Saturday, July 7, 2012

Citizen Canine

They say that in film, you should never work with children, puppets, or animals. Well as of today we can officially put a tick in all three boxes. With a pretty reasonable success rate. Sean managed to successfully wrangle a space to shoot in for today, and all parties involved were available, so we actually got the majority of our Toto photography accomplished. And having met Wiley in person now, may I just say Good LORD is that dog adorable. Pictures just don't convey the full effect.
But sometimes they come damned close.
We got started setting up at ten this morning, and were filming by about ten thirty. I'd been dreading this day more than any other, just because of the level of unpredictability involved. Even with the most well trained dog on the planet, you just never know what he might get up to. And I hadn't ever filmed an animal before. I was more than a little nervous.
And Wiley let me know who was the bitch in this scenario. What? Dog lingo. Don't even worry about it.
It turned out to be all for nothing. Glenda and Mark were both wonderfully nice people, they knew how to manipulate their dog, and things went much more smoothly than I was expecting. While obviously they hadn't trained their dog to, "look to his left in a slightly disinterested way," or, "lie still, intoxicated by the aroma of the poppies," they had some stock tricks that they were able to apply and combine to get him to perform the desired tasks.
He would have asked for a second take had he known this was his only chance to lie down all day.
Usually this entailed picking out a favorite toy of Wiley's and waving it around at him. One of these included Mark's remote control helicopter. For some reason that thing drives Wiley absolutely crazy. If he so much as sees it he'll either tense up and start barking or run over to it as fast as possible. We could have Mark fly it around a bit so Wiley would chase the thing in erratic ways. Or we could just have Glenda dangle it at him to spark his interest.
All together now, "Awwwwwwwwww!"
Looking over the footage this evening, I feel pretty confident that we captured nearly all of the green screen elements we need. I say nearly, because the Captain Ahab in me left today with one white whale in his sights. We had one incredibly specific shot we tried multiple times and just couldn't make happen. By the end of the day Wiley was pretty tuckered out, and didn't have a lot of patience for complex movement.

We've not seen the tail end of the little guy just yet, though. Glenda and Mark will be bringing him back for a few bits of location stuff later this summer. And while Wiley's around, I'm either going to catch that white whale or... drown spectacularly, I guess. Hopefully just get that shot, though...

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