The television documentary "Die Deutschen" [The Germans ] on ZDF
With spirited gestures, Kaiser Wilhelm gives a speech to the soldiers who are about to be transported to the Far East. Journalists are standing at the same level on the roof of a warehouse. It's a scene that unfolded exactly that way about 100 years ago and was documented in a contemporary photograph.
Set extension makes it possible to expand or transform the environment of an actual image through virtual or recombined "backdrops." For the client, this is a cost-effective method with the great advantage that the action can happen independently of the filming location before any conceivable backdrop.
The scene is digitally complemented with photographed pictorial elements or even 3-D scenery in a kind of collage by the matte painting artists. Matte painting is often linked to green- and bluescreen processes in which the protagonists are in the foreground and the green or blue surface behind them is replaced with a matte painting. The assorted layers of the painted background, particle effects (smoke, mist, etc.), and the actual film recording are assembled in compositing programs and their color correction, saturation, and other attributes are adjusted.
In our case, both the Kaiser and the journalists were shot in front of a greenscreen. Planning in the preliminary stage was very important here because the relative height of the individual components played a critical role in the image composition later. During the shot, the main image element, Kaiser Wilhelm II, who stands on an elevated pedestal in the completed image, was behind a railing that was constructed directly on the floor. The journalists were filmed separately on a surface that was built at an angle to correspond to the roof surfaces. That filmed material was combined in post-processing and completed with a computer-generated reconstruction of the formed warehouse.
In the first step, the geometry of the perspective in the 3-D space and the color correction of the original film material were adjusted at FaberCourtial. The elements that should be in the foreground, in this case the Kaiser and the journalists, were isolated and positioned within the image in compositing. Secondary effects such as linking shadows were added in the final step.