David's Blog

Tag: Film

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.



Allergy to Originality

Perhaps this blog should be renamed to “Remixes and Plagiarism” but not to sound to much like a broken record I found a rather Lynchian video exploring the ideas of originality in Pop’ Culture. In it the characters quote Mark Twain leading me to find a wonderful letter by him on this very subject. Do check out the video below and if you liked that letter do follow Letters of Note on twitter. Enjoy!


Everything is a Remix


My last post (directly below) has had a bit of interest via twitter, so I think several mini blogs will follow addressing and adding to these points. Above is a fantastic film talking more about theft and inspiration in the arts.

Below a very dedicated person has mashed up Star Wars with all it’s filmic influences.


And one more for luck here’s a guide on the (many, many, many) films that influenced the career of Quentin Tarintino


Happy Watching!

Making Sleeping Beauty

With the rather underwhelming Maleficent in cinemas it’s a perfect time to go back to Disney’s classic original, Sleeping beauty. Below is a great making of featurette that showcases the fantastic creative team that made it look so fantastic. As much as a love letter to the film it is a love letter to lead designer Eyving Earle, who’s work you should check out here.


Also take a look at the Sleeping Beauty Disney Sketch Book, with it’s fantastic designs and sketches. Today we take for granted the greatness of the Disney golden era but also the tweeness of them. Both the sketchbook and the short documentary show how much of a risk the film was and how much of an artistic achievement it was.



Making a Film: Inspiration.

A blog series has been festering in my mind for a while. Unfortunately my mind is either so fall that it became almost overwhelmed in the metropolis, or (just as likely) so empty the poor idea became lost in the desert. Which ever scenario is true my little thought was no Peng Jiamu and eventually has come to the surface, be it a bit late.

My idea was to do a series of blogs documenting the process of filmmaking, from the initial inspiration or brief down to the finished product. I intended to do the blog series on making an advert for cloud-computing company Simplexo, but I shot that video in a internet-less Scotland. I forgot the idea when shooting two videos for Black fashion Week Lisboa and am at present already in the planning stages for a film for a gourmet chef.

All is not lost, however, I am starting on a  new personal project. Above is  a video of everyones favorite 20th century philosopher (if you ignore Wittgenstein and Winnie the pooh) Bertrand Russell. I urge you to watch it all, but play close attention to the memory he recants from 8:15 to 8:30.

“When I was 4 years old … I dreamt that I’d been eaten by a wolf, and to my great surprise I was in the wolf’s stomach and not in heaven.”

I first watched this video two years ago and those lines have haunted me since. I have decided to use it for a short (around 20 second) film and will blog the development of it from now to the end result.

This entry has been on initial ideas, the original spark if you like bad metaphors, and how easily they can make you think. The next blog will be on researching.

A word from Hitch.

No need to go to film school, learn everything you need to know about getting a scene right, from the great Alfred Hitchcock…