Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The best advice we can get

Our AICE teacher, Mrs. Stoklosa, announced today that we would be gifted an additional six days before deadlines for this project. That takes it from the 12th to the 18th. Gianna and I came to the conclusion that this was due to the fact that an unfortunately high amount of students were not only behind on editing and finalizing their projects, but filming in the first place. We heard this information during breakout room discussions were we had little group talks, highlighting how everyone's projects were going along so far. By default, we were expected to film during last week, spring break. Not many people were prepared to take that initiative however and hadn't started shooting. 


We spoke to her earlier this week discussing critiques of our first video draft and what alterations we should make. She complimented our work for being high-quality and impressive. But besides that, she made plenty of notable points throughout the video. Here are some of my bullets.

  • The opening wide two shot of the guitarist and bassist was ugly.
  • More frequent cuts and fun edits needed to be done.
  • More footage included of the band's solo performances, such as guitar and drums.
  • Toss the end credits and keep it only as copyright info.
  • Alter the opening credits to look less cinematic, and more like a traditional MTV style list of the band, song, director, and publishing group.
  • The edit was dynamic and fun,  first shot made it boring.
  • More diversity and use of content.
There's this phenomena called the Dunning-Kruger effect. The people who understand a field more are less likely to see themselves at their true value or intellect, and the more ignorant and flamboyant people, when it comes to their understanding of a topic field, know very little. They're the kids who think they ace a test, yet perform the worst. The opposite is also true, the kids who know the industry or topic under-credit themselves. 

Where are we on that scale? Somewhere, at any given time we have different magnitudes of this issue. To combat this, and to encourage growth and application of my education, I look for criticism from teachers when I can. What me and Gianna had created was great, but theres always room for better! 

I definitely learned a good lesson here. Gianna and I decided that due to the theme of the song, the pacing, length, and editing we have going on already, it is unwise to add additional cinematography to cut into the current timeline. It just doesn't pan out the way we want to, and would feel incredibly awkward.

Tomorrow we'll make some more posts and finalize the edit! We're taking this opportunity to really polish it out and get some feedback, and let the video evolve. I added some saturation to make it look less washed out too.

Night, Dean. 

Monday, March 29, 2021

Friday, March 26, 2021

Chaos Control (Editing) + Story Rethinking

 We have around a dozen layers of content to work with. Two shots for each full take of the song, both were successful. Footage of Kenzie on her drums, Madisyn singing, Nic and Maxx together, and more of just Nic on his solo. It was a great amount of video to make a compelling and interesting performance cut of the Saving Herald group. This has definitely been the largest scale project I've had the opportunity of working on, and the amount of footage is insane!

Given that the song is only four minutes, and after hyper analyzing the song for the last three consecutive days, I've come to the conclusion that while we don't have the sufficient duration to blend in a fully flushed short story like I did with Jay Moon, it'll mean some super eye-candy cinematography to throw into the middle parts of the video. 

I determined that the appropriate time segments were 1:03-1:20, 1:35-1:40, and 1:56-2:10.

Here's a rough draft of the video so far! I've made further edits to the video since this upload. I've saturated the footage more which provided a more pleasant and organic look, and I also altered the opening and closing credit sequences to make more sense. I'm super excited for what shots we'll come up with, and I'm hoping to use some creative techniques in the pool water (iPhone with water bag) to make something spicy.

Gianna's opening a twitter account and has begun to post teasers and announcements for the production! I'll link it in a new blog post once I get my hands on it, as it's still being worked on. 

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Filming on Set (Success!)

Oh. My. God. What a day. The 24th was so much amazing work that I quite literally couldn't stay up to type. I slept like a brick, and here we are.

