• Length: 2:30
• Year: 2011
• Production time: 2 months
• Produced for: Steinerei 2011, awarded 1st place by the jury
• Theme: Chaos
• Camera: Panasonic Camcorder HDC-TM20
• Programs: Adobe Creative Suite
Behind the Scenes
The flying books
What’s inside a library? Books! What’s inside a library on the brink of chaos? Flying books! Due to this simple deduction we needed a method to make the books fly or at least fall. For single books we used the good old masking method and blurred the books afterwards in order to give them a more realistic touch. But for real chaos you need a lot of books, maybe even a whole row of them. The trick we applied for this is very simple you just need a little bit of modelling clay. Once the first book is on the edge of the bookstand you take it out and put a small drop of clay onto one corner of it. This is just enough for it to stick to the next stable book. Then you just repeat the process and enjoy the falling books.
A nice but rather time-consuming effect to add more motion or action to a scene, where somebody is running, is to blur the background. In order to blur only the background you have to cut out the moving object frame by frame. In our case we did this for the librarian with a key framed mask in Adobe After Effects (AE). Afterwards you apply a directional blur to the background. In a running sequence it’s important that the direction of the blur matches the direction in which your minifigure is moving. Some programs like AE allow you to track the motion for several frames and create the mask automatically. Although results may vary depending on the scene it’s generally a good point to start with if you have the necessary tools.
• We produced The Librarian for the Steinerei 2011 (theme: Chaos) in which the film was awarded 1st place by the jury, a result we are extremely happy with. It was the first time we got a brick, the traditional trophy for winning a prize at the Steinerei, sent home.
• As most of you have probably noticed the title and credits are extremely long compared to the whole duration of the film (45 seconds of text in a 150 second movie). This is generally a very bad idea, mind you! We got a little carried away with the new toys we were able to play with after an upgrade of our editing software. We spent numerous hours trying to understand and work with Premiere Pro and After Effects, both not easy to grasp in the beginning. Although at that time everything in editing and postproduction was slowed down drastically we can say in retrospective that it was totally worth it.
• Another thing we were able to do with our new software was facial animation. Although this technique worked only for static objects, we used it a couple of times and were pretty happy with the results. Especially blinking was a thing we immediately fell in love with, since it is a great way to breathe life into an otherwise static shot.
• The most exhausting scene to film was the long shot with a slow camera movement at the end. The tripod we used back then was… suboptimal, meaning that we had no way to make a gentle camera movement without constantly holding the camera. So one person had to move the camera very softly step by step while the others were occupied with animation and capturing. Thank goodness we were able to produce a pretty good take at the first try thus avoiding reshooting this monster-shot.
• Through rearrangement and carefully chosen camera angles it was possible to create the entire, immense looking library with only ten bookstands. Each of them contains 135 books, so in total 1’350 books.
• While we are on it, let’s talk about some more figures: We ended up creating around 20 custom book covers and ban panels, giving the otherwise quite sterile library environment a more personal touch. Shooting was limited to 2 busy months this time, a very welcome change after our last Steinerei entry and the last shot took around 2 hours to shoot and a whole day to prepare and clean afterwards.