Sentry - Hitfilm Short Action Film.

KeeganKeegan Website User Posts: 294 Just Starting Out
edited February 2012 in Practical Filmmaking
Hello all!
My santa-movie wasn't very well received on the Hitfilm Community when I posted it this past December. Not to say that people hated it, it was just kind of bland when it came to VFX. Well that all changes with my newest Short film and prequel to a longer series, Sentry.
The opening scene is a matte painting done entirely in hitfilm (2D Tracking, 3D fog/snow, color correction). Everything else is a compilation of muzzleflash and gun effects.
The grenade explosion could have used some work, I know. I have a very limited number of elements to work with, so I tried the best I could. with the 2-week editing period I was allotted.
Anyway, if you have any other questions, just leave them below! I hope you guys enjoy this one!

Any and all feedback is greatly appreciated!
Just a few technical notes I forgot to add.
-100% of the VFX done in hitfilm ultimate.
-Cutting and Editing done in Sony Vegas Movie Studio 10
-Sound design done in Sony Vegas Movie Studio 10
-Score done in FLStudio9
-Most of the stock footage was free from
-Most sounds were built from other sounds I got from


  • NuttyBananaNuttyBanana Website User Posts: 151
    edited February 2012
    Pretty good, that mask looks strange though! Took me a few moments to figure out that it was metallic and the grading made it look fake almost, like cell shaded. Correct me if I'm wrong though!
    - I could only just make out that explosion so maybe something could've been used to distinguish that a tad.
    - Don't have the dead character at the end moving his head and drawing in the snow lol.
    There was a good range of angles used so it didn't feel like the straight forward stuff we tend to see which is always good. I also didn't 'get' the ending but that might be me lagging from working late into last night. Good film overall though! :D
  • KeeganKeegan Website User Posts: 294 Just Starting Out
    Thanks for the feedback!
    I graded the whole thing to make the masked guy's face very contrasted and covered in shadow. I got the mask the day after Halloween (When everything is 90% off). My primary concern was that you might be able to see the camera in the reflection. The problem we had here was that almost everything was white, so it was hard to tell if the mask was really reflecting at all.
    I realized he was moving at the end long into the post-production process... I guess I just went with "...Whelp... I hope nobody sees that!" xD That was the last shot and we were all freezing, so once we finished it, I barely reviewed the clip before we took off.
    The explosion was a mess to composite. There were not enough points to effectively track in the frame, so I basically threw down a bunch of elements and messed with them. The problem I constantly face is that all the stock-footage I use is incredibly transparent. Using the "screen" blend method is the closest I can get to making it look good. I guess I should invest in some pre-keyed stuff for the future. :P
    Thanks for the feedback! It helps a lot!
    All the best,
  • NuttyBananaNuttyBanana Website User Posts: 151
    Maybe take a freeze frame of the guy on the floor, cut him out with plenty of room around the sides to cover him in the video and track the still over him, giving you a perfectly dead body :D
    Looking at the shot I'm sure there's plenty of references to go from. And some pre keyed explosions would probably come in handy, yes!
  • KeeganKeegan Website User Posts: 294 Just Starting Out
    Freeze frame! Why didn't I think of it before?!
  • NuttyBananaNuttyBanana Website User Posts: 151
    It's the last shot, you probably wanted to get it finished and out there. I do it all the time :-?
  • TheWaysAreGreenTheWaysAreGreen Website User Posts: 3
    I got two criticisms.
    1. the ridiculous mask. sorry... it ruined the legit-ness of the video for me.
    2. both shots that actually hit the guy have to have a blood shot out the back, especially because he's profile to the camera. it was really missing, and it's something to do next time.
    other than that... really good vid.
    maybe a little more color correction, and more varied camera angles (close ups, more moving shots, less still shots that last like 2-3 seconds), but a lot went right with this video.
