Overview

The Big One is a short film about a cult that throws people into volcanoes to create earthquakes. They are trying to create the eponymous "big one", an earthquake that would destroy the world.

I was tasked with creating the visual effects for sequences involving the volcano and lava pits. I utilized a variety of concept art and animatics to visualize the sequences, and built miniatures of rocks, volcanoes, and lava pits, and filmed them against a green screen for compositing.

  • Pre-visualize special effects sequences
  • Create animatics for special effects sequences
  • Build and film miniature set-pieces
Animatics & Concept Phase
My first step was to sit with the director and discuss the story and the sequences he might want to cover. I utilized animatics to give the director a sense of how the sequences would actually flow together.
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Animatics in Sketchup helped the director choose angles to shoot.

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Finalizing these angles helped me decide which miniatures needed to be built.

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They also gave me a sense of the lighting conditions and what type of color and materials the models would need.

Production
We settled on specific shots we wanted to achieve and I built a variety of miniatures to represent the different areas of the volcanic mountainside and lava pits. Everything was filmed on a green screen stage and composited together.
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The models were built out of aluminum foil for the proper texture.

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The camera was able to get very close and still hold the detail of the model.

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The model sections were lightweight and could be easily rigged for dolly and crane shots.

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Closeups of photo-realistic lava textures were achieved with a mix of materials.

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Sections were built like pre-fab pieces, to allow for flexibility of re-arranging them.

Project Complete!