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Entries in Twas The Week Before Christmas (10)

8:00AM

Twas The Week Before Christmas

An unexpected discovery leads a young boy to set out to honor the true King of Christmas! But will he be able to raise enough money, and will he find what he is looking for? A heart-warming short film about the true reason to celebrate Christmas!

This is a short film that I made with my family back in 2006-2007! Enjoy!!

 

8:00AM

Twas The Week Before Christmas - BTS 2

 

MUSIC

I asked Caleb and Daniel Morris, the composers for this project, to give me some insight into how they go about writing music, and then to give me some specific details about writing for this project.

1. How did you get started writing music?
John-Clay asked us if we wanted to do the music for his first movie “The Price of Freedom” and we said yes, not really knowing anything about composing music, much less composing for film. We had done some arranging in the past, but composing was a whole new world to us. So basically it all started by just jumping in and trying to do our best.

2. Who are some of your favorite composers? Who do you study?
John Williams would definitely be on top of that list, also James Horner, John Debney and Jerry Goldsmith. I guess the “big J’s” are the favorites! As far as studying goes, we study who we like best so the list would be the same with John Williams being the one we study most.

3. If you could describe the way you write music in 5 steps what would the 5 steps be?
1. We normally try to come up with a main theme that captures the heart of the film.
2. Playing on the piano along with the movie or sometimes after we have watched a scene trying to come up with ideas and find the music that conveys the feelings and emotion of the scene. At times this can be very difficult when it is not really obvious to us what the music should be. It is essential at times to just trust our instincts in this part of the process.
3. After we have an idea of what we want the music to do with the video, we go back and organize our ideas laying out the temp track and deciding what shots we want to hit and points to emphasize.
4. Now it’s time to lay down a prominent part that we know we want, like the bass line, melody, or rhythm of the section. This gives us something to work off of, something to build the orchestration on. This brings us to the last point, orchestration.
5. This is where we add color and emotion to the basic outline, themes or motif. Deciding on what instruments make the music feel dark, light, happy, sad, or whatever mood we are trying to convey. Choosing the right instrumentation is a crucial part of how the music will sound. We play different instruments along with the main line of the section to decide on what instruments work for that specific scene, sometimes it’s just like trying to “fish” for different things to get just the right sound.

This is a high resolution screen capture of the Cubase program. (click to enlarge - it may take a second to load)

 

 

I had the guys describe what each window is used for:
1. The main project window all the colored tracks that you see are the midi tracks
2. The effects window with EQ and reverb plug-in
3. Video window
4. Mixer
5. Stereo enhancer plug-in window
6. Reverb plug-in where we can edit everything pertaining to reverb.
7. Transport panel, this has time code on it also has play, stop, record etc. It has info about the temp track where you can turn the metronome on or off, you can also set left and right locators, there is also a little dial that you can zero in on exact frames.
8. Just a little Mac widget, wasn’t supposed to be in the picture.
 

4. How do you write music with two people?
What we normally do is have one of us picking out ideas on the keyboard and the other working the computer. As we work through the scene sometimes what we’re playing on the keyboard just seems to fit. Like that’s just what it needs. Other times whoever is playing the keyboard will get a little bit right, but some parts just aren’t quite there yet. When that happens we switch. It seems to work quite well because we can give each other input and thoughts as we compose. With two people we’re able to see different things sometimes and it sure helps out when you get stuck and can’t figure out what comes next.

 

5. Are there any special instruments that you used for ‘Twas the Week Before Christmas’ and why?
We used a variety of chime sounding instruments to create a “Christmas” atmosphere. To name a few - Celesta, Hand bells and a Glockenspiel.

6. Any special feeling or emotions that you wanted to convey and what techniques did you use to do that?
At the very beginning you will notice high tremolo on the strings, we used this to create a “cold night” kind of feeling and brought in the high hand bell to let you know it’s the “Christmas Season.” On the part where he sees the note we used some lower strings on some dissonant chords to create a darker confused feel and ended the scene with sort of a minor chord. On the working scene we used a light feel with flute and horn doing a faster repeated note version of the theme. Also the guitar was used in this scene to give it a more motivated, diligent sound. We wanted the end to have a bigger “Christmas” feel so we used a larger orchestral setting still using some of the chime sounding instruments that you hear at the beginning with the theme coming in really slow before it says “Merry Christmas.”

Here are a couple of incomplete music samples from the project. I find it fascinating to hear music at different stages of completion.

Clip 1

Clip 2

7. How long does it take? (on average)
It all kind of depends, but I would say one minute takes us about 5-6 hours. (Lot of hard work).

8. Why do you write music? What is your purpose?
Our ultimate purpose in writing music is to glorify God. We want to write music for films that accomplish this goal. Music is a powerful element of film and can be used to communicate a message to the audience in a very compelling way. We want to use this powerful element of music to compliment and uplift Christian films that exalt the Lord Jesus Christ and hold up a standard of solid biblical truth.

-Thanks to the Morris boys for the great information, and all their hard work!

