Saturday 16 July 2011

Wrapping up

Well, I'm relieved to report that the film is finally finished and was handed-in on time for our university deadline. The final week of production was one blur of last-minute animating, editing, special effects, sound recording, compositing, sound mixing, late nights, pizza, music recording, rendering [...] and exporting but we got there in the end.

Emma-Rose recording sound for the film

Whilst I was finishing the last of the animation for the film, Emma-Rose continued working on the sound. Much of the sound was gathered from audio libraries earlier in the project for use in the animatic but I also recorded various low-fi temp sounds from scratch. Emma-Rose set about recording high-quality clips of various noises for use through out the film. Sounds included; scrapes, slips, bangs, smashes, footsteps, soil and other strange noises.

Jack Vaughan immersed in the art of mixing

After animating I went to Bristol to mix the sound with Jack Vaughan. This process was fairly unconventional as I was still editing the latter half of the film whilst Jack mixed the sound for the first half. One thing I am really pleased with in this film is having been able to raise the bar in terms of production values in many aspects of the project. Being able to spend time with Jack on getting the soundscapes right, making them work with the image and help to tell the story was just really excellent.

The sound montage of clips and samples placed alongside
the image which is shown as thumbnails along the top

When I planned the project I had all the elements in mind; image, music, sound, all the various visual languages etc. It's easy to forget later in the production that everything has been carefully constructed around a balance of these elements and they all rely on each other. I think at one point I became disillusioned with the image alone and I did worry about clarity and value in the image and I think it was only after getting everything together finally that things made sense again and those elements synthesized in a way I'd hoped they would.

The tired director's weary gaze and beside him, a glimpse of the film

Lewys Hobden did a couple of great composited sequences for us. I'd intended for the parts where Ivor moves from one location to the next to be animated in stop-motion like the rest of the film but when we'd made the set, which was huge in itself, the removal van I was trying to make out of cardboard had to be about 4mm wide which was fairly impossible to make with the detail required. So I shot the van from another scene against a green screen and then shot the landscape separately and Lewys animated these sequences in computer and they work really well. Audiences who've seen the film since don't seem to notice the jump in technique and I'm happy to let technology help us out where possible. So the film has ended up having stop-motion, 2D and computer animation. Phew.

A very tired Kit Wilson putting the finishing touches to the music (sorry Kit!)

Emma-Rose and I popped up to London very briefly to see Jan Ň†vankmajer talk in person at the Barbican (write-up on my blog here) and get the final music from Kit Wilson. It was a very late night night but great hearing it all together. Kit had done the final recording session that day; him on piano accompanied by Victoria Bernath on viola. The final piece of the puzzle was in place.

There were several times on this project where I never thought we would get it finished. The sheer scale of it was daunting, all that needed to be constructed and animated, but we've got there and with the help of a brilliant and dedicated team. I have added a thanks section to the crew page detailing all the lovely people I am indebted to.

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