Like a good sports referee, the best VFX Artist’s work will often go unnoticed. Yet they are key to creating a smooth flowing, blockbuster hit or TV show. A VFX Artist’s job is to use computer software to create engaging motion graphics and animation that enhances the final image. Most of their work is typically done in post-production after the bulk of the movie has been filmed.
In our latest short film, “Yankee Escapee,” the script called for a deer in a forest chomping on some grass. Deer are elusive animals so capturing one on film is difficult. We decided to avoid hours camouflaged in a field waiting for the perfect deer in the dew-covered grass shot; instead, we decided to use VFX.
Below is the finished 5-second clip we used in our short film.
Here’s how we did it:
1] Background Footage
First, we captured footage of an empty forest. That part was easy. Later we would paint our deer into this scene. For continuity, it’s important that the background matches with the other shots in our scene. It was shot with a RED Scarlet MX camera at 6K resolution.
Now that we have our background, we need our deer! We found a perfect stock video clip on Adobe and then removed the deer from the background. To do this, our Visual Effects Artist used a process call Rotoscoping. Rotoscoping for VFX is used to create a matte mask for an element (in our case a deer) so it can be extracted out to place on a different background.
Depending on the complexity of the shot, the process of rotoscoping can take hours or even days to complete. Rotoscoping is found in just about every movie and television show that utilizes VFX. It’s an art form, so mastering it won’t happen overnight – it takes skill and a lot of practice.
3. VFX Compositing
Composting is the combining of visual elements from separate sources into a single motion picture of video, to create the illusion that all the elements are part of the same scene. Our compositor blended the deer into our forest scene, ensuring that the established style of the project is respected and we maintain continuity.
It’s a lot of work for a mere 5-seconds of video, but totally worth it – at least we think so.