READ PART 1 HERE

WATCH - Twas the Week Before Christmas

WATCH - Behind-The-Scenes

8:00AM

Twas The Week Before Christmas - BTS 1

THE STORY
I’ve always wanted to make a video that would encourage focusing on Christ during Christmas, however I don't remember how I decided to do a revision of “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.” One other reason I had was to see how well I could do with limited resources.

LIGHTING
I wanted to try to shoot a complete short film using only one 500 watt light in addition to ordinary house lights or the ambient outdoor lighting. I pulled it off for the most part, there are several shots that I had to use more than one light though, such as the night shoot and the store scene.

If you watch the BTS video you will see that I use a 500 construction light for a “nightlight” in the bedroom, a fireplace in the living room and sunlight while drawing the picture. Reflectors were also used quite a bit.

SETS
The boy’s bedroom was actually shot in my sister’s room, we just re-arranged and added props to change the look.

A christian business was kind enough to allow us to shoot in their bookstore for the “store scene.”

That one was quite a challenge to light correctly. My poor actor got tired of standing up for almost two hours (9-11 pm) They also let us shoot in the parking lot to show Mom and Benj walking into "the store."

Riding the bicycle was shot on a street near our house and the wind chime was shot at my Grandparents.

CONTINUITY
Sixty percent of the project was shot in 2006 and then finished up in 2007 about a year later, which caused a few problems.

1) Benjamin no longer had his blue sweat suit that I needed for the night shots
2) Benjamin no longer had a buzzed hair cut (solved by wearing a hat and filming from the back)
3) His jacket no longer zipped up
4) The stocking cap from “sweeping snow” had been lost
5) He was missing front teeth back in ’06.

This all created interesting challenges, I would encourage you to keep close tabs on props and wardrobe from shoot to shoot :p

SPECIAL FX
One thing I learned was that a window screen can REALLY come in handy. You will notice it in several of the BTS shots. It works well to diffuse light and also will create a star shape effect when placed in front of the camera while shooting the Christmas tree. It also served as a softening “filter” for many of the Christmas tree shots, it created an interesting glow effect. It was difficult however to get the screen blurry enough so that the “grain” of the screen didn’t show up in the video. Besides lots of color correction, the only thing I added was the moon and stars reflecting in the window when he looks at the wind chime.

AUDIO
This was a nice project for audio because I cut it all out and just used narration. I did add in some sound fx to enhance the video, as it just seemed that some of the scenes needed it. I found some of the sound fx from a website called The Free Sound Project.

Narration was recorded from 12-3 in the morning, poor guy…he was pretty tired when it was all said and done. I thought he did a fabulous job though. I wish I had a picture of the “sound studio” we setup to get a quiet recording! At the time, my computer was right next to our bunk bed and Benjamin sleeps on the bottom bunk, so I strung up his blankets and comforter to create a “box” on his bed for him to sit in. For a pop filter I held the microphone on one side of a thin sheet and had him talk from the other side – I know, quite the make-do setup but hey it worked alright.

MUSIC
I covered this in an earlier blogpost, but thanks again to the Morris guys for the insane hours cranking out an amazing score for this short movie!!!

Also, special thanks to my family for all their support and assistance!!

 

WATCH - Twas the Week Before Christmas
WATCH
- Behind-The-Scenes

4:19PM

'Twas The Week Before Christmas - FREE

FREE viewing is for a limited time only!

TO PURCHASE & DOWNLOAD visit store.reelcastproductions.com

SYNOPSIS

In an unexpected turn of events, a young boy learns the truth about Santa and sets out in an wholehearted endeavor to honor the true King of Christmas! This heart-warming short film emphasizes Who our focus should be during the Christmas season!

12:13PM

"Twas The Week Before Christmas" - Movie Download

Synopsis:
In an unexpected turn of events, a young boy learns the truth about Santa and sets out to honor the true King of Christmas! This heart-warming short film emphasizes Who our focus should be during the Christmas season!


You can view a short clip from the movie here. Click Here to read more about the movie on the store site!

A while back I also did a couple Behind-the-Scenes articles about this project, you can read them here Christmas BTS Article 1 - Christmas BTS Article 2

- ReelCast Productions Download Store

2:51PM

Twas the Week Before Christmas

This is a re-release of the short film I finished back in 2007. This time it has a new logo and new color correction! You can go here and see some pictures from back when we were filming it!

Description:
In an unexpected turn of events, a young boy learns the truth about Santa and sets out to honor the true King of Christmas! This is a great short film to help emphasize Who our focus should be during the Christmas season!

Stay tuned, more news coming soon!
Share

11:18AM

Christmas BTS #1

MUSIC

I asked Caleb and Daniel Morris, the composers for this project, to give me some insight into how they go about writing music, and then to give me some specific details about writing for this project.

1. How did you get started writing music?
John-Clay asked us if we wanted to do the music for his first movie “The Price of Freedom” and we said yes, not really knowing anything about composing music, much less composing for film. We had done some arranging in the past, but composing was a whole new world to us. So basically it all started by just jumping in and trying to do our best.

2. Who are some of your favorite composers? Who do you study?
John Williams would definitely be on top of that list, also James Horner, John Debney and Jerry Goldsmith. I guess the “big J’s” are the favorites! As far as studying goes, we study who we like best so the list would be the same with John Williams being the one we study most.

