17 April 2007

DAHT Lessons

For episode one of the new season, I decided to do something very different from season one: I am spending more time and effort on the actual disembodied animal head portions of the show. The truth is that for the first season, I was much more enamored of Tex than I was of the "ensemble." Looking back at the original episodes, I believe this is clear as day.

Well, Tex is a pain in the ass. The rubber is starting to degrade (he is at least four years old, and not made of very high quality rubber to begin with) and the mouth mechanism is unreliable. I need to rebuild him from scratch, but I have yet to find a suitable rubber chicken replacement. (I can't believe that I've become a rubber chicken connoisseur. For some reason, my wife is not surprised.)

I think that focusing on the actual reason for the show is a step in the right direction.

Another lesson: I need to sort out my sound recording issues. Seriously. I had to ADR the "ensemble" bits because my external mic was on the fritz. I wasn't wearing my headphones (I couldn't find them!) so I didn't know the sound was f-ed up until I captured the video. I then used the on-camera mic for Tex's bits, and the sound is just atrocious.

Next, I learned that I need to compose a shot list before doing this thing. I storyboarded this episode, but somehow missed the fact that Cesare Piazza needed to walk from camera right to camera left without a log. Whoops! So I had to do a quick pick-up. (You can tell. The lighting doesn't match!)

Finally, we shot the Lost-esque "The Tempest" title card all wrong. By "we" I mean Pamela and I. She manned the camera (on the tripod) and the manual focus while I tilted and moved the card. It would have been far easier to place the card on a flat surface, light it, and move the camera. This is the most frustrating mistake for me, because I went to the Robert Rodriguez ten-minute film school (i.e. watched the special features on his DVDs) and he covered this very thing on the Spy Kids 2 disc.

So there are my lessons learned.

I want to add an additional note regarding what I call "Thrift Store Aesthetic." Obviously I'm shooting these things with no budget whatsoever. I'm actually trying to play that to my advantage. I could have done the Lost-esque "The Tempest" title card with slick, 3D graphics. It just seemed wrong. Sure, DAHT looks like crap. But I think that's part of the appeal.

Next up for DAHT: Twelfth Night, or What You Will!

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