'Arrested Development' VFX

Galleries - Motion Graphics

Arrested Development VFX


Visual Effects: Television Series

Shape Shifter/ Netflix/ Imagine Entertainment


As you may guess, a TV show known for being a masterpiece of character and comedy doesn't need very many obvious effects. The effects it does need will usually fall into the category of 'correctional', and if done right, will not even be apparent.


In this case the guys over at Arrested Development needed a late in the game extra hand on a single outstanding shot. Turned out a rogue light stand needed to be removed from a shot.


Classic corrective VFX shot.



But of course this light stand is 1) on the other side of a window, 2) which is behind vertical blinds, 3) which has people walking both behind and in front of it, 4) is shot with a hand-held camera 5) and has a sudden focal length change where the camera zooms out to a wide shot, changing the perspective of the entire shot.



The approach for this is to break down not only how to technically accomplish the effect, but also how to creatively come up with the most efficient way to correct the visual.


My first pass was to just remove the light stand as if it were never there. The only issue with that approach is that the person whom walks behind it will become an additional time consuming fix to make them look right when they cross behind it.


The decided approach was to just cover it up with an object. In this case, expand the post that already existed outside the window. Creative problem solved!


Now the main technical issue is that the camera is hand held, and changes both position and focal length. Along with the depth of the shot, there were no real good points to track the rotation and scale of, because any continually unobstructed points did not lie on the same plane in perspective. This will cause inaccurate calculations by the tracker.


To get around that, the first part of the scene is tracked for only position, using points on the same plane as the window. Rotation adjustments were then done by hand.


When the camera changes focal length, we are able to see more of the room, and selecting positions for rotation are much more accurate. At that point the rotation becomes accurately tracked, and the position and scale are adjusted manually.


We then have a fabricated background, and a track that is sticking. Last but not least we take some time to hand rotoscope a matte around the foreground objects and characters (frame by frame), and everything falls into place nicely.


Hopefully if you weren't looking for it, you probably wouldn't even notice it.