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Stop Motion Ant Fight


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#1 David Regan

David Regan
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Posted 12 February 2009 - 11:37 AM

A couple months ago I had a thread on here asking questions about compositing stop motion stuff with film, for a big fight this guy was supposed to have with an ant.

Well now it is finally done, so I have so screen grabs of the composites. I'll try and post a link to the full sequence when it is all edited, and the compositor does a couple last touches.

I ended up approaching the breakdown in three ways, 1. Shots where the actor was in front of the ant, 2. Shots where the actor was behind the ant, and 3. Shots of just the ant.

(3) was the simplest, I just lined up a plate for where the ant would be and rolled about 15 seconds. I shots about 4 or 5 times more angles than I needed, on the offhand chance one seemed too tight, too wide, to up/down etc...Having never done this before I wanted to have those options.

(2) was also not too bad, I just filmed the actor doing his thing, but framed it with the imagination of an ant consuming part of the frame.

(1) was the toughest as it required 3 layers of composites, (I know not much in the real world lol) so I actually first shot plates, then the actor on greenscreen, then the ant on mesh it all together. Since the ant stuff was dSLR compositing was a breeze, but as you all pointed out in my former thread about this, compositing s16 wouldn't be great, something our compositor echoed in sentiment as well. So we shot that HVX200, not ideal, but it made for an easy key, and the footage actually meshes, especially since the actor is typically out of focus for those shots, as we are focused on the ant behind him.

The following are some low-res screenshots of different angles. Again, I'll try to post the full sequence as it is completed.

1.jpg
A 3 layer composite, HVX 200 footage of the actor, dSLR of the ant, and super16 7219 plates.

2.jpg
An insert of the ant's leg hitting the post. Lots of motion blur here, its a very vast shot. For the dust/particles, I just rolled the plate, and threw in a chunk of dust to hit the post. Works well in motion.

4.jpg
The Ant's laser charging up. In the compression, the black detail in my film plate got pretty crushed, so you can't even really see much of the plate. Will be corrected for the final comp.

6.jpg
The actor stabbing the ant. The pole is real, just aimed up to frame right. Once the end of the pole left frame, we had someone pull the pole out of the actors hands, which goes with the motion of the and pulling back, as if it is stuck in his head. I think the detail on the and doesn't hold up very well here, I think I lit it too flat, and it is washing out the texture.

7.jpg
The wide after the hero has run away, the ant collapses and dies.


So all in all it was great fun to do, and a huge learning experience. The stop motion was done well, it looks like stop motion, but that's the point really, we are trying to fool anyone with photorealism. It's all in the wonderful aesthetic of 70's B-movies. I certainly learned a lot from this, especially about the value of pre-planning, knowing eyelines for shooting plates, lens choice, etc...I also wish I could have done more with lighting the ant. It really came down to the wire to get this out to the compositor, so he could get it done for picture lock. But it is what it is and I think everyone learned from it.

Enjoy, let me know your thoughts.
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Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Aerial Filmworks

Opal

Rig Wheels Passport

Ritter Battery

Abel Cine

Broadcast Solutions Inc

CineLab

The Slider

Metropolis Post

Willys Widgets

Visual Products

FJS International, LLC

Tai Audio