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Fire effects on stairs

Posted: Mon, 24th Aug 2009, 8:35pm

Post 1 of 47

MrGoodbomb

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I have a short where a girl dumps gas on a staircase, leans down and lights it, rears back, watches it burn a minute, and then continues upstairs. The fire rises and the smoke detectors go off, shortly followed by sprinklers, ruining anyone else's chances of getting up the stairs and alleviating her of the temptation to flee back down them.

There are 4 shots in this clip.

1. Dumping gas
2. Lighting (flames rise up with the sound effects)
3. Reaction shot
4. Flames rising, sprinklers putting fire out and shot fades out to credits.

Here's the clip.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Udpe3DTjR7w

I need flame effects for shots 2 and 4. I also need the rain/sprinkler effect to come in and put the flames out (but not clear it, as it would cause smoke and the stairs are presumably "ruined" under the effect). I still need to add the rain and sizzle sounds, but I've had trouble finding them.

I only have Final Cut Pro, but I can get some access to After Effects. Simple yet convincing is the key.

Any ideas? I know Detonation Films for stock, but I'm not sure what stock to use (aside from the rain effect) and how. Thanks!
Posted: Mon, 24th Aug 2009, 8:50pm

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pdrg

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Blimey that will be tough one to composite in - the trouble with fire is that it interacts with just about everything, and so just compositing in stock flames will probably look a bit weird at best, wrong at worst. That said, it's also inconvenient to set fire to a house just for one shot.

I have to say, I'd probably look at reshooting this to be more suggestive than graphical, but even then you're up against it, unless some of the guys here have any strokes of genius?
Posted: Mon, 24th Aug 2009, 8:54pm

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MrGoodbomb

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Reshoots are not a possibility.
Posted: Mon, 24th Aug 2009, 11:30pm

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rogolo

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One way you could do it without reshooting is:

Shot 2: Insert stock of a fire ignition...shouldn't be hard to find. If you can't, it'd be pretty simple to set up your own in a wide open lot with a bit of common sense and a lot of caution.

Shot 3: Digital zoom on her face a bit to add a bit of motion to the shot. As it is, it's too far out to be a strong emotional shot (closeup or extreme closeup would've helped with that), and too close in to show any flames. Seeing as reshoots are not possible, a bit of a digital zoom would help to bridge that gap and draw the viewer into the subject. Add a bit of heat haze to the bottom of the frame as well.

INSERT - Shot 4: Make your own stock footage of fire burning. Maybe a closeup of fire burning, without seeing much of the background would help sell the effect that the fire is there with her. Cutting back and forth creatively will assist further. Add SFX of the wood falling/splintering to set up the ultimate destruction of the stairs.

INSERT - Shot 5: Get a closeup of a sprinkler going off.

Last shot: Find someone to Photoshop the stairs to look destroyed by fire....shouldn't be too hard to find someone with decent skills. Then, use stock footage of smoke rising and use SFX of hissing/steaming to sell the effect that the stairs are destroyed and the fire was just put out.

Alternatively, if you have the necessary expertise, safety equipment, and personnel, you could do a custom stock job on this. Film vertical 2x4's being burned a couple of times, and a couple different angles, and you could composite that over each banister of the stairs. Match up the angle of a couple planks of wood to the steps, and burn/composite those. Add some heat haze/smoke/composite effects, maybe a bit of digital camera movement, and careful editing to complete the effect.

Also, may I ask why reshoots are not possible? If you had access to just the actors or just the location, you can probably pick up some shots that will help with editing and continuity, and give you a better chance to sell the effect. I'm sure in the future, you will storyboard/previsualize these FX shots before doing them! smile
Posted: Tue, 25th Aug 2009, 12:26am

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TheOutlawAmbulance

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Great idea Rogolo. (I like saying that name.) If reshoots are impossible then here is my idea:

1)Measure the length of your stairs.
2)Buy a greenscreen (or bluescreen)/blackscreen depending if your NLE (such as Vegas) can do greenscreening (or bluescreening). If it can't try a blackscreen. (a pure-black blanket, sheet, thread, etc.)
3)Go to your local hardware store and buy 4 peices of wood the exact length of your stairs.
4)Set up the greenscreen (or bluescreen)/blackscreen outside when the sun goes down if you use the blackscreen or during the day if your using a greenscreen.
5)Set your camera on a tripod outside and with a nail and hammer construct 4 peices of wood together as if making the first step of your stairs. See below:



6)Next poor some lighting fluid on the stairs vertically and position it from the same angle you positioned your camera while taking that shot.
7)Take a match and light the fluid. Film up to 20 secs. of it. Then go into your NLE and key out the background to black.
8)Go into Effectslab and mask out the stairs.
9)Split the footage into 5 second segments.
10)Put the different footage over each part of your stairs. You might want to add some grading to match your scene.

And.........BAM your done! Hope I can help you!-Storm
Posted: Tue, 25th Aug 2009, 12:42am

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spydurhank

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Great ideas guys.

Creating a matte painting to get the stairs to look like they've been burned might take some work since they are already really dark in color. It can be done though, it would just take some time to make it look believable. Not impossible, just a little hard is all.
Posted: Tue, 25th Aug 2009, 4:38am

Post 7 of 47

MrGoodbomb

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Here's the stock footage I have to work with.

www.detonationfilms.com

This is for both the fire and the sprinklers (rain, as the ceiling is from another floor, I don't think that kind of dispersion and range would be unreasonable).

I think fake push-ins digitally are tacky, and I'm not interested in altering her reaction shot unless it's a color/aesthetic change to match the fire footage before and after.

Reshoots aren't possible because returning to that location isn't possible, IE, measuring the steps isn't possible. The actors are returning to college and the house is for sale several hours away. The camera was also rented. I storyboarded these shots out, hence why the final shot is stationary, and I had "a guy" for my digital flame effects, but he turned out to be entirely useless. Seems like a lot of these guys are more talk than function.

