• Length: 3:21
• Year: 2013
• Production time: 5 months
• Camera: Panasonic Camcorder HDC-TM20
• Programs: Adobe Creative Suite
Behind the Scenes
If you want to create a surreal setting it is very important to remove some basic parameters of the normal “real” world like the impression of room, time, gravity or even logic. The one easiest to manipulate is room, you just have to stage the whole scene in a white “room” and blow up the background, making it thus impossible for the viewer to determine its length or depth. This can be achieved through multiple steps, first of all you need enough light sources. In general you need two or three strong lamps to illuminate only the background, preferably a continuous sheet of white paper. Plan these shots carefully, since you can’t do much concerning the depth in post-production. The length is another story, just put a layer containing a white oval edge over the footage and your good to go. Finally, you can of course adjust the brightness and contrast of the scene, however, do this only in small and careful doses since it will affect the whole composition and not only the background. Another advantage of the white “room” is the “lack” of time, the viewer has no notion of it and you can play with it at will.
How to spray your window
In order to follow this short tutorial you need After Effects or a similar program able to create these VFX. Since this was done in After Effects we will describe the approximate process accordingly in it: Duplicate the background image and pre-compose it. The effect you want to apply now is called “CC Mr. Mercury”. In order to generate the effect of a splash you key frame the birth rate as follows: 0, then you put it up to something like 9 for a single frame, 0 again. This way the particles are generated during only one frame and you can now adjust the radius and the producer coordinates to match with your spray. Although the drops are pretty static (velocity/direction to 0) you should add a little bit of gravity and resistance. This makes them move downward a tiny bit but adds a lot towards a more realistic look. Set the animation to “Direction” and the influence map to “Constant Blob” (birth and death size around 0.1 in our case) and you are good to go. We also masked the dot and put it over the water drops, since the protagonist is spraying from the opposite side the viewer sees.
• This film represents our first thorough attempt to create an entire movie in abstract space with a suitable theme open to all kinds of interpretations. Although we already did something similar for the dream sequence in our film “Lucky”, this time we wanted to shoot a movie taking place in it. The motivation for it probably started subconsciously with a contest on Brick-à-Brack, the so called “8x8x8” contest, in which you are only allowed to use so little space for the entire scenery. We never entered the contest, due to lack of time and a really convincing concept, but we experimented how to blur the border of the scenery with the background. We destroyed the setting afterwards but this might have been the trigger, once we came up with The Spot’s story, to do it in abstract space and give it a surrealistic touch.
• The only real challenge we faced set-wise was the composition of the windows. We tried some different arrangements including smaller size windows but finally went with this one, since it looked the most natural.
• A challenge on a completely different level was the dot: Since all the long shots were taken from the same perspective the windows and especially the dot needed to stay in the same place for the whole shooting. After a day of shooting, however, the dot, which consisted of red modelling clay, did fall off because the clay had dried out. This forced us to create a few dots until we realised it was easier to let it dry out - and then glue it to the window. Not to speak of the effort we spent to fix it at the exact position. In the end we gave up on the long shots and simply cut the dot out from a previous scene and overlapped the initial footage. That’s, by the way, what we did with the dot on the gravestone. The dot definitely did not only bother our protagonist…
• Halfway through the shooting we were still undecided how to realise the breaking of the window. At first we wanted to do it with small lego parts bursting into pieces, we even tried it but finally had to acknowledge we were not up for this complex task. Instead, we used footage from Video Copilot’s Action Essentials 2 package that fit the bill.