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The change has come...
Fergle "Larry David" Gibson, Writer & Director.]]>Change...
A change is coming...
Fergle "Larry David" Gibson, Writer & Director.]]>Universal Music Group & other P&R related news...
For those of you who don't follow me on Twitter, I announced yesterday that Universal Music Group *might* (although it hasn't been confirmed) be removing the second P&R trailer from YouTube for unsolicited use of the song "Everyday Is Exactly The Same", by Nine Inch Nails. So, you may want to watch / download it here while you can.
I had tried getting in contact with YouTube a while back, asking if it was possible to replace the current P&R trailers, as I wanted to upload alternative versions, omitting any reference to Max Payne. Alas, I never received a reply. Currently, the only thing you seem to be able to do is delete the offending video and upload a new one, resulting in the loss of comments, viewing statistics, etc... And this really isn't acceptable.
Anyway, I don't want anyone to launch a tirade against UMG - It was my fault for using copyrighted material that didn't belong to me in the first place, and my fault if they do indeed take the trailer down. You may ask yourself "How do other people get away with using stuff that doesn't belong to them?", and this is because it is up to the owner of the material being used as to *who* can use it, *where* it can be used, and *how* it can be used, etc. Sometimes you get lucky, and sometimes you don't. But at the end of the day, you live, learn, and move on.
In other news... If any of you are wondering what the hell is going on with P&R, it IS still going to be finished, I just can't tell you when. The current hurdle is raising enough cash to get the footage we shot back in '06 transferred to hard-drive, so that I can be in total control of the project, as opposed to shelling out even more money to get someone else to do what needs to be done. I will be sure to let you guys know when this happens.
Fergle "Larry David" Gibson, Writer & Director.]]>Transcoding h.264 files from the Canon 5D Mark II...
The following post isn't about P&R, so if you're not interested, move along.
If any of you have been following me on Twitter, you'll know I now own a Canon 5D Mark II. From a stills point of view, it's a fantastic camera, and totally kicks the ass of my 5D Mark I. But from a motion stand point, sure, the footage LOOKS great, but you're very limited in terms of what you can actually do with it, and here's why...
The Canon 5D Mark II records to the famous h.264 codec, which, when rendered at a low bit-rate, is great for web-distribution, and also produces some really awesome results at low file sizes. However, at higher bit-rates (let's say 35Mb/s and above), it becomes almost impossible to view, let alone edit with... Unless you own a monster super computer that doesn't yet exist. Don't get me wrong! High bit-rates are where it's at, just not if recording to the h.264 codec.
What owners of the Canon 5D Mark II are expected to do at the moment, is transcode (convert) the 5D's source files from h.264, to a more usable codec for editing, such as Cineform HD (if you're using a PC), or ProRes 422 HQ or SQ (if you're using a Mac). I decided to do both, and here's what I have found so far...
• Converting the 5D's source files (please stop calling them "RAW", alright? They're not RAW!) using the Cineform HD codec, via Neo HD, on the PC, produces transcodes that are softer, higher in gamma, and less faithful in colour than the originals.
• Converting the 5D's source files using the Cineform HD Codec, via Vegas Pro 9, on the PC, produces transcodes that are faithful in gamma AND colour to the originals, but only when viewed in Vegas (or Premiere Pro). However, the softness still remains.
The reason why the second option isn't a viable solution, is because 1: converting those files, one by one, in Vegas (or Premiere Pro) would be WAY too time consuming, and would likely drive me, or anyone else, insane, and 2: the footage is soft. Not desperately soft, but soft enough to make me not want to use it. And yes, this is after ensuring the Field Order of those clips was set to "Progressive Scan" in Vegas Pro 9.
• Converting the 5D's source files using the ProRes 422 HQ (or SQ) codec, via MPEG Streamclip, on the Mac, produces transcodes that are just as sharp as the originals, and have the same brightness and contrast (or gamma), but suffer from the same (or similar) colour shift issues you get when transcoding to the Cineform HD codec via Neo HD.
So, at the moment, it looks like we have three options available to us...
1) Put up with incorrect looking transcodes.
2) Edit by proxy.
3) Put up with the performance issues associated with the h.264 codec.
... none of which are acceptable.
