Redemption is a western that tells the story of the outlaw Jesse on the run from the lawman Sam and his deputies. Jesse is trapped by the lawmen in a little cabin inhabited by a starving woman and child. Their plight forces him to consider his own struggle for survival and the motives behind his life on the run.Shot in three weekends in March of 2007, this film represents over a year’s work of a small group of Virginia Tech students driven beyond the classroom by their passion for filmmaking.Cameras used: Canon HV30, Sony Z1USoftware used: Final Cut Pro, Motion (for visual effects), After Effects (for color correction using the process in the DV Rebels Guide), Illustrator (for graphics).

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End in Sight

Fall semester killed my time, so I’ve been working hard over winter break to bring Redemption to a finished product. Music is the only thing left to add, and I’ve been working with one of the producers on the film to find or compose what we need. In the meantime, I’ve begun work on the DVD – covers, menus, and special features.

This is the DVD cover so far. I finally found a visual style that I really like for the film. It features a wood background with images burned onto its surface. Text floats like light above it.

DVD Cover Layout

Onlining Complete

Good news, the longest, most tedious portion of the entire production is done. Onlining comes after the final cut is locked and is done to give the film a unified, polished look. This primarily includes color correction and color grading to match a disparate array of shots from different settings and different cameras and combine them under a stylized color palette. Another part of onlining is combining any visual effects shots, fixing lighting problems, and any compositing. 


I used After Effects CS3 with scripts from the DV Rebels Guide. I followed the process described in the “Onlining” chapter of the book and am very satisfied with the outcome. 


For the look of the film I pushed the shadows towards purple, the midtones towards an orange and the highlights to a pale yellow. This is a much less stylized example of color grading because I loved the colors of the location that we had to begin with and wanted to do just enough tweaking without losing them completely. The final look has a more stretched range of color and a more rustic, weathered feel. My goal was to mimic the look of a movie shot on film as much as possible. The DV Rebel’s Guide was great for unlocking the secrets behind achieving this in some of the tools in After Effects.

As a result of these past two months of work, the movie is a visual whole and not an amateurish hodge-podge of shots.

So where does that leave the film now? Well the only thing left to do is audio: effects and soudtrack. Keep checking back to stay posted on where the project is going. 

I just locked the final cut tonight at 21 minutes 52 seconds and 25 frames! I’ll post some color correction tests and examples as I move into the onlining stage. I’m very excited now because it feels like most of the “real” work is done. The story has been told essentially, its just time to make it easier to watch. I know that’s not completely true, but there is still the satisfaction of accomplishment.

Wish me luck as I dive in to After Effects.

Teaser Trailer

Incase you haven’t checked it out yet – see the teaser trailer:

I’m still procrastinating locking the cut. I have reviewed the film multiple times and made a few revisions. I’ve shaved about 3 minutes off the run time, mainly in the dialogue heavy scenes. I’ve also been working on a few visual effects shots – primarily adding smoke to the gunshots.

I hope to post a discussion between Richard, the executive producer, and myself about the film’s initial creation process, as soon as I find time that won’t take away from progress on the final editing stages. So keep checking back, more is coming soon.

Also, I want a couple extra test screeners. Comment on this post and let me know if you want to see the rough cut and I will include you in the limited-time screening of the film.

I just wanted to show off a camera mount I built for a movie I shot this spring. It is based on a design I saw online for alot more than I wanted to spend. It is made out of PVC pipe and joints which, including the glue to hold it together was about $15. It has a simple threaded bolt that goes through a hole in the middle X joint and a thin piece of wood with bicycle intertube to better grip the camera base.

I heated the longer section of pipe in the oven until I was able to bend it in to a curve. This allows you to press forward with your hands to stabilize the rig against your neck, like you could with a camera strap. I don’t have the footage on this computer, but I’ll post some shots soon that I did using the mount.

It has been very helpful in shooting actions scenes, allowing me to get a very steady shot while still having much greater flexibility than a tripod. I also shot an interview in an art gallery with it.

I’ve used it both with the compact Canon HV20 and the larger Sony HVR-Z1U. Let me know what you think and if you have any questions – I’ll be glad to give you more details!