"Dragonball: Reawakening"; My in-development Live Action FanFilm!

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When I was a kid, I always had big ideas that I could never manage. I came up with the most ambitious pipe dreams as a kid, things that either never happened or happened on a cutesy, miniature scale that my friends helped with. During the early teenage years I decided to try to make a movie of a cartoon show, that required me casting a lot of roles. Back then, I was no good with the computer, didn't understand the concept of editing or post production work, and didn't have the necessary body count to do all the characters required for it. Not to mention anywhere I wanted to shoot had to be a place my mother could take us. Not to mention it was to be filmed on a crappy camcorder which recorded onto miniature VHS tapes, and I had no way of editing those to begin with. But when I finally dropped the whole thing, my understanding of the failure was that nobody I needed to act for me was ever available at the same time, and that directing people to do what I wanted was almost impossible.

Now of course, that's to be expected, as we were pubescent teens, barely into the double digits in years and half of us were bouncing off walls, while I stupidly believed they could even remain on screen long enough to be caught on film. But the lesson I learned from it was, "if you want something done, you do it yourself". Years later, this reasoning is what made me believe I could film an entire CG movie, SIX entire CG movies in point of fact, all by my lonesome. It was this attempt which forged my love for 3D animation, which remains strong to this day. After all, in a computer environment, you give the "actors" orders, and they follow them, they don't muck about, they don't need coaching. Why? Because you took them by the hand so that everything was the way you wanted it.

This project also failed. I realized it was too grandiose for one man to undertake, and the payoff was too small even if I did it.

So I've always been looking for that one, that point where I could whip something together where my skill level could manage it, and where it wasn't too long winded.

I've had a few micro-successes. My first CGI bust was an attempt to wind everything together into a non-canon short that basically tested whether it could fit together. This one was pretty much my first attempt at character animation, as well as tying effects into a sequence instead of a short, generic test. Remembering back to how proud I was of it makes me laugh. There was so much I didn't know, so much I'd yet to learn, but I thought I was the Moon and the Stars.

[ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEG4MlapU84&fmt=18[/ame]

My second try at something big took me six months, including all my own procrastination, naturally. It was a new project, one I'm afraid I'll be dropping. Not because it's beyond my ability, but because the team I had assembled before is quite fractured now, time and life eroding my links to great voice talent and enthusiastic followers. I could do it alone, but until I can get help, it doesn't seem worth it anymore.

[ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WC_NwOM12Wo&fmt=18[/ame]

I'm still proud of this, even though there are a number of errors, and a couple bits of half-assery. One point might have been *****in' if I'd not been too lazy to do the extra camera work, but it was meant to be a demonstration as well as a birthday gift to a friend, and it had taken too long, even as imperfect as it was. This was also back when I still bothered with the Biped system for characters, before I learned how to use IK, and thus, dropped the biped system off a cliff for all the hassles it gave me.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I digress though, and quite a damn lot. Point is, I'm feeling in my bones that what I'm planning now, is my big hurrah, the production I've always wanted to make, but never could before. After so long in the making, I've finally decided to go back to Live Action, and back to my anime muse Dragonball.

But this time, I have the knowhow, I have the resources. Only recently I've purchased a Kogan HD 1080 camcorder, a modest, but viable device that will suit my shooting needs, able to shoot in 1080p, though I'll keep it at 720 so I can utilize the better motion, the higher 60fps frame rate, the digital image stabilization, etc. My next paycheck will buy a tripod and greenscreen.

But aside from the technical mumbo-jumbo, what the bleeding Hell am I talking about, right?

Well, Dragonball Evolution was a film of inspiration, and a film of utter disappointment. There were things I loved. I loved the ki effects, the music... There were things I hated. Pretty much everything else...

Always, people pointed to the "Youtube fan films that did it better". Always, I'd see them point to this:

[ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KTHAy9L24g&fmt=18[/ame]

Well, it certainly was interesting, but I'd like to point out, having seen the whole thing rather than only this infamous DBZ segment, that the film it was a part of was neither totally DBZ, and neither was it very serious. It was actually a comedy/parody, and it was still pretty cheesy.

One trend I noticed was there were no true fan films for DBZ. They were always mindless fights. The characters were either bad attempts to cast the characters of Dragonball, or else original characters that had no backstory, yet had all of Vegeta and Goku's special moves. Never was there a plot, usually there was no dialogue. When there was, it was recorded on the spot, and not redubbed by the actors afterward for audio clarity. Then there was scenery. Most of these fights took place in backyards and residential areas, parks or other spaces totally implausible to be believed as the site of a Dragonball scale battleground.

