Good Enough – Making Shadowed

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” s been a while but lotta and i made and i m very short together. Together. It s a couple of reasons. Why it s been so long.

One is we ve been very busy and another is that we don t want to keep making too similar things so we ve been talking about how we could change it up. You know do something. Longer do something more sci fi. Maybe get other people involved maybe we could even get proper makeup effects or something.

But then the coronavirus happened so we figured okay let s go back to basics. And make another three minute horror. Just a two of us. The shooting of this was quite pleasant.

We did it over several days since we weren t in a rush. We couldn t shoot until about 7 30. In the evening after the sun had set and then we still wanted some of our usual time in the evening to watch tv and hang out so we d only work for like a couple of hours each day. It s pretty great in the day.

I could look at this stuff. We d shot and start working on visual effects and then in the evening. We d shoot some more it s funny because recently. I did a video about how i don t like fake darkness in horror movies.

That it s scarier when things look like they were just lit by a flashlight well for this one we needed to see the difference between when the flashlight was on something. And when it wasn t and when you take away the flashlight you get nothing so we had to do some movie moonlight. I used my two big lights to light the trees outside the window because of the layout of our house. One light is coming from above and one from below.

We ll just say the film takes place in a planet with two moons. It also wasn t possible to shine the lights in through the window. So the inside were lit by these so connie x21 pro lights. I love these lights.

They re around 50 bucks. Each i think i paid. Fifty nine dollars. They have an internal battery and on the pro version you can change color temperature.

They re so small and handy that you can just take them up onto a wall or onto the ceiling and they re still quite powerful. I even made these little attachments out of cardboard to control the light. The flashlights. We had was an led one that was very blue.

I figured with the blue moon light and a blue flashlight it would be a very monochromatic film. So i sacrifice one of the little orange gels that came with the so county lights to cut out a piece of it and put inside the flashlight to get a warmer light. Made it a little more interesting. This was our first short shot in 4k resolution.

I used the blackmagic pocket cinema camera 4k that i bought some time ago and the lens was my sigma 18 to 35. One of the things. This camera is known for is having dual iso sensitivities. Which means you can shoot in really low light.

I didn t use that though this movie was all shot at 400 iso. There really wasn t any need to go to any extreme iso you know i want things to disappear in shadows. I don t want to lift everything up and the light from the flashlight. We had would have started clipping.

If i d taken the iso. Too far that s the thing about shooting with a high iso at night. Yeah now you can see all the stuff in the background. But a lot of lights like street lights or headlights on cars will now start to clip alive.

Having the ability to shoot high iso. It s great. But the best is always if you can control the light and not just compensate with a high iso. It might seem a bit counterintuitive.

But when you shoot dark scenes in low iso..


You get more dynamic range in the darkness. Likewise. You might think you d never want to use a high iso on something like a bright sunny day. Why would you you have a ton of light.

But a higher iso can actually give you more dynamic range in the brighter parts of an image. This shot. At iso 1000. Ix posed to the point right before the sky started clipping here.

I did the same thing. But on iso 100 exposed right up to the point before the sky started clipping and it s quite a difference higher iso can give you more noise. Though so there s always some kind of trade off no matter. What you do there is a lot more to all of these things and since i ve been around online camera discussions before let s just do this.

Please note. I m not a professional cinematographer for a comprehensive list of everything i ve gotten wrong check for angry comments below a long time ago. I was watching some movie. I forget what it was but i noticed something it was a night scene that was backlit by moonlight then they cut to the reverse angle.

And this angle was back with it was as if the moon was always behind everyone no matter. Where you looked. It s a good way to get something looking like a moody night. If you light it from the front.

It looks like people are standing in a car s headlights or something. If you just raise the ambient light by bouncing a light into a ceiling or just cranking up the iso. The camera. You ll often get something quite flat and boring to me good.

Night lighting has some dynamic range. You have a lot of areas that go to black. And you have some highlights pop in here in there to give you contrast rather than an even graver schware. You don t pick up the texture and shapes of things so if you have some lights start with a backlight.

I had a bit of fill and you have yourself a night scene. That s what i try to do in the opening shot of the film. I taped up one of the so connie lights by the ceiling and then balanced another so connie light on this door for some fill. It s not perfect that light started creeping into the shot a bit here.

Which isn t great. I should have taped up a piece of cardboard to block or something. But you know good enough out in the tight hallway with white walls to flashlight bounced around and lit up things pretty well on its own. So just to raise the ambient light a bit.

So connie light. Was bounced off the ceiling as i ve mentioned in my video about darkness. When you have someone shine a flashlight towards camera you need some of that light to bounce back at the actor like in this shot. There s a piece of white foam board right next to the camera for handheld shots.

I put on a white shirt. So you get a bit of light bouncing off from me. And it makes you look more stylish on this film. There were a bunch of issues.

