Friday, October 26th, 2007. 9:57 p.m.
At this time the working title is "BS" and no that does not stand for a crude reference, these are the actual initials of my project title. I plan to make notes here in this thread about how it is going.
First of all, after a few test-runs, that is, making several shorts to get used to the game, I think I have a bit of a handle on it. The gaming is going smoothly. However, on a humorous note, I had the game create a romantic movie just to raise some extra cash, and totally forgot it was a romance. I accidentally chose two male leads, and well, you can imagine my reaction when the movie was screened. There was hell to pay. I couldn't have that kind of hanky-panky going on at my studio, so I "fired everyone involved" and scrapped (or sold) the film. That won't happen again.
BS is a sci-fier. The plot as this point is a bit sketchy, as I am writing it as I go. The opening scene has been completed, more or less. I've exported it as a very high quality .MOV, that is, HD (high def). It's a 256MB file. I'm doing it on a Mac.
My intention is to import the finished reels into iMovie or Final Cut in order to add extra titles, effects, original music, and sounds. It's a bit of a cheat, but, the final credit will remain the one that comes with the game itself, this will not change, as I do not want to stray too far from the original format.
I've no idea at this point how many reels there will be. I'm creating the scenes one at a time and calling them reels. The exporting of the first reel of BS took forever, so I will not be creating anything longer than 5-minutes at a time.
(more later ...):)
Saturday, October 27th, 2007. 6:54 p.m.
I imported the HD file created by MoviesGame of my opening sequence (which comes to roughly 3-minutes) into iMovie HD. The sound ended up being completely out-of-sync, so before anyone gives me any macs-stink memos let me just say the HD file was imported as a DV file, so that might be why the movie is out-of-sync. I have no exact idea why this happened, but, it does not matter at this point. From the work done in iMovie I created a good plot while playing around with the titler; using the option called "Far, Far Away" I wrote some scrolling text that turned out pretty good and I'm keeping it. I wrote it down on a piece of paper and even exported it a single ("selected") clip for future reference. Using iMovie I also created an opening title sequence that I am pleased with and exported that as as well so I can import it into an other video editing program.
I went back into the MoviesGame to take a look at my opening sequence in Post Production again. My goal was to eliminate all the subtitles because the plot had changed and leave it all blank and export the whole opening sequence again for use in Final Cut Express HD 3.5. As it turned out all my subtitles were gone anyway, probably deleted when I finished my previous edit; gone were any props I had inserted into the scene as well. It seems that exiting Post Production kills any extra items I've placed in the movie clip. This is not good. I did not expect this. So the only record my my writing any dialogue for the opening sequence exists in the first exported clip - I'm glad I didn't delete it rashly.
Yes, I've decided I'm going to edit using Final Cut Express HD. I'll have more control over sound-effects and music, not to mention a whole lot of other fancy stuff as well. This is a necessary step, as I will need some laser effects thrown in and hopefully other nice elements too.
My copy of MoviesGame for Windows will be arriving in the mail soon. I need to compare the game in both computer platforms. Perhaps this will help me to make a better movie in the end, I'm not sure, but it won't hurt.
I'm exporting my opening sequence yet again as a n HD file. This version will be without subtitles and without music, just sound effects. This is the version that will be imported into Final Cut Express HD.
It was a productive day. Used iMovie to develop a plot. Made decisions concerning video editing software to be used. Created opening titles. Export of final opening sequence on its way. I lost a prop or tow but that's okay, they were experiments anyway. The rest is there, saved to the hard drive.
Now I have to burn whatever movie-files were created by MoviesGame and iMovie to a data-DVD, just so they are rescued in case anything goes wrong. The Mac G4 tower has a tendency to freeze-up, but, I think that's due to the second hard drive in it being a bit flakey. I really should get a newer one.
Bla'Sil', as my project will now be called will be cool to watch I hope. I don't know how long it will be. I'm shooting for about 25-minutes, but sometimes these things can't be figured out in advance if one does not have a script to work from. It might end up being only ten. Hard to say exactly.
I've already got some new story ideas brewing, and it looks like it's going to be fun developing this.
Sunday, October 28th, 2007. 1:30 a.m.
My DVD-Writer would not record to DVD-RW Media. Toast 6 would tell me the disc was erased, then when trying to burn data it would then tell me the disc could not be written to. This same problem happened with several re-recordable media. I kept thinking of a solution and tried something I hadn't tried before. The DVD-RWs were burned in the Hybrid format, that is, both PCs and Macs can access them. I tried erasing the discs as HFS+ (that is Mac Extended Format) and it worked. The data is now burning correctly, however, I will only be able to access the files on a Mac only. Unfortunate for me since I will soon be working and experimenting on both computer platforms. Files will have to be re-burned to DVD-R Media in order to be moved to a PC - if I ever need to do so, that is.
The reason for all this is that I cannot and will not proceed with the project if I cannot backup the work I have already done. Now that I've burned the entire "The Movies" folder that was in applications - I must assume my game files and game preferences are in there somewhere - if not I am totally screwed, since I won't be able to ever access my character costumes again if I need to. How do I re-create the costumes if I cannot find the actor that inhabited the costume. Facial details of the characters are important in this regard. If I lose the face I lose very crucial film continuity. This is a problem that must be overcome, and I will do whatever I can to find a good solution.
