Atomic Productions - Summer Project Releases 2012

AndrewAndrew Website User Posts: 379 Enthusiast
Hey all,
I used to write these up on FXhome- and though by-and-large I'm now unable to talk about the bulk of filmmaking work we do at Atomic Productions because it's largely commercial/promotional or longer-term-goal-oriented, I wanted to share info on three forthcoming releases from our little company, and some things we've been doing.

[center][size="5"]Atomic Productions - Summer Project Releases 2012[/size][/center]
Check out our current work on it by visiting the Dark Knight Binges Fan Page, and donate to it by watching the video below and clicking the linked annotation:
Please, if you want or feel compelled, do donate to the project- and let us know your thoughts. It's something we'll be intermittently working on (and are super grateful we've already received an awesome $605 for!) throughout June and July, with a release following the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises

[size="6"][center]July - Hell Or High Water[/center][/size]
A long-gestating crime drama of ours, Hell Or High Water has been a difficult project to pin down and complete partly because of the simplicity of it's situation: It's largely a dramatic short that's a conversation between two men- one young, one old- about the nature of 'right and wrong' in one room. While it's new territory for us- and about 10 minutes in length- it's also been very difficult to refine to a point of completion, and the words of it's narrative are long and strongly-convicted on the part of the older character- so much so that the second actor we had for the role walked off the production the day before the shoot after concocting a hypocritical backstory for himself around the script. (**** actors, really.)
That being said, its found its footing, and the short crime drama is something we'll be wrapping up in post in July, for a mid-August release.

[size="6"][center]August - 8th & Rose[/center][/size]
8th & Rose is a period-set silent (or, more-specifically, 'conveyed without words') film I started writing at the beckoning of an actress we used in our Drive parody, Katie Folger. Katie has a very 'January Jones/Mad Men' look to her, and we'd been talking about doing a 'period piece' for a few months this year. Rummaging through a few ideas, I landed on something I really liked- a sort of philosophical-journeying love story set in more of a 'timeless' atmosphere than the 1960s or anything specific- and I've finally completed writing it.
The script is complete and will run somewhere between 5-10 minutes, with little to no dialogue- all conveyed visually and through the nuances of the two actors- and will focus on the draw and distance between the two in sort of a 'love story' way. (Or at least as close as we'll probably ever come to doing one.) I've had our music aficionado Chase work off of my general pitch and read-out of the story, and we've come up with a pretty sweet concept for the score to the short already, which is cool. It dissipates into just random experimentation about half-way through, but check it out if you'd like on [url=]SoundCloud here

We've cast the leads- Katie being one of them, and the other an actor named Will Harris I was impressed with after meeting a few weeks ago, who we used in our over-the-top satire foray for TFM, 'Frat Cops', embedded below (strong language, NSFW generally):

Though that's quite different in theme, tone, and genre than what we'll be doing here, it was interesting to throw an actor into such a destructive, hate-able role and see how they react.
This project we'll be working on following the other two, likely in production in August with completion and release later within the same month, and it's something we've been excited to develop the past few weeks.
In addition to these three, which we've more-or-less considered our 'solid three' for release and completion this summer- we're also doing a few 48-hour competitions, and working on some creative developments in Los Angeles. All of this is in addition to our ongoing work one private commercial and promotional projects, which we'll release if/when we're able to- and my own personal job at TFM.
Anyway, just wanted to clue you all into what we're doing and have been doing- and if you have the inclination or opportunity, please do check out our fan page on Facebook and "like" us if you're willing at the link below! Thanks!
[center][size="5"]Atomic Productions Facebook Fan Page[/size][/center]


