Yesterday Facebook told me that its been 3 years since I promoted the ‘release’ of my first ‘proper’ short film: Rebellion. By ‘release’ I mean the short being uploaded to YouTube, which happened 3 years ago today. A lot has happened in those 3 years and I feel like I have come a long way since then. As I haven’t posted anything lately I decided to write a little retrospective on the project that, in essence, started it all.
I’d been wanting to work in the film industry for as long as I can remember, but, as I’m sure many people can relate, there are so many fields and positions in this industry to specialize in that it can be hard to decide what you want to. At the time of developing Rebellion I had been playing around in after effects for about 2 years, doing various basic little VFX experiments and generally learning the ropes of how the software worked. Some of these experiments can be found on my YouTube channel. Additionally, I’d also been experimenting with 3D modeling with a friend, who as hobby would build space ships in the free modeling software (then called) Google Sketchup. Together we’d sometimes collaborate on designs where he would build the basic model and I would add details, texture and light it. One such design we had put quite a lot of time and effort into was a ship called Skyhammer. Once we’d finalized the design, the filmmaker in me wanted to make a film about it.
My friend’s models and my renders of them
A render of Skyhammer
At the same time another friend wanted to collaborate on a film project with me and we had been out scouting various locations around my hometown. We ended up finding an old industrial site that was open to the public and decided to make a film there. It didn’t take me long to put two and two together and that the film in the industrial site would also be the film I wanted to make about Skyhammer.
I won’t go into the details of the writing and shooting process here, as I want to focus on the post production side of things. As mentioned above I already had 2 years of experience with post production software, but this was completely based on online tutorials and my own experimentation with no formal training. As such there were quite a few holes in my foundation knowledge, particularly concerning codecs, framrates, etc. As a result Rebellion has a couple of quirks in the form of dropped frames, some of the effects shots being choppy due to mismatched framerates, etc. Also my knowledge of other software such as photoshop and the like was very limited, so some of the assets (particularly the planet) are no where near the standard that I would produce today.
The planet render used in Rebellion
A planet render from a current Sci Fi project
While there are other little things that still bother me, like some of the rotoscoping is a bit rough and the tracking is completely off in some scenes and the lighting doesn’t always match, on the whole and considering it was my first attempt at something like this I am very pleased with the result. It still contains some of my favorite shots I have ever done, particularly the shot where the ships maneuver to attack the planet.
It is said that to truly learn something you need to step out of your comfort zone, set yourself tough goals and push yourself to achieve these, and this was most certainly true for me with this project. Rebellion was a huge learning experience, and I don’t think I would be where I am now had I not decided that I wanted to make a large scale science fiction film with only 2 years of basic post experience, a consumer camera and some very good friends who’s support played a major part in getting the film made.
While it wasn’t strictly the start of my post career, it certainly cemented the love of the post workflow in my head and set me on the path that I have been following to this day. I sometimes think about remaking it, applying all the skills and experience I have acquired over the years to bring it to its fullest potential, however I think that would ruin the memory of it. For despite its quirks it is something I can look back on with pride, not only to see how far I have come, but also as origin of the passion that continues to drive me.