And always, they were recorded in resolution and quality that was a right ass. No camera tracking, pitiful green screen attempted with badly animated keyed-out picture-in-picture footage against a blank background. Almost always the effects were done using After Effects, and it was almost always the same two aura and Kamehameha effects that everyone and their dog uses for this ****. And naturally, no use of on-set lights to help with things like, I don't know, producing a flash from an energy blast explosion, which MASSIVELY aids in creating the illusion that the explosion is part of the footage and not just tacked on top of the footage. And then of course, there's either be no music, or that same tired old battle theme used from the Japanese version of DBZ.

Also, if a character was required to shout an attack name or yell to power up, the actors themselves wouldn't make any sound at all, it would always be the same audio clips ripped out of the Japanese dub, with Goku yowling like a cat ("Hlaaaaaaaaaaa!"). Come on people, really, you're brave enough to act all this out, but you're too insecure to yell for the camera? It's really not that difficult.

And of course, they ALWAYS use the sound effects from DBZ. Now, it's good for a CGI piece, or a game or Flash animation, but those sound effects used in live action don't work, they sound blurry and fake, same goes for how hard they try to do a ridiculous costume, or exactly recreate the visual look of the Dragonball Ki, which is massively simplified, and thus looks like laser beams, while the Dragonball Evolution effects are more fractal, and feel a lot more like "spiritual energy".

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


So, sensing this gap, I've decided I want to fill it. I've heard people suggest such an idea before, but I wasn't ready then. I knew nothing about bringing CGI into live action, or editing footage to make people fly, or do battle at absurd rates of speed and power. But now, I'd like to try. And so, I begin "Dragonball: Reawakening".

It will be my attempt at a multi-part fanfilm. I've been writing a script for it based around original characters in the DB Universe nearly 100 years after the end of Dragonball Z. These characters are the Saiyan descendants, who will only realize their potential through trials of self-discovery, as they unlock the secrets of their heritage. One will opt to use his power to control the world, while the other will have to keep up in order to stop him. Of course, there are a number of plot details. The protagonist for one thing, doesn't realize he has Saiyan blood until the antagonist tracks him down and destroys his city in an attempt to eliminate anyone who could threaten him. Our protagonist survives the attempt, unknown by the villain, and being the owner of the Four-Star Dragonball (passed down to him, though he never thought it was much more than a fancy bit of glass art before) decides to see if the Dragonballs really DO have the power to set things right, as he feels responsible for his town's destruction, being the sole reason that the antagonist came there, and is willing to go out on a limb if it means clearing his conscience.

I've done some research on the workings of some of DBE's effects and have worked out that merely having a very reflective like-colored sphere as a prop is all you need to bring a Dragonball to life. I'm currently in the process of making a set of such spheres to be used as the base props.

The Dragonballs:



The Dragonballs inserted into a photograph with props meeting the necessary requirements.



I've also done simple tests to recreate the Ki/aura effects used in DBE. This aura took up too much space, but it's a Hell of a good start, and deeply resembles the smoky, fiery and fluid appearance of DBE's ki effects. It's not very immersive, because the footage was taken with the video mode of a cheap camera (NOT camcorder). The HD camcorder will provide much better results.




I have several of my friends intended to act as characters built around themselves for this film. We have several locations to be used throughout, but we've chosen to make the drive out to Joshua Tree National Park in order to film the final battle of the film in a combination of "Jumbo Rocks", and "Painted Canyon", both areas within reach with exceptional and interesting terrain that would visually click for a truly Dragonball style environment.

I hope to keep anyone interested updated, but I hope this ultra-long post gets my full point across X]
 
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I've only read the last part of your post (the one below the last pic) and I'm looking forward to it.
 
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Good luck. Make sure it has some funny parts!
 
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I remember when that DBZ live Action Fan Movie was made. It was pretty good. It came out about 2 years ago but the wait was worth it.
 
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Well, I finally got a hold of an SD card so I could do test recordings with my HD camcorder. My first tests with it were done inside my room during night hours, so at first I was worried, but it turns out while the camcorder needs a lot of light for a good indoor shot (or the EV setting adjusted higher) it's outdoor recording, in daylight (or better yet, overcast) is nothing short of what I ever could have hoped for. And thank God, this is a mainly outdoors feature.

