Short Film UPDATE: Set Extensions

For those of you who may not remember, before the Warehouse was moved to its new domain URL, I had been posting weekly updates in regards to my Student short-film, “Bill & Maggie’s Intergalactic Taxi Service,” which you can learn all about here: Bill & Maggie Movie Site

It’s been a while since my last update here on this site, but I felt that now might be a good time to present an interesting update as far as visual effects are concerned.

Unlike most VFX heavy short films, I am not using Maya to create my set extensions or sci-fi/fantasy environments. Instead, I have been using Blender (a powerful freeware 3D design program) to model and sculpt all of the sets and props. And then I have been using Video Copilot’s Element-3D in order to bring in those sets and props directly into After Effects in order to composite everything in a nearly real-time environment. The lighting is not nearly as realistic as Blender’s Cycles render engine–if you know anything about how that works–but Element has proven very versatile and has allowed me to get a pretty solid result with the image below.

I’ll leave it up to you to guess what parts of this image are fake and digitally created, but if you have a good eye, you might be able to tell after some scrutiny. The compositing of this shot has gone really well. And I’ve learned quite a lot about the Element 3D interface from just trying to improve this shot more and more.I think it’s just about there. All that remains is to put a picture in that empty frame on the right, saturate Captain Bill’s coat, create the exterior scenery to replace that static cloud image, and create the final visuals for the console screen there at center.

I plan to be posting a teaser trailer for the film once all of the shots for this interior space have been nearly completed. I think that will really help to build up momentum and interest for it before it heads out for the festivals by the end of this year. So be on the lookout for that. I’ll be posting the trailer here as well as my other websites once it’s ready later this month.