Monster Hunter / Photoshop’ery – keeping it real’ish

In all of our shoots we try to build as much REAL stuff as we can. We believe light looks better falling across actual objects and the stories we try to tell feel more legitimate when the models and actors are in real spaces vs pretending on green screen. But the restrictions of space, time and money sometimes will force us to rely on some degree of photo-shopery to pull the whole scene together.

In the case of the Monster Hunter shoot with Alex Pardee, we really wanted a vast swamp for Alex to be standing within. This was achieved by creating a set that allowed for foreground and midground elements to be shot “for real” and then all of the background was then comped together in Photoshop. We basically shot the same trees and grasses in a variety of positions and then cut and pasted them together.

Alex Pardee on set, with Alexander Tarrant playing the part of the monster.
Below is the flow of how almost all of our shoots break down. The first step is creating a set, the second step is comping all of the pieces parts together in photoshop to fill in the holes, the third step is repainting all the light to be the way we really want it.

Step one – the set “for real”

As you can see, we created three trees, and bunch of grasses and most notably, the water was created by placing huge sheets of mylar on the ground. And of course… there was a monster.

Step two – comping the scene

In this step, all of the background elements come into place and any odd little thing gets fixed.

Step three – crafting the light

This is where it all comes together. When we plunge our fingers into the pixels and push/pull them to achieve a more “unreal reality” — in many ways we are treating the photo like a canvas at this point and considering the scene as if it were a painting. We take hard looks at all of the elements and push the overall scene to have a good flow of light, color and details to ensure the most important part of the process comes through – the story.

You can find out more about the set creation and how we made the monster here.