Continuing on from part one …
So we’d filmed all the car scenes, all the interior of our house and the TARDIS scenes … we just didn’t know how to put them all together.
I knew we were going to end with the Timelords shouting at us from inside a Superman the Movie-style cloud about interfering with human history because, after exhausting other options, we’d gone back in time and stopped the zombie outbreak from ever happening.
But what were the other options?
More pressingly, how do you place green screen zombies outside a car window when we’re moving in front of the window, the camera is handheld and your effects app doesn’t allow for tracking?
I still don’t know the answer to that one.
First thing the next day (about lunchtime which is as close to first thing as I like to get) we reshot those car scenes with green towels over the windows.
My solution was this:
Film my daughter in the car with a green towel covering the window:
She gets out, removes the towel and walks away while the camera’s still running.
So we now have a shot of the real view from the window. I found some free-to-use zombies on YouTube:
… and then layered them all together like this:
As you can see there are two layers of the front zombie to make it look like she’s behind the pillar. One is cropped horizontally, the other vertically. There’s probably an easier way of doing this … but I don’t know what it is.
Oh … I could add an image of the house cropped to just the pillar I suppose? Not sure if that’s easier or not?
So that’s all well and good for my daughter because she doesn’t weigh anything. However, as I discovered later, I do weigh a fair bit and when I get out of the car the car rises on its suspension. Since the camera is on our improvised tripod outside the car, that means the angle of the shot changes and the window mask doesn’t quite line up.
Still, never mind. Hopefully people are looking at the zombies and not the weird camera angle differences.
A happy accident here was discovering the green hedge across the road, the one visible through the rear window, acted as a green screen and allowed me to insert a zombie.
Although I’d love to know what this passerby (seen through the rear window) thought was happening:
This was Friday the 29th of May, by the way. A scorchingly hot day with sunshine so bright it in no way matches up to what we shot at about 5 in the evening the night before.
Shh! Look at the zombies! The zombies, people!
After assembling some of the zombie footage I began to think it was a bit scary for what we were doing. I have no idea how young some of our audience is so I decided to add the kittens meowing to lighten it up a bit.
I even added one to a passerby in part one because it amused me immensely and that’s largely the point of these things, to amuse myself.
So we had zombies! Hooray!
We needed a quick reshoot of my dialogue in the dining room in part one to fill a few gaps and episode one was pretty much done.
Episode two was still a problem though. I still didn’t know what we’d be doing between getting into the TARDIS and deciding to break the laws of time. Or the rules of time. Laws, rules, one of them.
What would you do? What did we need to do? We’re searching the present for answers, but can’t go into the future or the past. Who would you go to? Could I drop us into footage of The Nutty Professor and go ask Jerry Lewis? It felt like we had to go and ask someone … and then I remembered this footage:
It still bums me out that no one will ever see that. I liked the project, I liked the footage and I really liked writing for Sylvester McCoy.
So I decided we should go and see the Seventh Doctor during his ‘hiding in a shed and talking shit’ phase. It wasn’t really covered in the show but I’m sure Big Finish will do a series on it one day.
I dragged my daughter out to our shed to shoot our responses and hoped he wouldn’t be too cross if he found out we were using the footage. Surprisingly, out of the 5000-odd Doctor Who fans who saw the video on Twitter, less than zero of them commented on the fact he was even there.
We had two more shots we need to do before filming was done. One was getting my long suffering wife to stand in the shadows of the bedroom and pretend to be a zombie:
This was because there was no way to drop the zombie into the footage we’d shot the day before. Or rather, there was a way but it was rubbish and my daughter was never quite in the right place.
Not her fault, I hadn’t told her where the zombie would be or even figured out how I was going to put a zombie in there.
The second shot was to add me into the “Oi, Alien! Get off my planet!” scene because we’d just made a big thing of doing this together … only for me to hide in the TARDIS and let her get on with it.
I didn’t have a clear shot of the door we’re standing in front of either, so I had to build that out of snippets from the Mr Bean clip.
Given longer than 3 minutes to do that I would have flopped it all except the sign so it looked like it was actually in the same room. In my head it’s a different door across the room so it’s all good.
With that edited in, all we had to do was film a montage explaining that Sylvester was our last hope of curing the virus, therefore setting up how his inability to help drove us to angering the Timelords.
In order to stay below the Twitter limit of 140 seconds we had to do all that in exactly 6.5 seconds.
Once again I took to Google, this time searching for images of the TARDIS on different planets and then inserting less than a second of each of them.
The resulting montage made me feel sick, so I recut it trying to make the TARDIS appear in roughly the same spot each time. Hopefully your eyes will track it across the screen until it lands outside the Shed of Eternity.
I think we ended up achieving all the things we set out to do with these two episodes. If I had one takeaway from the experience I would say plan your chroma key shots out properly. You know, maybe actually have a plan before you start shooting.
If I had two takeaways, the other would be “don’t halve your shooting time whilst doubling your running time and assuming you can easily add in hundreds of zombies”.
Still, despite the stress this was a few firsts for us: our first car shots, our first cliffhanger, our first (unwitting) cameo from famous actors.
The end result is a bit of fun which was created entirely between the hours of 5pm on Thursday and 1pm (ish) on Saturday … so I guess at least I can’t complain about it being much of a waste of time.
With this done and the finale of the #DoctorWhoLockdown tweetalongs being announced we had a week to prepare ourselves for the #TARDISshorts swansong …
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