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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Finally, The Short Film you have been waiting for!

Bismillah ar-Rahmaan ar-Raheem,

It has been a long journey to get us here but IT'S DONE! You can now watch the First UmmahFilms Short: Tomorrow Never Comes. There is an Intro and Outtro by Baba Ali, so be sure to tune in after the movie.

YouTube Version:

High Quality Version (350MB):

PS: For all of you who have been waiting since the beginning of April, i just want to let you know that we worked very hard to be able to output it before the end of April (4/30). We ran into many many obstacles but overcame them and you now have our first movie TNC.

Peace be upon you.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Audio Process

Bismillah ar-Rahmaan ar-Raheem,

Assalamo Alaykom everybody...

It’s been a while since you guys heard from us and that’s because some things didn’t go according to plan but Alhamdulillah all is set and the movie will be released before April is over.

Before I write about the audio process of this movie I'd like to say, Alhamdulillah that He's giving me the opportunity to work with Ummah Films. It has been a challenge that helped learn a lot about myself, more of the movie industry, and got to know the most amazing team. The best part of it all is that each person is from a different part of the world. It's true; Ummah Films is by the Ummah for the Ummah. This Ummah is united, alhamdulillah...

One thing I've learned being in the audio industry for a good while is that the actual audio for film is taken for granted. Insha’Allah, this movie will show how important it is because it really turned things around.

The program I’ve used was Steinberg’s Nuendo. It’s very similar to ProoTools but the only reason why I use that is because it’s a lot cheaper to get since I don’t need to buy hardware with it in order for the program to work.

As soon as I watch the final edited of the movie, I knew this is going to be a challenge. The audio needed a lot of work because of lack of continuity in sound, the background noise was loud and some scenes didn’t even have sound to begin with... But I’m always up for a good challenge; it’s a door to prove myself in the industry that doesn’t know me yet.

First thing I needed to take care of was the background noise that was too loud. I simply had to EQ the sound. I lowered the hi’s where the hissing sounds are found.

The second thing I had to take care of was the continuity of the sound from one cut to another. One way of doing that is adding atmosphere sound in the background. If the scene is in a park, the atmosphere sound should be a few birds, dogs barking few cars in the background etc… If that doesn’t work, you’ll need to add reused audio in the scene to cover the skipping of the sound. You’ll need to find a perfect cut to use and just copy and paste where it’s suppose to hide the cut. Sometimes you’ll need to time stretch the sound because it might too short and if you just repeat it, you can hear the sound being looped and that’s something totally not acceptable. You’ll also need to make sure that the added sound is cross faded with the rest of the audio of the original sound recorded while filming. It’ll sound smooth.

Last but not least, I worked on the actual Sound Effects (SFX) I didn’t have to put much since the original audio had it all but some had to be emphasized and some needed to be added because it wasn’t there to begin with. I have a decent library (Sony, BBC, Digital Juice, Sound Ideas, the 1000 series and 2 of the 6000 series and some other I’ve been given to me by my former boss back in Syria) but didn’t have everything. In situations like these you’d need to innovate and record SFX yourself. That’s the really fun part. Just record the sound of what you want to use but make sure there isn’t much background noise. The best recording is the one with the purest recording. I then EQed the SFX so it’ll fit in nicely with the rest of the audio.

Some scenes had no sound whatsoever but that isn’t an issue. It’s simply like putting a puzzle together but this is puzzle of sound. Just add the sound of the atmosphere then pay attention to the details of what’s going on and try to put as much SFX making it sound as what you’d hear in reality…

One good way to learn what SFX is needed is while watching movies, concentrate on sound and what’s even better yet, wherever you are in your home or outside, pay attention to the sounds around you… Taking notes helps to keep things fresh in mind…

Insha’Allah, you guys will enjoy the movie as much as we enjoyed making it.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Editing TNC

Bismillah ar-Rahmaan ar-Raheem,

So it's been a while since we gave you a sense of where the movie is really at. Well, today we want to inform you that we have successfully completed The Final Cut. That is where the Video part of the movie is complete, and what is left is the Audio. We are now in the sound editing phase and should be completed as scheduled. In "Behind the Scenes 4" you had a glimpse of our intention to have this movie out in April 2008, and inshaAllah (If God wills) we plan to do just that.

So I thought i'd take some time and explain the process we went through to get this movie edited. So here it goes.

  • On our first shoot, we were able to get a lot of the footage we needed but we ran into some technical difficulty which translated into needing to reshoot some scenes. This shoot lasted 46 hours with around 8 or so hours of sleep.

  • From our first shoot, we edited a draft to see how the movie looks and see what kind of new footage would be needed to "Fill in the gaps"

  • We drew up a schedule, whopped up some storyboards, and got ready for the second shoot.

  • We got on set again, and got to filming. Again, we ran into slight difficulty with the equipement because of our very tight shooting schedule. This shoot lasted around a day and a half.

