Shooting a VFX Element: Blood / by Kristen DiLiello

The goal of this shoot was to create a blood element that was not able to be done in principal photography and also not able to be animated in post.  To do this, we had to recreate the original shot and then add the blood element to be isolated from our shot and composited back onto the original footage. Using some basic techniques we recreated the blood element as if it was in the original footage.

  1. LIGHTING: In order to make the blood element work we needed to recreate the lighting conditions the astronaut was originally filmed in. We printed the original shot onto a large piece of paper so that we would have the astronaut reflected in the pool of blood. This was the most important element to making the blood feel as if it was part of the original scene. We printed a large poster of the image (a matte version would be best to avoid unnatural reflections), cut out the bottom of the frame, and inserted our blood element into it on a piece of cement we bought from Home Depot. It was also helpful to have a ground surface similar to the original so the edges of the blood did not look different or reflect a different toned surface. The second most important lighting factor was the sun's position during principal photography. As we could see in the astronaut's helmet the sun was very frontal.  Lastly, the location of the astronaut was important as he was in a large parking lot with vast open sky in front of him.  In order to replicate the direction and space of the environment we filmed the blood element in an environment that faced an open sky.  Once we had these conditions set up we dropped the blood onto the concrete and filmed it in 4K. 
  2. CAMERA: Make sure to replicate the same angle, height, and lens as close to the original shot as possible. 

The most essential component to having a shot like this come out successful is to have the VFX person on set to making sure everything is executed properly and that the look of the element is what the director was aiming for. All in all, once composited back into the original footage, the blood element came out looking pretty believable.