I tested the camera in 1080p, and while it was pretty, I very quickly understood the meaning of "image stabilization". It wasn't a counter to shaky hands, but something that made sure the picture retained it's shape. 1080p resulted in the slightest movements making the footage stretch and skew, as if there were a layer of liquid between the lens and the outside which was disturbed by motion.

720p, however, after thorough tests, is exactly what I hoped it would be. At first I was worried, because I detected a slight gridwork of thing green lines over the footage, likely from compressing the footage smaller. It turns out though, that once the footage makes it's way to Youtube, it's undetectable, and the footage itself, gorgeously clear. Image stab worked infinitely better, and the 60fps frame rate was exactly what I hoped for. It capture motion without much blur of any kind, and by lengthening the video to twice as long in Sony Vegas for a test of the slow-motion (since the finalized footage will be reduced to 30fps) I was able to get perfect, un-blurred slow-mo of half the speed the camera recorded at. Since speeding up and slowing down the footage to augment the fight sequences will be crucial, I really feel like I scored on an HD camera that only outed me $250.

My test footage is here, as an example: [ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OU0rnzgj44o&fmt=22[/ame]


Also, I'm trying to build back my cash reserves, since they got severely depleted since my new bank are a bunch of idiots who let you overdraw from your account when you can't afford something, instead of declining the charges like my original bank did (my old bank was absorbed by my new bank in one of the bank failures). This resulted in about five items being overdrawn, and getting me charged about 30 bucks in fees for every item that went over. They say it's because my bank "trusts" me that I'm allowed to overdraw instead of getting declined. WOW, THANKS GUYS, because being able to accidentally put myself about $100 in the negative is SO worth the couple menial items I purchased with the money I didn't have! Maybe on the 4rth of July, they'll surprise me with a fireworks show by lighting fireworks with burning 20 dollar bills, from my account naturally.

Anyway, I still need a tripod as well as a green screen, but the green screen will only require me to buy a good deal of green fabric (those 80 dollar things they advertise are a load of bull when $10 of fabric can achieve the same ends). My garage will be a great location for the green screen work. Up against the back will do very well, mainly because it's a three car garage with a garage door with several windows, meaning a lot of natural light. And the light comes from a number of directions, and the ending effect means a LOT of shadow canceling is done for me without even a single light being used.

For flying effects and such, I will use the green screen, but I'll suspend the actor in the air using the garage rafters, which are very sturdy and easily support the weight of a man. I'll use bungee cords for that, but I'll need to find or make a harness, something that can fit under the actor's clothing. I was just going to use the belt-loops on our jeans for the bungee hooks, but certain people seem convinced that those won't be strong enough to support our full wight. And aside from that, unless a second pair of jeans is under your jeans, you'll be giving yourself a very obvious midair wedgie. This is one challenge I have no solution for yet.

I've also scrapped my original hopes of using foam balls for the base of my Dragonball props. Though appropriate in side, they're very fragile, and too porous to be covered enough in paint to smooth over, at least within reason. On about 4 coats of paint it still looked like a rotten orange.
I did however find that decorative spheres I found at Target are much more suitable candidates. $3 a pop, but I only need one for the moment. They're a lot less fragile than they look. Poking a small hole in it so I could hang it to dry in midair took me a good half hour of work, so I don't anticipate I'll be hurting it very badly. It's weight is also more substantial. Four coats of paint now and it seems pretty well covered now. I love the high gloss paint I used. It's very rubbery, but it has such a luster and reflectivity that it's hard for me to know whether I'm looking at dry paint or wet paint. It's also highly resistant to being scuffed up by fingerprints or handling. It never loses it's reflection. I'm going to avoid dropping it on dirt however.

I've also finished the script for part one, and I have to say I'm glad of the direction I've gone with the villain's goals. His feeling is that fear of annihilation is what keeps people in order. It's the very thing that stops wars between superpowers from breaking out. His hope is to achieve world peace by getting everyone to think that if a country is being ****ish to others, or treating it's people badly, that he'll come along and blow up a random city in that country. Peace out of terror. I'm hoping there's an appropriate irony in what he's doing that makes him a bit more real, rather than simply being like most Dragonball villains and being a domination/annihilation crazed bastard for the sake of it. It's fairly verbose, but not overly so, and I hope how I'm going about this gives it a more cinematic feel and we see plausible character development. The resulting fight is short an entirely one-sided, but it's supposed to be. It's not really a fight, but an assassination attempt.

