Sometimes it takes a while


I shot this image a few years ago but wasn't able to finish it 'til today.

Originally we shot this against a greenscreen using an ABR800 Ringlight. I also used 2 SB-26 flashes with CTO gels behind the model to help her blend into the fire that I was planning to add later in post.

Joanne was the model, with makeup done by Jessica Waite and hair done by Karli Benedict. My friend Jennifer was our assistant - she stood in for the skeleton and held his sword.

There were two things that made it take this long for me to finish the image: the greenscreen and the skeleton.

First, getting a good matte from the greenscreen turned out to be harder than I had planned. The greenscreen wasn't evenly lit ( I didn't have enough lights and it was also one of my first attempts at greenscreen work). Thanks to my friend Chaz at After6Media, I found out about a Photoshop plugin called Primatte, which is really effective at cutting out subjects shot against a greenscreen. It helped that the way Karli styled Joanne's hair made it so there were no tiny stray hairs to mess around with. Using the Primatte plugin, it took about 3-4 mouse clicks to get the matte about 90% of the way I wanted it.

Second problem was finding the right adversary for our ninja. Since our assistant wasn't willing to be hacked to pieces by our ninja, I thought about adding a samurai warrior in post to battle her. Unfortunately, samurai battle gear is a little hard to come by on Maui.

Went through different ideas - ninjas, zombies, nothing was sparking a good idea. I added the fire and background screen and left it at that for a while.

What got be back into working on this image was a tutorial from Videocopilot.net - a website dedicated to showing how to make all sorts of crazy cool effects in Adobe After Effects. One of the tutorials was how to disintegrate a person, like the effect seen in the movie "Blade".

I went thru the tutorial and happened to be watching CSI at the same time. That's when I got the idea for the skeleton - sort of a homage to the old stop motion Ray Harryhausen Sinbad movies.

I used a CG skeleton, added the disintegration effect from After Effects, and the result can be seen above.