How to place talent inside airplane cockpit with green screens?

HeySiri Website User Posts: 382 Just Starting Out*

In a short film I'm making, my talents are sitting in the cockpit of a small alien fighter (designed like an F-18 cockpit, that sort of look). Obviously, they will be in front of a green screen since they'll be flying through the air, but how do I achieve the look of them being in a cockpit? My small budget doesn't allow me to actually build any sort of cockpit, so I wanted to do a CGI cockpit. Would this be possible? Would it be reasonably simple to match up angles from animations of the cockpit that I would find and/or purchase and then composite them in with the actors via chroma key and masking?


  • Triem23
    Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 19,558 Ambassador

    This is mostly identical to the crashed  spaceship question and I'm tempted to merge the two threads. Every consideration you would have for the ship you have for a cockpit. Are you looking for a 3D model, or are you using 2D images or 2D images on 3D planes to create the cockpit?

    Basically you'll greenscreen your actors. Anything behind them goes on lower layers. Anything in front on an upper. You have to match camera angles and lighting. If you're using 3D stuff you'll need to match camera angle of view. (same with the spaceship crash)

    I'm in the middle of nowhere and don't have internet bandwidth for YouTube. You need to visit my Essential Hitfilm YouTube channel and watch the three videos on cameras. As far as I know I'm the only one to ever do tutorials on matching Hitfilm's camera to a real camera. You'll need to know that stuff. While you're at it, watch the three part series on animation and the long one on 2D compositing. Again, you'll need to know that stuff .

  • FilmSensei
    FilmSensei Moderator, Website User, Ambassador Posts: 2,935 Ambassador

    You can get started with the Camera Videos...

    Essential Hitfilm 12 - Understanding HItfilm's Camera 01 (Virtual Lens Kit)

    Essential Hitfilm 13 - Understanding Hitfilm's Camera pt 2 (Moving the Camera)

    Essential Hitfilm 014 - Advanced Camera Rigging

    Essential Hitfilm 014a - Cameras 3.5 - Easier Jibs!

  • NormanPCN
    NormanPCN Website User Posts: 4,062 Enthusiast
    edited November 2018

    This Hitfilm tutorial might be of help. It puts a green screened actor inside a 3D helicopter (open door). The helicopter is flying as well.

    The copter door is open showing the actor but you can see that the actors left hand is obscured by the model because the actor is "inside" the model. If the copter door was closed and had glass the actor could be seen through the glass.

    All this assumes your model has some open space inside to put the 3D plane of a screened actor. Match visual angles and so on.

  • HeySiri
    HeySiri Website User Posts: 382 Just Starting Out*

    @Triem23 sorry about making separate threads, feel free to merge them, but I thought the questions were fairly different. One is about integrating a 3D model within the environment, and this one is more about specifically making a cockpit feel. Sorry that they're so similar! Also, thank you for the tutorials you recommended, I will definitely watch them!

    Also thanks @FlimSensei and @NormanPCN for tutorials listed!

  • JBaymore
    JBaymore Website User Posts: 337 Enthusiast
    edited November 2018

    I'm working on a similar thing  for a 'fun" project.   I did up matte paintings of the cockpit from a couple different views.  Green screen for the spaces showing "out the wind screens" stuff happening around the craft.  Can also green screen in some instruments locations for displaying info on them.

    I'm keeping the pilot's activities in the live action shots somewhat "generic" and basic, so that I don't have to match up stuff like hand and arm movements too closely to the various controls that might show in the painted backgrounds.  Very hard to do this convincingly with a 3-d actor in front of a 2-d painting.  . 

    Also when shooting the actors on green screen, having a couple laptops facing the actors (out of shot) with changing images on them that reflect the lights from that back on the actors so that it looks like the reflection from cockpit instruments.  Also using moving (hand controlled) secondary lighting to vary  the image so that it looks like bank/roll/pitch changes.  And occasional light flashes on the actor to show "near misses" of shots AT the craft.  (Then matching some lighting in Hitfilm on the matte painting.)

    It is easy to see why the budgets for movies are as high as they are!

    Hope these thoughts help.  I'm pretty new to this stuff also.




  • HeySiri
    HeySiri Website User Posts: 382 Just Starting Out*
    edited November 2018

    @JBaymore that's really helpful, thanks! I like the laptop and flashes idea, and will most likely do just that! The tricky part is lining up the physical camera and the Hitfilm camera. I'll probably have my 3D workspace, have my greenscreen actors as a 2D plane, and have markers on the green screen to help line up the cockpit around them as a 3D model directly in Hitfilm. Then, it's just getting camera angles right. The only question I still really have is what type of markers would be good for simulating the cockpit to help line it up afterwards? Just literal markers placed on the green screen, or would something else work better?

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