Monthly Archives: April 2017

The Archer

About: I mentioned a lot about this film in my last Projects Update.

Pre-production: So I got this idea in England, and wrote the script then. I liked the action sequence idea, and wanted to have a twist at the end. I really loved the idea. I had always planned to film at night, so I waited until the sun sets earlier, later in the year. I needed lighting, which I had, but I needed it outside. I looked up portable lighting systems, then realized that they are basically flashlights. So I bought high beam flashlights and attached them to the lighting tripods. The reason I liked having an Archer, is because I have done a lot of archery myself. And I had a bow, arrows and quivver. It seemed to fit well.

Production: So we went out on a winter night to a bus stop near my house. I read ahead to make sure the busses wouldn’t constantly inturrept us (I read it wrong and they did, but it wasn’t too bad). We brought out the equipment: DSLR, Tripod, lights, costumes, and props. And we got filming. It was dark. The lights weren’t as bright as I had hoped. I had to put the camera at its brightest settings: 1/30 speed, 4.5 aperture, and 12,600 ISO. This is the recipe for grainy pictures, but it was all I could do. Filming went on, but the night was cold, and we had only about 3 hours. We changed a few things in the script, but got the footage that we could.

Post-Production:  So the footage was dark, and not as good as I had hoped. But I made the most. My first thing was to import all the footage, then lighten the scenes so I could see better what was going on. FCPX is actually quite good at lightening scenes. I found a good formula: shadows up 10% mid-tones down 10% highlights up 30%. And that seemed to make it brighter, without have a lot of grain (I hate grain). I then went on to write the theme song. So I have written music in the past, since I play 3 instruments, I know a lot about music theory. So of course for the theme I picked instruments I knew. I wanted the main part to be on piano, because that’s where my idea came from. After figuring out the 4 main chords I could add the other parts. Flute became the mysterious part of it, with a very simple, but important part. Then violin and cello became the body, and eventually violin became the counter theme (I play violin, I gotta give it a star role). And then I took a risk and threw in an electric base. It was risky, because it broke the classical instrument theme. I needed that power from the base though, and that dark eerie feel. I didn’t regret my choice. From there on the piece really wrote itself. It consists 3 variations on the theme: one for calm mystery, one for big moments, and one for action sequences. I’m starting to learn more about film scoring. Anyway I threw the piece on the film, and it fit together beatifully. I couldn’t have been more happy. The other part I liked is how I included VSFX. First was with the poster, I whipped it up quickly on photoshop and threw it into the movie. It fit well. The second was the arrow… that was harder. I had to make the animation myself. I went through lots of ways I could do it, and I decided to film it dropping onto a green screen. I then opened the footage in Photoshop, where it imported as frames. I had to take a few filler picks, but it pretty much worked out well and complete. Keframing was the annoying part. It’s strait forward, but time consuming (this is why I don’t like editing/animation).  But all in all it wasn’t bad how it turned out. A little fake, but it’s high school film.

Contribution: this was my project. Every part done by me (minus acting) all writing, pre production, filming, costume, editing, composing, and visual effects done by me. This film was my baby for the last few months. I wish it turned out a bit better, but I’m still happy with it.
Publication: Vimeo and YouTube. Winner at Eyelight for best sound and a contributed to my outstanding individual achievement award. Entered to NCSFF (status undecided)

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Ice: a suicide prevention PSA

Ice was made to be entered into directing change, but has become much more. 

About: pre-production: So I wanted to go for directing change year 2, and I wanted to make film that topped my one last year. I got Eric, he’s a great photographer and writer, and I asked if he wanted to work with me (and the writing and cinematography was the best in the film). He set out to write the script, and he wanted to use the symbolism of ice, because it is needs to be watched so it doesn’t melt or shatter. Anyway, I thought the idea was good, so we set out to film.

Production: He brought his dlsr and I had mine, so we were well prepared. The best part of filming was the ice scene. We got a big block of ice, and put it on the table, we then turned off the lights and shined a flashlight over only the ice. Then slowly pushed off the table. The other scenes were pretty strait forward. There were some intermittent cinematographic shots that Eric and I took. Those were fun and also a really good part

Post: Editing is when I noticed our achievements. All the footage came out beautifully. I couldn’t have been happier. I used picture in picture to parallel the ice and me falling, it worked really nicely. The cinematographic shots were really nice as well. I wish I could’ve used more of them. Getting it to one minute wasn’t too much of a struggle either. At the end I was actually really proud of how it turned out.

