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Adding CG cables

Posted: Wed, 14th Jan 2009, 4:52pm

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ben3308

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Hey guys, I'm currently working on a project where I need the protagonist to shoot a gun that releases a cable, as seen in Batman or Daredevil, or even Lost Resurrection in the FXHome cinema.

Does anyone know a way to do this digitally, if only for a couple of shots? I know I can shoot with real braided metal in most shots, but for the shots of the gun shooting and the cable leaving the barrel, I dunno what to do.

Any help?
Posted: Wed, 14th Jan 2009, 5:21pm

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Pooky

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With no 3D knowledge, smart compositing would be the only way I can see it being pulled off. Masking a cable is madness so I guess maybe try and animate a cable moving across a greenscreen using fishing wire, and composite that onto the gun while also speeding it up. With any luck, the muzzle smoke and flash will mask most of the problems.

You could also go for one of those guns that has the rope wrapped around it on a kind of support. That way, you can just have someone pull out the projectile that's in the barrel (and find a way to pull hard and really fast), and the rope will unwrap itself as it goes.
Posted: Wed, 14th Jan 2009, 5:25pm

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Simon K Jones

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Yeah, I'd probably go for greenscreening it.

You could always try holding a rope/cable ABOVE the greenscreen and dropping one end, so that it drops and goes taut. Rotate the shot around as needed, speed it up a little, and it'll look like it's firing out.

In theory, anyway. razz
Posted: Wed, 14th Jan 2009, 5:53pm

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ben3308

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Hmmm......sounds interesting, I hadn't thought of that.

Well, I suppose the next thing from here is to either invest in some compositing tools or pass the work off to someone with more knowledge. biggrin

This is a long-shot, but do either of you reckon anything similar could be done with some of the alpha imagestreams for EffectsLab? I know they're dated, but I'm guessing it might work?

As you can tell, I'm not as adept at 'special' effects as others. I've done visual effects (lens flares, exposure flashes) in the software for years, but never anything like a real 'effect'. wink
Posted: Wed, 14th Jan 2009, 7:04pm

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nfsbuff

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There is of course a third option. For a "real" effect, "really" do it. To accomplish this, you'd need a small portable compressed air tank or compressor unit, some pressure hose and a quick release valve all attached to a strong tube--in short an air cannon from which a weighted object is fired. Attached to the weighted object is a length of light cord, such as black nylon climbing rope. Plans for a "spud gun" or equivalent would fill the bill. Even filming this against a green/blue screen could yield desirable results.

This is, of course, assuming you will film this in a non-public, controlled area such as a stage or empty piece of land. As long as the required length the shot cable needs to traverse isn't extravagant, you could easily do this safely with a small amount of air, nylon rope and lead fishing weights. For added safety, you would double attach heavy fishing line to the weights to ensure they go only a set distance before stopping, yielding more control.

In reality, this could work even if the air pressures used weren't that high as good editing, a slight increase in film speed and a couple different angles could cover that nicely.
Posted: Wed, 14th Jan 2009, 7:31pm

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Sollthar

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If it's just a dangling cable or some static object, it shouldn't be too hard to animate and composit in a 3D program really. But of course, doing it all real is the best solution. Recording a green-screen cable might also work.

Obviously, it all depends very much on the shot layout you have in mind. Or you might have to adapt the shots / editing of the sequence to fit the selected style.

Any pointers as to you want it to look?
Posted: Wed, 14th Jan 2009, 7:48pm

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spydurhank

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Everyone already gave you biggrin some great answers.
I wouldn't mind seeing the end result. It sounds very cool.
Posted: Wed, 14th Jan 2009, 7:50pm

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Simon K Jones

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Yeah, depending very much on the specifics of the shot, and if you've got access to EffectsLab, you might even be able to do it with the neon light engine and some hand-made animation. You'd obviously only want to do this if the shot was a few frames long, though - but it might be a simple and quick solution if that's the case.
Posted: Wed, 14th Jan 2009, 8:09pm

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nfsbuff

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In all seriousness, if you attempt it for real, make sure you keep us updated. We're approaching our own shoot shortly with practical effects, and I'd love to know how it goes if you attempt the real.
Posted: Wed, 14th Jan 2009, 8:39pm

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Bryan M Block

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I'd also add that creative editing can go a long way toward selling the shot. For example, a sequence might include: Shot 1: CU of grappling hook gun being fired- using the compressed air to show the projectile leaving the weapon. Shot 2 low angle of the projectile rocketing toward the roof trailing a cable. SHot 3 CU of the cable "unwinding" quickly from some spool or the ground etc... Shot 4 of the grappling hook hitting it's mark, shot 5 of the character pulling the rope tight. If these are cut together in a sequence it can sell the overall shot. Especially with the right SOUND FX.

