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Chris Taylor is an incredibly talented VFX professional and friend. He’s worked on a few of my short films as well as some pretty awesome blockbuster movies like The Dark Knight Rises. I asked him to write a guest post for the blog, talking about the visual effects in Love Like Hers…
VFX Work on Danny Lacey’s ‘Love Like Hers’
I’d been following Danny’s ‘Filmmaking Journey’ through twitter and facebook for quite a while and when I saw that he needed some visual effects help to finish his short film ‘Love Like Hers’, I offered my services to help out. I’m a strong believer in karma in this industry and Danny is clearly someone who ‘gives’ a lot, so it was a pleasure to offer him the same.
The work was about a dozen shots that split into two main types of shots. There were a few scenes in the film set inside a car and unfortunately some scaffolding was visible just outside the window that needed removing. There were also a bunch of shots that required a CG butterfly adding to a scene where a girl is observing it.
Car Driving Shots
The first thing I did was track the shot, I was mostly concerned about the ‘up and down’ motion since the ‘left to right’ was flying by so quickly that motion blur would hide any inconsistencies. The next step was to create a really long, but not very tall slice of the background (probably about 18K pixels wide), this was pretty much made up from the background that was still in shot.
This was then tracked into the shot and laid over the area where the scaffolding was. The ‘up and down’ motion needed to be accurate, but the ‘left to right’ was just hand animated to roughly match the speed of the car and after a couple of attempts it was good enough that motion blur would hide any speed mismatch. I like to think this technique is just a digital version of the old school back projection, but rather than projected footage, it’s just a really long photo that someone is running really fast past the camera with.
So this took care of the scaffolding, but now the patch of background is obscuring the rest of the shot and looking like it’s inside the car. This is taken care of by rotoscoping, which in this case was the process of masking out the original footage and layering that back on top of the shot, but without including the areas where the scaffolding was.
The car driving shots were composited in After Effects.
The Butterfly Shots
I just happened to have a CG model of a butterfly from a previous job so I was able to reuse that and fortunately the texturing/colouring job was okay for what Danny needed. This was animated to closely match a layout that was done for the shots, the wings were setup to pretty much just flap back and forth, with a bit of variation added by adding a noise filter to the rotation of the wings.
Lighting in CG should always start by looking at the footage that the CG needs to match to, in this case it was pretty overcast and flat, with no hard shadows and a lot of indirect diffuse. It was pretty difficult to get any shadows to read on the butterfly as the only part that created shadows were the wings, which were flapping so fast that any shadows kind of mushed themselves out.
For most of the shots there was no need to do a matchmove (3D camera track). The butterfly’s motion was so erratic that I was able to just render them as if they were in a locked off shot, then with some 2D tracking of the background, that was enough to lock the CG butterfly into the shot.
Most of the compositing work was simply matching black and saturation levels. The film was shot on 16mm and the grain was pretty heavy so matching the grain as closely as possible was very important.
The Butterfly shots were done using 3DSMax for the CG and After Effects for compositing.
Thanks for stopping by.