Refraction is the title Kate and I have ended up giving to our film. It’s very different to anything either of us have ever made before, but I think we are both quite happy with the end result.
I spent about 30 hours straight in the Mac Lab, without a wink of sleep, eating mandarins and working on compositing photos on the blank pieces of paper that our actress, Teneill, was looking at. I was aiming to get a photo on each piece of paper and then cut between the photos and film of the same locations. Unfortunately I ran out of time to do all the photos, but I did manage to successfully composite two of them. I’m really pleased with how well I managed to mask them into the scenes and I think they look quite believable. However I did overlook the fact that the photos are larger in some shots than others, but with the way the film is cut, it’s not hugely noticeable.
Kate filmed a really neat timelapse of the clouds which in parts looks as though it is filmed below the sea. This is emphasised by the blue colour grade Kate put on it.
Kate edited the film to a piece of music which I had found and used earlier in the year. It is quite up beat so I thought it would be quite a good one to use.
Below is the final film.
Our story has gone through quite a lot of changes from the initial idea of incorporating tiny planets.
I will be honest, I haven’t had a huge hand in the actual story development – most of that has been Kate’s work. As we got into the process I found I preferred to be working more the practical filming and editing side of the project. I think this was because I felt Kate had more of an idea of what should be happening in the story from the start and some of my attempts at ideas really weren’t working. Developing ideas for stories is usually something I really enjoy spending my time on, but for some reason I didn’t do well with that for this project.
Even though our story has been changing constantly, we’ve generally had a pretty solid idea of the content of the film. We were always planning to film various landscapes then manipulate and distort them to give an uncomfortable feeling. With this in mind, we were able to go and film and photograph different locations, providing us with a bunch of material that we would be able to decide whether or not we use later on.
I ended up going on a couple of solo missions out to Riverton with a Canon 7d, a fisheye lens and a macro lens (which I have already posted about).
I found myself stressing over the project and thinking I couldn’t do anything because Kate wasn’t there at that moment so I just opened up Premiere Pro, imported the best clips and began colour correction. I wasn’t very confident with After Effects and didn’t think I would be able to produce much from spending hours trying to figure it out again, so I thought my time would be better spent doing something I was confident with.
With the colour correction on the Fortress Cliffs clips, I tried to make it feel a bit like an Instagram post – like someone had put a filter on a photo and was now imagining it coming to life. I did this by pulling out the blacks, lowering the whites, and bumping up the saturation a little. Considering it was filmed on the Black Magic camera it was quite dull to begin with.
In After Effects, I played with the presets and effects and found one (I can’t remember what it’s called) that pinched together parts of the images and puts them into spheres which I then made move around the frame. Parts of it looked a bit like the tiny planet effect Kate and I wanted to create in the first place.
I also put together a sequence in Premiere Pro where I flipped the footage of the cliffs 180˙ then cut, frame by frame, between the flipped images before settling on the upside down one and fading it into black and white. I also reversed the upside down footage so the waves move the wrong way.
I’m not sure how these will fit into the final film, but I’m interested to see how we can incorporate these sequences.
Kate and I have been doing a lot of filming and photographing for this project over the last few weeks. Now it will just be a matter of putting it all together to create an interesting story.
Below are some of the photos from some of the locations we’ve been to. These are my own photographs.
A few weeks ago Kate and I went to McLean Falls. We were experimenting with long exposure to make the water seem as though it was moving even though you’re looking at a still image.
I also looked for areas that, if photographed close up, could appear a lot larger than they really were. The photo below titled “Riverbank” I felt was the most successful. I can easily imagine a person walking along the riverbank in the picture.
On Sunday I took a couple of cameras with a micro lens and a fisheye lens to Riverton and then to Queen’s Park. I tried to take photos and then film the same thing from the photo, but zoom out to reveal it’s surroundings.
I tried this with a couple of interesting holes in the rocks. The idea was that inside the hole could be a cave that someone is exploring. Unfortunately I used the fisheye lens for some of these so when I zoomed out it created an effect that made the hole look like it was closing up, resembling a particular part of the human anatomy.
I focused a lot on getting shots with the micro lens of surfaces with interesting textures, or really tiny shells. I then switched to the film mode and filmed the same things from a distance that you would more naturally be looking that those things from showing how small they are. I imagine these being used in our film to intrigue the viewer with photos of these interesting textures or pretty shells then follow with the pieces of film. The idea with the following film is to show how insignificant these things in the photos seem in this bigger picture, but yet you were so interested and invested in them a few seconds beforehand.
Yesterday I went back to Riverton to get pick ups, but this time it was raining so that wasn’t ideal. I took some photos and videos from inside the car so the camera or I didn’t get wet. Eventually the rain eased off so I jumped out and ran down to the water to get some different shots.
I think it will be quite nice to have the difference in the weather with these photos and videos because everything else we’ve shot has been during sunny weather. It will be nice to have a little variety.
