Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Assignment 4: First Thoughts

Although I have only just started Project 4, I already have a firm idea about what I want to achieve with the book cover.  A skill that I would like to develop is shooting objects against blue screen and then inserting them into a photograph.  For Assignment 4 I am returning to two childhood interests, Science Fiction and model making, specifically Star Wars.  When the first Star Wars movie was released I was stunned at the effects and still am amazed that this was completed prior to the advent of computer graphics using stop motion photographic techniques.  Every element in the space battles was a model separately photographed against a blue screen background and then mashed together on film.

With this book cover I plan to do a similar but much simpler concept, a single image containing multiple components, built up as layers in Photoshop. I have already completed a mock up of the final comp, although much work remains, the models are badly lit and the angles are not yet correct.

First of all I had to select a background, for which I chose the much photographed Hypovereinsbank HQ.  I have shot it from a distance with a large amount of negative space in the image, open to be filled later in the assignment:

As this is a Sci-Fi image, the blue sky is too "Earth Like", I want a lurid red sky:

This is tropical sunset taken in North Sulawesi, Indonesia during last years vacation.  I have combined the two images in the following way.  I have taken the foreground, processed it to B&W, and then added a strong red tone to create an otherworldly look.  One problem I had was that the includsion of space in the foreground has reduced the perspective in the background, so I have selectively stretched the upper half of the bank  to increase the height of the building.  I have also extended the canvas upwards to create some space for text and other objects:

Next stage was to build and then shoot some models.  I have built 3 Revell snap together, pre-painted kits, a walker and 2 space ships.  So far I have shot two of them:

The removal of the background is still quite rough, again these are not intended to be final images.  The star fighter is the tricky one to isolate as I had to remove the threads from which it was hanging in my light tent.  The clone tool got a work out.  I have also scanned the Star Wars logo form the box, recoloured it and removed the background:

Taking all the pieces and adding them into the photo this is what I have so far:

I have added some smoke and vapor trails.  This is still far from where I want it to be:

  1. The light on the vehicles is wrong, the sun was high when I shot this and shining from the right side of the frame.  I appreciate that I now need to replicate this in the shot.
  2. I kept the star fighter in colour, but processed the walker to balck and white, I think both will stand out better in colour
  3. I need some more practice with the paint brushes when adding effects
  4. The walkers perspective is not quite right yet, although I doubt I will ever get it completely right
I have to be careful not to try to strive for something too "realistic" this is meant to be a comic/pulp fiction book cover, not a work of art.  It needs to look a little fake and over done, that's part of the appeal. 

Finally, whilst I am enjoying this, it is not quite what I think of as photography.  The skills learned will be useful, however, it is not really my gig and is pushing my decision on Level 5 courses towards the two subject based courses, leaving out PWDP.  Incidentally a major reason for doing this course rather than a theoretical course was to build some skills in this area to make PWDP an option rather than a necessity.

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