SET DESIGN: Cheshire Cat

SET DESIGN: Cheshire Cat

Cheshire Cat

Stage design by Gary Crossey

There was something about this scene that was so, important to get right. The entire scene runs for near seven minutes during which time the green screen cat interacts with the live dancers. I loved how the cat running across the screen looked – that was super fun to make.

 

The green screen life action of the appearing and disappearing cat was timed to the ballet performance.

The cat was first shot on green screen. From our storyboard, all the scenes were shot. The laughter mouth footage – was shot with the dancer moving their head forward and back. During a life performance, the actions would have been perfect. However, for the final scene of having a large mouth – laughing and floating around the stage – meant the dancer’s head should have been still – so I could add a mask and reveal what I wanted. With the mouth movement – and the dancer out of town until the day before opening night. I turned to Adobe After Effects.

Using the tracing features in After Effects, I was able to track the inside of the dancers mouth – I think I track a tooth! After placing a keyframe in every frame, I then centered all the frames – which resulted in freezing the dancers head motion.

Before applying the mouth-shaped mask, it was almost impossible to watch the mouth footage. Once the mask was in place – and all the edges were cleaned up, and the magic dust was applied -the footage worked great.

Building The Scene

The background had to hold video footage and have the ability to act as a 3D scene. Nothing in the scene was shot together. I created the forest scene from more than 350 of my photographs. The bark on the trees was completely resurfaced with bark from another tree. Plants were cropped, resized, and arranged to create the entire scene. It was a beautiful experience of starting from a blank screen and collection of my photos – and start building a scene.

Stage design by Gary Crossey

 

 

 

 

 

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