Stop Motion Animation Forum Archive











Posted by castlegardener, on 2007-12-18 12:17:39

Backgrounds on small sets

I have seen Nick's studio where he can put his backgrounds quite far behind the set and use a separate light for it and it looks terrific but I don't have the space for that. My background is attached to the back of stage like in my stage tutorial. I don't have any space to push the background back any farther. For interior shots this is fine and works ok, but for outside shots like in "Free With Purchase" it is not ideal. Any suggestions on how to make/light my outside scenery backgrounds in a small space/stage. Thanks

Posted by Isomer, on 2007-12-18 15:17:44

I was thinking about possible solutions to resolve you lighting question and all I could think of were things that would require more room. The basic problem is shadows being cast from your set props onto the sky background. Your set is a relief sculpture and consequently difficult to isolate the light on the sky only. I could suggest making the flat sky panel a milky or frosted glass panel that could be lit from behind or have a sky image projected on it but, that still requires more room behind. Since your familiar with working with Photoshop, I think that might be the approach to take. You could either do it using a green/blue screen but that may be a problem too, considering that your character is green. So I would take a more direct approach doctoring each frame to introduce new elements into the images. I took the liberty of doctoring a couple of frames from your film to illustrate what can be accomplished with little effort. I did the two of these images within about 15 minutes and if the elements I added were introduced to the adjacent frames it would certainly be far less work per frame. I'll need to do this in two posts because of file size. to show the before and after examples. In these first two, I dropped in a lighter sky and eliminated the shadow dropped onto the sky from the roof.

Posted by Isomer, on 2007-12-18 15:27:59

In the next two, I replaced most of the sky with elements borrowed from the front of the house and rocky structure to create a more 3-D structure for them. I've had to do stuff like this for a number of shots in my film and it's actually a lot less work in Photoshop than it may seem. Using this technique, I did a shot for 'Gravity' where you see my set from a distance with added elements in a matte painting effect which ended up being something I was happy with and was fewer hours of work than I expected! Hope this helps. :)

Posted by castlegardener, on 2007-12-18 16:23:04

That looks great Ron, thanks. That's a great way to stretch my studio. I know one thing I messed up on was my background paint was not flat enough and reflected light with shiny spots.

Posted by Isomer, on 2007-12-18 16:59:42

I didn't notice any shiny spots on your BG and I watched your film numerous times. That's the sort of thing that you may notice but others will overlook because we're focused on your wonderful characters! And besides, you may see them as reflections because you know that's what they are but, to us they look like varying tones or clouds in the sky color so, the reflections end up working in your favor. :D

Posted by Nick H, on 2007-12-19 00:40:28

Like Ron said, the main problem is space. It's normal to leave a gap between the back of the set and the sky painting. With the lights for the sky from above the set, any shadows fall lower on the sky that the actual house roof or tree. The idea is to make sure the shadows are low enough to be hidden. It's also good to be able to get past behind the set. The further back the sky is, the easier it is to light it - but the bigger the canvas needs to be to get coverage from all angles. You are probably working in a limited space. I also rotate the set a bit for some shots, to make sure there is sky behind it. The light should be as flat and front-on as you can manage. If it's way to the side it will pick up surface texture and any lumps in the paint. I had to do something similar to Ron's Photoshop trick for My Left Shoe, paint out some cracks in the sky. (Old canvas, many layers of paint, rolled up and unrolled one too many times, light from too far to the side.) I could only do it in areas where the puppet would not cross during that shot, or else I would have to rotoscope around him frame by frame (erase the extra paint layer within the puppet outline). I use flat wall paint for skies. White (pastel base) for a pale base coat, accent base for stronger colours, and a mix of the two. I don't get reflection problems, but my domestic halogen floodlight has some horizontal streaky shadows - not good for bluescreen, however that fits in fine with most skies, they have streaky clouds anyway. I didn't mind the sky joining your set, it was like a miniature stage show. A little theatre in a box. But for a more wide-open outdoor feel, a separate backcloth is the way to go.

Posted by castlegardener, on 2007-12-19 01:23:51

Thanks everyone. I will work my stories around my limited space weakness but if I do need a wide open space then I will figure out a way to push back the background somehow if it is more than just a few frames that I can photoshop out. Matte painting is still a large weakness in my resume at the moment.