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shooting/compositing a person falling from a great height

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Kevin Knutsonshooting/compositing a person falling from a great height
by on Mar 27, 2012 at 3:44:38 am

Hey All-

Hoping someone can point me in the right direction here:

My buddy and I want to create a short piece that more or less is a combination of shots tracking a person falling from an 11 story building. That is... all the shots are falling WITH the person (some full body). All of it overcranked to last maybe 30-60 seconds. Angles would include directly in front of the person, directly to the side, and directly under.

I've never really pulled off an ambitious shot like this, so hoping for some guidance.

It seems to me, we'd need a truck crane with a harness, a fan for wind, and would need to shift around a green/blue screen to accommodate the variety of angels. But I'm concerned about realism of motion. With the harness, theres not much forward momentum, and with overcranked motion, that seems pretty important.

Soooo....

a) is this the most practical approach for a shot like this?

b) is there another creative way to achieve it?

Also, I'm concerned about slr overcranking being limited to 60fps. But would 100 fps be enough either?

NOTE: I have access to studios with 25ft ceilings, and support gear, and a few cameras. But not infinite resources. We're just doing this because it sounds fun, so unfortunately, can't just expense a bunch of toys to a client.

Thanks.

***Also, if you suggest this post would be best answered elsewhere on this site, I'm all ears [eyes?]

visit Very Loud Ideas


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Todd TerryRe: shooting/compositing a person falling from a great height
by on Mar 27, 2012 at 4:43:46 am

I'm with you, I don't think the 60fps would be fast enough, I don't think it would give you realistic motion, even with your fake fall lasting in real time much longer than if you really fell off a building that tall. The biggest giveaways would be the flapping of clothes, skin, hair, etc... which wouldn't be at the realistic rate.

I think the harness, fans, and greenscreens etc. are all workable. But I think I'd use a faster camera, and I definitely wouldn't use a DSLR unless that's the only real choice. Sounds like a job for the Phantom or other legit high-speed camera..... Phantom Flex, or HD GOLD or whatever. Shoot it with your wind machines, etc., but the actual duration of the shot in real time would be about the same as it would actually take a person to fall that distance.

How long would it take to actually fall 11 stories? I dunno (although it's probably easily enough researchable), but just as an example I'm guessing 5 seconds. If that were the case, a real shot for 5 seconds at about 300fps (which would stretch the shot to more or less 60 seconds) would probably look pretty realistic. I'd really crank that wind machine up.

If you have to shoot it with a DSLR at 60fps, you might be able to stretch it to :30 if you use Twixtor or some other frame interpolation software to double the frames (effectively giving you a 120fps framerate).

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Kevin KnutsonRe: shooting/compositing a person falling from a great height
by on Mar 27, 2012 at 5:05:13 am

Thanks Todd-

Did a quick calculation. 11 stories is roughly 36 meters. Rounding to 40 meters, an object would take about 2.8 seconds to fall.

I was worried about the obvious Phantom route, as currently I just dont have access to hardware like that. Maybe time to call in a long list of favors.

I've never had real success with Twixtor, and just can't stand the lack of support on it. So I'd rather avoid it.

I guess cheating can only get you so far, yeah?

visit Very Loud Ideas


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Todd TerryRe: shooting/compositing a person falling from a great height
by on Mar 27, 2012 at 2:19:41 pm

[Kevin Knutson] "I guess cheating can only get you so far, yeah?"

Yep.

Depending on where you live, a Phantom will start at about two grand, I think, with operator (and you have to have the operator, you can't just rent the camera).

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Mark SuszkoRe: shooting/compositing a person falling from a great height
by on Mar 27, 2012 at 3:42:37 pm

I would be tempted to do this shot in CGI and just worry about compositing the actor's head onto the digital dummy. The neat thing in CGI is of course the physics are very tweakable. Hair and cloth simulations are not exceptionally good right off the shelf, if you know what you're doing, that is.


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Kevin KnutsonRe: shooting/compositing a person falling from a great height
by on Mar 28, 2012 at 1:18:31 am

An interesting idea, Mark. Thanks.

visit Very Loud Ideas


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Jason JenkinsRe: shooting/compositing a person falling from a great height
by on Mar 27, 2012 at 4:09:45 pm

[Kevin Knutson] "b) is there another creative way to achieve it?"

