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"V": The British Chapter

"V" has been an inspiration to many people, one of them being Norton of the youtube page, who created a series of trailers for an imagined series called "V": The British Chapter. For full details on the making of the trailer, just follow the leap.

V - The British Chapter (Season 1)

How I Made This Video:

This may seem like an incredibly long-winded way of doing this but with limited knowledge of the software I was using it was a case of experimenting with what I half-knew & simply trying things out. All scenes were linked together & the audio overlaid in Sony Vegas Video 7.0

1. The first scene of the visitor logo is a simple jpeg drawn in Paint Shop Pro 7 & using the pan/crop function in Vegas as a zoom. The iconic background music (an intentional homage to Bernard Hermann's "North by Northwest", composed by the late, great Joe Harnell) is taken from the opening credits of V: The Original Miniseries..

2. The 2nd scene featuring the mothership hovering over Parliament started off as a single-image jpeg of London that I downloaded from the internet combined with a screen grab of the mothership taken from an episode of V: The Series, combined in Paint Shop. I then cut out the river water as a separate brush & animated it with a "moving water" filter in Jasc Animation Shop 3 - the resulting gif file was then superimposed over the background composite image within U-Lead GIF Animator & exported as an animated gif. I then brought this into Vegas video & used the pan/crop function to slowly zoom out (although the resolution on YouTube is somewhat less than the file I uploaded you can hopefully notice that the river water appears to have slight waves to it) - I felt that by doing this it would eliminate some of the static feel of the shot - I've also paid attention to many a directors' commentary & picked up on one of the golden rules - keep the shot moving! I hope that I've observed this in producing this piece. The mothership engine drone is a looped sample from an episode of V: The Series & the sample of Big Ben comes from a BBC Sound Effect Library.

V - The British Chapter (Season 2)

3. The next shot uses another background image downloaded from the net, this time an aerial view of London. The shot was put together in Vegas with the basic static background zooming in slowly just to keep a sense of movement in the frame. Now the tricky bit (for me anyway!) - this is the first time that moving spacecraft appear in the form of the 2 fighter craft. Both fighters are actually the same one - this is part of the painstakingly boring-but-tricky process I encountered a few times during this exercise - it was taken from a small section of an episode of V:TS where Lydia is apparently returning to the visitor homeworld in a fighter & Diana has it shot out of the sky - it was a nice long shot so there was plenty to play with. I ripped the scene & then converted it to a gif file, opened it in Animation Shop & separately exported the frames to Paint Shop Pro one by one in order to isolate the fighter craft in each frame & eliminate the rest of the image to form a green background on each frame. I then rendered these frames into an avi & brought it back into Vegas, using the chromakey function to remove the green background & let the moving aerial shot show through. I then used the pan/crop function in various stages to get the craft to end up where I wanted it to in the image & then added another of the same craft a few seconds later with a slightly different path/rotation to make it look less like a cut & paste job. The shuttlecraft engines were sampled from an episode of V:TS.

4. The next shot was another bit of cheat in that the 2 fighters are really only one - this time taken from the Sky Chase scene in V:TO (specifically the flight over the sea) - I took a few frames from this in the same way as the previous scene but halved the frame rate so I wouldn't have to use much as this was only ever going to be a short shot, as long as the perspective changed slightly it would (hopefully) not look like a 2D shot stamped over the background once I got the craft to move. Now the background was another frame-by-frame job, this time using a set of screen grabs from good old Google Earth (if you look closely you will see that a lot of the buildings look a bit flat, but I figured that as this was just going to be a quick shot the eye would be drawn to the fighters & just the sense of movement would be caught by the viewer) - again to add to the distraction I added laser fire (the sound is a direct sample of a fighter laser burst from V:TO, the laser burst is drawn on frame-by-frame using a combination of Animation Shop & Paint Shop) & the explosion was produced using Particle Illusion 3, again rendered to a "green-screen" background so I could superimpose it as a layer in Vegas - getting it to move in sync with the moving ground shot was a matter of trial & error (with a bit of frustration thrown in!) - the sound effect for the explosion was taken from an episode of V:TS.

5. Another still photo of London that I animated the water on as in scene 2 (not that you'd notice, it's so quick - I animated the background before I realised how short an amount of time I had with the overlaid craft!) - again using the pan/zoom function to keep movement in the frame - I then used the painstaking "green-screen" background elimination technique using another sky chase scene from V:TO - this shot being the one of the fighter coming around the side of the mountain before disappearing into the tunnel (keen V fans will spot where all these shots have come from I'm sure!) - again I used the same ship twice & made the movement pattern slightly different to make them look as if their flight paths were not blatant copies of each other).

6. The rear fighter taking another couple of shots at it's (off screen) target, the background is another jpeg still of the London skyline, animated using the pan/crop function in Vegas, (although probably a little too fast to keep the image smooth, I had blurred the image slightly so that the focus would be on the fighter in the foreground) - the fighter was taken frame-by-frame using the green-screen technique from the mountain camp scene in V:TO, although I made the right-to-left movement more pronounced as in the original scene the craft was fairly central - once the fighter & the background were rendered together as a gif I then went back to Animation Shop & Paint Shop & drew in the laser blasts frame by frame (I couldn't get my head around particle illusion enough at this point to simulate the laser blasts - although it probably can be done much more effectively that way I thought it would be quicker to stick with what I know!). Then I rendered the whole segment as an avi & brought it back into Vegas, synchronising the samples with the action.

