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July 24, 2007

lsgl: enter the shoggoth

by sven at 11:59 pm

click on image to play clip (1 MB)

The Shoggoth sees the distress beacon, barrels toward the cave, and then down into the depths of the mountain.

Flying through a tunnel is sort of a CG cliche -- and that bothers me. But I really felt like I needed to connect the outside arctic world to the interior cave world, and a Shoggoth POV shot was the way to do it.

For a few weeks I was a bit flummoxed about how to accomplish this shot... Then I found inspiration: the opening credits for Fraggle Rock. The fragglers had a camera fly through a window into a workshop, down through a hole in the wall into a cave system, and out into the Gorg's garden... And I think it was all accomplished with nothing more complicated than dissolves. ...Ah-ha!

click on image to play clip (1 MB)

Here's a "monster cam" clip that I wound up rejecting.

I thought for a long time that my "monster cam" shot was going to have interesting distortion -- like in so many Dr. Who episodes. But ultimately I think those kinds of shots only work when you're repeatedly forced to wonder who's lurking, peeping at the main characters. It's a suspense-building tactic... And my film's just too short to put that element into play.

Too bad this shot didn't work out -- I really dig the colors! The hot pink, peach, and lavender reminds me of old oil paintings of sunsets that pioneers made as they headed west, trying to communicate to the east coast what's out here in the wilds. It's not a color pallete that I think I've ever seen in a video.

Incidentally, the zoom in the rejected clip was done just by increasing the image's scale. I tried and tried, but I couldn't seem to make the speed of the "camera" feel right using this method. So ultimately I brought the clip into LightWave, projected it onto a flat panel, and had a virtual camera fly toward and through it. Much better results.

...There's a general principle here that I've been discovering: It's usually very difficult to simulate Z-axis travel using only 2D animation software. If at all possible, try to use 3D software when you need an object to appear as if it's moving toward or away from you.

posted by sven | July 24, 2007 11:59 PM | categories: let sleeping gods lie