Unfortunately, beause of the delays with the shoot and with me having to work on my other project I wasn’t quite able to finish the film in time. The rotoscoping is still rough in parts, and I completely ran out of time to sync up the sound and create sound effects for the time warp sequence (although one aspect of the sound effects was put in).
Here’s the final, almost finished:
There are some issues with the film. For one, the pacing is off – the takes during the chase all last too long, are all just too boring. That’s mostly a result of me not having enough footage from different angles to splice in, something I had wanted to get before I had to repeatedly cancel my shoot days. Despite this, I think that it visually flows very well. I’m very happy with my shots and with the way they edit together, as well as how the colour correction turned out. The green screening is unfinished, The audio component is something that I wanted to get involved with, but my time management couldn’t allow.
The most important lesson I think I learnt was when people bailed on my shoot. In the future I need to make sure that people are completely and fully commited to projects when they agree to work on them, and to chase them up if need be. While I made steps this project to try and rectify my poor time-management in the past, it is now very clear that it is not enough and I really need to improve how much I plan my work if I want to create work as I envision it.
While I was constructing the last scene, I felt that it could do with one more effect to really give it an unnatural, otherdimensional feel.
I remembered an effect from Batman Begins, used when someone’s been infected with The Scarecrow’s Fear Toxin (Skip to 1:50):
The vibration effect creates a sense of unease, almost nausea. I think it would be perfect to use something similar to really show how unnatural and uncomfortable the G-Man’s dimension would be for a human to inhabit.
There were no tutorials that showed exactly how to do it, so I scoured the internet for a while. I eventually ended up using the Bulge tool – making an ellipse that covered the entire comp – and a Math.sin expression to create the oscillation effect I wanted. Here’s a very initial, rough test that I made before tweaking the formula:
The formula in that test was 0.1+0.1*Math.sin(2*Math.PI*10*time). I ended up settling on 0.03+0.01*Math.sin(2*Math.PI*5.5*time) for my final effect.
The final modifications I made were to the levels (to bring down the overexposure) and to the hue/saturation. Changing the hue was an idea I had at the last minute – I want the world of the G-Man to be unnatural, unreal, and modifying the hue this much creates a similar effect to Tritanope colour blindness – the rarest form of colour blindness.
Here’s the final effect:
Now that I’ve got the time lapse sequences, it’s time to start the green screening. I realised extremely quickly that I’d made some mistakes on my shoot.
As you can see, the backdrop is no where near sufficiently lit to seperate it from the subjects. Keylight can’t remove the shadows entirely, leaving Dom’s ghostly after image.
Here’s the only shot I got that was anywhere near to properly lit. You can very plainly see the difference in colour and light, but I just didn’t have enough lights to properly fill the two-shots.
So of course, I had to rotoscope around the two of them – very difficult, especially with Raph’s hair.
Here’s part of the composition with the timelapse sequence dropped underneath and colour corrected (temporarily, as I’m not pleased with the look yet):
Having to try and clear up the shadows made me truly appreciate getting quality green screen the first time. I now know that the footage I captured was NO WHERE NEAR bright or clean enough for proper use. While that was out of my hands at the time as I didn’t have access to the appropriate lighting kit, I really need to keep that in mind in the future as it could have saved me hours of work. Looking back, I should have utilised the flexibility that green screening offers and shot each actor seperately, compositing them later. That way I may have had enough light to fill the backdrop and make the entire keying process smoother and easier.
Now that I’ve finally shot the rest of my footage, I went out to shoot the timelapses. After experimenting with Magic Lantern’s timelapse function slightly I know that for the look I want I need to use a longer shutter speed – make every picture a long exposure and the final video will show ghostly, shadowy figures.
As I expected the settings I chose (1/15th sec, f22, iso100) still created really overexposed images and I had to use my ND filters, but I didn’t expect that I’d have to use ALL THREE of them at the same time! Even then the images were slightly washed out, but little enough that I can colour correct them back to normal later. It does mean that they won’t look as much like City of Shadows as I wanted, but there will still be ghostly trails.
Each shot took about twenty minutes to shoot, with one exposure every two seconds.
Here are the raw videos after putting them through LRTimelapse:
I’m happy with them, and now that they’re done I can finally start work on the timewarp sequence and finish the film – only a couple of weeks behind schedule.
I was finally able to shoot my greenscreen shots, albeit very late. Because of how little time everyone has now that uni’s restarted I only had a few hours to get the shots I needed, so I had to cut down the amount of shots I wanted to four. Another drawback was that the three-point LED light kit had been booked out for the entire week. I obviously can’t wait any longer AT ALL, so I had to make do with the less powerful two-point LED kit. It worked, just, but there wasn’t nearly enough light and there were harsh shadows present because of them. If I had been able to shoot in the shade outdoors as I had originally planned there wouldn’t have been that issue, but I have to adapt.
I know that this is far from the ideal lighting setup for keying, because the backdrop isn’t perfectly seperated from the subjects. This means that I’m going to have to roto around them to seperate them from the shadows.
Now that I’ve finally got all of the footage I have to go and shoot the corresponding timelapse sequences and then it’s finally into the Post Production phase of the project.
After a long wait I was finally able to organise another shoot on a day where we were all free. We met up and blitzed through the rest of the location shooting, working so constantly that we only remembered to take one picture (Tristan the boom op on the right):
Now all that’s left to do is shoot the timelapse sequences and get the guys into the studio to shoot on the greenscreen. There’s not much else to say about this shoot as it should have happened weeks ago, so here are some raw stills from the footage:
Despite my plan for the shoot falling apart, I still managed to get the main chase segment shot. I decided to experiment with the colour correction in Premiere, using the RGB curves tool (as it’s what I’m most familiar with, having used it in photoshop for years), in order to plan exactly what I want from the colour correction. First is the raw file:
Overall I have to say that I prefer the blue toning best. The warm tone of the first test clashes with the feel I want for the film, and I can’t help but dislike the green toning because it will forever be associated with The Matrix. So, I intend to go for a blue tone with the colour correction, like The Adjustment Bureau.
This is unfortunately as far as I can really go right now without shooting the rest of the film. I have to wait until I return to Bournemouth and try to get the rest shot as soon as possible. However, this has been extremely useful because I now know exactly what I want for the look of the film, and it’s ready to be implemented.