I could try, with a cheaper camera, to shoot some stuff (boards, a few fake stairs, etc) getting set on fire, but it'd be in broad daylight or, at best, overcast (IE not inside) and impossible to match to the existing shots. I just don't see how it could possible match up any better than some pre-existing flame effects on no base.

Shot 4 can start out with the flames fairly high (covering the steps more or less) and getting higher until the sprinklers turn the fire to smoke (fade to grey, credits).
Posted: Tue, 25th Aug 2009, 6:37am

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rogolo

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Storm Grenade wrote:

Great idea Rogolo. (I like saying that name.)
Hehe, thank you sir! You know, it is scientifically proven to have the perfect ratio of vowels to consonants, as well as the ideal amount of rhyming, and unparalleled memorability. Your approval, however, means the world to me, and will be noted in my memoirs.

With that, on to my incredibly long, but entertaining (and correct smile ) assessment of your post, Mr. GoodBomb:

MrGoodbomb wrote:

Here's the stock footage I have to work with.

www.detonationfilms.com

This is for both the fire and the sprinklers (rain, as the ceiling is from another floor, I don't think that kind of dispersion and range would be unreasonable).
So, you are asking us to go through DetFilm's library looking for clips for you? I would think that it would be very easy to simply look at their directory to find the burning timbers, DV embers, and various fire elements on this page as well as the assorted rippers and molotovs on this page. Pretty simple stuff, wouldn't you say?


MrGoodbomb wrote:

I think fake push-ins digitally are tacky, and I'm not interested in altering her reaction shot unless it's a color/aesthetic change to match the fire footage before and after.
In certain cases, I'd agree with you. However, if done subtly and in the right context, it will enhance the shot and, accordingly, the audience's connection with the character/film. To me, the shot, as it is, is a bit awkward, since her profile was to the camera in the previous shot, which then cuts to a full-on front angle with no stairs in the background (which is disorienting, since they should be behind her) and she is looking directly down at the landing where her feet should be, which further skews the layout of the scene.

Your framing of her is also peculiar. The long edit suggests this is a big decision/moment for the character, but your framing does little to mirror this sentiment. Instead of getting close up to her, it is at an awkward medium shot with TONS of boring negative space on either side. This does not convey intensity at all, which makes the shot length monotonous. Her body position and acting don't really do much to help the shot either.

A SUBTLE digital zoom will help to pare away the excess negative space and allow the audience to focus on her and her feelings. In this particular instance, I think it would save the shot, and make the sequence more monumental.

MrGoodbomb wrote:

I could try, with a cheaper camera, to shoot some stuff (boards, a few fake stairs, etc) getting set on fire, but it'd be in broad daylight or, at best, overcast (IE not inside) and impossible to match to the existing shots. I just don't see how it could possible match up any better than some pre-existing flame effects on no base.
Obviously, it would be near-impossible to exactly match the shots, but it would be quite simple to approximate the measurements. Of course they won't be perfect, but it will look MUCH better with tweaking than generic stock footage which is not tailored to your shot. As pdrg stated, the problem with fire is that it interacts with its surroundings. Combining and blending together multiple layers of custom flaming steps and banisters overlaid with embers, smoke, and heat haze will look leagues better than cut-and-paste generic stock. This method allows the fire to interact realistically with the assorted objects in the shot, which will undeniably look more realistic than pre-existing stock, so I can't see how your argument makes any sense whatsoever.

MrGoodbomb wrote:

Shot 4 can start out with the flames fairly high (covering the steps more or less) and getting higher until the sprinklers turn the fire to smoke (fade to grey, credits).
Last thing to keep in mind is that having the flames "get higher" with stock footage is very tricky - there's no good way to do it, unless the fire emitter has a variable ignition source, which is unlikely to be in any existing stock in the way you want it, which means having to film it yourself. Having your fire extinguish onscreen is another obstacle that you will face, which is another reason to use my shot sequence that I posted above, or (sounding like a broken record) do your own stock.



Overall, just keep in mind that this is will be very tricky to pull off convincingly without lots of creative editing and FX work. Most likely it will not end up looking like you imagined, which is (unfortunately) a real-life lesson not to wholly rely on someone you don't trust for major parts of your films. confused I do wish you good luck with it all the same and hope to see your results when it's finished.
Posted: Tue, 25th Aug 2009, 6:52am

Post 9 of 47

MrGoodbomb

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rogolo wrote:

So, you are asking us to go through DetFilm's library looking for clips for you? I would think that it would be very easy to simply look at their directory to find the burning timbers, DV embers, and various fire elements on this page as well as the assorted rippers and molotovs on this page. Pretty simple stuff, wouldn't you say?
No. I'm not asking anyone to do anything FOR me. I keep getting these posts saying "shoot this," "shoot that," "burn this." My first post (and consequent follow-up) outlined that reshoots weren't possible, and the stock footage I have available. These were ignored. I reposted them for clarification.



rogolo wrote:

In certain cases, I'd agree with you. However, if done subtly and in the right context, it will enhance the shot and, accordingly, the audience's connection with the character/film. To me, the shot, as it is, is a bit awkward, since her profile was to the camera in the previous shot, which then cuts to a full-on front angle with no stairs in the background (which is disorienting, since they should be behind her) and she is looking directly down at the landing where her feet should be, which further skews the layout of the scene.

Your framing of her is also peculiar. The long edit suggests this is a big decision/moment for the character, but your framing does little to mirror this sentiment. Instead of getting close up to her, it is at an awkward medium shot with TONS of boring negative space on either side. This does not convey intensity at all, which makes the shot length monotonous. Her body position and acting don't really do much to help the shot either.

