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The Visual Effects Of “Studebaker Theater”

During preproduction on the Studebaker Theater Advertisement for the Chicago Opera Theater, we realized one scene in particular was going to be a challenge to shoot. Our main character had to drive her vehicle on the wrong side of the road into a parking garage. After failed attempts to get permission from the city or the parking lot owners, we knew this would need to be a visual effect.

We scouted the location and planned out how we would shoot our plates.

First we filmed our actress driving the vehicle into the parking garage on a static tripod. Then we moved the camera over from the entrance to film the exit from the same angle for our background plate. Using a combination of difference plates and rotoscoping we extracted the car from the first footage and placed it onto it’s new background.

Shooting in 4K allowed us to add the camera move in post to the shot while keeping the source footage static to ease compositing.

The finished result cleanly shows the car driving into the exit.

Now while this was the biggest and most noticeable effects shot, there were a couple of others through this piece as well worth mentioning.

This scene with our actress in the car was filmed in a different location than takes place in the story, so the background of the real location, along with some passing cars, were mixed into the scene.

In a dolly shot down a hallway some crew and equipment were visible in a reflection. The scene behind the window was recreated in photoshop and then composited back in the place of the window to remove the unwanted reflections.

Applying some creativity and forethought allowed us to be able to go beyond the restriction of our real world production and hit all the shots needed by the story.

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