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Using just three still cameras instead of one hundred, iXL Digital Video Group senior visual effects artist Doug Dimon cleverly parodied the trademark freeze-frame effect from The Matrix for a Comedy Central "TV Funhouse" promo. The new show is based on Robert Smigel's classic "Saturday Night Live" "TV Funhouse" vignettes animated by J.J. Sedelmaier Productions.
In "Puppets" (:30, :15), an urbanite sitting in his chic living room with a plate sushi, stares dumbfounded at his television, listening to a voice-over, "when you were a kid cartoons were on Saturday morning and TV puppets were friendly, caring and kind. You're not a kid anymore." Suddenly a 180 degree camera move reveals that he is watching "TV Funhouse." The promo ends as the guy reverts to his truefrat-guy mentality, complete with a Beavis & Butthead type chuckle.
"Comedy Central wanted a wrap-around camera move that orbited the room quickly, moving behind the actor to show what he's watching on TV," explained Dimon. "A true camera-array effect, as seen in the film The Matrix, involves as many as 100 separate still images. We managed to recreate the effect with just three photos."
Dimon, who consulted in pre-production with Comedy Central's live-action director Eric Weisleder, used three well-placed still cameras that took photos to form a 180-degree circle. The digitized images images were brought into Discreet Logic Flame where Dimon added motion blur and morphing effects to createan appropriate sense of movement.
"It got a little more complicated because the client wanted an on-screen, "You're not a kid anymore" graphic to rotate simultaneously with the live-action," noted Dimon. "To make them rotate simultaneously involved a considerable amount of finessing. In the end, everyone was quite pleased with how well the effect worked, looking cool and remaining within budget."
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