Final Audio Mix: An Interview with Ben Zarai

“There were many people involved in the sound work for Beyond the Mask. We had sound designer Nathan Ashton, composer Jurgen Beck, and their teams,” says director Chad Burns. “But on a project, there’s usually one person who has what is called the ‘golden ears.’ And that person is the last one to listen to the audio and put all the pieces together. It’s an incredibly important job.”

Allow me to introduce Ben Zarai, Beyond the Mask’s “golden eared” sound mixer. I had the privilege of interviewing Ben about his time working on Beyond the Mask. Ben is an LA based audio expert who knows his field well, having worked on audio in over two hundred films. Chad, Aaron, and Nathan Ashton had the opportunity to work with Ben on the film’s final audio mix. As Chad commented, “Ben is really a power mixer. He didn’t just do the work of a final mixer. He did the work of a music mixer, a sound effects mixer, and then a final mixer as well. Ben’s impact on the movie was a night and day difference.”

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Director Chad Burns in the studio with audio mixer Ben Zarai

All of the pieces have already been recorded and created by the time the film reaches the mixer, but at that point, Ben arranges each of them so that they sound good relative to each other. As Ben says, “My job is to take all of the sounds plus all the music and blend them together so that everybody can understand the dialogue; the sound effects are what they need to be – big and dynamic or soft and subdued – everything that needs to happen to make it sound like a movie.”

In the studio, Ben worked alongside Chad, Aaron, and Nathan to create the final mix. Working as a team, they went through the film, moment by moment, adjusting each individual sound to reach the perfect combination. In the mixing process, Ben converted the audio from stereo to surround sound as well as adjusting several elements on each sound. “We have all the different sounds on a computer, and we turn them up and down and modify them so that they sound a little bit thicker or thinner or add more treble or bass to each sound, just to get everything to fit together as well as it can.” There are many aspects to every sound, but Ben’s main adjustment is the relative volume of each sound. “That is probably number one. How loud the music is, even how loud maybe the strings are versus the horns, compared to the dialogue.” But knowing which layer to increase or decrease gets complicated quickly, and that’s where the discerning ears of an experienced mixer are needed. “Maybe the scene is on a ship,” Ben offered me an example. “And you’ve got the creaking of the ship as a sound and you’ve got the crashing of the waves. You’ve got the boots on the wood deck as people are walking around and the swords clanking in their belts. So many sounds are happening at once, and you have to decide what is important for telling the story. You want it to sound big and full and rich, but you also want it to be clear so that the dialogue isn’t buried by the wind.”

The most difficult yet rewarding sound work in Beyond the Mask comes at the end of the film. “The most challenging part was the big finale,” Ben says. “Everything goes crazy, and stuff is blowing up and there are sword fights while there are explosions while there’s dialogue. It’s pretty intense. We had to get all of that to fit together so that you can hear what’s going on, but also make it exciting and cinematic and as entertaining as possible. That came out really well. We are all very happy with it.”

At the close of the interview, I asked Ben what he thought of Beyond the Mask as a film. “This is sort of like a critique of the movie,” Ben said. “Wow, that’s hard, because there are so many really strong elements in Beyond the Mask. The story’s strong. The acting’s great. The cinematography’s terrific. Of course the sound is good,” Ben added with a laugh. “I would say the story is probably the strongest element. It’s a very classic story, but it’s told in a fresh way that doesn’t feel tired or contrived. It’s a story of redemption. It’s a hero’s journey with universal themes of love, honor and integrity. With a great plot line, and great action sequences… It’s a winner. ”

Color Grading: An Interview with Sr. Colorist Keith Roush of Roush Media

One of the key players in putting the finishing touches on Beyond the Mask was senior colorist Keith Roush. A few weeks ago, Aaron and Chad flew out to LA to work at Keith’s studio, Roush Media, on the color grading process. It was fun talking to Aaron, Chad, and Keith about their time working together and getting a chance to understand what it was like developing the movie’s final, defining look.

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The color in the final edit looks stunning. Here Beyond the Mask’s heroine Charlotte Holloway enters a Philadelphia shop.

