Category: OUDF202 Digital film Production & Visual Effects


I made sure I watched several Alien scifi movies during this project; Contact, Paul, Aliens and the more resent War of the Worlds. I wanted to make sure I watched War of the Worlds specifically to take note of the sounds. I remember watching it a thinking how alien some of the noises where especially the thunder scene. Unfortunately i couldn’t find a clip with the sound, but it sounds like an electronic  panther , Very sharp and vicious sound and i’d like something similar just for the flashes of light in my clouds.

When i imaging my ship flying in a imagine it sounding like a low vibration similar to the sound of the machine in the clip below.

This scene was also intresting to see the effects they use for the beam. Having them evaporate into dust and just leaving the clouths intact i a really imaginitive idea.

One of the most compelling scence for me is when the bridge collapses, it is done very well

Watching the DVD extras it was intresting to see that in pre production they added lights to reflect later effects to be added in post production. For example, the scene where robbie is pulling away from his father during what looks like a battle, flashs of light were done with lights and not added in later. Also the flaming train scene, orange/ red lights were flashed on an off to simulate fire light, but the train was all added in CGI. This way the it looks more natural actually already being on the live action characters. (if that makes sense). Even the flickering laser light is a really light, I suppose this also helps the actors react of something real.

They used light to stylise the movie, giving it a misty grey look in the beginning of the movie, gradually becoming more colourful.

The VFX where run my Image, Light and Magic and i like the fact that some of the staff were actually on set. Something i hope my job will allow me to do.

I can see how important anamatics are for the development of storyboards and rough cuts. they used them a lot to illustrate timings movements and effects and these are so raw but do the job.

I also took a look at the transformers DVD I can see how much they actually use special effects instead of VFX and it has a really great impact when you then later add in all the extra VFX, in post, it makes for a great shot. So this is a big budget movie doing as much as they can the practical special effects way than leaving it to the VFX artists to add in post. Muzzle flashes are even done using blank flashes.

It was interesting to see how much training the actors go through to give a realistic performance, the actors playing the military guys were sent on actual military training. Unfortunately I couldn’t go through any training for my role in this film but it sure would have been fun to do a parachute jump out of a drop ship!

As chris had been absent for two weeks I agreed to help film and act for him and what a clean, quick and organised shoot it was, just how i like it. It took us no more than a couple hours to set up and record. This was an easy one for me, no running, jumping or falling down, just a simple confused look and shouting “muuum!”

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I have talked about sound in my podcast and evaluation, about how is really not my thing at all. Originally I wanted to recorded all of my own sounds, but as usual time ran away with me and I couldn’t get it done. I did manage to get in the sound booth to recorded some screams and cries for my interior scene but only ended up using two. I used Chris’s moans and screams he did for me and stretched them out to sound like my alien grunts. I mostly edited and cut sound from other clips, things like the camera click and crowd screams but for things like foley I used sounds from the BBC sound library.

City scape for background noise

footsteps – walk and run human and Alien

helicopter starting up – beam charging

plane taking off for my ship landing and continual hum in the outdoor scene and interior.

tractor engine – stretched out for engine hum in the outdoor scene and interior.

Storm winds – stretched for red flashes in clouds

Almost all of the sounds I used have been edited and slowed down or sped up.

I never understood what all of the A1 A2 etc was on the time line and Annabeth explained it was for the different layers of sound.

– Stereo pairs, sound recorded on camera

– 3 & 4 spot effects, lasers etc

-5 & 6 atmosphere

-7 & 8- music

I tried to adhere to the ordering listing but i may have gone out of the lines slightly.

I suppose one of the things I have to get used to footage not getting used but unfortunately the one I had to cut was the shot of my special effects make-up that I went to such effort to organize and was most looking forward to. The footage was just far to shaky, even after stabilizing it in Aftereffects and I couldn’t get the the virtual camera to match up with the live action camera. It just looked awful and made the hard decision to cut it.

One day my bump on my ship worked fine and the next it didn’t! quite literally the next day. I did nothing different and even Annabeth took a look at at and between us we tried all sorts to get it to work again with no such luck. Tried re starting maya, re-appling the shader and bump map, checking the render settings and even preferences. It’s so frustrating! feels like my ship was bad news from the start! So the red grooves dont look like grooves, they look like stripes. But I couldn’t waist anymore time trying to fix it, I had already wasted the best part of the day so had to move on and animate it.

Industrial Light and magic has this great tool on their home page that allows you to look threw a little window and see the original film footage before post production. They have worked on plenty of big feature films including Transformers who astound me with the compositing of CGI to live action! I haven’t seen anyone do it to a better standard yet! and whats most exciting so me is they are have worked on the new movie Battleships! which looks absolutely amazing! It’s safe to say these are the big boys!



One of the most memorable VFX scene for me is the train crash in the subway in the 2009 movie Knowing. Even now just watching that scene gives me chills, it is such a catastrophic event and the VFX are done so well that it has the same effect on me every time.

It took me a while to hunt down the studio that did the scene and it turns out to be one that i hadn’t come across yet, Animal logic. They also did some VFX in two of my favourite movies Hero and house of flying daggers.

It’s always difficult to find out what software these big companies use. I couldn’t find what they used for Knowing but or Toon town they used Autodesk, 3ds Max.

After making the decisions to cut out my final shot of the long corridor of the interior i decided to tack the top off to make it easier to manoeuvre cameras and objects around. I Use the same texture as my table so it was in keeping with the organic nature and applied a bump map to it.

Originally I wanted the base of the interior filled will dirty water. Unfortunately my knowledge of water in maya is zero and it looked terrible in a render out.

Te water just didn’t work for me at all. I really needed to follow a tutorial or have help from one of the tutors but never got round to it. By this time I needed to move onto the next stage of the project as I was spending too much time in maya, so unfortunately I had to ditch the water. Water is something I will further experiment with.

After setting up the camera I could see what was exactly going to be rendered out so I cheekily manoeuvred  the UV map around for the best patch of the texture.

Having put another table in the background i thought it would look good if I added some depth of field, keeping the table in the foreground spare and the one in the background  slightly blurred. But i couldn’t get it to work, myself and Matt from 3rd year tried to get the depth of field to work on the camera with no luck.

We measure the distance from the camera to the focal point to input the measurement into the camera, although it still didn’t work.

I was wasting time trying to get it to work so I had to abandon that also. I could add depth of field in after effects by masking if i’m that worried about it.

Once I got the speed and the distance of the camera right I did a play blast of both shot to add to my rough cut.

Side shot

Top shot