Bringing Holographic Apes to life, on a shoe-string

Yep, writing another film, and dreaming even bigger than before.

On my last film, The Ipanema File, currently in post-production I set myself a mission not only to make a very good film (well, that’s up to the audience to decide, but I love it), but to not shy away at all from the knowledge that a lot of beautiful, and sometimes magical things can happen in the visual effects suite.

We shot a lot of stuff “day-for-night”, but we weren’t going with the fake and traditional “just color everything really blue” look. My Director of Photography, Jim Edgar, took me out after a shoot on night, to the street and showed me that, wait a minute, everything is actually much more orange than blue at night in the streets.
It’s those damn sodium lights that do it.

So he shot all our night shots with an orange filter over the footage. Beautiful, done… But no, the real work was only about to begin, now we had to replace all the skies, which still looked totally like daylight, and make that just like a night sky. Anyway, there is a little more on that at the end of this post.

But whether it is sky replacements, changing the background from Essex Beach to Ipanema Brazil (yeah I did that), or replacing an actors shoes (some people really don’t care much about shoe continuity from shooting day to shooting day ;)), I believe that if you can think it, you can probably do it. With your little laptop and some good old After Effects sessions.

So here I am faced with my latest conundrum. I recently posted to Facebook a very early teaser from the next feature film I am working on, called The Ape Machine.

So far, if I may say so myself, the script is shaping up to be some of the best work I have ever written, and I am happy to know that before we do anything, we are now severely chasing after the budget to do it on.

But, as some of you may know, the people with money in their hands often would like to know what their investment is going to be put towards to, and so many times now we have been asked to come up with something, anything, that might show them visually what the hell it is we are ranting about in our descriptions, pitches, synopsis’s, and other documents.

What they want to see is a little concept short film.

This picture I posted a little later is a 3D Model for the awesome software called Poser Pro, which enables you to work with fully rigged 3D characters. This means that the geometry that makes up the model is able to deform based on the movement of the skeleton (the rig) inside it.
It is from this technique that I got the idea of making this little concept film myself.
Well, that and the fact that no investor would provide enough of a seed fund to make this happen in a proper motion capture studio, which is really the way you want to go.

I started modeling some other elements, because as usual, you do not just need the characters of your story, you need the sets and props as well. Still on a budget, I decided to explore the avenue that many a visual effects studio before me (even though I am hardly a whole studio) and build the set entirely in the virtual world of my screen.

So far, we have come to the conclusion that we are on a path that is within the realm of possibility, and within the span of a month should have something really awesome to present at our next investor meeting!

The main lesson, I think, to be drawn from this is not to set yourself any limits when creating a new concept for a film (or for anything for that matter) in your head. I think I have seen just about enough films using “the locations we could get” for the rest of my life-time, and I am willing to say that if Hollywood could pull of certain visual effects, so can you… I will leave you with one more sweet example, from my last film The Ipanema File, that I think really hammers home the point. This particular effect, while still a work in progress, has been pulled of within an hour, on a macbook pro from early 2011, and by me, someone who is most certainly not a visual effects artist.

With warm regards,

Daniel Owen van Dommelen (Writer/Director)
Fighting Badgers Ltd.







One thought on “Bringing Holographic Apes to life, on a shoe-string

  1. Pingback: Bringing Holographic Apes to life, on a shoe-string | Twin Lens Object

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