How did it end?

Our ending was one of our biggest concerns in our piece, considering we had so many options to explore, and so many ideas of our own.

These included;

  • there being an alien in the house or the house itself becoming an alien
  • the scene returning to normal and the camera looking side to side crazily as if being attacked. Camera would look up and a bright light would surround the character- as if being abducted.
  • changing to a day time scene- Alec’s suggestion- and a flyer blowing in the wind.The camera zooms in on it to reveal a “missing house” or “house for sale”
  • the scene returning to normal- as if nothing happened.

In our original previs we had that at the end it would return to the look of the first shot. Things would be going mad- lights flashing, the house floating etc and then return to normal. The BBC didn’t like it – the feedback saying it built up to nothing.

We wanted to have a look at how other films created a prolonged sense of unease, after the film had ended. One of the big stand outs for me was Gone Girl (2014).

Gone Girl (2014).

Based on the life of Amy- the film is split in two parts. The first told in that of her husband, Nick, as he deals with the accusations of killing his wife. The second half is turned to Amy, showing that (spoilers) she is in fact alive and has plotted the whole thing for months.

The ending is unsettling- Amy gets away with her psychotic acts and murder and lives on with her husband (whom she can’t escape). It is one of my favourite films- I remember leaving the cinema feeling so lost as the happy ending did not happen, and never would.

Gone Girl analysis. (YouTube, 2016).

Prisoners (2013)

A film following fathers after the abduction of two kids. The ending of this film is bleak- the girls found alive, but not before their capturer’s wife takes a hold of one of the dads. The keeps him in a holding cell, before herself being taken. The film ends with the unsettling sounds of a whistle blowing, the sound coming from the trapped father.

The ending of The Prisoners. (YouTube, 2013).

Inception (2010)

The idea that the spinner will continue spinning in the dream world is tested at the end of the film. The camera, however, cuts before we can see what truly happens. This gives us the unease- whether or not Cobb was reunited with his wife and kids in real life, or is in fact stuck in a dream state.

 

Night Crawler (2014)

Nightcrawler is another movie I left the cinema questioning my sanity. Following the life of Louis Bloom who becomes one of  LAs biggest night-crawlers- filming gritty footage for news stations, in this business the gorier the better.

The films alludes to Bloom’s real personality- cutting the breaks of a competitor’s truck, seriously injuring him, and later the killing of his partner, just for a story.

The ending shows him talking to new recruits, his speech making your hairs stand on end, knowing these people may face the same fate. Ending on the line “I would never ask you to do anything I wouldn’t do myself.”

The end speech. (YouTube, 2016).

After considering a lot of the movies and elements used in them we decided to use this, along with our research into Psychological films earlier. We wanted to give the vibe that this maybe couldn’t have happened and was a simple dream or imagining of the person filming. We realised that if we built everything up to an extreme and then suddenly cut it, the film would be startling due to harsh reality.

Dervla made a very good point to us when talking about this. The animation is playing with the perception of what people find scary. In our scene nothing is scary- everything is familiar but warped to make you feel something different.

Sherlock -Cinematography

Sorry Alec- I am an obsessed fan who had to document this for the sake of Dervla and her editing skills.

Dervla in our original previs had mentioned the use of editing through overlapping footage in our scenes- the prime example being the windmill. While watching the latest season of Sherlock, I realised where I had seen this technique used before- in my favourite show of course.

We had originally looked at music videos by the like of Coldcut and Bonabo.

More beats and pieces- Coldcut. (YouTube, 2016).

I trolled through the episodes and found quite extensive uses of this overlapping look- mainly when the protagonist goes into his train of though- his ideas reflected on the screen in the view of footage, images and text sequences.

Hounds of Baskerville (2012).

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hob2

The Six Thatchers (2017)

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We really liked the above frames when doing the edits- rather than having text randomly appear over the screen.

One of our ideas was to have text over certain objects in the scene. Sinead did a few edits of frames from our animation to have a look at his. We agreed that this may be a bit distraction for the human eye. As a compromise, we realised that we could do a separate edit from the BBC one- Sinead offering to score out the text as it appeared across the screen. Kind of like the CIA documents (and coincidentally the end of our script).

 

Self Reflection- C.S.

This project has been a lot more of a learning experiencing to me- having stepped back from a lot of the responsibilities of the 3D aspects of lady yeats project (being too afraid to touch them and having no set confidence). This year has been a definite change- taking a lot more risks and learning a lot more over the summer I am happy with all the assets I completed and the turn out of the aniskfion project itself. Looking forward I would have liked to have learned a bit more on texturing- maybe applying a some subtly wood texture on the house and the stone look to the ceiling tiles. I found this group gelled together well- all calm and easy adaptable to change. Although it seemed like a “cop out” not to have any character animation, I feel we wanted to do a project all of us was happy with – the editing and sound playing a key part to our build up.

