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Thread: R.U.O.S.K.A | Short Film (near future)

  1. #1
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    Default R.U.O.S.K.A | Short Film (near future)

    Hello again.

    Past couple of months I've been working on short film titled R.U.O.S.K.A ("ruoska" is finnish word for whip/lash). The idea was to step-up my filmmaking a bit, trying to do many things more carefully and for the first time since 2011 actually bring back voice acting. For (too?) long I've been testing non-monologue/dialogue storytelling which proved nice for some films, but as Midnight Blue pointed out last time, it might be about time for me to stop being lazy about it. Coincidentally this is also my first short film to have a original soundtrack. Soon after I had started filming, I was contacted by David James St-Hill (djshcomposer.moonfruit.com), a composer for film and video games, who offered his services. I gladly accepted his offer.

    So, R.U.O.S.K.A. This one was most inspired by George Orwell's 1984 and Alastair Reynolds' Prefect. I don't know how well the influence can be seen, but those two are the ones I would point out. In not too distant future, after a lost war, our protagonist has problems getting over the things he faced post-war and gruesome way he was treated by the winning side, R.U.O.S.K.A officers. I guess that's enough intro for know, here's the short:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klYo8NC1kr8

    There were quite a few problems during the production. I can say a lot more work was put into editing than might be noticed from the film. Long hours and days, I hope it was worth it. It may not be as much "next level" as I might have originally hoped, but I' guess it's good enough for now. I'll post vfx breakdown later, as usual.

    Couple of questions for you;

    I'm not native english speaker, but most of you guys seem to be. How butchered was the english in R.U.O.S.K.A?

    This was supposed to be a bit different from my previous films. Was the direction an improvement or not?


    Thanks for watching!

  2. #2

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    This is definitely a move in the right direction, The English seemed fine to me. Visually very good and the audio was also good, as I'd expect from you. You do that mean, mood look very well. The only thing I thought didn't look quite right was the smoke trails from the rockets. I don't know how these could have been improved to look more natural as I have zero experience in this sort of visual FX. There rest looked very good especially the background masks, these really add a wow factor visually and increase production values.

    You introduce the main character from the voice over which gave the viewer some insight to him but I feel you need to improve the story line and character development. Somehow you need to make the viewer want the goody to win and the baddy to loose. With this video I just wanted the poor guy put out of his misery.

    I don't know your writing process but I think working on the above points will bring a very good video into a great video.

    Well done with this one, I think it's a very good video.

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    You won't find me disagreeing with Midnight's comments above. Howver I did find myself straining to make out the voiceover. A combination of it being a "forced" voice, am Eastern European accent and a bit low in the mix caused thi, i think. There was one point around the 1min mark where the voiceover wasn't telling us anything other than what we see on the screen. Unlike dialogue, where one person may say one thing but their actions/expressions indicate another, a voiceover from within the actors mind doesn't afford us that luxury. Whilst you did a good job illustrating through facial expressions and body language the feelings, saying something and showing it at the same time rarely works.
    I loved the look of the silhouetted shots (you, from behind, looking out of the window) some lovely lighing going on there. The city composites were very good too.
    I see you have a team working with you on the FX. I think it's time you started to work with other actors (I know, i know) and, dare i say it, another scriptwriter. If you could concentrate on bringing someone else's words to the screen, I think you'd do even better.
    Tim

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    Thanks, Midnight and Tim. Glad to receive positive feedback.

    The smoketrails are something that worked well for me in the two outside shots, but didn't match the scene that well in the tunnel shots. One thing that might have helped would have been making those shots shorter, giving the viewer less time to notice how imperfect they were. My camera operator pointed out the very same thing you did.

    Quote Originally Posted by Midnight Blue View Post
    Somehow you need to make the viewer want the goody to win and the baddy to loose. With this video I just wanted the poor guy put out of his misery.
    In this particular case, you just wanting the main characters misery to end is mission accomplished for me. Traditionally the approach of rooting for the good guy and wanting the bad guys beaten is the way to go, but this one was supposed to be bit more like 1984's ending which is not exactly happy one. Other inspirations I could list for this one are bit darker film noir inspired comics by Frank Miller and few others, that often had kind of miserable protagonists who weren't traveling towards happy ending. Also, it leaves some room for thinking who actually was the bad guy. The main character was wronged, but after that he essentially became a terrorist. Terrorist vs. freedom fighter is of course old concept, but it usually fits pretty well when depicting extreme societies.