Some was bad luck and some was me just not thinking some things through one of the first visual effects. I started working almost looked up picking up the vase. I didn t have a real plan of how to pull it off so we just shot locked up picking up the vase then miming the same action without the vase. I realized that the way to do it properly was to paint out the vase.

Then the arm and the shadow would be totally in sync. So i started working on that taking bits and pieces from the shop without the vase to patch on through the shop with the vase. I almost had a finished version. When i gave up figured there must be an easier way one of the things making it really difficult was the shadows moving around from the handheld flashlights.

So that evening. We reshot it. But this time with the flashlight taped to a tripod so it wouldn t move now. It was much easier when the two shots had the exact same lighting.

Still a lot of finicky work..


Though like tracking in the missing parts. We ve got those fingers that were covered by the base to get the shadow cast on the table. I used f. Spy to figure out the camera position.

And then an approximate recreation of the scene in blender. And i did a quick 3d model of the vase that wasn t perfect. But it was just to cast a shadow in blender. If you re using the cycles.

Render engine. You can make things invisible to cameras. But still see their shadows and for objects that the shadows fall onto you can make them shadow captures. Which means that all you get is a shadow with transparent background perfect.

I was then gonna do the first two shots of seeing the shadow of the vase. But i realized that we only shot those shots without the vase oops. I could have recreated the whole shadow in blender. But it would be tricky to recreate things like light bounce in the shadow or the reflection and the table so that evening.

We ve shot those shots again. I figured i d be smart this time and again i put the flashlight on a tripod so we would only move up and down and not side to side. But when i started working on the shot the next day. I realized it looked way too mechanical.

So we had to reshoot it a third time and he ll light with and without base for the shadow in the chair. I had an idea how to do it basically i figured if you shoot something with lights on and then with lights off you could use a mat to create a circle and basically get a flashlight effect that you could control and reveal things with mats. It takes some more finessing than that because you know lights will bounce around so perfect cut out won t look right and the flashlight beam had warmer less intense light towards the edges. So that was you know there were some things to add.

But it seemed like it would work. I did a quick rough test with still images that just hd resolution. I shot a reference. I shot down the chair.

I shot the room with lights off then swept the flashlight across the frame and stitched together an image that was fully lit with flashlights then i took the chair out and did the same thing again lights off lights on i cut out the chair. So that was separate and i made a silhouette of the chair with lava in it for a moment there i was going a bit overboard. I tried using mesh room to actually make a 3d scan of the chair itself. But i figured this is turning way more complicated than it needs to be instead in blender.

I just made a rough approximation of the scene. Which is flat plains basically cast a shadow and then comped it all together and after okay good enough. We ll need to add a shadow to the chair as well eventually. But the test was successful so we shot it for real.

I figured the body didn t have two moves. I could just use a still image then for the head. I put a white poster behind left eye and laid her as a silhouette to use as a luminance key to get all the hairs and details. I started putting everything together in blender.

I hit render to have a look and it started working on the first frame and it worked and it worked and it was still on the first frame. See the thing is my computer. Doesn t have a good graphics card. It s certainly not meant for 3d in fact even in resolve.

Which i use to edit the film. I often get an error that i ve run out of graphics memory and i have to restart. I really need to upgrade my computer well this was gonna take an eternity and if i need to do any changes. It was gonna take another eternity.

I wish i could have used the eevee render engine and blender. Because it s so much faster. But to my knowledge it doesn t support the features i needed like making objects invisible. Just a camera and shadow catchers.

So i figured i ll just try doing it in 2d and after effects for the shadow. I just distorted the silhouette. I had and for the movement from the light. I just used a little bit of slant and transform.

It s not really accurate it doesn t even bend along the walls or anything..


But i figured it s good enough the hallway shadow was a different deal though it really needed to look projected onto the wall. But first we had to shoot all the shadows. This would have been really easy if i d had a green screen. But i don t so i figured i d shoot it kind of like how news programs shoot interviews with anonymous people you know light.

The wall behind him. And don t have any light in front. This wasn t great. But i figured as long as i had enough contrast around the hair.

I could rotoscope the bodies it would take time. But you could do that so i spent the better part of a day rotoscoping before i stopped. I realized that you just lose too many little details this way the silhouette becomes too perfect and smooth and you don t get the little hairs and all little things i was just gonna have to reshoot it and i was so angry i was really happy with my performance as the hallway shadow. I cut everything together with this timing.

I figured we re done shooting and i just wanted to get the damn movie done so i in a really pissy mood. I cleared out a bunch of furniture got every white sheet. We have and just gaffer tape that shit to the walls in the floor. I made sure to block the light from hitting me in left eye.

And i also mounted the camera sideways to get as much resolution as possible since i wanted to shoot us from head to toe. Now. I had done everything in my power to shoot the best silhouettes possible and now it was much easier to just play around with contrast and a little bit of masking to get something usable now for the problem of getting my shadow onto the hallway walls. I was thinking there has to be a way to do it with blenders faster evey render engine.

