Saturday, April 28, 2007

Way Up High

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Here are some stills from the shot I did on Thursday, the closing shot of the music video. This ended up being not only the hardest shot to set up, but also the hardest to animate. And I thought it would be one of the easiest.

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Building the set took quite a lot of hard work and ingenuity. My mom spent the day down at the studio helping me, I couldn’t have done it without her. I stole some giant stones from some people in the neighborhood to create this cliff-side view, overlooking the forest beneath (can you tell by the foggy atmosphere that I was inspired by my trips to the Marin Headlands as a kid?). When you only have a little bit of space, it is very hard to create such a forced depth of field, especially without casting shadows on the “sky.” Most of the trees in the very background are chunks of clay on a table edge and paint strokes on the construction paper sky, and there are some fake plants coming a little closer to the camera.

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Because the whole set is elevated, I didn’t have lots of “elevation tables” to fit heavy rocks on, so I made a couple fake rocks. I just crumpled up some gray construction paper and painted them a little. I think they look great, and I don’t think you can tell in the shot.

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The biggest issue with this setup was the big line running down the middle of the shot where the two pieces of paper that make the sky meet, so we threw a tree right up front in the middle and you don’t even know it’s there. It’s interesting that a decision like that is made from necessity, but it ended up making the shot look even better. I love when that happens.
The other problem with the shot was figuring out how to get the standing character to stay standing on the giant stone, since it’s not a very good support for a clay character. Then my mom came to the rescue and made a little contraption out of clay and shish kabob sticks that go up the characters butt and allow him to stand. The sticks are actually in the shot but I painted them black to blend with the background and you can't see them. Perfect.

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Overall this ended up being a beautiful shot that I’m really proud of. Due to the lay out of the set, I did not have the easiest access to the characters, which made animating them difficult. I had to walk all around the set every frame to move each figure. But in the end, it all worked out and now I can’t wait for the next one.

1 comment:

pram said...

To backlight a sky, position a bright shop light at about a 35 degree angle to the background, lighting from below (technically not backlighting, but anyway)

You don't want the light at a bigger angle, because it will reflect off of the background you'll be bouncing light everywhere you don't want it.

I was lucky enough to show John Ashlee (from Will Vinton Studios, now Laika Entertainment) a video of the making of one of my forest sets, and he liked the lighting, which surprised me. He's been a DP since Claymation Easter, and that was a huge compliment. I wish I'd stuck with the clay thing, but music called and I spent the next ten years doing that instead. I'm coming back, though, as soon as I can find a decent framegrabber. What do you use to capture frames?

-D