How I tried to create a narrative sci-fi short film A to Z in hitfilm

In the last KinoKabaret in Madrid I tried to create a narrative short film. As the goal to shoot and edit a narrative short film in 72 hours wasn’t enough, I decided to test a workflow with a really small crew 2 to 3 people, based in highly structured improvisation and, most interestingly for this endeavor, executing the entire postproduction on Hitfilm, editing, sound , color correction and Visual effects. Doing so I had the opportunity to appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of the software, the most striking thing was the editing, used to media composer and premiere it is incredible in a fast paced situation how big impact some small limitations have on the workflow. Even so I really loved the experience, Hitfilm really has the potential to be really really great, at least in my very humble opinion! Finally I hope the short is interesting enough even if a little rough, Sorry it is in Spanish but I added English subtitles. Let me know what do you think!




  • Andy001z
    Andy001z Posts: 3,403 Ambassador

    Well my Spanish is a little rough, but your subtitles are very good. For me to invest 10mins of my time and stick with it shows the quality of your work. Right from the go I was drawn to the story and the emotion the lead character was showing. The mystery over the new flat was odd but the direction and filming was excellent. Overall I liked it, very good for 72hrs.

  • DafterThings
    DafterThings Posts: 989 Enthusiast

    I really enjoyed it. It built up nicely and the acting, camera work and editing was very good. I didn't really understand what was going on in the flat until I googled 'Erica Zann' . I haven't read the book or seen the film so if the reference in the narration was to help people like me find out what it was all about... then it worked.

  • CedricBonnier
    CedricBonnier Posts: 1,204 Staff

    @zombimbogmailcom Nice short! I'd be interested if you could elaborate on your feedback of using HitFilm, what you liked and didn't like, what could be improved upon, etc. :)

  • tddavis
    tddavis Posts: 5,181 Expert

    @zombimbogmailcom  Very accurately captured the creeping horror feel of Lovecraftian stories.  They never seemed to reveal the "horror" until the very last.  Interesting.

  • Thank you! Everyone! You are the first I showed this (apart for the Kinoites, some close friends and family)

    The effort was to test some ideas and for sure it was a lot of work for the small amount of time, obviously when experimenting not everything turns out  as expected, this is why I am not fully satisfied in the flow and clarity of the narration, I had to cut important scenes that simply didn’t work for numerous reasons but luckily it seems that it was enough material to show the story.

    I really like Hitfilm is a usually stable software that truly covers the basics and more in all the postproduction phases, this fact alone se is notable enough to gain the respect it deserves!

    As for the elaboration CedricBonnier asked me It is a couple of months I did this short and I dint used HF for editing since, so I hope I am remembering things right. I also want to say that I am not a expert user of this software, I know the basics, and like to play with it, but I am not an enciclopedia for sure. For this two reasons please forgive me if I say some nonsense.

    I am used to work in Premiere with tecniques reminiscent of Media Composer, the first NLE I used. So it’s up to habits, I didn’t find a way to in to out trimming removing and copying the timeline, I usually like this feature as speeds up the editing, I also remember that I noticed how modifying settings on more clips at once was difficult if not impossible and maybe other minor issues, I am also used to markers that I think were absent. I aknowledge anyhow that some are habits, not finding what you are used to or not understanding that it’s there slows down, but I wanted to challenge myself. I am sure there is a way of work that lets HF be super efficient, so my idea is that I need more time to gain a  better understanding of it and see how it grows.

    I discovered this software searching alternatives to Premiere and the greatness I found in HF was the opportunity to tweak things and go forth and back on decisions while working, being able to change idea on effects color and everything else while editing, this is something unique, similar to adobe cc but way more organic. I usually tell my friends HF is the childhood of what can be a standard for the emerging eclectic super small indie production companies. Something that fits well in a production model with lilttle people involved and economically cheap projects able to produce decent revenues.

    Sorry if the English wasn’t perfect as I am not native speaker, hope this is ok.

  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,595 Ambassador

    Nicely done take on a classic HPL story. Well shot, well placed, wonderful music (if you're going to do a version of Erich Zahn the music is important).

    There are a few of very minor editing glitches--mostly audio--but for a 72 hour project I won't be nitpicky.

    The only thing missing for me is a full exterior shot of the creepy house, maybe seeing your heroine's initial hesitation before entering, then perhaps a sense of relief when she sees the room. Again, 72 hour project, so you probably didn't have time to location scout or put together a VFX composite. If you DID have a full exterior shot, it would be super awesome to get a FOUR story house, since Erica was on the fifth floor, just as a subtle way to show the space/time distortions Lovecraft used.

    Side note: I appreciate you calling this a sci-fi film. It's an ongoing argument I've had with others that HPL was a sci-fi writer, not supernatural horror. Of course all the Old Ones are aliens, and most "magic"  is merely advanced mathematics. Azathoth is the Big Bang itself, and so on...

    Anyways, nice work! 

  • zombimbo
    zombimbo Posts: 9
    edited September 2017

    Hi Triem, thanks for the comment, there were some external shots I left on the cutting floor, I shoot less than I wanted as Madrid is a beautiful city,  in a KinoKabaret you need to adjust things to coincide with the other projects in the event so they had be left, for the house you expressed exactly the original idea, I wanted to compose a digital 4 story house to have the same shot with Marina walking on the street, one with the house, one without (at the end) I went as far as buying a house model in Turbosquid, alas the time I had wasn’t enough for this vfx to be done.

    My opinion is that Lovecraft explores (and partly invents) the horror genre until “At the mountain of madness” where he Amazingly reinterprets everything he wrote as science fiction in a “you can’t unsee” way, this is the reason I used science fiction instead of horror because I considered this point of view while adapting the story.

  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,595 Ambassador

    True, some of the early Lovecraft is more fantastic (especially Dreamlands stories).

    Why has no-one ever done a full movie of "Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath?" Besides being one of HPL's only full novels Randolph Carter is the only Lovecraft protagonist who survives with his mind intact and actually attains some power!