The WC4 'Price Of Freedom' Movie Project

Queeg

Rear Admiral
Morning all, now that my first project 'Heart Of The Tiger' is finished I'm eager to begin a new one, and what better than it's popular sequel 'The Price Of Freedom'. I realise there are already plenty versions of Wing Commander IV already being / have been made, but in that case, what is the harm in one more?

As you probably already know, WC4 has significantly better video quality than WC3. Since it has been released on DVD, you can't get much better without going High Def. Now my software allows me to edit the VOBs directly from the discs (ripped to my hard drive) so there should be no quality loss. Also the software allows me to make use of all 5.1 audio channels from the VOBs so the end result should be a true movie experience.

I have obtained the WC4 dvds and I've created an intro so far for a test run. So before I bore you to tears with this long post, here is the first 3 minutes of my Wing Commander IV movie!

WC4 3 Minute Introduction Sample

Backup Link (limited bandwidth, use save target as)

There shall be some ingame footage following soon when I have worked out the details. Also I'm not sure about the recap at the start of the film, it seems a bit unnecessary but see what you think if you take a look.
 

BrynS

Mr Kat says...
Well, in terms of technical/editing proficiency and production quality your WC4 project looks promising, Queeg.

Although there's little newly edited material (perfectly understandable at this stage given the content you've compiled) in this sample, apart from the brief WC3 overview, to show the creative choices you intend to make in moulding your movie, you've evidently been able to maintain a very high-quality workflow and final compressed edit with seamless transitions, while your titling edits also integrate rather smoothly. There's a very small amount of letterboxing (i.e. the vertical resolution of the WC3 scenes is slightly below that of the WC4 scenes) during the WC3 scenes, but it's not really that noticeable.

I like your WC3 recap idea because it opens up some connectivity options in terms of themes and characters between WC3 and WC4 depending on how it is used, however as it stands it's too short and abrupt. A minute or two of exposition might sound unwiedly, but it could really establish the backdrop for your interpretation of WC4.

You could emphasize Tolwyn's determination ("last ditch effort to win the war outright", "what would you do if you had the biggest gun in the universe", etc) regarding the Behemoth and his desire to win whatever the cost and juxtapose it with his slide to megalomania in WC4 or at least set the parameters for the character arc; similarly with Blair, Maniac, Eisen, Melek et al one could show the progression. Perhaps interspersing your WC4 footage with some WC3 scenes via the oft-reviled flashback could be used? Either way, it further differentiates your version from the others under development, although I wouldn't let that dictate whether or not you include it -- if you feel that it detracts from the film, then cut it.

Also, instead of titling the WC3 exposition as "Previously [sic] The Kilrathi War" which makes it sound like a serialisation, rather I would suggest you could preface the initial WC3 scenes with a date, such as "2669.132" or "Late 2669" and then do the same with first WC4 scene, e.g. "2673.217" to try and better integrate the scenes .

Anyway, looking forward to seeing how this progresses.

Cheers,

Bryn
 

Queeg

Rear Admiral
Well, in terms of technical/editing proficiency and production quality your WC4 project looks promising, Queeg.

Although there's little newly edited material (perfectly understandable at this stage given the content you've compiled) in this sample, apart from the brief WC3 overview, to show the creative choices you intend to make in moulding your movie, you've evidently been able to maintain a very high-quality workflow and final compressed edit with seamless transitions, while your titling edits also integrate rather smoothly. There's a very small amount of letterboxing (i.e. the vertical resolution of the WC3 scenes is slightly below that of the WC4 scenes) during the WC3 scenes, but it's not really that noticeable.

I like your WC3 recap idea because it opens up some connectivity options in terms of themes and characters between WC3 and WC4 depending on how it is used, however as it stands it's too short and abrupt. A minute or two of exposition might sound unwiedly, but it could really establish the backdrop for your interpretation of WC4.

You could emphasize Tolwyn's determination ("last ditch effort to win the war outright", "what would you do if you had the biggest gun in the universe", etc) regarding the Behemoth and his desire to win whatever the cost and juxtapose it with his slide to megalomania in WC4 or at least set the parameters for the character arc; similarly with Blair, Maniac, Eisen, Melek et al one could show the progression. Perhaps interspersing your WC4 footage with some WC3 scenes via the oft-reviled flashback could be used? Either way, it further differentiates your version from the others under development, although I wouldn't let that dictate whether or not you include it -- if you feel that it detracts from the film, then cut it.

