Friday, May 04, 2007

Spider-Man in the Volleyball Tournament of Doom

Ok people the big day has FINALLY arrived...

After a month or so of hard work, and an intense crunch this past week which actually involved me literally pulling an all nighter working on Wednesday I have finished my not-so-secret fanfilm project entitled

Spider-Man in the Volleyball Tournament of Doom

I made the 2 minute film for the Target "Spin Your Own Webisode" contest promoting the release of Spider-Man 3. Which incidentally comes out stateside today :) Target has set up this contest using the Grouper, a video sharing and social networking site, and if you go over to you can watch and eventually vote on my (yay!), and other (grr!) contest entries. You do have to sign up to Grouper to actually vote on the entries, but seeing as you are all my loyal readers, when the time comes I ask that you please consider taking the time to do so. Every vote will help me out. That said, voting won't begin, if at all, until May 20th, and you don't need to sign up to watch any of the videos there, so please go have a look, I'd love to know what you think of my film.

So I checked the contest rules to make sure, and the public voting phase comes only in the Semi-Final rounds, starting May 20 and going until May 26th. So if I make it that far, that's the time I will ask you to vote for me. For now though, if you sign up to Grouper you can give my video a star rating out of five, but I'm not sure that will make a huge difference in the actual contest ;)

As of this writing there was a bit of a kerfuffle and my video is actually posted twice. I had uploaded at two different resolutions. I'm trying to get them to take down the low res one so my votes don't get split, hopefully that'll happen soon. Anyhow, look for the video with the screen-capture of a big orange ball coming over at net right in center frame. That's the good quality version and the one you want to watch.

Once again please goto to see my awesome video.

Leave me any thoughts on the piece in the comments section below.


Production Blog - Spider-Man in the Volleyball Tournament of Doom

The following is more or less a Production Blog on the film. As it's pretty specific, I imagine it might not be for everyone. But I spent a fair bit of time making the film and if you're interested in the details, please enjoy the following. But this isn't a regular blog post.

If you have any questions about the film, please drop me an email

Ok so now that the official stuff is out of the way, I'll tell you a little about the film itself. Since it was made for and entered it in the contest, I have given up my rights to distribute the short, hence I can't post it on YouTube or whatever for you all to see, and they didn't think to include the code to post it for your blog on the contest page :( of course, if you know me, you'll know my stance on Internet... like pee in a swimming pool... who knows where my clip will turn up one day... For now though there is a contest to win!

It's probably best to read this after watching the film. Go HERE to do so... Obviously the story follows our intrepid hero the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man as he faces down the deadly Sandman who seems to have homecourt advantage in a rooftop beach volleyball tournament. It's quick, fun and I think a pretty cool little video; but the story didn't start that way.

I'd been wanting to try my hand at making a stop motion film for a while. And since I had a bunch of old Legos around I figured that'd definitely be the way. There are whole communities online that are dedicated to making brickfilms, although I warn you if you go and see the quality of some of these peoples stuff you might get a bit discouraged to try it yourself. Frankly I saw a few films that just dropped my jaw in amazement (check The Gauntlet). But really I don't fee like I'm a part of that community, just a visitor. That said I've always wanted to try it, and when this Spider-man contest came up it seemed like a good opportunity. Deadlines can be great motivators. So inspired by the rooftop beach volleyball court at The Sticky Wicket, where I spent many a sunny afternoon in downtown Victoria, I started work on this little labor of love.

I realized pretty quickly that basically I suck at doing stop motion. It takes so much time, patience and exacting precision. I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. And since it was my first time trying this I knew pretty quick that I didn't have time to make a true stop motion video. So as you can tell I've sort of done a quasi half level of motion, kind of like a picture book.But i think it works, especially with the right music cues in place.

The story, once I worked it out was huge. my extremely limited storyboards took 10 full pages. Maybe I'll post one or two of those so you can see my ridiculous stick figures and try to comprehend how my mind works. Anyhow, I found that even when I planned the shots I ended up shooting more in order to make sure I had the coverage I wanted. Then on top of that I had problems getting the focal distances correct, considering how small the actors are. This film involved more trial and error than I care to admit, and in the end I still had to go into almost every frame and digitally clean something up. Be it a shadow or what not. But the film is fairly quick and on the small size in terms of its clarity for web purposes so mostly I don't think you can tell. I'm sure if I were to try this film again I would do it somewhat differently. Especially if I didn't have the size or time limitations.

