Rotoscoping and the Forgotten Pre-Render of Null

A dark picture of a homeless man in an old man mask. This is a close-up shot of the face of the actor only, and he seems to be lit with a red light.I made it through. I knew I would, but damn; not sleeping more than 4 hours while cramming in a full production on a short film was still a monster of a task. In addition to helping develop the storyboard, assisting during production (even acting!!), and then editing and coordinating the score, I tried my best to not forget anything. For anyone who has ever participated in a 72 hour film competition, they know my pain.

Of course, I forgot something. I actually forgot a couple of things.

Now that I have a bit of time to reflect on what I did (or didn’t do), I’m working to polish up what was missed before the contest submission deadline. Don’t get me wrong, I’m extremely proud of what I did and wear my work on the entry like a badge of honor. Only I’d like to have the opportunity to fix a composited scene that I was basically delirious when working on. The layer masks and composited images stand out to me so badly that I am having nightmares about other producers looking at the film and then specifically searching for the Editor in the credits.

Yeah, it’s me. I did it. No regrets. Now, I’m fixing it.

Here’s the deal:

The main character, Michael, sits on a couch in the foreground while the Devil stands in the background behind the couch and looks over his shoulder.

I completely forgot to rotoscope the background of the shot before compositing, and then I used layer masks to hide some of the issues. The problem was that I was who-knows-how-many energy drinks into the edit and didn’t realize I had skipped the step until two days later when I had gotten some real rest and was able to take another look at the scene. The good news is that the short was a contest entry and now I can fix the scene before publishing it elsewhere. This particular version, however, has a composited scene where the subject is blurry because in addition to forgetting to rotoscope the background out of one of the layers, I didn’t pre-render it in After Effects and it got shifted somehow (I probably did it in my exhaustion.) when I put it all back into Premier Pro for final color grading and encoding.

What ended up happening was the additional background information created issues with the composite clip. An already dreamy, fuzzy scene got even more so. I’m not actually bagging on myself, only making an objective critique so I can attend to the issue and correct it. It is a great learning experience, and I encourage everyone to take the time to return to their work and take a critical look to it both overall and particular scenes in detail because it will help you gain insight into both the way you work and how you can learn from your mistakes.

I don’t personally find an issue with making a mistake if I’m able to learn from it. I’m also not making excuses for what others do or do not like about my work. All that really matters to me is that I’m satisfied and proud of what I did. If not, why would I put my name on it? Although the context entry version will be available, I’m planning on promoting the re-edited version because I now will have enough time to address the issues I want to with editing. The story and direction were great, so the editing must match. This production is Deviant Kind‘s entry to the 253 Short Film Competition for 2017.

The film is now officially titled Null, and it will be available for viewing after May 13, 2017–when the official judging period ends. I will edit this post and add a link to view the short film.