Anyway, that's it for now.
 

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Good luck. Looks like a good camera
 
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Well, been a while since I updated.

My lighting problems are over, as my actor playing the villain turns out to have a father who works in stage lighting, who could provide us with equipment suitable to shoot with.

Power concerns are also nixed, as two of my neighbors own generators I could borrow for the necessary portions.

I've also got a hold of a nice 10x20 green screen more than suitable for our purposes.

Next is a tripod I got at WalMart for $25 which claims to reach only 4.5 feet, but with a crank extends as high as my eye level, perfect for our purposes.

Finally is a makeshift device that is certain to help camera work in both cinematography, and for digital camera tracking, the "Poor Man's Steady-Cam". This device is based off a 1500 dollar apparatus that cancels out rocking, shaking and bobbing in hand-held cameraman motion (see "Cloverfield" for examples X] ). This discount device is infinitely less complex, expensive or technologically sophisticated, but offers an imperfect, but inarguable steadying effect to any and all hand-held camera motion. Given you're not careless, a cameraman can jog, walk up stairs and navigate uneven terrain with the camera without jerking or shaking the camera, preventing rapid motion which causes camera tracking mistakes, as well as severely "muffling" the presence of cameraman footsteps, allowing for smooth camera work like you might get from a camera on a track or crane. I'm pleased to announce it works quite well!

The last thing that needs to come together is my flying rig. I've already spoken with some hardware experts and determined a way of fabricating two freely rotating rigs, suspended from garage rafters (where the green screen set will be) with about 8 feet of total clearance to work with. The harnesses are genuine parachute harnesses to be purchased from an online military surplus store, as well as parachute cord to suspend the actors.

8 feet may not feel like a lot of vertical space to work with, but bear in mind that in a way analogous to how video game character animations work, total body motion can be animated afterward. Little camera tricks will also go a long way towards optimizing the use of the space, but if I ever have to angle the camera high enough to see rafters on the top of the shot, I can always use garbage mattes in post production to edit those out.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So, things are going rather swimmingly, I would think :)
 
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Hey looks like a great project you're undertaking. I like the way you analyze yours and others' work. It shows a lot of attention to detail.

One thing I'd just suggest which I believe will help your film is making it believable that your actors can possess that kind of power. Have them practice martial arts moves so they look authentic and realistically able to generate power.

Maybe take some tips from old and new martial arts films for sound effect ideas and camera work in action scenes. If you try to make something that's original in every aspect, it will become less believable, especially since you're taking a completely fictional cartoon work and making it into a realistic video.

Costume ideas could have a future-esk look to them as well. The more baggy the garments, the less you can discern the movements. It could allow you to focus intense camera work on the more important fight scenes, where they might take off weighted clothes or something.

Just some things there, aside from great camera work, which will have a big impact on the quality of your film. Best of luck, and if you want to talk ideas, I'm Crack3rm4n on AIM.
 
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Hey looks like a great project you're undertaking. I like the way you analyze yours and others' work. It shows a lot of attention to detail.

One thing I'd just suggest which I believe will help your film is making it believable that your actors can possess that kind of power. Have them practice martial arts moves so they look authentic and realistically able to generate power.

Maybe take some tips from old and new martial arts films for sound effect ideas and camera work in action scenes. If you try to make something that's original in every aspect, it will become less believable, especially since you're taking a completely fictional cartoon work and making it into a realistic video.

Costume ideas could have a future-esk look to them as well. The more baggy the garments, the less you can discern the movements. It could allow you to focus intense camera work on the more important fight scenes, where they might take off weighted clothes or something.

Just some things there, aside from great camera work, which will have a big impact on the quality of your film. Best of luck, and if you want to talk ideas, I'm Crack3rm4n on AIM.
Well thanks :)

Thing is though, that while I'm a recommended Black Belt in Tai Kwon Doe, the two characters in question don't have great fighting backgrounds. The villain is more of a power player. He was at one point a gang leader, and a practiced brawler because of it, but other than what he knows from instinct, he's got little oriental martial arts influence. The lead protagonist I'll be playing however, is pretty much what Gohan would have been had he been raised as a normal kid and had a 20th the potency of Saiyan blood. He's stayed out of trouble his entire life by choice, and he doesn't know he possesses any latent potential for fighting. Much like Gohan, when he is first forced to take on the villain in the first act, he only stands a chance through his rarely-ever-utilized Saiyan instincts when they kick in once his adrenaline reaches a peak. Quite literally, his own production of Ki and his ability to react to the villain's attacks fast enough to avoid death are entirely a product of his inner instincts taking over. The difference is he is conscious for all of it, and is utterly at a loss as to where any of it came from.

