Michael V. Blount is entered in the “B-Movie” update: View Challenge Page
When sitting down to discuss how we thought we should approach the competition, Erik, Karr, and I sat down to rough out the best course of action. We figured that, even though we’d only be turning in a trailer, we should plan out the entirety of a movie, so that we would have a large base to be able to pick and choose scenes from for our long (and short) trailer.
We brainstormed a few different ideas, but have settled on going forward with one that tries to re-write history a little.
So, despite the number of B-Movie concepts we threw around at each other, we always sort of levitated back to one that held a certain level of excitement and anticipation with us. The subject was on speculating some of the more mysterious sides of Nikola Tesla’s exploits.
Nikola Tesla’s history is rich in gems with which to base a movie around. He was a brilliant scientist who, by our research, appeared to be decades ahead of his time with his inventions. And even how he was regarded by tabloids in his time seemed ripe for the big screen.
In any case, besides his ‘mad scientist’ reputation and his endless armada of futuresque inventions, there is also quite a bit of mystery that surround various portions of Tesla’s life.
Our ‘movie’ will re-write history to an extent, though. And screw with the timeline. So while history is a good basis for the story, it’s certainly not a re-telling.
With that in mind, our story asserts that Nikola Tesla’s financial woes are the result of a denial to help the US/Allied Forces in World War II. Presuming that Tesla could develop a weapon that would assure victory, the Government puts pressure on him. However, Tesla’s own motivations for technological innovation are of a peaceful nature. He refuses to develop a weapon.
As a result, the Government slowly begins to strangle Tesla’s creative outlet by seizing his lab, having the media smear his creations, having the Banks cease financial support, and ultimately, deeming his Wardenclyffe Tower dangerous to the world and having it dismantled.
The result of these actions culminate into Tesla’s reclusion and subsequent descent into Madness. It’s during a night of drunkeness and hysteria, however, that Tesla does the unthinkable. After cannibalizing his more treasured inventions, he builds what would become known as the ‘Death Ray’. Soon after its completion, he slips into slumber.
An explosion outside brings Tesla back to consciousness; making him aware of not only the missing Death Ray, but of the calling card left in its place: A Nazi Armband.
Soberness and revelation come to Tesla, and he realizes the dreadful mistake he has made.
Karr drew up 5 designs for the “giant robot” that will play a significant part in the Movie. We talked it over and decided we liked this one, though there will likely be some other minor additions to it.
Initial concept art for the Death Ray. We’re thinking we might build the lower half and use tracking spheres on it to composite in the main body of the gun. We’ll see.
Another sketch of MechaTesla, this time in action. Part of a scene we visualize where he’ll be picking up a live actor and tossing him.
Concept sketch for Tesla’s makeshift lab. This will be the guide for how we re-arrange and decorate the room upstairs. We’re going to try and use as many props as possible, but obviously we’ll be enhancing the scene with CG elements.
Layed out the shot list for how we want to present our movie trailer. I will follow up this post with a reply in the thread with the contents of the images.
Visual storyboard should be ready soon.
Visual Storyboard should be up in a few days! In the meantime, here’s how we’ve decided to shoot the trailer:
Shot 1: Hotel Room:
[Pan across the workbench, where the newspapers are spread out. Focus is on the main headlines and their associated pictures.]
[As panning across article: MAD SCIENTIST! with picture of Nikola.]
Tesla: They called me mad.
[As panning across article: WARDENCLYFFE A DANGER.]
Tesla: They took… everything from me.
[Pan continues to Nikola Tesla, an empty bottle next to him, as he twists wires connecting two pipes to the front of a strange device.]
Tesla: smirk I will show them madness.
[Pan back off of the work more, to reveal it to be a weapon of sorts. Fade to black]
Shot 2: Tactical Operations Center:
[Fade in, pan up shot on soldier overlooking a map. A younger soldier approaches, salutes, and speaks]
Solder 2: Sir! At 0300 we received a report that 5 of our forward camps have been lost. Weve lost direct contact.
[Soldier 1 turns to give Soldier 2 a stern look. Fade to black]
Shot 3: Hotel Room:
[Fade in, Tesla passed out. Empty bottle of booze is knocked over, the weapon sitting on the table in front of him. There is the creaking sound of a door, then a shadow of a figure that extends over the weapon and Tesla.]
[Arms reach into the frame and take the weapon.]
[In the emptiness on the table, a Nazi arm band is dropped in place of the weapon. Fade to black.]
Shot 4: Tactical Operations Center:
[Fade in, Soldier 1 is still staring at Soldier 2 unnervingly.]
Soldier 2: Not a surprise attack. A weapon. They say
its a gun without bullets. That harnesses power like a thunderstorm.
[Fade to black.]
Shot 5: Hotel Room:
[Scene is black for a longer pause, then a loud explosion snaps the scene into Teslas Room; his eyes open in response to the explosion.]
[From his window, we can see smoke billowing up from below at the street.]
