Keep The Change was not a visual effects heavy project. But, that doesn’t mean we didn’t use any.
Looking back, there was actually a bunch of different VFX shots in the film. They weren’t highly animated CG elements or super polished VFX renders. Mostly, it was hiding mistakes and enhancing shots.
Let's get started. The wing mirror shot. It was only after reviewing the footage on the computer that we realised the entire crew can be seen in the wing mirror as the car door swings shut.
To fix this, I exported the frames that had our heads in, brought them up in Photoshop, used the clone stamp and spot healing brushes and painted our heads out.
Luckily, because this shot is at night and the wing mirror is moving, I didn’t have to refine the paint work too much. But I guess if it was during the day, we would have noticed our heads in the wing mirror!
Characters travelling from scene to scene can be pretty boring. So we wanted to try something a little bit more interesting. We ended up going for a split screen animated sequence.
The sell the effect; the position and height of the camera, focal length, and distance from the actor needed to match for each shot.
To get the same distance from your actor every time, something as simple as a piece of string will work. Just cut it to length and position your actor at the one end and the camera at the other.
For framing, we made sure Liam's head was pretty much right in the centre as he ran, and for the height, we just dropped one set of legs on the tripod and had the camera completely level.
Once we had the shots, it was a case of compositing them on top of each other and animating the position, the masks, and the black bars.
There was a little bit of VFX used in the car breakdown. Just a bit of camera shake when the car runs over a pot hole. Simple stuff.
The pizza box shot. Most of the elements are practical. We pumped smoke into the pizza box and opened up the lid using fishing wire as a pulley.
What did need VFX was hiding the LED panel inside the box. It was 90% there, but just needed some paint work and a little mask animation to help hide it completely.
The last shot of Liam was lacking something. Because of the shots before and after, the little amount of smoke we used just didn’t sell it.
So I composited some smoke elements in, masked Liam out to create a background and foreground for the smoke to move in, some light elements to exaggerate the light coming from the pizza box, and some camera shake.
For the camera shake in this shot I didn’t want to add a default wiggle because they don’t look great over a long amount of time. So I recorded a few dots on a wall while holding the camera on a shoulder rig, tracked the dots in After Effects, parented the tracking information to the static shot of Liam, zoomed it in to remove the black, and walla! Genuine handheld camera shake.
One last one! I got the boom in the shot - oops! I got rid of it by finding a section where it wasn't in and pasting that clean plate over the boom in shot.
Visual Effects don't always have to be big explosions and fancy CG elements. Sometimes, it's just a case of fixing it in post.
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