Why Canon didn't "pull a Sony" and include a program (like XDCAM EX ClipBrowser) that would do the transcoding for you, is beyond me. Sure, the 5D Mark II is a stills camera with a video feature, but what's the point in even HAVING that feature if you can't do anything with the footage you've shot, or have to compromise on quality? Exactly. There isn't one.
If I come up with any more interesting results, or find a solution, I shall post it here. But until then...
Fergle "Larry David" Gibson, Writer & Director.]]>Interview for MaxPayne.hu now online...
At long last, here is the interview I did for MaxPayne.hu.
Please visit MaxPayne.hu for the Hungarian translation.
Thanks for the opportunity, guys!
MaxPayne.hu: Our first question - When did you first come up with the idea of making a movie from the story of Max Payne, and what motivated you?
Fergle Gibson: I *think* it was the summer of 2004. I was going through a bit of a rough patch at the time, and started writing a lot of my feelings and thoughts on paper to get them out of my head. This written inner monologue of mine started to form the basis of a story about a man desperately trying to seek some sort of redemption in his life... and since becoming a fan of Max Payne after purchasing the first video-game back in 2001, and then the sequel in 2003, the parallels were too hard for me to ignore. It quickly took a theatrical turn, and became the screenplay to a chapter in the life and times of Max Payne, entitled "Max Payne: Payne & Redemption", which was ultimately a reflection on my own life, but with more danger, thrills and Hawaiian shirts.
MaxPayne.hu: Could you tell us a little bit about the story of the movie, and when it takes place?
Fergle Gibson: Originally, Max Payne: Payne & Redemption took place in-between the first two Max Payne videogames, telling the story of a man suffering from a pretty severe case of PTS! But since Fox demanded us to cease and desist, followed by my decision to drop the "Max Payne" name in order to continue working on the project, the production is now not "officially" part of the Max Payne universe... So you could say it takes place at any time. But being that it's an original story, very little has or is going to change, other than the removal or re-writing of material that might violate the intellectual property rights belonging to Twentieth Century Fox. It still retains its cynical, hard-boiled "Maxey" essence that all the fans love, and felt that they were short-changed on in the Max Payne film with Mark Wahlberg.
MaxPayne.hu: What was the main consideration when creating the characters, what was your muse, and where did you get your inspiration?
Fergle Gibson: All of the characters featured in the section of the story I was (and still am) working on, were based on an amalgam of traits belonging to people I'd either once known in my life, or people I still know... Including the lead, now unnamed character, who I also based on fictional characters, such as Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade, who, as I'm sure you're aware, were a large inspiration for Max Payne's character as well... in the videogames, at least.
MaxPayne.hu: How long will the movie be? Will it be a six-part series, just as you had planned? Or are we going to see a longer product?
Fergle Gibson: Originally, Payne & Redemption was going to equal a total runtime of around 120 minutes, split up into 20 minute episodes, and starting with the third. But due to the current state of the economy, and other overriding factors, it is unlikely (though not for definite) that we will be making anymore episodes after the one we're working on now. I'd love to, and this is a very regrettable situation for all of us to be in, but unless the project is picked up (anyone interested???), or I suddenly come into a lot of cash (I accept most major credit cards...), I don't see it happening anytime soon.
MaxPayne.hu: How is the shooting going?
Fergle Gibson: Due to being out of pocket, we haven't shot any new footage since October 2006. This lack of finance has been a huge problem, and has held the production back for years. So this year, we've regrouped and focused on what's important: the first step being to summon up sufficient funds to get the ridiculously expensive HDCAM SR master tapes from '06 transferred to hard-drive, which will allow me more control over the project, as it will reduce the need for me to rely on the costly services of others. In the long run, this means less cash having to go out, and more chance of the film moving forward at a controlled, steady pace.
MaxPayne.hu: Could you tell us a release date, or anything that would give us some idea as to when the film will be released?
Fergle Gibson: I DO have a release date in mind, but I'm not making it public yet, as there's a chance it won't be met, and I don't want to raise anyone's hopes, only to let them down. As soon as the rest of the footage has been shot, and the film has been edited and screened in front of a test audience, an estimated release date will be made public. So until further notice, it's still very much "when it's done".
