Back Wednesday 7th April 1999 Next

by Henry Burrows

Special Effects

I spent most of Easter editing Foiled, and it seemed to pay off, as we're now up to 55 minutes in total!  I'd guess there's between 15 and 20 minutes left to go, so the length isn't quite as short as I previously feared.  I've just completed the third and final dream sequence - the last scene at night before the students wake up to a beautiful Sunday morning and have to head out into the hills of North Wales.  I decided to do the dream entirely in slow motion, even slowing down the speech to match (yet maintaining the pitch - clever, huh?).  It seems to work well, and gives everything a dreamlike atmosphere.

Meanwhile I've spent a couple of evenings working on some special effects for the human/foilman transformation sequences.   Only two so far, but I might do a few more - the main drawback being that they take so long to do.  Why does it take so long?  Well, first I have to export a film clip as a sequence of frames, then edit each frame by hand to draw in the changes...  With PAL video, that's 25 frames a second, which for a simple two second shot means I have to edit 50 separate frames...!  The results make it worthwhile but I'm seriously limiting where I use it - most of the transformations occur off-screen and you just see the reactions of the onlookers.

But, as a brief demonstration of the effect, take a look at this sequence of three frames grabbed from the Pizza Delivery Man's transformation:

The completed animation shows Pizza Delivery Man rocking his head from side-to-side as the foil creeps up and engulfs his face.  I cheated a bit by editing a 50-frame two second clip and then slowing the resulting video by half, giving a four second special effect.  I hear George Lucas is currently getting through about 40 special effects shots each week on the new Star Wars film, well two shots in three months is more my style.

Meanwhile, in other news, there is a sequel to Saturday Night Zombies planned!  To be shot in the last week of May somewhere near Toronto in Canada, Sunday Night Zombies (it had to be called that!) was drafted up last week by Adam Ahmad, Maria Lopez and Vince Pasqualino, with rewrites from myself, Howell Parry, and Stephen Davis over the last few days.  It promises to be a lot of fun.  Watch this space, as they say.

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