HEY MR. POSTMAN
We had to organise our workflow for VFX as we realised we had gotten Deluxe in Barcelona to colour grade everything for us. The issue was Sam Highfield our VFX guy would have to put his fake clouds, trees, bushes and fog onto an already graded day for night plate. To do it the other way was super tricky.
Luckily Deluxe agreed what we should do a temp night LUT for Sam to work with first so he had a good canvas to bounce off.
Sam, Ed Cuss and myself met up at Futureworks in Manchester which is a large facility, mainly for training students in film but has a huge green screen bay. Originally I thought the way forward would have been to composite existing smoke elements shot onto our clean plates but Sam was concerned the smoke wouldn’t move correctly within the confines of the set.
His idea was to recreate roughly the set in large green screen set flats which we would then match up with his own software ‘imagineye’. This lets you fade between what you have and the actual shot so you can line everything up. Once this was done we began to fire smoke into the room but found that it wasn’t as easy as that. As with the dry ice titles I always thought these things just behaved themselves but a lot of it is down to temperature and humidity. With the room being quite chilly whenever we put some smoke in it tended to rise up straight away and dissipates. Instead we turned on the rooms large space heaters and tried until the smoke settled at head height and hung there. We did multiple takes with multiple methods at first we tried filling a cardboard box with smoke and then removing the box but the suction that created would pull the smoke away with it. The best method seemed to be to fire off the smoke machines at the floor and left it bounce off it. Once we got everything in place we moved quickly but it was a good three hours of trial and error before we got it working.
We shot the existing smoke elements on my Red Epic and again used Sam’s software to line up sensor size and lenses which was tricky as we were going from anamorphic Super 35 size sensor to a larger sensor with spherical lenses. At first we tried to do it mathematically but found we were getting better results simply by lining up by eye to this effect the corridor if seen in real life was less wide at the back end than at the front end.
This pass was going to be used to give smokey elements to the monster as it flashed down the corridor towards us but we also had to create smoke elements for when the bedroom door opened and it rushed towards Mason.
We again repurposed the individual green screen set flats along with one that had a door built in. One problem we had was the door was far narrower than the one we had on set so again it was a matter of cheating it by eye. As the bottom of the door would be cut off by the bed in the room and this was a static shot we managed to cheat it sufficiently where you couldn’t tell. We had to adjust lighting to eliminate as many shadows as possible with a couple of Arri 300’s and 1 x 2K which was bounced of polyboard to give us an overall lighting style. The trick was to light the green screen but not the smoke itself!!
This last door sequence involved a ballet of closing off an area around the door filling it with smoke and covering the top so it wouldn’t leak and then matching the door opening shots speed the same as the film so one could drop over the other. Shooting at 48fps though enabled us to have much more information than we needed and we could time remap in post to make the two door openings match up.
The last post shot involved filling up the rooms back infinity cove with a wall of smoke we could use as a bed of fog for the house exteriors. Again we had to warm the room up in order to make the smoke sink a bit and stay there, we tried fanning it with flags in order to get some swirls in the smoke but it was hit and miss however we got all the results we needed save one shot; the end creature head screaming “Another” which would require something different….