Basically, Sean and I both wanted to have something new and at least somewhat interesting as a thank you to the donors we already had, and maybe an enticement to some new ones. I decided on this little moment because it's sort of a nice emotional beat, which is a side we haven't really shown of our project yet. I also needed to make sure that it was something I could accomplish in a couple days with the resources I have available to me. The end product obviously isn't final quality, but it conveys the spirit of the scene fairly effectively.
So anyway, what've we got here? First you'll see the original raw footage. As is apparent, that is not at all a forest they're in, despite the fact that there's plenty of green. So obviously, as with all our Dorothy footage, compositing is required to bring it anywhere near a serviceable state. You'll also notice that as with much of the Dorothy footage, it was shot handheld on a shoulder rig. So the first step was to run a 2D track on those markers and key out the green.
Next up is the entirety of the ADR session for this particular shot. The number I call out at the beginning is the file number on the raw shot we're matching to, so I know where this audio is meant to go when we're editing. You've seen snippets of this process in the previous entries, but I thought it was interesting to show how we played with the performance after the fact. We did multiple takes, and in addition to being different from each other, they're also quite different from what she did on set.
Then we have the most critical element of the shot, our CGI Nick Chopper. Knowing I only had a few days, this was always going to be the hard part. The existing Woodman rig is purpose-built for the last shot of the Concept scene, he hasn't been fully rigged yet. So I had to do a quick five-bone rig and some morph targets on the eyebrows for my purposes here. The animation was where I labored most. I didn't have the kind of time I'd like to have perfected it, but it nevertheless went through multiple tweaks and iterations.
The lip sync is of special note, I think. This is the first time we've seen Nick doing any. Well, not entirely. I'd done a bit of goofing off a while back to experiment with his facial capabilities. And it wasn't very successful. I made the mistake of animating his jaw flaps to match the human lip movement of the performance, and it didn't work right, given the fact that he has no articulation. This time I filmed some reference of my hand doing Muppet-flaps to the dialogue, and matched his jaw flaps to that. This worked much better than my previous test.
|You're telling me something about this was ill-advised? I don't believe it...|
So with our live-action characters keyed, Nick animated, rendered, and tracked in, all that remained was the background. Again, time wouldn't allow for an actual CG background to be assembled or rendered, so I popped out into the woods and found a suitable location that would work for my staging and lighting. I had to Photoshop out the evidence of snowmobilers, and Photoshop in the evidence of yellow-brick-layers, and after that it was very easy to drop it into the composite.
The final thing you see there was my first pass of the shot. I was originally considering a split diopter sort of effect. However once I saw it rendered I realized I wasn't fully in love with it, and in the context of a single-shot clip it would probably end up being little more than a distracting element. I quickly ditched it in favor of just a deeper focus.
So there you have it, in lengthy, gratuitous detail. Everything it takes to make a semi-presentable version of a single shot in three days. An actual 3D track and CG environment would do a lot to liven up the background and Woodman's eyes didn't come out quite right for various reasons, but I think it does alright for what it is. And at least for Sean and I it served as a somewhat relieving proof-of-concept for our thoughts about Woodman's performance.