Sunday, September 7, 2008

Vampire Brides, Take 1

The Dead By Dawn episode requires three Vampire Brides. 2 of which I had cast for sure. The third, I'm still looking for actually. I wanted to stick with the traditional look of the Vampire Brides (aka Dracula's Brides) each girl very beatiful but with different looks. Normally each girl has different hair color, dark, red, and blonde. I have a few choices right now for a blonde, but I have yet to actually talk to those choices. We'll see how it works out.

Let's focus on the two we've got. Kelsey Granger, our dark haired vamp. And Cat Degroot, our red head. I was going to wait til I had found the blonde and shoot the three altogether, but Kelsey had to head back to school soon, so I decided to go ahead and shoot Kelsey and Cat together. Now I didn't have the location I wanted yet so I had to do something I was trying to avoid. Green screen.

Green screen means shooting your actors in front of a green (sometimes blue) screen, and then do composite work in editing. Meaning I remove the green screen from behind the actors, and then place any background I need behind them. I've seen it done very well, and I've seen it done badly, and I've done it both well and badly. Either way, for a project like monster cops where I'm trying to get the most realistic feel possible, using a green screen wasn't something I wanted to do (you never see any bad cg fx on Cops now do ya?). I was already rolling my eyes at the crappy cg'd gun fire I put in The Midnight Special. This time around, I was determined to keep any cg or compositing to a minimum, and try to do every single effect practical and on set.

But in some cases you are left with no choice but to do the best with what you've got. So some cg and compositing would now be required. The thing about The Midnight Special was, I didn't have the best computer resources in the world. I was using a somewhat satisfactory program for my fx work, and I'm quite surprised I was able to edit a 90 minute movie on that frickin computer (80 gigs/256 ram, I pushed it to it's limits.) Now I'm blessed with a computer that is entirely too powerful to exist, oh, and a little something called Adobe After Effects CS3. So now I'm ok with doing a bit of CG and composting if I can do it well and only where it's needed.

Did you hear that Hollywood? WHERE IT'S NEEDED!!!!

Majority of the FX would be done on set. Any monster fx, most of the blood squibs, any gore, etc. would be done live. CG would be used if absolutely necessary, and only as a tool to help tell the story or achieve the scene if we couldn't achieve it any other way, and not just for the holy hell of it (see Van Helsing 2004).

So a green screening we went. Sadly I had to use the same green material I used back in the days of Living Dead Girls. Does anybody remember my Living Dead Girls series? Either of the 2 of you reading this? No? Me neither. Thankfully the creases in the sheets won't matter much. The solid green background is going to be helpful enough in compositing. Also most of the pitfalls you get when green screening on a low budget can be avoided since many of the Vampire Brides scenes are fairly short, and also take place in deep dark hallways and tunnels. Hopefully you won't even be able to tell the difference when I actually start editing.

Here come the pics. Including a few frames where I decided to play with the compositing software a bit.

Two of the three Vampire Brides in front of our amazing green screen. Cat on the left, Kelsey on the right. Aren't they adorable?

Arlanda doing the make up thang.

Me directing Kelsey

I think I made some kind of joke about Vampires making bunny ears.

Could our green screen have anymore creases?

Not only does Arlanda do make up but she knows how to fix costuming issues as well. She rocks.

Still messing with the costume.

Cat is trying to seduce the camera.

Arlanda applying more make up to Kelsey's arms. Because a Vampire with a sun tan just isn't very realistic.

She had a very even tan.

Cell Phone Camera Pics.
The fangs are great, but ya gotta hold em in place forever.

If you didn't know already, there's always alot of waiting around on set. Brandon and Chris on set as well.

Cat being Cat.

Kelsey minus the green.

Threw in a bit of a glow here.

Cat minus the green. Although I do notice some of it, but that's me being picky.
Horrible edge work here, something you won't see in the final cut.

Did a color correction just to see if I could bring out her hair color. Make it pop.

Just a little test to see what you can do with a green screen. Here are the two girls in front of our crease filled green sheets. Let's take out the green. You can see a bit of an outline of the green, especially around the hair, but it's fine.
Let's throw in a public domain photo of a cemetary.
And let's smooth it all out with a few filters. Black and white, with a blue tint. Went for that old, old, antique film look. Really we could have done much more, but you get the idea behind using a green screen.

A few more shots.

Overall I had a good time shooting that day. Hopefully the girls had fun too. They were wonderful to work with. I'm confident we got some great shots, and the footage should look fine in the final product. Ah the final product, can't wait to see what that looks like.

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