 

for the personal project I was pleased at me to overcome a dreaded hate- being lighting, something I never understood or enjoyed. I was happy enough with my compositing projects- forgive the cheesy music in the video- and the way I managed to apply all the knowledge I grasped in the creation of the stills. I next want to do a 3D Track- unable to export my PFTrack which annoyed me as it was a nice skill to learn.

 

Both these projects let me step outside my comfort zone a bit- in the style I’m not use to to the areas of CGI I find hard to understand. I want to apply these again definitely and continue exploring- especially with Nuke.

After Effects- Blend Nodes

When looking into After Effects compositing blend nodes is the main of adding the elements together. Alec talked about these briefly in class and I wanted to explore what each of these meant.

Screen- a blending mode to get rid of the dark parts of the image. The screen blending mode allows us to composite elements on a black BG in the scene. You will typically use this blending mode in a VFX context as most VFX elements usually come either pre-keyed or on a black background.

Multiply– the opposite of the screen. It takes out the light parts of your image.

Add– this mode is like screen, leaving the highlights of the image while removing the dark parts. However, adds its colour values to the image below causing the image to greatly increase in brightness.

Colour Burn– these transfer modes darken images. However, colour burn differentiates itself in a way that it blends with the background. As the name implies it creates a burned look, making it great for grunge and vintage looks. Highlights are retained when using the color burn effect. Color Burn is typically used to add a dirty vintage effect.

Overlay– Overlay changes the color of the mid-tones while preserving the light and dark parts of your image. Overlay is typically used to add stylized elements into your composition.

Soft Light-very similar to the Overlay transfer mode. However, Soft Light tends to be very subtle whereas Overlay is more noticeable.

References

The Beat: A Blog by PremiumBeat. (2017). 6 Useful Blending Modes in After Effects. [online] Available at: https://www.premiumbeat.com/blog/6-useful-blending-modes-effects/ [Accessed 9 Jan. 2017].

Portfolio Creative Strategies

BBC Rewind

Responsible for modelling and texturing the house and side basement, ladder, rocking chair, scarecrow, breeze blocks, tool box, washing line and clothes pegs. Responsible for fog creation, camera work.

Rendered stills of props

house_front

hosue_eyp

side_house

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sc2

Quick Renders of Animations on props

Birds on the scarecrow

Basement door rattling

Washing Line 

Personal Project

PFTrack test

Turtle Compositing

turtle_comp

TV Compositing

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Additional Shots

We came together over the christmas break to talk about the order of our animatic and adding the additional human element needed to make it feel creepy.

A lot of people mentioned how lovely and populated our scene felt, however the models were not shown to any extent for more than brief flashes. We therefore wanted to show these more- having more long holding shots at the beginning of the animation to set the scene- as if there is a person living in the grounds.

Establishing Shot

Walking up the road with the camera then resting on the ground.

Further Establishing Shots to Show Calm

Smouldering Cigarette

Warm lights flickering inside house- N.B.- replaced this with birds on scarecrow to introduce their presence

Windmill Rotating Normally

Field and Windmill 3/4 shot showing gentle wind

Clothes on Washing line subtly moving

Banjo strum by itself- changes mood and things start to happen

Progression of Spookiness 

Birds leave field

Cables Move

Windmill moves fast/ sporadic

Flickering 3/4 house

Car close up- lights flashing

lights in crops

lights on shed

tornado shelter bursting open

levitating rocks

crops aerial view

road sign flickering- N.B- lights in house flickering different colours as per Sinead’s lighting tests

Below are some of the tests that Jenny did with the animating- I was totally blown away at the birds as she had such a short timing to do them in.

Birds on the Scarecrow

Ending shot

fog dies down, lighting clear- HDRI- back to house lighting (calming).

Jenny animated a few of these to show us- having finished the birds. I am really happy with how these have turned out- the birds really add to the piece with setting a quiet, calming atmosphere. The additional animations on the windmill too also really add to the piece- giving a more realistic look.

Power-lines swinging

The scarecrow and the birds

The Windmill

 

The basement door

Track Test- PFTrack

I did a test track with PFTrack using the various tutorials I had watched.Unforunately I could not export the track to Maya due to the licensing on the educational software. If someone wants to give me £3,000 I’d happily accept it.

Below is a screen record of the track itself.

I used the 2016 version of PFTrack and I was really impressed with the results. In different tutorials and from other people’s person experience- the auto track was deemed terrible and the user track was needed to fix this. However, when I applied the auto track it seemed to work ok. I included some of the different stages in making this track happen.

Image Manipulation 

I used this node to remove some of the noise in the footage. I first worked on the filter- increasing the sharpen radius to 2. I then worked with the colour channels. I found the blue the noisiest channel, followed by the Red and then Green. I had to increase the red and green levels and the blue slightly. Below are the different channels on these.

