The Dark Side

6 03 2011

This was a unique project in that, we were using a new camera (Canon T3i), we had costumes, and I got to play around with some new Visual Effects stuff.

Whenever Howcast comes to me with a special project, it’s always been something I have enjoyed doing.  They provide me with a small budget for the production, a script, and pay me for the video.  On top of that, they seem to have me pegged as the “fantasy” Howcast filmmaker.  Which I am totally fine with.  I love this stuff.

When they told me it was titled “How to Turn to the Dark Side” I was a LITTLE hesitant.  I love Star Wars, but I find the fan stuff to be a little too nerdy for my taste.  So when they told me I couldn’t make it too much like Star Wars for legal reasons I was thrilled.   With my location (Oregon) I was limited in what I could get away with, sci fi wise.  I’m not going to rent out a studio and do a bunch of green screen stuff, it had to be practical.

I came up with the idea of, sort of, fusing Lord of the Rings and Star Wars together.  In my head, I see it as, it takes place on a planet that is “out of the loop” as far as normal Star Wars things go.

Anyways, before I get too nerdy on you.

We started by getting the costumes from “The Costume Loft” in Albany again.  Pickings were sort of slim for this type of video so I had to settle for the costumes you see in the video.  The black cloak was my favorite, classic.

Marika and I drove out to my parents house to spend the night.  When I am shooting something that requires forests or some cool outdoor location, my parents house is home base.  I know all of the locations around it and I feel very comfortable filming around the area.

When we got there, both of my parents were gone.  The first thing I wanted to do was film the torch scene.  I hadn’t planned on this so I took off a white tee shirt I was wearing, cut it up into pieces and had Marika tie it around a stick.  As I started looking for gasoline to dip the torch in, I had a revelation.  Maybe I should consult the owner of this home (my Dad) before I go lighting torches.  So, I wait for him to get home.  When I tell him the idea he is stoked and helps me light the thing.  Now, I have never done this before.  I had no idea what to expect.  I had loose clothing on, a cloak for Pete’s sake.   The thing lit up.  Big time.  It was a huge flame.  Like a bonfire on a stick.  It was awesome!  Marika got the camera ready and we ran out to the woods.   At this point my mind can’t help but cut to a neighbor, sitting in their living room, looking out the window to see a cloaked figure walking among the woods with a torch.

The next day, while waiting for Pete to arrive, Marika and I started getting some shots.  I placed a 12 foot ladder on a tree and Marika (such a brave soul) climbed up for a few wide shots.

Pete arrived and we started getting some Visual Effects shots.

The shot I was most excited/nervous about was the duplication scene.  I have seen a little bit on how to duplicate people without green screens but I had never actually tried it.  I used a method that utilizes the “difference matte” effect of After Effects.   Tutorial worthy for sure.

The whole video only took 4 hours or so to film.  Not much went into it.

One funny thing I would have loved to have a behind the scene pic or video of.

There is a close up shot of my eyes as Pete’s character is getting killed.  I wanted to have some real light flashes on my face so I had Pete stand off screen with a reflector and try to make some flashes onto my face.  We started rolling and I couldn’t help it,  just out of my direct line of sight is Pete, going crazy with this reflector, in his outfit that makes him look like Moses or something.  I broke, I think we got the blooper of it.  Very funny stuff.

All in all, a very fun shoot.  The T3i came in very handy.  There is a close up of a ring that is using the 3x function.  We had the 55-250 all the way zoomed in on the ring and then turned on the feature to make it a 750mm zoom!  A shot we couldn’t have pulled off as well with the T2i.

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