Probably one of the most exiting project I’ve ever worked on, Order and Chaos is a Stop Motion Animated short film Directed by Maria Tomazou.
We follow the story of Anna whose life is built around order. One day, while she’s doing some maintenance on the ropes maintening her house anchored, she loses her keys and has to get them back through the chaos. On her journey she experiences chaos at its peak until she realises that maybe it’s not so bad after all…
Note: This project still being in progress I can’t show everything here yet.
Bringing Chaos in Stop Motion animation, especially flying object, is far from easy. I already had experiences with Visual Effects on Stop Motion Animation before and I know how heavy the rig removal process can be. From the pre-production of the project with gathered with all the team to decide how this project would be done technically. The idea was to do the project as practical as possible and shoot everything we can in camera. A lot of ideas came but the outcome was nevertheless the extensive use of Blue Screen.
Anna would be shot on blue screen with a blue rig ( the blue rig proved unkeyable but was a good indicator to know where it was when painting it out) and different layers of object flying behind would be animated on bluescreen as well. The background was originaly shot on camera but got customized quite a lot in post production, I separated it in layers to get an exagerated sens of paralax.
The issue at this step was the amout of work. There are around 60 VFX shots. Each of them contains differents layers that all need mattes. I know now that there are around 100 mattes done on that project. My work at the begining, other than the look developpment, was to create the most efficient and automated pipeline to deal with the quantity of work. Being mostly alone I needed to have a system I can rely on to be able to iterate every shots indivually the quickest way possible. I created a very precise folder structure that was shared by all the team, same with a naming convention that was consistent throuhout all the project. The matte creation was its own pipeline ( to be able to outsource it to other people without giving all the shot) and I used Nuke Studio fo that. Nuke Studio was also a very usefull tool to check my iterations per sequences. I used Python to code a tool that would find a matte automaticlly simply by looking at the name of the footage (this being possible with the consistent naming convention).
To create mattes of good quality but still staying efficient I found a very usefult technique. I used the light AOV technic from CG that we can normally apply only with motion control. Stop Motion is a kind of motion controll when you think abou it and when I discovered that DragonFrame ( the software used by the animators) was capable of recording different light passes with pre-recorded presets, I jumped on the opportunity and made the team recorde 3 light passes: 1 with all the light on, 1 with only the bluescreen on and all the lights off, and 1 reversed with all the lights on except the bluescreen( see image below). This was amazing for two reasons: First, in my quest of keaping the creative flow between all the departments, I had one pass that would have no spill from the blue screen and where I would be sure it’s only the DoP’s light and nothing else. The second reason is that having a bluescreen pass makes the matte process extremely efficient. I don’t even need a perfect key because the nice edges would be put back with some kind of additive keyer that I would get from the pass with the bluecsreen off. It just take a bit of time to paint out the right by hand but I would have made everything around it as efficient as possible.