The Batcave Tango

Okay if you ever thought I was a little crazy, this post might confirm you suspicions. Last month we had an incredible amount of rain come down where I live. It was something like 260% above average. So rather than play video games or watch TV I decided to do something ambitious. I decided I was going to create a backplate (background) using CGI (computer generated imagery). The problem was that I did't know anything about CGI. 

What you see above is actually the second scene I created. The first backround I crated was practice and just a subway tunnel tutorial I followed by a guy named Andrew Price (I really like his teaching style). I actually like the way it turned out so I still may use it for a future project, but that's beside the point. The point is that I wanted to get my feet wet with CGI and learn how to create scenes or elements of scenes to help augment my imagery. Now not long ago I thought that if I knew photoshop I could do anything. My opinion has changed on that. I now believe that if you are (or have access to) a proficient photographer AND you know photoshop and 3d rendering software, you truly can do anything you can dream up!

So after I built my first tunnel I had this uncontrollable urge to make a train. Don't ask me why, as I'm not really sure, but I've just learned to go with this kind of thing rather than fight it. So I started scouring the web for train image references.  The first thing I noticed was that the word train is like the word car and there are a lot of different kinds of trains out there... So I needed to be more specific and narrow down exactly what I was after. For some reason the Baldwin rf-16 grabbed me, but I also had quite the collection of modern european trains and stuff too. So I went to work and a few nights later I had this.

At one point during the modeling I decided I wanted this to be a bad guy train. I had visions in my head of German style cars from the Nazi era and the bat mobile. The natural thought process from there was what if Batman and Hitler got together and renovated a Baldwin rf-16? (See crazy reference above).

So now I had this train and the train needed a home. Train station time! I decided to put the train in a tunnel and immediately knew I wanted it to have archways, atmosphere (fog/haze) and complimentary lighting.

One of my favorite shows right now, Game of Thrones, has a badass gaffer (the head lighting guy) who does this in a style I REALLY like. The colors I chose were Blue and yellow, mainly because it just made sense. I wanted that really blue night time feel coming in through the arch ways for that fairy tail night time feel and mixing with the artificial yellow lights of the scene. So I modeled and composited the backplate, took a deep breath and rendered the scene. 

If that sounds a little dramatic, it's because it is! The top image you see above took roughly 50 hours for my computer to render into the bottom image you see above.

So at this point I thought the scene looked cool, but I wanted to put people into it and add a little extra layer of crazy to it... The fairy tale kind not the sling blade kind. To this day I'm still not sure where the idea came from, and quite honestly I'm kind of expecting to one day watch a movie and say aha! That's were that idea came from! I wanted that wide cinematic look and that Disney romantic feel. Beauty and the beast comes to mind here. Wait... Maybe that's it? 

So I shared my idea with Kriss and Jenn and they were totally on board to play model for an evening once I explained what I was thinking. So we set up a time late one night and shot some images on the sidewalk in front of my house.

As usual I loved him in one shot and her better in another so the image you actually see in the final is two separate captures. I lit them with three lights. One 48" Octobox on the left gelled with CTB one 36" soft box on the right gelled with 1/2 CTO and a third strobe though the umbrella off to the left again gelled for blue. From there it was just a matter of blending everything in and stylizing to taste. 

All in all this was a very fun project and opened my eyes to new techniques which I previously thought of as nothing short of wizardry. It will be exciting to play more with these techniques and continue to grow and expand on the things I've learned for future projects, and I can't wait to see what I end up doing 6 months from now!