The Lift explores the consequences of one very common behavior of not holding the elevator door open for someone rushing to get on or worse, lifting your finger and actively pushing the close button. In this film, an elevator interaction between the two lead characters goes wrong, prompting a young woman to learn about being insensitive and to be more considerate in the future.
The Lift seamlessly marries traditional animation and 3D background illustration into a modern day moral tale that any city dweller should heed. A mix of realism and fantasy helps transport the story from the modern world into a fantasy ala Alice going into the rabbit hole to see what’s on the other side only to then learn that her attitude was wrong.
A true labor of love, it took Robert and his team over 4 years to complete this 5 minute plus film that has been screened in over 55 festivals around the world, winning awards in 15 of them. Robert explored working with artists found online, all of whom he had never met and have developed continued working relationships with some of them. In this day and age it’s important to leverage social networking into your business model and The Lift is an example of this trend.
Robert lives in New York with his fiancé and his computer.
I had the pleasure of being accepted to this past year’s 7th Annual Big Apple Film Festival. Its always wonderful to attend a film festival that you can just roll out of bed and go to. Big Apple really knows how to treat its filmmakers. The first night of the festival I attended a party at a Steak House. Two days later they through a sit-down meal in Little Italy. I had a really great time, though the best part is getting a screening at the renowned Tribeca Cinema’s. The end of fest party was also really great, even though I didn’t win anything its always great to attend and excellent to meet so many other filmmakers and talk shop.
Here is a little snippet of me talking about my film, The Lift, then check out the pics.
I just returned from a long weekend in New Orleans and I wasn’t there for just the Creole! The 21st New Orleans Film Festival was screening my film The Lift and because I love the town I had to hop a plane down there and check it out.
Overall, a great festival, lots of filmmaker only events, tours and activities. Some of the screenings were held at this phenomenal theater called the Canal Place Theater where you could order food and drink from your seat while watching a movie. The seats where wide leather – New York has to do this!
Kat and I also attended a wonderful filmmaker’s brunch at Second Line Stages, a really swank new Hollywood quality sound stage in the heart of the city. They recently wrapped up filming The Green Lantern there.
I attended my screening on Saturday followed by a short Q&A, mostly I talked about my inspiration for The Lift. Kat and I realized that we needed a motivation for a character early on, which is why we went for a moral tale. Living in New York elevators are a big part of life, so is the etiquette around elevators. We decided on an old and young woman because it would reflect a theme related to respecting elders, a common Chinese tradition. I wanted to use a young woman simply because I wanted to animate that. After that you throw the ideas together and see what sticks.
Overall a really wonderful time at a truly top notch fest!
Check out this video. Rage much dude LoL!
I am excited to announce that The Lift will be screening at the following festivals:
New Orleans Film Festival
First Glance Film Fest Philadelphia
Atlantic City International Film and Music Festival
Boston Film Festival
Toronto Independent Film Festival
Additionally I just returned from a wonderful weekend at the 19th Woods Hold Film Festival. Kathy, my co-writer also attended. I was lucky enough to have my film screened two times, once at the main screening then a second time at the 20 in 2 hours screening. At the main screening I did a short Q&A with the other filmmakers who were attending.
The festival also did this wonderful filmmaker’s brunch at a house out on Penzance Point which overlooked Buzzard’s Bay. The nightly after parties also made it progressively harder and harder to get up in the morning. We stayed in Falmouth which is just a hop-skip-and-jump away, in fact most days we just biked into Woods Hole for the daytime festivities.
Overall the Woods Hole festival was a class A experience, I had so much fun and all the people who were a part of the festival were just wonderful. There is one thing that you begin to appreciate about well run festivals, communication. Woods Hole never failed to keep me in the loop. I can’t wait to try and submit my next film in 2 years.
I haven’t posted since C2E2, mostly because work has been crazy busy but also I didn’t have all that much too say. Of late, the festivals are starting to pickup. I was just informed that The Lift will be screening at The Woods Hole Film Festival (Woods Hole, MA), Animation Block Party (Brooklyn) and at the Crystal Palace International Film Festival (London).
All of these are so wonderful and I couldn’t be happier, I have to say that its always been a goal to get into the Woods Hole Fest. I have been going up to Falmouth, a town near Woods Hole, since I was little. There was a time when I didn’t want to do art let alone animation, I wanted to be a marine biologist. Woods Hole is the seat of this industry as NOAA is based out of Woods Hole and Bob Ballard’s expeditions to the Titanic were also based out of here. So this one is a little extra sentimental.
Posting an image up from the AIFF website of my film at the top of the films section, looks so nice!
If you are in the area check out The Lift at its first festival screening in 1080p! More details
With the first ever C2E2 only 4 days away I figured I would show off a little bit of the stuff I intend to sell. I just mastered my first run of DVDs. Each DVD contains the stereo and Dolby surround sound versions of The Lift as well as the animatic and rough animation tests. Additionally the disks have my previous 2 films, I Am and II, both of which were college films. I will also be selling well over 20 paper prints and around 6-10 mounted canvas prints.
