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Rizzoli & Isles Title Sequence


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#1 Charles Haine

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Posted 03 November 2010 - 06:50 PM

I've been meaning to post this for a few weeks but haven't had a chance to yet.

I was lucky enough to work with a very talented directing team at dirty robber doing the title sequence for a new TNT show, Rizzzoli & Isles, which ran through the summer and I hear got a season 2 pickup.

For the final title shot, the creative called for a split screen that felt like two worlds colliding; both sides of the split screen would be dressed in order to line up matching one world to the other, and then we would rack through both halves at the same speed so that it was a split screen but the simultaneous focus made it feel like the same shot. If that isn't making sense, take a peak here, it's the final shot:



I had wanted to do it using the old Preston speed aperture computer, the original from the 80s. I had had some success before programing in precise focus movies (focus hitting certain marks over a given period, like 1 second) but using the aperture motor from the SAC on the focus ring, and it worked great. This was vital since we had to make sure the racks were identical on both sides of the split screen. But that was 2004, and I couldn't find anybody who rented out the SAC anymore.

So we went with a Cmotion system, hoping to be able to do the same thing. Unfortunately, because it's so much more sophisticated, you can't trick it into doing that; it needs camera feedback in order to do an aperture rack, and aperture racks are the only timed racks it can do.

However, we noticed that if you turned the focus knob as fast as possible the focus rack feathering caused a delay to the focus move. So, no matter what, if I turned the focus ring between it's hard stops fast enough, the move still took precisely 1 second. This was a really lucky save for us; the actual speed of the rack didn't matter (with no human subject or any movement except the rack, speed could be manipulated wildly in post), we just need it to be precisely the same rack in both shots that were to be comped together, which the feather/lag on the cMotion provided. That, combined with the two customizable stops on the cMotion, made the focus rack part, which had been very stressful, a breeze.

It took the art director a full day to dress both sets to match each other, and on set we used an AJA IO-HD to do a live split screen in order to do the final line-up on the half of the scene we shot second (the police station, on the left).

In the end, the shot took a full day of dressing, a full day of shooting, and then several days of post production, but I think it comes off rather well. Nobody I show it to seems to get precisely how hard it was to pull off.
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#2 Mitch Gross

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Posted 04 November 2010 - 09:36 AM

Nicely done. At first glance I would have thought that the effect was comped in post to achieve the matched focus racks. Nice to hear it was successfully created the "old fashioned" way.
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#3 Joseph White

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Posted 21 November 2010 - 09:56 PM

Great looking stuff Charles - sorry I owe you and email - sweating away here in Singapore....
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