I have really enjoyed Welcome to Sanditon. I don’t love it in the same way as The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, but Pride and Prejudice is my favorite novel of all time so that would be unreasonable to expect and it is unfair to compare them really. The Pemberley Digital team put together another talented cast and wrote a story that is fun and engaging. I couldn’t have asked for more. Not only did they give us another great show, but they facilitated a virtual space for interested fans to build a community and culture around it. Before the show officially launched, hundreds of RP accounts were created on twitter and tumblr. The town of Sanditon was suddenly populated with restaurants and their owners, doctors and nurses in hospitals, schools with students and teachers, clubs, tea shops and more fanciful residents like a tumbleweed, a deadly spider and a dragon. Using the story-telling platform Theatrics, they set up a place for the Sanditon residents to blog and vlog as part of the official beta test of the fictional Domino App.
There were several paranormal-based RP accounts, Haunted Sanditon and Sanditon Paranormal and an actual ghost, which made me think about how a ghost might participate in the Domino experience. The idea I settled on was that she couldn’t set up cameras or move laptops to record, but maybe she could use ghost energy and “possess” someone else’s recording with her own image. I got in touch with the local ghost and asked if she wanted to do any Domino vlogs and if she wanted help with vfx and sound design for them. She liked my ideas so I told her to shoot whatever she wanted in front of a solid color bedsheet, preferably blue or green. She did…
Sanditon’s own Clara Breton made a video in which she demonstrates creating her Trick or Treat ice cream. Since the town was in the midst a heated debate of Old Sanditon vs. New Sanditon, Scoops vs juice bar… this seemed like the perfect video for a ghost to hijack:
SO. I downloaded the Trick or Treat video and rendered it as a PNG sequence. Using a few different stills I painted out most of Clara for a background plate behind the ghost. I put the bg plate, ToT sequence and ghost footage into Nuke. I removed the blue screen from the ghost video, which had the added bonus of removing the black eyes. I toyed with masking them back in, but I really liked how it looked with eyes as holes. Next, I masked the original ToT video to get enough of the little spinning logo in the bottom corner without Clara’s hand moving behind it. I layered that over the bg still plate and added a little moving grain so if looked like the same footage as the original ToT video. There was a little color correcting, etc. Once I rendered those clips out, I dropped them into After Effects to create the visual distress of the cinematic ghostly possession. Finally, I used ProTools to do the sound design, the audio noise to match the visual as well deciding what the ghost voice would actually sound like. This is the first time I’ve really stepped out and done something not school-related, just playing around with various skills that I’ve been acquiring. All in all, it was really fun to do! So here’s the final vlog post:
The best part was that the Sanditon team over at Pemberley Digital really liked it! It created a mini-sensation on twitter when they actually incorporated it into the show (SQUEEE!!). I captured it on Storify. I love what this team is doing by creating these immersive, interactive shows. I got the opportunity, not to influence the direction of the story, but to leave my mark on the landscape of this fictional world; to watch characters and RP fans react to what we did. It was exciting!
I got to meet some of the PD team at LeakyCon 2013 in Portland, including Sanditon show runners Margaret Dunlap and Jay Bushman, and they were really nice and complimentary about it. Jay was so excited he gave me a hug! Actually, the whole Lizzie Bennet cast and crew were really lovely and I had such a wonderful time meeting other fans like me. Now that Sanditon has wrapped, I’m really going to miss these people. I have to comfort myself that Emma Approved is on the way and if I’ve learned one thing: Jane Austen and Pemberley Digital are an unstoppable combination.
These shows and the people connected to them have, in turn, left their mark on the landscape of my life. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. ♥
Realized that I never posted anything from last term. LAME.
Nuke. There are always a crap-ton (technical term) of Nuke assignments in a VFX class, rather than a large/term-long project.
Blue screen removal: added noise (aka clouds for the cam to fall through… wheeee!), roto to correct the blue screen removal inadequacies around the legs and cord.
