I’m working on a new short called “Buford” that should be out in a couple of weeks. It could be the next Rick Roll video. I shot it on my way cross country in 2001 on way to Portland … I think it was in Wyoming. The sign reads “Welcome to Buford, Pop. 2”, and there’s a house and gas station.
The film will be epic. (As in the Titanic was a disaster of epic proportions. :p)
I’m having more fun with just doing the compositing and color work on this than anything else. It was shot in DV on a Sony VX1000 … Which wasn’t a bad camera in 2001, but this ain’t 2001. It was shot on a bright, but cloudy day, so there was a lot of blue sky and puffy clouds.
I decided to go for a bleach-bypass look, based on a recipe that Steve Bowen, one of the great colorists at EFILM, told me about. I’m doing it in Shake, but it will work in just about any compositing tool (Steve talks about the “adding silver” in a fall 2003 edition of “American Cinematographer.”
First I transcoded the DV footage over to ProRes 4:2:2 with Compressor 3
To add silver, you desaturate the image by comping a B&W (totally desaturated) version of the image over itself with a mult … This also diffuses the image (see “And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself” (2003) for a look at how this plays out on film … Steve Bowen was the colorist) and pumps up film grain a bit. Naturally I didn’t have any film grain to start, but we’ll get to that.
You can desat the footage to almost no color (it will also pump up the contrast quite a bit), but I settled for taking the sky down to an ominous gray, and leaving some color in the ground and buildings.
Next, I did some color correction and added some blue back in to chill the scene down and give the sky a really ominous look.
Finally, I added some film grain to it, and that’s the look. Almost, but not quite, nuclear winter. This is basically the same technique they use to get the punched up you’ve seen in all of those Ridley Scott flicks like “Gladiator” and “Black Hawk Down”. Only I’m doing it with a $499 compositing package instead of a Discreet/Autodesk dedicated hardware/software solution that goes for upwards of $80K (without the storage.)
The final nagging problem is that I had this great Sinclair gas station sign as a dominant part of the landscape and, even though this film is a satire, I wasn’t sure it qualified as fair use … So I turned the Sinclair Dinosaur into a turtle and the company name to “Noxxon”, in honor of Writer/Producer Marti Noxon who looked stunning as the news co-anchor in “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog” … David Fury, well, not so much. That involved a little Photoshop magic to create a replacement overlay for the sign, which you can see in the photo. Now I just have to work out some of the kinks in the match-move and I’ll be done with the look. Don’t know if I’ll keep the graphic as is, but it’s easy enough to swap when I get the tracking done.
I should be letting “Buford” loose on the YouTube community by the end of the month.