Posted on April 22, 2009

Finally, it is done.  I burned two discs and sent them to the-

Wait, let me sum up.  The Kendrick Bros. wrote back to me, saying that they would like to see the film.  I sent the first disc, and three days later they emailed me back.  I had sent them a blank disc.

So, after a couple days, I finished rebuilding the 2nd project file and burned both discs.  I sent them to the Kendrick Brothers and am awaiting their response.  That will be interesting.

I've been ready for a long time to wrap this thing up.  I've already started well into my next project- a book of some sort.

The old blue iMac crashed for the last time.  It won't recognize the hard disk.  I'm sad to see it go.

Posted on April 7, 2009

The Timeline movie is completely useless to me; it won't import into iMovie as a fresh project.  My only choice is going to be to rebuild the hideous, catastrophic chaos that is the 2nd project file.  Answers In Genesis got back to me, they said they'd take a look at the movie if I sent a copy.  Well, the trick is to get the movie to the point where it can actually be sent.  Big Idea wrote back, it was no surprise that they turned me down (not looking for a partnership was the way they put it- the fools).  May their veggie parodies of pop culture icons wilt, may Alfred the asparagus wither, may Bob the Tomato lose his turgidity and lay in the dust, a smashed and ruined fruit of the wrath that Big Idea has this day sown.

Sorry about that.  I see dark days ahead for any film company that has lost its ability to generate original ideas.

Or maybe I'm just generally frustrated with everything.  I want, need, this to be done.  Badly.  It's at the point where it doesn't even keep me up at night.  No.  I've given up sleeping at all.

And yet, I remember that scene from LOTR where Frodo's dying and Sam says something to the effect of:

    "It's just like in the old stories.  Just when things are worst, and you're not sure you want to hear the ending, because how could it be good, when so much bad had happened?  The people in those stories..."

Here my memory blanks.  Nevertheless, if Frodo was able to push forward for the last struggle, so can I.  And some day I'll look back on these posts, and with a glimmer of pride in my misting eye, I'll say:

    "What a colossally stupendous waste of time that was."

Posted on April 6, 2009

Well, the 2nd iMovie file is a scrambled mess that I'll have to fix some other time (never).  The first DVD is burned, and I'm going to make the second by using the Timeline movie from the iMovie project file.  Thankfully, no quality of video or audio will be lost.  All I need to do is replace the Chapter Markers, and we'll be in business.  I emailed a bunch of film companies and distributors a few days ago to try and look for a distributor- so far, no reply, except from Sony, letting me know that their email address had become invalid and I could contact them by a tech-support line.

I dreamed that I met William Shatner last night.  I have no idea why.  He asked me which of his movies I'd seen and liked.  I said Star Trek, and the Twilight Zone episode, Nightmare at 20,000 feet.  He became offended, so I also mentioned that I knew he had written some sort of Sci-Fi book.  We then spent the last few hours of my dream trying to destroy eachother, for no reason at all.  That was actually kind of tame, as far as my dreams go.  I wouldn't have brought it up, but it just came back to me.

Anyway, I've got five copies of the DVD set to make: my own, Mr. Bartko's (who was in it until I gave his part away to my uncle), John Behrens', and the Calvetti's (Calvettis'?).  Wait, I guess I just have four copies to make.

Posted on March 2, 2009

Cutting parts out of the movie is a very painful process.  It has to be done, though- at some points the conversations are simply too long to hold any audience's attention.  I'm not quite finished with this yet.  Last Sunday I had planned on re-recording the lines of Mr. Calano and Mr. Bartko.  Neither of them were at church, so I'll have to wait another week.  After that, it should be wrap-up time.  And then... I need to find a publisher.  I don't think I want to do, because I'm still waiting for a short film that I submitted last year to be published.  Maybe Answers In Genesis would like the copyright to the film.

Posted on February 19, 2009

Well, I'm glad that's over.  I had a huge formatting mess on my hands.  The iMovie file was so large that it took up to ten hours to export into a video.  This turned into a formatting nightmare when all of the Quicktime encoded movies I made stopped their video channels halfway through, although the audio continued to the end.  Nothing seemed to be working, so I had two options.  The first was to break down and buy some Double-Layer DVDs so that the video wouldn't have to be compressed to fit on a Single-Layer.  The second, which I ultimately settled on, was to divide the movie into two halves and simply burn two Single-Layer DVDs.  Pilgrim's Progress will be a 2 DVD set, just like some fancy, really long professional film.