MaxPayne.hu: Would you tell us about the style of the movie, and what kind of atmosphere you're setting out to create? For example, a film noir, or an action movie?
Fergle Gibson: Payne & Redemption is very much an old-school "Bogart" style film, staying true to the overall mood and profundity of the hard-boiled crime genre, whilst paying tribute to the style of a few other genres as well. It's centered deeply within the introspection of the lead character, showing us how the world and people around him affect his state of mind, and how he deals with those psychological struggles... which usually involves exacting his own brand of justice with a full clip, a whole lotta painkillers, and relentlessly talking to himself every two seconds.
MaxPayne.hu: How far did the "Fox affair" disturb the shooting?
Fergle Gibson: The "Fox affair" didn't disturb the *shooting* of P&R, as we had wrapped principal photography approximately one and a half years prior to receiving the now infamous "Cease & Desist" letter on April 22nd, 2008. It did, however, come as a blessing in disguise, as it made me stop what I was doing, take a much-needed step back, and look at everything from a wider perspective. This allowed me to figure out what I needed to do to get this show on the road, then begin putting it into effect. There's no denying that Fox threw a huge spanner in the works, and caused a hell of lot of problems and issues that had to be worked out, but in retrospect, I wouldn't say my run-in with Fox had any real *negative* impact on the production at all, in so much as it actually helped cleanse my mind of all the clutter that had accumulated over the duration of working on this project, and help lift me to a higher level of maturity and wisdom in which to work from. I'm a great believer in the old adage "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger", and as once said by a famous Detective, I now feel "pumped up and ready to go fifteen rounds with a mutant alligator".
MaxPayne.hu: Last, but not least, the "maxpayne.hu" website would like to wish much luck for the shooting, and assure you of our support. Thanks for the interview!
Fergle "Larry David" Gibson, Writer & Director.]]>Dewi Morgan, Associate Producer of P&R, gets married!...
Well, about 16 hours ago.
I never thought I'd see the day Dewi tied the knot, and always told him that if it ever happened, I'd be there to embarrass the hell out of him... Sorry, I mean, offer my total support. So he gets married in Canada. Cunning.
Congratulations and félicitations to you and your bride, Mr. Morgan. I wish you guys all the best, and hope you enjoy your honeymoon in the US! If it doesn't include going to a shooting-range and blowing up a lot of shit, you will have made me lose complete respect for you...
Have a good'ne, my friend!
Fergle "Larry David" Gibson, Writer & Director.]]>Max Payne 3...
Am I the only one who likes how Max Payne 3 is turning out?
Set 12 years after the events of Max Payne 2, Max Payne has retired from the NYPD, moved to São Paulo, Brazil, and has taken work in the "Private Security" sector of one of the city's wealthiest families. He's now buff, bald, sports a beard, and has adopted the fashion sense of John McClane. I know what you're thinking "What have they done to my beloved character?!", but you've gotta ask yourself one question... After everything Max has been through, wouldn't YOU want to reinvent yourself just a little? I know I sure as hell would! Think about it psychologically for a second, OK? It's a highly probable scenario.
What's so fantastic about this noticeably fresh take on Max Payne, is the potential such a change in direction could offer the development of his character, and in my opinion, there is nothing more fulfilling than that. After all, that's what these games are about - The evolution of Max Payne's life, his psyche, and how he deals with it.
I'm just speculating, but imagine a story whereby Max is trying to leave his past behind him by moving to Brazil, then gets forced into a war involving the local Drug Cartel, somehow connected to the family he is guarding, and finds out they're smuggling / pushing Valkyr... Or something along those lines. A lesson that no matter where he goes, no matter what he does, or who he becomes, he will NEVER escape his past. This is Max Payne's curse, and THAT is Max Payne.
So long as they keep trademark elements, such as, and in no particular order, his addiction to painkillers (which, I believe they are), the voiceover, his cynical, dark, brooding personality, enjoyable gunplay, and an intelligent, compelling story (preferably longer than MP2), then I honestly don't see why you couldn't set Max Payne anywhere, at any time... Just so long as it isn't in Toronto, with Mark Wahlberg. Only kidding, guys - Love you, really! ;-)
I have every bit of faith that Rockstar will deliver a worthy installment to the franchise... And if they don't, then fair enough.
