23 February 2012
Each year the Columbia University Film Festival produces a trailer. The challenge is to use footage from some or all of the films in that year’s festival to promote a higher idea or concept. A call for proposals is sent out and a committee of students and staff pick finalists and then a winning proposal. As Director of Film and Video Technology, I work with our students to enable the winning student or team of students to realize their vision.
In 2010 there were 100 competing entries, and the winner was the proposal by Director Robin Pattinson and Producer Keloa Rocela. Their concept was to use rotoscoped animation to insert a character into each film. The piece tells its own story while also highlighting the breadth and range of the films in the festival.
“Every time you go to see a movie, you’re entering into another world. Our concept is that entering the festival is an adventure where you travel through different worlds,” Roecela said. They shot the main characters using a Canon 5D Mark II, on green screen in our production studio in Prentis hall. There was a lot of learning involved in the production, but the team was committed to making the best film they could. “What we were trying to do was to make something that get people excited about going to the festival, and, rotoscoping animation seemed like a really good route,” Pattinson said.
Once production wrapped, they began the process of modeling and painting the characters in Flash Pro. This process was much more time-consuming than they had anticipated, so they reached out to other students in the film program to help with the post-production. “When you watch the Trailer, it is impressive that every aspect of it was done by students, from the special effects, the composite shots, the graphic design elements, the animation—everything looks incredibly professional, which is a reflection of the caliber of students that we have here,” Pattinson said. As their deadline crept ever closer, they began to get more and more people involved, needing more work to achieve the level of filmmaking that they aspired to.
After the modeling, they composited and rotoscoped the animation in After Effects. “We couldn’t have done it any other way,” Pattinson said. “We tried using other software and it crashed every time. This was an incredible experience. When you’re making something that you know has to represent the school, you just put in that extra bit of effort that makes you really proud of the end result.”