Follow the History of the Teams in Bots High

Bots High takes place over the 2009-2010 school year. Unsurprisingly, the teams had a history before and after the time the film takes place (2011 Epilogue now in the DVD!). So to expand the scope and add some cool context and backstory to the Oct 6 screening day, I’ve been tracing the history of each team in the film each week in the newsletter. So far we’ve heard about how Will from Ransom first built a robot in 6th grade, went up against a senior team, and won. Just now we explored freshman year of My Mechanical Romance’s Liz and Danielle, when they first get introduced to robotics. I’m using Storify to compile this narrative, and updating as I release new stories via newsletter. But the newsletter goes more in depth with longer anecdotal stories. So catch up and check out the history of the teams on the Storify page, and signup for the newsletter to get a weekly update about a team or robot in the film, leading up to October...

Crohn’s and Hospital Adventures

This is a pretty personal post that I’m writing more as a PSA than anything else. If you follow any of the Facebook or Twitter feeds, two weeks ago I was stuck in the hospital. I have Crohn’s disease, and I had a flare up. What’s Crohn’s? That’s the first thing I thought when I was diagnosed almost four years ago. It’s an autoimmune disease that affects the small intestine. If you think of your intestines like pipes, Crohn’s inflames a part of the small intestine, narrowing the opening and making it harder for food to pass through. Eventually it gets so inflamed that the passage is totally blocked, leaving only one place for the food to go – up. Before I was diagnosed I was getting extreme stabbing pains in my stomach. It felt like the Alien trying to bust out of my chest with a samurai sword. I went to some doctors, but since I was in college they just assumed I was eating poorly and it was a result of that. And this is why I share my experience, because I still feel like there’s some taboo on people talking about medical conditions, when instead if we shared the knowledge and experience we can gain more from it. Had I known what Crohn’s disease was, I could have gotten treatment the first time I started vomiting and getting pain, and not letting it sit to the point that I was stuck in the hospital for a week. I was actually relieved to be in the hospital and getting properly diagnosed, because it meant the pain would...

Bots High Gets Color

I’m in New York now, getting ready to color time Bots High. What’s color timing? Basically a colorist and I sit down and go through the film shot by shot and adjust the image. For a stylized film (like horror or fantasy), you can go really crazy with coloring and create a very specific ‘look’ for the film. For Bots High, a documentary, what I’m most concerned with is making the shots match. A lot of the film was shot with different cameras, and they all had different color settings when they recorded. Some have an orange hue, others are a little dark. What the colorist will do is make those shots match. The rest of the film will still get colored, just to make the overall image ‘pop’ more. It’s ironic that I find myself back in New York to finish the film. About 18 month ago I was in New York with some photos in a show. I had just graduated and I was getting asked what I was going to do next. “I know some high schools build fighting robots in Miami. I might do a documentary on that.” A year and a half later that film is almost done. Location:E 9th St,New York,United...

Bigger Sound in Texas

Tomorrow I’m about to travel to Texas for the penultimate trip to finish Bots High. I’m meeting up with Sound Designer Kellen, where he and the studio he works at have been working on the sound for the film. What’s sound design? Like most jobs in film, it’s one of those things where if you do your job well then the audience doesn’t notice. Bad sound is something you notice (and I’d say more annoying than bad video). There’s more leeway with documentaries, but narrative films can go so far as scrapping all the audio recorded on set and recreating everything, from bringing the actors back in to redo their lines (ADR – Automated Dialogue Replacement, though there’s nothing automated about it), background noise, footsteps, clothes rustling, and all sorts of foley sounds. Here’s a cheesy video on foley artists. Sound design and editing go hand in hand. A lot of the BotsIQ championship in Bots High was shot with multiple cameras. Each camera has a microphone and recorded sound from its perspective, but if you cut back and forth between each camera’s sound, it can be jarring, making you notice the cuts more instead of being immersed in the story. In sound design, all of that audio is smoothed out, so when you cut between one camera and another it’s not so noticeable. Once sound design is complete it gets mixed. This is the part that gets to use the cool sound mixing boards with 20,000 sliders and buttons that looks like something from the Death Star (pictured above). It takes all the dialogue and sound effects and...