Just wanted to toss this out there. I just finished working on my new Kohrtoons Studio logo and its logo slate animation for the Lift DVD that I will be selling at C2E2 next week. The animation is my first animation in Toonboom’s Animate Pro.
Last week I turned 29 and had my premiere party for “The Lift”. All-in-all we had between 50-60 people at The Central Bar in their upstairs lounge. With an assortment of Irish brews, Duval brands and one of my fav’s, Brooklyn No. 1 we all celebrated what had turned out to be nearly a 3 year project 5 years in the making.
Thanks to all my friends and colleagues who came, you really made it a special night for me!
Check out some of the pics from the night, unfortunately my camera was near dead but we got a few memorable shots in.
I just wanted to make a brief note on organization, the production side of the project. I know this sounds crazy and ‘un-artistic’ but to be a filmmaker and an efficient filmmaker you have to be organized. Before I start ANY project I create a chart of goals. The finished chart for “The Lift” (above), was used to not only keep my self motivated, to keep CG sequences organized but also to organize the freelancers who helped me. First, list out all your shots, then try to visually determine their complexity. I used several ways; how many characters are in the shot, is there a 3d background or 2d background, is there camera movement and can I say the shot is complex in some other way. After that I noted what type of background was needed followed by several columns dedicated to what phase the shot was in (Anim, Cleanup, Color, Shade, Grade, 3D, BG, Final (composite). They are shown all blue because the film is done, but when I was working on it they were mostly yellow to indicate that that phase had yet to be reached. You then need some sort of note column, most of my notes relate to how to replicate the 3D shots. Then I have 2 columns that indicate who is working on what. Usually you can tint these green when they are working on them.
Greg, my sound designer / mix master, sent me an edit of Dolby 5.1 audio last night along with a final stereo mix down. I have never worked with surround sound so it was hit or miss if I would get it to work. As I have said in the past, the shots were all composited individually in After Effects, the final edit is in Final Cut, mostly because it allows for easy assembly of assets, the best analogy I can make is its like using InDesign to layout a comic as opposed to laying it out in Photoshop, which would be tedious.
The WAV file came with 6 channels, so when you dump it into Final Cut it fills 6 audio fields (instead of the normal 2 for stereo). When you play it some really mucky mess of audio comes out of one speaker. You have to go in and fine tune all these settings basically assigning the 6 channels to something. At a loss of what to do I found this great tutorial on it at Ken Stones Final Cut Pro 2 Website.
So the 6 channels are sitting there doing their thing, but you still need to tell them where to go. Unfortunately I found that Final Cut only supports L R C LFE Ls Rs (or Left | Right|Center|Subwoofer|Surround Left|Surround Right). The playback came out off center and without any base. My track for “The Lift” was L C R Ls Rs LFE. That said I can’t listen to it in Final Cut. If you read though the tutorial it shows you how to export an MOV using the Linear PCM codec which supports 5.1 surround. The key difference for me was to check the channel part under audio settings when making the MOV. Once I did this everything worked fine and I was able to then listen to the result through the simulator in DVD Studio Pro.
In the end it was quite the experience and a good lesson in doing something I am not going to end up doing very often.
After 4 years of sweat, tears and late nights, I have FINALLY finished my short film! I created this site as a single place to get more information on screenings of “The Lift” as well as explore how I made the film that kept me up many nights until 2AM. While creating a production blog would have been nice, my day job precluded me from doing both the film and the blog. The 3 posts prior to this were copied from my other site Kohrtoons.com.
Once again I have to thank Kathy Lien for all that she has done and without her help this site would sound like a 15 year-old high school drop out wrote it; I kid of course but she did help craft some wonderful one liners and descriptions.
This week I am posting a much earlier shot from my film ‘The Lift’. In this shot the main character is leaving for work, or what ever she does. As you saw from one of the other later shots I posted she doesn’t make it to where she was going.
Something I haven’t really talked about yet, and I am always asked, is when will it be finished. I am looking to complete this film in early 2010, actually the end of January. I am attempting to submit this film to Annecy which is apparently celebrating its 50th anniversary. If you are interested I took some pictures when I was there in 2003 (Annecy Animation Festival Pictures).
I am posting this new video on my blog a little late this time, a week late actually. I forgot to do this last week, though I did get it up on Youtube and Vimeo. This week I won’t be doing a video as its a holiday in the US.
Shot 51, what you see below is the shot immediately after last weeks, the girl gets pulled down the sewer drain and transported to another world.
Other than that I think I am pretty set on the new title of the film “The Lift”, as my sister Emma says “Once and Never Again” sounded lame. I think i agree.
This week I created an almost 7 minute tutorial showing my process of developing a shot from the animatic to the final video. I demonstrated how I use Flash to create the animation and color the frames, Blender to generate the 3D scenes and After Effects for composting.
On another note the film is currently called “Once and Never Again” though I am considering changing it to “The Lift”. The premise of the film is an elevator experience gone wrong, a cautionary tale about holding the elevator door for people (though you wouldn’t know it from this shot)