Hope you've been enjoying the ongoing behind-the-scenes interviews with cast and crew, as we continue to work on the mountain of post-production tasks. Hundreds of people have worked on the film by this point and everyone has a story to tell, across multiple countries and time zones. If you haven't yet, you should check them out.
Apologies for not posting updates more often. Hopefully you'll forgive us for focusing on finishing the film instead of writing for this blog. Still, we know you want to know what's up and will try to do more regular updates.
Since the last update, there's been a huge amount of post-production progress in a number of departments and some set-backs too. Nothing terminal, but unforeseen challenges have a way of voraciously eating up our hours. So goes life.
First, the good news.
Over the summer of 2012, a handful of fantastic, talented, upcoming illustrators joined the team to help flesh out the concept art for our visual effects, working with Visual Effects Producer Gordon Wittmann, Sr. Art Director Frank Cirocco, UI Consultant Chris Noessel and Director DJ Bad Vegan.
While the film was originally written to be relatively VFX-free, great ideas kept popping up (dammit) and we ended up with a film that needed a couple dozen different VFX concepts. Some are fairly complex, requiring 3D models, textures, lighting and everything you'd expect from a completely computer-generated character or object.
Normally, concept art for VFX is started -- if not completed -- before the film is shot. In our case, we didn't have that luxury (i.e. money and time). Getting our ultra-low budget DIY live action production off the ground was already mission impossible -- the VFX concept work had to wait until post-production.
So over the last six months, these tireless illustrators have been producing and revising (and revising again) some fantastic designs for a number of our most important VFX models.
Some of the most completed concept art for these models are below. No real spoilers are provided and we'll let the designs speak for themselves. We want to save the surprises and context for the film itself, so we'll let you be baffled about what these images have to do with a futuristic story about a debt-ridden beta-tester in a buggy virtual reality simulation of the "War on Terror."
Next up for VFX: more concept art and creation of 3D models (which has already started). Illustrators, modelers, 3D animators and other VFX artists are encouraged to get in touch with us.
Now for some bad news.
Strangely enough, even though we're now about two years since the bulk of production was completed (both principal and most of our 2nd unit work), we do not have a rough cut, much less a fine cut, locked edit.
While there has been important progress over the past few months (including extensive color and visual treatment explorations with After Effects as well as the crucial detailed scene-by-scene, shot-by-shot change list for the editor), there have also been some major set-backs.
In short, our editing project file is fucked.
We're not quite sure why -- maybe it was the multiple drives we were using instead of a single consolidated drive for the media, or the duplicated naming scheme of our audio files, or the constant reconnecting of the media, or that Mercury was in retrograde (or all of the above) -- but our editing project file is now corrupt and just won't reconnect media properly.
Thankfully, this doesn't affect our underlying footage. All that is fine and safe. But the project file is where we organized it all and -- importantly -- have it edited together into our revised assembly edit.
Thanks to a clever workflow devised by our Post-Prod Supervisor (and amazing filmmaker in his own right) Vincent Cortez, we'll be able to launder the edited sequences and then recreate a new project file, cleansed of the offending corruption.
But this will take time and a lot of manual labor. We're using this as an opportunity to really clean up our act: organize the proxy footage onto one drive (for simplicity's sake) and rename all 1300+ audio files with their scene, shot, take and descriptions. Basically, our shit will be sorted out and we'll be ready to roll even stronger with editing after that.
Why didn't we do it right like that in the first place? Ultimately, we just didn't have a post-prod supervisor during production and we were moving too fast during the various production phases and 2nd units with different teams, so things got put in different places with different naming conventions.
For those of you filmmakers out there, learn from our mistakes and plan your post-production file management prior to production. Or feel the pain.
Regardless, we're moving forward on this plan (half of the 1,300 audio files are already reviewed and renamed -- we have to listen to each clip individually) and hope to be editing again in the spring, if not sooner.
Thanks for your patience and for the hard work of everyone on the team. Even if we haven't had much to say, rest assured, we're on the move.