ANother trick that might be of use but may have mixed results is to film the rope with the projectile pulled taut by a crew member on the roof (or wherever the projectile is going) and then dropping it so that it goes slack and falls- then reversing this footage in your NLE. I still see this trick used in some movies today.

Just another .02 to consider doing it practically.
Posted: Wed, 14th Jan 2009, 9:14pm

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Atom

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Du it n photshop duh!1
Posted: Wed, 14th Jan 2009, 10:09pm

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Biblmac

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For actually getting it out of the gun, I would just have the character point the gun in a direction where the tip of the gun was out of shot, and add a sound effect.
Posted: Wed, 14th Jan 2009, 10:12pm

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Rockfilmers

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Actualy, if you take a picture of a cable and import it in photoshop, you might be able to get some cool results. For instance, if the cable breaks really fast, use the warp free transform on about ten frames or so. It might work, or it might be a waist of time. Give it a try smile
Posted: Wed, 14th Jan 2009, 10:21pm

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JasonX1024

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I would actually create a gun thats shoots out wire.HA get the gun and then I would greenscreen me doing the action and then Id do either a photo of wire stretching out across the screen and animate it, or I would take a real wire cable and make it look like what i want it to be and throw it across the screen and greenscreen some still shots and animate it to make it look like it was moving...Up to you
Posted: Thu, 15th Jan 2009, 12:37am

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Quvoo

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This would not take long with a 3D application, just gotta have some good shots where it can "interact" with real footage. Something as little as a jerk of the gun by the actor would sell this effect no problem. Track it if the camera is movie, add a little smoke effect, and a cool sound.

This really wouldn't take long at all, if you would like some help you can PM me, but you probably want to do this yourself. wink
Posted: Thu, 15th Jan 2009, 1:56am

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nfsbuff

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But yet, for as nice as the CG might be, it's ending quality will pale in comparison to the real thing.

Plus it so much more fun to do in real life. razz
Posted: Thu, 15th Jan 2009, 2:37am

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Atom

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Not to sound lazy, nfsbuff, but I think the live-action alternative requires too many supplies, too much money, and too much onset setup to actually do.

Even your post listing the required supplies makes me cringe at how much time and money that would require. We're working in a very public area during the night hours, time is an issue.

Personally, I like the idea of greenscreening the action of a cable ejecting and pull taught, and then compositing it onto the shot the best. But who knows, another route might be faster or yield better results.
Posted: Thu, 15th Jan 2009, 2:55am

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nfsbuff

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Heheh, understood Atom. You do what you need to with what you have.

All I'm saying is practical is the way to go, whenever possible. With so many elements of home made films needing to be fudged over, doing the real thing whenever possible never hurts.

Best of luck to whatever execution of this particular effect you choose.
Posted: Thu, 15th Jan 2009, 4:59am

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ben3308

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Okay, so from a lot of the suggestions I know how I'm going to do most of it, but I have three shots that I'm almost certain require post-production effects.

The first two are the cable hitting this 'being' and it spattering mud when it hits. I've thought of just planting the cable in the costume and pulling it out real fast, then reversing in post; but this would not work with the costume, which is made out of a relatively rigid foam polymer.

Anyhow, I drafted up a few storyboards for how the effect needs to go on this 'hitting the mud' and it's mostly a profile shot. I don't have a scanner that works, so I took pictures of it on my phone.



Basically, the projectile carrying the cable (traveling left-to-right) hits the arm and then goes completely taut. Yes, projectiles are taut when in flight, but in this case I think physically it should slack slightly right after hitting, (as the mud flies off the impacted surface) and then go away.

Raw footage will be HDV 1080p 24F, in native 16:9 probably at S1/60 shutter. Lighting planned is an overhead tungsten spotlight, undiffused; and ambient diffused light with blue-gelled equivalence of 6500K. The spotlight in the frame will be left-justified, as if the arm itself is right under the light and the body is just out of it.

Is there any way to accomplish this in EffectsLab? Even the mud bit? Ideally, I could do the second frame (closer-up) practically, but I don't think it's possible to do with the medium-wide shot in the first frame. Is CG/3D a bad option? I know I myself usually discourage post work on these things, but the costume/location/timing is....fragile, so-to-speak, so I'd rather it be an after-the-fact thing.

