Maddigan's Quest

Season 1 Episode 10

Birdboys

0
Aired Weekdays 4:30 PM Feb 13, 2006 on BBC
9.0
out of 10
User Rating
3 votes
1

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Episode Summary

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Birdboys
AIRED:
Whilst resting, the Fantasia are attacked by flying Birdboys. Their food is stolen, but more importantly the solar converter goes missing. The Birdboys’ camp is searched, but the converter is not found. Garland suggests that Ozul and Maska must be nearby, but Timon suggests something altogether more worrying – that Yves could have taken it. Yves is accused of treason to the Fantasia, but is Timon right? Is he hiding something himself?

Read the episode recap for a full synopsis.moreless

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Traitors and Flying Humans

    9.5
    Come prepared as the final draws closer!



    Once again the Fantasia have had their food van stolen. As they set off in search of it, they come across the mysterious bird boys and find that they have stolen their food. But the Solar Converter has been stolen and is later found wrapped in Yves scarf. Garland accuses him of being a traitor and he could leave the fantasia. But Ozul and Maska return to get the Solar Convertor and Yves and Boomer have to put up a fight.



    This episodeis very exciting and revealing. Timon is starting to show his true colours and Boomer gets another main role.moreless
Bronwyn Baker

Bronwyn Baker

Byrna

Guest Star

Tom Hern

Tom Hern

Birdboy Leader

Guest Star

Andrew Paterson

Andrew Paterson

Birdboy Lookout

Guest Star

Ben Cooper

Ben Cooper

Nye

Recurring Role

Ross Duncan

Ross Duncan

The Nennog

Recurring Role

Hori Ahipene

Hori Ahipene

Tane

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (1)

    • Zane Holmes Comments on the Birdboy Shots:

      These shots were picked out early on as being challenging by the BBC. I myself was never too worried due to the fact that flying shots have been done many many times before and the process is elatively simple and well documented. I chose to spend my time more on the stuff that I knew would be hard like Solis and the Taniwha and the vines in episode 1.

      It wasn't untill we got to the week before we were due to shoot Boomer and the Birdboy leader against blue screen that I saw the the flying shots through the trees that had been shot (what we call Background plates or BG Plates), and realised we had next to nothing usable. They were all very slow and didn't travel very far - we needed very long tracking shots through the trees that could be sped up very fast and blurred to make them look like they could concievably be the background of someone fliyng with jet propelled wings.

      So I went through the shots we did have with Gary Hunt our lead editor and we tried joining shots togther and disolving between them and then a few more tricks like reversing shots so that shots now travelled forward rather than back. We then got a Buzz Lightyear figure (the only human shaped toy I could find in the building). We looked at the shots we had in the edit suite (Called an Avid) then we got a handycam and filmed buzz flying into the camera in the same way the actor would need to in order to match the BG Plates. We took the shots of Buzz and captured them into the Avid and 'keyed' them into our flying sequences (keying is short for 'Chroma keying' a video term used when you're working with Blue screen or greenscreen, when you key something the blue or green disapears and you are left with your foreground element [in this case the actor with wings on] composited into the BG plate [in this case the trees rushing by in the background]).

      It took a few tries but eventually we had a dynamic feeling sequence of buzz flying through the trees just like we hoped Boomer would. The next step was to lay out video DVD's of those shots which I would take to set in order to direct the actual shots of Rawiri in front of the Bluescreen. Rawiri was harnessed up and suspended by cables so that he was in a flying position. The catch was that once hanging in the air it's not possible to have him swoop at the camera. In fact you have to put the camera on rails and track towards the actor in order to create the illusion that the character is swooping past camera.

      It took the better part of a day but eventually we had all the shots needed of Rawiri and Tom Herne who played the Birdboy leader. I then handed over the shots to the editing department and forgot about it for a few weeks while we dealt with other challenges...(I should note several shots of Boomer flying are pretty much real, we set up elaborate cable systems on location so that he could fly off the tree for his first shot flying in episode 10 and also for the shot of him landing during Yves fight with Maska. The only things we did in those shots was paint out the wires and add the jet from his backpack. The shot of him taking off looks a little weird because we ran out of daylight at the end of the day we shot it, and it was basically night that we tried to make look like day). When I came into look at the final flying shots a few weeks later I was dismayed to see that due to a technical hitch the vfx artists had been given the wrong background plates so when they had keyed Boomer into the shots all manner of crazy things happened, he was going through trees on some and flying backwards on others!

      Now the problem became one of urgency as we were out of time, the program was very close to needing to be delivered to grading (the last step before it is layed to the Master tape with sound), then a copy is dubbed and shipped to the BBC. We raced to fix the BG plate issue when we should have really been perfecting the lighting in the shots and adding things like moving shadows to Boomer to make it look more real. Consequently the shots were never really finished to perfection and do stand out a little.

      That's gereally the case with any dodgy looking visual effects (visual effects are ones done in post production, Special effects are ones that actually happen and are filmed by the cameras e.g. when the house blows up in Witch-Finder) in the show. It's not that we don't know they're a little suspect looking, it's just that we have to move on to complete the schedule.

      In hindsight, when I saw how bad the BG plates were (the crew hadn't had enough time to shoot them properly on the shoot day) I should've got a High Def handycam and gone out in the forest and shot some much better ones. A great example of really well shot BG Plates is the Speeder Bike sequence in Return of the Jedi, those shots were created by having a cameraman using a special system called Steadicam walk for miles through a redwood forest in California shooting at a speed of around one frame a second, when the footage was played back at normal speed (24 frames per second) the camera appeared to be going 24 times faster and created the sense of flying low to the ground through the forest.

      In the end our shots tell the story and most people won't notice anything too bad with them, although to the eagle eyed they will feel slightly unnatural. It is, after all, a flying boy, so there is always going to be something a little unreal about it!

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