A SUBTLE digital zoom will help to pare away the excess negative space and allow the audience to focus on her and her feelings. In this particular instance, I think it would save the shot, and make the sequence more monumental.
I'm not interested in perceptions or opinions on anything outside of the two effects I need to handle, thank you. I appreciate your input, but I have cut my film, and will continue to cut my film, the way I see fit. While I appreciate your opinions, I have my own, and it is my short. This is entirely out of context. It's four shots shown to display two specific effects shots. That's what I'm here for. Those two specific effects shots.


rogolo wrote:

Obviously, it would be near-impossible to exactly match the shots, but it would be quite simple to approximate the measurements. Of course they won't be perfect, but it will look MUCH better with tweaking than generic stock footage which is not tailored to your shot. As pdrg stated, the problem with fire is that it interacts with its surroundings. Combining and blending together multiple layers of custom flaming steps and banisters overlaid with embers, smoke, and heat haze will look leagues better than cut-and-paste generic stock. This method allows the fire to interact realistically with the assorted objects in the shot, which will undeniably look more realistic than pre-existing stock, so I can't see how your argument makes any sense whatsoever.
You can't see how:

1. I can't reshoot.
2. I can't access the location again.
3. I can't burn real things and record them being burnt.

Really? That's a pretty simple series of issues to understand. Anything else is extraneous and unnecessary for me to get into, where you agree with my "arguement" or not.


rogolo wrote:

Last thing to keep in mind is that having the flames "get higher" with stock footage is very tricky - there's no good way to do it, unless the fire emitter has a variable ignition source, which is unlikely to be in any existing stock in the way you want it, which means having to film it yourself. Having your fire extinguish onscreen is another obstacle that you will face, which is another reason to use my shot sequence that I posted above, or (sounding like a broken record) do your own stock.

Overall, just keep in mind that this is will be very tricky to pull off convincingly without lots of creative editing and FX work. Most likely it will not end up looking like you imagined, which is (unfortunately) a real-life lesson not to wholly rely on someone you don't trust for major parts of your films. confused I do wish you good luck with it all the same and hope to see your results when it's finished.
Thanks.
Posted: Tue, 25th Aug 2009, 7:15am

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spydurhank

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Dude...
You explained your needs in the right way!
Not everyone's gonna get it though!
Do what you can with what you so far have... Make sense?
Posted: Tue, 25th Aug 2009, 7:41am

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rogolo

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MrGoodbomb wrote:

No. I'm not asking anyone to do anything FOR me. I keep getting these posts saying "shoot this," "shoot that," "burn this." My first post (and consequent follow-up) outlined that reshoots weren't possible, and the stock footage I have available. These were ignored. I reposted them for clarification.
Honestly, man, I have no idea what you are asking for then. If you already have the stock footage, what exactly do you need help with?

Your only "calls-to-action" in your first post were these:
-I need flame effects for shots 2 and 4 [Solved: You said you have the proper stock footage. Just composite it the way I explained, with multiple layers and overlays.]
-I still need to add the rain and sizzle sounds, but I've had trouble finding them. [Solved: Spend a few bucks on SFX here if Google fails you for free alternatives]
-Any ideas?I know Detonation Films for stock, but I'm not sure what stock to use (aside from the rain effect) and how. [Solved: Again, you answer your own question...use DetFilms for your stock. I took it to mean you were wondering which ones to use, so I linked you to some. As for how to do it, use Storm Grenade's or my method of making stock or use my aforementioned multi-layered compositing method for using your DetFilms stock. If you are asking how to actually composite, search for compositing tutorials...they are everywhere.]

Really, every question you have specifically asked has been answered. I don't see what the fuss is about.

MrGoodbomb wrote:

I'm not interested in perceptions or opinions on anything outside of the two effects I need to handle, thank you. I appreciate your input, but I have cut my film, and will continue to cut my film, the way I see fit. While I appreciate your opinions, I have my own, and it is my short. This is entirely out of context. It's four shots shown to display two specific effects shots. That's what I'm here for. Those two specific effects shots.
Yes, it is your short, so edit as you see fit - but keep in mind that "out of context" is not a valid excuse for odd framing. Feel free to ignore my recommendations, but don't knock my advice while simultaneously asking for it.


MrGoodbomb wrote:

You can't see how:

1. I can't reshoot.
2. I can't access the location again.
3. I can't burn real things and record them being burnt.

Really? That's a pretty simple series of issues to understand.
Filming your own stock footage to composite DOES NOT require:

1. Reshooting
2. Accessing the location again

And if you can't burn things, why did you say:

MrGoodbomb wrote:

I could try, with a cheaper camera, to shoot some stuff (boards, a few fake stairs, etc) getting set on fire,
I logically assumed that statement meant you could try (as you expressly stated), so I offered suggestions on how to accomplish your goal.

So, again, what exactly do you need help with so we can continue trying to help you.
Posted: Tue, 25th Aug 2009, 9:44am

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Arktic

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This sequence will require some SERIOUS compositing skills to get right.

For example, shot two has a reasonably dramatic camera move, and then some handheld camera shake at the end. If you try to keyframe stock footage into this manually, it's going to look fake. Motion tracking is probably possible, but not particularly easy, nor straight forward. You won't get this right in FCP, I can guarantee that; and it'll take a lot of work to pull off with After Effects.

You'll also have to create additional lighting effects on shots 2 and 4, otherwise it'll look wrong. Remember, fire is a light source, so it should change the look of the lighting in the area (especially in such a confined space). This is doubly important because in shot three, there's clearly some sort of physical 'firelight' effect. Not sure why you didn't also do this on set for shots 2 and 4. It would have saved you some work in post.

I don't understand why you can't do re-shoots. I think you've shot yourself in the foot somewhat by setting yourself a challenge that's nearly impossible to get right - you WILL NOT get anything looking even reasonably realistic with this sequence as it stands. Feel free to prove me wrong, but I'd be willing to put money on this sequence not looking quite right if you don't re-edit significantly or re-shoot (especially as you're not shooting the fire elements yourself, and you're relying on trying to fudge stock footage in to match your angles!).