I also increased the contrast and decreased the gamma. I then cached the footage to ensure it saved on for the next steps.

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Auto Track

I then tested the auto track setting the deformation to better accuracy and the deformation to rotate, scale.

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Track testing. 

I used the thumbnail objects as suggested in the Digital Tutors tutorial. The do not shift or shake which is a good sign the track was a success.

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Creating a Better Track

Andrew Coyle’s blog directed me to this video showing how to create a cleaner track, using user track in PFTrack.

User Tracks (YouTube, 2016).

The first step is to create an auto track like previously shown in the DT tutorials. The next step is to create a user track. To create a track you click on an area of the footage you want to track- such as the dots in the image.

The window of the tracker needs to be made smaller as with the movement the track can skip outside the area.

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Click the double arrow button under the canvas area (the track forward). You can click stop during this process to move the tracker back onto the dot.

The tutorial explains there are two different tracks in PFTrack- these are the hard and soft track. Soft are automatically done by the the computer itself whereas the hard tracks are done manually.

The rest of the process follows the rest of the processes I have seen before- the exporting of the scene etc.

Reference

YouTube. (2017). PFTrack 2011 Tutorial – User Tracks. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iyad3xGYiWc [Accessed 6 Jan. 2017].

Teal and Orange Lighting- Colour Grading

In the past twenty years or so, a trend in film has been established and has become catchy in the film industry. This is known as the amber and teal or orange and teal lighting look.

It has been known as the dark era, used in many a film to the extreme. However, it is a look used primarily in sci-fi films, including super-8 . The reasons for this type of colour grading is vast- one of the main ones being the focus of the film. The majority of films now have actors and the skin colours mainly have orange tints. As most skin tones fall between pale peach and dark, dark brown, leaving them squarely in the orange segment of the colour wheel.Blue and cyan are squarely on the opposite side of the wheel.

A theory, from blogger Todd Miro, is that the orange and blue trends is driven due to the want for contrast. This is because blue and orange as complementary colours- and side by side create contrast. So, if you make your actors as warm and orange as plausible while making them still look human, and make the shadows and the background as blue as possible, you’ll have a vibrant screen, and a pretty darn complementary palette. As Cracked’s Dan Seitz wrote, in an  analysis of generic color grading :

“It’s not necessarily laziness per se. Your average colorist has to grade about two hours of movie, frame by frame sometimes, in the space of a couple of weeks. It doesn’t take that many glances at the deadline bearing down on the calendar before you throw up your hands and say, ‘Fuck it. Everybody likes teal and orange!'” (Priceonomics, 2017).

.TV Tropes’ entry on orange-and-blue color schemes pointed out that, while it might not be naturalistic, the color combination packs a semantic punch:

“Unlike other pairs of complementary colors, fiery orange and cool blue are strongly associated with opposing concepts — fire and ice, earth and sky, land and sea, day and night, invested humanism vs. elegant indifference, good old fashioned explosions vs. futuristic science stuff. It’s a trope because it’s used on purpose, and it does something.” (Priceonomics, 2017).

But as colorist Stefan Sonnenfeld told The Guardian , “There’s no specific colour decision-making process where we sit in a room and say, ‘We’re only going to use complementary colours to try and move the audience in a particular direction – and only use those combinations.’ Every film has its own look.” (Priceonomics, 2017).

Below are some of the films that have this lighting type- some more subtle than others.

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Super 8 (2011).

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Imitation Game (2014).

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Into the Woods (2014).

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Tron (2010).

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Jupiter Ascending (2015).

shia.jpg

Transformers (2007).

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Mad Max (2015).

Watch the video below for some interesting montages on this colour grading process.

Literally just watch this for the song. (YouTube, 2016).

References

Priceonomics. (2017). Why Every Movie Looks Sort of Orange and Blue. [online] Available at: https://priceonomics.com/why-every-movie-looks-sort-of-orange-and-blue/ [Accessed 6 Jan. 2017].

YouTube. (2017). Colour Grading, Orange and Teal. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4x4rXsCQTU [Accessed 6 Jan. 2017].

PFTrack- Digital Tutors

First look at PFTrack

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Tree view- node based trees with pipeline.

Middle rectangle- canvas giving ability to view what you are looking at.

First things first- create a new project. Do this by selecting create button under the canvas window.

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If you click create again- the screen will change to the below image.

Screen Shot 2017-01-04 at 09.48.48.png

On the LHS we still have the tree view, the middle is the media bins and then the navigator. The navigator moves through the pipeline allowing you to chose where you pick the footage from. N.B. PFTrack does not have a save button but does automatically save the file for you (yay).

