Month: June 2014

Week 13 – Assignment 3 (Major Assignment)

Shock horror, it’s done!

My compadres Tanapong Soontonbenyakul (aka Bird), Rob Glanowski and I are proud to present Manhunt.

Certainly no mean feat, the production of this 90 second gem was nothing short of exhausting and I shall go into great detail about the ins and outs of it all later in this blog post. For now though, here it is. Watch, weep and wail, because for sure, we the production team, all did!


Our team ruminated on a few ideas and eventually settled on a Denzel Washington style suspense thriller. We thought this would work well because I live in an apartment building that is an ideal location for such a storyline – city views, stairwells, lifts, basement carparks and lots of nooks and crannies for a villain and his quarry to hide in. The action genre was well suited to the application of special effects in the editing process.

The plot: Assassin breaks in to apartment to kill poor hapless target…hapless target escapes and flees down stairwell…assassin gives chase and takes the lift to head him off…they meet in foyer and assassin shoots but misses…they flee to basement and a gun-slinging, bullet-riddled pursuit ensues…assassin gets his man…the end!

The final cut varies slightly from our original plot idea which had two assassins and ended in a pool of blood and gunfire down by the river in front of our building. Alas we lost our two actors a week or two before the film shoot so Rob and Bird stepped in to cover the acting, and it was raining on the day so I decided to be kind and not make them run around outside!

The three of us worked well together and shooting the film was a lot of fun. We had to get it right the first time due to the tyranny of distance (Rob lives in Traralgon and Bird and I are on opposite sides of the city) so there were some logistical issues around coming together and doing the post-production. We pretty much did our various tasks individually and used the weekly lecture time to discuss and refine ideas.

Here is a guide to what each of us did for the project, and the effects used:

Bird (Tanapong)
Post-production using Adobe After Effects (gunshot smoke/flame effects, gunshot sound effects, bullet hole effects in basement scenes, blood on jacket in final scene)

Filmed hallway scene of assassin arriving (Sony pro-cam)
Post-production using Adobe After Effects (pool of blood effect in final scene, bullet holes in wall during lift shoot out scene)

Filming (Nikon D7100 DSLR)
Video editing/titles/colourisation (Adobe Premiere, chose Lucky 7 font as it is masculine and strong which suited the plot and the mise-en-scene)
Title effects (Adobe After Effects and Adobe Bridge, added Bird’s bullet holes and an explosion effect to the titles, added kinetic text to the “difficult, but not impossible” scene for impact)
Audio FX (Premiere and Audition), also modified gunshot effect to suit the style of gun used (added distortion, flanger, reverb and bass boost to give a more sci-fi laser effect)
Music – sourced/edited/synced-to-action a creative commons soundtrack ( [] / Adobe Premiere)


Here’s a bit of a visual representation of what we had in mind…thanks to my partner Kaylene for the smashing artwork (drawing ain’t my forte!)….


Production process

The editing and post-production process was, as always with this subject, a fabulous learning experience. Cutting and editing the footage on Adobe Premiere, then adding the various special effects from Adobe After Effects as MP4’s was certainly the way to go in terms of efficient workflow. Sourcing a suitable soundtrack took some while, but I think the end result suits the suspense and pace of the film quite well. There were a few effects that we created but which ended up on the cutting room floor because they didn’t suit the script and would have been gratuitous had they been retained. A digitised gun sight view is one example of this, which I discarded because it gave the impression of someone watching the pursuit of our two heroes through a gun sight, which clearly was not possible.

There was a fair amount of trial and error in the post-production process, for example I initially used a static image of the city skyline for our opening credits, but decided against it in favour of a more professional looking ‘floating’ title with some After Effects attention. Syncing the opening titles in time with the music is on the one hand quite nifty, but on the other hand not that nifty after all because the pace is a bit fast for first-time viewers (so my partner told me). Sadly, by this time it was too late to change them as I’d already uploaded it to Vimeo three times and had absolutely no desire to do it again! Never mind, I’ll leave perfection to others!


Reflection on semester

Learning Adobe After Effects has challenged me every step of the way, and now that I’ve reached the end of the semester I would say I’m certainly no expert but I have developed a rudimentary grasp of this incredibly complex and limitless software. There is nothing that can’t be achieved with After Effects, providing you have the know-how to do it … if you can imagine something, you can create it.

I feel we’ve had a good introduction to the program and have been given the tools to take our investigations to the next level and beyond. For me, as a sole trader running my own communications consultancy, having a familiarity with AE does give me a competitive edge because few people in my field have any experience with it. My aim is not to promote myself as an AE expert – which I am not – but rather to be able to advise clients on its capabilities, and discuss parameters with ad agencies to the benefit of my clients. For this reason, I am really pleased with my decision to take this unit.

Kudos to the inventors of this program – and to those who have mastered it – because it takes your imaginings and makes them real. And that is pretty cool.



Week 12: World…meet Manhunt!

Manhunt on show as a rough cut

Last week we showed Manhunt to the world (or a bunch of fellow students and Jonathan!) for the first time. It was good to get some independent feedback on our film because I had spent so many hours trawling through the footage, adding effects, to-ing and fro-ing, that it was good to get a different perspective.

Some of the advice we took on board was:

  • shorten some of the clips, such as the one of Rob bobbing his head up and down from behind a car in a comical fashion
  • lose the scene of the car entering the carpark – it adds nothing
  • add a few more special effects, such as flame from the gun in the final scene
  • fix the titles and credits

I spent quite some while creating rolling credits and trying different effects for the opening credits in Premiere. In the end I deleted the credits I’d created in Premiere and redid them in After Effects so that I could animate them and sync them with the theme music. They probably run a bit quickly for that reason, but I think they fulfil the requirements of the assignment better than had I left the Premiere titles in place. I also added some kinetic text to the mid-way scene where the words “difficult, but not impossible” are narrated as part of the music, because this added to the sense of the assassin hunting his prey.

Finally, we had our film ready to upload to Vimeo and present to fellow students as part of the Media & Communications student exhibition at Swinburne on 4 June 2014.

Below are some images to demonstrate activities during this period.

One of many Premiere versions of the opening credits

One of many Premiere versions of the opening credits

After consideration I redid the titles in After Effects, much jazzier!

The final iteration of titles in Premiere, soon after this I redid the titles in After Effects, much jazzier!

Creating kinetic text to mirror the audio "difficult, but not impossible" in Adobe After Effects

Creating kinetic text to mirror the audio “difficult, but not impossible” in Adobe After Effects

Kinetic text in production in Adobe After Effects

Kinetic text in production in Adobe After Effects

Here she is in all her glory...Manhunt, effects added, edits complete, sound in place...ready to export as an H.264 / 1080p MP4 file, then import into Vimeo.

Here she is in all her glory…Manhunt, effects added, edits complete, sound in place…ready to export as an H.264 / 1080p MP4 file, then import into Vimeo.