Also, instead of titling the WC3 exposition as "Previously [sic] The Kilrathi War" which makes it sound like a serialisation, rather I would suggest you could preface the initial WC3 scenes with a date, such as "2669.132" or "Late 2669" and then do the same with first WC4 scene, e.g. "2673.217" to try and better integrate the scenes .

Anyway, looking forward to seeing how this progresses.

Cheers,

Bryn
Yes I've decided not to go with the WC3 recap afterall. Any WC3 footage is just adding degraded video quality to the project, the flashback idea is brilliant though. As those clips could be black and white and quality loss would be less noticable. Hard part is finding where to put them.

Thank you for your feedback on the introduction, I'm not entirely satisfied with the titles but I don't know what font the intro sequence uses :confused:
However, here is something else you may be interested in, I found a good way of capturing the ingame footage using CamStudio. This way I don't get the frame drops that I did in Dosbox. Here is a test video demonstrating the inflight video test (not an actual mission).

Inflight Test Sequence

The vid is a little short but you get some idea. I am attempting to edit the missions in 5.1 surround sound so they have the same sound format as the FMV. I have attempted to move the sounds around to match what's happening on the screen (gun shots going left to right, ship takeoff - sound comes from behind then to the front center as the craft gets further away). Only trouble is Vista doesn't like my sound card and I'm using 3rd party drivers, so it's hard to tell if I'm getting true surround sound through my speakers. Anyway, look forward to hearing any peoples thoughts. :)
 

BrynS

Mr Kat says...
I'm not sure which font is used for the titles, but suspect that Origin either created it in-house or purchased it from one of the commercial libraries (e.g. Pacific Title et al) -- this might be mentioned in the WC4 credits. There may very well be some free fonts online that offer a close resemblance to it via some tweaking and expanding or condensing of the character spacing? I've tried a version of Camtasia before and found it effective at screen capturing; say for recording the OS desktop or a specified window/area of the screen, so presumably you've used it to record footage from WC4 running in a window? There still seems to be a few dropped frames here and there, but it's not that bad.

The external, in-flight samples look fine and the cropping you have done to blend with the FMV resolution should ease FMV-Inflight-FMV transitions, although I think as pointed out before, the loss of portions of the HUD/"cockpit" view is not always preferable to some -- I personally don't mind. Have you also stretched the aspect ratio slightly to reduce the vertical cropping?

Which sound card do you have? I qualified for Vista Business edition through Microsoft's coupon scheme, but will probably delay installation for a while longer, as some of my peripherals (most importantly, my printer) have yet to receive signed Vista 64-bit drivers last time I checked. :(

Cheers,

Bryn
 

Queeg

Rear Admiral
I'm not sure which font is used for the titles, but suspect that Origin either created it in-house or purchased it from one of the commercial libraries (e.g. Pacific Title et al) -- this might be mentioned in the WC4 credits. There may very well be some free fonts online that offer a close resemblance to it via some tweaking and expanding or condensing of the character spacing?
Yes, I will need to record the credits as they are ingame and not FMV so the font is probably mentioned there.

I've tried a version of Camtasia before and found it effective at screen capturing; say for recording the OS desktop or a specified window/area of the screen, so presumably you've used it to record footage from WC4 running in a window? There still seems to be a few dropped frames here and there, but it's not that bad.
Yeah, I get about 20fps which is quite acceptable, although to achieve that the capture quality has been compromised. I switch to a window before recording which means I can keep an eye on the fps. However, I will be getting a new computer soon so I plan to reshoot the missions so there's no lag or quality loss. It will be a few weeks but if a jobs worth doing, it's worth doing well.

The external, in-flight samples look fine and the cropping you have done to blend with the FMV resolution should ease FMV-Inflight-FMV transitions, although I think as pointed out before, the loss of portions of the HUD/"cockpit" view is not always preferable to some -- I personally don't mind. Have you also stretched the aspect ratio slightly to reduce the vertical cropping?
Fortunately I have found a way around the cockpit loss. When you eject on WC4 there's a cockpit view in an FMV sequence where Eisen or Pliers yells at you for bailing. By overlaying the regular inflight cockpits it looks like a full cockpit with the enemies still flying about.

