When it comes to independent audio and video productions, the internet can resemble a vast desert littered with the bleaching bones of projects that never got past the planning stages, blew up during production or were abandoned when the realities of post-production overwhelmed the teams of volunteers who just wanted to put on a show. Others finally surface after years of slow, but steady work. Such is the case with “Astronuts”. Ignoring, or perhaps unaware of the old theater adage that “dying is easy…comedy is hard”, Greg Tyler wanted to make what he calls a “silly space opera”. The resulting 20 minute video is a tongue-in-cheek love letter to the sci-fi genre that starts with the ship being captured by a giant hand that will surely be instantly recognized by any fan of the original Star Trek series.
Greg Tyler was 24 years old when he and a group of friends in Cincinnati, Ohio came up with a script portraying a motley crew of interstellar “heroes” for hire and began shooting in his apartment’s living room set up as a crude “chroma key” background that would allow him to use a computer to “paint” in backgrounds such as monitors and instrument panels. Tyler and company used a Sony Digital 8 camcorder for filming. As far as the visual effects are concerned, Tyler tells Examiner it was computer technology that made the final product possible, while his lack of experience almost made the project impossible. “The biggest problem was my lack of bluescreen know-how and my lack of willingness to experiment and refine our lighting setup. The bluescreen was just chroma-ish blue wool gabardine stapled across a large frame constructed of 1″x4″ wood. The wood frame was positioned and leaned against one wall of the living room, and the camcorder was positioned as close as possible to the opposite wall, so that we could shoot full-length shots of the actors.”
Tyler quickly found out that the end of shooting is only the beginning of a producer’s headaches. He freely admits that lack of funding for proper chroma key software and a severe case of what he calls “post production” burnout were behind the 10 year production schedule. He offers this hard-won advice for anyone who’s thinking of taking the plunge: “I’d advise an aspiring moviemaker who wants to make a visual effects-filled movie to experiment first with the kinds of effects that he or she plans to use. With some trial and error prior to the production phase of your movie, you can save yourself months, if not years of post-production agony.”
Click on the video link accompanying this story and judge for yourself if “Astronuts” was worth the wait. Be sure to leave a comment after you watch it.
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