In Episode 57 of Red Giant TV, our behind the scenes look at our film ‘Plot Device,’ I mentioned that we did the 9-minute film on a very limited budget. Nine days and over 400,000 views later (even more if you count all the bootleg sites), and we’ve been asked a lot about that. The film obviously has a big budget feel, and some people are skeptical.
When I told Red Giant that I wanted to make a short indie film to show off Magic Bullet Suite 11, I was given a budget of $10K to make it happen. And that’s exactly what we did.
We really wanted to create the indie film experience – limited time, limited money. Red Giant spent about $9K at our end. It covered props (some built by the amazing Neil Hoppe), costumes, some actor and crew salaries, & food for cast and crew. Director Seth Worley and his team worked VERY hard to stretch the budget, and they did a great job.
FWIW – I was explicitly not allowed to go over that budget, and we actually had to scale back from the initial plan to make it work (Ex. We dropped a very funny martial arts section I REALLY wanted). Personally, I think the film is better for it.
But OK – what about equipment? Doesn’t that cost money?
Our Director, Seth, had access to a lot of expensive gear – a Canon 5D MK II, a Canon 7D, not to mention lighting, camera rig, tripods…etc. I tend to not think too much about that stuff, because as an animator, I don’t charge my clients by the equipment I already own and use, but by my time spent creating things for them.
However, since people have asked, here’s a list of what was used on the shoot, along with Rental Costs:
It’s a lot of expensive gear – if you OWN it, but, as you can see, you can rent the gear we used for under $2K, for the time in which we used it.
You saw in the Behind the Scenes episode that we also borrowed stuff from Digital Juice and Vid-Atlantic – stuff which comes to around $2K total as a purchase, but which would also be rented from a video rental company for significantly less, if you chose to use them (or something like them).
As far as paying people for their time, the $9K covered some of that. But given the limited budget, we had a true indie experience – any good indie director has friends in the industry they bargain with or get help from, for their films. Also, exploiting the undead for business, as it turns out, is a legally gray area we took advantage of. The laws are not clear if an undead American has any rights. They do enjoy their brain food, though, that’s for sure.
Some of the work was volunteered by friends of mine or Seth’s or by fans of Red Giant – such as the 3D modeling by Rob Redman, and the cartoon stuff at the end by Andrew Embury. I have been known to do the same on friends’ cool projects. Frankly, there are plenty of hungry young animators out there that will work on a small project for minimal pay to help build their reels, and while you may not get the speed and quality of our guys, you can do fairly well if you can manage people that are new to the industry. Don’t get me wrong – our guys were top notch, and did their work with talent, skill and speed – the latter of the two, newcomers are likely to not have.
To make it easier on them, we also supplemented by giving away software (as payment) to key people on the project who had to put in a lot of time. They basically gave up some money for something else that they needed. In the real world, it’s the equivalent of helping someone out on their project in return for their help on ours. They work as DP on your project, and you lend them gear for theirs – that sort of thing.
The music and most of the acting was done by the Director’s family and friends, like his incredibly talented brother, Ben Worley. That’s the way you do it. In fact, any indie film person who is not willing to beg borrow (but hopefully not steal) from people they know to get a project done, probably isn’t going to get much done.
For the most part, Seth did all the editing and VFX himself, while I helped out with color for part of it. There were no teams of editors and VFX artists cutting this thing. Seth had I license of Magic Bullet Suite 11 on his system, and that costs $799. All of the work was done on 1 system.
But let’s say this film cost triple what we actually paid. Even that cannot explain away the incredible quality produced by Seth Worley in Plot Device. At the end of the day, a director, even on a limited budget, can produce amazing stuff if they have talent and the right set of tools – something we proved with Plot Device.
About working on Plot Device, and keeping the cost low, Producer (and Props Master, and actor) Neil Hoppe had this to say:
“$1670 is the full price you’d pay to rent the package we used, and that’s if you don’t own a single piece of gear, have any friends, or get the rental house to swing you a deal for the massive rental package. And if that’s the case, maybe you should be looking for another line of work. Or start much, much smaller.