The frequency in which all members of the Saving Herald were responding improved Tuesday night and even further Wednesday morning. They may have been rocky before, but this was going to happen. Gianna and I went to go fix ourselves some Einstein Bros breakfast for the day, then went to go pick up Angelo and Rodrigo, both TV buddies of mine who live in the Ridges. We were in business. We dropped by my house to migrate the equipment I had set up ready to go by the front door, the duck tape, string, and all the balloons we just inflated, all in the minivan. Angelo brought his Pocket 4K camera and we made sure we had everything on our checklist working and packed. They were pretty hungry too, and we also knew we needed more gas and bottles of water just in case (also Florida weather gets toasty at 1pm...) The McDonalds (at their request, I can't eat that stuff) took an unprecedented eternality to get things going, and their drive-thru line was as long as Chick-fil-A's, which if you live in Weston, is a bold claim. Saving Herald showed up with their vehicles right on time and were therefore waiting for us. We snatched the food and bailed out of there.

We arrived, and they were wearing black costumes of sorts that thankfully fit the theme, and had a truck load (literally) of musical instruments waiting to be brought in. Perfect. Gianna got to see a really cute Praying Mantis when we walked in, and they had an adorable relationship. They were petting it for a while, good stuff. 

After finally getting two cars worth of gear into the abandoned house, the next goal was to figure out how the scene would look. Our original position of choice was ideal except for the back that the wall in the background now had a huge penis spray painted by some unknown assailant sometime in the last week. Dang it. After roaming the house for space, we figured that if we wanted the same good lighting, the best honest idea was to just flip it. 

I knew alternative rock could be loud, but that was so deafening that I'm sure we annoyed all the bugs, cows, and neighbors within a half mile radius. Good thing Maxx brought his larger Bluetooth speaker in contrast to mine, as it was able to help them better sync with the song during recording. Otherwise it really wouldn't have worked. 

We took two takes of the whole band performing, each take having two shots. One camera had wide spherical glass, while the other did more dynamic moving shots with tighter anamorphic lenses. The power system I had purchased worked flawlessly, and worked with the cameras without a fuss. At the end of the four hour shoot, it had 80% left. Incredible.

Once the main song was recorded, each member wanted to get a personal scene done, each of them in a random unique room of choice to capture their performance. This was done to have more content to work with while we had our shot at capturing them. Luckily after all the noise no cops were called and no hornets stung us (there was a nest problem in the very back side of the home). Here's some highlighting pictures! And a sample of our edit so far.

After we had finished and begin to move things back to the cars, the cows were curious about the noise and inched their way all the way to the fence right outside the building, and were watching us like hawks. However, we figured out they were more afraid of us, and they weren't going to harass or harm us in any way. Such silly, smart, adorable creatures. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Printing and a Set Schedule

Ok, after sleeping on the album art for a while, I took a look and revisited it. It needed a couple tweaks, and that was ok! After cleaning it up in Photoshop today to get that more mature look, I threw it on a flash drive today and drove over to the local Office Depot to get my prints made. Oddly that took around two hours of patience, but I got two 12.373in squared copies made, laminated. This way we can have a spare without having an emergency panic trying to get another.

Got some tape and a little bit of glue to finish it on top of some old vinyl that we had grabbed from Goodwill, and we pieced together our print! Had to take it outside to bath it in a nice exposure to highlight it's success. I think it looks pretty dang solid. Does a vinyl even make sense for a single song album? No. Does it still look dope? You bet. 

Not too shabby, aye?

I did end up hearing all from of my select crew and Saving Herald by the end of today. After Gianna was on the phone with their friend Ezra and then Maxx, a great idea was compiled! Long story short, we are using some recently purchased, letter shaped non-floating balloons for the set. They have a collection of colored balloons of all sorts of variations at the Party City near Sawgrass Mall, so we ran by today before they closed! This was great and we got what we needed. Since these don't apply any helium, we're going to suspend them from the ceiling using a good ol' ladder, duck tape, and string. With this utility, the word "Breathe" will be in the set background. Fancy.

Party City Supply

Right now I'm prepping gear with Gianna, making sure everything is NASA-level ready for launch! Instead of a big ass rocket, it's just my minivan doing what minivans are built for. Comfort and transport.

I'm nervous, and more confident that the group won't flake on us, as Gianna has said they are quite excited too. Tomorrow will be the beginning of our promo period on social media and our produciton!

Cheers, Dean Milan. 

