Sherlock Recreation – Stunt VFX

For this shot I have taken on the role of compositing a stunt to replicate two quick shots in a sequence of Sherlock: a Game of Shadows (2011) where a character is spun in the air and lands on a hard cobbled ground. Before embarking on planning this project I researched some industry techniques that I could use to give the effect needed. Match cut is a term most used in editing as a transition technique where an object or character shape or silhouette matches to another object or character in the next sequential shot to create a seamless movement in the story. I am adapting this concept to help me with the shot I am creating for our film crew an example of which can be seen in Tomorrowland (2015) where the main protagonist is transported seamlessly to another dimension within a sequence that keeps the same shot. This same premise is how I plan to create the effect shot required for my crew, one shot where the stuntman lands upon a crashmat covered by a chroma sheet and another where he would pretend to land in the same spot without the mat making my job to stitch both shots together to create a smooth motion. My first attempt at creating the desired effect was to use the match cut process to create a near to life ‘land’ on the hard floor.

As I wasn’t available on the day of the shoot I made sure to have a quick meeting with the crew to let them know what to be wary of, including how to execute the land. I created a quick checklist of the 3 shots I required and what needed to be inside them. Fortunately the crew followed my instructions extremely well but unfortunately there were some small issues that I found in the edit. The first issue was the match cut itself, the stuntman ‘lands’ a few feet away from here he originally lands on the green screen. To work around this I used the quick motion to my advantage and inserted a quick transform animation to seamlessly place the stuntman in the correct position during the match cut, however this became difficult as not only was the actor lying in the wrong place, the movement and flow of his limbs also did not match up creating a jarring edit. Following the unsuccessfully composite of my first attempt I had to go about figuring out a new method to recreate the shot needed whilst still using the shots provided. If I could reverse the clock and attend the shoot I would use markers and a monitor such as the Odyssey or any conventional LCD screen to pinpoint the exact position of the stunt making the composite for the match cut much easier.

My second attempt was eventually successful but much more time consuming. As the match cut was effectively scrapped as a method I decided to use the keyed footage of where he lands on the screen as his actual landing position. This generated a plethora of issues, the main one being the shadows cast across the floor entering the keyed section of the green screen. This meant I could choose two different pathways, either recreating how the shadows would have fallen during the movement of the characters or erasing the shadows entirely. As I didn’t feel confident enough to fake a shadow I chose the second option which resulted in four consecutive days of intense rotoscoping. This finally paid off in the visual output but to save time if I were to approach the same kind of shot in the future I would stress the use of a diffused light to be set towards the ground to erase any contact shadows.

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