Compositing – Stop and Smell the Zombies
This was fun.
‘The Provider’ appeared in last year’s Bloodshots 48hr Film Contest, and I prepared the following shots as part of preparations for a wider festival release.
This was my first (nearly) all-Nuke workflow on a project. I started by digitally constructing a realistic clouded glass eye and blending it into the actress’ eye socket. She’s supposed to be stuffed and mounted there, but the actress and camera both move ever-so-slightly, so the digital prosthetic (which basically covers everything between her eyebrows and cheekbones) had to be matchmoved to the original plate.
After that, the comp had to be dirtied up a bit. I used a bit of blur and a difference overlay to match the digital grain in the original footage to the touchups, and added a color correct node to blend the prosthetic back into the scene.
I also matted out some of the highlights in the character’s skin to make it less oily and more ‘waxy-dead’, covered over some skin imperfections to make it look a tad artificial, and accentuated the contrast between her pale skin and rosy made-up cheeks.
There were about a half-dozen shots all together which required retouching, but this one was the most interesting:
The fact that the camera racks focus from the ‘stuffed’ female character in the foreground to the male character, and back again, caused a few issues. First among these was that it made tracking a nightmare, and I had to manually track the plate during the focus-pulls. Even with a locked-off camera and very little movement in the scene, even the slightest flaw in the matchmove was painfully obvious — even more so, perhaps, than it would have been in an action shot! I then matched the camera’s focus-pull with an animated blur node on the digital touchups, then (as before) color-corrected the prosthetic and generated digital noise to match the grain in the original footage.
I really enjoyed working with the director on these shots. They really drove home for me the adage that if the audience doesn’t realize you put it there, you’re doing your job well. *whoosh!* Magic hands!
It’s the little things that count, after all…
‘The Provider’ received the top and final honours of “Overall Best Film” as awarded by English film director and screenwriter Neil Marshall (The Descent), as well as the local Jury Prize “Best Film” and “Best Costumes”. I started work on it long after the contest itself had finished, so I didn’t get to meet much of the talent behind it, but major props goes to the director, Brianne Nord-Stewart, the cinematographer Amy Belling, and everyone else who worked so hard to get ‘The Provider’ out the door.