Because color grading is an aspect of filmmaking that gets little attention, I’ll let Keith introduce you to the process.  “We refer to our job as color grading. We don’t like to use the term color correction, because that title denotes that you are correcting for an error, so the DP (director of photography) doesn’t like that. What we do is color balancing, color enhancement, and look development. It’s really about setting the mood with warm, happy tones or dark, edgy tones to give the audience visual cues. We are shaping the lighting to enhance the drama of what’s going on in the scene.”

Chad and Aaron were excited about the opportunity to work with Keith. “Keith has a good eye for color,” Chad says. “One of the things that he did really well was understanding how much work to do in each particular scene. It can be easy to get lost in the weeds, twiddling the knobs, and do too much detail work in one particular spot, making the film look patchy. But Keith did a lot of great work keeping it uniform, and he didn’t push any of the details too far.” He has an impressive resume, and as a believer, he has a heart for faith-based films. Some of Roush Media’s most recent projects include the titles God’s Not Dead and Mom’s Night Out.

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Roush Media’s equipment is state of the art.

In contrast to some of the more traditional, modern films, however, the job of color grading for Beyond the Mask was a bit more difficult. The details that make an action adventure film exciting, like night scenes, explosions, firelight, and VFX sequences take a lot of skill to properly balance the color. Keith agreed that these elements were challenging, but added that “They can be fun at the same time, especially the visual effects, because we are often doing twenty layers of the various controls on every part of the frame on those shots in order to really shape the lighting and make it as realistic as possible. In the scene with the explosion in the forest, we’re doing a number of color tricks in order to bring out the warm, red fire and have that color contrast against the cold blue moonlit woods. But those are the very beautiful, strongly lit, creatively colored scenes in Beyond the Mask that give the imagery depth and make it stunning to look at.”

One of Keith’s favorite sequences in the film is Will’s dream. Keith elaborates, “Chad and Aaron allowed me to be creative and push the bounds of what was possible with this scene. We created a very stylized look where we’re heavily washed in blue. Then we isolated the red and warm tones to make them pop, which created a unique and beautiful color contrast. It’s a monochromatic blue with very warm tones laid on top of it in a very stark, gloomy way. Then we also blurred the highlights, making it very soft and almost ethereal. It gives you a sense that this is in the mind’s eye. That’s an example of how colors really set the tone for what you’re looking at.”

In discussing their time working together on the color grade, Keith, Chad, and Aaron all commented on the moment they saw the film on the theater screen for the first time. The experience had an impact that they were not expecting. Chad says, “We had been working on this film for almost three years, but had never seen it on a big screen. The details, the acting, the visual effects – everything read better than it had on a smaller screen, and there was something quite charming about seeing the movie on the big screen.” Seeing their work in the theater, with the images of Beyond the Mask finally looking their best was a fitting finale to the process. Keith concurs, about the experience, “When I first watched Beyond the Mask on the little screen on my iPad, I was completely blown away by what they accomplished, so I knew that once we took that to the big screen, and started to do what we do best with the image and color, it was going to look like a Blockbuster, which it ultimately did.”

Beyond the Mask is Finished!

After three years of work, the Beyond the Mask team is excited to announce that the movie is finished. “We are so grateful for the Lord’s blessing on this journey,” says Aaron. “He has been faithful to give us the grace to accomplish what He called us to do. And we couldn’t be more excited about the film we have to release to you.”

The final artistic touches such as the color grade and audio mix were completed in cinema studios out in California, with Aaron and Chad on site. But you will get a chance to glance over their shoulders at their work in several upcoming blog posts. I will be doing interviews with a few more of the artists who have brought the project to such a strong finish.

Please keep Aaron and Chad in your prayers as they continue traveling to meet with distributors.

Visual Effects: An Interview with Chris Arnold

Get ready to be blown away. I definitely was when Aaron took me on a VIP tour. Tour of what? The Beyond the Mask classified visual effects archive room. “We built some awesome sets for the film. Now we’re just making them awesomer,” Aaron told me. He didn’t notice that I had sneaked my smart phone into the room and I snapped a few photos to show you.

