Waterbird Productions
The Making of SUPER BATTLESUIT X-1
OVERVIEW:

I got the idea when I saw some robot toys for sale at
Walmart. I thought they might look cool on screen, so
I bought two of 'em and made this movie in about a
week. The toys are called Motorized Attack Robo
Squad (M.A.R.S.) and are made by Cybotronix
(
www.happykidtoy.com).

The special effect's program used for compositing
was Composite Lab Pro. Muzzle flashes and such
were created using Effects Lab Pro. Both software
packages are made by FxHome (
www.fxhome.com).

The explosions were created by Detonation Films
(
www.detonationfilms.com).

All military stock footage is from the Internet Archive
(
www.archive.org).
Setting up Franz. Copyright 2009 David A. Hamilton
Filming X-1. Copyright 2009. David A. Hamilton
THE PROCESS:

I planned the shots around my home. I didn't story board this. I just took the camera outside
and filmed around my house. I just visualized the shots in my mind as something like this:
  • Evil robot approaches house
  • Evil robot stops
  • Good robot exits garage
  • Good robot walks towards evil robot
  • Good robot stops
  • Each robot talks (far shot, close shot)
  • Each robot fires at the other (far shots, close shots, multiple angles)
  • Point of view shots for each robot
  • Bad robot goes BOOM

I then took all of this footage and loaded it in the computer.
Next, I filmed the robots in front of a green screen and attempted to match these shots up to
the angles from my previous footage.

The robots are small (about 7 inches tall) and are made of plastic. The plastic reflects light
so this made filming them in front of the green screen difficult. Since my normal green
screen seemed to be reflecting too much green onto the robots I tried a different approach
and used a piece of green cardboard instead.
This worked much better. The board was a trifold project display board measuring 36X48.
These can be purchased at just about any craft or office supplies store for less then 5 bucks.

I filmed in my basement using the overhead fluorescent lights and three utility lights
positioned to the left. right, and front of the robots.

The green screen was about four feet behind the robots. The robots were on a work bench
that I created using 2 standard sawhorses and an old cardboard box. I placed a black piece
of craft paper on top of the work bench to simulate asphalt (since I knew the robots would
be fighting in my front driveway).

The robots are motorized, so I set them on the work bench and filmed them walking left to
right, right to left, forward, backward, and so on. Then I filmed them standing still from
various angles and distance (again, all the while trying to match the angles to the outside
background shots).

When this was done, I loaded the footage into the computer and performed some basic
editing to determine which shots looked good and which shots simply didn't work. I picked
the background/foreground combinations and then went about combining them one shot at
a time. For example, I the first shot I worked on was the scene where the evil robot is
walking up the driveway. This was the establishing shot for that character and I figured if I
could not pull that shot off then there was no reason to continue with the project.

All compositing work was done in Composite Pro by FxHome. This is an amazing product
and quite easy to use. Prior to purchasing this product I had zero experience with FX work
and never thought that I would be able to make something like my first film (Distant Salvage)
or Super Battlesuit X-1.

The user interface can be seen below (click image to enlarge).
Interface ex. Copyright 2009 David A. Hamilton
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