I’m pleased to announce that Electric Town will be having its world-outside-Japan premier at the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival!
I’m excited to finally premier Electric Town today in front of actual audiences. By sheer coincidence it’s going to have two Japan premiers at the same time, one in Tokyo at the Shimokitazawa Film Festival and one in Hokkaido at the Sapporo International Shorts Festival. I wish I could get to both, but I’m only going to be able to make the Shimokitazawa showing. Looks like the festival is going to narrowly miss getting hit by supertyphoon Vongphong, so we’re lucky with the timing!
A few short months ago I thought the movie was about done, aside from a few small color tweaks. We’d done the best we could with a soundtrack, pieced together mostly from Creative Commons-licensed music and a few original odds and ends.
There had been one piece that I had really wanted to use by electronic music pioneer Laurie Spiegel, and I contacted her about using it. She agreed and encouraged the movie early on in the postproduction.
Imagine my surprise when I contacted her to show her the final movie and she liked it so much she said she wanted to work on (re)scoring the whole movie! I had actually already submitted to several festivals (including Sapporo, which just announced that Electric Town has been selected for screening). But I was happy to delay any future submissions to give her time to work on the movie.
Recently she sent me her finished score and I’m thrilled with it. She really managed to bring a lot more out of the movie than the previous soundtrack had been able to. I’m more excited than ever to submit to more festivals as soon as we finish the final mix.
The Sapporo International Short Film Festival and Market has just announced this years official selections for Japan and I’m pleased to report that Electric Town is on the list! (Sorry, Japanese only at the moment).
It’s exciting to have a screening, and hopefully it’s also a good sign that to have been accepted to the first festival we’ve submitted to. There are a few submissions out there yet that haven’t yet been announced.
It’s too early to tell if this will be the movie’s premier, but it would be a great environment to have the premier if it turns out to be.
I had an issue with doubling shadows that was surprisingly tricky to deal with (I’m still not sure I handled it as well as I could have, and I’m open to other ideas). The problem is that when you lay CG shadows over real shadows in the image, the double-shadowed area becomes twice as dark. This obviously isn’t correct. Only one light source (in this case the sun) is being blocked, so the shadows should merge seamlessly. You can see the problem in the top picture here, along with my best effort at a solution in the bottom picture.
I tried a couple of approaches that didn’t really work, and the more I thought about it the more I thought that getting a perfect result could be quite tricky. For what it’s worth, here’s how I handled it:
For the shadow itself, I used a CC node on the plate factored by an inverted shadow pass as I discussed a few posts back. Lowering the gain slightly brought me to a very close approximation of the actual shadow, but of course with the overlapping shadows too dark. Then I fed the output of that into a lighten node, again using the inverted shadow pass as a factor, with a solid color as the second input. The solid color was basically a sample of the darkest point of the ordinary, correct shadow color. I tweaked that color until I got the most unobtrusive result, like so:
Note that this method wouldn’t have worked at all if there were different colors or values in the ground under the shadow. I had to be able to assume that the shadow itself on the street should be the darkest value. Still, the problem here was that the resulting lightened portion lacked the speckled texture of the street. So I wanted to add some speckling only to that lightened area.
To isolate the lightened area, I used a difference node with the non-lightened image and the lightened image as inputs. I separated the results into HSV components and used the value, like this:
This gave me a matte to work with only the solid-colored lightened portion.
Separately, I rendered out a b/w high contrast image of the street to give me a street texture map of sorts. I multiplied that with the lightened image to give it a little bit of grit, using the difference output as a factor (I added a multiplier to that so I could adjust the influence). I also used that as a factor for adjusting the hue and value of the output.
The result is far from perfect, but it’s less noticeable than the double shadows I started with. With all that’s going on in the frame I don’t think it will be at all noticeable. Still, if people have other ideas for dealing with doubled shadows, I’d love to hear them.
You know that feeling when you’re just finishing up making a short movie about a lonely old man and a robot dog, and the Academy awards happen, and the winner for animated shorts turns out to be a short movie about a lonely man and a robot dog?
Fortunately, aside from the uncanny thematic similarity, the movies are about as different as they can be. Anyway, I loved Mr Hublot. Well-deserved win.