Ok, so we weren’t in an archive room; what he showed me was all on his laptop . . . but it was incredible! But let me tell you about it so you can be as excited as I am.  And I do have some top secret pictures to share. Don’t ask me how I got them. . .

The highwayman rides into Philadelphia.

The highwayman rides into Philadelphia.

After I had seen what the visual effects team is creating, it was time to do some investigating. So, I decided to talk to one of the expert artists on the team to find out just how this all works.

Meet Chris Arnold. He’s the lead 3D artist on the Beyond the Mask visual effects team. I was planning to set up a telephone interview with Chris, but switched my plans to involve Skype when I realized that it would be an international call. Chris lives in Ontario, Canada, and is a skilled artist in his field. Chris describes his job this way. “A 3D artist’s role can vary from modeling and texturing, to lighting and rendering digitally created objects and scenes. My role with a lot of the visual effects shots is to create 3D buildings used for the digital set extensions.”

Chris works on the prison ship sequence.

Chris works on the prison ship sequence.

Beyond the Mask will employ visual effects to enhance its story, as most films do today, but I wanted to know what the scale of this project was. How many visual effects shots are there in the film? I asked Chris. “I know that we have over seven hundred visual effects shots in the film, but you should talk to Luke, he could get you the exact numbers,” Chris says. Luke is the Visual Effects Coordinator and has been working out of the Beyond the Mask postproduction command central near St. Louis since August. So, I contacted Luke to find out just how large this project was. “We have 741 VFX shots currently, which totals around 65,000 frames of visual effects.  This equals approximately 50.1 minutes of play time on screen.  We have 27 artists on our internal team and are outsourcing some larger sequences to two other VFX post houses as well.” Obviously Luke likes numbers, and as his statistics might show, he is a bit of a computer whiz. Wow. The team is definitely taking this film up another level in excellence.  That’s more visual effects shots than there were in the film Inception!

There are several sequences that Chris is directly involved with. “We have the rooftop chase sequence. We have the prison ship sequence and quite a few others,” Chris says. “We can make it feel much bigger and epic and photo real. For the rooftop chase, we have created over fifteen different 3D models for actual buildings of the time period that are then placed in the scene to create these massive city shots so that we can render them out and populate this 18th century Philadelphia world.”

I got to preview the rooftop chase sequence, so I followed up on it to see how the visual effects add to this one piece of the film.  This scene is set in colonial Philadelphia. The crew built dozens of physical sets for the film, including an entire Philadelphia street. They also filmed at a number of the existing historic locations, but clearly the colonial city of Philadelphia doesn’t exist anymore. That’s where the visual effects guys come in. Researching historical aspects of colonial architecture and city design, they have been able to rebuild a very accurate city using CGI. The layout of the city is based on historic maps of the city, allowing the Delaware River, Independence Hall, Windmill Island, and other locations throughout the city to be just where they were in Franklin’s day.

This is one of the historical Philadelphia maps that the team referenced. You can see Windmill Island’s location in the Delaware River.

This is one of the historical Philadelphia maps that the team referenced. You can see Windmill Island’s location in the Delaware River.

Once the research is complete, there are three main roles in the actual visual effects creation process. “The majority of guys working on this are compositors,” Chris explains. “They do the effects which you don’t notice at the end of the day, but they need to happen to make the film seamless and to avoid drawing the viewer away from the story.”

Next there are the 3D artists like Chris who do the modeling, whether they are extending the existing buildings that were shot on set or creating new structures to add to the background. Here’s how he explains the modeling process. “In 3D you start out with nothing, and you have to create everything that you see. Essentially everything in 3D is made up of three elements. You have polygons, vertexes (which are points), and the lines which connect the points. Modeling is getting a digital world created in this very geometric way. When you start modeling, it doesn’t look like much. But after you add in the texturing and materials, and light the scene in very much the same way you would a real life set,  you can create virtual objects and scenes that mimic reality quite well.”

Once Chris and his team have created the structures in 3D, the matte painters take it from there. “I do some basic texturing to point the matte painters in the right direction,” Chris says. “I add brick textures, shingles, windows, glass and all that, but in 3D it’s really hard to make things photo realistic. The matte painters paint on top of the 3D renders, and they paint in all the little detail like grime and grunge and add some lighting detail to make the light shimmer off the building roofs and all the little final touches which make it look photo realistic.”

