I worked on an extra visual for the reception space to show more detail and colour for some of the walls and screens. These colours and textures will echo the rest of the space.
As the image was taken from the technical drawing of the space I left the right hand side to show the original drawing/ white card model. The left side is the theoretical colour render with brushed aluminium and the blue acrylic screen that will be coloured from behind using a thin plastic for a semi-opaque finish or sprayed with a thin paint to frost it. This will then be lit from behind to provide some subdued light.
This visual was a continuation of a previous image that I started that shows the city as a whole. The lighting and colour are very much the same as the street alteration, hues of green and orange, keeping with the murky theme for all exterior scenes. The architecture is rough so this is something that I’d like to continue to work on over the next few months.
After working on some of the CGI background and graffiti I needed to turn my attentions to the actual set dressing that would include rubbish, signs, a burnt out car and dirty streets in general. I designed a replacement sign for the fish bar above and changed it to the burger bar in the story. I also needed to dirty the brick work of the existing buildings, board up some of the windows with designed wooden boards. The background also included an abandoned train carriage. This was collage’d in from a photo and would be part of the CGI background. The car was also collage’d in but would be a set dress rather than CGI.
Theses pictures show the addition of set dressing components as they were added.
Below picture shows the dirtying up of the building fronts.That would be done using water-based paint so it can be removed easily. It also includes the burnt out train.
Below the image shows the addition of some fly tipping on the far right and the burnt out car. I have also added some street lights as it’s night and one or two of the buildings are inhabited.
The final stages were about filling the street with bags of rubbish that hadn’t been collected, loose rubbish and papers, alteration of lighting and just generally blending and tidying the image. I also added a larger bin into the foreground and some blending of the figures so they fitted the scene.
Final stage from this….
The final image.
The street alteration needed to look like a dystopian society that had a more post apocalyptic feel. The city is generally uncared for, rubbish is left, people are rioting and setting fires. But the streets are still inhabited, so that meant there had to be life and places where people lived and worked. There is a burger bar, there are places in the city that will sell cigarettes, papers etc albeit limited stock. It was about creating a scene that incorporated CGI and potential post production techniques as well as traditional location scouting and set dressing.
The visual needs to portray the background to pass onto the digital matte painters. It will also need some visual effects due to movement in the background of search lights, maybe a moving train, movement in the clouds etc. to create a dynamic, believable scene.
There were some other items that could have been added such as a shopping trolley, dead flowers etc. I tried adding the shopping trolley and some more piles of rubbish and it started to look a bit too staged, after all it is a street that is still used with people running a business or a shop albeit dirty and run down.
I decided to keep the sky a murky orange green to show the fires off in the distance and the pollution. In heavily built up areas skies do take on an orange glow, this of course is emphasised for this scene.
My reception space used green screen to extend the height of the set so I decided to show on the model where it would be placed in relation to the action. In the actual space it would be hung from the rigs just feet above but could be also fixed to the top side of parts of the ceiling to secure it. There may also be a need to fit part of it behind lighting so that the space below can get sufficient light to create the right effect. Any lighting rigs can be removed digitally.
The last image shows the green screen position in relation to the set and the rest of the build.
I needed to complete one rendered section of a set to show model making skills. These are the various stages through to the final piece. I decided to use a combination of techniques to render the model. The sandpaper provided texture for the walls and floor and printed textures provided the detail for the doorways, lights, ceiling detail and railings. I also used wire, mesh, old jewellery chains and painted cord to make the metal wheel, add detail to railings and for the walkway floor to give a 3D quality to the model.
Final images of model complete with some lighting.
The space beyond the walkway in the reception build is purely CGI work due to height restrictions. Here the set theoretically stretches several floors above. For my project I wanted this area to be a narrow tube like space with light emanating from above that also appears to light up a section of the floor below. It needed to follow on from the set below. This is important for the overall look of the set and ultimately the whole film. CGI needs to fit with the design of the space that the actors inhabit, the directors vision and work with the script. The production designer’s role is to ensure that all this happens and this starts very early in the pre production stage with pre-viz meetings between companies such as Double Negative and Framestore and the designer/directors etc (as researched in earlier posts).
At this stage research is completed, visuals developed, CGI and VFX are discussed and models, concepts, technical drawings are developed. Locations are also sourced. The reception area of my design was to be my main build and incorporate CGI into the design. For this reason I needed to know how the green screen would allow the set to be extended and what I wanted the extension to look like to ensure that the continuity of the design was not compromised. This would follow through to all sets, particularly those that use CGI mattes and effects.
I have worked through potential ideas and come up with a set of visual/concept guidelines for this reason.
Below, a drawing and colour version of the main set build showing the colour, lighting and space where the set would be extended above the walkway.
Below are a set of visuals and a concept painting for the CGI extension as a design guideline–walls, windows, doors in image 1 and ceiling in image 2. Image 3 is the concept showing the levels, lighting and walkways.
As part of the project I have to produce a section of set that is rendered to show model making skills. I chose to do the arena space because it contained several different textures including textured sandstone walls, concrete, iron, metal grille flooring etc. The first stages of the render were the walls. I chose to use painted sandpaper as it gave just enough texture for both the walls and columns and to provide interest and a realistic look when lit.
The images following are the various stages to date.