It's not like the game files are easily located in "My Documents" and I can burn them to CD or DVD whenever I please; I have no idea where my game files are on a Mac, except to say they must be located in The Movies folder, hidden among all those files and folders, many called by very similar names. So, I do what I can.
Now that most of my files are saved to disc I can move on with a sense of accomplishment and relative safety. it's always good to backup everything rather than proceed wit false confidence. I don't know how to rescue my characters yet but at least I have a fighting chance. Providing my Mac does not totally crash to the point that I am forced to completely reformat and reinstall the OS, things look good at this point. However, the Mac is acting up a bit, giving me system information and a prompt in which I have to type "reboot" or "boot" to get it going. It has been suggested at a Mac group that I run Disk Utility to fix disk permissions. I will do that very soon, but not tonight. I'm exhausted. It's been a long stressed-out day.
Next, I'll import the non-sub-titled version into Final Cut Express HD and play around with some sounds. Then I'll run several music-creation programs on both Mac and PC, and attempt to find the right musical mood for my project. By importing several samples into FCE I can determine what style of music would be best.
I'm a big fan of John Carpenter's heartbeat-like scores (although I don't always agree with his dark view of the world), so I might try that style first before I move on to other styles. If you've ever tried to imitate JC's musical style you would know how difficult it is to do, even if it sounds simple to the human ear and repetitive and musically redundant; it is actually quite difficult, there is talent involved. JC's musical statements are brave and in the face of all musical conformity. He did not strive to be like John Williams, he didn't need to. The New York Times called him One-Note-John, which I'm sure was embarrassing, but, if you listen to his take on Debussey's "Engulfed Cathedral" from Escape From New York, you will understand that there was a lot more at work than just hitting the same key over and over. The NY Times reporter just didn't get it. The music is purely cinematic, moody, and to the point - there is no beating around the bush, there's is an in your face, like it or not, rebellious tone that crosses psychic boundaries. don't ask me what this means, you listen to his music for yourself and figure it out. Like the ta-dum ta-dum ta-dum of Jaws, John reminds us of our beating hearts, and that they could all just suddenly ... stop beating. Forget the medium being the message, it is the music that becomes a channel for a medium, and John channeled a sense of imminent death which we all must face. Thanks, John.
Sunday, October 28th, 2007. 7:20 p.m.
Further tests have confirmed further problems ...
No matter what I do, every time I convert the HD footage into DV the sound is out-of-sync. I need to reduce the quality of the movie-file because my hard drives are not fast enough to play HD clips. My drives are 7200RPM and I gather playing and editing HD requires 10,000RPM hard drives. Correct me if I'm wrong. I think I am correct in saying this. I didn't realize it until I actually tried working with High Def.
So, I must go back into the Game and drop the Bla'Sil' (completed-movie-ready-for-release) into Post Production again and do yet another export, this time as "High" quality and not "Best" quality, or whatever the option is called. I wanted the best quality clip the game could provide me but I had no idea that trying to use such a clip would be a problem. Live and learn. Yeah. My equipment is just not upgraded well enough to deal with High Definition.
The latest clip is being created as I write this. I have to assume the file created under the "High" setting will be MOV or even DV. If this does not work I'll have to drop to the next lower setting. And keep going lower until I get it right. It's a shame I have to go downwards in image-quality but it's all I can do to continue. Besides, the quality should be good enough for various purposes.
I cannot continue creating the movie (proceed with making the movie) until I find a proper solution to this problem. Normally, I would have simply gone ahead and created the whole movie then worried about these details later. Those days are gone. Too many years of lost work and wasted efforts have taught me to be more careful in pre-production. I need answers or I won't be calm enough to proceed. If I have the right answers then I will be confident enough to go on creating the actual movie itself.
Sunday, October 28th, 2007. 8:46 p.m.
Oh, the horror, the horror ...
The latest .MOV export completed I took a look at it and realized it was only 26MB in size. Wait a second, this is the "High" setting ( and there are two more lower settings). The next setting is "Best" or "Highest" or whatever it's called, and that file is 266MB. This is impossible, I thought, the difference is an entire 200MB of disk space. That's a HUGE difference. I looked at the properties of both files and now know exactly what the difference is ... the "Best" .MOV file's format is H.264 while the "High" .MOV file is an MPEG-4. The Mac Version of MGame leaps from MPEG-4 to H.264 in a single setting - with no option that's anywhere in between!!
I can't use MPEG-4 to edit with! It looks like crap, the clarity is for the birds!
To make matters worse, Final Cut Express 3.5 will not import either file, it gives me an error message every time crying out "file error"!
Great Caesar's Ghost!
So, the only solution at this point is to ignore the original sound effects created by the MoviesGame and import the large .MOV into iMovie HD, then export it again as a DV file that FCE can read and import.
Sound-wise I would have to start from scratch. So this is my final assessment of the whole situation. I think the trouble might be intentional, to keep people from importing MoviesGameExports into other editing programs, but, then, why would they bother?
