Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Working on the Ray Bradbury Odyssey: Part 1

The thing that I'm most proud of, in regards to the play Live Forever: The Ray Bradbury Odyssey, is that my small team and I did so much on such a small budget, and on such a tight schedule. I quite frankly was lucky to have a team at all, but I had the fortune to have access to some of the top talents, at just the right time. It didn't start out that way, though. First, as leader of the group, I had to prove that I had a vision, a plan, and the knowledge to execute both. I had to start with some tests, that I did at home, to show other talents and the producers what I would do with the project, if put in charge. So, my first task was to pitch the project, which I did by creating some story boards, and simple versions of effects, which I had to create on my own.

This video provided many of the starting points for what I would later turn into a malty media video production, taking the audience into the farthest reaches of space, and into the heart and mind of the man, Ray Bradbury, himself. But, I also had to do it in a family friendly way.

Goblin Test from Christopher (Moonlight) Cooksey on Vimeo.

This puppet was an early test I did at home. Based on a poem by Ray called The Groon, I had to seek out a way to make a monster both menacing and family friendly. I ended up going with a design that was not a copy of, but could fit in with monsters from an old comic book cover that Ray gave us.

Michael O'Kelly, the play's writer and producer took the finished puppet over to Ray for approval, and he loved it, so that was a good feeling.

Another challenge was to create a Ferries wheel full of creatures from Ray's childhood movie going days. Originally, the idea was to rotoscope characters from old movies from Rays Childhood, and put them in the cars, but due to time and budget, it just wasn't possible. It was decided that paper cut outs of these figures would have to do, as non of the shots last more than five seconds, projected on a screen, in the play. It's a shame really, as the effect could have worked really well. It's not a hard one, just time consuming.
However, I knew the wheel it's self had to be sensational, so I brought on one of the greatest improvisational monster and set builders I know. Mr. Dave Grave. Based on my descriptions, and supervision, Dave met the challenge with zeal, and came up with a real show stopper, which we shot using stop motion animation.

Live Forever Ferris Wheel Set from Christopher (Moonlight) Cooksey on Vimeo.

After the model was built, I had Jeremy Hanes (as my DP) help light and shot the whole setup with green screen, using the rapid fire fetcher on his camera, as Dave and I ever so slowly turned the Ferries wheel, using monofilament line.

After that, it was up to Rich Goddard and I to composite the whole thing. I spent time, putting together some digital mat backgrounds, like the trees and moon, while Rich did the final green screen keying, color corrections, fog effects, and composting. Go teem. The final result was this...

Opening Sequence - Compositing from Rich Goddard on Vimeo.

Next: Mr. Electrico

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