E3 Promo Video Shoot

May 17th, 2011 ~ 8:59 pm

Yesterday I had a super fun shoot with Artifact Studios for an exhibit for E3. It’s one of those things where you have a grid of people all interacting like magic. It involved a lot of dancing and specific arm shapes. Then on top of that they are using blue screen to comp in the video game footage and we have to interact with that as well. And there are like 50 or so people in this grid. So basically pretty damn complicated and time consuming!

I arrived around 9:45. They’d been there since about 6:30 am and it was day 3 of the shoot. That’s 3 days straight of trying to get all sorts of people (kids, older folks, etc.) to keep a rhythm and hit movements on cue. 3 Days straight of listening to the same little rock guitar riff on a constant loop for 12 hours a day. 3 days for the fellow calling out the timing and cues to be repeating himself and having to shout over the music. That dude was a Champion! I was 3rd to last and he was still going strong. I was like- I want to buy that guy a beer! It was all sorts of impressive.

Since they were using both blue and green screens, no one could wear blues or greens and then on top of that they didn’t want anyone in the grid to be too close in color either. Most of what I brought was orange and yellow and red, but I was apparently surrounded by those colors so they gave me purple and grey to wear. Then I went to makeup and she made me all pretty. I was also having a really nice hair day, so she didn’t have to do much with that. After that I went into the holding area. Purple seemed to be the color of the day.

There were still some people from the 6:30 call time left. There’s no way to really predict how long each person will take to hit all the cues. In the holding area they have a training video on constant loop that goes through all the different motions and the timing. So you watch it and imitate it. There is an example then a countdown then the right side of the screen shows what you should be doing. Then at some point we look back from the screen and the guy from the video is right there. I guess it was day 4 for him since he had to shoot the training video and then he’s in everyone’s grid square. Turned out he was just a Senior in high school, so me and the other 30+ year olds felt like oldies (He didn’t know who Hanson was! etc.). The group was a delight. There was one guy who should be a stand up if he’s not already. One woman was a school teacher who decided to jump into the acting world. There was the Lavender Lady, who i realized I’d met somewhere before. I remembered her because she had a Lavender Store. I think I met her at an audition a while ago. I think there was only one girl that was under 18, so she went as soon as she was ready since they have to pay a teacher when there is a minor on set.

Lunch was really good. I went with the vegan option for some reason, but then had chocolate cake. So it evens out. The director came and said hello. There was a funny coincidence at the audition where he realized he had been to my office when they were working on a promo for a video game a few months back. He said he put in a good word for me with the client, so I got picked. Thanks Brian!

After lunch they still had 2 left from the morning group. They finished up and then started on the 10am group. We never figured out how they decided what order to go in. It wasn’t by who was next on the call sheet nor by when we arrived, nor alphabetical, etc. But in the end it didn’t matter because instead of just bringing in the on deck person, they brought the rest of us into the studio to watch the monitor. It was clear they really really wanted to get out of there and be done in a timely manner, so they made sure we had all rehearsed the entire video and were paying attention to how we would be directed on set. We got to watch everybody doing their dancing and funny faces and stuff. I think everyone maintained a lot of energy and had fun with it, even though we’d been waiting a while. It helped to see the shooting too because there were a few things that were not in the training video.

Eventually it was my turn. I got up there and did some dancing, then on to the arm movements. I had to do it a few times because my angles were off. they had X’s on the floor, but I wasn’t pointing my hands right. But then I got it and we moved on. Thank goodness they didn’t need it all in one long shot. That would have been nuts. They will be able to cut in and out of each segment where they want, so long as there are the right amount of beats leading in and out of each motion. So i wasn’t perfectly on the mark all at once, but I think they can work with it. I got to make a bunch of weird faces. Then we did the blue card and the blue ball, etc and then I stood on a turntable and danced and struck a pose. And that was it! i was pretty sweaty since it’s really hot under the lights and you’re dancing for like 20 minutes or so.

Near the end they realized the earrings I’d been wearing had gaps in it where the green background would flicker through. So they might end up looking messed up when they key in the backgrounds. Hopefully it will be ok and they won’t need to do any additional post work on my shots. there wasn’t time to redo my set, so they had me just take them out for the end shots. It’s possible they;ll have to erase them entirely in post, but I hope they don’t have to because that is tedious work and they have a quick deadline.

Anyway, it was so much fun! Cool people to hang out with all day (which was good since I didn’t have my phone charger and couldn’t play on that at all). Cool crew. I got to be silly and dance around. And the repetitive music wasn’t even annoying. It was just sort of background noise that you can bob your head to.

I got done in time to still pick up my boyfriend from work, so he didn’t have to bus it home. Hooray! I did, however, forget to get paid, so I went back as they were packing up. They finished before 7, so I’m sure they were happy.

It’s going to be shown at E3, which I’m not going to, but I probably have friends who are, so I’m going to have them check it out for me. I’m hoping they’ll also maybe put the video up online somewhere too so I can see how it turned out.


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