[ Tesla notes the smoke. The missing weapon. And the Nazi arm band. ]
[Tesla becomes grief-stricken, realizing what has happened. He holds the arm band up, staring at it.]
Tesla: My God… What have I done.
Shot 6: Open Battlefield:
[Cut to an open battlefield, Allies firing machine guns on approaching Nazi invaders. The Nazis have Teslas Death Ray, which they charge and fire.]
[A small squad of Nazis flank one holding the large weapon. He fires a sustained beam of electricity, slowly shifting it across the field, disintegrating the soldiers it touches.]
Shot 7: Hotel Room:
[Tesla worriedly rushes his hands through his hair, then turns to the large covered contraption opposite the room.]
[Tesla peels back the cloth to reveal the large platform, and segments of a humanoid bipedal.]
[Tesla takes a few steps backwards, eyeing the device.]
Shot 8: Hotel Room:
[Tesla steps onto the platform, then throws a nearby breaker switch. Electricity beams across the platform, engulfs his body, and begins to crackle along the cables and pipes to the nearby mechanical construct.]
[The electricity cuts out, Teslas body drops to the ground. Fade out.]
Tesla: They were right.
[Fade in, pan closer to collapsed body. Fade out.]
[Fade in, pan closer to collapsed body. Fade out.]
Shot 9: Hotel Room:
[Fade in, pan closer to a mass of the metal of the construct.]
[A shimmer of electricity coalesces into a sphere. An eye. Fade out.]
[Fade in, the MechaTesla rises from its construction platform. It performs a few quick tests of finger flexing and movement. Satisfied, the blue plasma-eye turns red.]
[MechaTesla shifts and turns around, causing a partial camera blockage of the scene to just his back and shoulder.]
Shot 10: Open Battlefield:
[When the camera pans back to compensate, MechaTesla is on the Battlefield in front of the Bunker and charging a handful of soldiers that begin screaming and firing immediately.]
[MechaTesla grabs one of the soldier and slings him off to the side, then takes another by his leg and holds him upside down, lifting him to eye-height. Fade to black. ]
[Fade in, slow motion capture of MechaTesla ripping a jeep out of the bunker-garage, out of his way. It flies through the air behind him. He keeps marching forward, batting away soldiers and firearms.]
Shot 11: Bunker Depths:
[MechaTesla emerges into the cavernous bunker, stepping into a ray of light that illuminates him from the darkness. Fade out.]
[Fade in, the infamous Adolf Hitler, leader of the Nazis, steps into another cast of light. He hefts the large Death Ray up into position, showing it off. It begins charging.]
[A burst of light flickers across Hitler as he begins to fire the weapon. Its sustained for a moment, then the scene cuts to black hard.]
Tesla: But Ill be damned if I let my madness be used for evil.
I’ve started modeling one of the primary pieces that will be comped into the scene in Tesla’s Lab.
This is the “Transfer System” that Tesla will use to transfer himself into the body of the MechaTesla.
Software: 3ds max,After Effects
Our first trial-and-error attempt at matchmoving a CG scene with a live action camera shot. We’ve never done this before, so we’re doing these experiments to figure out how to best approach the scenes where there is a mixture of the two elements.
Feedback is welcomed and appreciated.
Whatever your approach was, stick with it. I watched 4 - 5 times looking for wiggle and I can’t tell the live form the cg. What was your approach, if I may ask?
This was great. Matching perfect. What program did you use?
The only thing that is cg is the light bulb. I also did a version with a box on the table to better see the movement. It wiggles a tiny bit but it’s not noticeable unless you’re really looking for it. The tracking software I’m using is Autodesk Matchmover which comes free with our 3ds Max subscription. I didn’t use the auto tracker but instead used the manual tracking method. I only tracked about 7 points but that did the trick. I then used Max and After Effects to finish it up.
Thanks. The software I’m using is Autodesk Matchmover, 3ds Max and After Effects.
Set 1 of 2 of our completed Storyboard. We’ll be pinning these up in the next day or two to make sure we like the flow of how it tells the story. A frame or two might get swapped around, but otherwise, this is it!
Set 2 of 2 of our completed Storyboard. We’ll be pinning these up in the next day or two to make sure we like the flow of how it tells the story. A frame or two might get swapped around, but otherwise, this is it!
Now, on to the fun part, right?
wow, you guys have really bitten off a big chunk of work to do in the next 6 weeks or so! very awesome.
the story seems good so i hope you guys can pull it off
Hehe, that’s about the reaction we had once the storyboards were done. We had a silent moment of staring, looked at each other, then chuckled nervously.
Hopefully our approach will save us a lot of heartache, though. We’ve limited ourselves to 4 location shoots, 3 of which we can do in our building (with the help of a green screen). Only the 1 requires us to go out somewhere (which we still need to scout).
And though the storyboard seems pretty intense, we just keep telling ourselves “it’s ONLY just over a minute long”.
OH, and good luck with your movie, also! Love the chibi monsters!
Progression photos from work on building the Death Ray. We decided to go ahead and build a real prop rather than trying to comp in a digital asset. Plenty of other comp work to do.