Monday, March 22, 2021

 This is a short one just to make the final reach out to them. It's Monday, and we still haven't really heard much. Max of the group got sick but it's been confirmed that is indeed not COVID-19, so we should still be green light technically. This is what I said. If I get a response, I'll add an update at the bottom of this text. 

UPDATE - Monday, 8:56 PM

Finally got a response from most people, but not yet everyone, for filming on Wednesday. Looks like we're in business, so hope all goes well. Maxx on the phone suggested we include balloons somehow, so that was a nice touch! Production details will come later this week. 

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Concepts for Performance Recording / Planning Day Before

 When we set up the recording's within the abandoned building, we hope to get a large surface area to safely set up equipment and recording gear in one stationary area. 

This means most likely setting up within the main living room of the area. Their equipment will go towards the back, and we rig up the cameras on tripods to the live power setup I've described before. Of course, Gianna runs the photo camera, I'll use wide Rokinon glass, and Angelo will shoot with anamorphic. Tuesday we prep this gear, and then execute Wednesday at 1pm. Gianna lives with me now, so we'll just go grab Angelo and make the ride just over the highway to the location.

Still deciding between these two spots - lighting will probably be the best deal breaker for our choice. 

Living Room

Kitchen Area

The living room is great as far as lighting goes, as you can see the ambient light coming from the front of the house at the bottom left of the image. For the kitchen area, it's more artsy but visually much dimmer. If that's the case, how do we orient our set up in a way that looks good? We'll experiment on Wednesday, again if they even show up.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Delays and silence...

The last few weeks have been... difficult. When this project came about, I really wanted to take the opportunity to explore a blend of the talents between Gianna and I and the Saving Herald music group to really make something iconic and unique. Our experience with storytelling and cinematography and the punk culture in alternative music was really going to take the idea somewhere fun and productive that would produce a great video in the end. A true banger music video that would shatter the floor! 

I was probably a bit overzealous, and it's been a disappointing repeat of the attitudes people gave me from last year's final project. That production was a short film opening, which my group called "Sciolism." However, my teammates at the time contributed little to no work ethic or feedback for the duration of the project. Even after we had finished filming that, they never responded or kept in contact to work congruently on the post production editing process, and didn't request any media for their own personal blog posts. Fine, that was their problem right?

Saving Herald was a larger surprise in contrast to last year's teammates, as I knew their character already to some degree. Gianna and I wanted to focus on executing a video that matched the themes and styling that Saving Herald wanted to express and advertise with their group. What would the short story be like, the album art, what would they post on their social media, and so on. However all of this has failed and has fallen entirely on us as we've been trying to get just one word out of them for the last three weeks. As our filming days later this break inch closer and closer, this becomes more aggravating and annoying. It's hard to just get a response as half of the team is still eventually reading the messages. We need to get feedback and opinions from them. We presented our album art as discussed earlier this week, but we only got a message to change the font. Ok, any preferred? "You can check out these websites to see if you can chose one you like.", I said. Nothing. The next day, a second offering. Nothing. Are we still filming on Wednesday? Only Maxx gave a response of yes, but frankly, I'm not entirely convinced.

They have to bring their musical equipment and transport together as group. For a project of this ambition, I absolutely need more confirmation and reassurance from them, but we've been starving and empty handed. Angelo is worked with Gianna and I, in return, help him with his work, so we're a good team. He's suggesting we bail out and start the project over as a short story instead of a music video. 

This is going to be my strategy. We message them Monday, ask for confirmation. If it falls through and we record the performance, we're going to cut ties with them and create our own story and finished vinyl art of our creative choice. We can't bare any more responsibility on them than we have, as it's only made the project more cumbersome. You would think that getting a free full music video would be enough motivation to contribute to their own media and representation, but I guess not. You would think that they would say something if they cared about their music and talents, and to apply it. What could possibly be interfering with a response? Do they even care about this anymore?

 I'm holding my "breathe." Sorry, dad jokes. Habits picked up. I will be enjoying my lunch now. 

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Camera Equipment Cont.

