Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Interview, back to school

Awoken by the alarm this morning, I discovered that just about any amount of sleep is simply *not enough* if you aren't able to wake up on your own schedule.

Nervous morning waiting for bFM to call, for a Kapcon interview. Was especially nervous when 9.15am rolled by without the phone ringing - but it was all OK, just a slightly later start than they'd said over email.

The interview went fairly well - I got over most of my nervousness by about half way in, and I think it ended up being reasonably coherent. They've very kindly hosted the interview as an mp3:

http://www.95bfm.co.nz/default,88824.sm

I suspect it will only be there for a couple of days (maybe even just today?). I have downloaded it, and will listen to it shortly. In fact, I am listening to it *right now*. Well, the bit at the beginning where Mikey Havoc is talking about enjoying a good tug.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Genius of d20 Cthulhu

During last night's session of Nocturnum, the PCs were attacked by:

- a swarm of angry crows (1d2 damage per round until you take shelter)
- 4 angry cultists, one with a shotgun, 3 with farming implements
- One bigger-than-man-sized monstrous beetle
- Two bodyguards with pistols
- One tentacled monster

They didn't die in the first encounter. Or the second one. They each took at least 2 hits from the big monsters at the end, and while they were all fairly bruised by the end of the session, no characters were actually dead. They get to see the end of the campaign, playing the same characters they started with! Amazing.

I think d20 Cthulhu would be a perfect fit for Masks of Nyarlothotep - you start out average, but get more action-hero like as the game progresses. By the end you can actually engage in spy-tv-show level heroics without dying horribly.

I'm really quite happy with it as a system for ham-fisted pulpy Cthulhu.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Favourite Kapcon Moment

My favourite part of Kapcon this year was definitely the awards ceremony. There is something really wonderful about being able to acknowledge some of the excellent moments and star performers of the con, and it is the time when I feel the highest sense of community and shared good will in the con. This isn’t surprising, as it’s the time when everyone gets to share in a celebration of how good the con is, and is the longest time that everyone at the con gets to join together in an activity.

Now, as anyone who was there could tell you, I likes me a microphone. Despite the rigours of the weekend, starting with setting up the school on Friday at 2.30pm, including a Saturday that saw us at the venue from 7.45am until midnight, and despite the tiredness I had been feeling in the late afternoon, I really perked up for the awards ceremony. There are too many parts of the ceremony that I loved for me to mention them all, so instead I’ll try to remember some of the debriefing comments from last night:

People listened really well. I congratulated people before round 5 on their excellent listening (this is some of the best listening that Kapcon has ever had!), and I really genuinely meant it. When your job involves talking to reasonably sizeable groups of people every day, you very quickly learn the importance of good attentive listening, and how much one person talking can disrupt things. There were times when 80 or 90 people were all listening perfectly – not just keeping quiet, but really listening, and it was magical. This happened both during the regular announcements and the prizegiving, and it really warmed my heart.

At the end of the awards, Damon asked for a few more nomination forms to be read out, and I looked around the room to gauge the mood or attention span of the crowd. Despite having been listening for a good 20 minutes, I saw something like 90% of people looking really keen, and not a single person who looked bored or fidgety. I think the addition of random spot prizes for funny nominations has really helped make the prizegiving ceremony a fun event, and it allows people to hear just a few snippets of what was happening in games around the con.

People laughed at some of my lame jokes. It was awesome.

People applauded until their hands hurt, and that was fantastic.

I got to say all kinds of congratulatory and reflective and heartfelt and humble things, and mean every single one of them.

I got to stand in a room filled with 80 or 90 people who I am lucky enough to call my friends and tell them to give themselves a round of applause. How often do you get to do that?

I got to thank the people who had worked so hard to make Kapcon happen (though of course I missed some names), and I got to pass the torch on to Paul. He might struggle to keep me off the mic next year, but I’ll be happy to be doing less desk duty, and to be playing in and running awesome games at Kapcon 17 (I played in 2 sessions this year, plus the LARP – next year I might even play 2, run 2!).

Ah, Kapcon. Loves it me does, loves it.

Matt rocked the mic

Kapcon 16 was officially a blast. I played in 2 excellent tabletop games (Inspectres and The Penguin Harlequinade), LARP'd in style, and got to play with a PA and wireless microphone all weekend long.

I loved doing the prizegiving with a microphone, and all the massive amounts of love.

Now I am the tired Matt, but still buzzing, so I go to drink milo and rave about how great Kapcon is, and perhaps inch a little closer to being able to sleep.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Some lessons learned

Wonderful Library
- Don't play in a LARP on the weekend of the 48
- It is possible (but not sensible) to stay up writing until 4am on Friday, get 45 minutes' sleep, then act/LARP until midnight Saturday
- Outputting a 'safety cut' of your film is vital
- Pith helmets are awesome (I got one as an anniversary present in 2006!)

