This two & a half minute romp through the world of Half Life 2 was produced by us (The Dada Factory) in collaboration with the University of Utah and Ron Hill Imagery.
Behind the Scenes:
The Pre Production:
Early last year the folks down at Ron Hill offered a mind-blowing deal to local production companies, a day of shooting in their green screen studio. They used it as a chance to drum up some potential business, we jumped on the opportunity to shoot with the latest and greatest film tool, the Red One.
The script spawned from my seemingly un-avoidable obsession with the apocalypse. It was a chance to incorporate real world footage into the Half Life 2 game engine. Half Life specializes in gunfights, zombies, explosions so the script arose naturally from that. The idea of a disinterested, stoic, main character seemed like a good fit. Furthermore, the recent overabundance of apocalyptic films leaves us with a general feeling of disinterested monotony!
With the tech help from the Ron Hill staff (JC & Sara) and the wizard eye of Lonny Danler (the DP of our 48 Hour Film Halcyon) we raced through the shots getting glorious 4K footage of Chris being a total badass.
Ron Hill again proved their awesomeness by letting us use the $30,000 Arri Prime Lenses, a full barrage of lights, and the giant greenscreen wall. Epic win.
The Post Production:
Everyday Apocalypse then sat on my hard drive for almost a year. I needed an elite team of nerds to construct and film the backgrounds. That opportunity came when Bob Kessler from the University of Utah gave me the opportunity to work with a team from the spring Machinima class.
For those who don't know, and think Machinima (pronounced Ma-shin-i-ma) is a strange word, check out the wikipedia page. The gist of it is to use videogames (and their modding tools) to orchestrate and shoot movies. 90% of the time this turns into incredibly nerdy, poorly shot, awkward pieces of fluff. That's not true for Bob's Machinima class, he gives students a chance to learn some real film skills, and produce decent Machinima stories.
With a group of four students we set about building and filming the sequences. Some of these were scripted and controlled by the games AI. Others were live sets: The shot below required participation of the full team, one person filmed the scene, another triggered explosives, another fired rockets, and the last threw the car across the road. I danced around behind them cuing the effects.
With the backgrounds shot, I took the composited the footage into After Effects, matching as best I could the size of Chris with the backgrounds, the angles of the shots, the speed of the bike, etc. Color correction helped to mesh Chris into the background. The final task was a comb through with sound FX and foley work, which really made the film come to life.
The film was a fantastic first experience with greenscreen compositing. As the quality of videogame engines increase (Half Life is 6 years old now), and the tools become more accessible, I think we'll see a whole new direction of animated films emerge. When I go into the EAE masters program next year I plan to explore this exciting new world of greenscreens, motion capture, and Machinima!
Everyday Apocalypse will screen with a host of other Machinima films April 30th @ 3:15 pm in the UMFA auditorium.
Up Next: Keep reading for the release of 'This Place' our official submission to the 48 Hour Film Project International Shootout, later this month.