I also agree with Rogolo that your edit needs work - it feels jumpy and not in a way that suggests it's a style choice (for example, the jump cut between the reverse and the lighter shot, or the jump from mid shot to close up). Is this a rough cut? If so, I suggest tightening it all up significantly - cutting the reaction shot by half at least.

I'd *seriously* consider working out a way of either re-cutting or re-shooting so that you don't have to spend ages working on an effect which will look strange at best, and totally unbelievable at worst. Sorry if that's not what you want to hear, but that's what I believe the case to be. As I say, feel free to prove me wrong - but in my experience, you'd be spending your time better by working on reshooting smile

Cheers,
Arktic.
Posted: Tue, 25th Aug 2009, 10:08am

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spydurhank

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Good point rogolo! biggrin

I don't know whether he didn't like the answers that he received because they didn't offer an easy solution or whether they just didn't make any sense to him... they made sense to me BTW.

as in

Shoot his own stock flame footage "build a 2 or 3 stair case and set it on fire" because of the angle that he filmed for the stairs on his original video clip which is... way weird and I don't see why anyone would ever do that. The shooting your own stock footage sounds just about right to me in that type of situation! wink

That doesn't sound like anyone telling him to do something that he couldn't possibly "not" do because he already stated that he couldn't re-shoot the scene but at the same time he can try and film some boards on fire...? What the heck? He can but then again he can't?

Dude... you received some really good advice on how to achieve your desired effect so why not go with that? No one is trying to tell you what to do rather... they are trying to help you with your project.

Do you not have access to a camera to film your own flame stock footage or do you not have the funds to buy a few pieces of wood to build a 30 second prop to burn?

We are all more than willing to help you and or offer you ideas so please do not become irate with us. I dunno... maybe you misunderstood the guys or maybe they misunderstood your question resulting in an answer that you did not want to or care to hear... but... take this to heart... "you" shot that video clip not us! I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with the way you filmed it... but damn dude!

So maybe... maybe...

Maybe you didn't plan as far ahead as you should have with, concerning your visual effects... hence the reason that you're asking us for advice but yet you're not to keen on listening to what the guys have to say or the great tips and advise that they are giving you.

So please do me a favor and step out of your little world... show the guys some respect because they are trying to help you... without even knowing you I might add... and you're doing nothing but complaining!?

As good as I think that some of your angles are... they honestly do not convey what you are going for and I'm sorry that you cannot re-shoot that scene because if you could, that would be way, way easier on you.

Sorry man... I wasn't trying to be a jerk but the guys are right about what they said so if you can... pay them some kind of heed.

EDIT
p.s.
Did I mention that they're just trying to help?

They are you know?
Posted: Tue, 25th Aug 2009, 1:28pm

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Arktic

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Rating: +1

Right, I've had a crack at shot 2 - there's not a great deal of reference points that are easily trackable, so the tracking is a little off a the start. I think this is probably going to be the thing that makes this shot look most unrealistic. Also, without motion tracking everything into the shot (flames, smoke, embers) - it'll be clear that you've just overlaid stock onto the footage. So get brushing up on you motion tracking skills!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTNrnp1R2u8

Also, as it's on youtube, some of the detail is lost in the lighting effect that I've added, but you get the picture (a randomised glow, randomised brightness adjustments depending on the area of the image motion tracked in, and fake shadows of the girl's knee and the petrol can). I think this shot would probably need a lot more work to get right.

But as for shot 4, you're going to have to either shoot your own stock footage of fire being extinguished, or get someone else to shoot it for you. I don't think pre-existing stock will work at all, you'll struggle to get it to look like it's being put out if in reality it's still burning...

You know that DetonationFilms does a custom stock footage creation service? That might be the best way forward, you can give them the footage, they can shoot the flames on the stairs being extinguished, and you can comp it all together.


And again, I think your edit needs looking at, otherwise it will just look wrong.

Hope this helps give you some ideas though!

Cheers,
Arktic.
Posted: Tue, 25th Aug 2009, 3:33pm

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pdrg

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Bloody good effort on #2 Arktic smile
Posted: Tue, 25th Aug 2009, 4:47pm

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MrGoodbomb

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Thanks everyone. I'm through with this topic.
Posted: Tue, 25th Aug 2009, 4:55pm

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Sollthar

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After people writing tons of answers in an honest and serious try to help and support you, you just go "thanks. I'm through with this topic"?

I sincerely doubt you'll be getting much help next time you ask for some...

Last edited Tue, 25th Aug 2009, 5:04pm; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Tue, 25th Aug 2009, 5:03pm

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Terminal Velocity

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I think he's a lot like I am; brief and not very sensitive. He didn't mean to offend anyone, but you know...what more is there to say? It does come across as offensive to some, but I wouldn't say he did it on purpose.
Posted: Tue, 25th Aug 2009, 5:06pm

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MrGoodbomb

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I appreciate the help from many here, and Arktic, your video looks very close to, probably, the best I'm going to be able to achieve from this series of shots (if it spread out a little less, as the distance of space the fire takes over is larger than where we saw the gas sitting, which would of course happen but not in the matter of time left in a few-second shot). I appreciate your assistance and advice.

I, however, get very sick of the way filmmakers feel the need to deliver assistance and present their ideas to others on forums like this. The attitudes and snide delivery are not needed, and I shouldn't have to repeat myself quite so often.

1. No access to location or actors (hence why we shot it so quick, we had one day for both).
2. Building my own stairs and setting them on fire is unlikely to happen anywhere, though I'm trying to figure out if there might be the off chance of doing it somewhere nearby.
3. I'm not here to talk about framing, cuts, shots, intention, length of shots, etc. I'm here for two effects. While advice is always appreciated, threads that go so off-topic get quite obnoxious to read, and when you have dig through responses you specifically asked to cease to get to the information you'd really appreciate, it gets old very quick. If you have such trouble accepting that I'm not looking for this kind of input, just assume it's a rough cut here to display the two effects shots needed.

