A few days ago I handed over three versions of a video I produced for Helsingborg’s Stad. I guess you could call it a trailer of some sort for the upcoming street art festival ArtstreetHBG. The original seed which sparked the idea for this video was the tagline; “Be there when dead walls come back to life”. After weeks of planning, pitching scripts and drawing up a storyboard the idea was given the green light. While my colleagues were busy hunting actors, clearing permits and making sure we had a casket for the shoot, I started creating props and shooting the VFX-footage.
The plot is quite simple. Mourning humans carrying a casket. All black. Spray cans, which are alive, are watching, wondering if the sorrow will ever end. One of the cans chooses to act. The can gets hurt (looses cap), and causes an accident. The cascet falls, out comes the body. But the body is actually a dead wall (mono-coloured bricks). The spray can brings the wall back to life by giving it colour back. Everyone happy.
I created black flags for drama and a dynamic image. Black smoke to up the drama some more. I chose bamboo-sticks for the flags so that I could hide the smokecharges inside the sticks. I had two sets of bricks, 16 “boring ones”, and 16 “happy ones”, which I painted one afternoon while my kid was asleep. I had some old spray cans in the studio which I banged up quite a bit to make them look really worn and broken. It’s always nice when the hero has some flaws in your story. The stakes are higher that way. I went and got this spinning breakfast-tray from IKEA which I painted green. After that, I started shooting my cans. I wanted them to be able to bend and spin at the same time in my video to make them look as “real” as possible. I could have used a photo of a can, and the PIN-tool in After Effects to get them to bend, but I think the rotating effects really worked well and gave it that extra nudge.
Shooting rotating cans on greenscreen.
Final composition after using the Pin-tool. The can which rolls away was brought to set and thrown in front of the camera after giving it some time to fall.
The shot from above planned out in the storyboard-phase.
After the casket falls we reach a peak in the video. All hope seems lost but of course, it’s not. It never is. The bricks you see during the fall are the normal, unpainted ones. After getting my “misery-shots”, the pile of “dead” bricks was replaced with the coloured ones. All I had to do in post was to duplicate the layer (I made sure to shoot with a tripod of course), mask out the stones and de-saturate the masked out top layer. After this, I could simply keyframe the saturation back (by changing the opacity of my top layer from 100% to 0%), and voila, boring stones are no more. Add a touch of the 80’s and we’re golden.
I really enjoy using real, on-set effects where you get the result straight away. I’ve done reverseshots before and this was my go-to plan for the end, when the bricks come to life. I hade the actors throw the bricks into frame twice – so that the shot could be reversed later. I had my multitalented friend Christian walking backwards in frame to sell the effects a bit more.For the final shot things got a bit more complex. Here I had to shoot a backplate (a clean background of the wall which is blocked by rope and actor in my used shot), and mask out the rope and actor afterwards. It’s not that hard in theory, but on set, with time pressure, it occasionally happens that you forget the backplate. So I made sure to really get that down on the storyboard and shotlist. Here is the original footage for the scenes mentioned before they are reversed and masked. Just look at Christian! Walking like a pro even following the bricks in reverse with his gaze.
I’m so happy with the final production and I had a blast shooting it. We shot the whole thing in about two hours (!) and got everything we needed pretty much straight away. Of course I couldn’t have done it without the help of an amazing crew that day (and the days leading up to the shoot). There is a massive credits-list in the end of the video and it shows how much work everyone put in just to create this little bizarre, but lovely video.
The video will be playing before screenings at cinema Röda Kvarn in Helsingborg, on the big screen at the central station, all over the web and with a little bit of luck, on busses and trains. I’m so excited to see how it will be received now that it’s out after one stressful week of editing. Here it is – enjoy.