Look! Up In The Sky! – Part One

One of the better visual effects in our short Blobageddon, is the meteor hurtling though the sky at the beginning of the film.  Early on, when John and I were specing out the film we wanted to introduce the blob by having a shooting star streak across the night sky.  We even went so far as to take our cameras out on nights with a full moon and take pictures of the night sky in anticipation of using one of them as the background for a cool special effect.

Night Sky

The original meteor background

One of the reasons we enjoy trying to add special effects to our films, is that given the cheapness of all the rest of our production values, we’ve found that having an unexpected digital effect occur on the screen makes for some pretty cool WTF moments.  We found this the first time we tried it in First Aid For Zombies in which we had our victim (played by our friend Jim) get hit by a car.  John read some articles on the internet and since we had an evaluation copy of After Effects we decided to go for it.  What we ended up with is a 3 second clip in which Jim appears to get knocked off the screen in a very Monty Pythonesque effect.

Jim Gets Hit

Whap!

But I digress.  As the project began moving along, we encountered our first big hurdle.  We realized that shooting at night would require a lot of lighting and a crew that we didn’t have.  Our friend Baxter Guilfoyle had offered to help out one afternoon, and well that was the lighting we were going to get.  It was beneath even us to shoot a film in daylight hours and then show a meteor streaking across a night sky.

An interesting side note – the afternoon that we shot the sequences with Baxter, John and I, that was also our crew.  Most of the shots where all three of us were in frame consisted of Baxter and I getting ready off camera, while John framed everything up, pressed record and then ran to join us for the scene.

Sanj, John, Baxter

Larry, Curly and Moe

We got a great shot of Baxter pointing up at the sky saying “What’s that?” and the rest of our planned sequences shot and decided to wrap things up with some martinis.  We figured we’d follow up “What’s that?” with a shot of the meteor.

What's That?

After John and Baxter left, it was starting to get dark.  I suddenly remembered that we needed a shot of the sky that would match the light we shot all the other scenes in (this is another reason you should always have a shot sheet when filming).  I frantically dug out my digital camera, and took some photos of the sky through the trees in my front yard, figuring something had to come out.

Sky Shot

Right before all Hell breaks loose!

In the next part, I’ll discuss how we managed to take the empty, dull picture above and breathe some life into it by adding a digitally created meteor and the right sound effects.

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