Visual Effects

By recording video in the overhead camera position, also referred to as the bird’s-eye view, I achieved a visual illusion featuring two actors who seem to defy gravity and temporarily float in air.  The video is shown below.


The video features two wizards dueling with magical wands.  Throughout the action sequence, both wizards perform a levitation spell that portrays his opponent to be suspended in mid-air with his feet removed from the apparent ground.  In actuality, the actors are laying on the floor with their feet against a wall (the apparent ground), allowing each to simply remove his feet from the wall when his opponent launches a successful attack.  A camera operator is standing on top of a tall ladder, approximately six feet from the ground to film the overhead view.  The height from which the scene was filmed was a crucial aspect, as beginning film takes demonstrated that shorter ladders, such as those only two or three feet tall, did not enable a large enough space to be visible with the camera.

Avidemux was used for video editing and Kdenlive was just used to add audio to the edited video.  I carried out editing with two separate programs because for some odd reason Avidemux did not allow me to insert audio; although, Avidemux has the capability of running audio and video together.  During filming, there was a point in which the wizard on the right-hand side pushed his feet off against the wall in a jumping motion.  He then rose from the ground and walked over to the left side of his opponent, laying down again in an upside down fashion with respect to the camera’s view, before casting a final levitation spell.  Editing with Avidemux was done to facilitate the appearance of a surprise attack.  After the jumping motion, I removed video content up to the point in which the wizard on the right-hand side was completely off the screen.  I then kept eight frames of the wizard off screen; when watched right after the jumping motion, it appears that the wizard has vanished.  I then cut out all video content from that point to the point in which the wizard has established his new position behind his foe, so that it appears that the wizard vanishes and instantly reappears ready to attack.  With Kdenlive I added music played with a harp to complement the gentle nature of levitation.

Having never directed a video before, I became aware that it is quite difficult to verbally communicate an action sequence in a way that everyone involved can fully understand.  Although I had written out a script, it was suggested to me that I make a series of drawings to distinctly highlight each individual step in the sequence.  Implementing this new approach proved successful and enabled the actors to practice the choreography in a less hesitant manner.