Flash-puppetry in 24 hours

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Two Old Men on a Deserted Island at Sunset Randy McNair, Will McAllister, and I participated in the 24-hour filmmaking marathon last Friday, January 11, 2008, as a part of the LDS Film Festival. We went for a non-traditional approach of puppetry mixed with Flash animation. The results were dynamic and very gratifying. The mixture of photographed puppets with a flat 2D animation backgrounds and props made for a visually engaging final product.

Two old men puppets on a cartoon island

Randy McNair, Will McAllister, and I participated in the 24-hour filmmaking marathon last Friday, January 11, 2008, as a part of the LDS Film Festival. We went for a non-traditional approach of puppetry mixed with Flash animation. The results were dynamic and very gratifying. The mixture of photographed puppets with a flat 2D animation backgrounds and props made for a visually engaging final product.

We captured our audio with a little lav microphone that I had picked a few years back. This worked well because it would only register noises that were directly in front of it. Thus the noise of my children in the next room didn’t register at all!

There were a few little Flash tricks that I was reminded about in this whirl-wind production. We had trouble with the audio track at first being out of sync when we went to export the Flash movie. I was reminded that in order to keep the audio in sync, I need to have a “dead-noise” track that ran continuous through out the whole animation. Basically, I took the longest audio track that I had and dropped the volume all the way down and made it to run along the bottom of movie for as long as it ran. This, for whatever reason, keeps the audio tracks that are keyed at specific frames through out the linear movie from mis-behaving, or playing before they are suppose to.

two old men puppets watching TV

While the story of line of our little film, entitled “Two Old Men,” was not exactly the type of film that I would like to be producing, it demonstrated to me and my partners the power of the production process we employed.

  1. We storyboarded our film in Flash on the timeline. We were probably the only team that took the time to work out a storyboard.
  2. Our equipment consisted of a nice Canon still camea, a small lighting kit, a lav microphone, and a computer with pen tablet, Flash CS3, Fireworks CS3, Audiacity (free audio editing software), Quicktime Pro($30), and Nero (for burning the DVD). We literally produced the entire animaiton in my bedroom.
  3. At one point, Randy exclaimed “Flash puts Maya to shame!” He was referring to the on-the-fly rendering capabilities of Flash to import images & audio and animate in a matter of seconds. Obviously the two don’t compare in most respects.

Beyond the technical aspects of production, this was a unique opportunity to discuss the current state of our industry locally. Randy is gearing up to fight the KBYU/ BYU-TV battle that I fought two years ago. In almost parallel fashion he is gearing up to present a pitch for children’s programming to BYU’s television distribution entity.

As we approached the final deadline, we grew a little impatient with Flash’s export to Quicktime option available in Flash CS3. Whereas, I use to have to jump through several loops to get a true Quicktime file from Flash, CS3 eleminates the loop-jumping with a fairly straight forward process. There is a quirk in the “Compressing Quicktime File” progress bar that we at first read as a failure to process. That impatience costed us an hour in production time and almost a forfeit of being able to compete. We had to trim short the piece and burn to DVD without previewing anything. I sent Randy running out the door with a hot DVD at 10:16 am and by 10:25am he called to report that he had turned it in, 5 minutes before the deadline.

We went to bed after that.

two old men puppets on an island at sunset

The LDS Film Festival 24-hour Film Marathon screens this coming Thursday, January 17, 2008, at 7pm at the SCERA Center for the Arts in Orem, UT.

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Brent is married to a very supportive woman, is father of a large family, and went into business for himself in 2006.

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