Reflections On Being An Indie Film Producer #14

#14 Visual Effects, part 2

After completing the arduous task of getting a viable work flow, it was time to have creative fun with visual effects in Blood Pledge. We discovered there are 3 types of effects needed. They are:

1.   Clean-up

2.  Enhancements

3. “The money shot”

Clean-up is just as it sounds. There’s a lot going during the shoot, and we missed glaring errors in the filming. Most notably, all the actors wore wireless mic kits which were attached on their lower back, out of sight. Of course, they move and turn and in the post you see an obvious mic kit. The digital clean-up technology is quite remarkable in this regard. They simply erase the kit and replace it with matching color and texture from the wardrobe. We found around 40 clips that needed clean up.

Because of insurance costs, we instructed our armorer not to bring any kind of ammunition to the set. In the rifle scene, Matthew did an excellent job of faking the recoil from an empty rifle, which was a shotgun, but hey, that’s what the armorer brought. Obviously, this needed to be enhanced for realism. We went back and forth with the VFX team because they kept getting the muzzle blast “wrong.” They kept using a pistol style blast and modifying it. Eventually, they came around to my side after I sent them a YouTube clip with the exact visual from a hunting rifle.

Following that, the death scene of Matthew’s victim also became a back-and-forth discussion. To be honest, this was quite interesting to do, as it’s another form of creating a scene. They added the usual blood splatter from a gun wound, which looked great until we looked at it frame by frame. Then it didn’t look great. Gib intervened and was satisfied with the results since most everyone doesn’t look at movies frame by frame, only directors.

Last thought on enhancements—I wasn’t happy about the pooling blood scene. It looked like animation. Blood doesn’t spread along a floor in a perfect circle with a flat surface. Blood expands in a scallop formation with irregular textures. Well, I got the scalloping, but the texturing turned out to be beyond our budget.

Finally, the “money shot.” Big callout to Janet Place for insisting on a frightening horror visual and finding the funds to get the extraordinary results. It paid off. When I sat with the colorist for the first view, she gasped and grabbed my arm. The scene had its intended effect.

You can see the results here.