Co-wrote, directed, and produced this sci-fi short film with comrade Rick Glenn.
Rick had previously directed a very witty and clever short called LA Bag Brothers which was very well received at numerous festivals around Los Angeles. He and I have worked closely together on numerous projects at Digital Domain's commercial department as well as each others passion projects and this is our first collaboration healming together for cinematic awesomeness.
This project constitutes my third time co-writing a script yet the first of the three to get across the finish line. I often find co-writing can be a huge benefit over writing alone since the other person, sharing your similar insight, can do a great deal to push your ideas farther than you might have taken them alone. The script began around very lose ideas but focused on a very specific location. The final draft ended up being a 7-page dystopian story loosely inspired by and of a similar flavor to theHalf Life franchise.
The film has a very 'work together' theme which to me made it a story very much worth telling in our current world. Many films made in the last 30 years have had very every man for himself, individualistic themes made especially popular in the 80's (I highly recommend David Sirota's book 'Back to Our Future' on this subject) so a goal for this project was to tell a story which would be the antithesis of that.
After finishing the script, we had three rounds of casting sessions in LA and ended up securing two great young actors for the lead roles, Daniel Gamburg & Tiago Felizardo. Neither of which were new to acting and were both pros through and through. Daniel is a filmmaker first and a fantastic actor second. He had starred in Bag Brothers and actually teaches acting classes through his production company Enlightened Pictures and runs a joint production company called Musing Pictures while Tiago has a background as a child actor in Portugal.
The film ended up being shot over 5 nights over multiple months on three Canon DSLR's - A 5D, 60D, and T2i. Our lighting kit consisted of very cost effects LED's bought almost entirely off Amazon.com which I would consider only one notch up in quality from the work lights at Home Depot, but we are now at a point with lighting technology where they do the job very well and can yield beautiful images. Our camera department consisted of Matt Smith & Vernon Wilbert, along with Jason Cooper who ended up being our Gaffer.
Following up on the Geroge Lucas quote, "Sound is 50% of the experience" the score, done by Dan Haigh and Alex Westaway (Gunship) and sound editing & mix done by Andrew Duncan can not be underemphasized on this project. Both are phenominal and made what was an already amazing short into somthing easily 10 times more sucessful. I wouldnt be suprised to hear some people think it's the best work of their careers to date.
Mega thanks to them and the rest of our fabulous crew who we couldn't have asked for much better at each step of the way. Another tremendous thanks to Gary Roberts & Steve Madonna, without who's help the project would not have been possible.
Stay tuned for festival updates...
Did a few weeks on previs work with The Picture Mill in Hollywood designing this 10-second bumper for the National Football League. It's the 21st century version of their end title copy-write bumper and consists of a fly over North America from low altitude to space. Similar in feel to the 100th Year Anniversary Universal logo which Weta Digital re-did.
Three weeks to do 10 seconds was a very nice and healthy chunk of time so the piece is definitely the most polished previs single shot I've done to date.
Created this 90-second launch spot for Tu Le. He's kicking off the 2013 new year with his new company, fotopodbooth which has developed a couple custom and origonal photo booths designed for high end parties, clubs, and events.
Most photo booths are tiny metal boxes that about four people max can fit into. The "Foto Pod" is a larger, custom inflatable tent that has the feel of a bounce house for adults. Since it's a tent, custom LED lights can be fit inside that allow for amazing lighting which serves both the imagery taken by the booth and to attract people up to it. Who doesn't want to go up to a big glowing marshmallow at a party?
The story of this spot is all about the relativly quick setup Tu does when the booth is brought to a new location. Shot over two nights on a hacked Panasonic GH2 (Driftwood Apacolypse Now settings) and hyper fast Voigtlander Leica M-mount lenses yealds an image easily as good as a Red Scarlett. All from a $700 camera body. Francis Ford Coppola thinks so as well.
For third time in two years, Vernon Wilbert and I are nominated for a Visual Effects Society award in the category of Virtual Cinematography. We share this year's nom with Director Adam Berg and CG Supervisor Ron Herbst.
Close comrades at Marauder Film set up shop in our home Aurora-Lab office in Los Angeles for the week posting MILK IN FIRST. A brilliantly original and stylized short shot in The Hague, Netherlands.
The film is quite slowly paced with a shocking 1/2 punch final act. It's totaly unexpected and will be permintly imprited in your memory after you see it.
From the mind of Bastiaan Koch.
With the near completion of our second narrative short film, SUP3RV15ED, I've rolling out the updated site of my various directing work - aurora-lab.com
At this point it's not an official production company but more like a label I attach to all my passion projects. Much as Quintin Tarantino's production company, A Band Apart is derived from the iconic imagery of Reservoir Dogs, AURORA-LAB is derived from the first short film we started, but what will be the second to be realeased, AURORAS.
I don't really think it's valid for someone to title themselves a director unless they've gotten paid to do so and learned years ago that for the most part, no one is ever going to hire and pay you to direct anything unless you've already made something that proves you can direct well. I've always enjoyed developing projects on the side, but in the last few years have kicked that into high gear spending the vast majority of my free time creating various commercial/music video/short film projects independently with the intention of building up a body of work that tells stories while developing my style.
