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|Cool Geek Art Notes
"Hey man! Well... I have... this idea...."
I wrote this e-mail to my friend Talmage. Talmage is a digital VFX artist, and we've always wanted to work together. In the e-mail, I continued:
"... I have this idea for a video and it involves (explanation unnecessary) ....but the kicker is I want to have some of the song's words written in the sky. I don't have a video treatment written; just this germ of an idea. Is it at all doable?"
Talmage wrote back: "Yep. It's totally doable. Let me know what you're thinking and what composition you want."
In a matter of twenty minutes, I went onto my balcony, shot a 13-second video of the sky, panning left to right, then up. I output the video clip and uploaded it to the back-end of my web site.
That was in April.
Here now is a perfect example of how cool ideas germinate from original ideas. You see, truth be told, my original idea was writing the words, "When in Rome...When in Rome..." across the sky. These were lyrics from the song, "Over My Head", and I thought, presumably, that I was going to write a visual video around this effect and clip. It was the mark of the song I fondly thought would be enhanced by a look up to the sky and seeing those words.
But that idea turned out not to be.
Talmage would occasionally ask if I "had anything yet." And every time I thought of a treatment for the video, it'd fade soon thereafter. It just wouldn't stand up. None of these video treatments would; they weren't working on any level whatsoever. But the skywriting idea just wouldn't leave my head. Couple this with the fact he had already began work on it!
Not too long after that first exchange, Talmage sent me an e-mail: "Yo mang, we're in bizness."
I downloaded his first render test, and it was absolutely perfect to me. It captured the spirit of what I wanted. But Talmage was unfazed. "Nah. I still want to tweak wind, fade, turbulence, smoke life..." That's when I knew "he was IN."
We discussed font and composition. Once we narrowed down the font (dot matrix, then a scoreboard font, then back to dot matrix), we discussed point size (5? 7?). He researched which skywriting planes might be used and then created the digital models (T-6 Texan WWII Trainers). Then we discussed how many. We talked about the sun's bounced light from the ground illuminating the bottom of the planes, as well as myriads of other details, such as: particle emission; scale; distance; how the planes give the words scale....
Mind you, this is for only a PORTION of a 13-second video. His part was, what, a few seconds? That to me is the siren song of VFX. So much profound artistry—as well as blood, sweat in tears—in just a few seconds of time for this one simple idea. It's mind boggling when you consider the work force of an entire movie.
All this was right around the time Talmage's first child was to be born. As it turned out, this was serendipity; his paternity leave left him with nervous time on his hands. (his words, not mine hahaha)
At one point, I came to the conclusion that none of video treatments for Over My Head was working, so I asked him if he'd wouldn't mind re-doing the render with the words "Over My Head" in the sky. I figured I could use it to announce the song, and maybe--if lucky--I could later incorporate it into the video.
And that's just what I did.
This is only the 2nd time I've used someone else's artistry for one of my songs. And I'm very grateful I did. It literally couldn't have come out better.
Thank you, T.