  • After this second shoot, the camera we shot with (on the first day) was actually broken and we couldn't download the footage from it for A WHILE! So the director was scrambling for literally hours daily for a week to try and get his hands on a camera that can download this footage. This set us back quite a bit but we got the footage.

  • Now the footage we got from the second shoot was of two formats; standard DV 30p, and HD720 24p. The HD footage we got was in Apple HDV codec format so we had to go through apple to edit it. We also had to throw in some non-HD shots with the HD ones to make sense of the scenes.

  • So, we edited the HD in OSX on Final Cut Pro, exported it to windows into Adobe Premiere 2.0 and we edited the movie there.

  • Once we had another draft edit, we got feedback, changed what was needed and found a few things missing. This prompted yet another (much shorter) reshoot.

  • Only a few people went to the third reshoot, and it was from Dawn till noon. We got what we needed, transferred the footage into the movie timeline, and output another draft.

  • From here, we got more feedback, we addressed as many issues as we could, and output what we have now: The Final Cut.

  • Since most of us do not live near each other, it was difficult to get everyone on the same page, and due to the lack of our experience we did run into other issues that would otherwise be fine.

  • BUT ALHUMDULILLAH (Praise be to God) We have a Final Cut now, and very little left to do.

  • The Sound Designer will start the work anytime soon and should be done before the deadline we set insha'Allah. And we should be on schedule for our release.

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Behind The Scenes Footage Part 4

Bismillah ar-Rahmaan ar-Raheem,

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Monday, February 25, 2008

TNC - 15th & 16th meetings update

Bismillah ar-Rahmaan ar-Raheem,

Asalam Alaikum everyone,

Regarding TNC Alhamdulillah, we had a chance to look at a rough edited sample of the film. Mostly came out pretty good, except we need some adjustments that will be taken care of through editing. So we are still under the post production stage. In addition, next week we will review another sample Insha’Allah.

Jazkaum Allah for your dua and support

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

TNC - 13th & 14th meetings update

Bismillah ar-Rahmaan ar-Raheem,

Asalam alaikum everyone,

In our last meeting we were able to see the draft cut footage for some of the scenes that were shot on the 19th of Dec. The footage looked good. We are still working hard with the post production process; we had a slight complication with downloading the HD footage. Insha'Allah ken will get back with us by the end of this week and update us on the status of the HD Camcorder & footage. In the mean time we'll continue our Sunday meetings for progress reports on TNC & UmmahFilms projects. I will also try to upload some of the behind the scenes insha'Alalh. Jazakum Allah for your dua & support.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Re-shoot: Done. Here's The Deal...

Bismillah ar-Rahmaan ar-Raheem,

Assalam-u-alaikum everyone,

Alhamdulillah ta3ala the re-shoot on the 19th & 20th was awesome. It was a great learning experience since most of us didn't know how to make films except for Adnan who goes to Film School at USC (studying to be a director) and Rami had some experience with filmmaking. We added 2 new people to the crew to help us out; Ken and Alex, both of whom have more experience then most of us. Ken works as a director and editor, and Alex is studying to become a director of photography at USC. Both of them volunteered to help us with this project wal hamdulilah.

And ma sha'Allah they did an excellent job and we learned so much from them. As usual Adnan & Rami were in charge, Hesam co-ordinated and made sure everyone was on schedule. We had Hussein as a supporting role and kashif as the lead role. Alex was our Cinematographer, and Ken was an assistant director.

Baba Ali and myself played small roles in the basketball scene and worked as PAs (production assistants). All of us worked as a team and we were able to re-shoot two scenes; the basketball scene and the accident scene.

We didn't have time to re-do the college scene, or Voice Over. We were also unable to attain a few POVs that we would have liked to have. These are not necessary but would have been nice. But we thank Allah for giving us the blessing of being able to get together and achieve what we had came for and get the necessary shots.

We experienced slight complications with the equipment we used on Saturday--the HD JVC camcorder. The time spent on the accident scene as well as the final dialog on Saturday took from 6:00am to 5:00pm, very close to Maghrib time. Afterwards, we were able to go as a group to Mas' Chinese Islamic Restaurant, and alhumdulillah we had a very nice time and enjoyed the food--which was great.

Sunday morning, around 8:00am, we started the basketball scene which lasted until 1:00pm. After that, just a few of us headed back down to Kashif's house for 4-5 quick shots that we were unable to get the day before due to the time contraints.

We decided to use the other equipment (Non-HD) due to battery issues with the HD camcorder. Adnan was able download all of the Non-HD footage. All of the HD footage still needs to be downloaded because the camera we shot on, the JVC, seems to have an issue. This means we may simply need to find another JVC camcorder that has HD capabilities or wait for the one we used to be fixed.

Adnan went through all the footage, including Saturday and Sunday. The quality is very good except for some overexposure which can be corrected. There are a few other issues which can also be fixed in post production. Once the complete footage is downloaded, we should be able to see the rough draft within two weeks inshaAllah.

wa salam aliakum

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