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Sunday, January 31, 2010

40 hour editing marathon for EXHALATION

I was supposed to put together a rough cut of my latest short film EXHALATION by today.

I took almost a 2-week break from its editing to wait for Maiko the Producer to finish her Masters thesis, Torigoe the Sound Guy to the sound mixing (he had 3 productions lined up before him, EXHALATION, unfortunately, was number 3), and for Woan Foong the Composer to send me the music pieces (we last worked together in my last completed and still-unreleased short THE WHITE FLOWER). To kill time, I ended up helping to put together Kong's film, which is now called LADYBIRD'S TEARS.

But once Kong's film was out of the way, and Maiko was done with her thesis, and Woan Foong had sent me her avant-garde music pieces, things were set into motion again in order to hit today's deadline.

On the 28th, I went to Tokyo University of Arts at Yokohama to do some additional voice recording for actor Hiroyuki Takashima. It was actually my first time in Yokohama, I was surprised by the Western-styled architecture. I snapped photos like a tourist.

Building in Yokohama

Landmark Tower

That's the Landmark Tower, tallest building in Japan. When Maiko told me about that, I didn't know that the tower is actually really called Landmark Tower, thought that she was just referring to it as a landmark tower.

Streets of Yokohama

That's the Tokyo University of Arts.

Tokyo University of Arts

Inside Tokyo University of Arts

Its hall was what the less cultured would have called 'arty fartsy'.

"How artsy fartsy!" I remarked when I entered the main hall.

After that I saw a man who looked vaguely familiar and I thought I might have met him somewhere before. Thinking he was probably someone I might have met before, I started waving to him, before I remembered he was director Kiyoshi Kurosawa, a lecturer in this university.

Maiko then introduced ourselves to him and passed him a KINGYO flyer.

kingyo poster

Great job Maiko!

After that we prepared our sound recording in one of the studios.

There's Torigoe setting up, and Hiroyuki reading the script.

Setting up a voice recording session

Mickey Mouse was in the room too.

Mickey Mouse victimized

The sound recording went well, but a problem occurred. The plan was to immediately let Torigoe do the sound mixing after that, I brought my hard disk with me, the film was in it, but the film was in FINAL CUT PRO form, and apparently the computers in Tokyo University of Arts had an older version of FCP, so they can't open the file at all.

"Well, at least it's comforting to know that the computers in my editing lab are more up-to-date with Final Cut Pro compared to Tokyo University of Arts," I remarked dryly, though not really finding any comfort at all.

In order to speed up the process, the only other solution was to get all the recorded audio materials from Torigoe and do the sound mixing myself when I return from Yokohama. I was only supposed to put together a temporary rough cut anyway.

Returned to the editing room that night, started working on the audio myself. Worked until 5am in the morning (on the 29th). Went home to sleep.

Woke up at 12pm. Went back to the editing lab, continued working. Mixing the music, the audio, adjusting the scenes based on the rhythm dictated by the new audio.

It was surreal, yet exciting, to watch my own film with proper sound for the first time. Night came. I realized it would be pointless to go home and sleep, so I plowed through an entirely sleepless night in the editing lab. (I did take a break and head off to the nearby McDonald's for some food at 4am)

30th of January. I walked out of the lab and realized that it was already 8:30 in the morning.

A few scenes didn't have any sounds. Some I managed to rectify by downloading sound effects from the Internet, but the rest was tricky. Grabbing hold of a sound recorder in the afternoon, I headed off to the station nearby to record sounds of the crowd, then I blitzed off to one of the buildings in Waseda University to record sounds of... well, a sparser crowd, in an indoor environment.

As I returned to the editing room, it was around 1pm, I found myself about to doze off when I was listening to the sounds I recorded myself (... listening to random environment sounds aren't exactly the best way to keep yourself awake, especially if you didn't sleep at all the night before). Went off to buy some chocolate bars, managed to stay awake for an hour. But felt tired again, decided to have a proper meal when I remembered that aside from the McDonald's visit at 4am, I haven't had an actual meal at all, even if McDonald's was... an actual meal, I didn't have real food for 10 hours. Headed off to eat.

Found myself rejuvenated. Managed to put together the rough cut, with sounds and stuff, by night. Proud that I could do a decent job at sound mixing, pride fed my narcissism, inflating my ego, all traces of weariness faded away... or maybe because I took a short 20-min nap earlier in the evening in front of the computer.

Then I started making DVD copies of the film.

31st of January, 4:36am. I was home. The past two days felt like a blur.