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Sunday, June 19, 2005

Animated Credits done, HI-Def conform

The animated opening credits are complete. I’m thrilled with them, although I had a crisis a day after they were delivered. While viewing the edited film with Director of Photography Evan Lieberman, I realized that Theodora, the lead character, is not properly established if the audience doesn’t see her on stage singing the theme song early in the movie. Theodora has to be seen happy and alive on-stage and depressed and cranky off-stage. That contrast sets up her mysterious past and the reveal of that past is the best moment in the film. If I use an animated character in the opening credits, all the audience sees is the cranky side and there’s no sympathy for her.
The main reason I decided to do an animated opening credit sequence was because the footage we shot of the actresses performing the theme didn’t turn out that great. It was our first day of shooting and we just didn’t have time to make it what it needed to be. My dilemma was: use the iffy footage and interrupt the flow of the animation, OR have a main character that isn’t properly established.

Compounding this problem was the fact that my HD conform was scheduled for Monday night after my animation was delivered Friday night. I had one day to find a solution. I tried inter-cutting the live footage with the animation, but that was problematic since both scenes were choreographed and lip-synched to the first 2 verses of the song. My solution was to edit in a chorus & verse that I’d removed long ago to shorten the credit sequence. I put the live footage all together in the middle of the animated credits, used a screen wipe to transition in and out of it and, voila, problem(s) solved. The animation retains it’s punch and integrity. And the live footage is short, succinct and a little surprising after seeing the animation. AND the audience gets to see Theodora happy and rocking on stage. At least, I’m pretty sure it solved my issues. As I’ve said before, it’s impossible for me to really judge the movie with any perspective since this month is the 3 &1/2 year mark since I start writing it.

That HD conform session went very smoothly. The fine professionals at Crawford Post did an excellent job, above and beyond my expectations, especially for a low-budget project like this one. Here’s some geeky movie totals: 77 minutes, 510 edits, one dissolve, two wipes (in the opening credits), two dips to black, one shot was blown up 15% in the film-to-HD transfer. Otherwise, no effects, no compositing. There’s still some color correction to be done for a few scenes, but the picture portion of Stomp! Shout! Scream! is essentially done.

Festival submission deadlines are here and I’ve had to send out tapes with a rough mix on them. While this audio is certainly not bad, I would have preferred to have some kind of professional mix by this point. Hopefully, that won’t detract from the film’s appeal. Toronto, Austin, and Sidewalk in Birmingham all have submissions and tapes. I probably won’t hear anything until August or later, so I’m trying to stay guardedly hopeful. At this point, it’s just depends on whether the movie is good enough or not.

Here's 3 pics of me on Day One of shooting, taking the "director's pose."