have dropped it into some of our green screen footage from Sunset Studios.

It's pretty unpolished, but looks like it may be fine for some of the more distant birdy shots - especially once we throw in a bit of dust and grade the sucka. Nice!

Seagull test from Damon Keen on Vimeo.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

First flight for this puppy...

Experimenting with 3D seagulls in Vue... Looks like they might work for some of the long shots of seagulls flying in the distance. I'll post some tests up shortly.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Happy New Year, crew!

Well the holidays are drawing to a close, so I better get on with it!

The plan for 2010 is:
  1. Film seagull shots
  2. Complete rough edit and test on audience
  3. Complete final edit
  4. Sound and music
  5. Special effects work - CG, grading and animation
  6. Last Flight Complete!
And finally, it'll be time for our premier, marketing and festivals.