Compositing: We got to learn about shuffling & compositing. Basically, you shuffle out different render passes of an image (specularity, shadows, lights, depth, highlights, ambient, etc – there can be a lot). With each shuffled, you can manipulate/adjust each thing independently of the others to maximize the final result.
Original image, pre-shuffle:
I added a glow to the lights, but a specific color glow to the robot wires, etc., and used masking to create the glow reflection in the floor; darkened the room and changed the backlighting. I added smoke, because reasons. Post-shuffle composite:
Fake 3D: Take a 2D image of a hallway and fake a 3D camera movement in it. BAM:
MOAR VFX! SO CHEEZY! Hey… lets play spot the fake thing… Ok, so here’s what I did. Took the original video and generated a 3D space using motion trackers to define a ground plane, etc. Once the 3D environment was established, I plonked a spherical primitive into the scene and found a relatively appropriate texture (Why, yes, that is a ridiculously large thermal detonator. Do you have detonator envy? YEAH, YOU DO!), added a shadow. It’s kinda lame, but it was fun in-class exercise and could totally be more awesome with more time to clean up the shadow and color correct… add some snazzy gun fire, etc.
This was our ridiculous final… some doofus decided that in order to make the kid freeze over the pool while the lady walks by, adjusting her suit, they should put a partial green screen behind her for no apparent reason. BTW, this was a real job brought to one of the Ai staff to fix. They wanted to make it cheap. That did not so much work out. FYI… It is MUCH harder and more expensive in human time and effort to remove green screen plus its reflection (aka spill) from people and puddles and metal than it is TO SIMPLY USE THE ROTO TOOL TO CREATE A FREEZE FRAME FOR PART OF YOUR VIDEO. Also… if you are going to use a green screen where the objective is to remove all the green and replace it with something else DON’T HAVE YOUR SUBJECT WEARING AND CARRYING GREEN BECAUSE THAT WILL ALSO BE FIXED ONLY WITH EXTREME TIME AND CARE.
Thus ends the lesson in common sense.
Original cannon ball with freeze frame already completed (water motion reinstated in final video):
Sample of original woman walking by:
Final composite. Painful, le sigh, but got rid of the green junk LIKE A BOSS:
Assignment: design a club style logo. So… yeah. I’m not a super sports person, really. But I am a lit nerd (among other nerdish endeavors). I decided to make a “club logo” for Jane Austen a la something that might be seen in Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series of literary superfans. I used deer pics to illustrate the head & incorporated some blending tools; made a custom brush for the wall & used a clipping mask to confine it to the type design.
I used the crest & colors of George Austen (Jane’s dad) for inspiration….
Storm Large poster for my digital illustration class prior to printing. I decided to make a general tour poster rather than a specific concert poster. I originally had info on the tour dates, but the instructor preferred it without… and the instructor = the customer, who is ALWAYS right.
SO. Last term was pretty brutal. I was taking two 3D modeling classes in different softwares at the same time: Cinema 4D and Maya. My advice… NEVER DO THAT. C4D is the easier to use software. It is not quite as customizable, but it is a little faster to do things and stable. When you see 3D effects on TV like ads with crazy 3D, animated logos, some CG animation and effects – most of that is done in C4D. Maya is used more for high budget film CG and effects. This is the entertainment version of software from the same people who make AutoCAD for architects and engineers, etc. It is an intense program that does so much, but is also a finicky bitch that you would like to have die in a fire. It was a 100 level class in which we learned the basics of storyboarding, building a scene (literally and conceptually), lighting, texturing, and animation. So when you watch this video, know that it took about 3 months to make (minus 2 other classes, full-time job, and the occasional break for food/sleep/sanity) – I built pretty much everything. The plants are mainly paint effects, because using them was part of the class… and that was the best use of them, really. Sadly, they kind of “twinkle” in the animation, which I don’t really care for. The character was provided by the professor, because character building and rigging for movement is wicked advanced. My finals week, I slept one night out of five… so that was how that term went. But here it is… There are a few things that I could go back in and play with, but overall I’m happy with what I did.