Posted on February 10, 2009

Oh, the frustration.  Yesterday the audio from a then-unknown point failed to line up with the main movie file.  Also I was annoyed by the little artifacts of compression in the exported movie file, even though the whole thing was only about 1 Gig.  That can all be fixed.  What cannot be altered is the present status of my present negotiations with Davidson Software (now Knowledge Adventure) as to using a certain piece of stock music.  They have not answered my query, so I opted to ask John Behrens for brief riff that would fit in the same place.

On the bright side, John sent me the Apollyon track.  Every time I put his music into the mix I am startled by how much energy is transfused into the scene.  Thanks to the fact that a lot of the work was done by other people, this soundtrack will be pretty decent.

On the bittersweet side, I bought Carrara 7 for a large sum of money and enjoyed a half-hour of fooling with one of the new features- hair.  I made a pink and fluffy gorilla for my desktop.  However, another one of the features that I had been looking forward to using, "3d paint", was not present.  It was only after long research that I discovered that Carrara 7 Pro was the program with the above feature, but it cost a much larger sum of money.  I'm not sure what I'm going to do about that.

Posted on February 6, 2009

It's done.  Two years of work were completed as I laid the final sounds in place this morning.  Now what?  First of all, I've got to figure out how to fit it all on a DVD.

Posted on February 4, 2009

How do I get high-quality wind?  That was the question I posed.  John Behrens answered:

"Dude, just blow on the microphone."

Yeah, sure.  Just blow on the microphone.  Like that'll ever do anything other than give me a bunch of crackling and popping.

I was wrong.  I've used this technique several times since it was explained to me.  Good oral control and some pitch alteration really does produce convincing wind.

If I planned to be done by the 15th, I'll have plenty of time to revise and check over the last few drafts.  It's only the fourth and I'm more than three quarters of the way through.  Woohoo!  Fun times.

Here's a list of some of the bizarre sources that provided sound effects:

Filtered steps on ice = burden weighing down on Christian in beginning
Spoon in Yogurt = Dungeon Water drips
PVC Pipe pitch dropped + reverb = Death Horn From Hades
Chest Freezer Hum = Doomsday Harmonics
Marble Run = Creaking Stones on Sinai
PVC Tube Bubbles in Pot = Slime of Despond, Lava of Sinai
Shutting door of Coal Stove with Delay = Clanging Arrow
Big Blue Pillow = Bouncing Burden
Climb the Mountain Game = Whizzing arrows
Marble Run zigzag section = Castle Portcullis

Posted on January 29, 2009

At this rate, I estimate to be finished with the SFX by the 15th of February, if all continues to go well.  Because of the heavy snow I had yesterday off, much of which I spent locking the effects into place for the fight with Apollyon.  This morning I completed the Vanity Fair scene- all it needed was a little crowd ambiance.  I realized earlier that the full effect of the movie will be much greater when I can watch it fullscreen instead of in the 3"x3" window for Garageband.  My effects library is expanding every day as I collect more sounds.  It has hit the 612.9 MB mark.  I spent about 15 minutes yesterday trying to get some decent wind- but to no avail.

Posted on January 14, 2009

Wow.  I was up until 11 last night fitting the music into the movie, and I did it all.  Every bit of music is exactly where I want it, some pieces clicking into place where they were never intended to click, others acting more forcefully in their intended place than I could have imagined.  The "Locum Mirum" song that my Mom did lends incredible power to the scene at the foot of the cross, and I can't get too excited about the moving effect that John Behren's "Crossing the Jordan" has.  The ultimate moment for me is Faithful's execution.  Thanks to Matthew Dickerson for the awesome dulcimer music.  I'm not sure if "Hope in the Arms of Christ" is his own composition or not, but it is my favorite piece of the soundtrack, and sharply accents Faithful's martyrdom and redemption.

Many thanks to everyone who helped with the soundtrack!

On a completely random note, I am putting some of the best dialogue frames up on a new section of this site.  I hereby christen it "Downloads".

Posted on January 8, 2009

Yes!  The soundtrack work is ready to begin- I just fit the last lines into their place.

Posted on January 6, 2009

A new year means several things, the foremost of which is the second anniversary of this project.   

This is so close to being done...

Sound Effects are not worrying me, but they should.  It has yet to be confirmed that my meager library will withstand the demands of this 2-hour film.  I am even more secure in the soundtrack.  I listened to some of the songs today, and was reminded of how moving the dulcimer music by Matthew Dickerson is.  One afternoon, the whole Dickerson family (I'm not sure how many of them total) showed up at our house for a quick visit.  They were old friends- we hadn't seen them for years.  Matthew had brought one of his two dulcimers (he made the other himself), and I asked if he would be willing to record some music for the project.  He graciously consented, the result being several awesome folk songs and one stirring tune of his own composition.  The Dickerson visit was definitely providential.