These photos haven’t yet been edited so they look a little dull. My plan is to do some colour correction on the videos and editing on the photos later tonight.
One of the challenges Kate and I are facing with our project is finding a way to make sand move like water as our story involves a planet where the water is still and firm, like sand normally is, and the sand is fluid.
Kate found the below video where a guy is walking down a sand dune and, with each step, the sand slides down in waves in front of him.
If we filmed this on a phone (since we can’t take any other cameras to the beach) we might be able to do this, but I think it would really only work as POV shot and I don’t think that’s what we had in mind for this scene.
Another option, and one that I am really keen to explore further, is using a sand art technique. I admit, I found it hard to stop watching these sand art videos – they are so captivating.
I think that trying to make sand move like water in this way would be really effective. When the sand is thrown in these videos it creates a water-like effect, so I think that would be really fun to play around with for the planet in our story.
This ‘Titanic’ sand painting had a particularly interesting feature which we may be able to utilize; finger prints in the sand that look like water drops.
The second piece of concept art was finished today with input from both myself and Kate. I think it turned out quite nicely.
Like the first piece, we put it together on Photoshop using various images and the sphere I drew for the first piece.
Once I had finished the second piece of concept art and Kate had written most of the treatment, we swapped computers so that Kate could make a start on the storyboards and I could write the end of the treatment.
When the treatment was complete, I continued on to writing up our production research. This part of the project wasn’t difficult because we had already done a lot of research into the ways we could achieve what we had in mind. We had also already done the initial tests for how to create the planets so it was just a matter of putting it all into words.
I left the section on the influence from The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis for Kate to write as that was her idea in the first place.
Kate also went through once all of the writing was done and added in images in the relevant areas.
Below is my contribution to the 10 storyboards Kate and I managed to complete for this first assignment.
I found the templates we had to use to be quite confusing. I didn’t really understand what all of the sections meant so I just followed what Kate had been doing and filled in the information where she had been.
Kate and I sat down last week to work on the first assignment for our compositing project, which includes writing a treatment, creating concept art and storyboarding. We decided that the logical first step would be to start on the treatment so we can then take those ideas and make them visual.
Being late at night when we started this writing process made it quite difficult to make a lot of progress, but eventually I got words onto the screen and a story unfolded. It wasn’t until Kate read over it that I realised it made very little sense and I had really just written a whole bunch of crap. Well done me.
After that unsuccessful attempt, I figured it might be better to leave the writing of the treatment to Kate and just try to work on concept art instead. I had been really looking forward to this part of the assignment. The idea of creating colourful, and slightly strange, tiny planets and putting them into a universe sounded really exciting to me. So I sat down, found a suitable picture I had taken of the stars, collected the tiny planet tests Kate and I had done, opened Photoshop and got to work piecing them together.
I decided on using the images below.
The first thing I did was to place the forest world onto the stars and delete the background. It proved to be too fiddly to delete the sky from all of the gaps in between the branches so I just erased that particular tree. I then worked on the edges of the planet with the feathered eraser tool, on low opacity, so they wouldn’t be so harsh.
What I really wanted to do was to curve the edges of the planet to make it look more like a globe and have more of a 3D effect rather than looking like a flat, 2D image. Once I placed the next planet, I played around with the different types of transformation and rediscovered the warp tool. It took me a while to find it and work it, but I think I managed to make it work quite successfully.
The other thing that I added was a sphere. I was attempting to make it look like a bubble, but I don’t think that quite worked. When I showed it to Kate, she suggested we make it a balloon so our character catches the strings of different balloons that float by to get to each planet rather than being inside a bubble.
After moving, warping, resizing, and adding a child, our first piece of concept art was finished.
Kate and I have conceived an idea for a story that involves creating “tiny planets”. At this stage, the basic outline of the story is a child imagining the exploration of the solar system with the planets, and their contents, being of a scale that a child might perceive.
These planets will be based on YouTuber KickThePj’s PJ, TINY PLANET EXPLORER.
We also looked at another similar video on YouTube by karenxcheng. Her style is slightly different and we really liked it, but the way she made her “tiny planets” requires a 360° camera which we do not have access to. Regardless, her video is still one of our main influences for the style of our project.
In the solar system we will be creating in our film, each planet will be a different environment that has a unique mood. The images below are examples of different planets or worlds we could create. The last image was a panorama that I took and then tested the process of turning a still image into a tiny planet. One of the challenges we will be facing when we put together our film will be creating these kinds of planets using moving images as the processes and techniques can be quite different.
Another idea we are toying with, but have yet to test, is changing the textures of certain features of the tiny planets. For instance, we are thinking it would be fun to change a mountain to have the texture of pebbles. The most likely way for us to achieve this will be through masking.
Below are screenshots of the presentation we gave on the basic outline of our story, the intended style, our progress so far, ways to achieve the effects we are aiming for and the next things we will be looking at.