Laythrom Media is now starting to post regular video tutorials on YouTube. Videos about Autodesk programs, Adobe Programs, and others are being uploaded on a regular basis. Feel free to check them out and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel in order to get notified about new content.
Laythrom Media and Schotten Filmworks are working on Dead Life Necrodevils, a video game based on Schotten Filmworks’ feature film “Dead Life 2: Necrodevils”.
The video game is being developed for the personal computer platform and, at this time will not be available for PS3 or Xbox 360.
The game is also a teaser (of sorts) of more things to come; the game (which will be released at the same time as the film) will feature three different levels (1. The town of Devonshire (a downtown city map), 2. The Backwoods (a wooded area just outside of the city) and 3. Camp Wormwood (a militia camp based on the old Brookfield AFS radar station in Brookfield, Ohio). After the release, the teams will continue to work on expanding the levels and storyline for a future full feature release.
The game is a First Person Shooter but also will have a twist of Adventure/RPG thrown into the mix. It will offer both a first person shooter and third person shooter camera availability (to choose at the players discretion).
The initial release will feature a decent sized arsenal of weaponry (including pistols, rifles, smgs, shotguns, explosives and riot shields) and decent sized maps; the full feature release plans on expanding the existing arsenal (featuring loads of weapons, explosives and ammunition), offering even larger open world maps (with nearly all of the buildings being open to exploration), drivable vehicles and other (friendly and non-friendly) groups of survivors.
To keep up to date with the project’s development and progress, I do suggest that you check out and like the Facebook page.
For those who wish to make suggestions (concerning game play, options, availability, etc) contact Laythrom Media directly by email.
Closed Caption Information
In a nut shell, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) is requiring Closed Captions (or subtitles) for both television and internet based video for the hearing impaired. You can go onto their website Here to read the entire rules and regulations that they have set forth. I will forewarn you though, it does read like Chinese radio instructions; I mean hey, it’s the government and it’s law, so it’s always fun to try and read this stuff. But basically, like I said before, it’s pretty much a requirement to have CC information attached (in some way) to your video.
What does this mean for the independent filmmaker?
Welcome to a long and annoying process. It’s not really hard to create CC/subtitles, but it does take several hours to complete a .srt (subtitle) file.
Think of it this way, if you have a typed script (that your actors had to stick to) some of your work is already done. But if you have a lot of improv work…you will be typing all of that out verbatim.
Now, there are programs out there to help facilitate this process; an unfortunately, if you have a lot of background noise or accents, you will be doing a majority of it manually.
There are programs out there such as Voxcribe that do offer an “automatic” dialog recognition. But I will say (from personal experience), if you are trying to caption accents with their program, be prepared to have most of it botched. Example, recently I attempted to use Voxcribe to subtitle a video clip that featured English actors, after approximately five minutes of dialog detection, I ended up stopping the process because most of it was wrong.
If you are the type of person who already knows the subtitle format, you can simply write out everything in a notepad .txt format. For those who do not, I suggest something along the lines of AHD Subtitles Maker. The GUI interface of the program is not far off of most video editing software (like Adobe Premiere or FinalCut) and figuring out how to use the program is pretty straight forward.
But can’t you do dialog detection in Premiere?
Technically, yes…well you can try. Most of the clips that I have attempted to perform dialog detection inside of Premiere was a total botch job. I would have actually spent more time correcting the detection than I would writing it manually.
As an independent filmmaker, should I even worry about creating subtitles?
Yes! Like I said at the top of this blog, the FCC is requiring more CC services for video now. And let’s face it from a common sense view point; as an independent filmmaker you are, essentially attempting to please people. People who are hearing impaired will not want to watch something when try don’t understand what is doing on. Even in the early days of silent film, there were caption scenes explaining the concept of what was going on. Imaging trying at watch a movie with no sound at all, I’m pretty sure most people will be lost fairly quickly.
Whether you do it yourself or pay someone to do it, it will eventually have to be done. Even more so if you are doing commercials or shows for TV. It’s better off spending a few days doing it after the final edit, than it is waiting until the last minute to do so. There is also the possibility (no matter how small of a chance) of getting fined by the FCC for not offering CC/Subtitles. And that is not a risk that I (or we) will be taking.
Recently, we were able to demo the very nice Canon EOS C100 with the Canon EF 24-105mm lens and I must say…I definitely like this camera.
For those of you out there that have around $7,000 to drop on a pro camera, this is one that you will want to look at!
The first thing that I will say out right is that you better have a computer that is capable to edit 1080i at 17mbps and you will want a decent sized hard drive. But after other than that, this camera is awesome (and I’m not just saying this because I’m a Canon user).
It has a huge Super 35mm sized CMOS sensor at the heart of it all allowing a good digital equivalence to the Super 35mm film cameras out there.
