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July 16, 2005

roll 2d10

by sven at 11:15 pm determine San loss.

["Call of Cthulhu" roleplaying game reference.]

Another seven hour day. Spent on one shot. The shot where the lavamen walk into the cave. There's digital "spatter" I have to clean up, where simple contrast controls weren't enough to eliminate shadows.

When you see this movie, you'll probably think that the lavaman effect was out-of-the box, apply a simple command. Not so. It has been extremely -- almost insanely -- laborious to produce. See, the lavaman effect is created in AfterEffects. AE isn't like PhotoShop, where you can just smudge or erase something out of existence. AE is all about moving layers around. So, if I want to selectively remove a bit of spatter, I have to create a solid green layer that covers it it up. Then, nesting that composition in a second, I can color-key out everything green. In this one shot, I've got easily 40 layers. Just for Carl.

Now realize that for most of those layers, I'm moving around my little square of green for each frame, so it will cover up the spatter as it moves.

And there are little patches of red, too, if there's a bit of blue spatter on the lavaman himself.

It's an important shot -- entering into the cave -- and one that will definitely be used both in the teaser and in the final film. Still, a full day of working on this one shot bends even my persistent psyche pretty far.

A friend of mine, Leopoldo, who used to work at Will Vinton studios has often said that there are two types of animators: those who are insane, and those who are willing to go insane.

Let me tell you firsthand: the man is right.

[btw: This is the 100th post on the Scarlet Letters blog. A very happy "pointless-yet-emotionally-significant marker-iversary" to you, SL!]

posted by sven | July 16, 2005 11:15 PM | categories: let sleeping gods lie, movies