In the Meantime… Darkness & Dolly Tests.

I’m very close to shooting the next scene, but have been working out some wobbly dolly issues.  I think I’ve figured out a solution, albeit a temporary one — it’s the Fix It In Post solution, I’m sorry to say.

The good news is that it’s exciting to see the scene move in 3 dimensions as the camera pullback.  With our 3 main planes — the theatre set, window pane, and starry sky — there’s an interesting parallax to the scene as the camera moves through space.  And, of course, the lighting that Marcus has set up is so lovely.

On Friday the west end of Toronto had a power outage for 24 hours, which threw off my schedule a bit.  I can’t believe this kind of thing can happen here, but we had no power in the house (and studio) for an entire 24 hours, in -20 degree C (-4ËšF) temperature.  The inside of the house was 4 degrees C (40ËšF) at its coldest.  Memorable moments include trying to pour olive oil out of the bottle onto a salad and finding out that oil can completely solidify in cold temperatures; seeing my breath in the air while talking on a dying cellphone; huddling with 2 cats under quilts and blankets; and actually wishing I had access to a dozen or so Snuggiesâ„¢ so that I could read a book in bed without taking my arms out of the covers.  (Clearly delirium had set in…)  I was eventually rescued by friends in the area who had heat and power, and kindly plopped me down under an electric blanket, with food and tea.

Now, all warm and cozy, I love and appreciate furnaces and cups of tea more than ever before, and I’m back to figuring out how to fix the matter of the wobbly dolly.

My best solution for now is this:  Tracking the corner of the window frame in After Effects, but not actually repositioning the shot… just analyzing it.  Then using the image of the path of tracking points, attaching the footage to a Null object layer, and repositioning it (via the Null) frame by frame, by eye.  If anyone out there knows AE, and a way to do this with expressions, please let me know; but for now, the “by eye” method doesn’t seem too bad.  I don’t want to stabilize the footage, because the window does need to move through frame — I just want to see how the path deviates from a straight-ish line, and fix that.

Here’s what the tracked path analysis looks like, above left, zoomed in 800% to the upper left corner of the window frame (which made a good high-contrast tracking point.)  To the right is the Null object correction for the jitter.

The “Before” footage of the dolly move.  There are a couple of lighting pops, in the overall lights and in the starry background, but I know what’s caused them and I’m mainly looking at the dolly move here.

And the “After,” which is my stabilized version.  I think it worked out pretty well…  Not perfect, but I didn’t spend TOO much time on it as it’s just a test.  I only did the AE test to see if the footage COULD be stabilized without compromising the overall effect, and I see now that it can be done.  So, for now, the dolly will be fine!

I know I promised a lighting setup diagram, but it’ll have to wait til I get these issues sorted, and shoot the darned shot.

0 thoughts on “In the Meantime… Darkness & Dolly Tests.

  1. justin rasch

    Thats why after effects is POWERFULL!!

    MAN….in the old days you were just screwed… looks great! nobodys gona notice.

    super cool.



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