Making It Work

Understanding Basic VFX for a simple shoot

Fall is in the air, yet it is steaming hot! I should know because I spent a day in the outskirts of Palmdale in the middle of the dusty desert for my Labor Day "holiday" shooting a couple of scenes from a fantastic feature film that is in the works with our writer/director extraordinaire, Rainy Kerwin. And this brings me to discuss the topic of what we do for our passion and how to make it work no matter what! The day started out fantastically well, rigging cameras to old '70s cars getting action shots down a vacant highway, and then all of a sudden...clunk clunk clunk....dead. Funny, because the name of the film is called Dead Between LA and Vegas. Yet, in the script, it's supposed to be a person, not the picture car. We struggled for about an hour to get it going again, but realized that we were going to have to leave a few of our crew members behind to handle the broken down car while the rest of us got what we could of the scene. This left me with myself and two crew members to do everything for the majority of the day. But surprisingly so, we actually made our day. We had to shoot around the fact that the dead Nova was parked about a mile from the other car for our Mexican standoff portion. In addition, we also had to split up the reverses over a period of several hours, so the cloud coverage was completely different. We actually had a storm rolling in when we finally got to the broken down Nova. But through creative color timing and contrast, I believe we can connect the two sides. Also, on the day, I shot several desert plate shots, so a simple sky replacement may be in order for one of the sides. You can see how the shots will connect below using a very rudimentary sky replacement via FCP feathering just to get an idea of what can be done. The lesson here for me is the benefits of understanding editing and what can be achieved and fixed easily in post. Thinking ahead and knowing that we would need a variety of plate shots in the desert for some of the backgrounds we are using for the green screen may have saved the scene from not matching at all! Also, shooting the connective tissue elements without showing the sky will be crucial in the edit so that we don't have to jump from the unmatching shots back to back. So in spite of the sweltering heat, broken down car, limited crew and a pending storm, I think we will have a nice little scene to cut together. Stay tuned for the Kickstarter campaign that is coming soon!


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