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Shooting background plate for integration with digital matte painting


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#1 Phil Thompson

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 05:52 AM

Hello,

I was wondering if anyone had any tips regarding shooting background plates that will be used in post for digital matte painting. I am filming tomorrow for my sci-fi film on some baron mud beach in magic hour. I want to take these locked off shots and have my matte painter extend the background, add city in the background, planets, mountains etc. Are there any special considerations you would take? shoot at f16 etc etc?

Any help would be very much appreciated.

p
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#2 K Borowski

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 09:37 AM

Due to steadiness issues, 16mm is not in any way ideal. I HATE to be the one giving this advice, but can you get access to a high-end HD camera, just for the plates? Or better a pin-registered 35mm camera?


If not, I'd recommend shooting the SLOWEST stock you can get away with. It's been a while since I've shot any plates (7 mos. already!) but I will pull out my ASC manual and see if I can find those tips.

You want to basically establish a certain ratio in lighting between the grey card and the green or blue screen to pull a clean matte digitally (or optically, not that anyone does it this way anymore). What sort of lighting will you have access to?

To add to the fun, outdoor lighting will be far more challenging.
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#3 James Compton

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 01:26 PM

Hello,

I was wondering if anyone had any tips regarding shooting background plates that will be used in post for digital matte painting. Any help would be very much appreciated.

p


Phil,

What Karl said is correct, but could still shoot the background
plate on 16mm and apply image steadiness with After Effects or SHAKE/SMOKE software. Another approach is to shoot the background
plate with a 35mm SLR camera loaded with KODAK EKTAR :

http://store.kodak.c...uctID.188421000

and then add moving grain to the still image with an efx program.
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#4 Phil Thompson

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 01:58 PM

Thanks Karl and James. I won't be shooting any green/blue screen. If you could imagine a super wide vista with a character making its way across the middle of the frame. Very small.

If I took a picture of the scene with a 35mm SLR, wouldn't there be a massive image quality disparity with the 16mm image? Would I then still film using 16mm the girl making her way across the frame, then in post, garbage mask out everything but her path and blend. Would blending that with a 35mm still with gain effects apply work?

If i simply shot a clean plate on 16mm. Then shot the girl walking across. Get the footage scanned at HD quality, have the artist extend the footage based on the plates colors, tones etc, then the compositor add moving grain, color correct etc. Would that not work you say??
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#5 Phil Thompson

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 02:18 PM

IF they were using but one DPX frame from the 16mm footage as the plate. The girl walking accross garbage masked to be just her and the path, grain movement in post, particle effects etc. Would it look odd? The whole point of shooting on film was for the lush vibes. I really dont want it to turn into a digital meltdown.
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#6 K Borowski

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 02:26 PM

How on Earth are you going to do all that on a student budget? Not to be a buzz-kill, but you need to work within your means. Do you have any expereince with how EXPENSIVE taht would be, time consuming?

Unless you have a Hollywood blockbuster budget, I would highly recommend beingh more realistic or your film will look very very fake A or never bet done B due to your over-ambition.


Why shoot a plate on Ektar? you only need 16mm resolution, shoot 4-5 seconds on 16mm, then you have reall grain that matches the rest of the movie.


Why no green screen?

You realize that no green screen, not locking down the camera increases your time expense impossibility factor by orders of magnitude.





Also, not to be rude Phil: YOu really ought to do some searching on here; you are asking a lot of questions that have been beaten to death before. The search forum feature works poorly, even time recommends site:cinematography.com search functions in google.

Another thing: I think it is unfair to ask for step-by-step instuctions for each and every one of your problems. You can probably get an answer to each one, but remember art is 90% perspiration. You're acting as if you're the first man with a movie camera. Have the CONFIDENCE to go out there and learn for yourself, not reinventing the wheel or doing everything without consultation, but ralizing that the bst way for you to learn this craft is by doing, not spending 8 hours a day online asking.
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#7 Phil Thompson

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 02:45 PM

Hi Karl. Who said anything about Student? Sure im a student of life. But i have budget to do this. I'm sorry If im asking a lot of questions and they've probably been asked a billion times.

I don't follow. Where is this expense? The idea is simple. Film wide shot of girl walking across a baron landscape. Take footage to lab. Get HD DPX sequence. Extract one frame. Give to my digital matte painter friend, he does his job, extends the environment then passes back to me. I then give this plate to my friend who is in charge of adding motion grain and comping in the shot of the girl walking across. I did search for people doing 16mm comp's and couldn't find anything. Maybe this thread will provide someone else with tid bits of help when/if they decide to do a digital comp using 16mm footage.

SIf you were in England Karl, I'd buy you a pint and let you have a little role in my film to say thanks! how about that!
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#8 James Compton

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 05:55 PM

Hi Karl. Who said anything about Student? Sure im a student of life. But i have budget to do this. I'm sorry If im asking a lot of questions and they've probably been asked a billion times.

I don't follow. Where is this expense? The idea is simple. Film wide shot of girl walking across a baron landscape. Take footage to lab. Get HD DPX sequence.


Phil,

The benefit of shooting on EKTAR is that its 35mm color negative. Your are starting with a higher quality image that you can blur/downgrade
and add grain as much as you like. It will also be easier for the matte painter to work with. You can shoot a very cheap test and it take it to CVS/Walgreens (local drugstore film lab) and have it back in 1 hour.

Edited by James Compton, 09 July 2011 - 05:57 PM.

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#9 K Borowski

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 06:16 PM

Ektar is a high contrast color negative film. It wouldn't match with ECN-2. I'd get a still length of ECN-2 processed, or go with some low con pro stills stocks which will probably match much closer, since they are of the same low-contrast as ECN.


Why not just shoot a plate with a movie camera though? Would probably be cheaper and alleviate the need to add any grain or change anything; it'd be the same stock as the forgeground.


Phil, if you are just shooting a still plate, I guess that is more doable. I was under the impression you had a moving camera and moving BG. My mistake. If it is basically a static matte that is far easier to do. Initially thought you were shooting for matte extraction via bluescreen outdoors. I guess I misunderstood. I'd shoot ten seconds with action CLEAR with the camera locked down as best as possible, so that the actor walking in front of a matte painting can be basically digitally "painted over" the digital additions. You can then go in and selectively place the talent in front of , behind elements added in post. Honestly , a clean blue- or greenscreen matte would probably make your life easier for this.





Seriously, though, there's been a tonne of stuff done on matte painting and compositing in these fora. Do a search! You'll learn a tonne without reinventing the wheel and waiting for the usual suspects to come out.


As to the beer, would love to share an Imperial Pint with you (superior in size to our Queen Anne variant of a tad more than 16 imp. fl. oz.). Afraid I am "across the pond" a couple thousand miles west of you. I wish you luck though!
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#10 Will Earl

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 11:58 AM

Hi Phil,

You should be okay shooting the shot as is. When it comes to compositing the two elements together your likely going to get some film weave - when you get the film scanned get them to include the gate in the scan, that should give you something to stabilize the plate. Otherwise your just going to have to find a static feature in the image which you can track. Most compositing tools have the ability to stablize or matchmove a tracked feature - so you can either stabilize the plate or apply the movement of the film weave to the painting element.

Shoot a second of film with the lens cap on and get that scanned (you only need 5-6 frames which you can loop). That will give you a noise profile of the stock - you can overlay (I forget the actual blending method - Nuke has a ScannedGrain node which does this for you) this over your matte painting to give the painting the same grain pattern as the stock.

Cheers,
W
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