Rule of Rescue | Filming Location and Deer Rigging RnD
Updated: Feb 12
These past two weeks were largely focused on getting a filming location. I scouted about five or six different places before finding the right place, getting it secured, finding an armor, scheduling the crew, working with production design for set dressing and finalizing the script and pre-visualization.
I also posted casting calls for the lead role of Mark, and casted my peer, Max Austin to be the droid. Our droid is motion capture and Max will be performing. Currently, I have scheduled the auditions to be February 9th.
We needed a place to film in and right on the edge of a wooded area, and then a cabin-like shelter for the main character to live in. It was optimal for the area around the shelter to be as clean as possible so digital set extensions could be done with a simple rotoscope and we wouldn't have to set up a whole screen. We brought on a producer from the Film & Television major to help us through the process and paperwork of getting a location and making sure all legalities are handled properly.
She was actually was the one who suggested the place we ended up securing for filming. The location is in Statesboro, GA, about an hour and a half drive out of Savannah. The property is owned by a really kind couple who signed the contract, agreeing to let us film there for free for a weekend. We were very fortunate to find them. The shelter for the main character and the woods were in the same location, the property is easy to move around with camera equipment and there's another cabin to set up base camp in.
Pictures of the property:
I edited the script three more times since the last post. Some major changes were made based on the production design budget and time restrictions for cg work. I don't think any of the story has been lost, in fact I think the story is better and it is going to make things more durable in the short three-day time frame we have to shoot. I'll post the script likely after filming has wrapped.
The story includes two scenes where the main character is hunting a deer, which includes three shots of a deer. We first looked at videos of animals shot on green screen at https://greenscreenanimals.com/ and found several short videos that would've worked great. Unfortunately, the cost of purchasing one of these videos was high and our budget does not allow for that.
Second option: CG Deer.
I decided to take the challenge on. Another of my peers, Kent Pham (https://kentphamfx.wixsite.com/mysite), is creating the base model of the deer in Zbrush, retopologizing in Topogun and Uving the model. I am currently learning how to make a quadruped rig in Houdini.
I have never rigged before, but I feel comfortable with Houdini because it is a nondestructive workflow and I'm always up for learning what I can create in Houdini. I am following the SideFX tutorial for a quadruped rig in Houdini 16.5, using Houdini 18 (https://www.sidefx.com/learn/collections/cat-quad-rigging/). The tutorial creates a rig for a cat, but I setting it up for the deer. I am referencing deer skeleton diagrams to place the bones. After about two days so far of on working it, I have the legs set up and I'll move onto the spine. I am aiming to have this practice rig done this weekend, so I can start learning capturing weight for the skin.
Work in Progress Rig:
After I finish the rig, I will work on the groom for the deer. I will paint a base color map in Substance to drive the melanin parameter on the hair shader. Houdini will be used for the groom. Since the deer is somewhat far off in the distance, the longer hairs will likely not be simulated. The short hair, of course, will not be simulated.
Next weekend is filming weekend in Statesboro, GA! We will have the first rough edit completed to send to sound designer. Then the next several weeks are heavy in CG work.