Moving away from exclusively visual effects work, in addition to the occasional freelance cinematography role (both live action smaller budget projects & CG previs projects), I'm long overdue for transiting into what I've always wanted to be, a filmmaker. So many people don't purse their true passions and end up working hollow jobs their whole lives. A crucial ingredient to life happiness is finding a way to do what you love for work because then it's not really work. I've had a very fortunate and amazing career in visual effects but very rarely during that time have I been achieving my full potential. In order to get to that next step, one has to be able to spend a great deal of personal time getting good at their passion and be willing and not scared to almost start from the bottom again.
One double edge sword people fall into when trying to become directors is doing productions that are too much for independent financing. This is a common problem in film schools where students go down a wrought of getting a full crew together and then end up spending way more their time steering the ship that is the production rather then focusing on the film making. This is one of the primary reasons its so helpful to have a good Producer to remove that part of the process from the director. I find the vast majority of film school or post film school independent projects suffer from a inspiring writer/director getting too bogged down in so many things other then telling a story and as a result the final product they're trying to create ends up being not strong and goes no where. Even in cases where a lot of money is spent.
If one is seasoned enough to have done a variety of different roles both on set and in post, you can build up a unique skill set where you can eventually create projects with a very small team of just a few other people OR pretty much be the entire pipeline from beginning to end yourself if needed. Film making is an extremely collaborative process and while I am always for keeping crews as small as possible on larger productions, I wouldn't necessarily want to only make lower budget projects this way my whole career. During a transition period where you're just starting out, getting your first bad films out of the way, figuring out what kind of storyteller you are, are not yet established or most importantly paid, then it's absolutely crucial to tell stories that allow you to keep it small. Because if you keep it small, it's the most likely way it's going to GET DONE as the majority of people who take on projects independently in film school or post film school don't give them the full love they need or even worst, never finish them.
Since it's basically the key creative position, so many people in all areas of the film industry want to be directors and visual effects artists are certainly no exception. The word is out in Hollywood that VFX Supervisors generally don't make good directors because the two most crucial ingrediants to film making are the script and the actors. Two things VFX personnelle are almost never directly involved with. The problem with VFX personnel in particular is even though you may have years of expeirince working on movies, you're generally sitting in front of a computer all day which has virtually nothing to do with physical shooting and most importantly, working with actors. So unless you've happen to spend quite a bit of time on set or on motion capture stages in your VFX career, you've been completely removed from where the movie is made. Getting on set is crucial if you want to eventually go down a film making path, because then when you shoot on your own time, (and there's no excuse to not do so now with how cheap and easily accessible the tools are), you know what to do and what not to do. I have a lot of respect to those with visual effects backgrounds who finish projects with high production value independently and infinite respect for those who finish projects which are GOOD pieces of film making. A great example of this is friend and fellow collaborator Grzegorz Jonkajtys who's short film's Ark and 3rd Letter have done this successfully and most importantly, allowed people to see him as a filmmaker first, and a visual effects artist second.
So many of our passion projects can have mind numbingly long production schedules which take multiple months or even years to complete. This is primarily due to having visual effects being done independently with a tiny team as side work in addition to staff or freelance day jobs. Bastiaan wanted to bang out a project on the quick by shooting exclusively live action, only directing actors, while having a short post schedule that consisted of purely edit, score, mix, and color grade.
The goal for the color look was a retro Hystamatic/Instagram style to support the film's 70's horror/thriller feel. Since we were tight on time getting the piece out to festivals, I ended up grading it not per shot but per sequence using Magic Bullet Looks.
Stay tuned for festival updates...
Hopped on this launch trailer with game engine guru Jerry O'Flarity.
Both Jerry and Vernon Wilbert are industry experts at knowing how to properly use game engines for cinematic and story telling purposes. This is opposed to their origonal use - making 3D game levels. Engines have had a long history of also being used for lower end, "in game" quality cinematics but new technologies such as the Unreal 3 Engine and CryEngine Cinebox are now getting so sophisticated they're evolving into cinema tools capable of creating high end "game plus" machinima pieces.
Game engines can have a very long learning curve and are often incredibly challenging to import/export rigs and animation out of. Since everything in engine needs to be in real time (the engine scenes are what the gamer is eventually playing) optimization is key as textures, lighting, shading, fx, etc, are all in a single 3D scene.
On a previous engine job we had undertaken the client was adement about all elements being done in engine. This was so they could say the trailer was the exact same quality level as the game play but still with the "game plus" look. It ended up being one of the most difficult spots the team had ever worked on and multiple people had melt downs.
Jerry's techniquie on this job was to do the oppisite and strip out everything except environment and characters and let all the elements and polishing be done in comp. Fx & simulation is completely different every time in engine which makes it nearly impossible to control. Doing it this way give full contorl and saved us major time. All in a great Image Comic style.