 Why the Blackmagic and not an "easier camera" to work with? True, the Blackmagic has a hell of a learning curve in understanding the exposure trends, color grading, and it's limitations. Frankly though, the Pocket Camera series from Blackmagic alone is the most trustworthy, reliable, and bang-for-buck you'll get with amateur filmmaking gear. 

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K

The BLACKMAGIC RAW color codec is an amazing format that has the features of RAW CinemaDNG video with the compatibility of traditional H264 containers. It functions well with the tools within Davinci Resolve to make a beautiful picture. I'll show some of my grades here as an example of it's potential from flat log video to a nice image!

For lenses, I've owned the Rokinon Cine DS series of glass for a couple months now, and I absolutely love the build quality and style these produce. Truly just amazing and stunning sharpness and low light capability. 

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Camera Equipment, Location Chosen

 Next week on the 24th, we're planning on heading to the abandoned house on Shotgun Road to film our performance segment of the project! I'm hiring a friend of mine, Angelo, to come help us produce the content. It's this little vacant section, and fortunately, lacking any no trespassing signs. It really sells the full idea of a punk alternative band, with it's raw style and unique graffiti. 

When we go film, both me and Angelo are bringing our Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4Ks, setting them up on tripods, rigging them up with a portable power system (ALLWEI Portable Power Station, 300W/Peak 600W Solar Generator 280Wh) and extension cords. This way, we can run power for a much longer time than traditional LP-E6 batteries grants us. Instead of a measly 20 minutes of power, now we have 12 hours. The battery system works with power cables, so I needed to make sure my charger cable for the camera worked properly to power it live through AC power. Surprisingly, it didn't, so I also ordered chargers for both me and Angelo. Because of the amount we'd be recording, I bought Angelo a Samsung T5 SSD, just like mine, to make sure we can mirror our work setups as much as possible. 

Also, who could forget the good ol clapboard? This will definitely help in organizing all the syncs. 

When Saving Herald performs, they're going to sync up their performance to the original studio recording while it plays on a Bluetooth speaker. This way, we just overlay that song and it all organizes nicely. 

Top to bottom - Charger, SSD, power system, Camera rig

Friday, March 12, 2021

Draft One, Vinyl Art

After about two hours in Photoshop, we have blended my skills with the program along with Gianna's sketch artwork. We took that photo along a white-balanced light, then worked on fading it in using a separate layer to fade the edges of the top and bottom. This was done in order to make it more seamless, to really fuse in with the background idea we had in mind. For that, we took a gray scale layer and added in some dirt filter that was transparent in order to add more texture to the styling, to give it some feeling without it being so bland and mute. 

The biggest burden was actually finding a font that not only looked attractive for the rest of the composition, but finding one that met the theme that Saving Herald commonly presents - They're an alternative punk teen group right?

We looked for most of options on a website called, which had thousands of royalty free options for us to use. To achieve that gothic/emo look in the font, we selected their "Gothic > Various Font Section" to explore what we could use without any copyright repercussions. Website.

After many attempts to layer, mess with Blending Options, colors, and texture, this is what we finally came up with! The next tasks include making a back side version to complete it, then get it printed!
We bought some vinyl from a local Goodwill for a trial and error sort of workload. This way if we rip or ruin any of the vintage records, we have spares to mess with without losing too much time. It for sure will be a butcher project of tape and glue, but the purpose is to create a physical resembles of our project beyond the video. The record inside the pocket will be unrelated to the music and will just hold the vinyl together.

Photoshop project.

The vinyl we purchased.

Our final photoshop!

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Finalizing the Vinyl Art, Getting it Printed

 Gianna easily spent all day in my living room, sketching out and designing the main structures for our artwork. It took them a few hours, but the main burden was conceptualizing an idea that we all liked, and we found it! We're going to focus heavily on well done shading and texturing for our image, and the once we have the hand drawn art done, work it with editing software.

Once this is done, we're going to composite into photoshop to make the final touches! I'm pretty confident that I can grab a vinyl from a local store such as Goodwill, get our design printed at Office Depot, and then cement it into one piece. Because I don't want to ruin any classical, important recordings of music, I'm going to make sure that I purchase one that is most definitely unwanted and probably should wither in the past.