Monster Hunter IV
- Having 2 editors makes the job much easier, and probably more fun
- Rain and mud may not be fun to film in, but they don't look bad on screen
- Learning how to do good ADR would be a valuable skill
- Having extras in a scene is cool

Moviefest
- Physical comedy has very broad appeal (Life Lesson 12)
- Set dressing can really make a scene pop (With Mighty Power)
- Lots of people on a film set will have good ideas, and it can be in your favour to be receptive to that (whilst still clearly being 'in charge') if you are the director (WMP)
- You can acheive a lot with a small number of people (Teach Him a Lesson), but it's probably best to have at least 2 people in the crew :)

Ephemeral
- Music is a fantastic tool to link shots together. Ephemeral has a cohesiveness that is pretty surprising, given how it was filmed. I think a lot of that is down to the music track.
- Slow motion and reverse motion need not be as tacky as you might think. In fact, slowing things down to about 80% - 90% is often undetectable (Premier Pro keeps the audio at the same pitch, whilst slowing it down)

Missing
- Dollies are fantastic. Camera movement gives a huge dollop of 'production value' (PV as Hix called it) if it's done well

So You're Getting Married
- 2 pages of solid dialogue ends up being more than 10 minutes of screen time
- Verbal jokes work well when they have visuals to back them up
- Windows Moviemaker doesn't always play well with avi files exported from Premier, and nor does WinDVD

Horror Film
- Scenes with lots of people in them are a nightmare for positioning continuity. Make sure your closeups contain only one actor, and be aware that you may not be able to use some closeups or takes because someone's hand is in a different position. Or you can just say 'screw continuity' and have your wide shots not quite match your closeups

So, what did you learn from these films?

Friday, January 12, 2007

A busy year of filming

2005

It's a Wonderful Library, Jenni's Angels' first effort for the 48 hour film competition. (7 minutes long)

2006

Monster Hunter IV - Jenni's Angels' second entry in the 48 (6:30)

Teach Him a Lesson - a 4 person short for the Moviefest competition (5 mins)

Life Lesson 12 - a teacher / student short for the Moviefest competition (5 mins)

With Mighty Power - Jenni's Angels' short for the Moviefest competition (5 mins)

Ephemeral - a pretentious art film shot with some Jenni's Angels peeps (2:30ish)

So You're Getting Married - a short instructional film made for Erik's stag night (11 mins)

Missing - a Lee production, written by and starring Lee. Looks to be about 10 minutes long.

2007

Horror Film - shot for fun, editing now. Will probably end up close to 40 mins.

As you may have guessed, Debbie and I have been busy beavers, and have learnt a lot about making short films amateur style in the past year and a half. It's a really nice feeling to have been busy and productive, to have a good number of projects that I'm really quite proud of, and to have learnt from each and every experience. Will 2007 be as busy as 2006? It seems probable. We already have another horror film idea mapped out, have discussed an idea for an ongoing series of shorts, and will want to enter both the 48 and Moviefest again (despite there being a few glitches in Moviefest, it's still a great motivator, and hell, we got 3rd in the country in our category this year. Hooray for small fields of competition!).

One of the things I love about making short movies is that it's a project that many people contribute to, and which produces a clear and lasting product. I am very comfortable with being proud of both my own work and the work of others, so it's awesome to be able to kick back and watch a DVD of our movies, or share them with others. I'm even getting over the cringe factor of seeing my performances as an 'actor' - I can watch 'It's a Wonderful Library' quite happily.

So yes, I really like making short movies, and it's highly likely that I will continue to do so in 2007. It's a bit of a rekindled passion - having made goofy short movies in high school and early university days, then drifted away from it for a few years. I'm very happy that Jenni set her mind on the 48 and assembled such an awesome team - it's a damn good thing to be mucking around with video cameras again :)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A kind of fresh madness

Debbie and I are deep in editing mode. We are less than a third of the way through editing a very long short film that we shot this week, and it's hard going.

It's likely to end up being somewhere between half an hour and 45 minutes long, a horror film. Debbie has blogged about the read-through, and I've monologued briefly about it to various people. It's sort of a horror comedy.

We shot it at pretty much 48 Film Competition pace - three and a half days, plus one all-nighter. The all-nighter was insane - freezing conditions, no sleep, stumbling about in a small patch of woods with lanterns trying to frantically film scenes so kids could get back into warm clothes. Shame none of the footage is usable :0

When I say freezing conditions, it's only a slight exagerration. When we went to leave at 5.30am, there was ice on the windscreen of my car - too thick for windscreen wipers to remove. I had to pour water over the windscreen before I could drive anywhere.

Anyways, we finished shooting on Tuesday (having shot Wednesday 4pm to Thursday 5am, Friday 6am to about 8pm, Monday 8.30am to 6.30pm and Tuesday 9am to 3pm), and now have 9 tapes worth of footage to edit together. I hope not to succumb to editing madness, but fear that it may be inevitable.

On a more Kapcon related note, Kapcon is coming up soon. There are a couple of little jobs to do, but mostly it's just the showing up and being excited that remains. Huzzah!

Now I must return to the laptop and do more editing. This film won't put itself together.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Challenging Video

Youtube version of the Challenges - Matt's not-so-steady handicam footage!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7j5Xo4Fi-Y

Congratulations!

To the Happy Couple :)

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

The wedding was lovely, the reception was muchos fun, and the bbq ceremony was lovely too.

I have some video footage, which I will make available shortly somehow.