7. This was probably the trickiest shot to put together but is actually one of my favourites. The background is again a downloaded still with Canary Wharf in the background, the 2 craft are again originally one taken using the green screen process from the sky chase scene in V:TO where Donovan is first learning how to fly the sky fighter & is being urged to "pull up!" by Robin - I had to be clever with the pan/crop function in order to get the craft to come in from the top of the screen & appear to swoop down just as the explosion occurs (again this explosion was made in Particle Illusion - those of you who've looked closely will notice that it is in fact the same explosion from 3 scenes earlier, just a few times bigger!) & then disappear again off the top of the screen as the original footage does - when put on a static background the craft appeared to be moving really slowly, so I had to use the pan/crop function on the background as well in order to make the overall movement of the craft appear more exaggerated.

8. This shot was much easier to put together as I'd already done a lot of the "donkey work" - it's the same image as in the 2nd shot but I've simply reversed the path of the pan/crop function so that the camera appears to zoom in on the mothership rather than zoom out. The fighter returning to base is the same image used in shot 3, however I used just the one ship this time & used the pan/crop to adjust it's flight path accordingly.

9. That scene. Once I'd figured out what Particle Illusion was capable of it was actually pretty easy. I started off with one still (downloaded again!) of Canary Wharf - I turned this into an animated gif file & then took another version of the same still but this time "removed" the skyscraper using Paint Shop (I cloned the sky) - that I also turned into an animated gif & joined on to the end of the previous one. I then took the original still into Particle Illusion & chose the type of explosion I thought would look the best, then used the "create obstacle" function to draw markers over the tops of a few of the surrounding buildings so that the debris would appear to "bounce off" certain surfaces in order to add to the realism. I then removed the background image & rendered the explosion with a green background - went back to Vegas video & aligned my joined background gif to the explosion at such a point that the image would switch to the image with the skyscraper removed at the moment that the explosion obscured the entire building so that when the smoke cleared there would be nothing but empty sky where it once stood. At the moment of explosion I used the "light rays" function in Vegas to accentuate the explosion's initial burst & I then brought in the laser blast which I'd drawn frame-by-frame in Paint Shop. The shot looked pretty good but for such a long sequence it seemed very static, which I wasn't happy about, so I rendered all the composites together into one avi file, brought it back in to Vegas & then used the pan/crop function to pan out from the houses below & then once the laser had hit the building I used the same function to pan in on the action. The sounds were overdubbed afterwards, specifically the laser blast from an episode of V:TS (I wanted this sample to sound different to the sky fighter laser in order to make it seem like it was a larger weapon coming directly from the mothership, which was the last thing visible in the previous shot). The sound of the explosion was taken from a BBC sound effect library.

10. This final scene was another bit of a cheat but I'd actually done this scene first as it's all part of the learning curve. The entire sequence is actually the final scene of the first episode of V:TS but in reverse (a one-click process in Vegas Video). I then took the craft template used in shots 3 & 8 & altered their paths accordingly using the pan/crop function & finally overlaid a still which was taken from a screen shot of a visitor "reveal" scene - I made a jagged brush of the reptilian eyes & used the pan/crop function to zoom in, while keeping the opacity low so that the image of the craft flying towards earth would still be partially visible in the background. The series logo was lifted from my first "V:TBC" animation & using a black background setting on the chromakey function instead of green I simply faded it in & out. I then used the text overlay function to add the credits (all British actors/actresses whom I happen to think to be extremely cool/talented & probably deserve more work!) & right at the end, for all of you true "V" fans out there, a nod to you-know-who for keeping the dream alive ;o)

The "remix" of the V:TS theme tune is actually a loop I put together myself using Reason 3.0 - and good fun it was too!

Now the voices. These were recorded using a very basic condenser mic plugged into my soundcard & using Sony Soundforge 8 as host application. As I didn't have access to any actors/actresses or aliens it was up to me to provide the dialogue based on the scenes I had constructed. The visitor voice effect was created by using a combination of different pitch-shifting plugins in Soundforge (Waves Soundshifter for the doubled harmonic effect & RBC Voice Tweaker to attempt to "feminise" the one character) & although my impression of Amanda Donohoe actually ended up sounding more like Jaqueline Pearce (Servalan from Blakes 7!), I am quite proud of the tonal emulation of the visitors' voices. The radio effect was added using a parametric EQ in Soundforge. I then took each sample of treated speech back into Vegas & put them in (pacing the dialogue was a matter of trial & error as the scenes were already in place & I had to fit the timeframe, which was interesting....). Finally I rendered the whole thing as an avi file.

And that's pretty much it, more than likely it was a very "round-the-houses" way of doing it but I'm extremely pleased with the end result. If you've found this useful, please let me know! If you didn't, well, you didn't HAVE to read it did you?


V - La Conspiration de Grenoble (The Grenoble Conspiracy)

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