Our story is spawning...

Current sketch

Original photo

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Crew and Gear

I know that when we film our performance recording out in the forest, we'll have one shot to get that perfect and beautifully. Why? Weather, time, and the shear logistical size of what this project will entail. I've created a mental map on how I'll plan on choosing gear, who to bring along, and other important aspects of set production. I'm fortunate enough to already own a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, and it was great to hear that my friend Angelo had also just obtained one for his own personal use in AICE Media Studies. Now we have two cameras that can capture the same event will little additional expenses. This is great because I was planning on renting another of my camera, including the gear necessary to run it. That alone would've been hundreds, but now the savings are spoiling us. This lets us make better investments in other things such as a clapboard, portable battery station to shoot remotely, and reflectors for lighting. 

To make sure we have a checklist of what exactly to bring, I've hired some friends from both AICE Media and our local CBTV club to run cameras and other jobs during production. I figured that $50 each for Angelo and Isa Perotti were fair for 2-3 hours of labor, transportation covered. Here's the gist. 

I personally own some Rokinon glass primes that will fit onto my Canon EF mountable Metabones speedbooster, which provides my camera not only a larger sensor size, but more flexibility more diverse lenses. Angelo's Pocket 4K will be provided with similar storage, power, and mounting arrangements, but will use either his Panasonic 25mm prime or my SLR Magic Anamorphic glass for nice curved close ups.

Gianna will take light of the scene with my Nikon camera also, and will spend the duration of filming shooting the event for the purpose of promotional material, behind the scenes content, production cataloging, and memorial pieces.

I also spent the night taking a WAV copy of Saving Herald's song "Breathe", analyzing the pacing and segmentation of the song. I'm soon going to start creating a story for the song that fits these notes. Credits we also finished and cut for the end of our young project sequence. 

  • Plan music video

    • Do some research on the concepts

      • Mental health message

      • Hybrid video, music performance + short story

      • Don’t make it edgy or over romanticized

      • Not too serious, song carries enough

      • Artsy, not on the nose with the lyrics

      • Person murdered in the end

    • Pick location to shoot

      • Wait for response from Abandoned Florida guy

      • Run it through SH, wait for response

      • Abandoned house on Shotgun Road

      • Spots by US-27

      • Everglades Holiday Park

    • Write a short story

      • Get it approved by SH

      • Madisyn is main character

      • Colorful cinematography

    • Storyboard everything

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Setting the foundations for production!

 Now that our group chat together is open and more frequently engaging, I'm organizing a Google Document that covers virtually everything we need to figure out. Props, sets, location scouting, equipment, whos to hire, what to rent or purchase, has it shipped yet, and so on. It also contains our calendar that's blocking out what exactly the schedule will be.

Gianna's planning on getting in touch with Madisyn this week to create the vinyl art that I'll then have printed and laminated. Something about that art style, both me and Mrs. Stoklosa find charming and fitting for the Saving Herald theme. These photos will be our primary choices for what our art will replicate and take inspiration from. 

This is the general idea for our plans.

I reached out to the guy who runs Abandoned Florida to get some help finding really neat locations. But the lack of responses tells me that I'll most likely depend on a backup choice of filming, but I have some perfect ideas for that! There is great forestry out by US-27. That's where I went to go film Sciolism, and I remember how much I loved the nature of that area. 

Friday, March 5, 2021

Social Media Ideas and CD

 Quick short update as we're writing the music video and major concepts - Saving Herald is comfortable with the idea of us operating and publishing on their Instagram page since they barely use it themselves, and are willing to create a temporary password to manage the account for the duration of the project. Free video for themselves in the end right?

That's really all - as far as the CD concept goes, Gianna is an incredibly talented artist and is going to work personally with Mackenzie or Maddie (forgot who) to create the art and theme for the CD prints. As far as which album will be of final chose, we don't know yet. Here's some of Gianna's work! :)

 Gianna's Art Page