  • SimonKJonesSimonKJones Moderator Website User, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 4,450 Enthusiast
    edited June 2012
    Always a great read, finding out what you chaps are up to.
    What measures have you taken to hit your Indiegogo target? Seems like a final push should get you all the way, and I'm wondering what you have/haven't done.
    As an aside, I do think your pitch video could have been a lot stronger, given your usual strengths as filmmakers and promoters. While the style isn't necessarily transferable, I still consider Tim Schafer's video to be the benchmark for crowdsourced funding pitches:
    While not as slick, Neal Stephenson's recent CLANG pitch was also pretty innovative:
    I think you might have enticed more people if you'd done a bit more than a standard sofa-pitch. I don't think it does your work or skills justice.
    Anyway, didn't mean to ramble. Looking forward to all your projects, as always!
  • AndrewAndrew Website User Posts: 379 Enthusiast
    Here's an image from our Dark Knight Rises parody shoot, of one of our regularly-appearing actors, John Redlinger (Cobb in our Inception parody) in full Bane costume.
    We had tested and considered shaving his head, even though that's rather suicidal in terms of getting actors jobs (especially because he's got pretty long hair currently), but were successful in a few makeup tests with bald caps and screen tests once we shaved his sideburns and the back of his neck. The result is a pretty spot-on image to what we want.
    Really cool/fun to be working on, not gonna lie. Though it's always fun to do this sorta stuff, the sheer exposure behind The Dark Knight Rises characters makes being out in public a different ballgame than we're used to. Even at 2AM shooting last night, when you wouldn't expect people around, two randim people asked for photos with John and 3-4 others murmurred about him and took pics from afar.
  • DX6channelDX6channel Website User Posts: 72
    Wow. That is amazingly cool!
  • SimonKJonesSimonKJones Moderator Website User, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 4,450 Enthusiast
    Stunning costume, it really is.
  • AndrewAndrew Website User Posts: 379 Enthusiast
    edited June 2012
  • AndrewAndrew Website User Posts: 379 Enthusiast
    We reached our goal!
    Just thought I'd let the non-existent audience of this forum thread know. :)
  • SimonKJonesSimonKJones Moderator Website User, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 4,450 Enthusiast
    Congrats, guys. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with.
  • MatthiasClaflinMatthiasClaflin Website User Posts: 674 Just Starting Out
    Congrats. Looking forward to seeing how it turns out.
  • mercianfilmmercianfilm Website User Posts: 161
    congratulations on getting your budget! the Bane costume is spot on as well as the lighting and tone of the clip- can't wait to see how this turns out! Good luck.
  • AculagAculag Website User Posts: 708 Just Starting Out
    Interesting stuff. I'm a little torn on the Batman thing, for what are probably obvious reasons by now, but still looking forward to seeing all of this.
  • AndrewAndrew Website User Posts: 379 Enthusiast
    edited July 2012
    Another poster from the parody project we've been sporadically working on the past month. We did a costume fitting with Lila, the actress we have portraying Selina Kyle/Catwoman, and we'll be shooting her stuff next week.
    Additionally we're flying in our Bane actor, John, who will be meeting up with our Batman in Austin to duke it out and shoot some of the larger setpieces/shots, as well as miniatures we're constructing in order to get shots of the Tumbler and The Bat. Fun stuff!
  • MatthiasClaflinMatthiasClaflin Website User Posts: 674 Just Starting Out
    Looks very cool Andrew. Very well made.
  • KahvehRobinettKahvehRobinett Website User Posts: 443
    I'd be very interested in seeing some of those miniatures. Super excited to see how this comes out.
  • ESPicturesESPictures Website User Posts: 533 Just Starting Out
    Looks really exciting. Tried to watch the Binges video, but it says it's now private.
  • AndrewAndrew Website User Posts: 379 Enthusiast
    edited July 2012
    So I'm not certain anyone here has been following this short parody project we've been working on- but we've had a huge ton of fun the past few weekends using some of our spare time to produce the above-listed 'The Dark Knight Binges', and it's been a hell of a ride.
    From shooting downtown Austin on 6th Street (the busiest, drunkest nightlife spot in the city) with Bane and Batman in full costume, to tackling VFX and raiding multiple Toys R Us's for last-minute props, this has been one of the most fun- and actually challenging- projects we've worked on in a while.
    The 'dress up and pretend you're a hero' type of productions are, in our newest experience, the most fun thus far- and we thank everyone who has helped us, including everyone over at FXhome, for making the vision possible.
    There's still a minor amount of post-production work to go, but as we have most portions completed and production totally wrapped, I thought it good to announce:
  • AculagAculag Website User Posts: 708 Just Starting Out
    Watched it this morning. I'd say it's definitely the strongest of your parody trailers as far as visuals and technique go. If I hadn't seen any of your other parodies, I probably would have laughed my ass off, but since I have seen them, it was a bit like hearing a joke I've heard before. Funny, but not laugh out loud funny. Maybe it's just because I watched it right when I woke up.
    The content still doesn't really appeal to me, but you did do an excellent job of recreating the TDKR trailer. Great feel, great costumes, great acting, and I loved the shot of Batman riding in a shopping cart. That was classic.
  • SimonKJonesSimonKJones Moderator Website User, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 4,450 Enthusiast
    edited August 2012
    I had the same feeling, Aculag. Other than a couple of grainy shots of Batman walking through smoke, the production on this is great. But, as you say, it feels like someone is telling me a joke I've already heard.
    Based on these production values it would be a lot of fun to see Atomic tackle a 'proper' Batman fanfilm, although I'd much prefer (as always) that they focus on fully original content.
    Wish I'd had a little more time to finesse the miniature shots, but I'm pretty pleased with how they came out given the time scales involved.
  • AxelWilkinsonAxelWilkinson Staff Administrator, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 5,243 Staff
    Technically its very impressive. Tremendous professionalism on the costumes, the cinematography, and matching the shots from the original trailer. I look forward to seeing a side-by-side comparison, which I'm sure will make it even more impressive. Nice job on the casting as well; despite the fact that there was a lot of the cast you have worked with before, it didn't have the feeling that you just used whoever was available. The cast fit their parts nicely.
    The parody aspect fell flat for me, which is partly due to personal preference, and partly due to the repetitive nature of the alcohol parodies, as was mentioned. Still really impressive technically though, and I compliment you on that.
  • guitar74guitar74 Website User Posts: 506
    The videos dont work!
  • AculagAculag Website User Posts: 708 Just Starting Out

