Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Another one. Got lots in the bag now.

Monday, September 28, 2009

One of our Lowell hotlights fried yesterday. A wire was rubbing against something. Shorted out, melted a hole, stopped working. Just when we were finally ready to really go full-steam ahead. We had to light the bluescreen with one light. We tested it and found it keyable, though. Nothing every works perfectly it seems.

The garbage matte is cutting off a wee bit of his head. Just a quick little comp. We like it. We've established a quality level; not spectacular, but we like it. We did 7 shots yesterday. They're just the model huffing and puffing with some head movements, but hey. That's alot of stuff in the bag for one day. Gonna see if we can't polish off his shots within a few days.

Friday, September 25, 2009

I was having a hard time with the arms; there's tension on them due to the rope. I remembered something I saw from the 'making of' of an old Japanese stop motion. I trick they were using to animate moving grass. Works real good. Just secured a thread spool with a nylon insert lock nut, tight enough that the tension don't unravel it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

We've been having problems with greenscreening. We thought we had a good result, but we really didn't look close enough. We're using an AE plugin; Keylight 1.2. Which is a great pice of software, that's been used for a zillion Hollywood films. Point being, it works just fine.

The main problem is always the same; we key out our green, but it also removes some pixels from our puppet, resulting in a hideous dancing grain. It's been frustrating, because it feels like we're doing everything right. We've been reading the instructions. And Dave has the photographer training. Switching the Keylight view to 'screen matte' shows us that we've got a clean result. Likwise with 'status view'. The only thing that killed the grain was switching to 'Intermediate view', which disables the spill suppression. So our problem is spill. But we put the puppet on a black base (instead of a green one); same result. The tiniest bit of reflection from the not-quite-matte black was giving us a teeny bit of spill, which meant grain. We figure we can disable the spill suppressor - doing so results in a bit of a green halo around the subject - and then clean up the rest with different keying tooks, choker mattes, etc. But we don't want to do it that way. The most recent shot took 20 minutes to animate. If it takes 45 minutes to key, that's an obvious problem. What we want is to pick our matte colour, and poof, have a passable result right away without touching a setting.

We tried using blue instead. It totally solved the problem. There was a teensy bit of grain in a test case wherein our foreground blue was very different from our background blue, and the foreground blue area was larger than it needed to be - we could have blocked it off to get a minimum of spill. But a proper test was totally fine. We like to do a few tests, to see where the threshold is for suckage. We're not toally sure why blue works so much better, but it does.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Here it is. Our first animation element. He'll be one of three elements. The animation ain't very inspired or great, but in this shot, he'll be almost completely covered by Johannes in the foreground. A good shot for practice and out-bug-working.

The keying is rough. Just for see how it looks.

We've been delving deep into greenscreening and keying. Not nearly as easy as we thought. That is to say, it looks good, until you look closer. I've found the answer to successful greenscreening; read the manual. Keylight explains all and in depth in the .pdf that comes with the plugin. It's pretty powerful software - you can key out some pretty heinous stuff with that thing.

I haven't posted anything in while because i've been too busy working. Which is probably a good sign. What we been doing? Made another puppet - the 'Tied-Up Model'. We used to call him 'the Chained Model'. But rope works better. So we call him 'Chainey'. I crapped out another animatable head in record time. He justs opens his mouth. But that'll do for this guy. I was racing to finish his costume for a greenscreen session, which was a mistake. I ended up altering his jacket substantially, redoing his sleeves onces, and his vest three times. Slow is fast, I have to remember.
I like the hat. It's period.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Been doing loads of other work too. Too busy to post any pictures. Which is probably a good sign. I'm trying to work 10 hours a day minimum, and 3 hours a day on those days when i'm at my day job. It's pretty exhausting. Been more like 12-13 hours a day recently. There's always more work to do; yesterday, for example: dipped two sets of hands in latex multiple times, built them up, etc, poured resin many times for the 'tied model's' head, made the eyes, located their final positions, epoxied them into place, built the neck armatures, tested out various joint epoxies, tested out various faux-suede staining methods, worked on redoing Cornelisz's head motion control pins, etc. etc. etc.

A couple little colour tests. We stumbled on a neat HDR technique; altering the colour of the original three exposures. Does some neat stuff to the colour; in particular, it leaves brighter colours bright (like props) and sucks the orange out of the wood. These aren't great examples of this technique. But you get the idea.

Here's the final lighting rig. Tons of cards on everything. People sometimes ask me how big the set actually is; see boot in set picture.

After hours and hours of lighting, we've finally settled on the final lighting for the scene. And with small variations, most of the scenes in this set. There's no longer anything we can or want to do to it. We finally got the light on the back wall just how we want, after going back and forth and fiddling with it dozens of times. This particular shot won't likely even be used in the film; Dave is going to tweak the colour and levels of it, and us it as the 'master' for the set. Meaning we'll make the rest of the shots match.
We also shot the majority of the background stills for the current scene (Scene 4). So we have something that will actually be in the movie. Far out.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Putting a bunch of plates side by side to see how they much up. Gonna take alot of finicky colour correction. See middle, bottom image; quite a few shots will just have a background like that; not much to see, and out of focus.

The lighting sure is finicky. The HDR processing makes it more so. It's pretty much done, though. We're getting reasonably consistent results, and keep going back to the same set-up. It's not as simple as making it look good; there's other considerations too. A great deal of the backgrounds that'l constitute most of the footage will be just the back wall, up close. I've found that too much contrast in the back wall is distracting when you stick a puppet image in there. For example. We're also not really sure exactly how warm or cool the thing is going to be overall. Probably pretty cool. It's more evil.

Friday, September 04, 2009

We've put some gels on our lights; tungsten to daylight conversion. Dave was finding that he had to push the raw exposures harder than they should be pushed to correct the colour. HDR does some pretty whacky stuff; one picture will come out great, and another nearly identical one, with the light moved slightly, will come out dark and murky. We're learning some stuff though.

On this one, I crudely photoshopped in some haze. I think I like it.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Three variations. Lighting is finicky.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

We've spent three evenings in a row now in the studio, working on the lighting. Changing the fill, moving it around, putting all sorts of cards on it, shoot-throughs, scrims, putting gels on the lights, etc. etc. etc. Still ain't working that great. The main problem is that we can never really see what we're getting until we get it home. Hard to see on the laptop screen. As well, because we're processing the shots with HDR tone mapping, the results are erratic as hell.

Gonna have to go back there and work on it with a real monitor.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Our glamorous studio with our fancy lights.

These pics are still too dark; but that's more of an exposure setting and processing issue. Our lighting is not far from being done for this scene. We fixed our fill. It's coming from above, instead of low. Much better.
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