Cinema 4D assignment: fake a 3d environment using images and camera projection tools. Basically, I found a good drawing with linear perspective, by deviantArt user MonicaHolsinger. Then I got my angle set up and added a camera from which to make the projections. Once I had that, I started adding planes to correspond to the surfaces in the image (floor, ceiling, and visible walls). I created a new material and put the image on it, then linked it to the camera to project it on the planes.
I wanted to put in some kind of animation, so I added another camera, some dynamics and bounced a shiny ball across the hall… of course, I would have to complicate my life. I use the boule to cut holes in my walls and added cubes for the midway lockers on either side, I added semi transparent planes with a little noise texture on them to blend the open side halls. Good fun. Then it was just managing the bounce and whatnot. Woo!
So here is my first real beauty shot from Cinema 4D. We had to model a minimum of 3 objects. It took several evenings and I actually modeled 6 things, but you only see 3.5 because that was what was worthy of capturing (and met the assignment requirements). Fun… Definitely more user-friendly, even if not quite as capable a program, than Maya – which I am also taking a class in right now (oy), but our term will be cumulative into one animated short so you will have to just wait for that.
First assignment with Adobe After Effects: make a self-portrait (or a portrait of whatever…), 30 seconds – 2 minutes long. This took FOREVER. Why did I pick so much stuff!!! It was fun, though. Definitely room for improvement, but overall I really like it. Anyone who knows me will get the references.
The second assignment for After Effects was to find a comic and animate using specific features in After Effects. Art from the online comic Lackadaisy by Tracy J. Butler. She is AH-mazing.
Also, the amount of time this 1 minute short took (about 30 hours)… MAD RESPECT for all animators. Seriously.
Motion graphics with typography assignment: Animate song lyrics in Adobe After Effects. I picked (with the encouragement of others) “8 Mile Wide” by Storm Large. Because it is awesome. It is not safe for work. Or children…
If you want to see her official music video… and you should, because it is pretty great.
Next, make an identity video for a real or imagined film company. The cheesier, the better as far as the instructor was concerned.
Use 3D (or 2.5D, as some say) and camera features in After Effects. Length: 10+ seconds. Concept: a nod to Kamelot (yes, I meant to spell it that way): My friends asked me – the resident expert on special effects – how they made the Game of Thrones intro title sequence. Well, GoT titles were definitely done in Maya or some other actual 3D modeling software, but I was taking After Effects, so… I made this for them. AE doesn’t really have 3D, per se. You can manipulate flat planes in 3D space. So to build a 3D object, you have to construct it like a house of cards, using flat pieces… It was a fun experiment.
There were a lot of assignments… next we learned to use the rotoscoping tools (roto) – you trace around something to replace it with something else or replace everything around it with something else. Tedious, but oddly calming. I chose to torture Ripley… as though she hasn’t had enough already.
Now motion tracking… where you track 1 to 4 points of motion to match movement. You’re welcome, nerds. And, uh, I totally jacked this song clip from MrVoletron’s channel. Because it is awesome and it fit the mood… I wish this clip were longer. Not sure what I did?
I replaced the license plate. Added color effects and blur effects to match look of clip.
Finally… the AE FINAL.
Create title credits (open or close). I chose to make opening credits for the characters from my D&D game night.
The art assets were mainly acquired via deviant art using searches to find art that roughly matched each other and the characters I was trying to portray. Having said that, most of them were modified in Photoshop to adjust the background, add features that were missing, change weapons, etc… then put everything I wanted to move on layers and painted underneath to fill in holes, as needed. In AfterEffects I did all of the animations and effects.
Very sad update… Loki and Relic have died… Ok, Relic is not dead, but he was turned to stone and we have to leave him behind. What? We are in the middle of a forrest and he weighs, like, 300lbs… We can go back for him in a few levels… NOT THE POINT! DON’T JUDGE US! A moment of silence, please.