The team has really achieved an incredible combination of history, digital science, and art, to tell a great story. I’m eager to see the final results of this project, and so is Chris. “I’m super excited,” he told me. “I think there’s some really big, epic shots that they’ve worked into the script. It’s obviously a massive challenge to achieve, but it’s going to be pretty amazing to see.”

Film Scoring: An Interview with Jurgen Beck

Jurgen digitally sketches a cue in his studio.

Jurgen digitally sketches a cue in his studio.

“I don’t create music, I create emotions,” explains Beyond the Mask’s composer Jurgen Beck. “The music partners up with the story and the visuals and cinematography to achieve that.”

This week, I had the privilege of interviewing Jurgen to find out more about the work he’s doing for Beyond the Mask.  He is a gifted musician, and became involved in producing music early in life. Having grown up in Germany, his gentle accent has been softened by the years he has lived in Texas. I noticed his accent most when he pronounced the names of some of his favorite German composers, such as Johann Bach, Ludwig Beethoven, or Hans Zimmer. Americans definitely don’t say those names correctly! Jurgen offers a quick smile, an easy laugh, and is eager to share about his passion with music.

Jurgen loves music, but one of the aspects that most excites him is the ability to tell a story with his composing. Like every great storyteller, Jurgen seeks to create an emotional arc for his audience. The difference is that he uses instruments, not words. “In general, music needs to really partner up with the overall storytelling, and in some ways, tell the story from a different perspective – adding some additional depth to what is on the screen,” he tells.

Because the music primarily plays in the background of a movie, as viewers, we may not even fully realize how the music affects us. But if you wonder about its impact, just try muting a video. “Watching a film without sound leaves a lot to be desired,” says Jurgen. But “as soon as the music and the sound is back in, you really get the full impact of how the story is being told in the film.”

Music adds great depth to the storytelling process of a film. Jurgen compares a soundtrack to the narration in a novel: “If you take a movie that was based on a book and you compare the book with what’s actually ending up in the film, you’ll see that the book is much more explicit. There’s more time to really go into what the characters are thinking about. In a film, music takes some of those qualities, from an emotional perspective, and adds them to what is actually on the screen. For Beyond the Mask, what that means is, music has the opportunity to tell some of the back story. . . some of the emotions that the characters might feel.”

You might be surprised how much back story the soundtrack is going to hold. One big element is the historical setting of Beyond the Mask. The music is an important piece of the 18th Century world that the team is creating for Will Reynolds and his contemporaries to live in. “It’s not a modern film. It’s not one of those films that you can so easily get away with by just creating some drone music that we hear so often, but you really have to get into this a little deeper.” But how does Jurgen bring the audience into the Colonial era with his music? The first step for Jurgen is, as he puts it, doing his “homework.” He dove into Colonial era music, looking to discover clues about musical phrasing, types of instruments that were available, and other details. He then uses this research to create a sound that transports the listener into the time period.

“You can’t load up the score with a bunch of synthesizers, like what you would hear in a modern day action film,” he explains. “So it adds to the challenge.” The instruments had to be carefully chosen to represent history. The careful listener will be able to pick out historical instruments such as the penny whistle, autoharp, zither, field drums, and others, adding a layer of texture and realism to the score. It’s fun to think that as an audience, we will be able to hear elements from the 18th Century world interwoven into a cinematic, epic score.

Location is another part of the story that Jurgen gets to tell. “Without giving away too much of the film of course, we do have a fairly wide span of locations that all require a little bit of a different take on music,” he says.  As the plot crosses oceans, from the American Colonies to Mother England, to India and back, the musical themes reflect the changes of scenery and culture. “We do have the East India Company as a prominent off-screen character, if you will. We’re telling the story of both Kemp and Will in their own dealings with the East India Company,” he says. “So quite naturally, we introduce instruments that are authentic to that location to convey the feeling that, yes, now we’re in India.”

