David's Blog

Month: December, 2014

Reclaiming the Hobbit

Perhaps the geekiest post I have ever blogged, for this I give no apologies. After sitting through the Battle of Five Armies out of a dull sense of “I should” rather than any enjoyment it’s time to start thinking “What if It wasn’t a trilogy but one very long, or two films?”

Of course actually editing the Hobbit into two (or even one three-hour film?) and releasing it online would suddenly make me a very poor editor indeed. If New Line were happy to sue a twenty year old pub for being called The Hobbit I doubt they would look kindly upon me editing down their movies and putting it up on torrent sites.

But lets imagine that we live in a universe where big businesses are quite happy to let small individuals play around with their stuff for a non-profit bases. Where everyone knows that creativity does not live in a bubble and things can be adapted into something new.  What then would we edit out?

It would be tricky to edit out lines of dialogue or even trim scenes down due to the displacement of the score. It could be done of course, you would just have to mute the original and put the score back over, probably by buying the rather whimsical soundtrack. The easiest option would be to cut out whole scenes together. For me the things that would go straight in the bin

1. Azog would be the first to go, not every scene of course, the ones that actually add nothing to the plot such as back story and Him Vs Thorin could stay but all the cliched “bad-guy dialogue” would go straight in the bin. If I had my way he would go completely, but i think that would be impossible as he (it?) is so interwoven into the darn film.

2. The Necromancer. Yes he is mentioned in the books and yes Gandalf goes off to fight him off pages but what did he actually add to the plot? Take him out and nothing has been lost.

3. Cut out the love story between sexy-elf and sexy-dwarf. Gender balancing a seventy year old book is perfectly fine and a bad-ass lady elf that did more than sulk and cry should be applauded but do we really need this cringe-worthy dialogue? In Battle of Five Armies you could have her sacrifice herself by going over the cliff edge with Bolg. Two characters and thirty minuets of screen time of Legolas gotten rid off. Simples.

4. Radagast. Could he completely be removed? Certainly he could from the second and third films but I would be interested to see if it was possible from the first – again like the necromancer, Legolas and  Stephen Fry’s henchman what does he add to the film except running time?

There are minor edits as well, I believe when Bilbo faints in the first act of An Unexpected Journey the scene could instantly cut to the next morning rather than having Gandalf tell us about Golf. The barrel sequence in Desolation of Smaug could be cut by half with nothing lost and do we really need all that darn talk about the Prophecy? When you look at Battle of Five Armies I think 45 minuets could be salvaged (mostly all the shots with Thorin and Blibo where great) and everything else could be gone.

But these are just some of my gripes. What would you guys add to the list? You never know, maybe one day I’ll actually do the cut and you can read about my arrest on twitter…

My Alternatives to Adobe

Being a modern corporate “filmmaker” now means not just being able to Shoot and edit to a high standard but being able to use After Effects, colour grade, create 3D creations with cinema 4D, animate vectors in after effects or flash (some still use this I hear), take photographs, draw basic vectors ill Illustrator, use photoshop AND I have been to meetings where the client also wants me to use “in-design.”

People who are regulars on this blog (thank you) will know that I am a lover of all things “cheap.” Cheap is great in amateur photography where I can use reversed lenses, tubes, old lenses and second hand cameras to get the results I need and in filmmaking too with now everyone turning to DSLR shooting i can use the same techniques on a shoot. Post production is a different matter.

Many of us are still tied down with Final Cut or Adobe. Within moving image I cannot see a worthwhile competitor coming anytime soon to take over from the (slowly improving) FCX or the (pretty brilliant but pricey) Premiere CC. However in the world of pre-production, image manipulation and now Vector drawings there are several alternatives. I thought I would take this blog to go through some that I use on a daily bases.




CeltX: Yes I know Avatar was written with Final Draft but do you really want to pay £200 for what basically is a weirdly formatted word processor? CeltX does the job more than adequately. You are able to write a correctly formatted script and incorporate it with your storyboards.

Scrivener: While every other word processor I can think of (Word, Open Office, Pages) forces you by design to start at the beginning and work you way through Scrivener takes a much more intuitive approach of letting you start wherever the hell you like. Being able to import reference material into separate sections and earlier drafts that neither destroy nor district from your main airflow is an intelligent approach. At £30 it is more expensive than the free CeltX but can save you a lot of time.

MindNode Pro: At £13.99 this is neither the cheapest (there is the lesser Mind Node Beta for free) or the most expensive (ConceptDraw is £250!) it is however a very user friendly app that lets you organise your ideas into wonderful mind maps. Great for working on structure and ideas for your script!


My Workflow: MindNode Pro then CeltX.


Image Manipulation:

Gimp: I used to be in the church of Gimp, perhaps much like non-practising Jews I am a non-practising Gimp user. I first came across Gimp way back in 2003 aged 13. It taught me much about image manipulation, colour correction and layers. For that I say thank you.  It is open-source and constantly expanding, give it a go.

Pixelmator: A mac only app’ at £9,99 it is more reliable than Gimp and significantly cheaper than Adobe’s PhotoShop. Of course it doesn’t have nearly as many features as PS but for the price it is very reasonable and all the basics can be performed here.

Aperture: I moved to Aperture when my subscription to Adobe CC ran out and my previous Photoshop (SC4) failed to open my camera’s RAW. Aperture is a powerful image manipulation and storage system that’s great a tweaking your RAW files. While if you want real-out there style image manipulation you will have to use in conjunction with other applications (Pixelmatr or PS). At £70 it is the most expensive of all my cheaper options so far but well worth the price. WARNING: This application is being taken off the app store early 2015 to be replaced with a “Dumbed down” version- an apple trend that was started with there downgrade from FC7 to X.


My Work flow: Aperture and final retouches in Pixelmatr.


Graphic Design

Affinity Designer: Costs the same as “renting” Adobe illustrator for two weeks and yet seems to be just as good. Now, I am not a graphic designer nor am I a good drawer but for a few animated projects I have had to either draw or work in collaboration with graphic designers and Illustrator is the program to use. Perhaps not any more. This is a real gem of a program that I have been playing around with for 10 days now. Well worth a look.