Holographic Dancing Girl and More Dogfight Animatics

I might be busy all weekend, so I figured I'd write this week's blog a little early...

After hearing about Jen's participation as our female arcade game character, our friend Amy asked to be in our movie too. She's a great dancer, so we agreed and now we have our "holographic dancing girl" in Bibble's Bar!

Here's Amy's costume, which we pieced together from parts of Bibble's Girlfriends' costumes:

The 1st picture shows Amy in her costume. Remember, she's going to be a monochromatic hologram, so the colors don't have to match.

The 2nd picture shows Sarah's neck piece, which was originally supposed to be worn as an arm band. As you can see in Amy's picture (1st picture, above), we decided to use it as an arm band for her costume.

The 3rd picture shows Melanie's costume. We re-used her bottoms on Amy, but we flipped them around so that the knotty tassels would be in front.

Sarah spent a lot of time making Bibble's girlfriends' costumes, so she was happy that we re-used parts of them in Jen's and Amy's costumes. Since Jen's and Amy's characters are both monochromatic holograms, and since we tweaked the appearance of the re-used costume pieces, I don't think anyone will notice that we re-used costumes. Otherwise, we wouldn't have done it.

Here's a close-up of Amy's hair and makeup:

I didn't want the dancing girl hologram to look like every other hologram in our movie -- I wanted it to look more "night clubby." Here's the 1st version I tried:

Those blue streaks of light randomly appear and streak towards the camera, kind of like a lightspeed effect, but much slower. I liked it because it looked "night clubby," but it was too busy and distracting.

Here's the 2nd version I tried:

I really liked this one. It was much closer to what I had in mind. The only problem is that you can't see Amy's face, just her silhouette.

When we started this movie, our goal was to make the best movie possible, NOT to put all of our friends in the movie so that they could see themselves. Other fan films have made that mistake and have suffered as a result. We didn't want to make the same mistake. (Sorry Amy!)

However, if Amy wants her face to appear in our movie, we can always add her as a background extra in one of our scenes -- maybe even Bibble's Bar!

Anyway, that 2nd version was closer, but still not quite right, so I created a 3rd version:

This time I added a visual "echo." That's why it looks like she has 3 arms, because whenever she moves, there's an echo of her 2 previous positions. It's kind of hard to explain, but it looks totally cool as video.

I really liked those blue streaks of light from the 1st version, so I added those to see how it looked:

Since the streaks of light were so distracting in the 1st version, I made them more transparent. Although it looks kind of cool as a still photo, it's still too distracting when seen as video so I disqualified this version and stuck with Version #3.

Here's a close-up of "Holographic Dancing Girl" in Bibble's Bar:

(This picture will never appear in the movie, I just took this screen shot to show you guys a close-up.)

Here are before-and-after pictures showing the old holopanel and the new holopanel with Amy's footage:

The Wookiee and Rodian stand-ins are blocking the holopanel, so here's the same background plate without them:

Here's another scene showing before-and-after pictures of the new holopanel:

Trust me, it looks way cooler as video because the holographic dancing girl is... well... dancing! :D

Oh yeah, one last thing before moving on. While researching reference photos of to give us ideas for Amy's costume, I stumbled across a picture of a Twi'lek that was frighteningly similar to Jen's costume:

It's almost like one of those "separated at birth" comparisons, right?

Believe it or not, we did NOT base Jen's costume on this picture! It's comforting to know that we independently came up with a costume that was congruent with the "Star Wars" universe. As much as I'd like to take credit for Jen's costume, the truth is Sarah and Jen collaborated to come up with the costume. I will, however, take credit for my super cool knife hanging from Jen's Obi-Wan Kenobi belt! :)

That reminds me of a funny behind-the-scenes story: We're figuring out Jen's costume and I'm looking at her, trying to figure out what's missing. I realize that she needs an accessory, so I disappear for a split-second, then return with a huge Bowie knife. To me (and to those who know me), that's completely normal. But Jen's never been to my house before, so Sarah had to explain that I have weapons all over the place. It never occurred to me that that needed explaining, but I guess my psychiatrist was right... I am abnormal! :(

Okey dokey... on the CG-only side, I created 2 more dogfight animatics.

Here are 3 screen shots of Scene D231b, along with their corresponding "Revenge of the Sith" reference photos. In the 1st screen shot, a TIE Defender zooms towards the camera, right above a Star Destroyer:

In the 2nd screen shot, the TIE Defender zooms right past the camera (top R) with a missile hot on its tail:

In the 3rd screen shot, the missile zooms past the camera (we'll rotoscope the blue vapor trail later):

Here's a 3-shot sequence of the next scene, along with the corresponding "Revenge of the Sith" reference photos. In the 1st screen shot, the TIE Defender zooms to the right, with the missile still on its tail:

In the "Revenge of the Sith" reference picture (2nd picture, above), there are actually 2 missiles chasing the Jedi Starfighter, so the 2 arrows on the left point to the missiles and the arrow on the right points to the Jedi Starfighter.

