Posted by bessie on Monday, August 10, 2009.

Behind the Scenes of Big Feet, Little Planet

There has been some interest in how the video Big Feet, Little Planet was made.  Here is a breakdown of the workflow.

Big Feet, Little Planet from Brighter Planet on Vimeo.

I was trying to visualize the idea of people stepping onto a scale and finding out the weight of their carbon footprint, so I spent a couple of hours designing a sheet of glass that I could film from beneath which would safely support a full grown human standing on top.

There were a couple of problems with this approach.  It required more money to build a safe and sturdy structure than I was willing to spend.  And it would result in a shot looking straight up into someone’s crotch.

Thankfully my colleague Mike had the genius idea of turning the equation on its side.  “Why not have people lay down on the floor and put their feet up against a window?” he suggested.  This solved the safety issue and the crotch issue, so I grabbed an old storm window from my basement and we were off.

We filmed in three environments: an abstract/hi-tech space, an office space, and a home/outdoor space.  The first two feet were mens’ feet, the final one was a woman’s.  I’m not sure if you can tell a person’s sex just by looking at their feet, but you can definitely tell how hairy a person’s legs are and I wanted at least one nice smooth leg.

All three shots were filmed on location, so we set up the storm window, set up the lights or the bounce cards and got a couple takes.  It was surprisingly difficult for the models to hit their mark on the glass quickly and accurately.  They could hit the mark if they went slowly, but it was often too slow to work for the shot.  However once their foot was already on the glass they could pull it down out of frame no problem.  So I ended up reversing the footage on two of the shots.  In the finished piece it looks like they’re putting their foot up, in real life they are taking it down.

With the shots in place I opened up Blender, a fantastic and free animation suite and modeled the effects.

If you are curious to look deeper into the process, here are the production files.

If you’ve never used Blender feel free to download it. You’ll need it in order to explore the files above.

Once you’ve got Blender installed, just double click on a file to open it.  Then tap your left or right arrow keys to step through the animation frame by frame.


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