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"House of Lies" effect

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Nick Griffin
"House of Lies" effect
on Jan 18, 2012 at 10:36:43 pm

Did anyone else see the pilot for "House of Lies," a new half hour comedy from Showtime? If not and you have access to it through On Demand (or some similar service) it's well worth checking out if only for the extremely complex and well done compositing.

A signature effect used in the pilot several times is having a scene freeze and the main character continuing to walk and talk around the other frozen cast members and then just as quickly become part of the scene as it un freezes. His delivery is a "breaking the 4th wall" kind of thing -- addressing and explaining things to the audience.

This is much more than simply inserting a green screen key over another take. There are also frozen elements in front of the character and, on one of the shots, a crane or jib move of the camera with the character in motion while everything else is frozen AND the same camera move is also taking place on the frozen scene.

While I realize that computerized camera mounts make all kinds of magic possible, as a lowly shooter of industrials and talking heads I am more than a little impressed by the skill and technology and would seriously love to learn the production details.


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James Dow
Re: "House of Lies" effect
on Jan 26, 2012 at 8:25:20 pm

I usually will watch any new series on Showtime or HBO. I watched the first two episodes of House of Lies and also was intrigued by the effect that Nick asked about. Very clever. I'm sure we will be seeing this quite a bit in the near future. Now, who knows how they did it?

JPD


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Nick Griffin
Re: "House of Lies" effect
on Jan 26, 2012 at 9:38:45 pm

[James Dow] "I'm sure we will be seeing this quite a bit in the near future."

Maybe, maybe not. I'm betting that the effect is labor-intensive and technology-intensive enough that its use will be limited for financial reasons. As a case in point, this particular show "House of Lies", had several of these freezes in the pilot, then one as I recall in the second episode and a much simpler one on the third episode along with a couple of scenes where they were obviously attempting to fake the effect because you could see the "frozen" actors slightly moving. EFX are money and that can be severely limiting in an TV show which doesn't always require them to tell its story.

[James Dow] "Now, who knows how they did it?"

Here's my guess: The frozen foreground plate is shot on green screen. The moving center plate is also shot on green screen. They are then composited over the frozen background shot. The real trick comes when there is a camera move on all three so that, I assume, is done by a motion-controlled camera that can do the identical move time after time. But, as I said, that's just my guess so, as James said "...who knows how they did it?"


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James Dow
Re: "House of Lies" effect
on Feb 1, 2012 at 3:51:16 pm

My DVR is getting pretty full...haven't had a chance to view the last several episodes. @Nick...I'm sure it is labor intensive, i.e. expensive, so it might not be mimicked (sp?) much. Still very cool.

JPD


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