LOS ANGELES — Visual effects company BlueScreen LLC, here, recently worked with Junket Productions and Fox to create a video experience in which journalists at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) screening of The Peanuts Movie could dance with the CG cast of the film. BlueScreen oversaw the on-site shoot, which captured 60 journalists, dancing on-camera to Meghan Trainor's new song "Feels Better When I'm Dancing," which is part of the film’s soundtrack.
The footage was composited live with a CG scene featuring a dance line of Peanuts characters, and played back via AJA’s Ki Pro Rack. Each take was then recorded to CF cards, which Fox sent to members of the press ahead of the film's debut. Video could then be used for on-air segments about the movie.
Bob Kertesz, owner of BlueScreen LLC, mapped out his workflow ahead of TIFF. Having implemented many greenscreen shoots for press junkets prior, he knew he’d need a reliable playback device, one that he could easily ship to and from Toronto and play back the animated footage multiple times throughout the day without any system failure.
“This was a one shot deal,” he explains. “We only had these journalists for a day, and had to shoot more than 120 back-to-back takes. If equipment failed, it would have jeopardized the entire production, but I never questioned my Ki Pro Rack. It’s a great piece of gear that I never worry about on-set. It’s built solidly and is remarkably reliable under battle conditions. There really isn’t any better recording and playback device out there for live compositing work.”
Prior to the shoot, Kertesz set up his equipment and quickly dragged and dropped a 1GB file containing the animation from Fox to the Ki Pro Rack’s KiStor drive. He was then ready to roll. “Ki Pro Rack saved me a lot of time and frustration on this one,” he notes. “I was able to get my ProRes HQ file to the device in under :45, without having to go through 19 steps and without any transfer loss in the quality of the footage. The ability to transfer files to the Ki Pro Rack over the network, or directly to the KiStor media via FireWire 800, makes the entire system extremely versatile.”
Using a Sony camera, Kertesz shot live action footage of each reporter dancing on greenscreen, while the Ki Pro Rack repeatedly played back a ProRes HQ animation file of the Peanuts gang dancing on the gym floor. To combine the two scenes and make it appear as though each reporter was dancing with the animated characters, Kertesz used an Ultimatte 11 Deluxe live compositing box. He set the composited output to an external recorder equipped with CF cards; monitors also surrounded the set, allowing journalists to watch themselves on-camera as they made their way through the animated dance line.