Back Projections replaces Blue screens – Old school technique in a very modern way

11 Jun

behind-the-scenes of  the Sky Tower

Exteriors were shot in volcanic rock terrain in Iceland, but the filmmakers built all their sets on stages in Baton Rouge, La. One of the main sets is Harper’s residence, a glass structure 2,000′ above ground on a tower. It offers expansive views of the sky, which is colored by constantly moving clouds, the sun’s movement and atmospheric conditions. Miranda recalls that he and Kosinski began discussing the sky tower long before their official prep started. “We wanted to stay away from blue screen and do as much in-camera as possible,” says the cinematographer. “Neither of us likes the limitations blue screen composites put on a set. Harper’s place is supposed to look futuristic and polished, and we didn’t want to make all the surfaces dull to avoid blue [light] pollution. We didn’t want to end up in a situation where most of the set was made of CGI.” Miranda suggested going “old school” in a very modern way. Using the concept of front screen projection, he proposed surrounding the set with projection screen and utilizing high-end video projectors to create the sky all around the set. Production Resources Group, a company that specializes in concert tours and other specialized events, brought in 21 Barco FLMHD20 20,000-lumen 1080 HD projectors, along with 11 custom Mbox Extreme v3 media servers, to create a 270-degree projection around the entire set. It was 494′ wide by 42′ tall; more than 60 layers of video were combined to create a final blended image resolution of 18,288 x 1080 pixels. “We sent a crew out to Hawaii to shoot sky and cloud plates with three Red Epics, and those were stitched together to create 15K motion plates for the projectors,” explains Miranda. “We had lots of different looks, including blue skies, fog and sunsets. All of the footage played back at about triple normal speed, so the clouds had a little extra dynamic energy to them. We loaded all the footage into the media servers, and then we could just press ‘Play.’ “With all the sequences loaded on the server, we had the ability to fully control the sky. If we wanted to change the sun direction, we simply called up a different clip, or borrowed one part of the scene from the other side of the projection. We could flip and flop cloud formations around [to achieve] the most dynamic looks, and we could get it all in-camera in real time. “This meant our production designer, Darren Gilford, didn’t have to compromise in his design for the set — we could have all the glass and shiny surfaces we wanted!”

Source : American cinematographer May 2013 Issue

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Posted by on June 11, 2013 in Technology


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