The film that I had intended to make, a directors cut if you will (which I might actually put together) is definitely more on the side of 5+ minutes long. I even shot sections of it that never got assembled for the film cause I knew I'd have to cut them. Other than a few shots here and there these deleted scenes involve an extended introduction, with Spider-man landing on, flipping around, and then crawling up the side of the Lego building in the opening scene. Then there was an extended scene before the Sandman reveal starring Reggie and Troy, two Lego men who were playing doubles on the volleyball court before Sandman comes and sucks them down to a sandy finish. I had even planned a Top Gun reference into that scene... oh well. I sort of wanted Sandman to be played like The Eradicator from that old Kids in the Hall sketch. Super overconfident, which is of course his downfall. Another cut scene involves the crowd of spectator who are watching the match. While Spidey is off getting his water balloon ready Sandman gets into a scuffle with a heckler and ultimately punches him off the side of the building. It was pretty funny I thought, but added nothing to the overall story. A lot of the other scenes throughout the film were slightly longer, but when it came down to it there just wasn't time to accommodate everything.

The final scene, or really not a scene but a series of shots, that I omitted from the final version of the film involved Sandman in his big monster form right after the balloon popped. I actually had a real water balloon there and exploded it onto the set. Despite the added realism of using a real balloon, it made a HUGE mess. Including covering the sky with splotches of mud and caking my kitchen walls and floor with gunk. Both the sandwall and the sandman monster we're created by taking objects that were roughly the right shape and coating their surface with some homemade play-doh, then I just rolled the object in some sand that I brought home from the beach. So as you might imagine when I put the water on, it mostly just started to wash off the sand, but left a lot of dirty play-doh behind. I had really intended to use a few of the shots in sequence at the end of the film, but ultimately it looked more like the face melting scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark than I cared for. Its supposed to be a fun upbeat movie, and while it did look kind neat, in a grotesque sort of way, I think the feel of the film is better served by leaving them out. That said you can see in the end couple of shots the horrible debris left from Sandman's melting. Whereas I had envisioned a more or less cartoon death complete with Xs for eyes, and I ended up with the what looks more like the remains of a horrible battle field, and carnage as far as the eye can see. Not exactly family fun.

While I'm not exactly sure Spider-Man would act as deviously as he does in the fight, its not like Sandman is exactly an honorable opponent either. And hey Spidey did get the trophy. And although as an official contest piece, I couldn't get away with it, I imagine the last shot and the end little triumph tune, to actually be an homage (especially musically) to the ending of The Legend of Zelda. Speaking of the sound fx, due to time constraints I didn't get all of the effects put in I wanted. I think the film works fine, but the ones I really miss not being there are Spidey's insult, which was what provokes the transformation to the sand monster, and I was planning on making the slow motion sound effect during the balloon toss. You know the sound "sha sha sha sha sha sha sha..." (just whisper it fast to yourself).

Hmm, well really I think that's about all I have to say regarding the film. I might go ahead and try to put together a directors cut of it, and I'll definitely put a few of the face melting pics up here. But for now that all. I hope you enjoy the film. I want to thank my fantastic fiance Erica for helping me put it all together, and especially for assisting me in making those tough calls while editing.

Also please feel free to view and rate the film over at The grand prize is a trip to the LA Film Festival and the chance to have your webisode put as a special feature on the Spider-Man 3 dvd! Presuming I make it to the Semi-final rounds (fingers crossed) Voting for the public will run from May 20th until May 26th, 2007.

Take care peeps. Peace



Chappy said...

argh, its very frustrating being here at work. My computer is so old I cant get the site to open. Maybe I need to reinstall Flash.

Note - that I've heard a report that my film is actually posted twice. This is probably because I submitted it twice both at different resolutions. So if you do go there hopefully you'll find the better looking film. One started out as an AVI, and the other an MP4... hopefully I can get that sorted out, and the low res one taken off.

Go give me a star ranking peeps.

Hope you all like it.

Laura said...

that's so cool