Production Slate

By Rhea, Marji | American Cinematographer, July 1994 | Go to article overview

Production Slate


Rhea, Marji, American Cinematographer


SkyTel Spot

Award-winning director Robert Blalack, principal of Praxis Film Works, has completed four spots for SkyTel for the Martin Agency of Richmond, Virginia. The spots integrate live action using more than two dozen speaking roles, as well as computer-generated effects. Postproduction was completed at Praxis on its high-speed digital compositing system.

Each spot is a drama about a business or personal need to communicate quickly with someone who is thousands of miles away, a problem that can be solved by using Skytel's SkyWord or SkyFax services, paging and faxing services that use a high-tech satellite system to send and receive messages.

In "Well-Prepared," a factory manager sends word from the factory floor to a sales rep who has just landed in another city that the site of a meeting has changed. At this point, the spots all have a similar visual stylization that starts with a wide angle and zooms in to a close-up of a phone or keyboard. A complex field of "data" forms into a "data sphere," rockets through a wire, up to a satellite and down to its destination - in this case, the rep in his car.

Blalack earned an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects for Star Wars and an Emmy for The Day After, and he is currently creating visual effects for several motion pictures. His feature and television credits also include Altered States, Airplane!, Robocop, Wolf en, The Blues Brothers, Cat People, Fortress, and the PBS series Cosmos.

Eurohost Title

Pittard Sullivan Fitzgerald's main title for the television series of the popular European host Thomas Gottschalk was designed to lure the German population into watching a latenight show, a new concept for that part of the world. Designed by award-winning PSF designer Suzanne Kiley, the main title is an unusual and stunning combination of strong visuals involving live-action 35mm footage of actors in exotic costumes, 3-D graphics, stock footage, and digital compositing.

The Macintosh Illustrator was used for type because of its wide variety of type selection and clean output, and all the elements were then input into the Paintbox for rendering and treatment. The original storyboard frames were created in the Paintbox and additional graphic elements that were part of the open were built in the Quantel unit as well. Once executed, these elements were animated in the Harry.

For one frame featuring a saxophone player with the giant letter "G" behind him, the team created a composite of several layers: the "G" was created as a slide, a piece of glass was placed in front of the slide projector and liquid soap was then poured onto the glass to create an organic morphing of the letter when projected. Once projected onto a wall, the letter was then shot with yet another camera and used as a key over vibrant, color-saturated drapery. The sax player was shot on bluescreen and keyed over it all.

For information: PSF, 6430 Sunset Blvd., Suite 200, Hollywood, CA 90028, (213) 462-1190, FAX (213) 462-8301.

Educational Videos

Grace & Wild Studios of Farmington Hills, Michigan was called upon recently by Woodbridge Video Productions to animate two educational videos for children. A sixminute information/educational video, "Room to Grow with 810," produced for Ameritech, features claymation to help explain a pending change in the telephone area codes for southeastern Michigan residents. It will be distributed to all elementary schools in the 810 and 313 area codes as part of Ameritech's education program.

Grace and Wild's Stage B was transformed into a 13-year-old boy's bedroom. As the teenager completes a note to a pen pal on his computer, he begins talking about the new area code they will be using. While he explains the change, the scene shifts back and forth between him and animations of clay model hands, telephones and a police car that are superimposed over an electronically-generated map of the affected area. …

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