I'm considering how and where in this tiny, sleepy college town to build a set of stairs, borrow a greenscreen from my video department, one that will inevitably be returned reeking of smoke, and how to shoot it so that the angle matches as closesly as possible that of the stairs in the shot. The banister can be left untouched, mostly, and the wall as well, if not getting a little blackened. I also don't know how to, then, shoot them fire being extinquished.
Posted: Tue, 25th Aug 2009, 5:14pm

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pdrg

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Not meaning to be funny, but I did suggest upfront that this was going to be a problem - people *have* tried to help, but it is an impossible situation you've put yourself in sad When people give their ideas of how to get you out of the problem you created for yourself, maybe a little more flexibility or even grace would be appropriate?
Posted: Tue, 25th Aug 2009, 5:24pm

Post 21 of 47

MrGoodbomb

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If you'd like flexibility, I can say I have a bigger budget, more resources, the ability to reshoot, constant access to the equipment used and the actors present, but I'd be lying. I don't. I'm less flexible than you'd like because my options are limited, and it seems no matter how many times I explain that, the "work outside of your means" suggestions keep reappearing.

If you'd like more grace, I'd have to be in a position where I could repeat myself a little less. My level of tact and patience gets a small indent every time I say something I've already said a fair number of times. I don't know why I'd bother writing and re-writing something no one seems to care to read.

I'm going to return to the location today and measure the stairs. It's a several-hour trip, and I can't do any reshoots because the actress and camera aren't available, but at least I can measure the stairs. How I'll achieve the same angle, or get the department to let me borrow their precious, almost entirely unused greenscreen equipment to set a fire in such close proximity to it is beyond me. I guess that's my next hurdle.
Posted: Tue, 25th Aug 2009, 5:33pm

Post 22 of 47

Sollthar

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Though I partially see what you're saying, I believe there's something quite vital you're not seeing:

You're the one who wants help, who has a problem you can't solve. They're the ones who take their free time to look at your problem and actually try to come up with solutions for you in a friendly and supportive manner in order to solve your problem - besides all ideas presented in this thread are perfectly valid suggestions for a problem like this.
And you get annoyed you have to repeat yourself and by the way the people who have decided to help you have presented their help? You're the one who wants something in this case, try not to forget that.


I'll suggest something little for anyone who still reads this and hope it to be useful:

Filmmaking is not a fixed art. Often, people make their own barriers by just seeing this one solution with this one tools they have in mind and blocking themselves from any other way of thinking around the problem ( I can't do this, I only have this ). Filmmaking is indeed all about mind flexibility, independent of budget or reshoots. More often then not, you'll have to let go of things and change the way to do something. ESPECIALLY if you have a low budget.


So you have a difficult shot and not properly working stock footage. This, at the end of the day and however you'd like the world to turn it around will end up in only two possible solutions:

1 - get hold of stock footage that fits your demand by either shooting it yourself some way or getting it somewhere. Oh, never shoot fire on a greenscreen! Shoot it on a black background. (You can shoot it in smaller parts and combine in post, so you won't have to light a complete stair on fire, which I perfectly see how it's going to pose a problem.... But you can definately light something on fire in a way it fits your angle perfectly)

2 - change the shots in order to avoid a difficult task that has a high chance of looking bad by either reshooting (okay, that doesn't work. I got that) or re-editing, maybe even with inserts shot somewhere else or unused shots you still have.

There's no more solutions.
Posted: Tue, 25th Aug 2009, 5:59pm

Post 23 of 47

TheOutlawAmbulance

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Sollthar wrote:

1 - get hold of stock footage that fits your demand by either shooting it yourself some way or getting it somewhere. Oh, never shoot fire on a greenscreen! Shoot it on a black background. (You can shoot it in smaller parts and combine in post, so you won't have to light a complete stair on fire, which I perfectly see how it's going to pose a problem.... But you can definately light something on fire in a way it fits your angle perfectly)
Sorry about that greenscreen problem.
I hope I'm not the only one thinking this but why can't you try one of our methods. Its not like you have to reshoot the whole scene but like I said try and make your own stock footage. Whats the problem confused: Not enough money? Don't have wood, gasoline, a match? You can buy a Black blanket or sheet for $15. Is it really neccessary to lash out at us and then say your done with this topic? This is a very diificult shot that you put yourself into. I'm sorry I can't make the shot easy for you, but this effect is very difficult and if you want it to look right you will have to follow one of the methods. It can be frusrating but if you want it to look right you'll have to buckle down. Even if it means spending a few extra dollars. I'm still not sure why lighting it on fire would appose a problem unless you live in NYC. I think these members of FXhome have given up their free time to try and help but you keep rejecting that help. We know that reshoots are impossible but these are the only ways to make it look good. End of story. Try showing some respect for them.

Rogolo wrote:

Hehe, thank you sir! You know, it is scientifically proven to have the perfect ratio of vowels to consonants, as well as the ideal amount of rhyming, and unparalleled memorability. Your approval, however, means the world to me, and will be noted in my memoirs.
Ummmmmm.......ouch? Sarcasm maybe. wink
Posted: Tue, 25th Aug 2009, 6:28pm

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Arktic

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How I'll achieve the same angle, or get the department to let me borrow their precious, almost entirely unused greenscreen equipment to set a fire in such close proximity to it is beyond me. I guess that's my next hurdle.
I really don't know why I'm going to help you out again, because your attitude in this thread has really annoyed me. I keep wasting my time to give you answers, and you either ignore my suggestions, dismiss my advice or acknowledge them in a pretty ungrateful manner.