Contribution: It was me and Eric’s film. He wrote it, planned it, and did a lot of the camerawork/cinematography. I did the rest. I did the acting majorly, and all the editing. As well as helping out on set with the technical side of things

Publication: Entered into Directing Change 2017. Did not win any awards though. Did win in Eyelight for best set design and editing. And it contributed to my to my Outstanding Individual Achievement award.

AP Photo Portfolio Application

As I mentioned in my Projects Update, I got into AP photo. I wasn’t sure I’d make it, because I hadn’t taken the preliminary photography class. I thought I could do it though, because I had really gotten to know about photography with my new camera and I have been using photoshop since before I even touched a camera. Eric also helped me a lot, taking me on photo shoots and helping me work the camera. I take my DSLR everywhere now, and snap any picture I think worth while. I use it in film, and always take cinematic shots when I can. This camera has been my thing for the last few months. Anyway, here are the 10 photos I chose for my application. My goal was to show that I am as experienced as someone in regular photo is. So to do this, I wanted to show a variety of shots, and flaunt my photoshop skills. So here you will see a big variation of pictures, with some heavily photoshopped.

Houdini 1

This was an early picture of mine. I think it was the first day I went out and took pictures. And of course, my first model had to be my cat Houdini. I really like this picture, because he has sort of a static wondering in his eyes. In order to highlight his eyes, I actually took them to a new layer completely so that I could enhance them. It really brings them out.IMG_0452

This is agin one of my earliest pictures. I took it on my first real shoot going around the neighborhood. I found this tree in an orchard that was perfectly lit to an almost gold, and I became obsessed. Every part of the leaves glowed, and the whole tree was beautiful with the Lanternslevetation 2sunset solarizedduck splash 2Evan 1Eric 2Hillel landscapeWalker Woods

Projects Update 4/1/17

I got caught up in film festival season. So had to skip on my last couple months. Not much new happened though at first… until I had to cram to submit to festivals. I also got caught up in photography as well. Now I’ve finished with all my films, and have plans to start more!

Enrique Project- Probably not continuing

Other film projects- Finally finished editing the archer. The footage wasn’t as good as I had hoped, so I made up for it in other ways. I couldn’t find the perfect soundtrack for the project, so I wrote my own. In only a few days too! it turned out really good, I forgot how much fun it is to write music. Its a classical piece with piano with the main rhythm, and violin and electric bass as a counter rhythm. Then I included cello to give it some body, and flute to bring out that mysterious part. Also for the first time in my films, I did CGI. Well… not CGI I superimposed an animation on my films. I had an arrow fly past the camera. I had to create the animation in photoshop. It worked quite well actually, it took forever to keyframe it though. Anyway, I just entered it into NCSSF yesterday. Hope it does well, and at least gets accepted. It’s going to Eyelight today.

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A few pages of “The Archer Theme”

So I got another idea, it parallels the lives of 2 different classes of high school students. One who has a wealthy family and everything comes easy for him, and the other who has a very poor family and has to work just to support his family. It starts when the rich one complains that times have been hard even though all his problems are very “first world”, he continues to say that the day was “horrible” even though his problems are very minor. Then we see the poor kid, he says that times have been hard, but he has real-life problems, but he continues to say his day was great. We see him go through his day where small good things happen that we all take for granted and he ends up happier at the end of the day than the other kid. So that’s my idea, please don’t steal it. I’m pushing off The Long Run until summer. Those two will probably be my college portfolio films, so I want to do them well.

The Davis Doc- I live in the small NorCal town of Davis California. Known only for UC Davis and our turkey infestation (no joke). Anyway, the town is 100 years old this year, so my friend Pavan (did Stud. Gov. Projects for him, he has a small part in The Enrique Project), he had an idea. He wants to do a documentary on the history of Davis complete with interviews and primary sources. So we started 2 Saturdays ago, going around Davis to get stock footage, and visiting the small local history museum. We found people to interview and gathered resources. Later that week we went to the library and did some more research. The project is starting out slow, but I hope it goes well. I’m counting on Pavan to do most of the research. I’m gonna do the editing and filming.

