Click on a picture to see the original version or the new version.

For more information about how this shot was created, see below!

NOTE: I made some changes to this shot since I first posted it. I reduced the number of ripples, made them more random and blurred and added some real splashes to the gator as it enters the water. I also added a slightly darkend vignette to the top and bottom to take the highlights off the greenery near the edge of the frame. Click the image above for the new version. To see the original version, click HERE.

Details on the new additions are below.

Here we go with cut number 5. It's a pretty fast shot of an alligator slithering into the water. This presented a variety of problems, not the least of which was dealing with how to animate water!


While I wrestled with the water issue, Brandi started on the set. Here she has randomly cut the end of a piece of scrap PVC to form a hollowed out log. A tree limb is then hot melt glued into place.


To give the log some interesting grain/bark, Brandi slathers it with DAP vinyl paste.


The log before painting. The wooden pieces at the back end are to keep it from rolling. ;)


I decided that I wanted the set to rotate so I'm just using two boards with a single screw in the middle. The stage will be rotated by hand in about 1/8th inch increments, so I'm giving the two opposing stage surfaces a coat of paste wax to reduce friction.


When in doubt, use a mirror! I had some surplus first surface mirrors laying around, so I figured I would use them for the water. Here I'm anchoring a wooden backing for the river bank area of the set. Dunno why I look pissed off. I must be deep in thought.


More vinyl spackling! Care had to be taken not to damage the mirrors while we put the set together.


Me attaching some plants to a wooden stand-off to simulate a tree in the corner of the frame. Having already shot a couple of jungle sets, we had surplus plants a-plenty as you can see on the top shelf in the background.


Despite our abundance of foliage,  Brandi found it necessary to swipe some plants from a neighbors front yard and cut them down for our use. Here she hot melt glues them to the mirror to simulate reedy plants sprouting from the water. Note the completed log in the background.


As with some of the other shots, I decided to just use clay for the alligator. As I knew I would be adding motion blur, I exagerated the surface detail of the gator and kept the design simple. The gator in the cartoon was brown but I felt a grey gator would read better against the sandy river bank.  Using clay allowed me to slice off the gator in sections to provide the illusion of it entering the water (mirror).


Here is what the set looked like during the shoot. Click on the picture for a larger view.


To solve the problem of ripples in the water, I animated a set of expanding concentric rings across an 18 frame repeating cycle. These moved from the center out, like water ripples would normally do. In Photoshop, I layered up two identical stills for each frame of the animated gator entering the water. The top layer was normal but the layer below it I increased in size by 5%. I then used the animated rings as a key to cut a hole in the top layer, which revealed the slightly larger bottom layer. However, the bottom layer was was only visible within the lines of the rings and, because the bottom layer was slightly larger, it appeared "skewed" and displaced compared to the surrounding imagery. This gave the impression of ripples distorting the reflections of the surrounding scenery.


Originally, I had painted in the splashes but felt they didn't look quite right. So I decided to go for some real splashes and enlisted the help of my 12 year old daughter, Remington.  We headed out to the river on our property for some aquatic effects work.
Oh, and Scout and Gizmo decided to help, as well.


I waited until the sun was just over the trees behind her to shoot. This put any reflections of the trees in shadow but with the water backlit for maximum contrast. I used an HD video camera set for progressive and a high speed shutter to freeze the water in motion.


Once in Photoshop, I then desaturated to black and white and cranked up the contrast. I added a soft matte around the perimeter of the splashes and then pasted them into the shot, frame by frame to align with the gator.


Me animating the gator.


I pinched a tree from the jungle canoe shot and put it in the foreground in soft focus.
It's not in the cartoon but it adds a bit of depth.


And this is what it all looked like! Click on the picture for a larger view.

The finished clip is at the top of the page!

Thanks for looking!


All information, videos, photos and graphics in this website are copyright 2010, Roger Evans. All rights reserved.
For those that enjoy the creak of leather, click HERE for my gallery of western art paintings