Accessing PFTrack’s Preferences 

Setting up the application to run best with the machine. To access the menu to do this click the spanner/ clog icon at the top RH corner.

In the cache option- once the bar reaches 100%, click the clear cache button. If you have a computer with high specs, you can up the cache to 4GB.

In the General, you can tell the software how many CPU’s to use. If you go to USE- select the drop to chose, you can type in for e.g. 1/8 to allocate how many you want the computer to use. The next is the undo box- setting how many undos you can use- set to 20.

You can also edit the scene units- i.e. in centimetres, feet etc.

In the cinema tog you can change the view of the trackers. You can change the tracker colour and the shape.

In export- there is the having path. Where a project is set there is a sub folder named export. You can also alter the type of file (JPEG, TIF etc).

Using the Media Admin Menu

Click the two page icon on the canvas viewport. Then find the footage- click and drag to the tree port. The settings for the footage are loaded into the window below.

N.B. click the C on the timeline to cache the footage to the timeline. In the settings cache menu- click on the cache menu and see what the percentage is. If it is at 99%- clear the cache.

Screen Shot 2017-01-04 at 11.24.54.png

Next look at the media admin menu. You will see two loaded clips- the bottom being the original and the top being the cached one. If you look to the RHS you will see a green lit ‘OK.’ This ok means that the software can locate the footage and read it.

Going back to the footage- the tutorial addressed two problems that are common in tracks. The first being lens distortion. This causes problems as tracker points are put onto the distortions- giving false tracking information. The second problem is that the picture is a bit blurred. Blurry footage gets rid of trackers and contrast- things that they like to be attached to. This is fixed with corrections inside the tracker.

Click create- showing all the nodes in the editor. Click on the image manipulation node. The tutorial demonstrated that if in the filter option in this node- if you tick it and try to fix the sharpen radius, it removes the cache from the footage. The colour can also be turned on to alter. Which channel is the cleanest to use? The RGB channels are accessed through the three dots under the Tree view.

Screen Shot 2017-01-04 at 11.41.10.png

In the example above the green is the cleanest and the blue is the nosiest. Therefore, the greens and reds need upped more, and the blues slightly. The next step it to also up the saturation and reducing the gamma. To reset any of these, click the R beside the levels.

Screen Shot 2017-01-04 at 11.45.00.png

Next, go back to the create and go to the undistort node. This node will allow you to match the lines up with lines in the footage. The screen will appear as below.Screen Shot 2017-01-04 at 11.53.58.png

To show the computer the level of distortion- the example used here was the lamppost. Drawing a line at the top and bottom of the post, and then putting more in the middle to allow the bend, will give the amount of alteration needed.

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Once this is done, click the solve button and the computer will solve them. Once this is done, go ahead and cache the footage again.

Tracking Footage Manually and automatically

Going back to the create option to show the node menu- we have two options. Using an auto track or a manual track. The different settings are as follows;

Search mode- better accuracy

Deformation- scale and rotation (due to being a hand held camera)

Consistency- free camera (as it is handheld)

Failure Threshold- setting a lower value (i.e. 0.5) for problematic footage is better- any tracker outside 0.5 will be a bad translation and will not be made. Blur image also helps if there is too much noise. Clicking auto track allows these to be tracked. The software tracks forward then backwards to average out the values of the trackers.

Auto tracker is not good in the fact that is a soft track- trackers do not stay true to their point value.

In this case- user track will have to be used.

Solving The 3D Camera

Click on the camera solver node.

We can tell software which is a hard tracker or not (true to the origin). If the camera is shaky you are best to set the translation and rotation to medium smooth. After this, select solve all.

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After go to the errors tab. Any tracker over 1 has high error margins. Select trim.

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Go to the 2H button to see how the solve will look in 3D space- holding command will allow you to rotate around this.

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Orienting our Scene and Test Objects

As scene in last tutorial the camera with the point cloud is not sitting on the ground. The ground (grid) is floating and the horizon line of the grid does not match that of the footage.

Using a orient scene node to adjust the scene to the footage. In the edit mode box on the RHS- you can change the different orientation modes (rotate, resize, translate etc).

Once matched up- a test object can be used to test the legit-ness of the track. The tutorial used a thumb tack as an example. These are added to the trackers by clicking on the tracker, then clicking on the marker. After one, the duplicate button can be used to mark other trackers.

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Exporting the Scene to Maya

To export create an export node then select the type of file. Before exporting ensure in the objects mode the thumbtacks are taken off so they don’t go too. Finally select export to export the camera.

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When opening the scene in maya it is important t0 ensure the size of the scene matches that of the track (cm, m, ft etc). Once the camera is brought into maya, increase the tracker size to 0.5 to make them more visible. In this example the trackers do not match to the  original footage, so the altered footage from PFTrack also has to be uploaded to the camera as a camera plane.