    I'm actually looking at getting one of these cameras for myself, so it showed it off pretty well for me.
    and the mountain-scape. whoooo! that was pretty good man.
    all in all... great job.
  • KeeganKeegan Website User Posts: 294 Just Starting Out
    Of all the things to dislike, I think its hilarious the mask is drawing so much attention xD
    I was going to add Blood coming from his back, but I was trying to give off the impression that the pistol was firing hollow-point bullets, which usually wouldn't go through. Think of it as a concussive round as opposed to a piercing round.
    Thanks for the feedback!!!
  • CranialFansCranialFans Website User Posts: 92
    I really liked the Matte of the mountains, blended really well. Wasn't sure where the trees next to him vanished though :)
    Also, they are both the worse shots i have ever seen, worse than the A-Team :D How he didnt shoot him hiding behind that skinny tree I'll never know, lol
    Nice camera work though and score
  • KeeganKeegan Website User Posts: 294 Just Starting Out
    The tree is actually behind him. Its hard to tell because the snow is blown out and there isn't a good sense of depth in that shot.
    I'm glad you could tell they were bad shots xD I was trying to give off the impression that both of them were under-trained (also when 928 can't get his sidearm out from its holster)
    Thanks for the feedback!!
  • A_JosephA_Joseph Website User Posts: 9
    That was great! Loved it.
  • KeeganKeegan Website User Posts: 294 Just Starting Out
    Thanks! I have bigger and more intense videos in the works(VFX Wise). STAY TUNED! :D
  • ThelurkerishThelurkerish Website User Posts: 141
    I think its a really good film, loved the opening shot.
    While there are a few issues that have been mentioned its a really solid piece of work and im looking forward to seeing your next film
  • 3dmus3dmus Website User Posts: 117
    Nicely done (although was not a great fan of the mask either). Two things:
    1) be careful with the compositing of some of the smoke/bullet impact footage. On one occasion the smoke was cut-off at the bottom.
    2) at around the 2:20 mark where the mask character is running behind our friend, you've got this sound to go with it. Often it's best to start the sound just a fraction before the visuals for more impact. Right now the sound starts a fraction after the character appears.
  • KeeganKeegan Website User Posts: 294 Just Starting Out
    edited March 2012
    Thanks for the feedback!
    Yeah, I noticed the smoke cutoff, but I had to sacrifice some detail in order to actually get this thing out.
    If you were to ask me about that stab at around 1:10 (I think by 2:20, you were thinking the smoke footage being cut off) before I started editing, I would have agreed with you. In fact, that is exactly how it originally was. However, it seemed off. THe next time around, I actually timed the stab to an average person's reaction time. Their subconscious picks up the movement as soon as it happens, but they don't register it consciously until a millisecond later. The conscious registration is amplified by the stab. That's the idea anyway. I rendered out both versions of that scene and played it for some friends. They all agreed the second one was more effective.
    But hey! It's good to know that it didn't work for everyone! I appreciate the criticism and I'll be a bit more vigilant next time something like this comes up xD
  • TGamelTGamel Website User Posts: 81
    edited March 2012
    I have watched this a couple times and meant to respond earlier. As for the character's mask, it never bothered me, I kind of liked the metallic look, so for me personally it was not distracting. Liked the matte composition of the mountians in the begining. Sure the composting of the grenade and muzzle flashes could use some tweaking, but I think you are heading in the right direction on the camera angles.
    The only real distracting thing for me was the wind sound during the dialouge at the begining of the film. A wind sock or 'dead cat' would have helped this, unless of course you were wanting to emphasize the weather then it was simply a stylistic (sp) choice.
    Keep up the good work. I give kudos to all who post their short films here and on youtube, as it takes courage to post your work and sit back and wait for the criticisms to roll in. IMHO, what I have found is the more I shoot and get positive feedback, the more I learn. I try to keep and open mind and examine the advice and experience of others and hopefully each time I collaborate on a short film I get better.
  • TGamelTGamel Website User Posts: 81

    Hello all!
