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Don Dohler: Uncontained Imagination « Baltimore Filmmakers

Baltimore Filmmakers posted a nice article about my friend, the late Don Dohler. Here's the link:  Don Dohle r: Uncontained Imagination...

Stakes FX

Stakes was the first feature-length film I worked on. I was actually the second FX person attached. The first, Sean Quinn, did about 20% of the FX, but was unable to continue. So I stepped in to finish the 150 or so shots remaining. Most of them were glowing vampire eyes, vampire deaths, and a holographic screen for Scientist Brian Smithers's (Steven King) scanner.Below are some examples of shots I worked on.

Glowing Vampire Eyes

This effect was created in Adobe After Effects using a simple, well feathered mask around the pupil, and the screen blending mode. I decided not to use motion tracking because with all of the keyframes, the eyes would look like Cookie Monster's. It was hard enough to avoid that as it was (and I wasn't always successful either lol ). For some shots, I had to temporarily brighten a temporary version using levels so that I could see where both eyes were. That's a hazard of the genre, I guess, since most shots are at night and many actors are only partially lit.

Holographic Scanner

These shots were the bane of my existence for about a month. Doing a holographic screen is a cool idea, but this one required an After Effects tool called corner pinning, which tracks four corners over time and allows you to pin a video clip to those four corners. That's great, but the corners have to be easily identified, and we only had two marked corners. Ugh! Needless to say, there was a lot of fudging going on. But it was a great learning experience.

Below is a shot of the scanner in action. The actor is Steven King.

Vampire Deaths

Here are a couple of examples of vampire death scenes. I also posted a how-to, which is an excerpt from the behind the scenes video on the DVD. Check it out here.

The shot below was actually my audition for Timewarp. Don sent me the clip and a background plate, wanting to see what I'd come up with. I guess he liked it. :D I've seen reviews that say it looks like Playstation effects. Ah, if only they knew how much less time and money this effect cost. The vampire in the shot is played by Darla Albernoz.

The shot below shows a different kind of vampire death. The demise of a pure blood needed to be a little flashier so in addition to changing the flame from orange to blue, I added some light streaks using an After Effects plugin called Shine. The actress in the shot is Syn DeVil.

Miscellaneous Effects

Here are some other shots I worked on.

The mandatory hero (Jamie Bell ) hanging from a ledge.

A good old fashioned gunshot to the head (of Micci Sampery) with dripping splatter. This was accomplished by splattering lots of smelly fake blood on a green screen and layering it into the shot, masking Micci so the blood would be behind her.

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