_______________________________________________________________________-



The third shot, I'm still figuring out the angle for, but I would REALLY like to do a down-the-barrel shot of the projectile gun at a 3/4 angle, right justified. The protagonist will be holding the item at a side angle, with the projectile exiting from the largest barrel in the middle of the gun. The line would exit at a perspective towards the audience, traveling to the top-right corner of the frame.

If, let's say, I'm shooting this permissibly tomorrow night (8pm-1am) on private property (open-air garage) but in the middle of the large downtown city center (REAL police to worry about, not security guards/owners of building) and there's something I could feasibly do in a practical way with only 30 dollars to spend and Home Depot and Lowes near (70 dollars already sunk into this) are there any cheaper/faster options? Difficulty/labor I'm okay with, just speed/expense I'm not! biggrin
Posted: Thu, 15th Jan 2009, 9:36am

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Simon K Jones

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Cool storyboards! Who drew 'em?

Also, if the monster suit and gun prop look anything like as cool as they do in the boards, I'll be very impressed!

If I were doing shots 1 & 2, I'd prooooobably still go the greenscreen route, to avoid causing any damage to the suit or actor inside the suit (if there is one?).

When you cut to shot 2, is the cable already embedded in the arm? Or is that when you see the actual impact? If you can cut to that shot with the cable already embedded (even if it isn't taut yet), then it obviously makes things easier.

Presuming that is the case, I'd go for a greenscreen cable for the impact in shot 1 (or a CG cable if you can do it). Presumably it's going to be a pretty fast impact, so will only be a second-or-so of actual effects work. As before, I'd probably drop the cable from above camera, using gravity to pull it taut, and composite from there. You could also composite on some mud splat stock footage (or maybe you could colour grade some generic blood splatter stock footage to look like mud?) for the impact itself.

For shot 2, I'd go practical and have it already attached to the arm - you can always cheat it by having it 'behind' the arm, like the old 'sword through the body' trick.


For an alternative option, if you want to try and be more practical, you could always shoot the monster suit on greenscreen (could still be on location, to match lighting), then on the same location have someone holding a tub of mud which they splatter out at the right height and direction, and also through the cable with someone catching it at the appropriate point. Composite all 3 layers together, mask out the gag performers, and it could look pretty cool.
Posted: Thu, 15th Jan 2009, 10:40am

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spydurhank

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Dude! holy crap, those drawings are amazing man.
I definately want to check that out when you're done.
Looks to be an awesome project you've got going on.
Looking forward to the actual flick. biggrin
Posted: Thu, 15th Jan 2009, 4:03pm

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ben3308

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Tarn, thanks for the suggestions.

I think I am going to take a slightly larger-than-actual section of the foam from the arm, pad it with real mud, and then shoot that on a greenscreen with two or three feet of higher-gauge steel cable. I suppose I'd have to shoot the greenscreen stuff in a different city (I got back to my university on monday) but hey, maybe I can coax the studio handler to let me use a soundstage for it? biggrin

Anyways, to answer a few other questions, I drew the storyboards and the monster suit is meant to be worn; though creative differences with my brother have meant that the suit will look more grotesque and less over-the-top like I wanted. smile

If all goes well we will have shot this by the end of tonight!

Something I also didn't mention because I felt I could do it was an explosion, which I want to be small and on the monster. I've resolved that I'm shooting this last and using an electronic squib with flashpaper, but if I would want to enhance it with stock footage, should I add like a heavy tungsten flash to the footage or something?

I'm sorry if I sound dumb, I just don't know these things!
Posted: Thu, 15th Jan 2009, 5:46pm

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Bryan M Block

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ben3308 wrote:

Tarn, thanks for the suggestions.

I think I am going to take a slightly larger-than-actual section of the foam from the arm, pad it with real mud, and then shoot that on a greenscreen with two or three feet of higher-gauge steel cable. I suppose I'd have to shoot the greenscreen stuff in a different city (I got back to my university on monday) but hey, maybe I can coax the studio handler to let me use a soundstage for it? biggrin

Anyways, to answer a few other questions, I drew the storyboards and the monster suit is meant to be worn; though creative differences with my brother have meant that the suit will look more grotesque and less over-the-top like I wanted. smile

If all goes well we will have shot this by the end of tonight!

