Boy Vs The Grey Screen Of Death

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised really… I’m living a war with technology… and every single phase of post-production on Swerve has started the same way… they all start with a technical problem.

Technical speak be damned but the computer we hoped to use for editing the film couldn’t play the footage back properly… it was too big for real time playback. Next the sound recordings would lose sync with the video at random, for some reason time just wasn’t the same between devices!? That took Ciarán weeks to sync properly… second by spirit-crushing second. Editing and the first pass of visual effects… memory problems. When it came to colour correction… it was a monitor problem. Music and sound… an on-going problem between Pro Tools and operating system updates.

So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised really… when I managed to clear through my real work (which happens about once a year) and I finally had a few days to really spend time working on the final visual effects pass… that it was then… my iMac up and dies on me!?

For a week or so it was like trying to finish the film using a bomb… it could go off at any second in a burst of random screen malfunctions, computer freezes and then finally… nothing but what is commonly referred to as ‘The Grey Screen Of Death’.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised really… but then the universe shouldn’t be too surprised when I find a way to solve the problem and finally finish this film!

Cut To: A montage…


In alphabetical order… #Nerd




When File Transfers Go Bad


Reading again… new motto “What would James Cameron do!?”


“Hitchcock… some man for making fillums!”



I love my desk!


I can’t believe I’m finally working on the final bits!





  I remember when I used to have memory problems!


Same old warnings…


… but I’m not afraid of them anymore!


Then suddenly… this one time my screen… was all weird blue lines!?


Then suddenly…. this one time my screen was… a weird diagonal pattern thing!?


No man has witnessed more technology fail me than Alan “Tech Support Ninja” Dawson. If I cross my legs in his house, his Apple TV stops streaming!? 


This one time my screen… had a weird black triangle!?


Big Job Done = New Character Poster Treat For Myself


Smash Cut To: Nothing But Grey!?


The Internet… it has to be true if it’s on the Internet!?


Begin Montage Of Crazy Computer Fixing Type Stuff…


Montage Continues… Symbols and stuff…



Enter Ken “The Claw” McGuire…


Montage continues with lads drinking tea and talking about Yoshimitsu…


Cut To: Then they’re in the Matrix.. people love that… Matrix type stuff means computers…




… Jesse and Walt build a robot… out of science…



… more science…



Near the end… show that science and the robot have failed…


Finish the montage with a cliff hanger ending…



Boy That Was Cool!

Colour correction on Swerve… myself and Sla hoped it would take us two good days… then WHAM… one more little technical issue… it takes two tricksy months.

But despite yet another frustrating set back…over the course of two nights this week… with random snow and storms outside… I had the pleasure of sitting quietly in the shadows behind Al… in the edit suite of the Cartoon Saloon. That was pretty cool!

I was really looking forward to learning a bit about the colour correction/grading process… it turns out the colour correction/grading process is a language I don’t speak… thankfully Al does. And thanks to the absolute legends in the Saloon, we were able to lock down the colour correction using their broadcast monitor. In the building where Oscar nominated magic happens in this town… and there I was drinking tea and saying things like “that bit there… is it too magenta!?” or “Yellow you’re melting my face” and Sla would know what I was talking about… he’d spend a few minutes working on it… I’d get distracted on snapchat or making more posters… and then the colour correction was suddenly and finally done!

Realistically it only took us two good nights. And they were good nights!

Last night I watched the third pass of the colour corrected cut… on a projector… and suddenly after nearly two years of squinting at the film in small boxes on computer screens it grows to an entire sitting room wall… in a room with a hyper-active ninja kitten… even she stopped to watch it at one stage!?

We’ve got one more phase of work on the picture to finish… and we’ve finally started the music and sound design. It’s another stage I’ve been looking forward to, happy in the knowledge that I can’t write music but I know a lad who can.

And I’ve also started to have production meetings about finally working on something else.

2015… here we go!

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“When Colour Correction Goes Bad!”

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A Magical Place!
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You know you’re on the same page when you show up at the first proper meeting for music and sound design… and you’re dressed the same!?

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I won’t show the cast full scenes until it’s fully finished… but I like to snap them random clips that then delete themselves.

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Boy Can See The Finish Line

It seemed kind of pointless to update the blog for the past few months. All free time was spent working on the visual effects list and cutting Swerve.

Days blur in to weeks, weeks blur in to months, workflows are a messy learning curve of confusing trial by error message… you can’t blog about the visual effects process because

a) You don’t know what you’re doing. You’re making it up as you go along


B) it’s just really boring and tedious

But now… now you’ve cut the film… and now you’ve finished the VFX… now the end is in sight…. it’s almost a film!