3. If you could describe the way you write music in 5 steps what would the 5 steps be?
1. We normally try to come up with a main theme that captures the heart of the film.
2. Playing on the piano along with the movie or sometimes after we have watched a scene trying to come up with ideas and find the music that conveys the feelings and emotion of the scene. At times this can be very difficult when it is not really obvious to us what the music should be. It is essential at times to just trust our instincts in this part of the process.
3. After we have an idea of what we want the music to do with the video, we go back and organize our ideas laying out the temp track and deciding what shots we want to hit and points to emphasize.
4. Now it’s time to lay down a prominent part that we know we want, like the bass line, melody, or rhythm of the section. This gives us something to work off of, something to build the orchestration on. This brings us to the last point, orchestration.
5. This is where we add color and emotion to the basic outline, themes or motif. Deciding on what instruments make the music feel dark, light, happy, sad, or whatever mood we are trying to convey. Choosing the right instrumentation is a crucial part of how the music will sound. We play different instruments along with the main line of the section to decide on what instruments work for that specific scene, sometimes it’s just like trying to “fish” for different things to get just the right sound.

This is a high resolution screen capture of the Cubase program. (click to enlarge - it may take a second to load)

 

 

I had the guys describe what each window is used for:
1. The main project window all the colored tracks that you see are the midi tracks
2. The effects window with EQ and reverb plug-in
3. Video window
4. Mixer
5. Stereo enhancer plug-in window
6. Reverb plug-in where we can edit everything pertaining to reverb.
7. Transport panel, this has time code on it also has play, stop, record etc. It has info about the temp track where you can turn the metronome on or off, you can also set left and right locators, there is also a little dial that you can zero in on exact frames.
8. Just a little Mac widget, wasn’t supposed to be in the picture.
 

4. How do you write music with two people?
What we normally do is have one of us picking out ideas on the keyboard and the other working the computer. As we work through the scene sometimes what we’re playing on the keyboard just seems to fit. Like that’s just what it needs. Other times whoever is playing the keyboard will get a little bit right, but some parts just aren’t quite there yet. When that happens we switch. It seems to work quite well because we can give each other input and thoughts as we compose. With two people we’re able to see different things sometimes and it sure helps out when you get stuck and can’t figure out what comes next.

 

5. Are there any special instruments that you used for ‘Twas the Week Before Christmas’ and why?
We used a variety of chime sounding instruments to create a “Christmas” atmosphere. To name a few - Celesta, Hand bells and a Glockenspiel.

6. Any special feeling or emotions that you wanted to convey and what techniques did you use to do that?
At the very beginning you will notice high tremolo on the strings, we used this to create a “cold night” kind of feeling and brought in the high hand bell to let you know it’s the “Christmas Season.” On the part where he sees the note we used some lower strings on some dissonant chords to create a darker confused feel and ended the scene with sort of a minor chord. On the working scene we used a light feel with flute and horn doing a faster repeated note version of the theme. Also the guitar was used in this scene to give it a more motivated, diligent sound. We wanted the end to have a bigger “Christmas” feel so we used a larger orchestral setting still using some of the chime sounding instruments that you hear at the beginning with the theme coming in really slow before it says “Merry Christmas.”

Here are a couple of incomplete music samples from the project. I find it fascinating to hear music at different stages of completion.

Clip 1

Clip 2

7. How long does it take? (on average)
It all kind of depends, but I would say one minute takes us about 5-6 hours. (Lot of hard work).

8. Why do you write music? What is your purpose?
Our ultimate purpose in writing music is to glorify God. We want to write music for films that accomplish this goal. Music is a powerful element of film and can be used to communicate a message to the audience in a very compelling way. We want to use this powerful element of music to compliment and uplift Christian films that exalt the Lord Jesus Christ and hold up a standard of solid biblical truth.

-Thanks to the Morris boys for the great information, and all their hard work!

READ PART 2 HERE

8:29PM

Twas the Week Before Christmas

DECEMBER 15 - THE TIME HAS ARRIVED

This is a first draft of the movie, not everything turned out quite right but I'm not going to fix it today. :) I will be updating it and then re-releasing it again! The Morris boys have agreed to write the music for the movie and there is some color correction stuff still to touch up....and a couple of other things ;) So, this is by no means finished....just so you know.

You can watch it here. (NOTE: This video is no longer available for viewing online. However, it IS available for purchase and download here!)

I would appreciate any comments or critique. Changes ARE going to be made so please speak up if you think something needs tweaked in the video.

4:10PM

Christmas is coming...

...and the video is too...I'm working on it fast and furious :)

6:16PM

Christmas is Coming (a week early)






Here are some BTS pics from the latest video shoots :) I might can squeeze out a new trailer sometime soon....we shall see ;)

Also, the funny stick-thingy I have my camera on is a Glidecam 2000, the newest toy*ahem tool in my arsenal. Got it off of eBay for around $100 less than the normal price and I love it. Note: running alongside someone riding a bike will wear you out in a big hurry.