People skills are a HUGE part of the media industry, and if you act like you have in this thread in the real world... Well, don't expect your career to be very long.

When someone gives advice you don't want, you don't say "Stop giving me advice!" - you smile, nod your head and say something like "Oh thanks, I'll bear that in mind" or "I'll see if that works out". Trust me, you'll be saying that to execs and producers for the rest of your life. But act dickish towards them, and you'll find that you're soon out of options.

Anyway, rant over. Just maybe try and show a little more gratitude when people go out of their way (for no benefit to themselves) in order to help.

So... here is how you solve your dilemma -

Option 1) Have you looked into DetFilms' custom stock footage service? You can send over the footage, they can look at it and give you a quote to create the stock footage. Give it a go, they're nice guys and it might be cheaper than you think.

Option 2) Build a rough miniature of the stairs out of plywood or balsa. Spend some time working out how to line up your camera and frame the shot so that it matches the existing shot as much as possible. Paint it black, and film it on fire against a black backdrop (or outside at night). Extinguish the flames with a plant-mister or similar to simulate the sprinklers. Job done.

(Be careful when you're filming anything with fire - always have a fire extinguisher on set, use fireproof gloves where possible, if filming at night use battery torches to see what you're doing, and only set things on fire in an area where you have permission to do so, and never try to film a fire effect by yourself).
Posted: Tue, 25th Aug 2009, 6:40pm

Post 25 of 47

swintonmaximilian

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I think you could comp in a lot of fire elements + animated reveals of fire damage etc, and do a fairly decent job. If you have access to after effects then you definitely could, depending on your skill level, make this look pretty good. The problem is that it's never going to look 100% real and it's going to take a long time. If you don't know anything about after effects you won't be able to do this well. Integrating stock footage into a scene where it will be under close scrutiny realistically is very difficult. It can definitely be done though, but you would be looking at at least a week, probably more, of work.
Posted: Tue, 25th Aug 2009, 7:19pm

Post 26 of 47

MrGoodbomb

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Arktic wrote:

How I'll achieve the same angle, or get the department to let me borrow their precious, almost entirely unused greenscreen equipment to set a fire in such close proximity to it is beyond me. I guess that's my next hurdle.
I really don't know why I'm going to help you out again, because your attitude in this thread has really annoyed me. I keep wasting my time to give you answers, and you either ignore my suggestions, dismiss my advice or acknowledge them in a pretty ungrateful manner.

People skills are a HUGE part of the media industry, and if you act like you have in this thread in the real world... Well, don't expect your career to be very long.

When someone gives advice you don't want, you don't say "Stop giving me advice!" - you smile, nod your head and say something like "Oh thanks, I'll bear that in mind" or "I'll see if that works out". Trust me, you'll be saying that to execs and producers for the rest of your life. But act dickish towards them, and you'll find that you're soon out of options.

Anyway, rant over. Just maybe try and show a little more gratitude when people go out of their way (for no benefit to themselves) in order to help.

So... here is how you solve your dilemma -

Option 1) Have you looked into DetFilms' custom stock footage service? You can send over the footage, they can look at it and give you a quote to create the stock footage. Give it a go, they're nice guys and it might be cheaper than you think.

Option 2) Build a rough miniature of the stairs out of plywood or balsa. Spend some time working out how to line up your camera and frame the shot so that it matches the existing shot as much as possible. Paint it black, and film it on fire against a black backdrop (or outside at night). Extinguish the flames with a plant-mister or similar to simulate the sprinklers. Job done.

(Be careful when you're filming anything with fire - always have a fire extinguisher on set, use fireproof gloves where possible, if filming at night use battery torches to see what you're doing, and only set things on fire in an area where you have permission to do so, and never try to film a fire effect by yourself).
I said thank you, I've been very polite to you. Actually, you've been the most helpful. It's some others who's attitudes and broken record suggestions really become difficult to tolerate. As I said several times, I appreciate your help, and your attempt at the second shot in the scene looks very good, probably about as good as I'd be able to get anywhere, short of a few little tweeks.


Here's an option:

I can return to the location today for a few hours. I won't have any lights, I'll be working entirely on daylight and interior lighting. I'll also have a cheaper camera, and the actress used prior. It would only be for that final shot. Given the current editing, and the intention of that final shot (flames rising up, sprinklers turning on, stairs presumably ruined), how should I shoot it to make it easiest for the digital effects? Using the CURRENT EDIT, or something very similar, and not being able to shoot anything else but that final shot, how should I shoot it if I were to drive back today, without lights, to reshoot that last shot?

Again, thank you. I apologize for getting easily annoyed, but some people are rather difficult to tolerate. I'm one of em.
Posted: Tue, 25th Aug 2009, 7:23pm

Post 27 of 47

MrGoodbomb

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swintonmaximilian wrote:

I think you could comp in a lot of fire elements + animated reveals of fire damage etc, and do a fairly decent job. If you have access to after effects then you definitely could, depending on your skill level, make this look pretty good. The problem is that it's never going to look 100% real and it's going to take a long time. If you don't know anything about after effects you won't be able to do this well. Integrating stock footage into a scene where it will be under close scrutiny realistically is very difficult. It can definitely be done though, but you would be looking at at least a week, probably more, of work.
I have access to After Effects, but I don't own it, and I have no experience with it. There are a few people who could help me, but they're about as reliable as bloodletting as a cure for the common cold.

So, if I were to reshoot that one shot, how should I go about it? Mind you, I'd have interior and outside lights, no light kit, and a similar camera.
Posted: Wed, 26th Aug 2009, 1:45am

Post 28 of 47

spydurhank

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Well Here's what I came up with, Not nearly as good at hand tracking this footage as Arktic was. I think that I over did it with all the flame plus one of the layers abruptly cuts off as pointed out by goldenjabba.

I have yet to try the burning embers, sprinkler, and matte painting part of the render but I'll try that tomorrow sometime.