And i had an idea you can use a camera as a texture projector. If i take a black and white image and set a camera to project that texture it won t be as accurate as a proper shadow. But it will be good enough. I used f spy and in blender.

I modeled the hallway and the door i animated the shadow moving around trying to match the movement of the actual flashlight. I render it out and i have a look the text herself was animated. But it wasn t sliding across the walls i guess i was too subtle in my animation maybe so i animated it again this time taking things a little further i render it out. And i have a look still not sliding around but on some frames.

It suddenly pops into a different position. What s going on well. Guess what turns out the blender. Really doesn t want to animate the texture coordinates changing i tested it in the cycles.

Render engine as well. But no it only wants the projector to stay in one spot well shit. I need the shadow to move around with the light to sell the effect. If i take this render.

Without any movement and then add some distortion and movement in after effects afterwards. Then the shadow won t line up with the geometry of the door god damn. It well maybe if i keep the distortion really subtle you won t be able to tell and looking at real shadows. They don t move around that much so i tried it out and you know it was good enough for the shadow growing in the hallway.

I had to animate the size changing in after effects before i took into blender. Now keeping with the spirit of everything giving me problems. The title was a giant hassle as well. I figured.

This is just a nodal pan. This won t be hard to track well. Guess. What the camera wasn t in the right position on the tripod to make a nodal pan.

So now this really dark shot with very limited 3d movement was nearly impossible to track. I tried a bunch of different things you know after effects camera tracker for example just couldn t handle it eventually i forced blender to calculate it as a nodal pan. Which gave some problems but i deleted all the keyframes except the sideways rotation. It wasn t perfect.

But it was good enough like our previous shorts. All this sound was done in post. I did keep my rode videomic on the camera hoping to use some of the real breaths and dialogue and the audio wasn t bad. But it didn t blend really well with the stuff.

We recorded afterwards and you just have so much more control..


If everything is recorded separately during the making of this. I was telling a lot of that man there s been so many issues and problems on this movie. It just feels like everything is trying to be as difficult as possible and then my tooth fell out like god dammit. See i have a temporary crown in my mouth at the moment because before this whole corona thing.

I was scheduled to put in a proper one. But i have to make do with a temporary one for now well without the crown. The nerve in my tooth is extremely sensitive. I managed to get a hold of my dentist and asked what are my options here.

I mean no dentists are open well. She told. Me i could actually buy some dental glue at a pharmacy and put it back in myself so yay diy filmmaking and diy dentistry in the past. I ve talked about how there s always that moment halfway through a project.

When i lose all hope and i want to give up and indeed it happened on this film as well not during shooting that was very pleasant. It was when i started putting together the shot of my silhouette in the hallway. I just thought it looked so bad and amateur like you know i had a mini breakdown. I was like i m supposed to be a professional filmmaker at this point.

Why do i still suck so maude. I must have been doing something right i mean two films. I ve directed have done really well shitty movies by awful filmmakers make money all the time my moves have been well see none of them have been brought what is going on has everything just been a my like chance gardner and being there or something i just fallen ass backwards. They even cares this virus is gonna kill us all.

But then i took a breath. I talked to lata for a bit this is just something we re doing for fun no need for an existential crisis. So i started mixing the sound and like always i used reaper for this and you know what as soon as i was getting some proper sound in there i felt this isn t terrible. It feels kind of like the shorts.

We used to make for the sound. I used a lot of assets. I already had the place we live in now has pretty creaky floors. But they re not quite as nice as the apartment.

We had in gothenburg when we made lights out so. I used a lot of those the droning sound is a tuba sample from reason that i just slowed down to different speeds and layer in different phase. The big hit when my shadow starts moving used elements of the lights out sting that i also did in reason. The whole thing was edited and put together and resolved as i was getting close to finish.

I wanted to render out a version to have a look at on different devices so i hit render. But solve gave me an error okay. That s weird let s save and restart. Resolve tells me i can t save the file.

What then all of a sudden. All the media goes offline. So i take a look at the hard drive in windows. And it shows up as completely empty.

No no no i plug it into my laptop. Instead i can see files. Here. The resolved database for the project is on the same hard drive.

I open it up on my laptop and the project isn t there my heart was beating so fucking fast and i was breaking into a cold sweat this got damn movie with shaky hands. I tried connecting again to my laptop and this time. The project. Did show up and resolved ok before things go to shit.

Again let s back up. What i can what seemed to happen was the hard drive got completely full and started freaking out and some files got corrupted one of the most the opening shot. But luckily it was the rendered out version and not the original file. So i was able to render it out again.

And you know there was some more sound mixing and color grading that could have been done on the movie. But at this point. I decided to just step away and say this movie. ” .

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