Bulletstorm v’s Halo 3: Believe TV ads

I hadn’t heard of the game called Bulletstorm before, but this diorama style, TV ad created by New Deal Studios caught my eye recently. In the ad, a camera sweeps through a landscape featuring characters from the game, caught in a frozen moment in time. It is a very deliberate, but playful pastiche of the Halo 3: Believe spot from 2007, spoofing many of the vignettes in the earlier work and adding its own little gag to the hero pose at the end. Where the Halo 3 piece is advertising dressed as myth making (see the Museum of Humanity “documentary”), the Bulletstorm ad establishes it’s own credentials by flipping the bird at pre-sold franchises.

And for reference, here’s the original Halo 3 spot from 2007 which features an exquisite and epically proportioned diorama, also built by New Deal Studios.

A number of behind the scenes photographs of this diorama can be found over on fxguide – scroll down to just below the set of images for The Aviator.

And of course, before the Halo 3 spot came a number of dioramas created by the artists Jake and Dinos Chapman. The most ambitious of these was Hell (1999), comprised of over 30,000 figures, many of which were Nazi soldiers enacting scenes of torture and cruelty. The piece was destroyed in the MOMART fire of 2004 but then re-created anew as F***ing Hell (2008).

Ironically, it’s usually the games that are criticised for their depictions of violence.

Hole in my bucket… part 2

After concluding that the footage from the HV20 just wasn’t going to be good enough, I decided to have a look at the footage my DSLR could produce. The poor mans HD (720p) spewed out by my D90 is awful so I was never considering using that, but I did take a look at the stills capability and that looked fantastic and provided a clean key. If I could rig something that would capture the camera move I was looking for using a combination of time-lapse and stop motion then that could be a great solution. The miniatures aren’t going to move so I would only need to animate the position of the camera.

First things first, I need to sort out the camera. I started out by testing the camera hooked up to Nikons Camera Control Pro 2. First thing I noticed is that a zoom lens just wouldn’t work because the lens components shuffle every time a shot is taken so I tried out a 35mm DX prime. The shuffle problem was solved but I started to get a flickering effect even with constant lighting. Thinking this might be due to the AC supply I then tried out long exposures of up to one second but this still resulted in an annoying and very obvious flicker. Investigation on the web revealed that DSLR cameras utilise automatic shutters in which the iris stops down with each shot, then opens back up again to allow for a clean preview through the viewfinder. This closing and opening of the aperture inevitably results in tiny inconsistencies that lead to variations in the exposure and cause the flicker. I tried partially unscrewing the lens to disconnect the contacts and override the stopping down but the lens would lose its aperture setting completely.

The next step, source an older Nikon lens on which I can set the aperture manually and test again…

There’s a hole in my bucket…part 1

I am currently working on a reasonably ambitious personal project that will involve shooting some miniatures for incorporation into 3D backgrounds. I am trying to work with what I have which at present consists of:

– Canon HV20
– Greenscreen cove
– Syntheyes
– After Effects

I started out by looking at my existing video camera coupled with a modified skateboard deck for a dolly. Immediately, I could see that this is going to shake like hell and not give any useable footage. In still situations, I can also see that no matter how well I light the greenscreen, the quality of the HDV footage coming out of the HV20 just isn’t good enough.

Time for a rethink…