What Are “Pickups” Anyway?

Perhaps, you’re thinking, something to the effect of “a conversation opener with the intent of engaging an unfamiliar person for sex, romance, or dating”.

In fact, in film terms, they are shots that are filmed after principle photography that a) the director and editor decide they need after editing the film together, or b) can be filmed with a minimal cast/crew and production value.  They are very similar to second unit work.

The we went to Colorado was because we were given access to a RED camera by our generous friends over at 42 Productions in Boulder. Also, there’s nothing like having mom to cook for your crew, and to us New Yorkers access to a free car sealed the deal!

First: “ocean” plates on Lake Estes, by Estes Park, CO. Estes Park, ColoradoBy filming a lake that was heated by a power plant, we were able to shoot freshwater at 8,000′ of elevation that will become the Herman Sea in “The Sheol Express”. We had to position ourselves and the camera right in the face of 30mph winds to get the “whitecaps” moving the right direction, and let me tell you, it was coooold. This would be referred to as a “background” or “effects plate” – a piece of the image that will be used as a part or layer in the final shot.

Second, we did a few traditional “pickups” – detailed, small-scale inserts that will help us move the story along. We shot closeups of some of the “board-windows” along the train that will help us communicate the story of Sheol and Araboth better.

Lastly, we shot some atmospheric effects that will be used in the final effects shots to add texture. We shot a mixture of flower and powered sugar into the air, then shined a high-powered light through them to simulate dust particles. Shooting at 100fps we were able to give the impression that these particles were “hanging” in the air, with light rays passing through them.

Likewise, we constructed a homemade fog machine that vaporized baby oil (mineral oil) with compressed air, then pushed it out the top of a 5-gallon bucket.

Then, we used a homemade low-lying fog machine (using dry ice – frozen CO2 that sublimates into a gas that’s both more dense and cooler than the air, making it sink) to mimic the effects of a train releasing steam.

All of these will be seamlessly blended into and together with the other matte paintings that Perry and Bryce are working on. We’ve seen some great concepts from them, so stay tuned!