Hovering Lights

Mid-Term Presentation.

November 26, 2014

Last week we had the mid-term presentations for our projects, when we met our mentors for the entire journey and got feedback from what we have so far. Remember when I said it was unlikely the script would go through more changes? I couldn’t have been more wrong. Before going into the feedback received, let me first get the video in this post, so you know what I’m referring to. For the color coded image on the top-right of the screen, green is live action footage, blue are CG elements and yellow is matte painting/unknown.

Brent suggested a whole bunch of changes, not only to the effects, but regarding the story as well. The nightmare-floating-silverware shot is going down, and the scene will be replaced with something related to electronic interference on the TV, computers and gadgets, which will be fun to do with a bit of nuke scripting to control the effects instead of using third party plugins. This way I’ll also have some chance to play with green screen to shoot the scenes that will fit into the TV, and some weird motion graphics for phones and computers. Not to mention some planar tracking and roto for replacing the screens.

Moving forward we get to the scene where I’m annoying May, and here I’m thinking of including some floating objects, right before we see the ship out the window. Maybe she throws something at me and the object is suspended mid-air, like a can or a pen, a small and easy to model asset, preferably. Then we go to the balcony, and the shot is broken in two parts, wide angle and zoomed in. The zoomed in might be a camera projection, so I have more control over the placement of the ships and avoid going through tracking a shaky punch in. The mothership is gonna be further in the distance and we’ll have some smaller versions of it closer to the buildings, with things coming out of them.

While watching this version of the presentation, Miles said he totally gets the characters’ feelings of “this is so awesome, but so wrong and scary at the same time!”. I think the dialogue made the story way easier to understand than the previous versions (which never made to this blog, and probably never will).

Then the characters get scared off the balcony and run to the garage. All this running is gonna be shortened, because it doesn’t add much to the story as well as it makes some people sick from all the motion and shakiness of the shots. The cuts are also gonna be adjusted so it doesn’t jump from one environment to the next and it looks like a seamless transition.

In the garage, I’ll have a silhouette moving across the light path, and for this I’m thinking of doing the same thing as the balcony zoom in, having a separate shot that blends in during the lens movement, based on a camera projection. For this one, I’ll get some extra lights to cast a real life moving shadow and have that as reference for animation and integration. A 2D alien character rig is also on my near-future plans, so I can animate it in front of a virtual light and have a decent silhouette on the ground.

Then, for the final shot, Fernão gave me a really good advice regarding realism: if the character’s girlfriend is being taken away, he wouldn’t just keep filming. A decent person would drop the camera and run towards the girl, to try and grab her! I still don’t know how to do it, but relates pretty well with Cloverfield, so, this might get even more complex.

For the final presentation, I need to have slap comps for all my VFX shots, and might as well have the final versions for all the non-vfx, storytelling shots. In the meanwhile, I still have a lot to do, such as the spaceship, a new version of the script, modeling (?) and rigging the card alien, and moving forward with my nuke scripting skills!

Not sure what the next post will contain, but let’s keep moving.