Hey out there you cool and beautiful people! It’s time for a look back at last year’s wacky rollercoaster! What on earth were we doing? Will hindsight provide any useful clues? What will the future hold? Let’s take a look….
We started the year with a stop motion dance video featuring Marvel characters. It was supposed to be simple, but I got carried away and had too much fun with it. There’s also a tutorial of sorts on this website about what the intentions were. Check it out here.
We also made something much more popular: a video version of our very popular tutorial post on how to use DaVinci Resolve for stop motion. Both the post and the video were among our biggest hits of the year.
Next, we began the journey of Brixie Plastique, a Lego drag queen who took on the challenges of Drag Race Season 14 in Lego stop motion. This was a project for Charlene Happy and I, and tested our ability to produce reactive content on a weekly basis. We didn’t find much of an audience for it.
Finally, we got a brand new logo, which we’ve been putting on things, like our content! Thank you to Adriano Kitani for his amazing work! I still love it like crazy every time I see it.
In February, we carried on making Brixie videos. I really liked both the Teaser challenge and the PSA video challenge.
I wrote a couple of posts about Magic the Gathering’s Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty set, which was widely regarded as not just the best of the year, but one of the best all-time. I can’t argue with that. Find the posts here (first look at the main set) and here (the commander decks). I wasn’t super crazy about the set off the bat, but I sure called some cards that have made some surprise waves, like Experimental Synthersizer and Touch the Spirit Realm.
To try something different, I ordered a Chef’s Plate box and reviewed it here.
In March, we had planned to do the 72 hour Horror Film Race, but we were extremely short on people. The added stress of our inexperience with horror wasn’t helping.
One option had been to try and do something stop motion with real humans, like this experimental video we made.
We kept up the Brixie Plastique content, hitting our highest note with our take on the notorious Snatch Game. We didn’t know it was going to be our last Brixie video…
In April, we filmed the OR Festival, a series of short plays created and executed by Vancouver artists. We have been asked to keep the links to the films to ‘unlisted’ on Youtube, but you can see all the films by going to our post here.
While we were out filming the OR Festival, our apartment was broken into. In hindsight, nothing life-altering was taken, however we did lose our custom-built editing computer.
The Brixie Plastique project was unable to recover, despite a fair amount of planned content.
Brixie managed one last showing in this video where I tried out some skateboarding mechanics in stop motion.
May saw a ton of Magic the Gathering content go up on the site, highlighted by ‘The Top 10 Reasons Commander Sucks Right Now… And What to Do About It’, which was one of our most popular posts of the year. The month saw the release of Streets of New Capenna, and I wrote no fewer than 5 posts about it! I reviewed commons/uncommons, rares, mythics, and commander cards. There’s also an EDH deckbuild for Mari, The Killing Quill.
June was very quiet. We put out a call for clients, but didn’t get much of a response.
The Magic the Gathering posts, ‘Answering Enchantments in EDH’ and the Jon Irenicus EDH deckbuild did do well.
We spent a large part of June putting together a film that would define our year.
In early July, we released ‘Noggin’, a short documentary for all ages. This is our most successful film, for a number of reasons. You can see the film here.
It took some time for Noggin to gain traction, so we carried on with stop-motion tutorial content, including some must-have items to make your filming life easier.
July also saw a unique and weird Magic the Gathering EDH build featuring a mesh between the Banding and Party mechanics, creating a Legendary Party Band.
In August, we added to the stop-motion tutorial content with a post and video about storytelling hacks to make your filming life easier.
We also found out our film, ‘Learn’ was an official selection of Shockfest 2022. Learn ultimately did not play in the festival due to a communication snafu, but we’re honoured just the same. You can see the film here.
I spent a large chunk of August working on a concept that never came to fruition, trying to put together a fun look at some of Vancouver’s murals, set to the song Campabile, created by local composers Coja Beats. They helped us out with our theme song for our very first effort, ‘My Ultimate Creation.’ which we remade into a silent film. You can see it here.
While we didn’t release much of anything in September, we didn’t have to.
Noggin premiered at Vancouver’s Science World in September, beginning a run that will continue at least until the end of February. It plays twice daily.
Of all things in my life, this is one of the things I’m most proud of. While filming Noggin, some thought was put into where it would play, and the Science Theatre at Science World (not the Omnimax in the big geodesic dome on top) was my ideal destination.
The idea that some random kid walks into that theatre and sees some or all of the film is just the best. I saw it happen for myself on premiere day, and that’s a memory to treasure for the rest of my life.