But I, for one, am really looking forward to it.
Fergle "Larry David" Gibson, Writer & Director.]]>Current to-do list...
Just put together the current to-do list, and have split it into three categories for your viewing pleasure; Pre-Production, Production and Post-Production. ..... .... ... .. .
* Transfer HDCAM SR tapes from 2006 to HDD * Edit the "Offline" - A rough cut of the film from the masters * Review the rough cut * Ascertain what pick-ups, inserts and additional scenes need to be filmed * Compile a list of the above * Write / re-write the scripts to be used for the additional scenes * Go scouting for SUITABLE locations * Confirm locations to be used * Search for, audition, and cast additional actors * Assemble a new, talented, but minimal crew * Reunite original cast members w/ additional actors * Conduct rehearsals w/ all actors * Arrange initial shooting dates with cast & crew
* Film (and if necessary, keep RE-filming) all pickups, inserts and additional scenes until every single one is abso-fuckin'-lutely PERFECT
* Re-edit the film to accompany the new footage * Add a temporary musical score * Render a rough version of the film * Screen the rough version of the film in front of a selected test audience * Re-edit the film if necessary * Create, composite and apply any minimal S(pecial)FX * Colour-correct & grade the final cut * Record the film's musical score * Create and record "Foleys", add S(ound)FX, etc * Record the lead character's voice-over and re-dub any necessary (but minimal) dialogue * Mix all soundtracks * Create the "Online" - The final, high-definition (1080p) version of the film * Light a big fat Stogie and kick back for a day or two
There may be a few things I've missed out, but for now, that's what needs to be done to get this film finished and released. As soon as those HDCAM SR tapes are transferred, the end begins.
Fergle "Larry David" Gibson, Writer & Director.]]>Camera contender for the P&R pick-ups & additional footage...
The Panasonic HPX-3700. ...... ..... .... ... .. .
Sure, it's a big step down from the D-20 (or D-21 now), but that also means it's a big step down in money, too... And for this project, that can only be a good thing. But don't think for one second that the integrity of the film's cinematography will be compromised! The HPX-3700 is Panasonic's top of the range HD camcorder for cinema distribution. But one of the best parts about it is, it records to P2 cards, which, in layman's terms, is a very VERY good thing. No more HDCAM SR tapes. No more transfer costs. No more waiting to view the footage. Just bunged straight into one's NLE (editing software), and away ya go!
I've personally been working with Solid State media for a couple years now, and would never go back to the hassle-full life of tape again, so I'm pretty excited about the freedom such an option will give this project.
The only thing I don't like about the HPX-3700 is its tiny 2/3" sensor, resulting in a rather deep depth of field when compared to the Super 35mm sensors on the D-20, D-21, RED One, etc, but a B4 relay lens and a Letus Ultimate DOF adapter *could* solve that problem... IF it can stand up to my extreme scrutiny.
Also, it looks like we might be getting a new, up-and-coming Director of Photography, whose camera geekiness and pursuit for perfection are second to none... well, so long as you don't count me into the equation, that is. Am I going to tell you who it is? Not yet...
Fergle "Larry David" Gibson, Writer & Director.]]>A P&R related update, at long last!...
If any of you have been following me on Twitter, you'll know that I have been looking for people and / or companies to transfer the P&R HDCAM SR master tapes to hard-drive. This will allow me to gain a lot more control over the project, as it will severely reduce (if not totally eliminate) the need for me to rely on the services of others, which, in turn, will help keep down many of this production's future costs. Currently, I'm not able to even *view* the original rushes, only crappy standard-definition copies that I can't do much with, other than get pissed off at. I guess this serves me right for having P&R shot on the D-20 at 880mbit/s, 4:4:4, and on a format that can only be read by an £80,000 deck! But I wanted the best digital equivalent to celluloid, and I sure as hell got it.
Anyway... Having these tapes transferred to a solid-state medium, in their "native format", will be a big step towards the completion of this film, and will get the ball rolling towards the next objectives on the current to-do list.
The cheapest Post House I've found so far has quoted me at £1K, which, by many standards, is not actually a bad price at all... But still not something I can afford to splash out on at this present time. In the meantime, I will continue my journey into the night to find the cheapest deal I can, until I have exhausted every option I can think of.