    My santa-movie wasn't very well received on the Hitfilm Community when I posted it this past December. Not to say that people hated it, it was just kind of bland when it came to VFX.
    Ok, Keegs, I was intrigued by your comment so I had to go and watch 'Mr.Claws'. I must say I thought the concept was what I would call really thinking outside the box and I liked it's originality. The shutter speed was an issue, but I think you have figured out what you did wrong on that by looking at your youtube comments. I would have liked a little more light on the office scene but overall I found it entertaining and humorous (in a good way). I actually liked the composition and color grading better on 'Mr. Claws' than on 'Sentry'. But we all know snow scenes can be a b*&ch. Kudos
  • wertyasdoowertyasdoo Website User Posts: 37
    I think you should of added some background music
    It would of made the video a lot more driving and suspenseful.
    Other than that, great video!
  • Sci Fi Ecstasy ChannelSci Fi Ecstasy Channel Website User Posts: 48
    I liked it. Any small criticism that I might have to offer has already been covered. Overall, if you just look at each project you do as a learning experience you get better over time.
    Keep making stuff!
  • KeeganKeegan Website User Posts: 294 Just Starting Out
    Thanks for the criticisms guys!
    I'll just address a couple more things:
    -I actually had a score written for the battle-scene, but it was overkill. Way too cliche and there was just too much going on. I took the battle-score out and kept the "suspense" score with the drums and chromatically stacking strings so it felt like the situation was more urgent and dire. I also kept the score at the end because that was more of a "plot developing" moment. If I were better at writing music, I probably would have been able to come up with something for the fight-scene, though xD
    - The wind was terrible. I was using the built in mic (mistake #1) and I was too busy focusing on my frozen fingers, the wind completely slipped my mind. I actually got my actor to come back and re-record his dialogue. However, the acoustics of the room I recorded in (or room verb) did not match at all,(mistake #2) so I ended up using the original audio. I put some heavy compressors on the audio track and created a volume animation, so it was loud during the dialogue and quiet during the wind. The intense clipping was something I wish I could have fixed, though :\
    Thanks for all the tips guys! It helps a lot :P
  • ZedFableZedFable Website User Posts: 136
    edited March 2012
    Personally, I'm okay with the masks. At the very beginning, how different they were did pique my interest and I was wondering if I thought they'd be just too goofy or weird for the piece, but quickly I accepted them. It almost seemed like it had a hint of troll face, but in the end I think this helped added to the unique, stark look of the mask. And from a grading perspective, good job- I would have never thought of grading just the mask! It really came out well, because I had no idea that you had done that until I read the comments.
    Speaking of things done well, the matte painting at the beginning- that is awesome! I just moved and in my new town there are a lot of really cool old buildings.I keep finding myself wanting to use features of them in a video to get a neat historical feel. Though I thought it was possible, until now I hadn't seen anyone do a matte composition in HF. When I jump back into video work soon, don't be surprised if I hit you up for tips!
    The muzzle work was great, though a bit of a mixed bag for me. Most of the hits on the trees looked really good, except for one where the smoke seemed to last to long and sink to slowly. A few of the muzzle smoke bits from the pistol had a similar issue. But over all? I loved the gunfight comp. One of the things I appreciated the most is how you used different muzzle assets for each gun and they really matched the weapons. Also, the debris from the trees were very effective- did you use any practical effects in there, or was it all compositing?
  • KeeganLarwinKeeganLarwin Website User Posts: 10
    Hey Zed! Thanks for the feedback!
    The matte-painting was a beast in and of itself and it 85% of the time spent on this project was spent on the matte-painting, so I'm glad you liked it!
    Most elements were free from detonationfilms or action essentials. We tried a practical explosion for the grenade, but it had underwhelming results, so I had to composite something in there as a backup.
    I'd answer more questions, but I'm in a bit of a rush to get to work
    Glad you enjoyed it! :)
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