Something I also didn't mention because I felt I could do it was an explosion, which I want to be small and on the monster. I've resolved that I'm shooting this last and using an electronic squib with flashpaper, but if I would want to enhance it with stock footage, should I add like a heavy tungsten flash to the footage or something?

I'm sorry if I sound dumb, I just don't know these things!
I think this is the best solution.

Good luck with the shot- I look forward to seeing the results. The Storyboards look great.
Posted: Sat, 17th Jan 2009, 3:13am

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ben3308

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We're shooting the film tonight and tomorrow. If anyone cares about updates, I'll be posting them on my Twitter as I go.

Pre-production is officially over, production is kicking in. Check out the updates if you're interested! biggrin

http://twitter.com/ben3308
Posted: Sun, 18th Jan 2009, 10:35am

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ben3308

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Hello all, I finished shooting what I need effects shots on, but now I've hit a bit of a dilemma.

The shots I ended up getting for the impact of the cable aren't profiles of the arms, they're 3/4 angles of the back of the 'evil being'. I brought 30' of steel cable to the shoot, and shot a bunch of angles with the real thing in place, but I'm still in need of a CG solution to the 'cable launching from gun' angle, which came out just like the storyboard, but flipped horizontally.

Now that I have to do an option that is on the computer (I won't be able to shoot in 1080i on the greenscreen, so I don't think it will be high quality enough for my means of keying to work) do you all think 3D animation is the way out, or Photoshop frame-by-frame?
Posted: Sun, 18th Jan 2009, 12:47pm

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Rockfilmers

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Now that I have to do an option that is on the computer (I won't be able to shoot in 1080i on the greenscreen, so I don't think it will be high quality enough for my means of keying to work) do you all think 3D animation is the way out, or Photoshop frame-by-frame?
I would think it depends on how long your shot is. I only use anim8or so I try to avoid 3d as mush as possible. Photoshop on the other hand would be kind of time consuming. Another way I just thought of is stop motion, but that might be a last resort. I'll PM you about maybe doing it in photoshop.
Posted: Sun, 18th Jan 2009, 4:34pm

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Biblmac

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I know that someone could do this in blender pretty easily. A friend of mine uses it, and it seems this would be fairly easy. I would go with 3d.
Posted: Tue, 20th Jan 2009, 5:48pm

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ben3308

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Alright, well I'm trying a Photoshop option; but if anyone with any type of 3D experience could lend a hand I'd much appreciate it!

If you email be at ben3308 AT gmail DOT com, I can in turn give you links to the raw footage online. It's in SD and only about 3 seconds long.
Posted: Wed, 18th Feb 2009, 7:31am

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ben3308

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UPDATE

Just wanted to notify everyone that the effects shots, in question, are pretty much finished; and they look awesome. I'm still fitting the grade of the different layers/footage together and adding a few smoke puffs and things to the clip, but the CG work is completed and it looks great.

Thanks go out to Daniel - or as he's known on here, coldside - for not only proposing offhand to do the CG, but rendering out several drafts until it fit the edit. I very much appreciate these contributions. He did pretty much all the legwork effects-wise for this bit of the film, so all credit goes to him on this one. wink

While I'm at it, I want to thank Phil (Fill on here) for penning the latter half of the script for this project. Though post has taken longer than it has on any film I've ever done, I think this is really going to be one of the best films I've made, and I'm glad that it has become more of an FXhome community-centered project.

Anyhow, I'll obviously be notifying all of you when it's done/submitting it to the cinema which, God willing, should be very very soon! biggrin
Posted: Wed, 18th Feb 2009, 4:01pm

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Biblmac

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Congrats on getting it done! I hope to see the results soon! Oh and I know that I have not seen it yet, but good job Coldside on helping them out! You too Fill!
Posted: Wed, 18th Feb 2009, 4:25pm

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Rockfilmers

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Sounds good, can't wait smile
Posted: Wed, 18th Feb 2009, 7:31pm

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coldside

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Even though it was only one shot, it was fun to work on. It did take a fair bit of testing before I could come up with something usable, but in the end the rig is versatile and customizable, so I'm happy with that.

The only thing to worry about now is hoping it will stand up to peoples expectations. razz

Daniel
Posted: Thu, 19th Feb 2009, 1:00am

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ben3308

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coldside wrote:

The only thing to worry about now is hoping it will stand up to peoples expectations. razz
I think that most likely the film - and very assuredly the effects - will satisfy audiences. biggrin

We'll see, come February 27th.....