To Kilimanjaro or not to Kilimanjaro

This case is from a while back, but it really shows the value of invisible effects done right.

What is real and what is not?
What is real and what is not?

Invisible effects

When I tell laymen I do Visual Effects, they envision big explosions and Science Fiction worlds. But most modern VFX work should not be visible at all, and is often an economical solution rather that an aesthetic one.

When Sara Elisabeth Rogne of Seefood TV was planning the production of award winning 2013 series “Costa del Kongsvik”, she had a couple of difficult scenes on her hand. The show was recorded in the Canary Islands, but for the final scene of the season, the main characters are in Africa, headed for Mount Kilimanjaro. The crew would probably have loved a few days on the African Savannah, but finding the perfect location, flying down the whole crew and recording on location would have blown their budget.

We talked about alternative solutions, and decided to shot an outdoor action plate on a Canary hilltop and create a vivid Kilimanjaro matte painting for the background.

Costa del Kongsvik raw
The raw material from Gran Canaria.

The editorial picked their favorite take right away, and I could start working on the shot while they where still editing.

Tracking

Being a long pan being shot on mid-range lenses, there were some tracking challenges due to lens distortion. Looking back, I should have asked for distortion grids, but I managed a 99% perfect track without …
I did the track in SynthEyes and exported the camera data to Mistika.

Design

Next step was finding assets and setting a composition for the final frame. We sent a few reference images back and forth, and I looked for plates to build the whole image. We purchased a plate for the iconic peak of Mount Kilimanjaro, but the rest of the landscape is made from imagination and royalty free stills and video assets.

Finalizing

After a couple of revisions, I exported the full ungraded clip to editorial so they could cut it into the offline edit. When the cut was locked a few weeks later, I did some set extensions to the rest of the scene and sent the whole sequence of to grading. The grade was done by Mathias Theissen at Hocus Focus.

I will live you with a small breakdown of the final sequence. Check out facebook.com/costadelkongsvik for more clips from the series.

 

A different view of Bøler

When producer Kjetil Omberg and director Ole Endresen came to Hocus Focus to finish The Wendy Effect, I was tasked with quite a few VFX shots. Not many of these were planned for ahead, but would still tie the movie tighter together and enhance the feel beyond what is possible with just a grade. Among other things, I tweaked a lot of scenery to create a more urban feel.