Compositing – Car Crash as a Special Effect for a Short Film

Finished Composition of the Motortruck Crash

Composition of the Finished Motortruck Crash

For the short film “PHANTOMSCHMERZ” of students of the Baden-Württemberg Film Academy in Ludwigsburg Germany, Malte Derks und Daniel Jacob, the UNEM-Filmpro­duktion made a visual effect scene. The driver of a car should collide head on with a motortruck. To avoid complex stuntdrives the sequence was done in a 3D-Compositing.

Video of the sequence with making of at the end of the article: (Link to the video)

Background for the Film-Scene

In the story a young couple is driving in their car on a forest road. The young driver gets distracted by his girl friend. He drives on the opposite lane and both are meet with an accident. The car collides with a truck, that can’t get out of the way.

Source Material for the Compositing

As source material we use the recording of a road, a truck on the companies parking space and the interior of a car. Like in the short film itself the plates (compositing-layers) shots were filmed with a Sony PMW-F3 of the cameraman Malte Derks in Standard-Mode without S-Log.

Background Layer

At first the bumpy ride on the road is stabilized. Because the street was filmed from the passengers seat, we flipped the image and swapped the side markers to get the impression as if the car would drive in the middle of the road.

Original Recording of the Road

Background Plate Road

Stabilized and flipped Shot of the Road

Background Plate of the Road mirrored

3D-Compositing of the Truck

The motortruck was filmed on the parking space of a trucking company. It drives slowly towards the camera. The background is masked out.

Original Recording of the Motortruck

Background Plate of the Motortruck


Compositing Layer Motortruck

To avoid a flat looking motortruck the sides of the truck are extended as a 3D compositing with a photo.

Motortruck with side in 3D

Compositing Layer Motortruck 3D-Extension

3D-Motortruck placed onto the Background-Layer

3D-Motortruck placed onto the Background-Layer

Motion-Tracking for the 3D-Sequence

After calculating the pathway of the road through 3d motion tracking, the 3D motortruck follows the road. At the moment the motortruck looks like an alien element because the colors and the cue state of foreground and background does not match.

Without a color-correction the cue state of the Motortruck not write

Compositing - Motortruck before the color-correction

For a more realistic image the Motortruck is color-corrected

Compositing - Motortruck after the color-correction

Therefore a color-correction is applied and a relection of the environment is projected onto the surface of the motortruck. A shadow below the truck and on the side of the road is also needed for a consitent image.

The background is projected on the surfaces so that it looks as if the motortruck would drive.

Motortruck with projected Compositing Layer

Motortruck with Compositing-Shadows

Motortruck with Compositing-Shadows

Composition of the Foreground

For the first-person perspective of the car driver the indoor shot of the car is cut out. Therefore the windscreen disapears.

Innenaufnahme des PKW

PKW Vordergrund-Plate

Inner view of the driver with fitted background layer.

Compositing - Car with Background

A simulation of the front window is realized with a reflection of the dashboard in the windscreen. The dashboard and the hand is color-corrected. A small movement simulates the drivers point of view. A slight blur of the foreground creates a filmic look.

Reflection of the Dashboard in the Windscreen

Car with Windscreen Reflection

Car with color-corrected dashboard

Car with color-corrected dashboard

Car with color-corrected hand

Compositing-Layer Car with color-corrected hand

Compositing-layer of windscreen.

Car with windscreen

At last the head lights of the truck are equipped with light sources which are generating a lens flare on the windscreen of the car. The trucks headlight are flashing but he can’t get out of the way. He breaks, the tractor unit is lowered and the trailer swings off to the right side.

Motortruck with Headlamps and Lens-Flare

Motortruck with Headlamps and Lens-Flare

The finished Compositing in a Making-Of Video

The sound-design of the video is not from the short film. It was done separatly.

More Compositing Samples in the UNEM Reel

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One Response to Compositing – Car Crash as a Special Effect for a Short Film

  1. Amazing car crash in 3D compositing. Great piece of video art of work there. Thumbs up!

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