Big Creative on a Little Budget

What started as an exploration in creativity quickly became an exercise in overcoming budgetary and environmental obstacles. Some key elements to take note of :

  1. The sky, in all of the scenes, has been completely replaced with more dramatic, time lapse footage.
  2. A flock of perfectly-timed ANIMATED birds fly over the scene. (In reality, there was only one bird that appeared in any of the footage we shot.)
  3. Weeds and other elements appear to grow out of the cracks in the street.
  4. The trees on the horizon have been removed.
  5. The color of the piece is now uniform and reflects the otherworldliness we wanted to achieve.  In reality, the changing light during the shoot dramatically modified the colors and light in each scene.

See below for more details and an animated movie that slowly reveals the many layers involved in crafting the final piece.


Tools & Techniques HD 1080i cinematography, undercrank blur (an in-camera effect), light reflectors (the only way to economically control the lighting), HD editing, After Effects, Photoshop, 3DS Max and Cinema 4D.


Obstacles Budget (there wasn’t one), Traffic (but they all waved), a lone walker (who transformed into a speed walker when she realized she was in the shot), crop spraying (he also waved), less-than-perfect clouds (where are those Biblical Clouds when you really need them?), constantly changing light levels, the inability to (economically) light the scene, a line of trees in the distance that really bothered Dan and having to deal with really uncooperative talent. View the animated transformation:


Problem: Digital Media Provides Powerful Results, but Large File Transfer is a Problem


When we launched Kmotion Media, we challenged ourselves to ask, at all junctures, “How do we do this Much Better than it’s been done before?” We’ve let that guide us in setting up our systems, and our new client file management tool is one result. We’ve built a complicated tool that simplifies the “giant file transfer” process we’d been challenged with in the past. It allows the password protected transfer of video, animation, stills, PowerPoint, or any large file, both to and from clients and agency partners. The size capacity is unlimited and the transfer is secured. The tool is so powerful and intuitive, that several clients have asked us to create their own branded proprietary file management tool.


Chroma Key Footage with Interactive Graphics

Green Screen Thumbnails

Here’s more on-location footage shot in a small room. This time, we shot chroma key footage on a portable green screen. Here are the before and after images:


Since the movement was fast and youthful, we shot footage of lots of flailing arms and flipping hair (not the best source material for footage that we would later need to key).

We keyed the footage and then added graphics that appear to interact with the talent – moving around them, casting shadows on them and appearing to grow from their actions. The 3D motion graphic elements were rendered out in a manner which allowed us to move the graphic elements in front of and behind the actors seamlessly. We also motion tracked some of the shots allowing us to match the movement of the graphics to the actors movements.


Blurring the Lines Between Film and Video


Shooting video has always had its downsides. Mostly, in the past, video didn’t look like film. Then, a few years ago, came the ability to shoot video in 24p, the same speed rate as film is shot in, and suddenly you could shoot video that had that “film look”. The only thing missing was that most video cameras had a fixed lens, which meant not much depth of field. So unlike film, with video everything in your frame was in focus. To give video that “film style” you need to be able to shoot using a 35mm lens that will give you more depth of field in your shots. Now you can get adapters that will allow you to do just that.


There are numerous reasons to shoot with 35mm lens adapters, such as the power to achieve far shallower depth of field. Another less-cited reason is that most adapters soften the image just a touch; they can remove some of the harshness of HD video. But by far, my favorite reason for the use of 35mm adapters is the fact that they tend to make you work more in the “film style,” slowing down your work flow and compelling you to pay closer attention to framing and composition. Because focus is a critical element with a 35mm adapter rig, you tend to work more with your talent and skill—and it makes you a better shooter and director.



Trends in Post Production

Adding to the Emotional Experience: Color Grading and VFX (Visual Effects)

When a project reaches the post production phase, the visuals have been captured. If an exterior scene shows XYZ’s logo signage displayed outside of their corporate office, that’s the scene we will have to work with.
But what if it was shot on a gray overcast day?
What if the piece is supposed to highlight XYZ’s cutting edge new approaches?
What impression would that overcast shot impart?
The tools we work with at Kmotion allow us to use various techniques to develop that shot to strengthen the message and deliver the right emotional reaction.

Visual treatments to this one brief scene might include:

-Bringing up and adding color to the scene.
-Cutting out the gray overcast sky and adding a bright blue one with gorgeous optimistic clouds.
-A subtle cloud movement that would allow a ray of light to hit the logo/sign just right (and with the beat of the underlying musical score).
-A lens flare that grows out of that glint.

All of this might occur in a 3-second scene and might be quite subtle, but it would send a meaningful message to the viewer – one much stronger than the original overcast sky scene.

We use the Post Production Color Grading and VFX phase to not only correct, but also enhance a project.


Improve the overall look.
Correct subjects’ skin quality (Smooth out blemishes, wrinkles, redness, etc.).
Correct any issues in the scene (remove signs, shadows, reflections and other imperfections).
Correct any footage issues (over or under exposure, etc.).


Reinforce or develop a color palette.
Create a signature look.
Direct the movement of the viewer’s eye.
Add to the story.
Add elements to the scene.

Questions we frequently ask ourselves as we work through the process:

What are we communicating?
How do we support that visually?
How can we add meaning to the visuals?
Where do we need to focus the eye?
How can the image be improved?
Which color pallet and effects would best add to the emotional experience.


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