Here it is on youtube.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YbCIvzJ_6c

and here on vimeo.

http://www.vimeo.com/6273338
Posted: Wed, 26th Aug 2009, 2:52am

Post 29 of 47

Biblmac

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spydurhank wrote:

Here it is on youtube.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YbCIvzJ_6c

and here on vimeo.

http://www.vimeo.com/6273338
That was really quite amazing! I didn't think it could have such a great output as that!
Posted: Wed, 26th Aug 2009, 2:57am

Post 30 of 47

spydurhank

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Thanks.
I didn't do anything fantastic with the clips, they are from solthar's stock pack by the way. All I did was use an "add" blend mode and Visionlab did the rest... You don't think I went too overboard on the flames do you? It bugs me a little the more that I look at it... like maybe it's too much or something.
Posted: Wed, 26th Aug 2009, 2:59am

Post 31 of 47

Biblmac

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I don't know I think one of the steps is missing some flames... but I can't tell.
Posted: Wed, 26th Aug 2009, 3:06am

Post 32 of 47

spydurhank

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Yeah you're right, one of the steps is missing some fire.

I should have taken a break from working on it and then come back with fresh eyes... staring at the screen while I was hand tracking the stock clips was messing with me.

Kinda like when you record music for a really long time and all of the sounds seem to blend together till you can't tell what's what.

Yeah dude, I'll take breaks from now on to lesson the chance of making little silly mistakes like that. Thanks for pointing it out though.

And here I was thinking that there was way too much fire in that shot. Ha! When the whole time I was missing some.
Posted: Wed, 26th Aug 2009, 3:33am

Post 33 of 47

MrGoodbomb

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spydurhank wrote:

Thanks.
I didn't do anything fantastic with the clips, they are from solthar's stock pack by the way. All I did was use an "add" blend mode and Visionlab did the rest... You don't think I went too overboard on the flames do you? It bugs me a little the more that I look at it... like maybe it's too much or something.
The clips you posted look very, very good. I do think the flames shot up a little too high when she lit it, and it didn't need to be in her face for her reaction shot (as, sitting on the step, she's just a little shy as the height she'd be at if she were standing, and the flames didn't go that far). The flames were just only slightly overboard on the long shot, but they died out well. All in all, it looked very good. I don't think it's an issue of too much fire as it is too HIGH at a few points.

I still need to work on the sprinkler and rain effect. I'll have to find stop footage of a sprinkler turning on to cut to.
Posted: Wed, 26th Aug 2009, 7:44pm

Post 34 of 47

pscamm

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spydurhank,
Personally, i think that was a pretty amazing result for the problem being discussed here....Ok, so MrGoodbomb was'nt 100% happy with what you did but then he has his own vision of how he wants it to look, we're talking positioning of the effects here not the quality of the look. Pat yourself on the back for a great job spydurhank, just goes to show that the effect is'nt impossible to do.

Rather than using a green screen you could build your scale stairs, make/paint them black and squirt your gas in more or less the right places as shown on the video for the full stairs part of the shot. get a camera in more or less the right place with more or less the right angle, roll it and spark it.....Do this when it's dark by the way.....That way, instead of green screen keying, you can use the appropriate blend mode on the timeline to take away the black part and you'll be left with the fire part. If the angles are a little bit out then it should'nt matter that much but positioning using reasonably accurate tracking will be a must. Probibly the best action if you want your fire effects to match the location as accuratly as possible.

If it was me then thats what i'd do

Just my 2 pence worth

Good Luck
Paul
Posted: Wed, 26th Aug 2009, 7:57pm

Post 35 of 47

spydurhank

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Really good advice pscamm and thanks.

I was sorta thinking of the same thing.
He wouldn't have to build his stairs to actual scale... rather build a miniature painted a dark color and shot at night or against a black backdrop as you suggested.

The reason that I think this is his best bet is because he could then shoot his own sprinkler effect at the same time to put out the fire, all of that would be shot in camera so the fire being put out would be more believable since her would get the steam from the heated water at the same time.

He should obviously be very careful with this method but it shouldn't be extravagantly difficult if he makes a small enough miniature that will easily be put out once it's set on fire.
Posted: Wed, 26th Aug 2009, 9:41pm

Post 36 of 47

MrGoodbomb

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pscamm wrote:

.Ok, so MrGoodbomb was'nt 100% happy with what you did but then he has his own vision of how he wants it to look, we're talking positioning of the effects here not the quality of the look. Pat yourself on the back for a great job spydurhank, just goes to show that the effect is'nt impossible to do.
I definitely didn't mean to suggest I'm not "100% happy," he did a great job. He said there were a few issues, and I do think a few things were just slightly off, but overall it looks great.
Posted: Wed, 26th Aug 2009, 9:44pm

Post 37 of 47

MrGoodbomb

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spydurhank wrote:

Really good advice pscamm and thanks.

I was sorta thinking of the same thing.
He wouldn't have to build his stairs to actual scale... rather build a miniature painted a dark color and shot at night or against a black backdrop as you suggested.

The reason that I think this is his best bet is because he could then shoot his own sprinkler effect at the same time to put out the fire, all of that would be shot in camera so the fire being put out would be more believable since her would get the steam from the heated water at the same time.

He should obviously be very careful with this method but it shouldn't be extravagantly difficult if he makes a small enough miniature that will easily be put out once it's set on fire.
I was considering a miniature, as well, the issues would just be two-fold:

1. How to onion skin the new image so that it would lay best overtop of the old image.
2. How to make the "sprinkler" (water) not looks like massive buckets of water, seeing as scaling it down and enlarging it would make the drops of water look much bigger.
Posted: Wed, 26th Aug 2009, 10:12pm

Post 38 of 47

spydurhank

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Well it should be simple enough to build the stair case scaled down.
It wouldn't even have to be made out of wood as long as it's color is black.

