I am done with “The Barrier” for now. I still plan to promote it and cogitate on the feedback I get, but I want to move onto another creative project. I decided a while ago that my next project would be “Felix”, a science fiction story I started over a year ago.
I am tempted to revise “The Barrier” based on ideas inspired by the feedback I have so far. However, I think it is better to leave it for now and come back to it later. There are very few changes I can make to the movie with out a major effort. The program I used to create it, Xtranormal Desktop, is no longer available. I would need to either shoot live action, or redo the movie with a different program.
If you haven’t watched it yet, you can find it on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-LOUNSEKac
I went through several drafts of “Felix” between October 2012 and January 2013. It has been almost a year since I last read it, so I think I can approach it with fresh eyes. In the interim I have had some ideas that I would like to incorporate into the story.
I think the main thrust of my rewrite is to build up the characters more. While the story is primarily plot driven, I think the characters need to be more fully developed so it will appeal to readers.
As an aside; I read someplace that in a short story the characters support the plot, while in a novel, the plot supports the characters. What I have now is kind of in between those two extremes. I guess that means the plot and characters need to support each other.
The last version of the story ran to just over 8,000 words. I suspect that with the changes I have in mind it will end up at over 10,000 words.
I have a sense that something important is missing from the story. I really don’t know what it is. Hopefully I can get a better handle on what that might be when I rewrite it. The first step though, is to read it over again; several times.
A few years ago, I saw an interview with the Smother’s brothers. Tommy talked about some musicians who would practice for years before they went on stage. He felt that was wrong. He said that you really don’t learn how to perform in public unless you perform in public. The audience will tell you what is working and what isn’t. On your own, you’ll focus on the wrong things.
When I posted “The Barrier”, I knew that it wasn’t a final version. But, if I didn’t show it to anyone, and in particular people that didn’t know me, I would lose out on some important lessons.
I’ve had a range of responses to “The Barrier” so far, from very positive to very negative. I am pleased that most of the responses have been positive. Even some people who had criticism did have positive things to say.
I was disappointed when people didn’t like the movie, but you can’t expect everyone to like what you do. If only one person in 1,000 like your work, that is still 7,000,000 people.
It is tempting to get snarky with some commenters, but that isn’t a good way to build support for my movie. Not only will it put them off, but other people who see the posts will be discouraged as well. I used to say I wish my word processer had a diplomacy checker.
I knew that my movie had some problems, but I’ve been surprised that people pick up on things I hadn’t expected, and don’t seem bothered by what I thought were the “real” problems. A lot more people were put off by the animation and computer generated voices than I expected. In part I think that was because, in my mind, I imagined the film with live action and live actors. On the other hand, some people really liked the animation.
Another comment I got was that it didn’t seem like very much was at stake. Strictly speaking, the stakes are quite high, but that isn’t made explicit until the very end. I can see that as a problem from a pure story telling perspective. However, it has to be that way to express a specific idea, which is one of the main reasons I want to tell the story. I’ll need to think about how I might address that.
I still want to hear more about what people think of the movie. Please take the time to watch it and tell me what you think. If you already have, please encourage other people to watch it as well.
If you have any suggestions about where I can find people who might enjoy the movie, I would like to hear that too.
I was particularity happy with the response from one person who had expressed scepticism when I first told him about my idea. After he watched it, he said that he got caught up in the story. That is the kind of thing I really like to hear. He went on to say that he found the story was a realistic depiction of what transportation planners do.
A former co-worker said one of the characters reminded him of a mutual acquaintance. That wasn’t something I intended, and don’t really think there is a resemblance. Nonetheless, I think it is a good sign if the characters are realistic enough to have them compare to real people.
Several people said that they thought the story was something that only transportation planners would be interested in. I certainly hope that isn’t the case, although it was a worry I had while I worked on the movie. I didn’t think people would have any trouble with the humour, even if they didn’t understand other aspects of the story.
One person told me that he stopped watching after five minutes because he objected to the use of a median barrier as a safety measure. He said that modern traffic engineers don’t use barriers to separate cars and pedestrians.
I thought that was an odd comment at first, because in the story the barrier isn’t used that way. It separates two lanes of traffic in an area where there wouldn’t be any pedestrians.
After I pondered his comment a bit, I think that the early part of the movie may mislead viewers about the situation. I think it become more clear later in the movie, but that would have been long after he stopped watching.
In any event, the barrier is what Alfred Hitchcock called a McGuffin. It is what the characters in the story think the story is about. The real story is about how the hero has to struggle with the financial and political constraints to do what he believes is the right thing.