So while both will have Saiyan fighting instinct on their side, guiding some of their attacks, their more conscious actions will be more along the line of clumsy back-alley brawling.

Now of course, going from weakling to continent destroying badass is a bit of a jump for a short stretch of time, so my idea is that their ability to harness their Ki is what allows them to be as durable as to survive gigantic explosions and produce such, their own bodies not being overly special or tough by themselves. They actually have a lot of Ki present in their bodies to begin with, an ocean of power waiting to be tapped. The hero is forced learn how to do just that, to eventually learn that it's the power of his spirit and will which is the key to his power, where he originally can barely produce a wisp of Ki in his hand, focusing too hard on flexing his muscles in futility.

It also stays true to some of the Ki defense martial artists who are known to supposedly focus their Ki in order to strengthen their body in defense against a major blow. I once saw it where a man had three people all punch him in the neck at once after he focused, and came out of it fine.

Anyway, it's unlikely my shots will be TOO original. Most of what I'll do will be what I know and what I've seen, unless I get some bright creative idea.

I'm not all too concerned about costume, not much budget for it. I don't have enough resources or actors to have public scenes featuring crowds dressed in appropriate garb; any public scenes I have to take from real life, so costume with a few exceptions will be pretty layman, though I'll try and make sure their clothes are at least not too generic.

I'll see what I can do about AIM. I'll be in Vegas for a few days though, so don't expect too immediate of a meeting.
 
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I think that's a great way to tie the DBZ theme into reality. They were never trained fighters, but they have incredible hidden potentials. The real development happens when they learn to tap into that power, like you're saying.

As far as creative ideas go, I think that adding some cultural influence into the movie might help. I'm no religious fanatic myself, but somehow tieing in the idea of God and "the light" to discovering his Saiyan powers would be cool if done right. Like when Goku helps Gohan turn SSJ, and even when Gohan turns SSJ2, it's all for selfless reasons. He doesn't want to hurt others, he wants to protect them. So the mindset towards becoming a Saiyan is achieved spiritually in a sense in him.

However with Vegeta, he endured ridiculous amounts of agony and torture, a somewhat opposite and rougher approach to it. It was only when he was on the brink of death, where he didn't care whether he lived or died, that it happened.

So with both of those ideas in mind, your protagonist could come from a church-like background, staying out of trouble, learning to live in the city. Someone close to him is killed in gang violence, like a family member, and he develops into a hero, kind of like Spiderman when his Uncle dies. Maybe his father would die, and the protagonist would later learn that his father was an incredible athlete and used all of his ambitions towards helping others.

The antagonist, a gang leader like you said, came from a rough background. You creatively come up with a way to make him seem like a victim in his own life. A potential future good guy with an attitude. They butt heads for obvious reasons here; one completely against gang violence, another living day by day in it.

One scene I can picture would be your protagonist rescuing his little brother who was kidnapped by a gang leader. He holds a gun timidly at the gang leader, but his arm gets shot and the gun falls out of his hand. He's still in the mindset of firing at the other guy, and the gang leader is goading him, talking about raping his mother. The protagonist fires a Ki energy ball at him with his other arm out of rage. He's amazed at first, but starts to do it again... and again... until he's rapidly firing them with both hands, even the arm that got shot, and knocking out a whole gang of guys. He ends up killing them all, and later must face how he can both fight for a good cause without becoming overwhelmed by his own power. He fears his power, but once he overcomes that fear, he can transform.

The antagonist hears that the whole gang was wiped out by that one guy and seeks him out. They start fighting, neither knowing what the other is capable of, and there are slight shocked pauses on what the other is able to do, but both are much more interested in continuing the fight, so it becomes more intense with less interruption from dialogue. Although in one part, the protagonist would take a commonly fatal blow, and the antagonist would brag of course, but then he'd jump up without hesitation and charge quickly at him and they'd continue fighting; an initial glimpse of what's to come as the fight progresses. Maybe one of them charging energy in their hands and pushing it into the other guy, knocking him back through an abandoned house in a bad part of town.

