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Old June 21st, 2009, 01:03 AM   #16
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By trying to meet at a decent medium where 60p can be used properly i'll probably end up building a model the size of a small shed haha. But that won't happen. I will probably use a single 8X4 sheet of plywood as a base and make the model around 2X2 square. Luckily the building in mind is square.

I have plenty of property. My front yard looks like national park. So i'll be doing this outside on saw horses and a crane. Plus i'll be able to use the natural light and therefore I won't have to simulate 5500 kelvin with indoor lights. Just use some flags and nets to soften the direct light of the sun. But there comes a problem (random thought), Lets say I don't feel that my model building skills produced the greatest looking structure and I want the shot to atleast be at dusk or at night...i'd then have to do the shot indoors and i'd need a warehouse or i'd end up burning my house down. ugh..

Another thing.. What about the background? I mean depending on my angle, I will more than likely have to green screen in the background. But the problem is how do I get the background to scale with the model....

The task of trying to make this all happen makes CG sound wonderful. But if I went that rout i'd never learn how to do this..

Thank you again for helping me out with this.
Terry.
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Old June 21st, 2009, 02:00 PM   #17
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I think you really need to separate this into two pieces

A) "Destruction" of the model

B) Pyrotechnics (Which I really think should be done by CG in this day and age)

I think it would be a bad idea to try to depend on the pyrotechnics for the force to blow the model apart. It will produce such random results and it will be dangerous. Seriously - use mousetraps or compressed air or something.

Then you can concentrate on pyrotechnics for only their visual effect. Maybe a few drops of fire starter on a small electric heater hidden inside the model. Makes a nice flare up as anybody knows who has put some on a charcoal fire that was already started. Short on smoke though. But the explosion isn't terribly forceful. Same idea would be an ounce of brandy on a candle flame or electric heater. If they can flambe things in a restaurant without setting the customers on fire or setting fire to themselves this ought to work without too much danger of anything but mild burns. Alcohol flames are lower temperature than a lot of other things and probably won't burn down your model. And if the shot doesn't work out you can drink the rest of the brandy. Or maybe a couple of cans of "canned heat" like they use in restaurants under the hot plates after the initial flash from some alcohol. Napalm would be beautiful but not sure that you can walk into a hardware store and buy it :) My Organic Chem professor in college invented the stuff and he showed us films of "failed experiments". Don't get involved with it. Don't even get close. Sterno or canned heat is about as close as I think you can get.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Fieser

Smoke - hmm not sure I have a good idea other than piping it in from a few pieces of rubber or toast or a couple of handfulls of hair from your local barbershop or damp wood or something burning in a tin can over a barbeque. I think you can get oily steel wool burning and smoldering nicely if you hit it with a propane torch.

Heck, these are only silly ideas that are probably not TOO dangerous in small quantities. But you could still get burned.

Do you have a theatrical supply house anywhere nearby? They may have some ideas and stuff that's used on stage. Or maybe a smoker like bee keepers use.

But I really really think you want to separate the visual pyrotechnics from whatever actually blows the pieces off the model - it just isn't repeatable enough or controllable enough, and it can be very dangerous to fool around with if you aren't really well trained.

As I said at one point, I used to work in a conventional weapons lab and while what I did was related to the computational side of things, I was seriously impressed by the amount of engineering it took to get things to burn/explode as desired - all the way down to the engineering of the powder grains. This is not really a game for amateurs.

By the way - have fire extinguishers ready whatever you try

And have fun (Which in some way I think this is really all about)

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Old June 22nd, 2009, 05:30 PM   #18
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Jim - you've enlightened me on some new concepts with this topic. If I want this to look seamingly real I will have to make parts that won't completely be destroyed and parts that seam as if they will. For some reason I was imagining the entire structure, walls and all to be blown from the structure.

When I first had this in mind I was simply going to build an impressive model, get the informaiton I would need to set up the camera, and just blow the thing sky high using gun powder wrapped in electrical tape. However I have been watching clips of actual houses being blown up and I think that the results of an explosion from the inside of a cardboard/wooden stick structure will not be the same. Infact it won't even be close and the entire thing will be cheezy. This is why I wanted to avoid CG because my skills nor anyone I know is good enough to make it look real. Plus the idea of building a model and blowing it sky high was exciting.

I will have to take a different approach. Not much different from my origional plan but I will have to do alot more preperation prior to testing.
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Old June 24th, 2009, 06:55 PM   #19
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Maybe you don't need to do CG or build a model at all. Here are a couple thoughts from a filmmaking perspective...

- If you can't get the shot, get the reaction shot. Instead of shooting the building exploding, shoot the faces of people across the street as a big light flashes and they look on in terror. In Jurassic Park, Spielberg presumably wasn't 100% sure how well the CG dinos would hold up on-screen, so he built in a lot of reaction shots. Re-watch it and pay attention to the scene where they see the Brachiosaurs for the first time from the Jeep. It's two extended reaction shots. We the audience see about 30 seconds of reaction shots before we actually see the dinosaurs. And it works. Another example, from Fight Club. The MPAA said they needed to cut the most violent fight scene down because it was too bloody and brutal. Fincher complied, and just added more reaction shots of onlookers wincing. The result actually feels much more visceral, because the wincing onlookers really transmit how horrible this fight is. But the MPAA couldn't exactly ask him to cut reaction shots, so they stayed in.

- Hide it in shadow, hide it in light. This is a phrase that emerged from the X-Files set. Instead of showing the alien, you put the alien in a giant flood of light, so that it blows out, and you can't make out what you're seeing. Or you bury it in the shadows, again so you can't really see it. It actually made the X-Files much creepier. If they had shown animatronics or 1990s-era CG in full light, you wouldn't be able to take it seriously. But when your brain has to fill in the gaps, sometimes it does a much better job than the filmmaker ever could. In terms of your building explosion, this could simply mean using a tighter shot and having the explosion wipe the whole screen to white. Combine that with a really good reaction shot, and you may have something 10X more effective than a straightforward shot of the building blowing up.

- Shoot the aftermath instead. Maybe instead of seeing the building blow up, it fades to black, and when you fade back in, it's the next morning. Maybe a fake news report. To really sell it, you can scatter burned debris on the street. You can even show the building at that point. It's much easier to do a matte painting of a smoking, burned-out building than to animate or film the actual explosion.
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Old June 24th, 2009, 08:01 PM   #20
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And as a follow up to Ben's good advice, you can cut back to a tight shot of a burning building - all flame and smoke and glowing embers or stuctural pieces - but it can be a clip of any burning building. (I went past a real blaze on the way home a couple of days ago but didn't have my cam in the car - it was really something and the fire trucks were just getting there.)

As long as it's tight enough not to show the whole building and to show minimal if any context, I think it will sell. I think nobody will really figure out that it isn't exactly the model itself.

And along the lines of "hide it in shadow" make the whole thing a night or evening shot. I think in this case you can get away with a model that isn't particularly well textured.
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Old June 25th, 2009, 12:52 PM   #21
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Ben, Jim - thanks for helping me with this. Hopefully I can produce something decent after our discussion. Soon I hope I will be able to post a rough clip of what we came up with.


Cheers,
Terry.
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Old June 25th, 2009, 01:04 PM   #22
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I'll look forward to it.
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