In December 2004 Quondam became the first Last ATAK Pictures DVD made publicly available. It contained two hours of bonus material and gave a unique insight into the creation of the short film. However, what is less know is that it is technically the third DVD for a Last ATAK Film to be produced.
In this first part of the 'Making The DVD' feature we will look at the original DVDs created for LiMBO and Autumn Heart and the reasons for them. In the second part we look at how these discs contributed to the Quondam DVD. In the final part we will look at the future of Last ATAK Pictures DVDs and a revisiting of old work.
Making The DVD Part 1 - LiMBO and Autumn Heart on DVD
For the cast and crew making LiMBO it was an enormously learning experience. The young and inexperienced crew were thrown in at the deep end with equipment and techniques they were learning as they went along, from the most constructive way to shoot coverage to having the ability to edit the film together, add sounds and music. Yet each step was a natural progression of the learning curve that they were on.
As the production drew to an end and was submitted for review by the Staffordshire University marking panel a question was formed by director Andrew Davidson and producer Katherine Reeve. Would it be possible to put the film on DVD? It would be for no other purpose than their own enjoyment, to say that they had done it. Honestly, who even watches VHS anymore?
To their delight, making a DVD would not only be possible, it would be (relatively) simple. Designer Michael Buxton, who had created the film's logo, was drafted in and the three discussed what they thought would make nice features on the disc and how it would all be put together.
They were encouraged to create a spider diagram of the menus and how they would piece together, each link moving from one page to the next. Their immediate response was that any DVD needs an audio commentary. With University out for the summer, Reeve and Davidson were the only production team available, so arranged an afternoon and a recording studio and sat down to record a commentary for the film. Both had come prepared with a sheet of notes of things that they wanted to talk about or mention. They sat down, the film started and 6 minutes later they were through, with only a handful of their points mentioned, so they did it again. This time it was more fun. They recorded a third, fourth and fifth versions of the commentary (5 versions all of which are now lost and unavailable to be reproduced here). They sat back and listened through their work, and after careful consideration decided to use the first commentary as it sounded the most natural and effortless.
To this date no other commentary for a Last ATAK DVD has ever been recorded more than once.
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During this time, Michael Buxton had been reading and learning how to create DVD menus using Photoshop image layers. There were to be four menus for the disc: a main menu, a scene selection menu, a special features menu and an image gallery. All but four of the images used in the image gallery can be found on the Behind The Scenes of LiMBO on this web site.
Michael Buxton and Andrew Davidson then sat down with Apple's DVD Studio Pro and an instruction manual and slowly pieced the DVD together. The non-anamorphic video track (it would take until the Autumn Heart DVD a year later to be able to do that, and the Quondam DVD a further 18 months after that to master the technique properly), the film's audio, the commentary track, the chapter markers, the scene selection menu linking to those markers and the pages on pages that formed the image gallery.
Finally it was finished, but such a small and unassuming project was it that only three versions of the disc were ever burned before the media was deleted. However, it was generally regarded as a success and the results were encouraging enough that to make a DVD would be a goal as part of the next production.
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