Archive for November, 2008

On October 9th, 2008 college students from many colleges in Munster gathered to the streets of Cork to protest the Governments planned reintroduction of colleges fees. According to some sources more than 6,000 students attended the event.

[Vimeo 2357064]

The event was shot with a Canon GL2 I just bought recently, aside from random test shots this would be the first proper footage taken with the camera. The stabilizer feature is pretty good, you may have noticed that I started to handle the camera like I was playing with a maraca, my arm was seriously killing me after an hour of holding it at my eye level so I’ve now added a camera shoulder rest in my Christmas wishlist. What I have learnt from the camera is that footage shot in mild weather can look dull and fairly unfocused at times. It was nice to have been able work with progressive scan footage as opposed to usual interlaced content that I had to work with for the past year, because of this, it took considerably less time to render the project and less time fidgeting with deinterlacing parameters to get the best results. The video also demonstrates the cameras 20x Optical Zoom feature which is pretty damn good in my humble opinion.

Other than that I suppose college fees are bad for those who can’t afford it.

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( Note: This tutorial is outdated, follow the more up-to-date and complete version from this link )

First off credit goes to the author Darek for creating the Blender tutorial that I decided to build this tutorial on top of, so from my perspective he did all the hard work. You can check out the link to the tutorial here . What differs between this tutorial and his is the fact I use a different set of parameters to create the snowfall effect and my version of Blender is newer than his. Other than that they’re basically the same. Feel free to copy and paste any part of this tutorial. This tutorial is a first of hopefully many more tutorials that will be featured on the site.

The version of Blender I’m using is 2.48a, you can download the software from here , don’t worry it’s free ( as in speech ) software.

When you load Blender the first thing you should do is switch to front view by pressing 1 on the number pad. You might want to remove the cube by right clicking on it in order to select it and press X Key to delete it.

Press Space Key and in the menu select Add, followed by Mesh followed by UVsphere . The default values should be fine, just select OK.

Add a UV sphere

Go to Edit Mode (Tab Key) and use Box Select (B Key) to select the top half of the Sphere. Once selected, press X Key and select Vertices under the list of options. You should end up with half a sphere.


Go to Object settings ( F7 Key ) and select the particle icon.


Create new particle using the Add New button.


Now set alter the particle parameters to match the screenshot.


Quick explanation with what’s going on here:

  1. Amount determines the number of particles that are to be produced. I’d recommend using less than 10,000 if you’re having performance problems. Sta determines the frame where the particles start to be emitted , in this case we put it at -300 so when we start rendering from frame 0 we will already have many particles in various positions. End determines which frame to stop emitting particles. Life determines the life span of each particle in terms of frames.
  2. When selected, Random will allow a random number of elements to be emitted.
  3. This determines the starting speed at a random variation.
  4. This determines the constant acceleration of each particle along a certain axis, think of AccZ as the direction that either goes up ( positive value ) or down ( negative value ). The larger the deviation of the value from zero the faster the particle speed.

Select the Bake tab from the Particle window.


Select the Bake option. You can specify the end frame for the particle animation with the End value ( this is particularly important to change because once the particle animation reaches this end value it simply stops dead, so make sure it matches the amount of frames to be rendered, if not more ). Once this is finished the Bake button will be replaced by a Free Bake button. You should select this if you want to change any of the particle parameters. Depending on the number of particles and frames of animation, this process could take several minutes.


In the end you should be able to see the particle feature taking effect. Go to Object Mode (Tab Key) and play the animation (Alt Key + A Key). It should now look like the following screenshot.


Before you render anything you might want to change the background from the default blue to a black background. You get a better contrast this way. Go to the Shading window (F5 Key) and select World Buttons and change the colour to black.


Our particles now need a snowflake material. Go to Material Buttons and add a new material and copy the following parameters.



You might want to position the camera, to find out how to position and rotate objects check out the Blender tutorial that covers those aspects.


If you’re happy with the setup you can render the result.


The video looks better.

[Vimeo 2299370]

Well that’s it, thanks for taking out the time to go through the tutorial, I hope it was useful. The next tutorial will cover snow fall with more realistic animation. Any questions or comments, feel free to write them in the comments section.

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As previously stated by Patchy, we are going to keep a production diary of the first Gifted Babies Christmas Special, tentatively called Cork Christmas Carol. Patchy will post concept art, storyboads and production photos. I’ll be covering FX stuff, specifically how I give Cork a white Christmas using open source software such as GIMP and Blender, as well as cover other post-production aspects such as audio mixing and video editing. I also intend on writing tutorials so at least if anyone is interested, they’ll be able to reproduce some of the same effects, in fact my first production blog will be a tutorial based on creating simple snow fall animation.

