Peter M Howard ::

wintermute.com.au

Phi (Jade Cut) now online

11July2007 [film]
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In which I finally release the five episodes of Φ, collected from around the internet of 2008 and made available at hackfilm.com

Am finally ready to release Phi (the Jade cut) to the wilds of the internets.

Phi :: Black, White, Yellow, Red, Jade

Phi (or more accurately, just Φ), takes place in the aftermath of an invasion. Mysterious Strangers take over the City, impose martial law and a curfew, and… life goes on. Within weeks the Strangers have all-but disappeared — they own the nights but by day it’s business as usual — and people start to forget. The entire project consists of five separate videos, “discovered at various anonymous locations around the internet over the course of 2008”. It’s internet storytelling, but isn’t, having been pre-found and -collected for convenience.

I’ve set it up on a separate site over at hackfilm.com/phi. There I have a couple of versions available. Each of the images link to a 480x270 quicktime movie, H264 encoded. Clicking the image loads up a little javascript overlay thing I call Moviebox (based on Lightbox but hacked up for my own needs). If you’ve got a decent connection, that should work, but I’ve seen it choke in all sorts of not-quite-perfect conditions. Alternatively, there are links below each image to download the H264 version or a smaller “iPod version” - 320x180 MP4s that should happily play on most portable video players. Those versions are also a little smaller (<25MB all up) so an ordinary broadband connection will pick them up.

Online they’re divided into the five “releases”, which really is the way they’re meant to be presented — nothing wrong with watching them in one hit, but story-wise they’re individual. And they’re episodic, so you really do need to suspend your disbelief and imagine the passing of time too. If you can manage that they work pretty well, as there are references from one release to another that emphasise the episodic nature.

For the big uni screening I had the luck to have a tutor who really got what I was trying to do with them, and he split them up over the first half of the night. So it was my rel01, then someone else’s short, then my rel02, someone else’s short, &c. Confused people at first, but I think it worked really well — one or two of the releases really leave you hanging.

Not sure where to from here. Putting this project together, with a day a week off work, but otherwise working full-time, and with zero-budget, was an interesting experience. Encouraging, even; makes me want to try other projects in my spare time, rather than waiting till I can do this as a full time job. I have a couple of ideas for other small projects that I’m going to start developing now, and will do my best to make time for them over the coming months…

Big thanks to Paul Caesar, the “voice of the City”, who really makes this thing work. I knew, going into this, that’d it could be a hard sell, but Paul’s performance makes it worthwhile. Was also enormously worthwhile working with Paul on the character before we shot the thing.

And kudos to Ryan Collings, who supplied sound effects despite my ridiculously vague directions (“make it sci-fi, but not sci-fi; realistic, unsettling, &c”) and my inability to show him any useful footage in time.

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