Later some people the protagonist was with would comment on it, maybe while he's on his way to church or at church, like... "Oh, they finally decided to take down that old place over there. It's about time they got to that."

And of course, if you're looking for a sequel, both can fight together to stop some greater evil with the protangonist's little brother slowly picking up how to fight as well. He might not take the same path as his older brother, though. He's a sucker for temptation. I guess he would be sort of like Goten, except not as innocent. He'd be the comic relief.

For example, this greater evil could create little green goblin dudes. You throw in a little comic relief here and turn it into a Power Rangers type fight scene, and at the end, the younger brother does something stupid or tells them that they have to hit the seal on their chest to kill them, and the two look at him funny, and then he's like... "What? You never saw Power Rangers before?" They try to hit the seal and nothing happens. You can make the fight scene both serious and funny at the same time.

About AIM, I'm not on all the time myself, so just msg me when you've got time, and we'll set something up.
 
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Well, I've bought the materials for my flying rig, including two "L" bars of tough steel. I still need a drill bit strong enough to drill through them though.

I got my parachute cord and parachute harnesses today too. The harness is a bit bigger than I imagined, and heavy duty, but very light and strong. It'll need some trimming, as some of the straps are too long and trail down. It doesn't look like it when you wear it, but it fits like a glove and is reasonably comfortable, and even more surprisingly, you can wear clothes as thin as a t-shirt over it and be pretty damn inconspicuous aside from the slightest of bulges around the shoulder blades. I was worried when I first unpacked it, but it should play it's part just fine.

And with that, I'm only short some lights from my pal and we're set for camera and action! :)

Soon, in fact. My father heard about my desire to shoot in Joshua Tree, and thought there he might be able to get away on the 13th to do a camping trip out there to save me some gas. Bonus is that the Perseid meteor shower will be there for us to see as well. Come to think, if I could shoot that, it would make for some interesting "B-roll", lol.

Oh, also, the car driven by the protagonist will be mine, a 99' Pontiac Bonneville.



And for later scenes, it'll be needing a stunt double, so with certain permissions, I found one for her.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

@Disguise:

My direction was a bit less...domestic, than that. I wanted to focus more on the threat to the world and it's way of life, the quest for the Dragonballs and their wishes, the rise from mediocrity to meet the occasion, the journey into the unknown. I want to recreate the idea of the Dragonball formula, but infuse it into a time and into people not originally in the Dragonball Universe. It kills me to say it, but it's rather much like how the Dragonball GT film about Goku Jr. approached it, as terrible as GT is as a whole. It's characters who know nothing about this vast legacy that's been buried beneath history, yet have these realities of the past forced upon them all at once.

A man is tormented by corruption and the evils of man until his faith in human goodness is destroyed, and meanwhile realizes he has extraordinary potential within him where he can, unchallenged, change things the way he believes they need to be changed.

A young man lives a life of mediocrity, cutting himself off from the world and not even knowing what he's missing, nor aware of the marvels that he has in himself. A tragedy that befalls those around him and threatens the world forces him to choose, to take a chance on a wish that may or may not come true, and set out on a journey that brings him closer with current friends, and make new ones, and even make him more one with himself.

A parallel to Bulma is a man who works as a physicist at Capsule Corp, entirely academic and nearly incapable of believing in the extraordinary, until an old friend meets up with him and proceeds to drag him along on his journey which rocks his preconceptions to the core.

A man stakes his future on studying an enlightened path and devotes his life to learning to channel his inner spirit and loses faith when it amounts to nothing. Forced to make his living peddling lies to the gullible in the way he believed HE was peddled to, his faith and purpose is restored when he comes across the young man who possesses the very traits and talents he had given up hope on existing, and begins a journey of redemption as he leads the young warrior-to-be on a path that he was incapable of taking himself.

All brought together through the legacy of the Saiyans, and the legend of the Dragonballs, from a past almost entirely forgotten.
 
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Some better renders, now with improved materials, and HDRI!


 
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Shooting has been postponed till Fall comes around. I've decided with the current heat waves in SoCal lately that shooting outdoors in the desert in Summer weather is a really bad idea. We're going to wait till opportunities present themselves once it becomes cooler. The heat we'd experience in Joshua Tree would be bad enough without having to act out martial arts sequences. I fear for the safety of the actors and the equipment, a heat stroke is more than possible, and I doubt there are many hospitals very close by if the worst should happen. Lately temperatures even where I live have peaked around 108 degrees. Can't imagine the deserts.

