Sunday, 23 August 2020

Shooting Horrors from the Beyond with Eliza Sica, Part 1


When the Sleeper Awakes (a.k.a. The Frozen)

Eliza Sica (Instagram: @eriizas) is an actress and model I had contact with before the pandemic. Recently, we decided to have a carefully socially distanced photo session.

I maintain a catalog of my storyboards in PDF format. I sent it to Eliza, and we set up a meeting at a café in Gothenburg. (Again - a carefully socially distanced meeting.) We went through the storyboards, Eliza selected the ones she was interested in shooting, and we discussed what preparations we needed, and how to do the shoot itself.

We also discussed our contract. Even for a non-commercial shoot, a contract, although painfully boring, is important. Due to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), it is a legal requirement in the EU. Beyond that, a contract makes clear the rights and responsibilities of both model and photographer.

I am slowly gathering material for a book about creative photography, and a contract is important for that reason too. When I send my book manuscript to a publisher, I want to be able to show the contracts too.

 The shoot itself went well, despite a mistake on my side: I hadn't made a shot list! This created extra work, because it meant we had to move the studio flashes much more often than we would otherwise have had to do. Eliza was patient though, so it worked. Next time, a shot list will be a priority on my part.

I got the idea for When the Sleeper Awakes from two different stories, both by by H.G. Wells: The Sleeper Awakes and The Time Machine:
What if a group of people are cryogenically frozen, and forgotten forgotten for many millenia when our civilization collapses. Eventually, the cryotubes begin to fail, and only one remains, when it is discovered by Morlocks...
There is one more source of inspiration: I re-read Morlock Night by K.W Jeter some time ago, and that that inspired me to work on a set of Steampunk Time Travel pictures. That got me thinking about H.G. Wells and his stories, and that eventually lead to When the Sleeper Awakes.

You might wonder where I got hold of an old run-down cryogenic facility, a Morlock, and a couple of desiccated skeletons.

I built the environment using commercially available 3D models. I did quite a bit of customization, adding rust, fungi, and molds.

I created the Morlock by mixing commercially available morphs of a Genesis 8 base character. As for the desiccated is probably best you don't know.

Creating the Eliza's frozen look was fun. I studied videos on how to create a frozen look, but in the end, I discarded those methods and went my own way:

I rendered the door of the cryotube separately from everything else, because I wanted to build layers of frost on the body and on the door separately. First I matched luminosity and color tones of Eliza and the cryogenic tube. Then I desaturated Sica's skin, and added several layers of frost to skin and hair. After that, I added frost to the cryogenic tube door in the same manner.

For pictures like these, I often use Dynamic Auto-Painter to create a very colorful digital painting version, which I then blend in with the original picture. That gave the picture its final, very strong colors.

The Horror in the Library

The Horror in the Library is of course inspired by H.P. Lovecrafts Cthulhu mythos. Again, both the thing lurking in the shadows and the library are commercial 3D models.

The main thing to get right here, was the light on the monster. I wanted to show that it was definitely not human, but I also wanted to hide the face. What we do not see can be more frightening than what we do see.

There are many more pictures coming up the next few weeks, and perhaps months, given how slow I am when editing.

Long medium to long range plans for the pictures include the book I mentioned, and also exhibitions. For now though, I'll focus on editing the other pictures from the photo session.

Be seeing you!

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