More Thoughts on a Final Version of “The Barrier”

GeorgeWalksUp_304I’ve given some more thought to the next, and hopefully final, version of “The Barrier”. From that I developed a sort of to-do list.

I have a version of “The Barrier”, my transportation planner movie, posted now. (See I am not totally happy with this version and want to do a revised version before I try to promote it more widely. The main change I want to make is to replace the artificial voices with real actors.

Because of my personal responsibilities, I will need to rely heavily on other people to make this work. As I talked about in my last post, I may try to recruit a collaborator/co-director to handle much of the work. (See:

I see several major steps I need to take to get the project done.

  • Produce a script of the existing movie

If I want to revise the script, I will need a script. When I made the movie, I didn’t write a script, and then create the Xtranormal files; I created the Xtranormal files interactively. I did create a script from these files, as I documented in an earlier post:

That was before I finished the final movie, and I didn’t update the script with changes I made later. That in itself could be a major project. I could go back and rerun the file conversion system I created, but I seem to recall that when I tried it later, it didn’t work. The converter only converted the dialogue and not the action. That could be an issue.

  • Compile the ideas I had and others suggested for changes to the script.

Several people were kind enough to suggest some changes that they thought would improve the movie. I have some of my own ideas for changes as well. I also had some criticism, which I might be able to address as well. I want to compile all these ideas together before I try a rewrite of the script.

One example of a change I want tot make is the scene where Arthur shows Meera the simulation that Dennis did. It starts at 35:50 of the movie. In the current version, she is impressed with the simulation. I want to change it so that she isn’t convinced, but Arthur convinces her to send it to Brandon. I think that is a more realistic response for her to have. I think it works better with what happens later.

  • Revise the script to incorporate changes

While I “wrote” the script in Xtranormal, I think that I will do the rewrite in a script format. I can always fine tune the dialogue and action when I redo the scenes in NawmalMAKE.

  • Revise some of the computer screen images

When I did created the computer screen images for the earlier version, I mostly used PowerPoint to create the screen images. I also indulged myself in some inside jokes. As a result I cut the length of the shots of the screens quite short, so that people wouldn’t be distracted by the images. Some people didn’t like that.

I should remove some of the inside jokes so they won’t be a distraction. While I’m at it, I should also try to improve the look of the screen images.

One of the things I’d most like to do is replace the simulation Dennis did in the scene I mentioned above with Arthur and Meera. Like the other screen images, I used PowerPoint. It doesn’t really look too convincing. I think I can do a better job by revising the Blender animation I created for the opening scene. It’s been a while since I used Blender, so I worry that I’ll need to relearn how to use it.

  • Character descriptions for the actors

I want to write notes about each of the characters to help the actors understand what I want. If, as seems likely, I am unable to work closely with them in recording the voices, this kind of information could make a big difference.

  • Dialogue descriptions for the actors

I need to write notes to describe the emotions each character has for each of their lines. These notes could also suggest what the characters want or think. For example: when a character says something, are they angry, sad, bored, frustrated or have different feeling. I want to make it clear what I want, but at the same time, I want to give the actors some leeway about how they interpret the lines.

A good actor can bring more depth to the character in ways that I can’t. I would like to get some feedback from the actors about the facial expressions and gestures the animated characters use.

  • Recruitment of a collaborator and actors

I find it quite daunting to recruit people to help me on projects. I’m always somewhat reluctant to ask for help, but I’m also unsure who would be a proper choice. I think the most important thing is to find people who buy into the story, and believes in what I want to say.

This is particularly important with the collaborator/co-director I want to work with. Since I will not likely be able to work directly with the actors, this person will have to communicate what I want, while they allow for their own input and that of the actors. I have some ideas about who to approach, but I’m reluctant to ask them unless I am willing to commit to them. A kind of chicken and egg problem.

If I do decided work with a collaborator, I would like to have them handle the recruitment of the actors. If not, then I’ll have to do that part of the job. AT the moment I tend to lean toward people I’ve already worked with, but then there are several characters for whom I don’t know people who might work.

  • Recording and sound quality

Since I plan to record the actors and then use those with the animation, the arrangements for the recording and the recording sessions themselves will form a major component of the project. I’ve done a little bit of that, but this is a much larger effort.

I’ll likely do the sound recording piecemeal, so I need to be concerned about consistent sound quality between sessions, and maybe between studios. I am not a real audio guy, so I’m somewhat unsure what I need to be concerned about. That is another reason I’d like to work with someone else.

  • Combining audio and video

One of the nice things about NawmalMAKE is that you can import pre-recorded voices and the program will sync the lip movements to the voices. This will make it much easier to do a new version. I haven’t done much with this capability before, and worry that they’re may be some challenges when I comes to the timing of actions.

Once I have the scenes output from NawmalMAKE, I plan to use Adobe Premiere to edit them together. The experience I had before makes me think this will be relative straight forward. The hardest part at this stage is to drop in the background images and computer screens I’ve created elsewhere. This can be tricky, but it is also the kind of work I enjoy.

I’m a little unsure where to start. Either I start to recruit an collaborator, or I start work on the script rewrite. At the moment I’m inclined to start with the script because I worry that if I bring in a collaborator too soon, then they’ll lose interest and drift away before I finish the script. On the other hand, if I have a collaborator in place, that will be an incentive to push forward with the project.

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