(This post references iSundae II: Attack of the Cones, part 1. You may want to view the movie before reading this post.)
The quickness of the hand deceives the eye . . . or camera in this case. The Castle Attack Scene is full of little tricks; well-executed and otherwise.
Let’s start a little after the credits. A mysterious person come out from behind a pine tree in the dead of night—wait a minute, how do you know it’s night? We shot this during the daytime with a slight adjustment to the camera settings. We told the camera that yellow was white. This automatically pushed everything toward the blue side of things and gave us a night look. We also primed the pump a little by the cricket and owl noises during the credits, and that lovely shot of the moon over the trees.
Alright, now we have Norse sneaking around behind some sort of wall (Here’s an article about the walls.) and another villainous-looking person in a helmet. More Norse! They’re everywhere! They’re six people. Hold it. Six? Yup. You may observe that while we have multiple shots following each other you never see more than six Norse at a time.
Okay, the battering ram and doors. This is where we could have done better. The audience at this point has no idea what kind of building is getting bashed into. We’ve shown those wall thingies, and a pair of doors, but what is it actually? If we had worked in a full shot of the castle at an earlier point in the movie the trick would have worked a more smoothly. By the way, the doors are leaning up against a wall so the battering ram won’t break them.
Another bit of dialogue which reveals whom the badguys are after. We use that as the perfect segue to the wielders who are as yet unaware of their plight.
A couple shots of the badguys coming, again using different locations to suggest more Norse than there actually are.
Then we have an over-the-shoulder shot of Alyah, the Wielder of Sugar Cones. Why is this shot here? So the audience knows where the doors are. That way it will seem more natural when the badguys storm in.
Oh, and one more thing. We filmed the Cones playing the chess game and reading on a different day than when we filmed the Norse and badguys. We simply cleared half of the room at a time and shot the two sections separately, then spliced them together. Now, the trick to this is that if you’re not careful it can look like you filmed them in two completely separate locations and the scene looses some of its realism. We combated this by two shots. One is the over-the-shoulder shot; the other is coming up.
Badguys come in while our mothers hold up the doors. (Hinges aren’t really practical for cardboard.)
Cone reaction. (Filmed earlier)
Here’s a fun shot. We have the servant girl’s reaction, then we show the badguys. Pause there if you can. Notice anything odd? Jordan’s in there twice. He used some blue-screen to multiply the Norse again.
Alright, here’s the other shot. We show a badgal and one of the Cone Wielders. (We “established” the badgal’s positioning earlier when she walked in and stood by the guy with the helmet.) The problem with this shot is that the actor who plays Alyah also plays the badgal. How did we manage it? I dressed up in the badgal costume and we dubbed in the voice. Much better than risking a blue-screen job.
The messenger runs to a door and hurries through. Good. Nice shot. A little tight, but not bad. Know why it’s tight? The door is standing with its edge on a wall and the other edge is jutting out into the middle of the room. We created a door in a wall that isn’t actually there.
We blue-screened the sunrise thing to give you an idea of the time of day.
The servant girl runs through the woods. The arrows are animated for that. (Like I would let them actually shoot at me for the take. It was bad enough falling down and getting grass stains. Have you ever tried running through the woods with your glasses off?)
Here’s a little video showing the progression of some of the effects for the scene. It also has a few of our mistakes.
And there you have it. Hopefully at some point you thought, “Wow! That was faked? It looked real to me.”