AE Final art & asset credits:
Ayrel by deviantArt user eliz7; I painted her some legs in Photoshop, so she would be standing, and gave her red eyes for the transition at the end of her sequence
Ayrel’s background by deviantArt user jermilex
Bobetta from flickr user twen5: I removed background and changed her two-handed war hammer into a one-handed mace and added a shield
Bobetta’s mace from a work by deviantArt user MarkWinters – I just needed the top of the mace, but it is a cool image so check it out…
Bobetta’s shield by deviantArt user ZombWill (Will Owen)
Bobetta’s background by deviantArt user ink-head
Loki by deviantArt user isriana; I removed background, added glow and wings, used bounce lightning in AE for his magicalness
Loki’s wings deviantArt user littlegoblet
Loki’s background wallpaper by user sasha2d; I painted out the little creatures
Relic by deviantArt user BenWootten; I painted out the flail and added an axe, replaced the rune on his forehead with an anvil
Relic’s axe by deviantArt user vielmond
Urs by deviantArt user Shikamaru-no-kage; I found some vampire teeth (I think I used Kate Beckinsale’s mouth as character Selene from Underworld) and gave her a second mouth for the transition at the end of her sequence
Urs’ background by deviantArt user jermilex (again… his art is pretty great, not gonna lie…)
Brim by deviantArt user NadrojWobrek; I just had to layer and fill in the background – the fire is on 3 separate layers to grow the flames and there are two layers of smoke around them that come in as the fire gets bigger, very subtle but adds something nice…
Minions by deviantArt user ZombWill (Will Owen again – I love his little dudes!)
Minions’ background by deviantArt user jermilex (YET AGAIN)
D&D Logo (a TM of Wizards of the Coast & Hasbro) found on this Adam Ryen Daniels nerdy wordpress review of the Facebook D&D game
Parchment texture image from Mitch Featherston’s blog The Public Domain
So, funny story…
I took digital video editing with FinalCutPro 4 at the NW Film Center in 2004… just for fun. Our first assignment was to cut together the rushes or dailies from an old episode of “Gunsmoke” …basically an exercise to familiarize the class with the basic functions of FCP. I had fun, but couldn’t find any good sound effects for the fight scene, so I tried to throw everything else in that I could.
Serious respect for anyone who has cut together an action film. It is not easy to match motion and continuity in a fight scene. For realisies.
Assignment 2 was to make a video haiku with image, sound and text. It went something like this…
Assignment 3 was to create a portrait of __________. Whatever. I hate open-ended junk like that. So I did a portrait of someone trying to come up with an idea for a self-portrait.
Ugh. I still hate that thing. On the other hand, it is the only footage, that I know of, of my Shams… I miss him and it is totally awesome to have captured that moment in time.
RIGHT. So fast-forward 8 years after I decide to go back to college for a second BA… for Visual Effects and Motion Graphics. Of course, I have to take Intro to Editing with FinalCutPro 7. Our first assignment… cut together the rushes or dailies from an old episode of “Gunsmoke” …basically an exercise to familiarize the class with the basic functions of FCP.
You are not having déjà vu. It was the same assignment. Also, the exact same footage. I was like… um… really? Yes, really. But, whatever! It has been 8 YEARS, so I needed the refresher. I did some different stuff. You’re welcome, world.
I really liked our second assignment. It was crazy. Take at least 5 found videos and cut together a video collage into something meaningful (at least to you), i.e. there should be some sort of coherent theme. We used the Prelinger Archives online… totally free old news reels, home movies, and those etiquette shorts made from the 30s-70s, etc. SO AWESOME. I got a little distracted. Eventually, I did put something together and I quite liked it.
THE FINAL: Take raw footage from this super-cheesy 70s bank robbery film and do whatever we want with it… so long as we add some sound elements and it is at least a minute and a half long.
My mom helped my find the BEST 70s music. So. Magical. Composer: Lalo Schifrin, specifically take from music he composed for the 60s-70s TV show “Mannix” … more famously, he composed the theme song for “Mission: Impossible” (the original TV show).
So, that was my FinalCut experience. I’m not in love with it. I like playing with visual effects MUCH more. So that’s good that it is my major then. Since I like it. You will see. Next up is from our intro to After Effects. I heart this program. Hard. In the face.