Archive for July, 2011

July 31st 2011; week 138 of post-production (8 weeks to completion)

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

Filmwise: on Friday, had the final pre-mix stages session with JD, our sound designer. I would like to think the tweaks that he’s been having to do on the audio of the film, as a result of the changes I have made to the edit, are well and truly finished. I certainly will not miss the endless hours I’ve been spending jotting down every change in the edit by the second and the frame.

Next stop: editing of the re-recorded dialogue files. In order for us to spend as little time as possible at the studio editing these tracks, I need to spend a few days organising the files into a smooth workflow.

I have set myself the task of completing all things ADR (re-recorded dialogue) by the middle of August. Indeed, I have already booked the studio for two days for the week after next.

As far as the picture is concerned, I am pleased to have met a dear friend whom I hadn’t met for almost two years. He has kindly agreed to grade the film for us. Brilliant.

Peace and love,

Ja’far

July 24th 2011; week 137 of post-production (9 weeks to completion)

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

Filmwise: A flurry of phone-calls and emails about audio and picture elements of the project. I am meeting our sound designer on Friday, for what I hope will be the final session of tweaking audio tracks to fit the new picture.

There is another short ADR session for a couple of actors – the need for these sessions became apparent only recently.

On Saturday, a dear friend, and a member of the Mesocafé family, sayyid Mazin visited me at my humble abode. I don’t think he was quite prepared for how much of a match box my place is.

Sayyid Mazin, joined by sayyid Kawa (plays the role of a refugee in our film), had agreed to drop by to perform a short piece on the ‘Oud (Arabic Lute) for the the pre-titles sequence in the film.

Once we overcame the issue of computer noise – I had to play the sequence for him, so he could time his performance to the image – we recorded a few takes. At the end of the session, we agreed to reconvene at a studio to achieve the quality that would befit being the sole instrument playing in a darkened movie theatre.

We decided to walk, and escape the now suffocating heat in my place, to West London. En route, we bumped into Rhona (plays the role of a TV newscaster in our film). We chatted about the film, the new completion date, and her latest news.

We parted company, with me apologising to both of my compatriots for not being able to join them for coffee on Sunday – “Mesocafé needs me:-)”.

Peace and love,

Ja’far

July 17th 2011; week 136 of post-production (10 weeks to completion)

Monday, July 18th, 2011

Filmwise: My life in the audio purgatory of this feature continues; spent the greater part of the weekend checking and rechecking the notes I’d created for the picture changes. The more accurate and detailed the notes, the less the risk of all the work JD has already invested in the project going to waste.

Colour-grade: After more than a year since our last meeting, I caught up with our director of photography, Alessio, on Saturday.
Avoiding the weekend shopping crowd on Regent’s Street, we strolled through the back streets towards Grosvenor Square, Berkley Square and Green Park.
We talked of the look, the temperature, the aspect ratio, the resolution, and many other technical details pertaining to grading the film.

During the week, I will chat some more with Alessio about the most efficient way forward from here.

“Is it true?”
Thanks to my new working hours, catching the tube home has become a daily event. I don’t miss the night bus, though I am beginning to find my way into the script for a short film about characters on the night bus.

Well, on the journey home on Thursday night, I found myself chatting with a family of North American visitors to London.

Trying to avoid sounding presumptuous, I asked, “where in North America do you come from?”
“Canada”, came the reply from the middle aged lady.
We got talking about their vast country, the Rocky Mountains, the young royal couple’s recent visit, the Francophones in Canada, and.. locking your front door!

“I keep wondering about that segment in Michael Moore’s Bowling For Columbine (2002), when he walks through a suburban neighbourhood in Canada, and the front door of every house he goes up to was unlocked. Is this true?”

“Yes, it is; it’s just the way people are!”