Anyway I'll since these missions will be refilmed I may aswell post one to show what I mean

Mission 2 beta (follow Eisen to intrepid)

Which sound card do you have? I qualified for Vista Business edition through Microsoft's coupon scheme, but will probably delay installation for a while longer, as some of my peripherals (most importantly, my printer) have yet to receive signed Vista 64-bit drivers last time I checked. :(

Cheers,

Bryn
My soundcard is Creative Soundblaster Live 5.1. You would think after about 5 years of development they could make an operating system with the same if not more compatibility than XP.

Anyway on a side note, the FMV clips have all been imported into the project file so I just need the missions before I can proof view it for the first time. Anyway, I hope you remain interested in the project :).
 

Queeg

Rear Admiral
Hey guys, been away for awile, hows the movie goin?
All the DVD videos that shall be used have been edited, I just need to record the missions and then put it all together. The missions are on hold until my new PC arrives (ordered last week).
 

BrynS

Mr Kat says...
Hey Queeg,

I like the Mission 2 beta sample you cooked up using the overlays. :cool: Is the clarity of the overlayed gameplay likely to increase once you start using your new PC or is the quality of the overlays dependent on your editing/post-production software? Now that you have most of the DVD film footage set aside, how long do you anticipate your movie to be once the gameplay bits have been edited in or alternatively, what sort of length are you aiming for?

Cheers,

Bryn
 

Queeg

Rear Admiral
Hey Queeg,

I like the Mission 2 beta sample you cooked up using the overlays. :cool: Is the clarity of the overlayed gameplay likely to increase once you start using your new PC or is the quality of the overlays dependent on your editing/post-production software? Now that you have most of the DVD film footage set aside, how long do you anticipate your movie to be once the gameplay bits have been edited in or alternatively, what sort of length are you aiming for?

Cheers,

Bryn
I am determined not to go over 2 hours. The overlays may improve but I don't think the quality of gameplay footage will increase much, it's mainly just to get a full frame rate. However, I think the biggest problem was that the FMV cockpit was moving whilst thing's were happening outside. Freezing the picture should at least reduce interference and make a cleaner picture. I'll just have to keep playing around until I'm happy with it. Glad you liked the mission though :)
 

Darkelf

Spaceman
Hey great job so far Queeg. I'm confident you will make a great movie. WC4 is already fantastic to begin with, but your know-how in editing will make this another masterpiece.

One thing I immediately noticed was the jerky framerate in the intro movie (due to converting 29.97 fps NTSC to 25 fps PAL) but there's not much you can do about that, except for some complicated framerate conversions. I'm in the middle of working that out myself actually and haven't really found the perfect way to get a smooth framerate. So far Canopus Procoder 2.0 gives me the best results, but there should be better (cheaper) solutions.

Mission 2 beta works pretty good IMO. The overlay gives the mission gfx a very cinematic feel, like something straight out of a Hollywood movie.

Damn wish I was able to get off my butt and do something like this, but I already have much to do and so little time.

I'm looking forward to a DVD style encoding with full 5.1 sound if you eventually decide to make one. Man that would be sweet. Would gladly sacrifice my limited bandwidth for just this.

Keep us posted on your progress Queeg. Salute!
 

Queeg

Rear Admiral
The 5.1 sound is actually the part I find easiest :). I think i'll leave the video at it's native fps of 30 or 29.97 etc to smoothen out things. My new computer arrived a couple of days ago and now it's all setup I can continue working :). Glad the original missions are on the right track, I'll get to work on them now.
 
the image quallity is very nice i must conclude :)

only when the Medical frigate comes flying by I get these frame drops, just as if the frigate is skipping instead of flying that idea, I'm not sure if that can be fixxed?

for the rest it looks very prommising Queeg!

May The Force be With You on this one ;)
 

rtheriaque

Rear Admiral
How will your branch choices be made? I watched the WCIII movie quite some time ago, but I can't recall if you followed the novel or not.
 

