Sanditon’s Friendly Ghost

August 11, 2013 at 6:16 am (Etc) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

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. ♥

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