The final story element in the score is that this is an epic tale, and that means music that makes a big sound. “Very early on, we decided that we would allow the music in the film, the musical signature, to be very, very large. We’re looking at an expanse – story wise – with a range of styles, dates, and locations that allows for that.  It provides that perfect platform for that very large cinematic, symphonic sound. That’s just a great challenge, and I tremendously enjoy that.”

As the conversation came to a close, I asked Jurgen if he had a message for the audience. “To the fans I would say, hold onto your seats. Once the film is out you’ve absolutely got to go see it!” I know I’m looking forward to hearing the score and listening for those sounds, feeling the emotions that he masterfully weaves through the film with his music.

After our interview, Jurgen emailed me, asking whether I had been able to listen to much of his score for the film yet. I had heard a few clips, but not a lot. “I don’t think Aaron and Chad will mind me passing this on to you,” he wrote in his email, attaching some music. He added with a smile, “If they do, then quickly delete it :-)” Not many people have gotten a sneak peak at the music yet, but I’m going to share a clip of the East India Company’s theme below. Enjoy. . . and don’t tell!

Audio Design: An Interview with Nathan Ashton

This is the first of three in-depth blog posts written by Behind The Scenes photographer & writer Shannon Burns. She’ll be sharing interviews from our composer Jurgen Beck, our lead 3D artist Chris Arnold, and Nathan Ashton, our audio postproduction supervisor. Stay tuned! 

The movie set bustles with activity, and just before the actors begin the scene, the assistant director calls out, “Camera speed . . . Sound speed . . . Action!”  The guy with a fuzzy hotdog-shaped microphone on a super long stick carefully holds it as close to the actors as he can without interrupting the cameraman’s shot. Yep – he’s the boom operator. And that is the picture that usually comes to my mind when someone talks about the non-musical sounds in a film. Those sounds are all recorded by the boom mic on set, right? Well, actually, that’s only the first step. The real process of film sound design is far less simple and much more fascinating than that. So what exactly does go into bringing those massive theatre speakers to life?

For Beyond the Mask, much of the sound design begins with a certain masterful artist, or maybe we could call him a “sound scientist” in Cleveland, Tennessee. Nathan Ashton is the project’s sound designer and audio postproduction supervisor. He defines his role as “working with Chad and Aaron to come up with the overall sound feel for the movie – to design the soundscape.” He’s the boss when it comes to all things sound, and it’s to his desk that all of the various elements from other sound artists eventually return.

Nathan is a really creative guy and conversations with him about audio are never dull. As Nathan outlined for me, there are three main non-musical elements to a movie’s soundscape. The first piece takes us back to that boom operator we left standing on set. He records all of the actors’ lines. His job is critical, because the dialogue has to be clearly understood.

Nathan doing a dialogue cleaning pass in his studio.

Nathan doing a dialogue cleaning pass in his studio.

When it comes time for postproduction audio work, it starts with what was captured on set. But the location audio is never perfect, especially on a historical film. “Period pieces can be tricky, because you have to be aware of the extra noises that we would ignore if it was a contemporary piece,” Nathan explains. “In this case, we can’t have any traffic. There are no cars.  There are no airplanes. There aren’t even any trains in this particular movie. So I have to be brutal with listening to what was recorded, because if a semi-truck rolled by the set, you simply cannot use it.”

The dialogue editor will hunt for usable audio from other takes, but there are always lines that are simply missing from the film. The solution is call ADR, which stands for automated dialogue replacement, but as Nathan says with a chuckle, “There’s nothing automated about it! You bring the actor in, and they parrot the lines. They can see their performance, and they have to speak in exactly the same time as what was said. You can change some inflection or emphasis, but the timing has to be the same.”

Most of the ADR was done in Michigan, with the exception of John Rhys-Davies who recorded his audio in London’s Soundhouse Studios. Nathan really enjoyed working with Rhys-Davies’s lines. “One of the highlights for me was pushing play on my computer and having John Rhys-Davies talk to me. That was just cool.”

