Saturday, September 28, 2013

Art Direction: Before & After

It's been almost 2 years since we finished shooting in January 2012. We've been focusing so long on post-production and all the effort everybody is doing right now that we forget sometimes the effort everybody did in production or pre-production. 

One of the most interesting things we never talked about in details is the art direction. Since we shot the film in real locations, we needed to work with the art directors on colors, backgrounds, .. etc. Since back then the film was divided into segments, each segment or we can say now each story had its own art director. 

As I was going through some old pictures of locations, they seemed so different than how they appear in the movie. One of these locations is the apartment where Rawya was shot. The old apartment belonged to the grandmother of one of our friends "Nourhan Ehab" and it was so beautiful but Nehal Ghanem had to add some touches :)
Mohamed Zedan is checking the location                    Nehal Ghanem is adding her touch to the location               

The kitchen before and after art direction

Nehal redesigned all the apartment's rooms and added all the elements she wanted to samples she made with photoshop, to give Mohamed Zedan an idea of what she was thinking of before buying anything or getting started.

Nehal Ghanem's sample of the kitchen after decoration 

Another angle of the kitchen before and after art direction

The other two stories where art direction was significant are Dahlia and Moussa. Emad Maher had to cover the empty white walls in Moussa while Nermeen Salem and Sara Hany tried to stick to Mayye's red-white-black color palette in Dahlia with the almost zero budget they had. They even had to paint some stuff in the hair salon and Sherifa the owner who played the hairdresser in the film as well was kind enough to let them do so :)

The street before and after art direction

The hair salon before and after art direction

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Mixing: Audio Desync Problem

It seems that Final Cut doesn't like the 23.98 frame rate and since it's the frame rate of all the film's footage, we had a big problem to synchronize the output video file with the audio file after mixing. And since we spent so much time trying to figure it out, we thought of sharing it with everybody in order to avoid it in the future :) So because the camera's frame rate is not actually 24 like cinema cameras but 23.98 like most digital cameras, this 0.02 difference causes an audio "desync" problem with the video file when they are both imported again to final cut for the final export.

The audio mixer Samir Nabil and I, tried to find a solution for this problem and after many days the only thing that worked was to convert the video file's frame rate to 24p using Cinema Tools. The process is called either pull-up or pull-down but I always forget and get confused which is which :) You should either do it to each video file on your timeline or with the final video and this is what we did and we should have done that before starting audio mixing.

The film's quick time video file had to be exported with the codec Apple Pro Res, then opened with Cinema Tools. In Cinema Tools all we had to do was to conform the frame rate to 24p. During the process we also learned that you have to make sure that the Sequence Settings have to match the footage settings, the Audio/Video Settings including the Capture Preset (even if you are not capturing any footage) or you can edit on Avid if you can afford it :)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Music Recording

After more than a year of working on the music, Anna Drubich finally recorded it in Hyperion Studio in LA in the US. Then she sent us the files via dropbox and now it's Samir Nabil's job to mix them with the film's audio. Like many of our dear crew, Anna has been there since the beginning when the film was divided into 6 segments. Back then we worked on the music of each segment as a separate short film but with a common theme between the 6 of them. Then when the segments were combined together later resulting in one film, we had to work on the music all over again.

The final music was played by Anna herself on piano, Evgeny Tonkha on cello, Nathan Matthew David on guitar and Leo Chelyapov on both accordion and duduk. Anna also had to record their names for us as well so that we write them correctly in Arabic in the film's final credits. Luckily all the Russian sounds that sound unfamiliar in English existed in Arabic :)

Anna with Nathan in the recording session

Leo Chelyapov is playing on duduk

Evgeny Tonkha and his cello

Thursday, September 5, 2013


Since the film is almost finished, we are trying not to forget anyone's name in the film's credits. This film could have never been made without the contribution of all these people who helped us and their continuous support along the way in this very long journey. And even though the film crew members and the cast usually choose in the contract how they want their name to appear in the film's credits and since we didn't write any contract or agreement with any one of them during pre-production, we thought that now is a good time to ask such thing. So if you acted or worked in this film in any way, please write to us how do you want to write your name in both Arabic and English. If you don't speak Arabic like our music composer "Anna Drubich" or our poster designer "Maria", please record to us how do you correctly say your name in your native language :) and we'll do our best to write it correctly in Arabic :) Thank you all again for everything, we are forever grateful.
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