The video also needs to be shot against a black background or at night because it's easier to key out the black and overley that against your source footage. I have an idea for the sprinkler putting out the fire as well but like I said in when I pm'd you, I have to wait for my buddy to bring back my camera.
Posted: Wed, 26th Aug 2009, 10:49pm

Post 39 of 47

swintonmaximilian

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The problem with a miniature is that the flames will be relative to the it's size, so, depending on how big you build it you might end up with footage of flames that look like tiny flames scaled up. Also, you would need to shoot the miniature flames at a higher frame rate, so that they move at the correct rate in relation to the scale of the scene.
Posted: Wed, 26th Aug 2009, 10:57pm

Post 40 of 47

spydurhank

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Yup, you're right. biggrin Good call.
Posted: Thu, 27th Aug 2009, 4:18pm

Post 41 of 47

pscamm

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Hey all,
As swintonmaximilian said, as close to full size is a must for the flames to be scaled right. Most stair dimentions are more or less the same here in the UK (unless they are expensive custom made ones) so i would'nt worry about getting to the origonal location to be 100% accurate. Instead, just measure your own stair case, or the guy's down the road if needed.
You would'nt need to build a full flight of stairs to pull this off, take a snapshot image from the video and count how many steps are visible in the shot (damn, didnt look at the vid before writting this - GRRrrr), lets say there are 5 steps visible, thats alot better than doing a full flight. This would allow you to raise your full size rig enough to get your camera in the right position for the roll if required, use the image from the clip to get your prospective and angles as close as possible and i'd think your good to go - DONT FORGET HEALTH AND SAFETY - Have a water hose/buckets ready & waiting !!! and, if you were to do this in your back yard/garden then inform all your Neighbours what you are doing so they dont panic and call the fire department and drench anything close which might ignite.

If it were me and i was strapped for cash then i'd call in every house in my surounding area offering to remove any unwanted wood etc, anything which will help you build a rig for free is a major bonus.

Also a great idea about the sprinklers and the steam although bear in mind that you'll probibly need a strategicly positioned light to make sure the steam/water show's up nice & bright.

Fire Away...WOOO HOooo

biggrin
Posted: Thu, 27th Aug 2009, 4:26pm

Post 42 of 47

Bryan M Block

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.02, unless you are really good at motion tracking or have someone who is...you might want to consider LOCKING DOWN THE CAMERA for any shots that are going to require lots of compositing. Just for future reference- it makes making matte paintings (digital mattes) or adding stock footage easier to match if it's locked down.
Posted: Thu, 27th Aug 2009, 5:55pm

Post 43 of 47

MrGoodbomb

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Bryan M Block wrote:

.02, unless you are really good at motion tracking or have someone who is...you might want to consider LOCKING DOWN THE CAMERA for any shots that are going to require lots of compositing. Just for future reference- it makes making matte paintings (digital mattes) or adding stock footage easier to match if it's locked down.
I locked down the last shot for this reason. The shot before that, I left the DP handle, and for obvious reasons... shouldn't have.
Posted: Thu, 27th Aug 2009, 8:29pm

Post 44 of 47

Arktic

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Or alternatively, if it's a shot you know is going to have stock/effects added to it, just add a discreet tracking marker, or make sure at the very least that you keep something distinct in the frame for the whole duration of the shot.

The problem I found with tracking shot number 2 was that there was no such reference point - much of the footage was in the same orange-ish palette, and especially because it was DV quality or less I had a hard time getting my software to lock onto anything. In the end, I think I tracked the corner of the label on the petrol can - but it needed quite a bit of tweaking to get right (and some manual adjustments to the shot).

Adding a marker (which can be as simple as some camera tape on the wall, preferably in a very distinct colour such as fluorescent pink or chroma green) makes the job a hundred times easier. Or, alternatively, if you don't want to have to remove the marker in post, adding something that looks like an piece of the set, but is actually there to serve as a tracking point, can work very well - for example, a 'third floor' sign, or a clock, or a picture on the wall, or some other mise-en-scene that won't look out of place.

Not much you can do about it now, but worth bearing in mind for the next time you film smile

Cheers,
Arktic.
Posted: Thu, 27th Aug 2009, 10:51pm

Post 45 of 47

MrGoodbomb

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Arktic wrote:

Or alternatively, if it's a shot you know is going to have stock/effects added to it, just add a discreet tracking marker, or make sure at the very least that you keep something distinct in the frame for the whole duration of the shot.

The problem I found with tracking shot number 2 was that there was no such reference point - much of the footage was in the same orange-ish palette, and especially because it was DV quality or less I had a hard time getting my software to lock onto anything. In the end, I think I tracked the corner of the label on the petrol can - but it needed quite a bit of tweaking to get right (and some manual adjustments to the shot).

Adding a marker (which can be as simple as some camera tape on the wall, preferably in a very distinct colour such as fluorescent pink or chroma green) makes the job a hundred times easier. Or, alternatively, if you don't want to have to remove the marker in post, adding something that looks like an piece of the set, but is actually there to serve as a tracking point, can work very well - for example, a 'third floor' sign, or a clock, or a picture on the wall, or some other mise-en-scene that won't look out of place.

Not much you can do about it now, but worth bearing in mind for the next time you film smile

Cheers,
Arktic.
That's a very good piece of advice. Thank you.

Also, check your messages. I think I sent the file properly.
Posted: Thu, 3rd Sep 2009, 12:39am

Post 46 of 47

MrGoodbomb

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The file was actually sent back in widescreen. I dropped it into the project and it would have to be wireframed to fit fullscreen. Other than that, it looks great!
Posted: Thu, 10th Sep 2009, 6:53am

Post 47 of 47

MrGoodbomb

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I tried stretching it out and it definitely looks like... well, it was stretched out to compensate for being a widescreen clip. Just waitin to hear back from the helpful folks who posted the great effects.