This, plus I'm working on saving money to upgrade my computer. Once I'm done it'll be a Vista Ultimate 64-bit with a 8.8 ghz quad core CPU and 8 Gigabytes of DDR2 RAM. My current build is great for games, but not powerful enough to run the fluid dynamics simulations necessary to produce photoreal Ki, fire, smoke and dust effects necessary without crashing the application. I can't even test out my effects proper because the software has such steep hardware requirements.

Once I'm done however, I can only imagine how much faster all my renderings will be. HDRI photo-based Global Illumination would be calculated in mere moments...

Thinking about it gives me chills =)
 
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Well, an update given a lot has changed.

I've upgraded to a new machine, this time with Windows 7, but otherwise with everything I raved over before. I can do effects no problem right now. One thing though is my camera. I'm no longer satisfied with it. While my camera-track software is good enough to do a decent job, motion still looks pretty crap, exacerbated by compression lines at 720p. The footage looks terrible indoors without turning on features which blow out the lighting too much. Not to mention the auto-focus feature which tends to never make up it's mind. But worst of all is the battery life. It has barely 20 minutes of life per charge, and if I ever intend to go out on long-shoots in desert locales that take me two hours to drive each way, I can't be worrying about the chance that the battery will die and we'll have wasted a big to-do.

So, my plan is to sell my camera on ebay, get what I can, and then purchase a Canon HG20, a SPECTACULAR low-budget camera with footage that makes me drool, indoors, outdoors, even zooming into someone's eye, making out the structure of their corneas. At $430 used, I can't afford NOT to get it instead.

But anyway, I got Adobe After Effects (for composites, not for general effects) and messed around with some test-footage I shot with my green-screen. My biggest worry outside of assembling our wire-fu rig, is that I can recreate a decent Super Saiyan effect for video, something I've seen on Youtube in many forms, none of them very good. I've seen vids with yellow auras and no hair change, I've seen it with hair and eyes that have been blown-out a solid neon color, I've seen someone motion-track Goku's hair onto a person's video-recorded head. None of it was convincing, none of it looked plausible in real-life. So I did what was sensible, and messed around trying to turn my brown hair lighter in the midtones, and make it a very generic light-blond (more white, little yellow). I then added a glow effect on top of the hair, and my body to create that light-skinned, golden-hair appearance that Super Saiyans get when their auras are on (they just look whitish-blond with no aura).

The result was excellent. This is a screen-shot taken of After-Effects footage, comprised totally of animate-able elements. This isn't a Photoshop, this is a single frame of what could be nearly a minute of video footage.



Oh, also, background image is just to give the chroma-key more purpose, not intended to blend.
 
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It's nice to know progress is being made. I know you've been doing this for a while, so good luck!
 
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Just wanted to update since stuff was actually coming together now.

Finally have my HG20, and boy oh boy does it not disappoint. Lightweight for it's power, 1080i recording resolution, custom white-balance setting, exposure bracketing so I can make HDRI panoramas of areas I shoot at for image-based lighting in the 3D camera-tracking scenes that need it. Can record at 60 fps, 30 fps or 24 fps for a film-style shooting. Dual, motherf*cking, microphones for recording in stereo...that last one I never knew about until I was reading the manual.

Can't upload yet, but footage is crystal clear, and flattering.

On top of this, my car is all fixed up after repairs to the head gasket, some replaced spark-plugs and the coolant intake (turned out I was leaking coolant into the engine oil, which might explain why it kept draining) as well as the serpentine belt. Basically, the car can now make the necessary long hauls to my more distant shoots.

Plus, I've decided to drop my old fake Dragonball prop-base, and hired a glass artist in Oregon to custom-make two blank orange spheres based upon footage I've shown him from DBE and from the original maker's documentation, of which he reports look perfect and are in the process of cooling. A digital composer has also been hired to create a single piece of music for the film's climax.

Aside from auto-repairs, the total sum of expenditures I've mentioned amount to around $700, camera included.

Yeah...it's happening...

I'd say the only thing concerning me at this phase is scheduling, and putting together my wire-fu rig in the garage (parts already bought and paid for).
 

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