Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Jim, Save My Sanity

Yesterday I mentioned that we're showing the film to Lap and his family this weekend. I am nervous about it. Sharing the film means I have to export it and burn a DVD, and a ton of things usually go wrong along the way.

One of my weaknesses is the lack of technical expertise. I read books and watch online tutorials, but sometimes things just don't work out. I am so grateful to have friends willing to explain it and teach me when I can't figure it out on my own.

Yesterday, fellow filmmaker Jim McQuaid (@turnipvideo) of Turnip Video was kind enough to come to my rescue after reading that the export process takes me so long. He visited my office to analyze the exporting process I'm currently using (hardware, software, etc.), and gave me some excellent ideas for improvements so I don't lose four days every time I try to export the film and burn a DVD. I'm a wee bit frustrated with it taking so long.

We chatted for a bit and came to the conclusion that my equipment is horribly outdated. That's mostly likely why it takes too long.

I'm working on a late model G5 which doesn't have enough internal memory to handle a big project like Abandoned Allies. The film is about 60 minutes long. The project file is full of HD, standard def footage, and archival footage--all in many different forms and frames per second. Uhm, so yeah. It's a beast of a project on a struggling system.

We scoffed at my 12" monitor after looking at the other hardware. The monitor is laughably small for video editing. Two large monitors would help me work more efficiently. I keep meaning to search for a good deal on one, but that's tough to do while I'm so desperately trying to finish the film. It's not absolutely necessary, so I just keep my nose to the grindstone.

Now I face a decision. It is not too different, I feel, from the decision one makes regarding a vehicle in need of repair. If the repairs on the older vehicle will cost a few grand, is it worth doing? What's the value of the vehicle versus the cost of repair? Is it better to buy a new one?

I have an older system, which is salvageable but might just cost as much as getting a new one. So, these thoughts swarm around the back of my mind while I edit. Now I also face even bigger questions. How serious am I about filmmaking? Do I want to make another indie film? If so, do I want to be the one editing it? Could I, instead, find someone else to do the editing, someone who has already invested in the equipment? Would this allow me to focus on producing and directing, so that I can perfect those skills?

My mind is constantly going, but there's no time to think on these things too long right now. All of my effort is going towards finishing the film so we can share it this fall and submit it into film festivals. I think I'll just limp along and hope to make it to the finish line as soon as we can.

After Jim and I finished the task at hand, we talked about a number of other film-related things. It's so wonderful to talk shop. It's encouraging to hear about Jim's projects, and what he enjoys. He is an incredibly smart and kind man, doing a number of interesting things right now.

Jim is working on Grace Running, a film about a 14-year old girl named named Grace (played by Sydnei Murphy). The young lady starring in his film is absolutely gorgeous. I hope Jim will let me lend a hand at some point on the production.

Jim also runs the Triangle Filmmakers Special Interest Group (TFSIG), which is a "mailing list and occasional meeting of dedicated local indie filmmakers." If you're in the area and want to introduce yourself to other filmmakers, TFSIG is a great way to do that.

Big thanks to Jim and his support and encouragement. More to come as we hustle to get this thing finally finished!

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