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Shooting cameras in front of green screen so that they can fly through the sky

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Charlie ReaderShooting cameras in front of green screen so that they can fly through the sky
by on Oct 29, 2011 at 7:32:32 pm

Hi everyone,

I am shooting a music video on Monday and there is one scene where the two characters are sat on a cloud in the sky and a group of cameras drop down from above into shot, hovering around them flashing their bulbs. Then they chase the characters, flying through the sky over building tops like a school of fish.

We are going to shoot the motion of flying over the building tops using a straight track and then plan to shoot the cameras over green screen and composite over the top.

Originally I thought I could drop the cameras on string/elastic in front of a green screen, replicate them in AE and change the scale and place them around the characters. However, when we tried dropping them into shot, they jerked and spun around.

I am now thinking about just making them drop in and hover around and was wondering how I should shoot them for the edit to get this effect.

For when the cameras fly across the sky, my plan was to attach a camera to a piece of green screen and then hang it into shot in front of the green screen and drag it across the frame. I planned to do this with four different cameras and then replicate them in AE and bunch them together.

Because its a flat track and the cameras are going to just go across the screen I also thought I could just take side on video or images of the cameras in front of the green screen, animate one across the sky with keyframes and then parent the other images to the animated images so they all fly together and add some motion blur.

I just want to make sure I shoot it right so we don't struggle in the edit!

Can anyone offer some advice on all of this!?


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Steve BrameRe: Shooting cameras in front of green screen so that they can fly through the sky
by on Oct 30, 2011 at 6:05:41 am

Another consideration would be to find some nice 3D models of cameras.

Steve Brame
creative illusions Productions


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Tudor "Ted" JelescuRe: Shooting cameras in front of green screen so that they can fly through the sky
by on Oct 30, 2011 at 9:52:52 am

Depending on how much you want the cameras to rotate in each shot revealing their 3dimensionality and on how many models of cameras you want to have you may be able to use Particular and build a custom particle layer for the cameras. Use a Light animated on the flight path as an emitter. If you want the cameras to rotate- shoot some stills over chroma and create a loop with alpha for each. You will need to use a separate layer with Particular for each camera. If you do not need the cameras to rotate, you can just create one layer that has one frame for each camera and use that for the Particle texture.

On the other hand, if you have Zaxwerks Invigorator Pro, you can bring in a bunch of 3d models of cameras (you can even find some free models on the net), link them to a 3d AE layer that animates on a path and go to town...
Here's an example of what can be achieved using that technique - the hummers, warship, fighter jet and swords& shield where animated this way:






Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Senior VFX Artist


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Charlie ReaderRe: Shooting cameras in front of green screen so that they can fly through the sky
by on Oct 30, 2011 at 10:23:20 am

I will definitely look into all of this. The problem is, I dont have any experience using this software so I was hoping to just be able to shoot it appropriately and make it work in After Effects.

I want the cameras to be real, ideally, as it ties in with the theme that runs throughout the film, so want to stay away from 3D models if possible.

If I filmed the cameras going past the screen and then looped it with an alpha, do you think I could then replicate that and animate them in After Effects?


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Tudor "Ted" JelescuRe: Shooting cameras in front of green screen so that they can fly through the sky
by on Oct 30, 2011 at 12:16:23 pm

You can use the elements you shot (cameras) and multiply them in AE, the issue is to use the first frame of the camera clips as a still and animate that simulating the travel that takes place before the real movement starts (make that a 3d AE layer and move it in Z space to get motion blur), otherwise you will have cameras popping out of thin air... but maybe you want that.

Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Senior VFX Artist


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Steve BrameRe: Shooting cameras in front of green screen so that they can fly through the sky
by on Oct 30, 2011 at 6:42:28 pm

There are many, MANY 3D models available that would seriously test the viewer's ability to distinguish them from real.

For example

Steve Brame
creative illusions Productions


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Charlie ReaderRe: Shooting cameras in front of green screen so that they can fly through the sky
by on Oct 30, 2011 at 6:59:21 pm

Wow some of those are incredible. Thanks for your help everyone. I think I can take it from here!


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