    Quote Originally Posted by TimStannard View Post
    A combination of it being a "forced" voice, am Eastern European accent and a bit low in the mix caused thi, i think.
    The part about eastern european accent ended up amusing me, as my first reaction was surprisingly strong "eastern europe? But I'm not from eastern europe, I'm finn!". We are all products of the environment we have grown in, and us finns tend to have this thinking that we are western nation even though we're positioned pretty east. Couple of wars with our eastern neighbour back in 40's might have something to do with that... But I'm sorry to hear you had hard time understanding it. I would have turned the vocals louder, but I'm afraid recording them was one of the problems I had during the production. The quality was somewhat miserable and I did my best to clean them in Premiere afterwards. Turning them any louder would have made the background static even more audible. My very, very limited test audience didn't comment on it, but then again they might have the advantage of being quite accustomed to finnish accents. The reason the speech was "forced" and throaty was for two reasons; I was originally going to include small flashback of protagonist being strangled with one of those electric whips, hurting his throat. In the end I decided editing it would not be worth the time and trouble. Second reason is that I'm not too satisfied with my english pronounciation and speaking in lower voice like that smooths out some of the finnish elements in it. To english speakers ears finnish might sound bit stop-and-go, sentences flow differently and emphasis is on different parts of the words. It can be hard to iron out of your speech when changing languages.

    Quote Originally Posted by TimStannard View Post
    There was one point around the 1min mark where the voiceover wasn't telling us anything other than what we see on the screen. Unlike dialogue, where one person may say one thing but their actions/expressions indicate another, a voiceover from within the actors mind doesn't afford us that luxury. Whilst you did a good job illustrating through facial expressions and body language the feelings, saying something and showing it at the same time rarely works.
    That is actually very interesting to hear. Is this one of the unwritten rules of visual storytelling, as I don't think I have ever heard of this practice?



    Quote Originally Posted by TimStannard View Post
    I see you have a team working with you on the FX. I think it's time you started to work with other actors (I know, i know) and, dare i say it, another scriptwriter. If you could concentrate on bringing someone else's words to the screen, I think you'd do even better.
    Minor mistunderstanding here. I didn't have team of VFX artist, the people listed as artist of matte paintings are people who have provided their work to Scifi3d.com as free-to-use material as long as they are properly credited for their work. So, I wasn't even in contact with them, kind of same as using stock footage. Coincidentally I did get a feeling while editing that it would help a lot if I did have people to ease the VFX load... All your other points are valid and I get what you're saying. I used to have much larger amount of people involved in my films. Back in 2010-2011 my first three films had nine actors at best. That proved bit straining as it's only a hobby and required a lot of organizing to get peoples schedules right (especially as some lived in other cities etc). I've been meaning to slowly bring people back into my productions as I can't really just play any and every role. There have also been talks of someone else writing and/or directing, but it would seem that other people are not as willing to spend a lot of time on a film than I am. Well, my next film propably has at the very least one or two actors beside me, so baby steps, baby steps...


    Thank you for your kind words, guys. It cheered my day a bit.

  5. #5

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    Nice work. Here my picky critics:

    In my eyes it was too short to have much chance of character building. I like ambivalent protagonists who are not so much hero like and I am not talking about ones like e.g. Rambo. More complex characters like Joe Abercrombie's inquisitor Glokta or J.R.R. Martin's Tyrion Lannister need more space (and time) and are much more interesting.

    The punches sound unreal. Maybe make your own audio recording from punching a steak.

    The rocket smoke was maybe too crystal clear and some blur would have helped or you need a more fine grained model. The clouds were quite rough modeled and their pattern repeated.

    The explosion in the tunnel needs more orange lighting at the walls and seems too bounded when it reaches the screen. It looks a bit as if it was just a zoomed smaller explosion. Maybe a finer model would work here, too.

    When the poor masked soldier is burnt it's the opposite. The explosion seems to be a bigger one which was zoomed out.

    At 2:22 the smoke on the second tower - counted from left - does not work for me. The second tower from right looks much better. Maybe because of the small gap between tower and smoke.

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    I can see from this that your soul is in every production you do, and I think I'll come back to that.

    This film had the wow factor in many ways. Your depiction of him by the window spoke volumes, the voice over and music all collided with the same pulse.