In the 2nd screen shot, the TIE Defender has banked to the left, still trying to evade the missile:

In the 3rd screen shot, the TIE Defender has banked back to the right, zooming right past the camera:

In the 4th screen shot, the missile zooms right past the camera:

(You'd think that all of the "zooming right past the camera" shots would get old, but they don't! They just look so cool!)

In this last scene, I might have to add Coruscant to the bottom. Not just to match the "Revenge of the Sith" reference pictures, but because Coruscant really is beneath the Star Destroyer in our story. I just need to figure out if Coruscant would actually be visible at this camera angle.

That's it for this week. Sorry, it's been a busy week.



We have our female arcade game character!

Jen came over on Monday, so we shot final footage for half of the arcade game sequence in Bibble's Bar.

Here's a behind-the-scenes picture in our "Hair and Makeup Department" (aka "my downstairs bathroom"):

We were trying to figure out her hair, costume, etc. I was planning to put her in Brad's "Episode 7" Jedi costume, but somehow she ended up in Kali's "Knotty Girlfriend #3" top, my Obi-Wan Kenobi Jedi belt, and one of my knives strapped to her thigh:

1st picture = Jen (female arcade game character)
2nd picture = Reference picture of Kali (Bibble's "Knotty" Girlfriend #3) showing her top
Even though we re-used Kali's top, I don't think people will notice because:
1) Kali wore it looser, showing more skin, which gives it a different "line," and
2) Jen's an arcade game character, which means her footage is purple and semi-transparent, so her top looks different from the brown vest that Kali's wearing.

It never ceases to amaze me how we always come up with some last-minute change to everyone's costumes, but things end up looking better than we'd planned. In this case, it wasn't just Jen's costume, but also that tattoo on her left eye.

The tattoo started as a diamond, but she looked like a court jester (1st picture, below). So we switched it to a squared-off bottom, but it still didn't look quite right. Then Jen used a Q-tip to wipe away 2 lines at the bottom and suddenly it looked perfect (2nd picture, below).

NOW she looks like a badass arcade game character! :D
Also, don't tell Jen, but I'm going to use that 2nd picture for "Miss September" when we release our "Hot Chicks of 'Remnants of the Force'" calendar to help defray production expenses. ;)

It was my distinct pleasure to delete Sarah's animatic footage and replace it with Jen's final footage. ;) Here are before-and-after pictures:

Not only did we switch sides (we wanted to show Jen's tattoo on her left eye), but I also made us bigger. Looking at "Star Wars" reference footage, I realized that their arcade game characters are fairly large:

Also, you may notice that I improved the texture maps on the "chess board" a little. It's kind of hard to tell in this compressed image, but the surface is more reflective, which matches the "Star Wars" game table more accurately.

Here's raw footage and a screen shot of the corresponding animatic:

I don't think I'm alone here when I say there's something very manly and satisfying about kicking a petite, defenseless young woman in the butt. It makes me feel almost as manly as hunting ferocious, man-eating... chipmunks. :D

In this shot, I'm supposed to be holding Jen by the forehead, staying out of reach of her punches:

However, since we shot my footage about a year ago (with my hand against Sarah's forehead), my hand didn't match-up with Jen's forehead. That's O.K. because my footage is only temporary. We'll eventually replace my footage with final footage of our "bad guy" arcade game character and everything should (hopefully) match-up perfectly.

Since she can't land a punch, Jen spits a huge ball of phlegm on me (not pictured), then back flips away as I recover from her attack:

Damn, Jen's flexible! That's good, because it helped sell the shot when I digitally rotated her (2nd picture, above).

Here's Jen spinning in mid-air:

Using the technique Sarah and I perfected a year ago, Jen's doing her hardest stunt of the night. ;D
In the 2nd picture, you can see how it looks fairly realistic once I digitally rotate her and move her through the air. Gotta love special effects!

And finally, here's Jen landing out of her back flip:

No, I'm NOT flashing leg to pickup chicks in that 1st pic. (It doesn't work... I've tried.)
I'm holding the black Pelican case steady so that it doesn't tip while Jen's standing on it. If you guys have seen the bloopers, there's a clip when I was doing this same "stunt" and I almost fell off the Pelican case because my weight caused it to tip forward.

Although Jen was eager to be part of our fan film, we still wanted to thank her for participating. So we took some lightsaber pictures against the greenscreen and composited her into a couple Darth Vader shots:

That 2nd picture was inspired by the Darth Vader vs. Obi-Wan Kenobi shot from "Star Wars" (but on our hangar set instead of the Death Star):

Anyway, Jen got a kick out of the pictures, and we're grateful for her participation.

We're shooting more footage on Monday. We were planning to shoot Darth Vader footage, but I found someone for our "holographic dancing girl" in Bibble's Bar, so we'll shoot that instead. We may also shoot one of the arcade game players, but it depends if we can throw together a costume in time.