Now you have time to blog about all the action packed hours sitting at your desk in front of computers… as those computers tested your patience… you tested their technical abilities… and all of it pushed you to the limit of sanity!

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Effects Shot Workflow: I had to break every scene down in to mini-scenes to work out the effects shots workflow… and label them accordingly with bad words!

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Animating key frames … A good way to miss weeks of your life!

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Sound FX: It doesn’t matter how good something looks if it sounds shit… but stuff that looks shit… looks better if it sounds good!?

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Edit. Sleep. Edit. Repeat.

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OUT OF MEMORY: It’s really annoying when you spend hours working on an effect shot but don’t have the memory to actually render it out and watch it.

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Immediate Panic… followed by realisation that you forgot to turn on your hard drive… AGAIN!?

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Wait… your hard drive is on!? RESUME PANIC!!!!!!

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Time remapping… I’m in over my head.

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WORST ERROR MESSAGE EVER: I never did find out what that strange situation was!?

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Light Reflection Masks… So Many Light Reflection Masks!

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Muzzle flashes… so many muzzle flashes!!!

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Memory… so much memory!!!!

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It’s starting to look like a film!?

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Storyboards Vs Actual Shot: It’s easy to doodle it with a red pen… not as easy when you’re doing it in post!?

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Moire… You bastard!

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A Real Editor: Having a real editor at your desk is not nice. They change your stuff around and question why you’ve done things certain ways… like you knew what you were doing in the first place!? You didn’t! But that’s how you do things now!?

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Sign Replacement!

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It’s so nearly a film now!

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Oh good… technical outputs and really long conversations about that stuff!

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Yay music!!!

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Technical shit… I don’t care anymore… is it a film yet!?


Swerve – Behind The Scenes – Crew

A couple of new behind the scenes production stills from Swerve


A rare occasion where Niamh doesn’t actually have red on her.


Early morning call times some times lead to a surprisingly scruffy looking Richie. He was quite dapper for the rest of the shoot.


Linda always makes faces in relation to the makeup she’s applying.



Boy Can It Take Time

A few years ago, I was just out of college… and bored out of my mind with unemployment… there was whispers of Mycrofilms making a film called “Swerve City”… I had never directed a film before… but I knew if we ever got to shoot “Swerve City” then it would just be called “Swerve” and it would have a lot of visual effects in it… because I knew we probably wouldn’t have a lot of money to shoot it… and that would be a cheaper way to pull it all off… and all it would take is time.

Back then I had time… I spent hour after hour watching tutorials on how to use After Effects… making little notes… figuring out exactly what was possible and how we could use that for Swerve. Hours just watching… with the exception of one or two little test shoots I’ve never had any real footage to work on… but I hoped all that would take was time.

Jump forward a few years and we actually shot the film… six days of bloody chaos on the streets of Kilkenny…producing hours of footage…hundreds of photos… most of which have spoilers so I’ve had to sit on them until the film is finished. I look through them some times knowing that I’ll eventually be able to let people see them… all it will take is time.

Jump forward a few more months… some technical glitches…some  equipment needs…. the footage is synced, roughly assembled and ready to cut… I’ve never really cut a film before… but I’m sure all that will take is time. And for weeks I fumble my way through Final Cut Pro… constantly mixing up shortcuts with Photoshop… until it starts to actually look like a film!?

And then all of sudden… after all that time… I’m sitting looking at a visual effects list with over 70 shots on it… for that film we actually made… and suddenly I’m neck deep in pre-composed layers and pre-keyed elements and all the stuff I didn’t really understand but I’ve been thinking about for years… and I’m pretty sure all it will take is a little more time.


Every time this happens I think I’ve deleted the film… thankfully I haven’t… I just forgot to turn my hard drive on.



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#Spoiler: This is what the film looks like right now!


“We’ll do it in post” he said… “just takes a bit of time” he said.




Boy Can Archive

It occurred to me last night that I’ve been working on films and videos of all shapes and forms for about 20 years now… but I’ve never actually had a showreel.

It seems pointless to put one together now when Swerve and Daffney are on the way and I’m certain they’re the two best films I’ve worked on to date… but for the sake of archiving I’ve added a new section to the website… The VAULT. A place to gather all the stuff that came before.

The first entry is last year’s Mycrofilms‘ music video from REPLETE – ‘Wait For You’.

Directed by John Morton, produced & edited by Alan Slattery, featuring Eddie Murphy & Connie Walsh with art direction by Niamh Moyles.

Shot on two 5D MkII’s over the course of a day, it was my first chance to see what my lenses could do video-wise and test my new monitor, follow focus kit & rig before the upcoming Swerve shoot.

Fun Fact: The cast & crew had eggs thrown at them (they missed) and were mooned by people in passing cars on John Street that night… good times!

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