Saturday, May 02, 2009

The Anatomy of a Movie Poster

...well, at least part of a movie poster.

I don't know if this is of any interest to anyone out there but it's something I'm working on at the moment and thought it might be fun to share.

One of my long time very favorite clients is Cinetel Films. You may not know them by name but if you watch the Sci-Fi channel - wait, that's wrong isn't it...didn't they just spend whole pile of dough to change their brand to SyFy? - well, anyway, if you watch it you've probably tuned in to a Cinetel film. They produce a lot of movies in the creature genre (Ogre, Hydra, Snakehead Terror and Beyond Loch Ness) and in the disaster thriller genre (Polar Storm, Stonehenge Apocalypse, Shockwave, Earth Storm and Solar Attack).

For the most part these movies come to me when they are in the earliest stage of their development, as in not only is there not a movie, there isn't even a script. It's a synopsis and a title that may or may not change as I am doing what is called pre-sell key art. Meaning I start with nothing and am given nothing to work with. No pictures, no actors, no nothing...well, maybe the name of a creature or some kind of newfangled storm that promises to be the end of us all.

For the most part it's a fun and interesting creative process. But sometimes it's a pain in the ass because there's really only so many ways to depict the end of the world starting with nothing. And it's extra-hard to photographically build a creature that looks both real and menacing (I once had to create one called the Bone Eater with only the information that it was reptilian).

But this week it's a disaster movie currently called Earth's Final Hour. I'm creating a 4-page brochure that has a teaser cover, then city in destruction on the inside (not an easy task btw), followed by a synopsis on the back.

My first go-round on the art resulted in a thing I did with planet Earth to illustrate what would happen if the Earth stopped rotating. I originally had this idea for the inside but they decided they wanted something more down-to-earth for the inside instead of "space." But now I'm trying to sell the little thing I created as a sort of symbol on the back below the synopsis. I sent the new version out to them a couple of hours ago and now I get to wait for comments.

So, I thought I'd go layer-by-layer to show you the Earth thingy I created.

This is the first layer, on the bottom of the pile:

Obviously, it's a picture of an eclipse, although when I'm done it will not look like an eclipse (hopefully). First thing I did was color balance it to change the lit rim on the left to blue.

The next layer is Earth...

...which I sized and put directly over the dark part of the eclipse picture. And masked out the starry starry night (name that tune).

Then I put another layer of the eclipse over the Earth as a hard light layer at 45% opacity and masked out the right half - when the grey part is on the layer it lets what's underneath it show this case the right side of the Earth. The mask is a little sloppy but I'll fix that if the idea ends up in the finished piece.

The next layer is another stock photo from space. I just used this corner of it to illustrate the half of the planet that would be facing the sun.

This is the same photo...
...after I created a mask to hide the parts I didn't want to show. Yes, another sloppy mask that will be fixed.

Once the layers are all on top of each other, they look like this...

And that is how I created something from nothing...with three existing space photographs I plunged our planet into certain death.

Lucky for you my powers don't extend beyond the photoshop file.

Or do they?

Think about that before you go to sleep tonight.

Sweet dreams.

You can see more of the stuff I do with photoshop and the creative side of my brain on .


Christy said...

I'm completely diggin' your photoshop magical powers. :) Thank you for sharing the quickie tutorial. The end result is definitely cool to have come from nothing :)

Steve B said...

Indeed, "Vincent" would have approved of your swirling, yellowy ball of fire.