Gaffer Faffing

POSTDATED - 02/05/12

Been plugging away at the animation, steadily getting quicker at the actual animation because I'm getting into the swing of things - although this is offset by the learning curve I'm finding for setting up lighting. I'm finding each shot is generally providing new challenges, and so most shots seem to take anything up to 4 or 5 hours to set up. Sometimes I look back on a day's shifting things around the studio that has amounted to zero seconds of actual animation and seriously reassess my capabilities as a functional human being. I mean usually it's just the inhuman levels of caffeine I'm existing on, but still.

Anyway, below are some in-camera images I have been logging to show some of the stages in the process of making adjustments to lighting to get the shot right. Setting up a shot begins with creating a compressed version of the raw footage to use as a guide for the shot, which I can view while shooting using the chroma key function. Below I've used a GIF for blogging purposes, but while shooting it would be a full length video.
As you can, in this shot the sun is very low and getting orange, so initially I tried out putting the lighting in the shot, but quickly found this would be impossible. Even this having the light directly behind the puppet did create the appropriate flaring effect the light was far too bright, meaning it bleached out too much of the green screen, which would make compositing a nightmare. Secondly, the board I'm using for green screen would in not way fit around the light, and cutting a hole in it wasn't an option as it would ruin the screen for subsequent shots. Using some green card was also not an option because of the fire hazard it would present.
 I then set about positioning the table and camera so that it would match the angle of the shot, moving the puppet through the shot to check he would appear to be the correct height (he's supposed to be roughly 7 feet tall)
 Next I began to notice a lot of lens glare from the light pointing almost directly at the camera
 I used a bit of Cinefoil hot glued in place on the animation table to block the light hitting the lens.
 Next I wanted to simulate that toasty orange sunset glow as the wolf passed off screen right, but wanted the lighting to remain cold while he was on screen left - further matching the original footage. I found that clipping a straw-coloured gel to the spotlight barndoors filled up too much of the frame with orange light, so I bodged together an aluminium wire frame to hold the gel in place. I moved this further away from the light source, meaning the orange tint was more contained.
 Finally I positioned my puppet in his rough start position and moved it through the camera, taking note of the path he should take so that the perspective matched up with the shot. With that done, finally I was ready to shoot some god damn animation. WOO!

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