Friday is usually the day when we share some backstage work or simply how we put the sauce together and today happens to be… yes, you guessed it. In some parts of the world, today is Friday. Darn time zones…
As we talked about in our first article of the year, we’re hard at work on making the I AM CLOUD.IA show, a reality. A reality TV show made of robots. We believe that within the decade BOTS will become an integral part of our world and we will be relating to them in the same way we interact with pets today.
This project is going to be a long game effort therefore, we couldn’t live with the idea of having a temporary shooting set. Just the thought of mounting and dismounting lights, mics, camera, and everything needed would have been daunting.
Our daughters are out of the nest so we repurposed one of the rooms for the #vikibot project; that is the codename behind this I AM CLOUD.IA show.
We needed some props to make the filming environment enticing to the eye and in line with the scenes. There will be episodes where Victoria will be acting as the roboticist scientist that becomes the “birth” mother of the first bot. CLOUD.IA, she will be dressed as an old lady with some quirks and smart on the go. Since those episodes are mostly monologues intertwined with some unreal engine effects.
I couldn’t have Victoria seating on the floor so I headed to a few thrift stores looking for chairs/seats/sofa/else that would fit the space and the overall look that we’re shooting for. I found a few options and after seat testing a bunch of them and even asking random questions to other shoppers, I narrowed down to this one.
This will be the pulpit from where Vickie (the scientist) talks about the past, her feelings for robots, and all other things to come as part of the show.
We need to find a good old-looking lamp and replace the photos on the wall with pictures of the scientist with the kids (BOTS) besides that, “the monologue corner” as affectionately called now, is ready to go.
We had stowed in the garage for a few years this very good teak old-looking desk, we fished for it, and putting it together was faster than a one-piece IKEA to assemble. No, there’s no such thing as one piece and IKEA in the same sentence!
We placed on it the essential items to create the scene where the scientist works. Then we start testing the lights set up and how to place the cameras in the right place for the shooting. It was also an opportunity for practicing the art of filmography that we are learning from taking classes.
The next step is to figure out the props by the chair since it is the spot where most of the first episodes are happening. Tom Hanks and his solo movies are inspirations here, you don’t need more than one actor if you know what you are doing.
We have no clue on what we’re doing but as record shows, that has never stopped us from becoming good at anything we set our minds on.
To test the use of the desk we 3D printed one of the BOTS that will be in the show, its name is SEEKER. It is a squid-looking little fellow with “interesting” blue eyes. He simply explores the surroundings and then reports back to “mother”.
We assembled it and tried a few options on where to put the hovering camera. It was a lot of trial and error since what you see has to feel like you are the one putting it together. From the early shots, I didn’t feel we got it quite right.
However, the time warp we made as a test to figure out the angle was still very entertaining to watch even if it was suboptimal for what we were aiming for.
Once assembled the idea was to watch the footage, take SEEKER apart again, and redo the assembly.
We took a time warp of the assembling of SEEKER, using different lights, camera placements, and things of that nature to figure out what would give the most consistent view to who is watching out there.
I am proud to report that if it was for that exemplary first try of this cinematography testing we would not work at Netflix as janitors. However, it was also clear that the chair for an assistant of mouse cleaner for the art director of the sci-fi movies was still very far from our reach.
The huge difference between a scene that you feel immersed into it and one that you can clearly tell. That was shot by your drunk buddy while attempting to stand on one foot. It's lighting.
There is a lot of mastery and knowledge behind this one item that can ruin everything! It is hard to set camera lighting in 3D software but it is way harder in the real life.
The primary reason is that in computer-generated images once you set the camera and lighting the result will always be the same and the only thing that can slightly mess things up is bad monitor settings. Besides that, the sun won’t show up unannounced or someone will open the door unexpectedly. We still have to practice quite a bit until we find all settings but this is also the entertainment part of the building from scratch and entertainment business.
Stay tuned, with the right light and camera angle. But more than anything else, have a bLife. That will always put anything in the right perspective.