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Posted: Wed, 25th Feb 2004, 9:22pm

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Aculag

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Ok... Normally, I don't ask for help on stuff, but I need some advice on what to do to make something look a bit better.

This is going to be for a kinda "promo commercial" for a Batman flick I hope to have in production sometime in the fall. So I'd like some ideas on what to do to spruce this footage up a bit to perhaps make the city look more like it's actually a city, rather than a still image, and whatever else y'all can think of. So let's hear these ideas pour in!

Here's the footage...

Bat Signal!
Posted: Wed, 25th Feb 2004, 9:45pm

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Gibs

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The only thing I can think of right away is to add grain.
Posted: Wed, 25th Feb 2004, 9:53pm

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Mellifluous

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Blur the buildings a little & with the rooms with lights on, add some lens flare or brightness effect in AE? Good work thoug, I love the mist
Posted: Wed, 25th Feb 2004, 10:04pm

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Aculag

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Mel, do you mean for the rooms with lights on, maybe make them have more of a glow?
Posted: Wed, 25th Feb 2004, 10:09pm

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Mellifluous

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Yep, because at the moment the light looks like yellow blocks & a bit artificial
Posted: Wed, 25th Feb 2004, 10:14pm

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stqagehanduk

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Its nice, but the major problem is that it's rock solid static (apart from the bat signal, obviously). I'd recompositite it with video footage rather than using a still.

Maybe seperate out the towers and add a layer of light drifting mist in midground, and then again in the foreground.
Posted: Wed, 25th Feb 2004, 10:25pm

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Aculag

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Yes, my major gripe about it is as well the fact that it just looks like a couple images composited together, which, in fact it is...

I don't have any good footage of a cityscape from the ground up, and I have two problems with getting some... 1) I'm not willing to go into downtown LA and film something, and if I was, 2) I don't have my tripod. So for the moment, I'm stuck using images, unless someone wants to loan me some footage.

The mist idea is good, but I think mist might be a bit overused to add mood to something.

I'm taking all these ideas into consideration, and I'm going to keep playing around until I get it lookin oh so good.
Posted: Wed, 25th Feb 2004, 11:51pm

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jstow222

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I have an idea, not sure how well it will work though,

(1) I would just a slight artificial camera movement.

(2) Add more activity both in the foreground and backround. I suggest keying some footage of toy cars and then cropping to see just the tops of them, or maybe have some leaves blowing in the wind or birds flying even. Its just that the viewer has too much time to focus on the buildings and stuff and will quickly realize that they are stills.
Posted: Wed, 25th Feb 2004, 11:56pm

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Aculag

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Yeah, I could try something like that.

I'm not sure what you mean about the camera movement. I really hate artificial zooms, and I don't want it to look handheld. Also, the image I'm using is pretty crappy to start with, so it probably shouldn't be blown up much more... heh. But I like the adding more activity thing...
Posted: Thu, 26th Feb 2004, 12:01am

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jstow222

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No, not digital zoom, i hate digital zoom, what Im saying is maybe a scroll into the scene.
Posted: Thu, 26th Feb 2004, 12:08am

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Simon K Jones

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Two things jump out immediately - the trees are totally static, as is the lighting on the buildings.

Maybe also try adding some parallax depth to it, but separating it into three segments - the foreground building on the right, the building to the left and in the middle, and the two at the back, and create a little bit of movement with each layer moving separately, to give it a slight sense of being 3D.
Posted: Thu, 26th Feb 2004, 5:41am

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elementcinema

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what if you got a nice scene of new york city or something at night in movement and elaborate on that...i think that would be cool. im sure you can find some helicopter night footage of new york city..and then ofcourse add your batsignal cool
but i also like what you have so far..really neat! cant wait for the final product!
Posted: Thu, 26th Feb 2004, 7:13am

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Aculag

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Tarn wrote:

Two things jump out immediately - the trees are totally static, as is the lighting on the buildings.

Maybe also try adding some parallax depth to it, but separating it into three segments - the foreground building on the right, the building to the left and in the middle, and the two at the back, and create a little bit of movement with each layer moving separately, to give it a slight sense of being 3D.
Tarn, you're right about the trees, they really bother me too.

Also, about the depth and segmenting it, I already did exactly that. So maybe... Moreso?
Posted: Thu, 26th Feb 2004, 10:25am

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stqagehanduk

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Match the angle and stick some pedestrians in forground, perhaps with someone throwing a quick glance at the signal over their shoulder?

Mist! Mist! Did I mention mist?
Posted: Thu, 26th Feb 2004, 11:51am

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Mellifluous

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I don't think you need to go over the top with it. See how it looks with the lights sparkling a bit more.

Obviously it would be better to go into the city at night to shoot something simliar but depends whether you're able to do that or not.

