Cold Black Stars

Very pleased to say I’ve finally finished the music video for Dead Beyond Buried for their song Cold Black Stars.

Seems like an age ago that we first started talking about doing this and thinking back actually I’ve taken abit of a leap forward in terms of FX knowledge during the making.

At the beginning I knew we’d need asteroid fields and my initial plan was to construct some plaster models to photograph greenscreen then composite into my sequences.  As it turns out, three months and two computers later,  I ended up using some pre built 3D CG models for the asteroids.  Luckily Video Copilot released a plugin called Element which allows you to render 3D models within After Effects.  This meant I was able to use some rock models that came with the plugin for my asteroids and composite them into the scenes I’d already done using Particular ( a particle engine) to create clouds of rocks.

Here’s a screen shot.

The asteroids in the foreground are 3D models rendered using Element, the background comprises several particle systems created using Particular.

I needed the flare to wink on and off as asteroids pass in front of it.  Annoyingly, Optical Flares won’t speak directly to Element despite them both being Video Copilot plugins.  Having fiddled with it it seems that Element doesn’t generate an alpha channel (a channel which says which parts of the image are transparent) by itself.  If you precompose the Element layer it’ll then generate an alpha channel which Optical Flares can use to detect when there’s something in front of it.

Problem with that is if you have a camera move the two separate layers won’t be affected by the camera since one is precomposed in a separate composition.  You therefore need to slave a camera inside the precomp to the one outside to get the camera to move correctly with respect to both layers.

Abit of a mess about but it works.

Here’s another shot.  No 3D models this time, all the bodies were created by photographing an action figure dangling on a wire against a green screen.  I then created a short sequence with a variety of stills from the video and used those to generate particle clouds with Particular.  The foreground figures were video slides hanging in 3D space.  As they were rotating on their own they gave quite a realistic impression of motion.

Last thing to mention is grading the vid, something I’ve never been that great at.  One mistake I made when filming beast of the air was to forget to turn off one of the camera presets which was set to ‘vivid’.  Not having neutral colour made things very difficult to balance.

This time round I made exactly the same mistake!  Except this time it actually worked I my favour – I forgot to take the preset off, this time a custom one I have which increased the contrast and saturation.  I also had it set to a very cool colour temperature.  This actually translated to a very nice cool blue look.  I applied some cinematic presets I’d downloaded and also used another Video Copilot plugin Twitch to make the lights flash – I think it essentially adds a temporary glow effect every few seconds.

Bits and Pieces

I’ve been working on a variety of bits and pieces for upcoming projects.  Progress was halted for a while as I managed to blow my computer up(!); I bought a new graphics card so I could run Element, the new 3D plugin for After Effect from Video Copilot.  Everything was working OK but I was rendering a fairly intensive shot and the computer flicked itself off and refused to POST after that.  I think the new GPU and PSU I got to power it were just too powerful for the motherboard to handle and it burnt out (that’s a guess, either way it don’t work no more).

This meant a new motherboard and processor etc, so now £300+ later I’m back up and running.  It’s not a total disaster as I was planning on upgrading anyway and I do now have a fairly powerful setup which should hold me in good stead for future projects, but still, money! *sobs*

I’ll be posting some 3D shots soon as I’ve got to grips with the new software.  It is really good though so I’m excited by the possibilities.

Anyway, so apart from spending buckets of cash I’ve been working on some new steampunk items.  This is a half corset which will be accompanied by a potion belt.  The cannister comes with a vague notion of it being some kind of potion dispenser!

I made this from a corset pattern so it should fit quite well (a friend of mine, not me ;0).  I’ll post some pics once it’s all done.  Here it is before and after dying.

I’ve also been working on a belt which incorporates a clock face.  Maybe some kind of timetraveller belt? ;0)

Finally the Dead Beyond Buried video is ongoing.  Unfortunately our venue fell through so we’ve had a mad scrabble to find somewhere else to shoot.  Hopefully we’ve now found somewhere but time is getting short as they’re of fon tour at the end of september.

Here’s a false arm I’ve put together for a few shots where the lead singers arm is severed.  Should look quite good once it’s covered in blood and lit correctly.

I’ve also done a few shots for some ‘please turn off your phone’ messages that played at this years Frightfest so I’ll post those soon as they’re online.

Dead Beyond Buried

I’ve been doing some work for the metal band Dead Beyond Buried.  I’ve known the guys for years and they happen to be a pretty bloody amazing band.

I’ve been putting together a website for them which you can see here.

Here’s a vid of John playing ‘Dripping Black Bile’.

The main item however is a music video for their song ‘Cold Black Stars’ which will be on their new album ‘ The Dark Era’.

As you’d imagine the song has a space theme which is right up my alley so I’ve been churning out FX shots of supernovas and spinning neutron stars.

The concept I have is to begin with a red giant going supernova then follow it collapsing first into a neutron star then have that begin spinning faster and fast until it turns into a quasar.  Not 100% scientifically accurate but there’s a basic idea there ;0)

We’ve shot some practice footage which I’ve used to knock together a rough edit of the video but we’re due to shoot the main video at a pretty decent location in london, so fingers crossed that’ll all come together.

I can’t really post any footage just yet but I can probably get away with a few stills from some of the FX shots.