I think you'd be amazed at what you can achieve with just an actor moving slowly in front of a greensreen and a virtual set in After Effects.

Jason Jenkins
Flowmotion Media
Video production... with style!

Check out my Mormon.org profile.


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Kevin KnutsonRe: shooting/compositing a person falling from a great height
by on Mar 28, 2012 at 1:21:14 am

True enough, Jason. My concern however would be the clothes/wind effect. Certainly we could exaggerate slow movements of the body, but the clothes are another issue. I think it may boil down to a bunch of trial and error ;)

visit Very Loud Ideas


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Mark SuszkoRe: shooting/compositing a person falling from a great height
by on Mar 28, 2012 at 2:11:57 pm

The last time I had to fake some "zero-gee" shots, I put the green screen on the floor, put the camera up above, looking down, and had the talent balance on one foot while thrashing both arms and one leg around, while looking up into the camera. It came off surprisingly well, for that one angle.


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Emre TufekciogluRe: shooting/compositing a person falling from a great height
by on Mar 28, 2012 at 3:01:50 pm

Here is a sample of digital version of falling from a tall building:







Please note that a lot of things were done wrong so you can learn from the mistakes:

-Actors movements are wrong, people make circular motions with their arms when falling.
-Content was shot DVCPROHD 8bit as opposed to AVC-I 10bit. Making the composition work harder.
-Fan was in the wrong place to making realistic wind.
-The camera was dollied away from the actor as opposed to being dollied to the actor. Footage had to be reversed.
-Dolly was moved too slowly for the FPS of the shoot.
-The background plates were shot at wrong time of day and with wrong lenses, required additional painting and barrel distortion correction prior to stitching.
-Additional shots like actor from the side, and wide shot to composite over the actor reaching the top was not filmed.

Overall it is an poor execution what this effect could have been but I personally believe with the right talent behind the camera and in post, you can make an exceptionally believable shot.

Hope this helps.

Emre Tufekci
Production Pit



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Todd TerryRe: shooting/compositing a person falling from a great height
by on Mar 28, 2012 at 3:09:12 pm

I agree with Emre... while that comp shot is at first glance pretty bad, it's just the little details that so readily give it away as fake... the idea behind it is ok. It's bad in execution, not in concept.

With a little more care to have fixed all those booboos (most of them before the shoot), it could have been quite passable.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Emre TufekciogluRe: shooting/compositing a person falling from a great height
by on Mar 28, 2012 at 4:59:10 pm

Not related to falling effect but when properly planned and executed FX work will look very realistic:



money shot 00:40



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Todd TerryRe: shooting/compositing a person falling from a great height
by on Mar 28, 2012 at 5:13:22 pm

I didn't buy the first explosion... but explosions #2 and #3 were right on the money, though. I thought the chroma levels were a little bit oversaturated... don't really match the desaturated look of the rest of the scene so it stands out just a tiny a bit too much. Great compositing and rotowork, though.

These girls are obviously shooting with the world's nicest Flip cam... haha.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Emre TufekciogluRe: shooting/compositing a person falling from a great height
by on Mar 28, 2012 at 11:03:03 pm

"I thought the chroma levels were a little bit oversaturated... don't really match the desaturated look of the rest of the scene so it stands out just a tiny a bit too much"

Good point, something to fix for the next time. Sorry Kevin, didnt mean to hijack your thread.



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Todd TerryRe: shooting/compositing a person falling from a great height
by on Mar 29, 2012 at 1:49:33 am

Haa... sorry Emre, had no idea that was your clip... thought it was just a random one. Glad I was mostly complimentary about it.

Good work....

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Kevin KnutsonRe: shooting/compositing a person falling from a great height
by on Mar 29, 2012 at 2:55:54 am

Sounds cool, Mark. Do you have an example link somewhere I can view to see what you pulled off?

visit Very Loud Ideas


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Mark SuszkoRe: shooting/compositing a person falling from a great height
by on Mar 29, 2012 at 4:26:11 am

Sorry, we didn't keep any of it, it was a quick one-off project, quite a few years back now, when the Pinnacle Alladin was still new. We keyed the "floater" into some space station interior stills and put a slow rotation on everything. A little "Blue Danube" and it sells itself.


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