Finding a Niche

I’ve been trying to learn Blender on and off for a few days. Sadly I’m too busy at work and prepping for next week’s Monsters pickups to really get into it, but there’s certainly a wealth of tutorial material, and lots of inspiring examples.

I’ve also recently followed a bunch of other filmmakers on Twitter, to the extent that my feed is swamped with examples of low-to-no budget films. It’s motivating to know what other people are doing, but also slightly intimidating. How will I get anyone to notice my work amongst so many?

But the conjuction of these two preoccupations made me think – I can stand out by playing to my strengths. My fascination with VFX and experience with CG in video games puts me a rung or two above many professional directors (in that field, at least), let alone film school graduates. Rather than playing safe with simple contemporary dramas, like everyone else, I should be working on more ambitious effects films – because in that niche, I will stand out.

I could be wrong, of course. Time will tell. But the Monsters pickups will require some effects work to properly convey the full scope of the story, so we’ll soon see if a few VFX help a project stand out…

Green Screen Technique

I’ve just been doing some research on getting a good green screen, which will be essential for a future project. Normally you’d be stuck between a rock (expensive and powerful professional solutions) and a hard place (cheap and nasty consumer software). Fortunately I’m pretty technical, which means I’m going for the third way: Blender, which is awesomely powerful and completely free…but an absolute bitch to learn. The interface design is entirely geared towards power-users and makes no compromises for newbies. I’ve been meaning to get to grips with it for years, but never had the time to tackle it. I still don’t really – but if I can get over the initial hurdle there’s a wealth of wonderful features I’ll be able to use. To begin with…the node-based compositor, which will let me generate multiple mattes and recombine them to create very specific keys for particular shots. I don’t trust one-button magic solutions, I’ll take the toolbox thanks.

I also discovered an excellent site selling green screen training DVDs: Hollywood Camerawork. Not only does their training look pretty exhaustive, they have a whole stack of test green screen shots for you to experiment on. In some ways they’re TOO good – I’d prefer to do my tests on less pristine footage, but I suppose I can always shoot my own BAD test shots 🙂