Sunday, October 14, 2007


Produced by Fremantle Media, Newstopia is a news-style parody staring Australian comedy legend, Shaun Micallef. We're big fans of Shaun's work and its been a pleasure to work with him on his new show which is currently airing on SBS.

Chroma designed and produced the opening titles, involving (or is that revolving) a shoot with Shaun in studio which saw him spinning around on a turntable all afternoon. Shaun was later composited rotating around the Earth, a guardian of the World's news and current affairs.

News programs always feature a huge graphics package and Newstopia is no different. We wanted to give the show the same flair and packaging you would find on a primetime network. Given the incredibly tight turnaround and sheer amount of content that needed to be produced, it all came together quite well ... especially considering all of the support graphics, parody TVC's and fake SBS promos we put together for use throughout the series.

We have gone on to produce a wide range of visual effects shots and animation from week-to-week, including a 'second life' John Howard and more recently 'The Guilford Four' where a car parked in the background explodes (digitally) to great effect!

You can watch the latest episode here

Jahasra and goodnight!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

STORM WARNING (Feature Film)

Storm Warning is the first film from maverick Melbourne-based production company, Resolution Independent.

Directed by Jamie Blanks and produced by Pete! Ford this digital feature was incredibly ambitious in its visual scale when compared to other Australian films of similar budget.

Pete and I have always shared a vision of creating high-production, post focused digital features and Storm Warning was an ideal candidate for a subtle blend of practical knowhow and digital trickery. As the majority of the film takes place at night during a heavy storm, it was decided to build the entire farm set inside and out rather than shoot on location, which is often the norm with Aussie films.

The set build itself was quite an achievement with several multi-story buildings constructed at Docklands Studios and fully dressed in hillbilly chic. While the set looked fantastic in camera, the periphery of the set was later digitally replaced with huge swaying pine trees, distant thunderclouds and incessant CG rain.

The final film contained over 300 VFX shots from full blown CG sequences to subtle tweaking of footage during grading.

Contracted under RI, I worked as the films VFX Supervisor throughout production and later as lead VFX artist responsible for creating a majority of the effects. I was joined by Cameron Smith (Weta) and 'another guy' who created the amazing CG 'Joey' which is featured in the pivotal 'kitchen' scene.

• Convincing digital rain was essential for delivering a believable and consistent environment for the film.

Early testing of different techniques helped us to find a solution that was realistic yet cost effective for the sheer number of shots that required rain. Requirements included 3D tracking and integration with set pieces and cast, depth of field tracking, interactive lighting control, addition of puddles, splashes and shadows and heavy rotoscoping of just about everything in the shot. This extra flexibility enabled us to stylize the rain and make it far more controllable, dynamic and less troublesome than prac rain.

• A boat-to-boat sequence in which a sunny cloudless blue sky is transformed into a brooding overcast prelude to the storm. The sequence featured heavy compositing and 3D tracking to place rendered volumetric clouds in the sky. Air-to-ground pickups were shot during post and a full 3D model of the boat and storm clouds were tracked into the original footage.

• One death scene involves an elaborate mantrap constructed from fishing hooks which snags 'Brett' and hoists him up into the air in agony. The practical stunt rig was removed and replaced with digital mono-filament, far too thin to comfortably support our actor (especially as they are all attached to his face) and interact with his desperate attempts to grab at them.

• Another scene features an attacker falling back into an exposed propeller.

This was achieved with multiple plates taken on-set and combined with blue-screen footage of our actor. With the action viewed through the windshield (a shot already established during the sequence), the plates were composited in 3D to allow greater control of the camera and the co-ordination of the action. As 7KvA lighting guns are firing all the way through the sequence, careful attention was payed to the timing of the flashes in all of the respective practical plates and the integration of the digital rain elements.

The film was completed earlier this year and has been picked up by the Weinstein Company.

Storm Warning is due to hit screens before the end of the 2007.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007


City Homicide is a new police drama produced by Seven which aired earlier this year.

Chroma was brought in to provided a wide range of production solutions with the sole aim of delivering high-end visuals, stunts and effects for the limited budget and tight schedule. Chroma's Scott Zero worked as VFX Supervisor on the first six episodes and worked closely with series Directors, DOP (Craig Barden), Stunt coordinators (Zev - True Grit) and practical effects (Brian - FilmFX) to create several high-end effects sequences far exceeding the shows budget.

Some VFX shots included:

• A huge sequence inside a burning house where two children and trapped by an arsonist, to be later saved by the City Homicide team. The sequence involved a massive practical 'burnable' set (built and overseen by Brian Holmes) rigged with practical flame rigs, smoke machines and removable walls. Due to the tight confines of the rooms and the safety issue with actors and children in a burning set, the practical flames were later augmented with digital flames. 3D tracking was used to add huge flames, digital sparks, smoke and heat convection to the 6 minute sequence.

• A 'one-shot' scene where an actor strolls into traffic and is struck by multiple vehicles to the shock of onlookers. Created using multiple plates and a separate jerk-harness rig shot against green screen, acquisition took only an hour yet delivered a visceral an unexpected shock to viewers as the wide angle and hand-held camera give no clues as to what is going to happen.

• An in-vehicle car accident which involved a studio shoot combining a practical car, body drop rig and rain machine with HD rear projection featuring VFX content created to convey the convincing illusion of the car hitting multiple objects and spinning out of control. The final shot creates a claustrophobic, dramatic accident scene from two separate angles for a fraction of the cost of a location/low loader style shoot and the entire effect was produced in camera with no post required.

• Several exterior views of a commercial airliner in mid-flight created to match the interior set. This high-poly model was created with custom livery and featured volumetric clouds. The final shots were rendered at 4k and pulled down to 1080 to give it the clarity of high altitude footage.

Friday, June 22, 2007

NOISE (Feature Film)

After the success of Roy Hollsdotter Live, Writer/Director Matthew Saville returns with the visceral feature film 'Noise'.
Set in Melbourne's outer suburbs, Noise is a black comedy about a disaffected young cop and the slightly excentric people who surround him. The film explores the ripple effect that occurs across a city in the aftermath of a mass murder that occurs on a suburban train.

Critically acclaimed and beautifully captured, Noise is a strong evolution of the same formula that made Roy Hollsdotter Live so easy to watch. Noise was produced by Retro Active Films and released in Cinemas (and DVD) by Madman.

Chroma were commissioned to produce several VFX shots for the film including a CG helicopter sequence that appears in its closing scene. Opening titles were also produced by Chroma.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

THE KING (TeleMovie)

Set in the 1950's and 70's in Melbourne, The King follows the rise of one of Australia's best loved TV personalities, Graham Kennedy, played by Stephen Curry. Directed by Matthew Saville and produced by Fremantle Media, The King is a bittersweet tale of fame and isolation against the background of postwar Melbourne.

Shot in S16, The King oozes Saville's trademark visual style, emotional storytelling and intrinsically Australian flavour.

The film featured opening titles and branding by Chroma in addition to several VFX shots and other post production work.
*UPDATE - Congratulations to Matt and the whole team for their recent win at the 2007 AFI Awards. The King brought home shiny things for: Best Direction, Best Lead Actor and Best TeleFeature.