One success today and two ho-hums. I completed the red sequence shot of the great wall of china, which worked very well, despite a feeling about halfway through that it was going the wrong way. The scanned elements required about 60% digital reworking. This is especially true of the foreground layer of the wall. If you see the original storyboards, the foreground piece was originally meant for the corner but it just didn’t want to sit properly on the background, so I was forced to centralise it and double its size. As the original sketch was about half the size I needed, I had to digitally paint in most of it. I will eventually put some pink leaves on the skeletal trees, as the leaves are used for the transition from the earlier sequence.
I did a very rough layout for the white sequence ferry crossing. It looks a bit odd like this, as the blue plate underneath will actually be laid flat in a 3D space, with the ferry and the mountains sitting at a 90 degree angle to the plane. This will allow me to “fly through” the image up towards a Russian cathedral. The image is long vertically as the camera will be closely focused on the ferry as it moves up through the image. I’ll have a bash at the cathedral tomorrow, but I’ll likely use some of the photos I took in March 2006 of Pushkin’s Palace or the Church of the Spilled Blood in Moscow.
The final layout today was the docks shot for the red sequence. As you can see, I’m avoiding the Chinese city fly-through (just wasn’t up for that much thought today!). This is the transition shot between red and blue sequence, hence the inclusion of both colours in the shot. The follow-on shot is the Japanese wave tribute. This image has not turned out as planned. The angle is just not dynamic enough. It will work as it is, but this angle is more suitable as a background/goal layer for the city fly through and not as a stand-alone shot. The real shot for this should probably be from ground level, just in front of the arch, looking up at the balloon. I can either re-jig this shot using the art elments in AE or I will have to redraw the docks layer a stronger perspective. The failure of this shot is largely poor planning on my part. I was looking at an earlier storyboard panel while I painted and unwittingly copied the bird’s eye angle. Not a complete loss however, I can still use this somewhere in the piece. It may be good to have a close up Nellie shot in lieu. I’m thinking of a dynamic angle from Nellie’s elbow, looking up inside the balloon as it is fired. This wouldn’t be difficult to draw as I already have an underneath shot of the balloon rendered for the jump sequence and Nellie is almost second nature to me now. Time is the enemy as always!
Aside from artwork rendering I also did some reading up about smoke and fire effects in AE today. I’ve found a great tutorial book called After Effects & Photoshop Animation and Production Effects for DV and Film (second edition, 2005) by Jeff Foster. It’s very easy to understand. The last chapter explains intergration of clouds/fog into film and also has a step-through exercise on how to make a column of black smoke issuing from a flame element. This is perfect for the burning balloon so I will have a bash at the exercise as soon as I can. Or I could just cheat and steal the finished working files off the accompanying CDROM!
Tomorrow: the train and the chinese city (if I can find the courage!).