Unearthed Part One, The Where-to's and How-for's

I've got a lot to talk about and I work best in ramble mode so here I go :)

I generally like to have all of my sets and props built before beginning filming, but in an attempt to get something done for SMS, and show my undying love for the Visual Haiku Challenge , I started filming Unearthed with only three of my six sets built. Hell, I haven't even finished storyboarding a few of the main sequences :P I'm thinking this may be a better way to work, though, especially on longer shorts (oxymoron!). I'm getting a lot of positive feedback on the clip and its helped to rejuvenate me a bit. I'll be striking the alley set and preparing the cafe set for filming in the next few days. The cafe scene leads directly into a 2-D sequence (Herbie unlocks the book and sees its story) which I haven't even started on yet

As for Part One. For the puddles, I simply cut the shapes out of some hot pink cardstock and laid them on the set, then chromakeyed out the pink and layered in the float footage, which had to be reversed b/c the floats were going the wrong way. You may notice the writing on the float is backwards, d'oh!
I had to desaturate the opening of the clip b/c I couldnt get all of the pink out at the edges. I originally planned to have puddles across the entire set for Su to run through but decided that was nuts. Just plain bonkers. Waaaay to many headaches for this film, lets save those for Jenny :) In the end I coated the cobbles with a high gloss varnish so they'd appear wet.

I used a lot of camera movement on this one, pretty much everything that you see was done while shooting. My favorite bit is the close-up/knife reveal. I screwed a plank between my camera and tripod, tied the pups down to the end of it, and panned across the set.....pups stay in one place, set moves behind them. I got the idea from a camera move I saw originally in Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream, where he attached the camera to a running actor, keeping them stationary in the frame while the background twitters and twirls behind them.....I plan to develop this further, I'd like to try a walk or run where I'd basically animate the walk through camera moves while the pup is stationary.

I didnt drill any tie-down holes until I needed them, didn't drill any for Su at all, just balanced her on her dress.

I decided to start Su off with a cut across her cheek and a bloody nose, to let the audience know right away that she's in trouble, that you're joining an attack in progress. When I needed to animate her eyes, I'd paint out the pupils with white paint, then redraw them with a fine-tipped ink pen. I designed her train with armature wire in it, to be sturdy enough to hold her up in the air with no rig for the big yanking scene, but when I came to animate that scene, after attaching the ends of the train to Herbie's hands and adding some hidden support to him, she just would not stay up. I ended up dragging over my surface gauge and adding a little Su-support using armature wire which had to be photoshopped out.

I wanted the jewel on the key to glow ever-so-slightly, especially in Herbie's hand. I achieved this by layering a copy of the clip on top of itself. I put a cookie-cutter effect on it, putting a feathered circle around the jewel, then amped the contrast and put a glow on it. In a longer clip, I couldve even key-framed the intensity of the glow so that it appeared to shimmer. Hard to explain but here's a pic....

This is the first time I've tackled anything really 'action-y', fast-paced, and I definitely let the music guide me, based most of my timing on it in fact. I used a yardstick to gauge the light that I moved at the end of the alley, particularly effective on the long shot, the Dutch angle. The whole shebang was lit with miniature lights, I ended up getting a few more sets at clearance from the Christmas village reject bin, hooray for me. Its a hell of a lot easier to move puppet-sized lights around, just inches from the set, to try different setups, than it is to move people-sized lighting. Worked for this scene, dark and moody. For the blood on the cobbles, I just painted that right on with crimson acrylic paint, made sure to go over the whole thing on every frame so it would stay 'wet'.

Hmmmmm.......I know there's more but I think I'm out of gas for now :) Questions? Ask away, always!


Shelley Noble said...

had to Goggle "Dutch" shot but yeah, I agree! That's a dynamic point in the clip. It's like the world goes off-kilter to match the madness of the action. Great work Jeffery!

Paul (Vortex42) said...

Great to read all the details! Nice one!