Stick Figure War Shot in Blackmagic RAW

​Production company SoKrispyMedia’s newest release, “Stick Figure War” was shot in Blackmagic RAW using Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 4.6K G2 and Micro Studio Camera 4Ks, with post work done in DaVinci Resolve Studio.

The 2016 “Stick Figure Battle,” which has garnered more than 23 million views, pitted two students against each other as they draw fighting stick figures on a classroom white board. The recently released “Stick Figure War” increases the stakes, not only incorporating an entire classroom of students, but bringing extensive cutting edge visual effects to bear. Created by filmmakers Sam Wickert and Eric Leigh, the two are no strangers to pushing the envelope.

Production of the live action took a single day, despite the 70 shots slated, and was shot entirely with the Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 4.6K G2.

SoKrispyMedia’s producer Micah Malinics; “From the early beginnings of this project, we knew we were going to shoot on the Ursa Mini. We had previously used it on ‘Chalk Warfare 4’ and it really took our cinematography to the next level. Blackmagic Design cameras allow us to capture an incredible image while operating on a very run and gun, small team style production.”

In preparation for extensive speed ramps in post, Wickert used the camera’s high frame rate capabilities during production. “We shot the actor’s performance sequences at 60 frames per second to allow for speed ramps later, and all in Blackmagic RAW,” he said. “The Blackmagic Micro Studio Camera 4K, on a rail system fed into a Blackmagic Video Assist 7” monitor for recording, was used for the top down hand shots for the students drawing. The portability of the Micro Studio Camera allowed us to also set up a matching top down shot of a desk in our office for added shots later. This allowed us to always iterate and have a camera that was setup ready for us to shoot great new shots on the fly.”

With principal photography finished, the often arduous task of completing VFX was accomplished with the combination of Unreal Engine and DaVinci Resolve Studio. Editing started in Resolve, while Wickert, who also served as VFX Supervisor, worked with visual effects artist Brendan Forde in managing the elements to build each shot.

“We utilized Fusion for a number of shots,” said Forde. “Fusion's 3D system makes it really easy to apply and manipulate our stick figures as textures once we track the paper that they are on, particularly for the airplane sequence. With the texture node, we can render UV passes of our rotomation, and that allows us to retexture paper with our stick figures and have them respond to the bending and flexing of the paper in compositing, making iteration much quicker.

“We used every panel in Resolve. It was my one stop shop for the entire post of the film. Brendan is the node man, so he loves the node based architecture in the Fusion workflow. As for me, I was responsible for all editing and color. And it’s so easy because it’s all just in one package.”

For the previous installment of “Stick Figure Battle,” the team was required to manually render elements for each shot, using a massively time consuming iterative render process. For the newest film Wickert chose to incorporate BMD camera and post production technology with Epic Games’ Unreal Engine, the Dell XPS Precision 7750 mobile workstation and the NVIDIA Quadro RTX 5000 GPU, a combination which would provide real time rendering, and immediate response both on set and in post.

“Working on a pipeline between cameras, DaVinci Resolve software and Unreal Engine was surprisingly easy and intuitive,” said Wickert. “Between the full Blackmagic ecosystem with cameras, capture and playback and Resolve, we’re able to quickly and easily get up and running and integrate with Unreal Engine’s virtual production tools. To be honest, I don’t think if we had tried it any other way, it would have worked. Our current pipeline is running so smoothly, and we’re really happy with the images we’re getting.”

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