2016 evidently came and went because we only posted ONE Production Log last year. As you can read in our Recap 2016 blog post, there was a lot of things that kept us busy. Our updated hardware, new clients and redesigning the website just to name a few. Needless to say, 2016 was extremely intense and doing Production Logs for our film fell to the wayside. Not to fret! We’re incredibly excited to begin 2017 with an awesome inside look into what we’ve been accomplishing these past few months. Take a look at our four highlights.
3D Set Creation
We’ve owned Video Copilot’s #1 plugin Element 3D since it was first released a couple of years back and never thought it could be the vehicle that drives us into creating our 3D world of Gauntlet! We first began designing the gaming lobby, the first place where our hero encounters when he enters the game. We used Video Copilot’s Motion Design 2 Pack for the 3D models and went at it. With the new group symmetry option showcased in Element 3D’s recent update, we were able to really quickly put together a great production design concept that we’re sure the audience would appreciate.
With our feet wet in accomplishing the gaming lobby, we turned our attention to the villainess of the film’s home base, known as Pixel’s Tower. In it, we wanted the set to have multiple screens where Pixel could have access to multiple information presented at one time. The hallway leading into the main area displays shields on the walls with the Gauntlet logo spinning, giving the place a sense of royalty. We really wanted to have the world of Gauntlet to be a very science-fiction/tech vibe and we couldn’t be happier with what we achieved using the Motion Design 2 Pack. Not only that, but it helped us not to design all of the 3D elements, which was a huge time saver!
We knew that one part in the film, Pixel’s champion Neyta had to be laid on top of a table so when we completed the set design, we moved toward creating a high tech table. What was more challenging was that the table had to ascend up from the ground inside of the Tower set. We first designed the table and then rigged it to the auxiliary channels in Element 3D to animate the table. On top of that, we used a matte shadow in order to blend the table into the bigger 3D set model. Check out the video below to see the table’s basic animation.
HUD Design and Animation
Remember when we stated earlier about all of those screens inside Pixel’s Tower? Well we had to create content to put on those screens, a total of nine to be exact! Did we mention that it was just only for one scene? We began by designing the basic parameters in how Pixel’s Heads Up Displays (HUD) would look/feel. Basic shapes were used throughout the designs with the hexagon shape being used for our inspiration. Shape layers inside of After Effects were the bread and butter of all nine screens. However we also used third party plugins like Trapcode Form to create the evolving particle based properties inside the HUD elements. Below we created a looping video that shows all of them on one screen. Do you have a favorite?
The other HUD element we created was a touch screen piece. In her Tower, Pixel has two smaller data towers where she or her champion Neyta can access any information or task. What was really cool about this was timing the actors movements, furthering their performance as they searched for certain tasks. We definitely had a lot of fun during this particular work. But we can’t go without saying that using Red Giant’s Holomatrix was clutch in selling the effect that all of these were lifelike screens.
With the 3D sets created and the HUD designs fully complete, next came compositing the actors’ performances that were shot on green screen. Over a span of two months we focused on two specific scenes. We edited the scene with just the raw footage and then exported each shot one by one and used them as plates. Inside After Effects, we began matching up the actors to 3D stand-in models using a 3D camera. This helped us position the 3D set in relation to the performer and the real camera angle. A few compositing techniques and added color correction, we completed over fifty different shots for just two less than five minute scenes.
Finally, we had the chance to put icing on the cake = Visual Effects (VFX). One of Pixel’s major attributes is that she can create things out of, well, pixels. So we focused on how she could teleport from different locations and also how she could create objects. For this we focused heavily on Trapcode Particular and Trapcode Shine. Particular was for her teleportation, using just a square shape layer as a texture particle to give that pixel look. Shine proved to be a success when we were having her create objects from her hands, the rays casting through. To top everything off, we used lens flares from Video Copilot’s Optical Flares plugin.
As you can see we are progressing right along in seeing this film project through. Learning the techniques of the specific pipeline workflows above has truly helped us speed up our process. While we continue to work, we’ve also hired outside talent to begin working on the sound mixing for our dialogue and scoring the film. Connor Holland and Kyle Smith have agreed to be on board for this film and we couldn’t be any happier. Connor’s keen ear will help mix our audio to make it the best possible while Kyle’s incredible music talents will make this film come alive with his score. We’ve already received tidbits from their work and honestly, it has exceeded our expectations.
2017 is going to be a great year where we’ll finally be able to land the plane in some of our sequences that we’ve been hard at work for all of these years. The light at the end of the tunnel is shining brighter. Until next time…
“It’s all just one film to me. Just different chapters.”
– Robert Altman (MASH, Short Cuts, Gosford Park)