It features 2 SDHC/SDXC card slots for prolonged filming and has the ability to write to both cards simultaneously for a quick and easy redundancy backup. You get a bit over two hours of recording time out of a 32gb card while filming at 1080i @ 24mbps @ 24 fps (which was what we were using at the time).
Low light was another plus for the camera, boasting the need for only 0.3 lux of light while filming at 59 Hz. Typically we use strategic lighting for nighttime or low light shots but during our testing we didn’t have to insanely worry about lighting like we normally do.
Like other cameras out there, we do like the fact that this camera has dual XLR mic inputs so there is no need for a XLR box (like when using DSLRs). The one thing that we did not like was the LCD screen on the camera. Viewing angles are good but sporting only a 3.5″ screen definitely requires an external HD monitor (which is possible via the uncompressed HDMI output.
If you have the possibility to demo this camera at a camera shop, definitely check it out!
The Laythrom.co site is now up and running; So is the Laythrom Merchandise store! Don’t delay, check it out.
Find out more about our current projects, services that we offer, merchandise, behind the scenes footage and everything else in between.
More an more content always getting uploaded!
A Word on Game Engines
Games…Thousands of people are addicted to them, millions love them and there are hundreds of titles released every year; but what if you are one of those people who are driven to make one? Hopefully, we can shed some light on that very subject.
Commercial or not?
We really suggest that you get ahold of an engine (for non-commercial use) and start learning the program. As always, the question that keeps coming up is “where do I get one and which one do I get”? Everybody has their own opinion, but I will lay this out (in referring to the “active three”) in the most logical sense.
All three of these engines are free for non-commercial use (and I believe) they are available for pc and Mac. Downside is (and keep in mind) you may only be able to produce games for PC or Mac. Typically PS3, 360 and Wii based games require a commercial license.
3d Model Info
Another thing to keep in mind is the sizes and complexity of your models. Large models with a ton of polygons can slow engines down to a crawl. You will have to either perform a reduction, clearEdges, shrink wrapping or (preferably) just create low poly models.
Most of the time, you’ll have to keep in mind, engines will perform their own tessellation on models. So, for example, let’s say that you have a model that has 9,000 polys; you perform a clearEdges function in Maya and manage to drop the poly count down to around 1,000 polys; after taking it into your engine, don’t be surprised if it actually counts upwards of 3,000 polys or more inside the engine.
Graphics and add ons
Although I cannot say a lot about Unreal’s UDK; I have heard a lot about the comparable graphics between UDK and CryEngine. Now I will say as far as Unity 3d, it’s graphics are not the greatest.
CryEngine does have imbedded physics but Apex is a good download to get. So is the Nvidia DDS plugin for Photoshop; CryEngine does use its own Tif plugin that comes with the UDK download.
Although, as far as I know, Apex cannot be directly imported into CryEngine (at this time) and I am not sure about the other easily available engines; but I personally feel that it is a program that should be obtained and experimented with.
For those who are interested in possible (time saving techniques), you can research Autodesk’s 123d Catch which is a ’emulated’ 3d scanner. It basically uses Autodesk’s Cloud to create 3d models based on several (strategically shot) reference photos. Although I wouldn’t suggest using this method in order to substitute ‘hands on’ modeling creation, you can use it for instances that may be beyond certain capabilities (such as accurate (or true to scale) objects such as weapons, contoured pieces or possibly even faces of people). Please keep in mind though, this is definitely not a platform for motion capture, only for model creation.
As far motion capture platforms (or mocap), that will have to be a discussion for another posting since we have yet to dabble in that field.
As far as “non-commercial” output from engines such as CryEngine and Unity; once you have your game finished, you will be looking to output your game to others. I mean that’s the whole point right? With your non-commercial game, in order for others to play them, they would also need to either download the game’s SDK package or plugins. For those out there that wish to output an executable package (just like the games that we buy from the store or online), you have to get into a form of commercial tier. Unity’s output is a bit different because it only requires plugins, but is fairly cheap for their pro engine (about $300). Other engines such as Unreal and CryEngine may have a price tag that looks extremely frightening to the independent artists out there, but there may be a much more enlightening option for those artists in near future.
For example, CryTek is planning on offering a royalty based commercial option for independent artists and micro-companies. This option basically waives the expensive initial purchase price of the engine itself and only charges a 20% royalty fee on every unit sold.
At the time this is being written, I am unsure if the other engines and their respective companies offer a tier or platform such as this.
Game development is a very time consuming and tedious task and you will have to keep this in mind and think about this before seriously attempting to take it on. Although it can be taken on by one person, it is honestly not suggested. Get out there and collaborate with others; come up with an interesting concept and branch from there. You’ll want to keep track of (and notes) on everything…no matter how small it seems. Our new project for example is still in the pre-production phase; we have our script & story line laid out, our “bible” being compiled and some of our assets being created. Just a small chunk out of the long road ahead.