Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Goblin Wood Image Enhancements

All of the live-action footage for Goblin Wood was shot in one afternoon. It was a quite sunny day and the image quality turned out OK. But not very fantasy-like. So since then I've been trying to improve the footage according to my tastes. I wanted a softened, almost hazy look to most of the shots. This meant the applying of filters in After Effects and also the adding of stuff that wasn't there when the film was shot, like large fungi, animals and fog.

The story starts out in elf-land, where everything is bright and green. There are mostly trees with leafy foliage. We brought some smoke effects to the woods, but it was impossible to get the damn things working properly. I wanted some hazy sunlight "drapes" billowing in the background, but since the smoke effects wasn't cooperating I added the sunlight afterwards in After Effects instead. I also brightened the image and made it softer.

Our elfin heroine enters the goblin wood. There was no dark spruce forest near where I shot the "elf-land" footage, so that had to be added later as well. The goblin wood-part of the shot is simply a combination of photos that were combined and spliced into a part of the image Anjelica (the elf) didn't enter. In the middle of the shot you can glimpse a winged shadow lifting from the ground. This is a flying bird of prey from Eadweard Muybridge's collection Animals in Motion. I just scanned the photos, coloured them and made a flying cycle that was then imported in the software StopMotionPro and animated.

When the elf enters the goblin wood the mood and the look of the film changes. Everything gets darker and murkier. I added some fog shot against a black screen, downloaded from and a nasty, mole-like animal peering up from his den beneath a rotting tree stump. After that was done I rendered the shot, imported it again and duplicated it in two layers. The top footage was blurred using Gaussian Blur and the blending mode "Multiply" was chosen. This made the image very dark, musty and atmospheric. A bit too much, actually, so the transparency of the top layer was amped up a bit. All of the goblin wood-shots were processed in this way.
The mole-like animal that is briefly visible in the above shot is an old puppet I built for a disastrous film project called Virgin Tears. It actually started life as a musical version of Lord of the Rings! For real! At first we got permission from the publisher Harper Collins and the Tolkien estate to do an amateur version of the story. Then New Line Cinema pulled all the worldwide rights to protect their interests and the film mutated into something different and quite unwatcable. I produced some stop-motion for the project, including shots of the mole monster that was added to scenes previously depicting the encounter between Frodo and a barrow-wight.

Another example of the original shot having the "goblin filter" added, along with some oversized fungi.

More photos of fungi, toadstools in this case. A puppet of a walking toadstool was also included.

More smoke effects from The eye appearing in the mossy rock was a glass eye in a cardboard socket, that I animated and keyed into the shot.

The elf triumphantly puts her foot on the fallen monster she's just vanquished. We simply put a big stone on the ground where the creature would be placed, and the keyed-in pupped was aligned with Anjelicas foot. Easy-peasy!


a guy in a gorilla suit said...

Are this the remains of the nasty little bugger from the post yesterday, at the bottom of the last picture ?
Looks great. Thanks to the detailed discussion and documentation with pictures and going into details with "Multiply"... The films you mentionend before - not sure, but you mentioned somthing like "This guy played in all of my movies..." or so - are they available somewhere ? Maybe I missed something on youtube or here, but are there any DVDs available ?

Richard Svensson said...

Yep, that's the late dragon fly on the ground.

I have done quite a bit of films with my friends, some of them using analogue video and some using digital. Most of them are pretty dreadful, and I wasn't able to seriously get into stop-motion animation until I went digital.

So, in short; You're not missing out on anything. What I want to show to the world (even then with hesitations) is on YouTube.

Unknown said...

Gorgeous stuff. Some very interesting techniques used/invented here. I look forward to seeing further progress!


McTodd said...

What a treat these posts are! And I really appreciate the detail you go into about how you did various shots. They look fantastic, the post-prod filters add so much atmosphere and mood.

As ever, I look forward to seeing more!

Emily said...

It looks amazing! Like the others I really appreciate the detail about how you're doing the film effects! Are you posting this online when it's done?

Richard Svensson said...

Yes, it's going up on YouTube as soon as it's finished. When it's done you'll find it here:

By the way, thanks everyone for your kind and engaging comments!