So, with September here, we have now been in post production on Kaleidoscope Man for a good 9 months.
The CGI work on the movie is proving intensive, much more so than I had imagined it would. So far we have clocked up 370 FX shots and still have around another 150 to do. I had originally thoughts I would have a team of CGI animators helping me but due to the quantity of work involved I have had to take on more and more of this work myself – it’s not really a problem but phew, it’s hard work!
Having been an editor for nearly 30 years, I have always dabbled in very simple special effects and so have a good basic understanding of how things like chromakey and image layering works. However, now that I have sat in the animators chair it has given me a greater understanding and appreciation of the mindset, dedication and patience a good animator needs – and believe me, it’s not for the meek!
I have set the bar high on this movie with Star Wars as the bench mark. Of course, Star Wars has millions of dollars and teams of the best CGI experts in the world so Kaleidoscope Man can’t really be of any competition on the special effects front. So I believe it’s about being original and using the tools we have to their very best advantage. A lot of new film makers have done just that, people like Gareth Edwards who did all his own FX’s work on his film, Monsters. Okay, it took him a few years, but paid massive dividends as Gareth went on to direct Godzilla and then Rogue One.
As a 52 year old, I have had to master Adobe After Effects. This is the standard industry program used for FX’s composition which is basically an area of FXs work that brings all your individual elements together to create final shots that are then dropped back into the movie. Leaning this software to industry standards has taken me around a year and a bit but I now feel very confident that I can tackle most things thrown at me. Also, there are literally thousands of videos on You Tube where people show you how to use it, especially the complicated things – so I have become pretty- well self-taught.
Back in the late 1980’s and early 90’s I worked in the editing department for the children’s animation company called FilmFair. We made TV shows like The Wombles, Astro Farm, The Gingerbread Man, The Dreamstone etc. and this taught me the basics of animation, which in retrospect was an absolute godsend.
Editing on a Steenbeck at the animation company, Filmfair and on the set of the wombles - back n 1989 (with BIG hair!)
Just as a caveat to this – I have not done any of the 3d CGI (the spaceships etc), these have been built by 3d expert Ian Whiston who sends me the shots with transparent backgrounds which I then superimpose on the backgrounds we have.
So, I would say to any other filmmakers reading this who feel too old to start learning how to do their own FX’s work, just as I did - YOU CAN!
For me, the possibilities of what I can now achieve have become endless. And seriously, if I can do it, anyone can!
That said, I am not completely on my own now and some very skilled animators are still dipping in and out of the film, fitting in the odd FXs shot around their day jobs – which has been fantastic.
So just how much is there to go? And when can you expect to finally see the mighty, Kaleidoscope Man? A lot of people have been asking me this, so this is where we are:
The FX shots come in two varieties:
1. CGI elements that are added to live actions backgrounds. These tend to be things like attacking spaceships flying over the streets and cities blasting people – so its Fx’s like lasers, smoke, explosions and teleportation beams etc. – We are about 90% complete on these.
2. CGI elements created fully in their own created environment. These are the scenes set inside the alien mothership where we have shot the actors against a greenscreen and then created all the backgrounds and elements within this world in CGI. We are around 75% complete on these scenes.
Floyd (Danny Steel) gets ready to blast aliens
3. Shot fixes. Yes. We have quite a few shots that have small problems like camera shake (mainly from the wind in our Lanzarote scenes). Then there are things like removing signage (the Birmingham Uni logo pops up a lot in one of our dream sequences). Still a bit of work to go here but this should only take a few weeks to complete.
My estimation is that we should now have all the FX’s work finished by the end of November 2017 (Yes, I know, a few months later than promised, sorry folks!). Then we can finally lock the picture, begin the music composition, record the ADR with the actors, track lay the sound FX’s, mix the final soundtrack and then get the picture graded.
So how long? Hopefully, the film will be completed by March 2018.
By the way, I forgot to mention. The film is looking magic and I believe will deliver everything we’ve been promising over the years, so I hope you don’t mind waiting just a bit longer…
Thanks as ever for your patience and continued support.
Writer & Director - Kaleidoscope Man