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A plaque about the history of Davis I’m going to use in the documentary

Equipment- no new, thinking of getting a boom and mic wire extension

DMA Work- Not much work really, in May I will do a ton though. I’ve been going there really only to edit some projects.

Film Camp/Classes- Session 1 went great! did all the same stuff as over the summer, just split the days into classes. I was worried that we weren’t going to have enough time with only an hour and a half, but that was not a problem at all. we did it easily, IDK how we used 2 hours over the summer. The first day we did green screen, introductions, and talked about the lego movies. Then we did the lego stop motion the next day. My Star Wars group did really well with ours. They all took forever to edit, but that’s normal. On Wednesday we did the visual effects short. That’s always fun, but we couldn’t start the movie because the student who played the king wasn’t there. Turns out the kid left the class, so my brother had to play the king haha. The movie filming went good, so that worked well. The movie took forever to edit, but in the end turned out pretty good. Got another class in a few weeks, it has some older kids, so that’s always stressful, I’m sure it will go fine though. I don’t plan on changing the movie script until the summer.

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Me helping a student in the film class

Applying for internships and classes- Classes are in for next year. Taking 5 periods! Orchestra (last year! gotta see it through), British Literature (wanted an easy, fun class), AP Government/Economics (wanted that weighted grade in AP), AP Stats (easy AP class) and AP Photography! That’s right, I got into AP photography without taking the preliminary basic photo class. I was pretty happy about that, I scored well in my portfolio as well! I’ll post the pics from it on my VSCO. Anyway, with 5 classes I can get a job to pay for college. So that’s the senior year plan.

Video/Film Jobs- Still waiting on field Hockey money. But I went to do a few more games for them the other day and talked to the coach. I made $30 in like 2 hours, which was awesome, and I’m waiting on an $80 check from the coach from the previous games. Otherwise more editing this week, I’ve only been to DMA once in the last few months, and that was to finish editing the bike meeting, which has missing footage… so I don’t know how I’m going to pull that one off. But I will figure it out. I may or may not do the bike video, but I’m going to do a flyer for them none the less. So that’s cool. It’s a flyer for the city police to give to people who run stop signs on bikes. It’s an easy project and I get like $50 for it. So, deal! Otherwise, just film classes, thinking about starting a business next year to do highlight videos for students, I’ll see about that

Videos for School- So I haven’t done any PR vids for orchestra, but I have already done 2 for student government. My friend had me make them to promote events coming up. They were simple projects, but still fun. So that was cool working for the school in that way. That is why I changed this category to “videos for school”

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Quick mock up I made on my phone for Student Government

The DMAC- THERE IS NO FILM COMMUNITY AT THIS SCHOOL. Photography has a huge community, but the film community is almost non-existent. So we can’t really do film things. I prepared almost the entire film festival, but it looks like it’s not going to be a big thing. So we might just do it in a meeting. But what has become popular at meetings is watching short films. Short of the week is a website eric watches short films on, and all those films are really good and fun to watch. So at the end of meetings, a group of us just stay to watch some shorts. It’s really cool actually. Anyway, the contests are going well, and nothing big has really happened. The club is bearing along.

Film Festivals and Events- Directing Change, NCSFF, and Eyelight updates! Submitted to Directing Change a while ago. The results are coming this week! I’m crossing my fingers that we at least win something. That would be amazing. I’ll do a post about it when results are in. Just submitted to NCSFF the other day! It was really easy through filmfreeway.com. I’m really liking that site. I submitted the Archer that I was rushing to finish, and it let me submit the eyeFix as well which was cool. I know that video is very comedic, but I really love how it turned out. Then I also had Eric submit Ice. Eyelight is a great festival, but also pretty low budget and unorganized. Anyway, I got an email that the submission deadline was the Friday before spring break. I got that email a week before that deadline. I freaked out because I wasn’t done editing at all. Then that day, I hear that they’ve pushed your back 2 weeks. That is good! But it was stressful trying to cram editing. That extra time allowed me to write the soundtrack and do the visual effects for the film. And those are the two best parts of the movie. But anyway, I finished the film for NCSFF the other day, and just got to submit it to Eyelight this Friday. Ice is already in.