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It was the 6 O’Clock in the morning, suffering from a touch of insomnia. To occupiy my mind, I tried thinking of movie ideas. I was currently struggling with two concepts. One was a Christmas sequel of Trippers Through Time (Trippers 2ugh Time) and the other about a couple that solve crimes.  The former was too complex and confusing (there is a graph somewhere explaining various timelines, that proves this) and the latter was little more than a Thin Man rehash.  I looked to the side of my room and saw my €3 copy of Charles Dickens’ “Christmas Stories” I attempt to read each Christmas, rarely get past the first story. I thought about reading it again (Is November too early to read Christmas Stories? Discuss…) However A special kind of alchemy soon occurred. I remember that first story, an unknown tale known as The Christmas Carol. An Idea was born and I rushed to the computer downstairs, thankfully not waking the dogs. Two hours later, I had a first draft.

Now, I’m not going to tell you what the plot is yet. However I can reveal the following, It is a very loose retelling of A Christmas Carol, featuring many Gifted Babies Trademarks, including food, Beehive hair, cat puppets and lame jokes. In case you are thinking “this will be a pointless rehash”, (why would you think that? that’s pretty cold.) It will have some exciting elements, such as SFX and singing. It will also be the first Gifted Babies film to be blogged. Various Gifted Babies and I will document the various production challenges of Cork Christmas Carol. So check back regularly!

+ In case you are wondering what happened to the other two ideas. T2T will be shelved till the world is ready and the detective story was gutted of its best feature. A character named Beverly Honeycomb.

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15:32, Sunday 16th of November, myself and Piratehelm flipped a coin to help us decide whether or not we should go ahead with submitting our entry to the RTE Storyland competition. Tails, whichs means we’re not going to go ahead. The initial plan for today was to finish off the rest of the submission material such as reformatting the script and the CVs, shoot and edit the 30 second promo, complete the 3 minute director showreel, fill in the budget form and write a 200 word summary on the direction of the rest of the series. All in a space of 6 hours. The only major problem with that idea was that we’d be only able to send it off the following Monday morning and you can’t expect any delivery service to have a package be delivered from Cork to Dublin in a space of 3 hours before the deadline ( 12 noon ). Actually I don’t know any delivery services that actually work weekends, so the only option left, if you don’t send it off on Friday, is to drive up to RTE and deliver the package yourself. Unfortunately none of us can go up that Monday morning due to work or college or just apathy. The last one is a lie, I just couldn’t be bothered writing more excuses.

We’re not sure if they accept any more packages after the deadline, but I reckon late submissions will be forwarded to the folks doing Fair City to inject more story archs into their trite. If by some happenstance Mark O’Hallorahorrhaorraahhaaahaaoran or someone from RTE with a more pronounceable surname decides to extend the deadline to Friday I’d be delighted to send off the packet by post and reconsider paying for a television license. In case anyone was wondering, there was no option for electronic submission due to technical incompetence ( although the website used the euphemism; ‘difficulties’ ), despite the fact that commissioned pilots are to be distributed through the internet. That’s a tad bit odd. Also check out this oddity in the Submission form:

This is where you write your 200 word summary, how small should the words be?

This is where you write your 200 word summary, but how small should the words be?

Even if we did get our work submitted in time, I seriously doubt we would have gotten far, given that I stumbled across a good few websites of production companies with their own Storyland entries, and they usually have things that we can’t afford such as experienced film crews, professional film equipment and a chocolate fountain. Another reason why I think we probably wouldn’t have gotten very far is the fact that the story might be a little bit too strange to be considered a drama.

But we think the idea behind the story has potential so we’re going to go ahead and shoot the series anyway. Good luck to anyone else who submitted their work to RTE, I’ll look foward to watching how the whole thing pans out.

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Worth a try?

About Virtual Cinema
Virtual Cinema is a new scheme for the making of high-quality short films that are suited to the new forms of digital video consumption. Films made under the scheme can be  fiction or non-fiction, live-action or use any kind of animation technique. The deadline for Virtual Cinema 2008 is November 21st. The scheme aims to encourage exploration of fresh filmmaking ground, with no creative holds barred. We are looking for creative ideas which will exploit interesting, new and traditional filmmaking techniques but can hold the attention of the YouTube audience. Deliberately, no guidelines are offered at this stage with regard to content or style, though material likely to give serious offence is unlikely to be funded.

Films may be made in Irish or English.

Parameters of the Scheme
–  Number of films: up to 10 per year

–  Duration: maximum 2 minutes

–  Budget per film: maximum €2,000

–  Format:
–  Origination on any digital format or flash animation
–  Delivery on digital format suitable for

Who Can Apply
Applications are invited from teams or individuals who can provide a CV demonstrating some relevant past experience. Full-time students are not eligible.

Link to Virtual Cinema

Kudos to Creative Careers for providing the link

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Film Festival Review

I wrote a short review of the 53rd Film Festival.

The link is:



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