Peace and love,

Ja’far

July 10th 2011; week 135 of post-production (11 weeks to completion)

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Filmwise: had a morning session on Friday with JD, our sound designer, to go through the picture changes I have brought to the film. We are meeting later this week, hopefully, for a final session before the editing of the ADR dialogue tracks.

A good week.

“Dude..”
For some unfathomable reason, I had an inkling on Thursday night that I should go through the spreadsheet of picture changes before visiting JD on Friday morning.

While jotting down the changes in the edit at the second and frame level is meticulous in the extreme, testing the accuracy of these notes is even more challenging.

At 4AM on Friday morning, I was satisfied that the notes for three out of five reels were ready to go with me to JD’s.

Three hours later, I managed to spring out of bed, shave and shower and be out of the door by 8AM. “Good; I’ll be on time.”

Alas, rather than head to St Pancras for the train to JD’s neck of the woods, I followed the Network Rail website suggestion that I take the train from Blackfriars. It was only as I settled into a corner on the District line train that I recalled that I would need to get off at Temple and walk to Blackfriars railway station, as the tube station is shut.

At Temple, the rain outside, with the schedule for the day fast-slipping away from me, a helpful Tube guard confused me further by saying, “the entrance to Blackfriars station is on the other side of the water.”

The young fruit-seller on the other side of the bridge looked at my rapidly disintegrating umbrella and pointed me back to the bank of the river whence I’d come.

To cut a long story short, I was 40 minutes late for my 9AM start with JD.

The session went as well as well as any occasion in which a director goes back to the sound designer with changes to the picture.

JD made me a delicious English tea with a sprinkling of dried mint from Morocco, no less.

With the noon sun banishing the morning clouds, I walked back to the train station. “OK, I should just about make it to work on time.”

What I didn’t take into account was the amount of time it would take to walk from the train platform at St Pancras to the Circle line at Kings Cross.

Just as I was about to head to the Circle line platform, there was a call on my mobile. “Hello, is this Ja’far?”.

Perhaps due to my lack of proper sleep, what should have taken me a couple of hours to complete in the last part of my shift at work took well over four.

Managed to catch the last train home.

In my semi-comatose state, I couldn’t help overhearing the conversation between a young couple:
“How do we get there?”
“We’ll just walk; it’s not far!”
“Dude, I am wearing high heels!”

Peace and love,

Ja’far

July 3rd 2011; week 134 of post-production (12 weeks to completion)*

Monday, July 4th, 2011

Filmwise: I have completed the preparation of the ADR and picture notes for the final two reels, so that JD our sound designer can adjust his sound tracks to the new picture edit.

On Wednesday, I headed to the studio once more for the ADR of the 14th actor in this re-recording of bits of dialogue saga. Khalid, who plays a journalist in our film, kindly returned to the studio for a second time to re-record two lines of dialogue.

*OK! Let’s talk screenings schedule; no, this is not a typo!

I have set myself the task of completing this film to be ready for screening by the end of September.

For the remainder of July, I will be working with JD to complete the tweaks in the audio tracks, and set up a couple of studio sessions to edit the re-recorded dialogue. This latter bit of the process will probably be possible at the end of the month.

During July and August, I will also  be chasing up a production company about colour-grading the film. The director of the firm has already agreed to do the work; getting hold of him during what I imagine to be a busy period is proving to be a challenge.

We also need to decide on the final mix: stereo or Dolby.

“Good luck..”
On Saturday morning, I woke up a bit later than I would have liked. Before even opening my eyes, I had already managed to log on to my email account. No Mesocafé-related news. “At least, I am meeting a dear friend today.”

Having showered and lazily prepared coffee, I settled into my mini-armchair, preferring it to a chair, even when working on the desktop computer. Balancing the keyboard on a cushion in my lap, I took a sip of this divine coffee, and looked up to the screen. The in-box had the email I’d been waiting for.

On the way to meet the friend, I was walking on air.

“You bring good luck, amiga!”, I said to her a couple of times during our lunch.

Peace and love,

Ja’far