Smith Family Fight Fantasies
Originally shot in DV widescreen the summer of 2006, this started as simply a fun Sunday afternoon project for my grandsons and I. I didn't get around to doing the postproduction till a year later. This Redux version was recently completed to demonstrate new post techniques and our ability to up-convert from SD to HD. New music was added, along with HD grade graphics and several filmic looks to emulate the look of film stock. The original can be viewed on our Archives page. Most of the sound effects are my own, some Foleyed just for this video. The vocals for Alec's character are his actual voice rerecorded, then manipulated in post. I was missing some vital footage we neglected to shoot in '06' that was necessary to complete the video. So a year after the original shoot, Alec and I recreated the scene and shot two additional clips that allowed me to finish this video. He was a whole year older than in the original footage. See if you can pick the clips out. The Family tradition lives on. This film features the voice of my grandson, Spencer, dubbed in for the images of my son Scott; Spencer's father. (see Back Story) The version you are seeing was 35 years in the making, involving 3 generations of Smith Family members. Originally shot and edited as a straightforward sequences, during restoration I realized that after 32 years of watching the evolution of martial arts films, it now lent itself more to comedy. So comedy it is, with a deep and appreciative bow to it's predecessor and inspiration, 'Kung Pow', the ultimate martial arts film parody. Rosemary came up with the son/grandson voice idea.
'The Little Dragon: HD 09'
This film is ment to be the sequel to 'Walk in the park' staring my son Michael. It plays right after 'Walk In The Park' on the DVD. This is actually two films combined to make one. The primary footage in color was shot when Mike was 9 years old. The flash-back sequence, in sepia tone was done when he was about 7. The voice of Michael age 9 was Scott's son Alec. The voice of Michael age 7 was Michael's younger son Mason. The voice of 'Big Brother' in the flash-back was Michael's' older son Anthony. Do we have you totally confused? There are a lot of sons and grandsons in the Smith family.
This film was shot the same day as the above 'Walk In The Park'. We always referred to it as 'Phil's Movie', but after 32 years it finally got a title during the final sound edit. Staring Phil Warren, even after 32 years of martial arts film evolution and sophistication, it still holds up. Because I'm in this one, my son Scott was camera man. He was 10 years old at the time. Phil continues his practice of Tae Kwon Do to this day. I've lost track of his level of Black Belt, but what difference does it make. He can kick your butt countless different ways.
This film was an exercise in shooting and editing something more complex than my previous films. We actually put a little planning into it this time. Scott was about five years older (15) than his appearance in "Walk In The Park." I had turned professional with my still photography and photo illustration by this time and I needed a film to show the producers of the martial arts feature film "The Instructor" being shot locally. They hired me on crew as a 'gaffer' on the strength of this film and my photo lighting skills. I soon advanced to the position of Assistant Director with that venture. "The Instructor" turned out to be a boxoffice bust but the production experience was very valid and rewarding. "The Instructor" had its moments but in retrospect I believe "The Bag Workout" is the better film, ha.
We've created this page for two reasons:
Because of our resent announcement about our new Web Series 'Secret Circle' we are experiencing renewed interest in our old Martial Arts films.
To demonstrate SD to HD Up-conversion
Because the previous versions of these films was created and published on Youtube and other video sites in Standard Definition, 4:3 aspect ratio over five years ago, we thought these films deserve an upgrade. Originally shot on Super-8 film over 35 years ago, then digitized in 2005 for restoration and sound design, then published on the Web and DVD, these films have come a long way. And so has MSDTV & Youtube. Four years ago, Youtube's video playback was less than perfect. In fact, it was downright crappy. Today, their video encoding (and ours) and their player have improved to the point that you can now watch video in Fullscreen HD. So now we have up-converted these films to the new Internet HD standards for your viewing enjoyment. These images may look soft and grainy to you, but that's just the way the film looked when projected and captured. Keep in mind, these images were then enlarged from 720x480 to 1440x1080 for HD processing, then cropped from 4:3 to 16:9 aspect ratio. Then encoded for upload to the 1280x720 HD standards for the Web. Considering all the original processing, that's a lot of processing. And we are very pleased with the results. Compared to the old versions, this is a much improved viewing experience for you, our visitors. All these films have garnered a Five Star rating on Youtube and have been view thousands of times there and elsewhere. We should point out that all the Martial Arts action in all of these movies was choreographed spontaneously, on the fly. You can still view the old versions on our Archives page by following the links to the bottom of that page. Don't forget to try the Fullscreen HD options in the players below for the best playback experience.
Follow the links below to the various sections on this page.
Smith Family Fight Fantasies Back Story
The four films below were shot and edited in the mid 70s on Super-8 film with no sound recorded. In 2005, after gathering dust in a box for 32 years, I digitized and re-edited them with the intention of building sound tracks for them and making them available on DVD for the family. Of course, that turned out to be much more complex and involved than I had originally anticipated. At the time of filming, my wife, Suann and I, and my two sons, Scott and Michael were actively practicing the Korean martial art of Tae Kwon Do. I was an advanced hobbyist filmmaker prior to my professional career in media. In retrospect I can see that these films were an inevitable family event.
So, one Sunday in the summer of 1973, quite without planning, my family and I and our Karate friends and teachers Bud Housley and Phil Warren, along with my Super-8 camera, found ourselves in a local park. And quite spontaneously, within a couple of hours we had shot "Walk In The Park" and "Mugged" They didn't acquire titles until much later but that's how it happened. Back then I would play a pre-recorded musical tape for sound when I projected them for friends and family, countless times in my basement theater. My second wife Rosemary came up with the idea of recording the voices of my grandsons for use as the voices of their fathers in these films. Rosemary ended up providing the voice of Suann, the mother character. I provided all the adult male vocals including the ones for Phil's character in "Mugged." It was great fun for all concerned and we ended up with a family project spanning 33 years and involving three generations of the Smith family.
"The Bag Workout," shot some 5 years later was a chance to try some classic film storytelling techniques. The now cliche' 'Subjective Camera', made popular by Hitchcock and many others still remains a great way to build suspense. I used many more angles and close-ups this time. Some of the original film cuts and splices were so brittle and fragile that they broke in the projector during restoration. That was true of all the films, especially "Walk In The Park." Thanks to digital video editing, I was able to piece it together.
The sound design was a great challenge. I probably went overboard with the footsteps. Just what does a back-fist-punch in slow motion sound like anyhow? Just like I want it to sound, that's how. Building the musical scores from my Buy-out library was a big revelation. I learned I could do just about anything I wanted to do so long as I have enough tracks to work with. A few of the SFX were borrowed from The film 'Kung Pow' with their blessing. Hats off to them for making the best martial arts parody film of all time. But most of the Sound FX were either plucked from my vast library of SFX or foleyed by me. Most of the sounds in "The Bag workout" had to be foleyed. My vast library had no sounds for a bag being punched and bouncing around on a chain. Most of the punches and kicks, falls and grunts and groans are mine.
Those of you who have read this far must know by now that this project was a labor of love, for me. and I love the way it turned out.