You can watch “The Barrier” on my Website or on YouTube:
I would really like to hear more comments about the movie.
I wanted to fix more problems, but then remembered what Leonardo da Vinci said: “Art is never finished, only abandoned.” Not that I claim my movie is Art, but it is time to let people see it.
You can watch it on YouTube or on my website:
Please let me know what you think of it and pass it along to other people you think could be interested.
I intended this to be a serious story, but some humour did creep in; some of it was even intentional.
I remember when I moved from my apartment to my house I went back to the apartment for one last visit to see if I’d left anything. I ended up going back about a half dozen times! Each time I found something I’d forgotten. My experience with “The Barrier” feels almost the same. Every time I’m think I’m done, I find one more thing to do.
I did pass a major milestone this week. I uploaded the movie to YouTube. It took 14 hours to upload! I have it set to private for now while I prepare for the release. I want to do a good write up for the YouTube page and my mail outs.
I decided to create subtitles for the movie, and that took up much of my time. I tried to use the Premiere Pro voice to text system. The file has each word as a separate item, so I decided it would be too much work to reformat it.
I thought YouTube would generate a subtitle file when I uploaded the movie. I thought I use that after I cleaned it up. It turns out that YouTube won’t generate a subtitle file for a long video.
I went back to the text file from Premiere Pro and found a way to reformat it into a subtitle file. There were some problems with it. Sometimes I would get some very long subtitles I had to break into two or three. Sometimes the voice to text didn’t work very well, and I got subtitles that were vastly different from what the characters said.
I started to review the file manually and make adjustments as I went through it. I am on my second pass through now and I think I will need one more before I am done.
I think I will be done this week, but then I thought the same thing last week.
I had hoped to have “The Barrier” done and posted this week, but I’m not quite ready yet. I watched the version 0.4 video. I saw a lot of things I would like to change, but I would have to remake the movie from scratch to fix them. I thought about my goals for this version of the movie and there were several things I want to use it for.
Firstly, I want to get some feedback from people about the story and characters. I have some ideas about changes I would like to make, but I feel I am still too close to the story to be objective. People may dislike what I like and like what I dislike.
Secondly, I want to use this version as a way to develop an audience for the final version. I’ve started to think of this version as an animated treatment to show what I want to do with the idea. The final version would likely be quite different.
Thirdly, If I go ahead with a final version of the movie, I will need to look at crowd funding to pay for the production. I can use this animated treatment to help raise the money.
Based on these thoughts, I decided that I would go ahead with the movie as it is.
I prepared a short introduction to put at the start of the movie. In it I ask people to help me make the movie better. This is of course the main goal of this version. In addition I see it as a way to manage the expectations of the viewers. I added in the introduction to create version 0.5 of the movie.
One last bit of work I want to do it add subtitles to the movie. I had thought there was an easy way to do this in Premiere Pro. There isn’t. I can create an XML file that has all of the words with the times they are said.
Unfortunately, it provides only individual words, not sentences or phrases. I am sure that there is a way to convert the file, but I just don’t know how. A couple things I tried looked like they would take a long time. Maybe I’ll post without the subtitles and add them later.
Work on “The Barrier” this week went faster than I expected, but I’m still not done version 0.4 yet. It shouldn’t take very long to get it done. I’ll watch it, and if there is nothing I want to change, I will post it to YouTube.
Re-Editing “The Barrier”
The way I have structured my editing is to have three levels of Premiere Pro project files. The first level is for individual scenes. The second level is for sequences, which I build up from individual scenes. Finally, in the third level, I build up the final movie from the sequences.
I finished my revisions to the individual scenes. In most cases the changes were quite minor, so this part took less time than I had expected. What took the most time was how I redid the sections I sped up. Originally I had just used the speed adjustment in Premiere Pro. I was disappointed with the results, since it merged individual frames into one. Instead, I cut out individual frames to achieve the same effect. I think it looks better this way.
For some scenes I had done edits in my sequence files rather than in individual scenes. I decided to redo these as separate scene files so that there was a minimum of editing in the sequence files.
I redid the office back ground sound file. I increased the length from 3 minutes to 6 minutes. I spread out the various sounds so they didn’t overlap as much. I added in more people talking in the background. I also adjusted the volume of some of the sounds so they were not as dramatically louder than the other sounds I had.
Finally I redid the sequence project files. I replaced the old scenes with the revised scenes and redid all of the office background noises. While I did that, I found several more problems with individual scenes, so I went back and redid those before adding them to the sequence. I finished 7 of the 9 scenes. The last couple and the full movie shouldn’t take long.
