Tag Archives: Perry Kroll

What’s Left!

As we said before, “The Sheol Express” is almost done, there’s just a few VFX elements that need some smoothing out.  Today, Perry Kroll and I make this VFX chart.  It shows everything that has yet to be done on the film – every index card contains one shot (or set of similar shots) that need some tweaks.

As you can see, sixteen shots await their final destination.  To give you an example of some of the things we’re going to be working on over the next few weeks, here’s one of the most complicated index cards:

Shot: Jump-cut Train Reveal

- Swing camera out more into the tracks by straightening the roof-line. This will make us see less of the train.

- Comp in new 3D train model.

- Atmospheric elements – dust, etc. – kicked up by and around the train.

It’s been a long journey, but Perry, Bryce and Vlad, our post-production team have been rock-solid and committed to the job, and we shall reach the End of the Line soon.

Sheol: Inception

The VFX department is getting a little restless. I received the latest proofs from them for the sandy, dirty, run-down Araboth Ferry scene.  Turns out they’ve been watching too much Inception.

Owen... at Araboth Ferry?

Post-Production for Palm Springs

There is always one more detail to debate: how do we feel about the color of Diggory’s coat in this shot? – is the CG flag fluttering in the wind at the appropriate speed? – can we add more rust to the train car’s surface? – how should the fog evolve in this scene? It is precisely such details that our VFX team, Perry and Bryce Kroll of Studio Free Radical, and our colorist, Vladimir Kucherov of VladLab, are addressing throughout the “Sheol” post-production process. I’ve had the privilege of working with these guys over the past two weeks while Ryan’s been preparing for Palm Springs. Our sleepless sprint to update the version of the film included in Palm Springs’ Film Market was exhausting – I ran to the FedEx location on Wall Street and mailed the DVD just half an hour before the office closed – but the insanity has paid off. Thanks to our collaborative push in the final hour, “Sheol” will look incredible at Palm Springs. And more generally, the film is worth the wait, folks: post is bringing it to life.

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!


It’s happening right now, folks. As I write from the comfort of my home in America’s Sailing Capital, Ryan Patch, Jenn Durrett, and Perry Kroll of Studio Free Radical are braving Colorado’s mountains, traversing treacherous terrain in search of the perfect natural elements to photograph for our film’s atmospheric plates. Basically, they’re shooting things like water, smoke, and fog, all of which will add depth and texture to the onscreen world of Sheol. Wish them luck!