Back to Sound Effects.  I watched an inspiring short on the Bonus Features of Wall-E which discussed sound design.  It was exciting mostly because of its narration by Ben Burrt, of whom I am a big fan.  He did the sound for Star Wars, and his book on the topic has provided me with the basis for my sound effect gathering abilities.  A main emphasis of his book was that the sound designer must be on a constant watch for interesting creaks, patters, or whistles.  Once these effects are captured, they may be used for anything.

Taking this valuable lesson to heart, I wandered the dimly lit halls of 84 Packing Co., digital recorder in hand and heart in mouth.  It is not too difficult to understand the concept of a "haunted building" after working late nights at a slaughterhouse.  I'd be stumbling forward in the darkness with my hands extended, when all of a sudden I would run straight into a quarter of a cow hanging from a rail in the ceiling.  Such experiences are disconcerting.  Regardless, I captured clashing metal hooks (the ultimate swords), a gurgling drain, and various creaking doors.  My pursuits of animal noises are vain.  I think the pigs know when I bring the recording device.  When I forget it, they rouse themselves into the terrific hellish wail that I want so much for the Valley of the Shadow of Death.  As it is, I have only been able to make a feeble recording of a pig coughing, although it sounds exactly like a human coughing when I play it over.  Oh well.  It could also be the cold- animals seem more apt to loquacity in higher temperatures.

At any rate, I'm very glad that most of the dialogue is complete.  I say "most".  I mean "practically all except for a few minute lines that I could leave out and no one would know the difference".  My gut says not to cut the lines, though.  I made the resolution when I began writing the script that I wouldn't cut out significant material.  Some discussions were much too long in the book to be reasonably adapted for film, but I did my absolute best to preserve John Bunyan's dialogue.  Another barrier was the Old English (it's not Old English, technically- perhaps "Aged English" would be a better term).  Bunyan's English is hard enough to read without practice, let alone record lines.  As I copied the text from the book, I modified it slightly to fit the standards of modern English, while making an effort to maintain the beauty of the original work.  Thees and Thines were changed to You's and Your's, but I don't recollect doing much beyond that.  I know I didn't often modify sentence structure.  There was one point where some Biblical clarification was needed.  In the Dungeon of Despair, Hopeful makes the argument that "No murderer shall enter heaven" to persuade Christian against committing suicide.  I struggled with this for a long time and asked several people's opinions before altering the script to add an affirmation of the sufficiency of Christ's sacrifice to cover all sins, including murder.  The problem remains that this line is a direct quotation of Scripture.  I'm still not sure I understand, but I know that Jesus pardoned murderers.  I don't believe this is a contradiction in Scripture- there are lots of things I don't understand, although some day I will.

I wanted to show Faithful's redemption after being burned at the stake, but hadn't included anything of the sort in the original animation.  My conviction to include the chariot of fire pushed me to create the scene three quarters of the way through the process of recording lines.  After I pasted the fresh render into the complete cut, I was suprised by the difference in quality between the new clip and what I did a year ago.  Fortunately there is no break in continuity.  The whole movie is a sort of Animator's Progress, starting in 2007 with me having barely an idea of how to work an insanely deep application with all sorts of bells and whistles, and ending sometime this Spring of 2009, God willing.  I think I have a pretty decent understanding of Carrara's workings by now, and could churn out a good short or two if necessary.  It is interesting to watch the draft of Pilgrim's Progress and see the gradual improvement in the animation, sets, and camera work.

The entire project has spanned three different computers,  beginning with all of the modeling and animating done on the old blue iMac (OS 10.2.8).  I switched to my parents' newer iMac (10.4.6) concluding on my new Macbook Pro (10.5.6- woohoo!). It has been an adventure in itself, complete with unbearable tension, agonizing loss, and insurmountable victory, but mostly agonizing loss.  I still bear the scars of plugging away meticulously at a scene for an hour only to try saving it and have the computer freeze.  These painful occasions have had several benefits:  first, I hit "save" incessantly, and second, many of the shots were more carefully thought out after being lost several times.  If I remember correctly, the "Dash to the Gate" required ten tries before it was animated without an application crash.  I saved the failed files so that I could keep track of how many times I had lost a clip, solely for the sake of morbidity.  "Return of Pliable" was also pesky.  It only took four tries to animate, but when I went to render it I was driven berserk by a persistent texturing problem which was due to my own ignorance.

I have uploaded some photos of the production of this film, I hope the viewer will enjoy them.  They can be seen in the Production Photos area.

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