    Wish I'd had a little more time to finesse the miniature shots, but I'm pretty pleased with how they came out given the time scales involved.
    Oh yeah, nice work with that, Simon. And whoever did the miniatures did a great job as well. That had to be a lot of work for like a second of screentime. :)
  • SimonKJonesSimonKJones Moderator Website User, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 4,450 Enthusiast
    Andrew and Ben shot the miniature plates. I think the miniatures themselves might have been high-end toys, rather than custom-built.
  • MatthiasClaflinMatthiasClaflin Website User Posts: 674 Just Starting Out
    edited August 2012
    I'd say I feel the same as most everyone else. Very good technically, but the alcohol themed parodies, in my opinion, are a little stale at this point.
    Oh and the miniature shots were awesome.
  • SimonKJonesSimonKJones Moderator Website User, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 4,450 Enthusiast
    VFX breakdown time!
  • MichaelJamesMichaelJames Website User Posts: 2,038 Enthusiast
    Very nice work. Any other information on shooting with miniatures that you could give simon? I have a project that I want to do that would have cabins in the middle of a desert.
    I also like the tease of the new tech. I was curious how the batman logo was done but that explains it. I had an idea. Make a ceiling with a plane. Put a particle emitter on top and let some ground breaking particles spew out. Make the first plane a deflector Put another Plane below it thats masked with a batman logo, but the mask is set to subtract. Set that new plane as a deflector. Put the camera under the plane. WHen your ready get rid of the first plane. THat should give you the particles dropping through a batman hole (i think). Or have 2 plans that are deflectors move out of the way so you get the first pieces of the particles dropping from the center.
  • SimonKJonesSimonKJones Moderator Website User, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 4,450 Enthusiast
    A few things are important to remember when shooting miniatures, although depending on your equipment you can't always do much about them. :)
    Depth of field needs to match the live action plate. Getting in really close to a miniature could result in a shallow depth of field, which would look weird when composited into a large scale live action set/location. Make sure you blast the miniature with light so that you can keep the aperture closed up and the DoF deep.
    Framerate is hugely important. There's actually a formula for working out the framerate you should shoot at, which you can read about here:
    Essentially you find the square root of the scale of the miniature, then multiply that by the framerate of your live action footage. This then gives you the framerate you should shoot the miniature at to make it match.
    We didn't go to these lengths with Dark Knight Bingesm which is why the models in the Bat shot look a little jittery (also due to a slight oversight I made during compositing that I didn't have time to fix).
    Assuming this is the model the Atomic guys used, that's a 1:18 scale model. So as TDKB was shot at 24fps, the ideal framerate for shooting the miniatures is actually 102fps.
    Now, given that most consumer-priced cameras don't shoot anywhere near 102fps, you can see there's a bit of an issue there. :) If your camera can't go up to the required framerate, there are basically two solutions:
    - Increase the scale of the miniature. The larger the miniature, the lower the required framerate.
    - Don't worry about it. ;)
    Also, as mentioned in the video, shoot all the miniature separately unless there's a good reason to have them in the same shot (eg, if they're colliding or something).
    Incidentally, if you have the blu-ray of The Dark Knight there's a fantastic little feature on the miniature work they did for the underpass sequence with the Tumbler and the garbage truck.
  • AndrewAndrew Website User Posts: 379 Enthusiast
    edited August 2012
    Hey guys!
    Apologies for my delay in commenting on this forum itself- it's been a crazy week and my internet use has been relegated to iPads and iPhones and mostly Facebook interactions recently.
    Hope you've all seen the parody and enjoyed it! We're extremely grateful to Simon and the whole FXhome team for contributing to the project- especially under the sneaking-up-on-you-quick timelines we ended up working on. We're very happy with how it all came out.