The next piece of the audio mix is Walla. This refers to all of the voice sounds that are needed to fill out and populate a scene. “That is where you get a group of actors together to fill in all of the background stuff. If somebody’s lips move in the scene, you need to hear it, so the Walla group fills in the background voice elements. We found a group out at Oracle Post in California that was absolutely phenomenal.” The actors watch the scene and add the appropriate crowd noises, shouts, yells, laughter, conversation, and more, convincing the film’s audience that they are onboard a British ship, inside the King and Crown pub, thrown in the midst of a rioting mob, or in attendance at a high society ball.

As it turns out, one of the Walla members was voice actress Katie Leigh who plays Adventures in Odyssey character Connie Kendall. You’ll have to see if you can hear her familiar voice in the film.

After the ADR, the sound effects come next. Some of the basic effects can be cut from a library database and synced with the picture, but all of the remaining sounds must be created with Foley, which Nathan defines as “the art of moving props in time to the picture.” Foley creates the sounds like rustling clothing, hand pats, and handling of weapons. Although it might sound complicated, and it definitely requires a practiced skill, it’s often faster to create an effect with Foley than to try to match up a pre-recorded sound.

Welcome to the Foley room. The box of rocks in the foreground is used for recording footsteps on gravel.

Welcome to the Foley room. The box of rocks in the foreground is used for recording footsteps on gravel.

Nathan did the Foley recording in his studio, and some of the things that he used for the effects came as a surprise to me. Can you guess what makes the clip-clop of horses’ hooves? That would be Nathan alternately banging coconut halves together and beating them into a pile of dirt. Grass rustling? A ball of cassette tape.  Now this one I found very interesting. What makes Charles Kemp sound like an untrustworthy character? “We wanted to give Charles Kemp a bit of a duplicitous nature, so we used a leather coat wrapped in a sheet. As he moves everywhere, he creaks just a little bit. He can be wearing really fine looking clothing on the outside, but every time he moves around you hear this really old leather jacket, and it sounds great!

The colonial musket sound effects were actually recorded artillery shells, since to Nathan, the actual sound of the replica muskets didn’t convey the deadly impact that they needed. “We tried recording some muskets, and weren’t very pleased with the result. They sounded like you lit a Chinese firecracker and threw it on the road. What we did find, though, was that a big part of making the gunshot sound good is the reflection of the shot. So we tried to give a little bit of space after the shot to get not just the gunshot but the bullet impact flyby and the roll around off of the hills to make it sound big.”

This is a screen capture from Nathan's Protools project session. Along the left you can see the following color codes: blue is sound effects; purple is fighting sounds; blue-grey if for doors; green is for footsteps; olive for clothing; and rust for ambiances. Dialog (red) and music (teal) won't even fit on the screen.

This is a screen capture from Nathan’s Protools project session. Along the left you can see the following color codes: blue is sound effects; purple is fighting sounds; blue-grey if for doors; green is for footsteps; olive for clothing; and rust for ambiances. Dialog (red) and music (teal) won’t even fit on the screen.

This one aspect of Beyond the Mask has been a huge effort, and the numbers are there to prove it. “We are looking at 23,697 audio files without music and 172 active tracks,” Nathan says. But impressive as the figures are, it’s the emotional impact on the audience that will be the final judge of the sound design’s quality, and this team has every reason to be proud of their work. Much of the sound design will be transparent, yet powerfully carry the film viewers through the story. “What I do is support the emotions and the story that Chad and Aaron and the whole team have been working on for years. We want it to sound like an adventure that spans two continents with a backstory on a third. This film is the untold story of the events surrounding the signing of the Declaration of Independence. I need to make it sound big enough to be worthy of that kind of a story, yet keep a soft and warm feeling around the character of Charlotte and her budding love for a man who doesn’t deserve it.”

Perhaps the most intricate and powerful sound work comes in at the movie’s conclusion, in Kemp’s electrostatic generator chamber. Using sound design, the team made the chamber room itself into a living character. “It breathes, and it reacts to the things going on around it, and then eventually it dies,” says Nathan. “And to try to give the chamber a personality of its own and drive its emotional energy through the electricity was fun and quite a bit of work! I’m really looking forward to seeing how the audience reacts and seeing if they figure it out.”

Announcing: Composer for Beyond the Mask

Jurgen Beck, composer

Jurgen Beck, composer

Award-winning composer Jurgen Beck was born in Germany in 1962, and began his musical journey early in life. His passion for music grew though training on the trumpet (Fluegelhorn), guitar, piano, and bass.

