Progress Report: February

So, now that my goal is to motor through the film shot by shot and get it done (but without rushing it, of course), I’m going to publicly declare my progress here, to keep myself motivated and to assess where I’m at.

I have a new deadline now, and it’s one that I have to stick to.  The kind people at Bravo!FACT have given me an extension, and now my deadline is October 1st, 2010.  That is 7 months away.  It sounds far off, but I think it will be a perfect amount of time to get everything done, if I stay focused, and ask for a bit of help here and there.

I’ve divided the film into sections, to make it more manageable, and to help myself keep up with a steady, manageable pace.  Each month I have to complete one section of the film.  There are a total of 27 shots.  Here’s how I’ve broken them up:


My Feb goal was to complete the section where Sabela is introduced, and the cabbage gets put into the soup pot.  This section consists of 8 scenes:  scenes 13-20.  So far I’ve shot 6/8.  (Three of them were shot last year.)  The next shot — scene 18 — is prepped and will be finished off today.  I’m a little behind, in that the final scene of this section will take some time to plan…  but that’s not a big deal, as I’m also a little ahead on my March goals.


In March I plan to shoot scenes 21-24.  These will require new props to be built, as the sequence consists of overhead shots of the cabbage soup pot.  I need to be able to show boiling water, with cabbage leaves floating around in them.   My current little stovetop pot is made of copper pipe, so its diametre is only about 1 1/4 inches… not enough room to animate in.  So I’ll need to build a new, larger set for these scenes — well, just a larger version of the pot, stovetop, and countertop.  AND I’ll need to experiment with Mike Brent’s and Shelley Noble’s advice regarding animated “water.”


This month I’ll work on scenes 2-7.  In these six scenes, not too much happens — just a lot of intricate closeups of the cabbage and set, which will alow for some space for graphics.  This will be a time to heavily experiment with lighting and camera work, because the scenes will be so minimal (compared to the kitchen scenes I’m shooting now.)


May will be the month I will fear and sweat over.  I will need to animate not one, but FOUR characters, AND animate a new “set” coming on to the stage.  These are the scenes where we introduce Sabela’s family, who are seated in the dining room.  Scenes 25-27.


At this point I can return all my rented equipment!  Hurray.  Now all the animation switches over to some more experimental techniques that I have in mind.  (Well, they are experimental for me.  They have probably been done before.)   They involve some ink and a projector, and that’s all I’ll say for now :)  These are scenes 8-12.


July will be more of the ink / experimental animation, plus some compositing, stabilization and tracking, rig removal, etc.


This month will be time to design and composite all the graphics.  Remember, the film is based on a Galician poem, so there will be many words to incorporate visually, to help translate the poem.  Also, this month I’ll work on the title graphics and title animation, which I’ve counted as Scene 1.


September will be time to record audio, and finish any last post-production things.  There is a bit of padding here; I don’t think the audio sessions will take a month or anything… but I will probably need extra time for things I’ve left out, or underestimated the timing of.

October 1st:

Send everything off to Bravo!FACT!

And celebrate!

And tell everyone when it will be on TV!

By the way, I am REALLY happy with how my walk cycle shot turned out — the one with the tilt shift lens — and my little closeup that I showed the lighting for, below.  My dilemma now is… how much of the film should I show?  I would like to keep some mystery to the final film, and not just show it shot by shot!  I’m sure Bravo would not be thrilled with that, either.  PLUS the shots I’m showing are unfinished and rough.  Not sure yet.  What do you think?…  (Though to be honest there are only about five people reading this blog… hi Shelley and mom!  😉

I joke.)

I’m very happy ALL you guys are reading, BTW!  🙂

5 thoughts on “Progress Report: February

  1. Sven

    I believe in showing clips of one’s film as you go.

    The most important reason is that it keeps you from falling into isolation, which kills morale.

    Some people think seeing clips spoils the magic of seeing your finished film the first time. I disagree. I think only a tiny handful of people pay attention to the making-of blog — and for us, seeing the completed project is MORE meaningful when we’ve been able to accompany you for each step of the journey.

    Our short films last only 5-10 minutes. The pleasure I get from opening 20 clips spread over 8 months outweighs the pleasure of seeing only one long clip at the end — even if that one’s perfect… By analogy, I’d rather read a short chapter of your novel each week, rather than read it all in one night, having it done with so quickly.

    If you’re not a solo animator, maybe the story’s different. If an employer specifically tells you not to show things, then you don’t have a choice.

    But go against prevailing wisdom, I say. The more you share of your journey along the way, the richer everyone is.

    (Once upon a time I wrote a blog post on this philosophy: )

  2. Shelley Noble

    Hi, Stephanie’s mom!! 🙂

    Admirable scheduling, Stephanie. Exciting to get a peek at your plans for the film and to hear that graphics will be incorporated. You’re graphics are sublime and will undoubtedly add an additional rich texture.

    Your situation may be different because of your arrangement with Bravo!FACT!. Some animators post only their failed shots, saving the finals for the film’s release. Especially true if they intend to make money selling copies of the film.

    Some, like myself, intend to show every brutal frame as it develops. I’m even planning to finish each 10 second vignette in my project all the way through with edits and audio as the scenes are shot. It’s taken me so long already I can’t bear to hold everything back until entirely completed.

    I’ll likely further tweak the finished film all in all but it will have largely been screened online before copies for sale are ready.

    I’ll read whatever you choose to write/post here, with relish. It’s always so valuable.

  3. stephanie dudley

    Admirable as in ambitious and tough to accomplish, or are you impressed with my organization skills? 😉 I’m a little worried that I’m completely underestimating the time it’ll take to do the unknown, but there’s just no way I can know until I get further into it.

    Hm, I will have to just play it by ear, when it comes to how much footage to show here…

    I don’t have the patience either to not tamper with the footage til the very end — I’m doing a rough edit as I go, complete with text and placeholder music. It’s much more satisfying and motivating to see things actually come together in a solid, tangible way!

  4. Shelley Noble

    I wouldn’t know what that feeling is like! Yet anyway. I think it’s great that you’ve plotted yourself a schedule. It may or may not change as you go, but at least you’ve organized your thoughts and structured the tasks. I think it’s fabulous. Seems doable to me.

  5. stephanie dudley

    hi Sven,

    I’m sorry, I just saw your post now, sitting in the Spam filter waiting for approval. I’ll have to remember to check there more often; not sure why your comments aren’t passing through.

    Anyway, I appreciate your thoughts (and what you’ve written in your blog…)

    I think you’re right, especially in the context of my film. There is no ‘story’ per se, here, and no grand punchline… the film is a meandering through a poem… and I’m not even filming it in a linear way, so the ‘story’ being told is very different from how it’ll be seen in its final context. I.e. I started shooting with the middle of the film, and will continue jumping from one area to the next.

    I’m pretty sure the finished piece will be quite a different experience 🙂

    Also, I’ve heard no word from Bravo as to whether or not I’m showing too much… and they seem to be following my blog, or at least are aware of it, so I guess I can’t be too worried about that.

    Thanks Sven!

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