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The Passenger or the search for identity (FW31)

A short film by Carl Stevenson. A dystopian vision of the future.
The first inspiration for the film came from a photograph published in many newspapers of a mouse with a human ear shaped growth on its back. I was interested in the way that the public perception of science and scientists has changed largely due to the way science is portrayed in the media. I am particularly interested in how our limit of acceptance for experimentation of this kind has changed. People have become much more aware of the possibilities and dangers of scientific experimentation and have more informed fears of the consequences.
In the film I presented a scenario where experimentation had resulted in a world of hybrid lifeforms - a collection of sad and beautiful creatures. I drew a rough storyboard without too much detail in order to make the filming and editing process as organic as possible. I decided to film the basic components of the creatures without making too many decisions about how the various elements would be combined. I felt it was easier to film as large a variety of shots as possible in order to build up a library of parts to play with.
The first thing I filmed was my next door neighbours cat. I knew I was only going to use the head but there was no possibility of filming against a bluescreen as the cat wouldn’t stay still. The best way of achieving the results I wanted was to hand drawn masks around each element frame by frame. This was a very intensive way of working but it allowed more freedom in the filming process. I neglected to ask my neighbours if they minded their cat being turned into a Frankenstein pigeon monster and thankfully they emigrated to France last year so they will never know.
The obvious place to film pigeons was Trafalgar square. Unfortunately, the mayor of London had recently decided to rid Trafalgar square of every pigeon in existence. A sparrow hawk had been brought in as a deterrent as well as loud speakers blasting out the calls of birds of prey. This was a disaster, I really wanted to get close up to the pigeons by feeding them but even this was discouraged by the heavy-handed pigeon minders. Several people were protesting against the mayor’s actions. Armed with shopping bags full of bread they turned up each morning and fed the pigeons. It was a bizarre sight to see people, with handfuls of bread flying into the air, being chased around Trafalgar Square by large men in yellow coats carrying big brooms. I planned my filming session for early mornings when bread was being scattered for the pigeons.
The last element in the collage was human. Some of these were people filmed in railway stations. This proved to be an ideal place to film as the floor was white and most of the passengers wore dark coloured clothes. The white background was relatively easy to key out at the compositing stage. The ears and hands belonged to friends and were easy to film as they were needed.
All the backgrounds were created using Carrera relatively cheap and basic software package. I knew I was going to add grain and dirt elements to the finished video so wasn’t too concerned about realistic shadows and colours. 
After compositing the various foreground elements together it was a straightforward process to line up the perspective of the background 3d by eye. Most of the shots are static or with a slowly moving camera. I had some footage of people walking filmed from above in which the camera was moving quite substantially. I was able to track a point on the floor of the station and use the motion tracking capabilities of After Effects to combine the passengers with a CG floor.