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Monthly Archives: May 2011

Over the past several weeks I’ve been intermittently removing pesky specks and debris from the transferred Super 8 footage that made it into the final cut of Robert on his Lunch Break.

This is a simple but time-consuming process.

It involves breaking a movie clip down into an image sequence (in this case a series of Tiff files), identifying a splotch or squiggle (caused by a piece of dirt or dust the lab failed to remove prior to scanning the film), copying the same section from the previous or following frame and then pasting it on top of the offending area so that the image in question looks pristine. Once the image sequence is done being touched up, it’s turned back into a self-contained movie file and put in place of the original, “blemished” movie.

If done without a keen attention to detail this process does more harm than good, but if one knows his way around Photoshop and he’s willing to put the time in it can result in a film looking markedly better. (While I’m not done yet I’ve A-B’d the “cleaned” image sequences with the original movies and I’m definitely glad I’ve bothered to do this.)

Of course if I had any real money I would have either paid the lab to clean and scan the film again, or I would have sent the transferred footage to a post-production house that has some sort of high-end program with an algorithm that removes specks and debris automatically.

But alas, I am, at least for the time being, a low-budget filmmaker.

Some might think, “Why bother? Hardly anyone notices stuff like that, those little specks and debris and whatnot.”

Well, I do. I’ve seen the film many times now and since I think it’s a work of art I treat it as such, doing what I can to improve it. Before the year is over I’d like to release a limited run of bluray discs, and if I’m going to bother doing that it would be best if the film were presented in the highest quality possible.

Anyway, the reason I’ve decided to post about this is that I had a minor revelation while going over the film for the umpteenth time…

It occurred to me that the shots in which Robert is opposite Nika weren’t quite appropriate. In hindsight the expressions on my face and my general demeanor weren’t too effective in the context of those particular moments in the film–Robert appeared too irked by the encounter with Bradley and not relieved enough by Nika’s presence.

Originally I thought that Robert should look visibly upset and uncomfortable at that point in the scene, but in retrospect I went too far in that direction and should have settled on a more amiable disposition for my character. I ran this by my mom, a film-savvy retired art teacher who’s seen Robert on his Lunch Break many times, and she totally agreed.

So, long story short, I reshot those parts of the film, and I’m quite happy with the results: