Postmortem - "A Little Strange”

Back in September, I started working on my first video project after an eight-year hiatus. With only five days to complete the project, a short film was conceived, filmed, edited, and completed. This is a postmortem of my short film “A Little Strange”. First and foremost, while I was not selected as one of the winners of the Xbox Upload Outreach contest I am extremely proud of the work I did on this project and would like to congratulate all the winners. Job well done guys and gals! Now, back to the story at hand. Going into this project I had no clue on what to do or any relevant experience on how to do it. Within a short period of time I managed to pull off what I believe is a very dramatic yet comedic short film. Personally, some of the rewarding aspects of the film were the concept (conceptualizing) and editing. On the opposite side, two areas that proved the most challenging were color grading and audio.

If you know anything about me then you know I have never had a problem coming up with ideas. My biggest problem with conceptualizing is the fact that I think bigger then what I am creatively and technically able to do. With the motivation of a really good friend I was determined to create an idea that was both interesting and easy to film. In the beginning, the film starts with a dark and cinematic tone and concludes with a comedic and humorous ending. I’m a huge fan of comedy; so anything that can end with a chuckle is a big win to me.

When I first decided that I would do this project, the one area that I was most concerned about was editing. Editing is one of those things that when done well it really engross you into a film but when done wrong it can pull you away from it. Since it’s been over eight years since I have done any kind of editing, I was more than a little apprehensive about this project. Much to my surprise, because of all the preplanning I had done, the editing went well and turned out really good. I have read other artist say that most of the creativity comes during pre-production and know I finally understand that.

It’s interesting how you can work on something for so long and know in your heart that it's a great idea but by the end you begin to tear it into a million pieces because of all the flaws you see. You in turn become your biggest critic. In my case, the tear down came from the color grading and audio. When I first conceived the idea I had a specific look that I wanted for each shot. The original idea was to have warm colors represent the real world and cool colors represent the game world. Due to my inexperience in color grading I couldn’t get the look I wanted. For the sake of time I had to ultimately settle on something completely different. While I understand that the story plays the biggest role in whether something is enjoyable or not but a good color grade brings you deeper into the story and sets a mood. Something this film was obviously lacking.

Audio was another big problem area. The interesting thing about this was I knew audio was important but I foolishly believed it was easy to record good audio. What an EPIC fail that was! I had an external audio solution in place but I failed to capture clean audio. Most of the audio recorded was noisy and basically unusable. People can tolerate a film that has bad visuals with good audio however people can’t watch a film that has good visuals and bad audio. Audio really is half the viewing experience. Just as I put so much time into preplanning my shots, I need to plan how I will capture clean audio. Lesson learned!

The purpose of this postmortem is not to teardown this short film. It’s the direct opposite. I’m a firm believer that every opportunity is learning experience. In order to learn from your mistakes you have to recognize your mistakes. Going into my next project, I will devote more time into creating a pleasing color grade and capturing good audio. I have always been told that the first step is always the hardest and every step after that is easier. Now that the first step is behind me, I’m boldly moving onto my second step!