The skyscrapers may look fake even wiuth light effects. Have you tried searching on google for photos of skyscrapers?

how about http://www.easterwood.org/sanfrancisco/photos/skyscrapers.jpg
with the bat signal right in the middle, with the image darkened?

Or how about compositing some of the ones on this page together?
http://www.50snavy.org/skyscrapers.htm

Or
http://www.sail.t.u-tokyo.ac.jp/~sane/skyscraper/image/rockefeller1.jpg

I think you'd agree that it would look a lot more realistic with the trees moving, but there's really no way to do that except in a 3D program or shooting some trees. But this is more trouble than it's worth, so why not just create a composite with different skyscrapers & ditch the trees altogether. As for having car tops & pedestrians, you don't need them in this shot, all you're trying to show is the bat signal.
Posted: Thu, 26th Feb 2004, 3:45pm

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otteypm

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The first thing I would say is don't forget about the sound effects, traffic noise horns beeping etc will help a lot.

all I would add is some fake camera movement as suggested, create a 3d composite in AE and use the AE camera to tilt up only a very small amount, make sure you create enough depth between each building layer and the movement should look less like moving a still.

And I would use higher quality stills, the thing that really gives it away is the blur on the right hand building...
Posted: Thu, 26th Feb 2004, 8:24pm

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jstow222

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otteypm wrote:

The first thing I would say is don't forget about the sound effects, traffic noise horns beeping etc will help a lot.

all I would add is some fake camera movement as suggested, create a 3d composite in AE and use the AE camera to tilt up only a very small amount, make sure you create enough depth between each building layer and the movement should look less like moving a still.

And I would use higher quality stills, the thing that really gives it away is the blur on the right hand building...
Yes, thats exactly what I meant, thaks for clearing that up otteypm
Posted: Thu, 26th Feb 2004, 8:40pm

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AndrewtheActorMan

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The trees, lights, and building are the things that bother me too, least the ones that have been mentioned.

I really think though, being the Tim Burton fan, and the nature of the films, and especially the comic, is to give it a darker feel. That just looks a bit too bright.

I also think that the bat-signal needs to be a LITTLE less visable, just because the little effect on it ( a diff. map i think?) looks a bit too cheesy.

You have enspired me to give it a try myself. hehe. Yours deff. will probably will be a world better than mine, but you know...

Also, you live in Burbank, correct? Try going to various places with buildings (tall ones) and then just take diff. pics from the same angle with a digital camera. That way, you can control the lighting, angle, and most of all....THE QUALITY!! The camera will produce those huge deminsion pics. Perfect for what you are doing.

What batman characters do you plan to have?

Andrew biggrin
Posted: Fri, 27th Feb 2004, 4:04am

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Aculag

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Well, hopefully by next monday I should have my tripod, so I can go into town and get a low shot at night with real traffic/people/etc. Then all I'll need to do is composite the batsignal. It's been really rainy lately, so I'll go do it on a cloudy night.

Thanks everyone for your input, I'm sure it will all work out for the best, since I'll still be having to mess with the image to make it look proper for the batman feel. I'm thinking that I should do one of two things. Maybe have it look like news footage and have an actor in front of the camera, then the "reporter" sees the signal and the camera quickly moves over to see it, or it's just a static shot, and the signal turns on. What do you guys think? Right now, I'm thinking the reporter one sounds better.
Posted: Fri, 27th Feb 2004, 10:33am

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stqagehanduk

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Mist! Mist! Mist!
Posted: Fri, 27th Feb 2004, 3:42pm

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Aculag

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OI! I already said that I think mist is too overused. I'm not gonna do it. It's not supposed to look like some creepy haunted house, it's supposed to be a city at night. No mist.
Posted: Fri, 27th Feb 2004, 10:57pm

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stqagehanduk

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No mist? Oh, go on.You know you want to ...
Posted: Fri, 27th Feb 2004, 11:35pm

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Aculag

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I know, but I'm afraid to.
Posted: Sat, 28th Feb 2004, 12:51am

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averagejoe

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I did not see anyone mention having the clouds move. I see that the Signal waves a bit as though it is reflecting off of an overcast sky, but I think the clouds reflecting the signal need to move too.

Maybe, add a little more blur to the objects that appear to be closer to the camera. as well as the objects behind your focal point. May help with giving a better feel for depth of field.

Maybe the Signal needs to move a bit like a search light. Not sweeping motions but a little movement. In fact have it move slightly behind the building to the left of it for some of it's arc of movement.

I think this should help hide the notion that the image is indeed static. Good natural movement should draw the viewer's Eye to the signal and pay less attention to the rest.
Posted: Sat, 28th Feb 2004, 2:06pm

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Aculag

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The clouds DO move... That's why the signal waves as such.

I guess I should blur the stuff closer to the camera a lot more, since that was one of the first things I did when I started... Heh.