The next stage is more focused on the fixtures and fittings including a door, railings, lights and a central metal wheel that chains are fixed to. I also need to complete the ceiling.
Before placing all the visual and set dressing elements into the street scene I need to portray what the overall look of the CGI back ground and sky will look like. It is night-time but there has to be some light. As there is a fair bit of pollution I’m going with an orange green cast to start with. This can be altered at a later stage.
This is a white matte to make the layering easier. Below shows the sky and the start of the background, along with a building design that is partly influenced by my interiors, partly by a gothic/art deco combination.
The image above was created by altering a pen design that I found. I then changed the sizes, inverted them to create a collection of buildings. This will sit at the back of the scene as a CGI matte painting. There will also be an addition of a CGI burnt out building using the existing high-rise block of flats.
With the background near completion I can now add in some of the design elements to the foreground.
The next phase will include altering shop and street signs where necessary and adding in some rubbish, broken glass, maybe a burnt out car etc.
I wanted at least one street alteration that incorporated CGI/VFX as part of the set extension. I chose Shadwell as it provided some interesting urban views that could be added to or manipulated. The main action is focused on the bridge end of the street and some shop fronts, one of which is used in the action.
I gathered some visual inspiration from my Pinterest page of urban dystopian/post apocalyptic streets and some of my own photos.
A short excerpt from Chapter 3, The Huntsman in which one of the characters Switch walks the streets of London.
A couple of streets away he found a dirty fast food joint and bought a burger which he ate back out on the street. In a bin he found an old newspaper from two days ago which had little of interest, but he wasn’t much of a reader anyway. Most of the news he did glance at concerned crime within the city, murder, robbery, arson. The only mention of the world was from opinion columns that criticised the European Confederation’s trade blockades, and there was no mention of America at all. (The Tube Riders by Chris Ward)
Description here is mainly about the world around him and the character himself so it was fairly open in terms of design. Reading through other parts of the book though gave me visual ideas to work from. It had to say city, London, future, dirty, uncared for etc. Because the story revolves around a gang I wanted to make the streets have a gang-like feel with graffiti and posters. I also wanted to incorporate elements of resistance in the wall art, such as doves wings. The eye was used as a resistance poster, “they are watching you…join us…”. It adds to the sense of dystopia and being watched.
Above show the visuals for one of the walls. I used some of my artwork and adapted it, combining it with some tag street art.
I worked on some visuals that could be part of a boarded up shop front. This was inspired by some of the abandoned buildings around Nottingham that were boarded up with wood panels and joined together. This would also be part graffiti’d and would fit over the front of one of the existing shops.
The finished boarded up shop front using my building photo, artwork and graffiti wall. The image was produced in photoshop with layers and digital painting.
As part of my project I need to look at set extensions, both for the reception space to extend the height and also for the external scenes to change the sky lines. Matte paintings are used behind a built set, filmed action or scale model to extend the set or create a world that would be impossible or too costly to build. In the early days, matte painting was done on sheets of glass. Today it’s a digital composite.
Craig Barron, once matte cameraman at Industrial Light and Magic discusses matte painting.
“Good matte paintings are as much about design and planning as anything else,” states Barron. ” Long before anything is filmed, a matte shot will be carefully planned by us and the film’s production designer. This usually entails producing a number of small test paintings in which we figure out composition, colour schemes, lighting effects and how live action will integrate with painting.” (RICKETT, R., 2000)
An image like this would take many hours to produce, so a production designers job is to produce images or collaborate with artists to design scenes that portray the overall look of the film and act as a guideline for VFX artists.
The videos that I’ve found so far about Matte painting either use photographs or images to start with or draft up drawings then paint over, adding photo elements on top. This video is an example of how the image is built up using stages or layers to produce a realistic view.
From this I have thought about how I go about designing with matte painting in mind. I’m not trained in the art of digital FX like the VFX artists of companies such as Framestore but I can design concepts that convey the colour palette of the film or a certain look to some of the architecture.
I had a go at using photos and digital painting in Photoshop to try to produce concepts/matte painted backgrounds as a guideline image for colour schemes and lighting.
This image is a progression from the first drawing with background and foreground pieces inserted. To finish this digital Matte/concept I would need to add some detail and some more buildings in the foreground. When designing my locations where a CGI is needed or a space that needs green screen I will create a matte concept that will give a good idea of how I want the scene to look as part of the set design.
RICKETT, R., Special Effects: The History and Technique. London: Virgin Books, 2000.
Below is one of the mood boards that I produced for the walkway design.
Both of the main spaces that I’m designing use walkways of different kinds. The main reception uses a basic straight design that acts like a bridge. As it needs to allow some light through I went for a mesh floor. This is will provide an authentic design because many walkways are made from metal, they are also made from a material that is ridged in some way to act as an anti slip surface. I also decided on semi opaque side glass panels to allow light to pass through while continuing the blue glass theme that I’d already used in the rest of the set/model.
The arena space is no different apart from it is a circular balcony design. Again I’m using the mesh floor but have designed it so it is made from interlocking pieces, partly for building purpose and partly because it creates and interesting pattern. This will have a rusted metal finish like the doors and railings that I designed a few weeks ago. The image below shows a quarter section that will be repeated all the way around the perimeter of the space.
The production designer has to design or oversee the design of all features of the space including any fixtures and fittings. These are designed during the pre-production phase.