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My projects on FilmFreeway

Photography and Graphic Design- So photography, yeah I made into AP photo. That was cool. I wasn’t even going to apply, because I hadn’t taken the regular photo class, and I was worried they wouldn’t look at my application. But I talked to the teacher, and Eric convinced me. So to prepare for the portfolio I had to go out and take some portraits because I had never done that before. Anyway, I went with Eric and Evan. Eric borrowed a 50mm lens, the king of portraits with a 1.8 aperture. Anyway, we went to all the photo spots in Davis. Including this cool concrete building on UCD campus called the Death Star. It’s where all photographers go, even pros, to take pics. Anyway, I finished my portfolio there. The 10 photos in my portfolio are on my VSCO. I actually scored pretty high. I got all 4 out of 5 for creativity and technique. If I had taken the class and got a teacher recommendation from it, then I would’ve scored 18 out of 20. Which is pretty good. Anyway, I’m in, so that means I get to rent out lenses and get AP credit. As well as get to be in that photography community.

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My portraits from my AP portfolio, Evan on left,  Eric on right

Graphic Art/Design-wise, I did a few things. Most recently I did a poster for The Archer, that is actually seen in the film. And I did the animation in photoshop. I did that using my own footage and then photoshop to do basic animation. Another project I did was for my mom’s Etsy company. I antiqued like 80 tarot cards. It took a while, but I’m getting paid, so that’s nice. I’m going to get a percentage of sales too, so that’s more of a steady income. And then finally I’m doing that project for the city. I think I’ll see what my weekend’s like.

Film Review- New category, I’m going to pick a film or two that I watched in the past month, and tell you what I think. Because I know everyone cares about my opinion (sarcasm). Ok, so there’s 2 I wanna talk about this time, 1 good, 1 boring. Let’s start good.

I recently watched Ordinary People. I liked it. It touches on a serious theme but stays enjoyable to watch. Slow at sometimes, but it carried me along. I liked the characters a lot. They were really realistic people with personalities. Like the kid’s love interest was realistic and not glorified like “Hollywood” does with high school relationships. I found that the characters really transferred that feeling that the director wanted you to get, but in a subtle way. Meaning that their personalities weren’t displayed blatantly early on, but you had to watch the movie in order to get an opinion on them. From this movie, I learned that a well-written character doesn’t have to be likable. I hated the mother in the film because just the way she acted behind the scenes painted her as a horrible person. And she was the unlikely antagonist at the end. I didn’t like the movie that much because of my dislike of her. But I realized that’s how the writer, director, and actor wanted you to feel about the character. And I definitely felt that way, so that’s why I liked the film, in the end, a lot more.

Then one I didn’t like as much was Arrival. I really wanted to like it and heard great things about it from people who watched it in the theater, but I really didn’t enjoy it that much. I had high hopes for it and was let down. My first problem is the main character, I didn’t find her enjoyable at all. She was dull, depressing, and just boring. She almost mirrored the dull and boring plot as well. I found the plot unrealistic (assuming that aliens exist), unexplainable, and all round dull. There was little explanation into how they decipher the alien language, and from what I got from the explanation, no one would ever be able to learn a language as fast as that. And then the “climax” was in fact very unclimactic. Oh no! A bunch of people blow up the alien for no reason… it wasn’t exciting and had no build up what so ever. The idea was there, I liked the message and meaning of the film, it was just displayed poorly with dull characters and dull plot. Technical Aspects, on the other hand, were done very well. Production design was done well in how it transferred that eerie feeling: visual effects were done pretty well and the aliens were animated excellently: and the sound was pretty good of course with the aliens talking, although I’d say it was over exaggerated at times with other sound effects. I’d put this in the Interstellar and Gravity category (don’t get me started on those). If you loved those, then this is your movie.

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My favorite photo from my portfolio

Other News- Same old, life is good. Going out with friends a lot and busy most weekends. Orchestra is going well, I’m second chair now, so that means concert master next year, hopefully. And then the Wennberg concert is this weekend. That concert is at the Mondavi Center here in Davis. It’s a world-class performance hall. All the other musicians who play there are world renown. The stage and backstage are amazing, it’s always a joy to play there. The quintet is slow, but we might pick it back up in a bit. Nothing else really. I got my bike stolen, then bought another one, then the cops found my bike. That all happened within a month haha. But otherwise, I’ve said everything.

Ok I know I said monthly, but nothing that much happened in February and early March. So if it’s a busy month, I’ll go monthly, if not, I’ll just post at least every few months. So Eyelight and Directing Change results will be out by next time, so that’s exciting, I’ll do a post about those.