Growing up a country know for its legendary composers, Jurgen’s love for music found further expression though writing songs and lyrics for his band, which eventually resulted in a recording contract and concert tours. When Jurgen moved to Dallas, Texas in 1987 to continue his music studies at a Christian college, he began producing music for independent artists, developing his skills in music arrangement, recording, mixing, and mastering.

In 2008, Jurgen’s love for film music resulted in a natural transition from writing and producing music to writing for film. To prepare him for the unique challenges of film scoring, Jurgen studied composition and orchestration with internationally renowned composers Leon Willett and Stephen Hill. Since then, he has composed the score for over a dozen documentaries, TV episodes, shorts, and feature films.

Jurgen, his wife Shawn, their daughter Arianna, and their dogs, Molly and Gracie, reside in the city of Midlothian in northern Texas. Please join us in welcoming them to the Beyond the Mask team! You can check out some of Jurgen’s earlier work on iTunes.

Summer Pick-up shoot

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Postproduction is rolling along well for Beyond the Mask. As we work toward the final draft of the edit, our team took a “break” for a pickup shoot here in Michigan. It was wonderful to have a portion of the production cast and crew back out. We were blessed with a great team unity, great weather, and ultimately, great footage! We’ll have some more exciting news for you soon, with updates on the music, audio, visual-effects, and editing fronts.

 

In the meantime, here are a few still photos/screen captures from production that you might enjoy:

Highwayman-Ring
Spark

Carriage

First Draft of Edit Complete

Still-Frame-Will

“Double-crossed and on the run, an assassin for the British East India Company seeks to redeem his past…”

Three years ago, Beyond the Mask was simply an idea. Now, after countless drafts of story outlines, treatments and scripts, months of development and preproduction planning, 54 grueling days (and nights!) of shooting, and four months of assembly editing…the semblance of a Christ-centered period action movie has begun to emerge.

Last week, members of the BTM creative team met at Postproduction Headquarters (Southern IL) to review the first rough-cut of the film. While thousands of hours of work still remain, we are very encouraged by the progress to date. Even at this early stage, we are especially excited about the performances of the leading and supporting cast.

On Thursday afternoon, we reviewed the edit with Stephen Kendrick (producer of Fireproof & Courageous). As we watched and discussed each sequence, Stephen shared ideas for trimming or stretching each scene to insure the audience can engage with the story threads as they converge towards the film’s climax.

Here are few still shots from the edit:

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We are so grateful for how the Lord has moved and provided for this film production, in many cases through the encouragement and support of you guys! Please continue to remember the team in prayer as we press forward with the edit, and continue making plans for pick-up shooting, soundtrack, visual effects, and the release. Also, pray that the story would powerfully impact a generation of young people with the hope of finding identity in Christ. Stay tuned!

New Year’s Update

With principle photography behind us, you might have been wondering what the BTM team has been up to. Other than catching up on a little reading and sleeping over the Christmas holiday (along with a hotly contested game of Axis & Allies), we’ve been working to wrap out the sets and locations used during the filming, and preparing for the next major phase of the project: postproduction.

“Postproduction” is the process of taking the footage that was shot (in our case, over 17 terabytes of data!), and turning the raw images into a final film. The first and perhaps most important step is the editing. We currently have three editing systems in operation, each with their own copy of the footage. We estimate the editing will last into the early summer of this year. Once we have completed a locked edit, we can release the film to the music, visual effects, and audio teams who can work simultaneously toward completion of the project.

As we are diving into the editing, we are reminded again of how God directed and provided in ways we could never have expected through every detail of the project. We were blessed and honored to work with an unbelievably talented and dedicated cast and crew.  We couldn’t be more pleased with the footage that was captured.

In the coming months, we plan to post weekly or bi-weekly updates to keep you in the loop with how things are progressing. We would appreciate your prayers for guidance, protection, and provision as we face the significant challenges represented in the final half of the project. We are excited to see where the Lord leads next in this journey, as we seek to point a generation of young people to hope in Christ through this action/adventure film.