View Full Version : A movie with Lightwave effects

09-11-2004, 09:51 PM
Hey Everyone,
We just put our film "The Story of Wassail" online for all to see. It has many effects in it that enhance the storybook look. Many made with Lightwave. See how many you can spot then I'll post them later ( if I can remember them all :) )

Let me know what you think about the film here on the forum or at [email protected]




09-12-2004, 02:41 AM
Very nice work. I watched the hole thing. Very good story. Has it been played on TV? :)

09-12-2004, 02:50 AM
105 mgbites is a bit steep for me- could you post some screen shots here and maybe send us a link to a short version or a clip or something
i must say that the web site is really not that good-
change that as soon as posible imho.

09-12-2004, 03:28 AM
Yes, and 43 minutes is a bit long, especially as I'm at work!! So screenshots/short clips of the effects would be good.


09-12-2004, 06:16 AM
43 minutes is a lot. It took me something like 2 hr. to download it. But I did watch the hole thing. And enjoyed it

09-12-2004, 09:37 PM
Thanks LesterFoster! Any parts stand out to you in particular? I checked around with some cable stations but haven't gotten it broadcast anywhere yet. Does anyone know some local stations that might like it? They can broadcast it for free in most cases.

To all: There is a trailer available on the same site if you want a smaller download. The full version does stream ... so you can watch just the first part without downloading the full kaboodle. The compression is very nice .. good quality and small for a fair length film.

Again, I would like to get some reactions on the various effects. Some are obvious and some aren't. I might put up some screen shots later if anyone wants to talk about one indepth but that wouldn't really be good right now since you wouldn't know what they were about unless you saw the film.

If you haven't yet please try taking a look, I think you will enjoy it!

09-13-2004, 01:19 PM
I'd watch it, but you haven't provided a cross-platform format.... :(

09-14-2004, 06:50 AM
There is a WM Player for mac. I assume Quicktime is what you want? Let me look into it. As you can see from the rest of the site, QT is what we normally use. But for this full length film I tried to use something that would get the file size smaller while still appreciable in quality.

09-14-2004, 08:49 AM
And I'll look into getting the WM player for the mac, I had no idea such a thing existed...!

09-14-2004, 01:43 PM
You should be able to get it here: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/download/default.asp?displang=en

I haven't ever personally tried to install it on a Mac but they offer some versions for it. Let me know if it works all right! I tried again to make a QT version. I still can't get a quicktime codec which really works for this. I found several that look nice but they still end up being around 350 MB. I suspect that the fast motion and irregular frame rate doesn't work well with the QT compression scheme.

The WM version packs some very nice quality that looks alright even enlarged to full screen but is only 2.4 Mb/minute with 22,000 khz sound.

09-14-2004, 01:57 PM
I found it right away, but thanks for the link. It installed just fine. Since I'm at work, I tried to skim through it, but I guess that's the tradeoff for small file size...it's not very good at skipping ahead. So I'm gonna let it sit until I have the time to look at the whole thing.

I thought the first part, where the mom reads the title of the book three times, was hilarious.


09-14-2004, 06:17 PM
I thought the first part, where the mom reads the title of the book three times, was hilarious.

My favorite part was where the Girls X-boyfriend try to beat up the boy who befriended her. and than as the boy was running away from that bully. He fell down in front of the cop. Than the bully stood over the boy. Just in time for the cop to see, and than take the bully away to jail. :)

09-15-2004, 06:02 PM
I loved it :)

Didn't understand some things though, I'll watch it again later.

And I didn't notice any 3d at all! That means that if there is, it must be very well done.


09-20-2004, 10:05 PM
Okay, here goes …

It has been some time since we wrapped these effects and I had to chat around with some of the people that worked on it to remember how we finished them all. Part of what is confusing about this is that we would experiment a few different ways before landing on the final one that was used.


I’ll start with an obvious one first … the snow. We had done some projects in the past that were supposed to look very realistic “real life”. It is rough to pursue that look because you can never really declare yourself done, just hope it looks good enough. Secondly you get the chance to make some really exotic fanciful looks but then have to pass them by because they expose the effects for what they are. One of the things that really attracted me to the idea of doing Wassail was that it could work in the this slightly suspended reality that would ( I admit ) let us get away with a lot. And also try our hands at fancier work that was more artistic than bound to realistic. The snow is a good example of this. The flakes are impossibly large and swirl down gracefully. Peter (who I think appears on this board occasionally as “zpeterg”) did this with particles in LW. I would render off every shot and send it over with a name like Outside_House_03_Add_Snow.avi He would take a look at the basic camera movement and position and animate the LW camera appropriately. Then he would take the snow plates over to AE where he would find tracking points to “tack” the snow down to the precise motion of the camera. This last step is very important. Even though the snow is moving freely and the LW camera is in the approximate position, the fact that the snow isn’t keeping pace with the camera is still detectable and starts feeling noxious. He made snow at different distances to track into areas where there was a good deal of depth. We actually played with tracking more snow on the ground and got some good results. But it looked too puffy we decided that the cold blue and falling snow would complete the look. Not realistic but that wasn’t what we were going for.

The butterflies in the dream were also LW. They were animated and set to paths. There is some fancier character work in “Light of Life” that took this a lot further. There are some specials on our site if anyone wants to take a look.