Darkelf

Spaceman
only when the Medical frigate comes flying by I get these frame drops, just as if the frigate is skipping instead of flying that idea, I'm not sure if that can be fixxed?
Check my post above. It's because of converting the original video files (USA signal) to PAL (Europe signal), because that's where Queeg resides (I presume). It's very noticeable with panning shots or things moving by if the camera is fixed. It can be limited somewhat but cannot be fixed completely without artifacts / frame blending (results in blurry output which is horrible IMO).

Queeg, just do what you think is right, don't overcomplicate your work and take enough breaks. Cheers.
 

Queeg

Rear Admiral
Okay, I believe all frame related issues are resolved now. I have re-encoded the intro with the NTSC 29.97 frame rate and now the video is perfectly smooth. Also the mission capture lag is gone or unnoticeable. I have now redone the whole first mission and I'm quite happy with it. The cockpit overlay stuff has been dumped so better alternatives have been used.

How will your branch choices be made? I watched the WCIII movie quite some time ago, but I can't recall if you followed the novel or not.
Basically I'm putting the story as I see fit, I don't think it's too important to follow the novel this time.
 
Hey Queeg

I just heard about your work now. I haven't watched them yet (I'm in a class...literally just found your projects like an hour ago).

This is such an amazing idea. I played these games a few years ago, love Mark Hamill and thought the idea of combining a game with a movie was brilliant. It's sad that people don't do these live action games anymore (Besides Command & Conquer 3...the live action stuff is the only reason why I'm going to have to buy that game). But yes.

Not wanting to replay the game again, I've been looking for something just like this. I can't wait to go home, throw your WC3 on my PS3 and watch it on the big screen (Even though it'll probably look like crap).

You mentioned wanting to get the length to below 2 hours, that kinda worries me. I'd hate for you to sacrifice cool Live Action scenes just to lower the length. Maybe I'm worrying needlessly, I dunno, I downloaded the extended cut of WC3 for the same reason. I'm just looking for the most definitive version.

So what do you have to say about that... (I can't figure how to write that in the form of a question, but I guess just..."Definitive Version" discuss.)

EDIT

~~~, just occured to me the irony of my name being WingcommanderIV in a forum for Wingcommander. Tis funny.
 

Queeg

Rear Admiral
Yes perhaps an extended version should be done for this one, like the LOTR series. It's good to see new members still popping up on occasion :).

Just to give the thread an update, progress has been a bit slow these past couple of weeks but next week is the easter holidays, thing's should really start picking up and moving forward then.
 

Beckmen

Captain
Yes, that would be cool. Still waiting for somebody to release a WC4 movie. I check back here every few months.
 

Queeg

Rear Admiral
I think the video compresson is all sorted now. I have made a 1minute and 30 second clip of the intro into an AVI.

The AVI uses the compressons I plan to use for the final movie, which has an estimated file size of 1.3gigs (I know a bit big, but it is a movie and quality takes space).

The video details are as follows:
Video - Xvid Two Pass (Average bit rate 1200kb/sec)
Audio - AC3 dolby digital 5.1 channel

You can download the AVI with this link
http://www.sendspace.com/file/7wri0z

Please tell me what you think and if you experience problems viewing it. Any kind of critisim welcome. Thanks in advance for any feedback.
 

BrynS

Mr Kat says...
Looking good! :)

The framerate issues seem to be resolved and while it's difficult to simulate the original titling without the original font and production tools I assume, I think you've done a good job under the circumstances in maintaining the effect and flow where you have made edits.

I can't really discern the multi-channel AC3 through my laptop's tinny speakers, but I can see it interleaved in the AVI container. I know that the Dolby Digital on WC4 sounds good on the right setup and it's very neat that you're planning to integrate it completely into the project in both the FMV and gameplay scenes. Had no problems viewing it, but would think that anyone having problems may need something like AC3Filter if you don't have an appropriate AC3 DirectShow filter or VLC installed.

The compression quality also looks fine; 2-pass ~1200kbps VBR Xvid should be sufficient for the resolution. Are you using a custom matrix or the H.263 or MPEG profiles? How are the gameplay sequences looking on your new PC? Anyway, good work.

Cheers,

Bryn
 
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