VFX

The Secret Number

2011-12

3:27 minutes

A quick breakdown video of some of the VFX work done for my most recent short film "The Secret Number". There were three separate teams who did some effects work on the project: students in Savannah, MAKE in Minneapolis and a couple friends in L.A.. So although I can't take credit for all of these shots, I supervised the effects work and did complete about 30% of the compositing workload myself.

En Route

2010-11

3:45 minutes

This is the shot breakdown that my VFX Supervisor Sandro Blattner put together for my short film "En Route". The story of the film called for a number of technically challenging VFX shots. Nearly 60 of them, in fact! As director I did rather little of the nitty-gritty VFX work myself, but I was fortunate to find and pull together a talented group of artists at SCAD. For nearly a year I oversaw the team from a distance and was heavily involved in discussions and look development for each and every shot.

Dust Storm

5/09

15 seconds; 360 kb

This is a shot I worked on for another SCAD film called "The Earth in the Air" by Jared Hogan. Initially I approached the effect with a simple 2D warp on a high-resolution photopainting of a dust storm,but then we decided to switch to a fluid sim approach. My friend Matt Radford did the simulation for the shot, (easily 90% of the work!). He rendered out 5 different lighting passes for me to comp together and color correct, and I think it turned out quite nicely.

Field -->

Lightning Field

3/09

23 seconds; 4.1 mb

This is a shot I did for another friend's thesis film, "The Observation of Johnathan Rhode".

This composite was made up of a total of 33 layers. Most layers were 2D cards offset in z-space so I could push forward with the camera in After Effects. The lightning in the background was some stock footage I shot last year, and I made the fireflies in Blender. Watch the original shot!

Blazing Fire

10/08

34 seconds; 3.3 mb

Welp, this is a shot I did for a friend's thesis film, "The Edge of Paradise". One of the challenges I faced was the fact that the greenscreen plate didn't have any tracking markers, so it was tracked by hand. Definitely not perfect, but I think it works.

The fire stock footage is from the material I shot this summer during my internship with MAKE. It was shot at 60p and slowed down additionally to increase the scale.

"In Dire Need" VFX Breakdown

3/08

3:02 seconds; 28.4 mb

A brief overview of the vfx creation process involved in the last shot of "In Dire Need", a PSA created for the contest over at psaid.org. Check out the full PSA over on the film page.

I digitally replaced the environment for the video - which took over a week to complete.

The Disappearing Act- Breakdown

1/08

1:20 seconds; 27 mb

The effects for this film were the most challenging vfx work I've done. I didn't feel like I was in over my head though, which was great.

The thing that made this different was really the fact that there was a real deadline, and a real possibility that my work would end up in theaters. Unfortunately this didn't happen, but I spent a great deal of time trying to make the effects stand up to close scrutiny. Check out the film here.

Spider VFX Project

10/07

44 seconds; 14 mb

This was a project I did for my VFX-Based Cinematography class. I actually shot, edited, modeled, textured, rigged, tracked, rendered and composited the elements for this project in one weekend. The only shot I'm really proud of is the first one of the spider coming off the wall. None of the other ones stand up to scrutiny because I was so rushed.

But I think it ended up looking pretty cool.

Pole Bend - Telekenisis

3/07

13 seconds; 1.6 mb

I did these shots for a movie that my roommate at SCAD made. The movie's about a guy who believes he has superpowers. But really doesn't.

Anyway, I modeled and animated the lightpole in Blender, and composited with Shake. The first shot was very challenging because there's a transition between the real lightpole and the digital one. For that shot, I used only 2D tracking. The second shot involved a 3D track done with Icarus. This was a really fun sequence to work on.

Juggling Ideas

12/06

3.5 seconds; 700 k

Okay... so it's been almost two full years since my last vfx test!

Recently I was told to create a 3.5 second self-portrait to be shown in front of one of my films, so this is what I made. I did this one fairly quickly (about 3 hours) and it's a little sloppy, but I think the illusion works. The lightbulbs were created and animated in Blender. This effect will will be used to a great extent on my next film.

Magic Trick

1/05

34 seconds; 3.4 mb

I had this idea pop into my head, and decided to try it. This clip involved basic tracking and compositing, so I didn't exactly accomplish anything new. The flame was footage I shot, but the smoke and sparks were particles done in Blender.

It was fun to make. Hope it strikes you...

On the Brink

10/04

24 seconds; 6.6 mb

This is a pretty cool shot I did when I was in 10th grade. I came across this concept of faking camera movement by tracking an environment to the rotation of an object, and I had to try it out.

Also, this marked one of my first-ever greenscreen comps, as well as my first fully-3D environment. But the main aspect of this test was the dramatic camera move, which essentially goes 360° around me. I was able to pull it off with only a camera, a tripod, a swivel chair, and some green fabric.

Unidentified Hopping Object

8/04

35 seconds; 2.7 mb

Here is some rather mysterious footage of what seems to be a miniature robot... hopping around the house.

This took almost 2 weeks to finish. I was going for a home-video sort of style, something viral-ish, which is why you don't see anything important until you're already 17 seconds into the shot. Tracking was done with Icarus, 3D was done with Blender.

A Word On Effects

I've been interested in visual effects for about as long as I've been interested in filmmaking. Everything I know I learned on my own, with help from manuals and tutorials and online forums.

I feel lucky to have a working knowledge of effects because it changes the way you think about making movies. It allows you to start thinking in terms of possibilities instead of constraints. Effects can allow you to tell stories that otherwise could not be told.

For the most part, the effects I've done have solely been in support of my own films. However, I do enjoy occasionally working on effects just for the sake of effects (in the form of tests or shots for other people's films), and this work will be posted here as well.