Another one that is probably missed a lot is the Taxi sign. I considered coordinating for a real cab. Then I thought, “Hey a car with a sign on top IS a cab … and the sign we can do”. This is actually trickier because it comes at a time in the movie when you don’t want it drawing attention to itself and so it did have to look realistic. A 2d quick fix would have worked at an earlier scene (i.e. in the heat of the fight) but would have been distracting here. So the sign was modeled in LW and a path was constructed so that it cruised over to the curb neatly matching the motion of the car. Voila! We were done shooting the shot in about 5 minutes and didn’t have to get the cooperation and expense of a cab driver. Incidentally the bus that pulls up to the girl earlier on in the film WAS a 2d quick fix. I actually had a 3d bus ready to go but the bus would have to be big and dominate the frame. It would take forever to get it looking halfway decent and then for what? It didn’t serve anything but to say that the girl left on the bus. So I camped out at a local bus stop waited for a bus to roll past my camera! The angle wasn’t right and it had to be tweaked a bit but it still fits and makes the shot work.


The Madonna and Child stature was also a bit of LW. We bought a scanned model that was not in native LW format and really not meant for further editing. This complicated things a bit because we needed the baby turned a bit further out from the mother so you could see both faces at the same time and then for the miraculous hand to appear. We bent warped and tweaked the model as best we could and did a little healing afterwards in PS. We put a little motion on it to make it match the movement of the shots that preceded it. Working the textures and lighting was actually some good fun. If you want to experiment with the LW renderer then get yourself an appropriate model and try to dress it up as a marble statue. Marble has a very unique quality to it that is challenging to capture. I did a lot of the early work with this and did the shot where the camera pans up to reveal it for the first time surrounded by presents. The statue and presents were added in later. The platform it is sitting on was actually a grand piano covered with a dust cloth.

There are bunches of other things that were accomplished in lots of other ways. Many of them are things we, likely, fixed early on and have since forgotten about. The set that we shot Wassail’s house interiors on was very limited in size. We often had the edges of it coming into frame and had to paint those out. Some of the exterior features had to be painted out or in, like the sign for “Joe’s Happy Bar”. We didn’t have a half completed version of the carving that Wassail makes for Christmas so I had to create a chunk of uncompleted wood and track it onto the piece as he carves at it. Lots of stuff like that.

There is another one that is quite humorous that I think I will share. The snow scenes were shot during springtime in Israel and it was already very hot. You can see leafy plants lurking in the background in some shots. As I mentioned above, we decided not to go with tracking snowdrifts onto everything. The audience would accept the look But it still felt like it needed something to sell the cold. We decided to add breath. We didn’t have any refrigeration large enough to get real breath so we decided to give cigarette smoke a try. None of us smoked so we grabbed a squeeze bottle and black cloth and ran outside to see what could be done. The squeeze bottle turned out to be important because we used far more cigarettes that any sane person would try to smoke in a single sitting. Peter used the footage to build up a palette of breath puffs. He used a luminance key to pull the matte. This technique works very well for smoke. It is far cleaner than chroma. He used it again in Light of Life. In that case we made the dust with white powder, pulled the matte and then turned it brownish to match the ground.
For Wassail, the cigarette smoke actually dissipates too slowly to look like breath but luckily at the films high frame rate it sells just fine.


Well that’s a whirlwind tour of what into this project. I hope it inspires some of you to realize some of your own projects in a similar way. The holy grail of CG work is the complete 3d scene or photorealistic effects that dominate the scene. But there is so much more you can do besides that. You can start looking at the world around you in a whole new way. Does the church you attend have beautiful vaulted ceilings but also a modern sound system and ugly satin banners? With tools like LW, AE, and Photoshop you can knock out those modern things add in a beautiful wrought iron chandelier and have a medieval cathedral to shoot your dream project in. I pause all the times at alleyways, town overlooks and such, imagining what a few additions and subtractions would change it into. It is reality – warped ever so slightly to suite the needs of your project!

09-21-2004, 12:01 PM
I forgot to mention that our site is


The light of life project has some very indepth discussion of effects.

09-21-2004, 12:14 PM
Thanks LesterFoster! Any parts stand out to you in particular? I checked around with some cable stations but haven't gotten it broadcast anywhere yet. Does anyone know some local stations that might like it? They can broadcast it for free in most cases.

I wonder if you could get it on IFC on DirecTV, ch 550. They sometimes put something on as this. I think there's some other independent channels that may be interested.

09-21-2004, 07:34 PM
I did see some of the effects, But the other ones that you talked about, I would have never have guessed. This tells me that It is of professional quality. I hope that you can get some TV station to play it.

P.S.. If you don't mind me asking. How long did it take you to make it??

10-07-2004, 07:39 AM
Didn't get back to you for a while there :o

From scratch it may have been around $7000. Most everything was from stuff (camera, software etc.) we had already stockpiled. So besides that it was probably under $2000.

All the cast was paid in snacks and soft drinks. We pillaged used clothes for most of the costumes. We were discussing our plans to build set decorations one time when this little neighborhood girl overheard us. She played with her friends in these junk piles that were scattered about and suggested we might be able to get some of the stuff there. We gave her a wish list ... two chairs, small table, bench ... a lo and behold she came up with all of it! She would lead us to a chair that was hiding under some bedsprings and we would dig it out. We populated most of Wassails house this way and didn't spend a dime.

So most of the money went to the necessities - camera equipment, software, media, makeup, refreshments ... all the stuff you don't find in closets or junk piles :)