“This was a super-ambitious project with a ton of moving parts. It couldn’t have been done if we didn’t know what we were doing, which comes from experience. And honestly, for our team, experience working together on numerous smaller projects. It’s taken Seth and I 3-4 years of working together to get to the level of comfort and communication that we have. You can’t beg, borrow, buy, rent, OR steal that.”
ALSO NOTE: The jeep used in the film was Seth’s Car growing up, and is now Ben’s. Not sure if we should add that to the cost. But Seth assures me that given it’s condition, it’s current value is $23.76.
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Aharon Rabinowitz @ Red Giant
Find hundreds of presets and templates at Red Giant People.
Save time and money with hundreds of free presets for your Red Giant Plug-ins. Use the Cell Shading preset with Trapcode Particular or get the Sepia Comic Misprint to use with Magic Bullet Looks, or maybe you want to watch Ink Bleed using Trapcode Particular and Magic Bullet Looks. Get all these and hundreds more free presets for Trapcode, Magic Bullet and Knoll Light Factory online.
Did you know that Red Giant has over 190 tutorials coming in at over 46 hours of FREE video training?
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Don’t need the FREE training, but would like the FREE software?
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Magic Bullet Colorista Free – uses advanced color wheels so you can color correct like a pro
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Knoll Unmult – removes the black background from footage you want to composite. Great for fire, rain and more.
So how good can free stuff be? Well, we think pretty darn good!
The NAB 2011 show was April 11-14 in Ye Ol’ Vegas. It’s the biggest annual US-based show for broadcast artists and their vendors. If you’ve been paying attention lately to digital media news, people have been posting their videos and photos and opinions. For instance, Studio Daily’s blogger Scott Simon did a great South Hall round-up and Stu Maschwitz, our Magic Bullet Creative Director, covered Apple’s big FCP X announcement in his ProLost blog.
Aside from seeing new technology, I asked people at Red Giant what they love about NAB. (This potentially sounds like a Coca-Cola commercial, but bear with me.) Here are post-NAB thoughts and Red Giant booth photos from some of my favorite coworkers. Interestingly, our photos all seem to be taken with iPhones. Guess everyone was completely taken with the launch of our two new mobile apps, Movie Looks and Noir, and forgot to grab those DSLRs. Oops.
Left to right, Aharon Rabinowitz, Harry Frank, Andrew Cheyne, John Kerr and Micah Sharp:
From Aharon Rabinowitz, our Director of Community and All Bets Are off boy wonder, shown first from left, “The reason I go out is to meet the people who use our products. By putting faces to the amazing work I see on-line every day, It recharges my love for what I do.”
A big Red Giant shout-out goes to Harry Frank, our inhouse motion designer of Gray Machine fame, shown second from left. Harry came to NAB four days after he had a baby — well, you know what I mean — so he is this year’s Trade Show Rockstar. Look for his adorable new son in Red Giant promos to come.
From Andrew Little, Red Giant Cofounder and enabler of the booth, “This was the busiest and most energized NAB in 5 years. My head is still spinning. It’s still the best place to meet potential partners, generate some new product buzz, meet our customers, and have fun.”
Andrew being interviewed by… someone important:
From Beth Manning, our Sales Manager and booth coordinator extraordinaire, “NAB is always an exciting week for Red Giant. It’s a great opportunity to show our new technologies. We get to see old friends and customers as well as meet folks new to Red Giant. Folks come to our booth with praises, ideas and complaints and we like to hear them all!”
And for me, Debbie Rich, our tech writer and today’s blogger, NAB is an annual creative pilgrimage, kind of like going to Burning Man. I make my way to the desert, see a lot of cool art and technology, meet up with people I really like but only see once a year, have some drinks, and stand around figuring out what party to go to next. It’s awesome. See you next year!
