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Case Study

Indie Filmmaking Invasion: Becoming The Changed

5 minute read

Invisible effects and the importance of visual grammar with the Boris FX Suite.

Taylor Warren is a post-production generalist who works in central Connecticut out of a 1940s barn he outfitted with a full post suite. The location sounds both bucolic and like it might be an ideal place to escape The Changed. The sci-fi thriller stars Tony Todd (I cannot see his name without thinking, but never saying Candyman) and harkens back to Night of the Living Dead (1968) and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) style movies.


Warren acted as the post-production supervisor on the film, while also editing with writer/director Michael Mongillo close by his side. “We used the Boris FX Suite in Avid Media Composer, After Effects, and Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve. It’s a huge time and headache saver,” says Warren. “One of the best features of the Boris FX Suite is that it’s cross-platform. This becomes even more important if you are working in an offline/online edit and relinking to camera original footage in the mastering environment.”

The Changed Edit005-1200Taylor Warren in his custom-built post suite

A significant portion of the film was shot handheld by two camera operators. Warren turned extensively to Mocha Pro to tackle image stabilization. “We didn’t have time to review and cross-cut every shot of the film to determine whether there was a match in movement style between shot angles for each moment of a take,” states Warren. “Mocha’s planar tracking and adjustable stabilization literally made many of the moments of our film possible. The single most important feature of Mocha for me is its result variability and featherability. With ordinary stabilization, you can be limited to off or on. You have almost infinite adjustability with Mocha to the amount of stabilization applied. This made matching one handheld shot from one operator to a second handheld shot by another operator much easier (or, frankly, possible at all).”

The Changed, Before & After, stabilization using Mocha Pro

Mocha also came in handy on a particularly complex sequence that Warren could not complete on his own. The sequence was farmed out to the team at Lucid Studios, who smoothed the motion, removed lighting in background windows, and removed unwanted facial expressions. “When I asked how the artist did it, it was all Mocha,” notes Warren. “There was literally no way he could have created the results he achieved without it. That completely matched my experience with the more simple stabilization I was doing in Mocha with the handheld shots.”

The Changed, Before & After, stabilize Steadicam footage and remove lights from windows using Mocha Pro

Once the preferred takes were stabilized, Warren moved on to assembling the edit. “Michael (the director) has a great affinity for the storytelling style of the 1960s and 1970s masters, particularly Brian DePalma, Stanley Kubrick, and Terrence Malik, really the American New Wave,” comments Warren. “His preferred transitional style is either a cut or a dissolve. Period.” 

Warren relied on Sapphire to help bring his director’s creative vision to life. “Sapphire gets a lot of kudos for advanced lighting effects and high-end visual effects, but most of that was not important to us on The Changed,” remarks Warren. “What was critically important to us was simple transitions that could mimic the traditional look and feel of AB roll negative cut. We established a visual grammar of a cut out of one shot, followed by black, followed by a specific, very long dissolve (or fade up) as a means of transitioning from one central story point to the next. The Sapphire Film Dissolve looks like it happened photographically at the print stage of a transitional negative cut which was the aesthetic we were going for. Every single dissolve in the film is a specific Sapphire Film Dissolve.” 

Warren is a veritable jack of all trades, and he likes it that way. His role on The Changed not only covered invisible effects and the edit. He also coordinated with the composer and the sound effects editor, helped with the color grade, finished the 5.1 mix at the studio, and generated the deliverable assets (DCP, Masters, Stems, etc.) in-house.

“We’re not in a major market, so a lot of the time, it’s more of a necessity to take on and complete a new task on a project,” ends Warren. “I’ve been extremely fortunate to have been able to do this work on a variety of projects over the course of 25 years. I’ve had the opportunity to be ‘forced’ to learn many tasks.” 

The Changed is available to stream on Apple TV, Prime Video, Redbox, and Vudu.

Learn more about Mocha Pro and download a free trial

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