frame by precious frame

Posted on Jul 16, 2017
frame by precious frame

Production has been in full swing for a few months now! We’re in the studio every day, busy working away, getting the shots locked down one by one. It’s a whirlwind of activity, art, printing, cutting, lighting, swearing, problem solving, and animating, as we coax this film into existence frame by precious frame.

To give you a feel for how it’s looking, here’s a sneak peek at the very first shot that we completed. This brief glimpse is from a sequence in the middle of the film, and shows off some of the visual tricks we’ve been working on.

It’s important to note that this shot is raw frames straight from the camera, so it is still pretty rough and needs some clean up, but there’s no vfx or compositing – this is all in camera!

Photographing Ghosts

To get shots like this, we’re using an old stage trick called a ‘Pepper’s Ghost‘ to create our dead Oran. Building the rig and integrating the effect into the scene was quite a challenge, and among other things, required sourcing ultra-thin science glass to avoid double reflections.

designing our rig for catching ghosts

Here’s a quick behind the scenes iphone video I made of the rig set up for the first shot, that helps show how it works.

Here you can see the ghost animation has been pre-recorded on a laptop, that is outputting its display to an ipad, that is then reflected in the glass of the ghost-box toward the camera mounted overhead. Looking down at the scene through the lens, the ghost appears overlaidĀ on the scene, making up the final image that is then captured on our shooting laptop.

Sometimes I can’t help but laugh at how many computers it takes to achieve our ‘non computer generated’ camera effects! But doing things this way really does add a certain magic all of it’s own.

Deadlines & Doing It Right

It’s normal with stopmotion for every shot to present its own challenges, but we’re getting faster as we develop our repertoire of techniques and tricks. That first scene took quite a while to get right (turns out photographing ghosts is tricky, who knew?), but the second ghost scene was much faster once we had the rig and knew how to handle the challenges.

We’ve blown past our initial goal for getting the film done, but the shots we’re getting look so damn good, and we don’t want to compromise that by rushing the shoot. Making a film like this a rare opportunity, so we’re gonna make sure we do it right!


Weekly Update Experiment

As you have no doubt noticed, despite my best intentions I continue to struggle to maintain regular updates. So, I’m going to try a new approach. Now that we’re in production and have a lot more interesting things to share, I’m going to try weekly reports. Just a quick write up and some photos every Friday, a little round up of what we’ve been working on that week. It’s a bit of an experiment, so we’ll see how it goes!

See you all next Friday!

– Jim