The craft of writing
for games, TV and movies,
by a working writer
The Crafty Screenwriting, TV and Game Writing Blog
... with forays into
games, life and
Monday, September 22, 2014
Let's suppose two characters are talking. We go in close on their hands. One character speaks.
Is that line of dialog O.S. (offscreen) to make clear that we're not seeing her talk?
- SALLY (V.O.)
- (holding out the ring)
- Take it. Please.
Or not, because at least part of her is on screen?
- (holding out the ring)
- Take it. Please.
How would you format this, fellow pro monkeys?
Yeah, yeah, I know. We're not supposed to put in camera direction in scripts.
However, in this case, I'm the narrative director of a video game, and I'm writing a cut-scene that will be pre-rendered. (It'll be generated in the game engine and then treated in various ways.) We need to know how much facial animation we'll have to do, which means I need to write in the camera direction so we can determine whose face is on screen, and for how long. There isn't going to actually be a director as such -- just a narrative director and an animator (plus a game designer and a concept artist, and several programmers and environmental artists).
In a movie script, it occurs to me that (O.S.) is the wrong way to go because a sloppy production manager might think the actor doesn't need to be there.
Thursday, September 18, 2014
Ingrid Sundberg has posted a nifty color thesaurus
on her Wordpress blog. Here are her colors of red:
|ῥοδο-δάκτυλος Ἠώς? Find it here.|
There are a few misspellings, and a few colors readers might not recognize (admiral blue?). But most of these are quite accessible.
Also handy if you're reading YA novels and you're not quite sure what "teal" looks like. Or if you run across this:
Check it out.
Sunday, September 14, 2014
I've noted before how valuable it is for writers to play poker. Not anything to do with writing, but everything to do with learning how to negotiate. Poker is all about negotiation. Or, negotiation is all about how you play your hand. You can bluff. You can semi-bluff. You can call a bluff. You have to guess what the other guy's reaction to your bet will be.
Tonight, we played Cards Against Humanity. It's a fun game about trigger warnings. (It's billed as "the party game for horrible people.)
One player picks a black card with a phrase ("What ended my last relationship?"). Each other player throws down one of their ten cards to try to come up with the funniest way to fill in the blank. Say one player throws out "unfathomable stupidity." Another might play "kamikaze pilots." A third might play, "Nazis."
So you have to exercise your comedy muscle. And, since you only have ten cards at once, you have to find the clever juxtaposition. "Nazis" is the horrible, funny answer to lots of black cards, though probably not to "Daddy, why is Mommy crying?" So you don't want to use it until you've found a really clever context.
Generally, true connections are not that funny. ("Why is Mommy crying?" "Nazis." Not that funny. "Why is Mommy crying?" "BATMAN!!!" Better.) Better are weird, trangressive connections. But the funniest are weirdly true, transgressive connections. ("What ended my last relationship?" "The Underground Railway.")
This is great practice for writing comedy.
Also, it's a lot of fun.
I wasn't actually playing with fellow writers this time. So I can't guarantee that it's actually fun to play with fellow writers. They are bound to be really funny, but they might take it really seriously. First one to leave the room sobbing hysterically has to buy the whisky next time, I guess.
Saturday, September 13, 2014
We saw GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, which was an odd combination of mild goofy humor and an epic save-the-galaxy story. It was in 3D and D-Box. D-Box gives you a seat that vibrates and tilts according to what's going on onscreen.
I've never been a fan of 3D. I feel it doesn't add anything to the experience. I perceive 2D films as 3D. There are a slew of clues aside from stereo perception. Perspective, obviously. Plus objects not in focus are behind or in front of the object in focus. Plus, cinematographers love to slightly fog the atmosphere, so you can always gauge how far something is.
Sound, obviously, added to the film experience in a huge way. Color added important information. 3D adds no information.
But D-Box adds proprioception. As the spaceship arcs in for a landing, your seat actually tilts. When stuff goes boom, your seat vibrates. It's a little bit like being in a 3D motion simulator at a theme park, except much less extreme, of course.
D-Box costs more. In our theatre it added $10 per ticket. And, clever boys, they only fire up the seats you bought tickets for, so no one can sit in a D-Box seat and get the D-Box experience without shelling out.
Lisa thought it was definitely worth it. One of our ongoing questions is, what does seeing a movie in a theater add to the experience? Why shouldn't we just wait for the Blu-Ray? I suspect the main reason the studios keep pushing 3D out there is it's much harder to pirate, and most people don't have 3D on their TV's. D-Box is another reason to go to the theater, and it's currently impossible to pirate.
I doubt I'll be rushing out to see the next D-Box movie. D-Box doesn't make up for a ridiculous rollercoaster plot. I'd rather see a movie with a great story and great dialog. I'd rather see THE AVENGERS in 2D than GUARDIANS in 3D D-Box. But it's worth checking out.
Saturday, September 06, 2014
Is it fair to review the first five minutes of a TV show? Well, why not?
We had high hopes for DOMINION. It looked cool. And: angels. I haven't seen much in the way of scary angels. Not since the excellent 1995 Christopher Walken B-movie THE PROPHECY, I think. ("You have become evil. And evil is mine.")
Unlike werewolves, vampires and zombies, angels are not seriously overexposed in movies. And there is so much you can do with angel mythology. Full disclosure: I developed an angel TV series for several years for The Movie Network. I wrote four episodes, I had springboards for nine more, I was in no danger of running out of cool stuff you could do with angels.
So we turn on SyFy's DOMINION series and ... angels are basically flying zombies. In the teaser, the hero (I'm assuming he's the hero -- he looks a lot like Matt Damon) shoots one in the head, drives off, gets attacked by another, plays patty-cake with it, and then it's shot out of the sky by a computerized anti-aircraft gun.
If you can shoot an angel in the head and kill it, I'm going to say, it's a flying zombie.
I haven't seen LEGION, on which DOMINION was based. But I bet the writers had lots of ideas on interesting directions to take the series, even if the movie was this dumb. After all, the reboot of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA was a zillion times better than the original. And the original BUFFY: THE VAMPIRE SLAYER movie was nowhere near as interesting as the first ten minutes of the TV pilot.
But I can't help thinking the network wanted another WALKING DEAD. So: flying zombies.
Of course, maybe it gets better. Maybe it gets a lot better. Maybe I should watch episode two. Sometimes pilots are the worst episode of a show, because they get too much input, and there are two many notes asking for everything to be made crystal clear.
But when a series about angels has nothing interesting to add to angel canon... I'm not going to watch it.
There are series that find their legs, or their wings. 30 ROCK didn't really hit its stride until episode 8 or so. If the show had stayed at the level of the pilot, I wouldn't have been a devotee. We really need a phrase that's the reverse of jumping the shark...