5 Things I Learned from Filming and Editing The Robotic Horseman

The Robotic Horseman is Thorndike Production’s first Short Film (with plenty more to come later on down the line) and also marks the first time I was really able to pull off a production. It really has given me the confidence to move forward with future projects and it was quite the learning experience. Not only for both the production, but the post production side of it as well. Although this post doesn’t really contain spoilers for the film itself aside from some of the technical stuff that went into making it, it will be right here for you to watch in case you’re interested.

It’ll also be available for viewing on Amazon Prime when Amazon acutally feels like putting it up. Seriously, it was suppose to go up on March 3rd (and I uploaded it to Prime Video Direct over a week before that.) and it’s still not up. Anyways, on with the list.

1.How to use the Sony a6400

So, there were a couple of things made me decide to rent the Sony A6400 to shoot my short film instead of just using the camera I had at the time, The Canon T3i. One of those reasons being is that I wanted to shoot in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio and the T3i (Or any of Canon’s Cameras as far as I’m aware of) didn’t offer crop marks without using Magic Lanturn. I would have used it for that purpose, but I had a bad experence with it almost killing my T3i so I was pretty much “Never again.” It was also cheaper to rent the A6400, a lens adapter so I can use the lenses I already have, and a fast enough SD card than it was with renting my original choice for a possible camera rental: The 7D Mark II with an Atomos Recorder and a compadable ssd to get prores recording.

2.The Google Pixel XL Really Holds its Own

The Original plan for the driving scenes in the short film was to use my phone (The Google Pxiel XL) with a Car mount rig I had to get all kinds of different shots of the driving scenes. The reason why I was going to use my phone instead of the A6400 was in case something went wrong with the rig, only my phone would be destroyed, not a camera that I was renting. Ultimately, it was taking forever to get the first set up underway, so we ended up shooting it like you see in the final film. I did use Filmic pro to be able to get the footage shot at 24 frames per second and used a flat profile in order to get the best dynamic range out of it. Honestly, after using the Google Pixel XL for that one scene, I legit consider it an option for what camera to use on certain projects. Only in situations where it’s either outside during the day or really powerful lights are being used to allow the lowest iso to be used for the camera. Who knows, I might even upgrade to the Pixel 4 so I can use moment’s lenses and filters on it as well.

3.Davinci Resolve Trail by Fire

Although I was using the Free version of Davinci resolve for a little bit before going into post production I hadn’t really used it to the degree that I did for this film and it was really a test for me to see if I should keep using it or if I should go back to Adobe. Spoiler Alert: I’m still not going back to Adobe. Although, in order to pull of the vfx shots, I did get a trail of Adobe After Effects and used my old Action Essentials Pack (Which for some reason is not compatible with Davinci Resolve) and did it quick and dirty. Since then, I have been looking on how it would be possible to pull off vfx inside of Davinci via it’s fusion tab or by using a free vfx software like Blender, and I gotta say, the node system that both of those software uses is kinda intimidating. BUT for my next short film, I know I’m not only going to have to learn how to use Blender/Davinci Resolve’s Fusion Tab, but also how to get good at using them.

4.How to Rewrite a Script Quickly

So, true story, I had to rewrite parts of the script of the film about a week before we actually went to shoot. Pretty much the scenes that were re-written (while also being open to improv) were the witness scene at the beginning and the ending scene. In the original script, Stan was suppose to die and more Robotic Horsemen were suppose to show up. Then Roll end credits. Due to time constraints of only having one day to film everything, the rewrites were necessary. Especially since there was a scene that was cut before filming even began that established Stan and Jen are in a long distance relationship. I’ve talked with some of my friends about the idea of a feature length version of the Robotic Horseman, and if it does happen, the whole “Long Distance Relationship” thing will definitely be something I’m going to keep in it.

5.How to Be Confident With Your Film Ideas

I’ll be the first to admit: a robot with a horse head is ridiculous. The whole short film is ridiculous. But what else could I do? Every time I tried to write something more straight forward like a drama, I was never able to get far enough with it that I could get anyone on board to help with it. Yet, I was able to write this, get some of my peers to actually help out with it, and actually get it made. Thanks to the support of the cast on this production, I definitely feel better about the ideas I have for films I want to make and stories I want to tell. Who knows, maybe I’ll do something more dramatic in nature next time.

I’ve some additional projects coming down the pipeline very soon and I can’t wait to share what I have in store.

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