More Computer Problems
On a down note: I started to have trouble with the new computer. It crashed Monday and gave some vague error message that suggested there was a hardware problem. However, when I read up on it on-line they said it could be a software problem too. Not very clear.
Later in the week, the new computer started to have the same issue as the old one – the monitor wouldn’t display anything. The first couple times, it started to work after a minute or so, but Saturday I had to shut down and reboot before it would work. Again, I have no idea what the problem is, or how to fix it.
I have a suspicion that the problem has to do with the heavy use I make of the graphics card for my video editing. The original crash happened while I was doing some video editing.
I watched version 0.3 of “The Barrier” twice this week. The first time to get a sense of how it looked. The second time I made notes about changes I want to make for version 0.4.
I went through my notes and planned out what I had to do. I identified changes in 27 scenes. There are a total of 60 scenes in the movie, so nearly half need changes. Most of the changes are minor, and if I hadn’t been so eager to move on with version 0.3, I would have caught and fixed most of them already.
I set up the Premiere Pro project files for all of the scenes I want to change, but I only started to work on one so far.
In some scenes I sped up the movie to have the characters walk faster. A couple times I had used the speed control to do the speed up. In others I cut out individual frames to have the same effect. Cutting the individual frames produces a much better look, but takes a long time. I plan to do the frame cutting despite the extra effort.
Another problem I want to fix is the background noise for the office scenes. In most scenes it is too loud. Some sounds in particular are much louder than the rest. I want to fix that.
I’d created my own office noise file from various sounds I had. It runs 3 minutes, which I think was too short now, because the same noises are repeated too often. I plan to extend it to 6 minutes, or maybe longer.
When I did the first version, I used some of my own voice along with lines from the characters in the movie. In version 0.3, I replaced some of the character voices with voices I had recorded for my other films. For version 0.4 I want to do more of that, so I have a greater variety of voices. I want it to seem like there is more than 2 or 3 people in the office. I got permission from everyone except my brother and niece. Since they are family, I didn’t think they’d object.
I started to think about promotion of the movie. I’m not sure that many people will want to watch a movie about transportation planning. I’ll need to find a way to briefly explain the movie so that people will give it a try. Since it is still a work in progress I think I’ll use the approach that I need their help. I will want some feed back before I move onto a final version of the movie.
I finished version 0.3 of “The Barrier” this week. It came in at 85 minutes, just a little shorter than version 0.2. I trimmed a few scenes and added more sound effects. After I review this version and create version 0.4, I think I’ll be ready to post the movie on YouTube to get some audience feedback.
The bulk of the work I did this week was on the sound track. Primarily that was back ground noise to add more ambiance to the movie.
I had done a 3 minute audio clip of “office noise” that I used in the office scenes. I redid that clip this week. I had used voice clips from the movie and they were too recognizable. For the revised version I used some voice clips from “Line of Taxis”, and clips of my brother and niece. I think the volume on the new version was higher than the previous version, so I may need to adjust that.
I tightened up the edit of several scenes. Fairly minor cuts by and large. I wanted to eliminate dry spots and also make characters interrupt each other.
I will watch this version, probably several times, to see if I can catch any more problems that I can fix. I can’t make any major changes to the movie without starting over from scratch, so that limits what I can do at this point.
I’ll hope to create one more version (version 0.4) which I can then post on YouTube. I plan to ask people to watch it and tell me what they think of it. I don’t plan to do any further work on the movie until next year, to allow time for more people to watch and comment on my movie.
If you know of anyone you think might like to watch a movie about transportation planners, please ask them to get in touch with me, so I can ask them to review my movie. Thanks.
I made some good progress on “The Barrier” this week. Mostly I added sound effects to the sound track. I’ve added ambient sound to about half the movie now. I added some specific sounds, such as foot steps. That isn’t easy to do, but fortunately most of sets look like they have carpet, so I can get away with out the footsteps most of the time.
In scenes where people talk on the phone, I processed the dialogue to sound like it came over the phone. I did a little research on-line to find out how to do that. It wasn’t as complicated as I thought.
I tightened up some of the scenes. Usually it was just cutting out some pauses in the dialogue. I did some dialogue overlap in a couple places to make it seem that characters were interrupting each other.
In one place a character says “that looks impressive” while she watches a simulation of a microsimulation model on a computer scene. Unfortunately, the animation I produced wasn’t very impressive, so I cut out that line.
Some of dialogue is a little hard to understand. There isn’t much I can do about that because it has to do with the artificial voices, which I no longer have access to. One thought I had was to add captions to the movie. That will be a lot of work though.