Last night we watched Doctor Who: The Fires of Pompeii as a Twitter watchalong and continuing our lockdown tradition, my daughter and I made a Tardis short themed around the episode:
This time I decided to enlist the help of friends and strangers to film the volcano-panic scenes. To this end we made this plea for help:
I hoped to get one or two people to submit something but was fully prepared to do it ourselves in a variety of wigs and costumes. Four submissions would have been ideal … we got seven, with an eighth arriving after the deadline (but more importantly just after I’d finished editing and adding all the effects) which was too late to use. There were other people offering to film them during the day on Saturday but I had neither the time nor the space to include them.
So first off, a massive thank you to everyone who filmed a segment, you were all brilliant! I’m blown away by how many people wanted to be involved. We had two from Eastbourne, two from America, one from Huddersfield, one from East Grinstead and one from Australia … the only problem was we didn’t have a volcano!
Luckily my daughter made one for a school project a few years ago (Year 4, I think?), but upon digging it out of the loft it became apparent it wasn’t quite as realistic as I’d hoped:
Still, I hoped that with a bit of paint …
… some fake grass …
… and the right angle against the right backdrop …
… it might just do the job.
The large circular piece on the ridge is a nest for dinosaur eggs by the way. In case you were wondering.
The next challenge was putting it into the background of other people’s photos using a phone app (because all of this is done on a phone) which doesn’t allow for custom masks or any kind of magic wand selecting. Some were easier than others and overall it worked out okay.
Providing you don’t look too closely.
But in a few seconds of footage with volcano effects, sounds and screaming on a small phone screen … yeah, it’ll do. I photographed the volcano against a red towel (so the green of the fake grass didn’t get chroma keyed out!) from different angles to create the impression the houses are on different sides and then added a higher view to an image of Eastbourne culled from Google Earth:
Being able to view both the image and the camera using split screen was invaluable here. Not sure how I would have matched the angles otherwise!
Another challenge was figuring out how to include this interior footage from America into the film without making it seem completely separate.
My solution was to add a window with the volcano visible in the reflection. It’s not seamlessly brilliant … but I think it works (once again giving the small screen/low expectations caveat!).
With all that done and the fire, smoke and lava effects added, it was time to film our section.
This all went pretty smoothly really with no major problems. I broke out the green towels again so we could be looking out of the TARDIS at the volcano …
… and so we could be seen inside the TARDIS from the outside.
I wish I’d noticed that loop on the towel at the time.
The latter scene was cropped and overlaid on the model shot of the TARDIS we made for The Stolen Earth … which is fine except for one problem:
To get round that we shot our legs against a green towel in the garden:
… using the removable step/base from the TARDIS doorway:
The TARDIS is designed like that because the room functions as a spare bedroom. The panel with lit roundels behind the desk/console folds down to reveal a bed so the desk and the chair need to be wheeled out to make room.
I didn’t fancy hoiking either of them over a step so I made it easily removable. Luckily it can also now be taken into the garden and sat on to simulate dangling your legs over an erupting volcano. An unintended but nevertheless helpful use.
My daughter’s legs look more natural than mine, but it’s so small I don’t think it’s too noticeable.
One thing I’ve been wanting to do for some time is make use of the window in our TARDIS. The normal view is this:
Which is fine when we’re landed at home, but not so useful when we’re in the time vortex. So out came the towels again…
And I was able to move move from being at home to the time vortex to high above Eastbourne in one shot. This wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be partly because the towel was folded over on the right hand side (making it a different colour green) and partly because the light was stupidly bright on the left hand side.
Oh and also the green light reflected off the black drum kit.
Still, I give myself marks for trying.
The last two shots which we picked up the next day were my daughter’s hands holding a phone against a towel to drop into the East Grinstead volcano shot:
Just because I wanted to.
And a close up of the marshmallows being fitted to the sticks:
Because I was worried it wasn’t clear what we were doing otherwise.
Prop wise there wasn’t much to make for this short. The board game we were playing was designed and made by my daughter for another school project.
It’s called GET TO THE SHELTER! which I thought was apt. You have to collect enough bits to build an Anderson shelter during WWII. She wanted a TARDIS dice tower 3D printing, initially I tried to talk her out of it but … hey, it fits the period.
The only custom prop made was the Volcano Kit box. I was going to make a more official label but didn’t (because I hadn’t actually decided what it was going to be until on the day) and anyway it’s not meant to be an official, shop bought Volcano Emergency Kit. It’s just the box we keep sticks and marshmalllows in in case there’s an eruption.
It’s Emergency Use Only because my character would just eat the marshmallows otherwise. It’s not a difficult role to play.
It doesn’t actually hold the tent poles we used so you never see them inside, but if it bothers you just imagine it’s a dimensionally transcendent box.
I think this is one of the most effects-heavy shorts we’ve done. I kept saying the next one was just going to four seconds long … but then we found out it’s going to be Listen and all that went out of the window.
I should point out we only find out what the next watchalong will be on the night of the current one. Last night we found out the next one is on Wednesday, it’s Monday now and we need to get cracking!