movies

Santa In Carbonite

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Announcing our 2014 Christmas card - Santa in Carbonite!

At the end of every year we collect all of the cool card ideas that we thought of during the season. I then create a calendar event for the next November, listing out the ideas we thought of. Last year we came up with a Star Wars Christmas card idea with the boys guarding Santa Claus, frozen in carbonite. Call them Imperial Elves.

Building A Set

To create this image I decided to build a miniature set in my studio. It was about 18 inches tall, and I used mostly balsa wood to build it. For the platform lighting I connected some USB led lights and then gelled them orange.

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To get the concrete texture, I used a product by Liquitex called Ceramic Stucco. It’s great at producing a gritty, concrete-like texture to a surface. After applying it, I used a combination of Liquitex Basics paints and airbrushing to get the worn effect.

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With all of the texturing and painting done, I tried out a few angles to see what worked best (you can see one angle with the camera below). Ultimately I decided on a front view, as it provided a nice symmetry to everything.

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Lighting

For lighting, I looked at stills from the original movie. There were overhead vents that had light spilling through them, raking across the walls, hitting the floor. To accomplish this I created a simple roof with the vents cut out. I placed a 580ex flash overhead with no diffusion, and adjusted the ceiling and light location until I got just the right amount of ‘rake’ across the walls and floor. I placed a flag over the sit to keep the light from the 580 from hitting the rest of the area. I just wanted it to come through the overhead vents. I also had a soft front light to serve as a general fill.

The exposure was long - 3.2 seconds, f/10, ISO 100. This gave me a good balance between the flash light coming in and the glow of the USB lights. Here’s a diagram of the lighting setup.

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Creating Santa

To create our frozen Santa, I found a 3D model online of Han Solo frozen in a block of carbonite. I took that model into Cinema 4D and used its sculpting tools to turn Solo into jolly old St. Nick. I left some of the face details so that it still looked like Han a little bit :)

In Cinema 4D you set up a camera and lights like you do with a real shoot. So, I simply matched everything to how I had lit the set (shot at 35mm). I also added in two glow lights (one at his feet and one to the right side to mimic the light coming from the control panel).

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'Principal Photography'

Photographing the boys was pretty straightforward. I had a soft light for fill. I also ran an overhead strip to simulate the vent light, as well as an orange-gelled floor light to simulate the glow from the platform behind them.

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Once all the elements were photographed and rendered, I took everything into Photoshop for compositing. I did some touch-ups to the walls and platform grates, and I added some smoke from the top. Here's a shot of how the retouch was coming along before I cropped it:

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And here's the back:

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Would J.J. approve? I hope so!

This was just one of the cards I created this year over at AustinChristmasCards.com. Be sure to head over there this week as voting officially begins this Saturday for the coveted 2014 Refrigerator Award trophy!

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just a good ol' boys

So, it's been a while since I posted on the DB. An incredibly long while. Part of it has been that I've been busy on various projects, and part of it is my 'writer's procrastination' feature that I was gifted with at birth. Anyways, let's get things back into gear with some images of a shoot I did with an actual General Lee from the Dukes of Hazzard. The shoot happened because a local family wanted the car as a backdrop for their one-year-old's birthday announcement. I'd been working with them for the last several months off and on to locate one of these vehicles in or around Austin. It turns out that there were several hundred of these use for the tv show and the film. Some were just used for close up shots, and others were set aside to be 'jumped'. This particular vehicle was going to be a jumper for the movie a few years ago, but ended up not being used. Needless to say, it's amazing to see this car still turning heads after all these years. After we shot for a few hours at a farmhouse outside of town, we headed into town for some lunch. Cellphone cameras were out everywhere as people were taking pictures of the car. Sometimes I think that people believe this is 'the car', as in, there was only one, and this is it.

This was a great shoot, and a welcome new addition to my Personal section.

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Here's a little shot of me setting up.

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Great Scott! The 2012 Christmas Card!

Some of you know that each year I do fun Christmas cards for clients over at AustinChristmasCards.com. While working on those client's cards, I have to squeeze in a shoot for our family too. This year there was much deliberation over what to do. We usually have some sort of a running list of ideas that we keep from year to year. I have misplaced said list. In the end, we decided on doing a Back To The Future themed card. It's a pretty good movie. Ok I'm kidding - it's the GREATEST of ALL TIME. You will not find a bigger fan than me. We knew instantly that Trevor had to be Biff. It just fits his personality. He probably could take Biff right now in a MMA cage fight. That meant Brandon had to be Marty, so we scored him a Coast Guard Youth Auxiliary life preserver. The car is an interesting story. Originally I tried to track down one of those fan cars that are all decked out to look like the film. When that didn't work out, I went to my backup - an 8-inch long toy DeLorean.

There's a power line running from the car to the tree. We'll leave it up to you whether the car is powering the tree or vice versa. The mall is Barton Creek Mall here in Austin - always a pleasure to shoot at late at night while wearing a dark hoodie.

Here's the front and back. Click the first image for a larger version:

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A Pirate Birthday

Earlier I posted some pictures of the incredible Black Pearl/Queen Anne's Revenge from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Coincidentally enough, my 4-year-old is about to turn 5, and he wants a pirate theme for his party. So I took the opportunity to use the images for a 'party poster' (I have a habit of doing this. Check out my other kid's Star Wars poster). Here's a cropped version of the image. To see the full uncropped version in all of its pixel glory (1MB), click here.

The pirate thing has been with Trevor for a while. Here's his 1-year-old birthday image I designed back in 2007:

There Be The Black Pearl

While on a trip to Oahu, I came across this beauty. It's the actual ship from all of those Pirates of the Caribbean movies. While it was the Black Pearl for the first three films, it became Blackbeard's ship (known as Queen Anne's Revenge) for the fourth film. The ship is quite impressive. It's sitting inside a fenced-area dry dock along the coast of Oahu (map and directions below). The detail level is amazing! I was able to get about 30 feet or so away from it, and you could easily make out all of the skeletons, design, and more that went into this incredible ship.

Talking to the locals, it sounds like this ship is waiting for Disney to decide what to do with it. My vote would be to either make another movie or move the vessel to a theme park or the nearby Disney Aulani resort. It's so visually striking that people would enjoy taking a look at it.

All of these shots were taken with a Fuji X-Pro 1.

 

If you ever find yourself on Oahu, getting to the ship is quite easy. Here's a Google map of its location:

View The Black Pearl in a larger map

What you need to do is to park where I've marked the pin, and then walk towards the boat landing to the beach area. Then, walk along the beach to check out the ship. Since beaches in Oahu are all public, you are free to walk along them. The parking area is a public-ish boat landing, and there were kids playing there when I visited. The entire walk takes about 5 minutes.