I have to make some decisions here. These decisions will affect the whole project. It will take some time and a lot of thinking. I need to decide if doing the project on a Mac is worth all the trouble or if it will be easier to do on a PC. I have to find this out for myself when the PC version arrives.
I doubt any work will be done on the project today. I've got an eMac to open up and a motherboard to attempt to replace. That will take up a lot of time and energy depending on several factors.
Like I said, the only way to get a exported file from the Mac version into Final Cut Express 3.5 is to first export it at the highest setting (H.264) then import it into iMovie HD and then export it again fro iMovie as a .DV or .MOV file that FCE will understand. Doing the import directly did not work for me. I don't know a lot about file formats, but this is the process that does work. (Note: I haven't tried MPEG Streamclip v1.9).
If I do any work it will be tonight, after the attempted eMac repair.
The PC version of MGame will arrive soon, and the Stunts and Effects CD for PC soon after that. I read somewhere that the Mac version of Stunts and Effects is supposed to be released today, the 30th, but I've seen nothing on any of the Mac sites I visited. I think it's been released in the UK but I'm not certain.
Wednesday, Otober 31st, 2007. 8:02 a.m.
Yesterday was a wasted day. The motherboard I was replacing on an eMac, one is it's pins got bent and when I straightened it out it snapped right off. Unfortunate because the pin was associated with the power button. The only fortunate thing about this was that I obtained the motherboard for free, while on eBay I've seen it selling for several hundred dollars. My bad, but then, no big loss; I'm right back where I started - whit a crappy 1.25GHz motherboard that freezes when it reaches the desktop. Que sera sera. Anybody want an eMac MB???
No work done on the project, spent the rest of the day looking through my graphics and sound cards, trying to find appropriate ones for my Dell OptiPlex GX110, which I hope to turn into a game machine. The rest of the time was spent backing up my movie-making hard drive (MacOSX) to an external hard drive - used up most of the 120GB on the drive - all that's left is enough free space for virtual memory to run. That process took hours to accomplish. There's still work to be done on that machine.
Halloween, Wednesday October 31st, 2007. 6:00 p.m.
Preparation for Soundtrack Creation.
I've installed Windows on a Dell desktop and am installing music creation software on it.
MAGIX: DanceMaker MusicMaker Deluxe 2004
I'm going to drag and drop all kinds of sounds and loops into a 2nd partition so I won't have to abuse the CD-ROMs over and over again. I'll be running Win98SE which is all I really need to run these old programs. some other Multi-Media odds and ends will also go n this machine, but, it will be used mainly for crerating music and sound effects for my MoviesGame Project. Whatever files are created here will be moved to other computers to be imported into video and sound editing programs. This is gonna be cool.
Worst fear comes true. Installing music programs into Win98SE causes loss of the sound entirely; the PC won't even burp. The Dell's sound drivers are for naught. I might be able to get it working again, I might not.
I am reminded of the times I tried getting PCs to make a sound. This is not a good memory. I want to work with the PC but I can't do it with Win98. It's a mostly useless OS.
I have to aim higher. 2000. XP. Which means some of the old music programs cannot be used. I was looking forward to creating some cool music with those old progs. Now, plans have to change.
I have to rethink my whole multi-media strategy.
Friday, November 2nd, 2007. 2:12 a.m.
Opening and Closing Footage Completed ...
Okay, it took me all day to get up the energy to continue making the video, but, I finally got up the nerve. I created a new opening sequence, and a new ending. the two clips will wrap-around the footage created the other day, allowing the other footage to make more sense as well. I do have a good idea of where the story might be going, but, things may change as I do more work.
I'm exporting the footage without sound as I will be doing a whole new soundtrack. I'm exporting the newly created footage under the "Highest" setting which means it will be an H.264 file. This new footage runs at about 11-minutes, so the whole project will come in at about 14-15 minutes. If I have to split it into two parts for any reason I'll have to decide how I'm going to do that when and if I ever cross that bridge.
Now it's a matter of importing it in to iMovie HD and exporting it again as .DV or .MOV, in order to import it into FCE v3.5. There I will add sounds and music and sub-titles.
I'm going to have to decide if I'm going to keep or change the title. But that will be decided when the whole thing is put together and I know better what the story is. I know I have visuals that flow well, now it's just a matter of doing some creative writing and making it make sense. There's a story there, I'm just not certain what it will all become. There is no difference doing it this way than writing ideas on 3x5 cards and laying the cards out on a floor and moving them around until you have a plot that you like very much. Anyone who says this is no way to create anything knows little or nothing about being creative. You do it any way you can until it is finished, and that's all there is to it.
I still haven't done any more work on the Dell. I'm discouraged now that the sound has gone away. I may go ahead and configure an older Mac to run MacOS9 and install some old music programs. MovieMaking on older Macs is not recommended because many of them just can't handle the memory requirements and other aspects of mult-imedia, but, sound and music programs are ideal for those old machines.
The shooting is finished and some minor but important edits have been made in the Post Production aspect of the MGame, now on to real post production. This is gonna be fun.