October was also quiet. A new season of the Lego Masters TV show began. North American edition. I’ve watched the Australian edition also and I kinda prefer it. This is notable because our adventures in producing Lego stop-motion content really got kick-started as a response to the first challenge of the previous season.
I built a really cool model, but didn’t put a lot of effort into the stop motion in this video.
November was primarily spent getting ready for the 100 hour Film Race in December. It would start Dec. 1. Getting ready for a film race is primarily about lining up people and stuff. Stuff like equipment, costumes, props and even food for catering purposes. Even if you’re not actually getting anything beforehand, knowing where you can get things is a big deal. I guess stuff also includes figuring out locations. We planned to shoot in-studio, to minimize location stress.
Lining up people is mostly about schedules. Having a rough idea about the size of parts for specific actors helps a lot, and is often dictated by availability. It may not sound like much, but it’s really tricky with an unpaid gig like this, where you have to respect the time of everybody giving you theirs. Stuff comes up. Sometimes interest wanes. Lateness can make a huge difference. Keeping everyone on track and on time is a big job.
In addition, I was pretty aware of the lack of content appearing on the site and put together a post about some of the motion capture stuff I’ve done over the years. I can only talk about so much of it, and almost nothing recent, but here’s a cool video of me jumping from a gig I had in November with Versatile Media.
I also came up with 2 new EDH decks, based around Captain Rex Nebula (here), and Kosei, Penitent Warlord, here. Fun stuff.
We went into December with all focus on the Film Race.
But things hit a snag. We submitted a film, ‘The Conversation Killer’, but it wasn’t what was planned at all.
This post can explain things, but if you’re not clicking the links, we tried a combination of filming entirely on green screen and using Unreal to generate a usable environment to have as a background. It didn’t work.
The timescale was not compatible and we didn’t have a key piece of equipment that would make things much easier. It’s a viable idea for a production, however. Just not at our current scale and scope.
With a simple environment, and the perspective and lighting both corrected real time in Unreal, this method has a ton of potential for both pre-visualization and actual production. Anything stylized, including some animated stuff, could possibly use it now.
The film we ultimately produced is okay. You can see it here. Getting the green screen backgrounds to resemble an actual environment was a struggle, and I’m not sure I got there, but the story is cool and the acting is pretty strong overall. It’s a candidate for a proper reshoot. We sure learned a lot.
Over the course of the month, Noggin took on some laurels.
Noggin is an official selection of the Best International Film Festival, 4Theatre Selection, the NexGn International Short Film Festival (Semi Finalist) and the Vesuvius International Film Festival where we were a category winner for Best Documentary (Short). Badass.
We sure learned a lot. I read that somewhere recently and think it bears repeating. Maybe one more time. We sure learned a lot.
Something I didn’t include above were some outright failures we had. Projects that got started and are completely unrecoverable. We had a live event coverage go horribly wrong with camera, and another gig that could not be completed for an ideological reason. Some content that was written and was time sensitive and never happened for a variety of reasons.
We found out about some opportunities too late, and others slipped away because of inaction or procrastination.
But we learned, and we’re going into 2023 with a better understanding of our capabilities and limitations.
We still produced a lot of cool stuff, and Noggin really broke through.
We’re looking for opportunities. Ways we can be seen and matter and challenge ourselves. More of the same, really. While we’d still love to make a low-budget commercial or similar video for you or your business, the flavour of the year seems to be internal development. I have a lot of written content that needs attention.
Personally I’d also like to improve as a director and producer, and be able to give an acting role or two the time and focus they deserve. I love the Film Races, but acting in those is such an afterthought, and I rarely have time for more than a couple of takes, or much preparation. Not making excuses, instead saying I can do better.
We’re looking at entering the 72hr Horror Film Race again, as we have a couple of horror enthusiasts in the group now who are going to drive the content creation.
We have a ton of Lego stop-motion racing content in the tank that’s long overdue for a release. I’d also like this to be the year where we do something serious in Lego stop-motion. We have a few potential scripts and concepts, and I’m hoping something will take hold.
A possible project in stop-motion is collaborating with a short Dungeons and Dragons campaign, and executing the adventure as a series of videos.
On the Magic the Gathering front, I’m probably going to write about my Commander Cube/Battlebox thing, and the AI concept I’ve got going, plus some new EDH decks. There’s even a Commander Challenge planned for the new year where searching libraries will be banned. Might be a good time to hide in a library.
It would be great to stream a weekly Magic game, or really any boardgame. Or even just create a Youtube video. Having a regular content stream is a priority.
So that’s about it. This should be an interesting year.
What do you think?
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Thanks as always for following along, and we hope your 2023 is memorable, happy, safe and full of friends, family, film and fun!