    I like your storm trooper people, original and scary, there's a lot of thought there.

    The interrogation room was nicer than his flat? I would have seen the interrogation room as being a little more basic or frightening?

    The wow factor kicked in with the FX scenes around 1.00, but maybe you took on too much, there was always going to be problems, maybe you don't need to try so hard? But it was all good, and you have shown that you deserve to work with people that can make that stuff happen 100%, so that is of little concern.

    I like your work, it is depressing, it is your reflection, I don't enjoy depressing, but if you have a story to tell, then it is your inspiration.

    I think Tim and MB are saying you deserve a little help, but not so much for writing or presentation, but only to make the productions more polished. For a serious presenter, it is unfair to expect you to be jack of all trades, you deserve to stick to your strengths, you shouldn't have to do everything, but this is a stepping stone to getting others on board with you

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    Quote Originally Posted by SSCinema View Post
    The part about eastern european accent ended up amusing me, as my first reaction was surprisingly strong "eastern europe? But I'm not from eastern europe, I'm finn!".
    I hope I didn't offend and I hope this won't either. I thought you were deliberately acting an easter European accent (which would be quite an achievement given English is not your native tongue)


    [/QUOTE]
    Tim

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    Ray, I'll be sure to check every thing you mentioned later. Nicely isolated the parts for easier check-up. Thanks.

    Stripe, glad to hear you liked this one. It's always nice to hear from someone who has in past not enjoyed something I have done. I take that as progress on my part. The "stormtroopers" (should have made up some cool name for them, I just called them "lashers" or R.U.O.S.K.A officers) were among the first things I designed when starting this one. I think the red eyes did much to give them bit more unique look, if you take that away it suddenly becomes a guy in black clothing and gasmask. Even the gasmask was originally light-grey, had to paint it black in post-production. You can see examples of that in VFX Breakdown (I'll post it here once I have it ready).

    The interrogation room was supposed to be part of the same room the protagonist stands in. It actually was filmed in the very same room. In earlier draft the empty chair was supposed to be visible in the background as the character speaks "my heart died in that chair...", to tie the place to the interrogation part. I actually wonder why I scrapped that, might have simply forgotten to film the angles. But hey, thank you for the indepth feedback, it's much appreciated.

    Tim, not to worry, I was not offended at all. I just found it funny how strong my own first reaction to it was. Finnish friends of mine visiting UK seem to get a lot of "is that russian accent?", so I guess finns do have some eastern european sound in their english.


    If you liked the soundtrack, it can now be heard here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDsL1xHOJmM

    The video is unlisted for now, but you should be able to see it with this link. I'm very happy with David's work on this one, took some load off my back too as I didn't have to dive into treacherous waters of royalty free tracks... I'd say having original soundtrack brings much more value to the film in general.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bigmanjoe View Post
    and composting all in one.
    Had to laugh at that - I suppose if any software had to help with composting then "Blender" is the one with the most appropriate name.
    Tim

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    I find it weird to spesifically single out After Effects, as it is only a tool. It's like saying you don't like photo because it was taken with Nikon instead of Canon. It's who is behind the tool that makes the art.

    I don't think you really mean After Effects when you say things look the same, as I don't think there is anything After Effects spesific in this film. Compositing video and matte paintings? Propably could be done in any professional tool. Rotoscoping parts of image/footage out? I would be surprised if Vegas or any other couldn't do that. Color corrections? Hardly. Adding stock footage? Now this might be what you mean. Many utilize same stock footage (like that smoke and explosions) and they are often from Andrew Kramers' Action Essentials collection (or if you're bit more old school, then Detonation Films free archives). I'm familiar with Blender and went through the basics class of it at my UAE. Can't claim to be big fan of Blender, even though friend of mine seems to enjoy it very much. It is excellent that it's free and that it can theoretically do everything that big shot 3d programs like Max or Maya can do, but the design approach... Didn't really suit me... Oh well, not that it matters here. With Blender you could theoretically do everything that you can do with After Effects, but I just couldn't recommend it as video editing tool (I'm aware full blown short animation films have been made with it). Would it have been necessary to actually simulate all that smoke and explosions when stock footage does the job just as well or even better? Simulations take longer to render and most of the time don't look as real to me unless they really have been made by professionals.

    But now that we're talking about visual effects, here's the VFX Breakdown I promised earlier.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33eCTSY9Z8s

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