    I should mention, additionally, that we did some last-minute VFX ourselves utilizing tracking and tweaking in After Effects- but also the particle generating power of Hitfilm to create part of the wintry look early in the trailer. (Which hopefully sold pretty well.) As everyone probably knows, it is no brisk summer in Texas ever, and many/most of the shots we got of actors in coats or heavier clothing was (mostly) shot in 105+ degree heat.
    The shot below, specifically, was on one of the hottest days of the past few months- something like 113 degrees Fahrenheit. But, using the proper tools, the effect of opposite seasons is 'sold':
    :( ) But that aside- yeah, just really happy with it. One of the most-exhilarating short projects to work on and people to work with. John, the actor who plays Bane, actually flew in from LA to finish out his role once we had shot a few things with him here in Texas in late June and saw that we could successfully create the Bane look, even with his big thick head of hair under a bald cap.
    Another fun challenge was replicating, replacing, and re-adhering one of five or so bald caps each time during shooting. (Which meant once he was in the mask, it didn't come off until it absolutely had to and we could replace the bald cap.) On-the-whole I think the effect looks pretty good, and John makes a convincingly bald Bane, without the embarrassment or low-end look of it wrinkling or coming undone too terribly in many shots. You can check out the link below for comparison:
  • SimonKJonesSimonKJones Moderator Website User, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 4,450 Enthusiast
    Nice comparison! The shots that you replicated are a great match. It would have been fun to have the street war shots more directly represented by a street party, but that would have been pretty tricky to shoot. :)
    Also, obviously would have been great to do more with the plane hijacking scene, though I'm not sure how that could have been adapted. Maybe hijacking a beer tanker or something. :P
    Rather pleased with the VFX shots, particularly the Bat ident. Hadn't realised quite how close that came to the real one.
  • AndrewAndrew Website User Posts: 379 Enthusiast
    edited August 2012
    Two things we actually planned-out and attempted, but proved too problematic/dangerous/irrational, was to stage a large-scale party/fight with about 30 or so extras shooting off beer cans and fireworks in the downtown square of a slightly smaller city south of Austin called San Marcos, which was coordinated by our frequent acting collaborator Reese- but the whole ordeal proved to just be too unlawful and tricky to attempt once we got there.
    Instead we gave everyone roman candles and other assorted fireworks, and jammed a good 25-30 people into frame to 'just go crazy' instead, which I think still sells pretty well, at least in the sense of being 'epic'.
    The second thing we planned, which I scheduled and was in deep talks to rent, was to use what is called The Pubcrawler here in Austin, a funny-looking 8-man bicycle-operated touring 'bar' that rolls around downtown for rent. The idea was to use it for daytime action shots, having Batman and others drinking on the moving bar and knocking into things as it went along- and then double it at night for Catwoman's speech about "my mother always told me not to go to bars with strange men..." followed by Batman replying "this isn't a bar" and pulling out to reveal this:
    But the logistics of getting both the actors for Catwoman and Batman to the same city (one lives 200 miles north, the other 120 miles south) and shouldering the renting cost (the owner, knowing our penchant for drinking parodies, was annoyed that I wanted to use it and set a base rental fee of $300)- plus the fact we couldn't light it/use it during the day, pretty much nixed the notion of using it.
    So we instead shot a bunch of b-roll of Ra's Al Ghul doing funny things, and threw that into the end instead. Which I'm equally-as-happy with, actually.
  • ESPicturesESPictures Website User Posts: 533 Just Starting Out
    I like the idea of using the pub crawler. Too bad it didn't work out logistically.
  • KahvehRobinettKahvehRobinett Website User Posts: 443
    Both of those scenes would have been amazing. My favorite things are Bane and how beat for beat similar it is to the TDKR trailer.
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