Beth with Simon Walker, our QuickTip Guru and booth, ummm, babe:
Red Giant QuickTip #41: Adding Life to Interview Footage
In this tutorial, Aharon Rabinowitz shows you how to clean up (remove noise) and add life to interview footage through color correction. Though Aharon demonstrates in After Effects, the tutorial works for users of Final Cut Pro, Premiere Pro and more.
Red Giant QuickTip #35: Kaleidoscopic Effects with Trapcode Form
In this QuickTip, Aharon Rabinowitz explores the Kaleidospace features of Trapcode Form to create 3D mirrored kaleidoscopic effects.
If you liked this tutorial, check out my popular Trapcode Form City tutorial.
Buy Trapcode Form HERE.
In an earlier blog post I mentioned that we were recently interviewed by Veronica Belmont for the web series, Best Job Ever. Usually Best Job Ever interviews people from companies like Google, YouTube, HP, or even NASA, but somehow a small company like Red Giant got on their radar. We must be doing something right! Here’s the interview with both myself and our General Manager, Micah Sharp, talking about what it takes to get a gig at a company like Red Giant.
How to get a job developing for video and animation software: Best Job Ever with Veronica Belmont: Veronica Belmont talks to Red Giant Software’s Micah Sharp and Aharon Rabinowitz about optimizingskills for video and animation, the team mentality that keeps Red Giant developers happy, and how you can get the Best Job Ever.
Hey folks – You may have noticed a slight slowdown in the blog a few weeks ago. That’s because we were having our company meeting in Portland . Since we were all together, Best Job Ever, a popular web series about the best jobs in the tech industry, sent the ever-engaging Veronica Belmont (host of Techzilla and whole lot more) to interview us about how a small, mostly-virtual company like Red Giant is able to make such an impact in our industry – and what we look for when hiring a new team member.
Above – From left to right: Micah Sharp (RG’s General Manager), Veronica Belmont, and Aharon Rabinowitz (RG’s Director of Communities… Also known as me). Below – Left: Micah talks about what’s needed to work in plug-in development (hint it’s not all about technical knowledge). Right: I discuss the importance of being self-motivated when you work virtually, and the one o’clock pants rule.
The interview will be posted eventually, but I just wanted to say that the 2 hours we spent talking to Veronica and the Best Job Ever crew really helped reminded me of how lucky I am to be working with such an amazing team. We’re a small company with a big footprint, and that only happens when people are passionate about what they do, are truly dedicated to making good products, and most importantly, are dedicated to making the customer experience as good as it can be.
It also comes from having amazing customers who do amazing things, and who care about the products we create (that’s you). And so, we really appreciate the work you do and the great feedback we get from you. We know that as good as things are, nothing is ever perfect. If you guys ever need to let us know something (good or bad), you can post a comment in the blog, send us a tweet on Twitter, or just contact us on this site. We’re listening.
As I mentioned in a previous post, we recently had the Red Giant company meeting. After the meetings broke on Wednesday, and people started getting back to the usual day-to-day, Harry Frank and I decided we would film a tour of the Red Giant offices in Portland.
iPod/iPad Friendly Version on Vimeo.
OK – it’s not The Godfather, but it’s not Bio-Dome either. Sad to say that we had a really great interview with Debbie Rich, one of our newest team members, but as it turns out, we actually hit the record button twice (stopping the recording right away). Consequently, from the time the interview is over (when we hit the record button again) until the next one, we have about 20 minutes of video of Harry’s feet along with audio of the RG team describing our favorite scenes from “Desperate Housewives” in detail (this is mandatory viewing at RG – and there is a test, or we don’t get paid).
Oh, and BTW – we used Harry Frank’s Looping Backgrounds for Trapcode Suite for all of the lower thirds. Harry didn’t want me to print that, but I must not have heard him when he said it.
Next time write your own blog entry, buddy.