The Making

 The Making of Gamling with Secrets.

This week I’ve been working on the opening cave man sequence – the purpose of which is to introduce the concept of division and lead into Euclid’s section on prime numbers. I have also been shooting the gambling scenes which are set in the 1700′s and help explain the origin of probability theory. Luckily I have been able to shoot closeups at infamous ‘Bucket of Blood’ gambling den courtesy of the Burns Lake Museum with Anthony.

I found a cave along the creek in the forest which looks great for the initial establishing shots. Still working out the mechanics of starting a fire by hand, today I will be going out for the third attempt to make it work….

Mark Phillips is working away on a custom animation rig for the title sequences. His idea was to simulate a slot machine for the titles so he’s building one from scratch.

Slot machine wheel construction

Lighting the slot machine with Mark via Skype

Finished Title


Locks play an important role throughout the script. Here I’m shooting video for a CG sequence involving hundreds of locks. The purpose of which is to viscerally demonstrate the uniqueness of prime factorization.

With my new system up and running I’m now able to scan through hours of stock footage I’ve collected which will play a dominant role during the second half of the episode. Specifically footage of WW2 (Battle of the Bulge), 1900′s telecommunications technology (telegraph & teletype), Roman/Greek warrior films out of Italy (For the section on Caesar)…etc

June 5th

Anatomy of a sky.

I’ve always enjoy creating special effects using a variety of matte & composite modes. This allows creative ways of layering video while avoiding the need for CG elements. The end result is always more organic, therefore believable. In this example I needed a sunset scene which also contained an array of flickering stars. With a matte, and three layers I was able to achieve the desired effect.

+ Matte


Slowed down production a little bit over the past few weeks. Re-working some analogies which run through the entire episode – I feel as though I’m on draft 30 at least…a sign of progress or insanity? Most importantly I’m trying to decide if I should explain RSA encryption in detail – something that has never been done without getting mathy (I’ve read all the books and websites on the topic). I have an original idea to use clocks and ropes to explain why h(x) = x^e MOD N is used in the protocol…however It might be too much to pack on at the end of a long episode full of analogies. Although, to simply it would be regrettable….

I finally finished up the opening 6 minute caveman scene. I just finished some shots where a drum skin is used as paper to perform rudimentary calculations:

August 9th/

Finished shooting and editing the opening robbery sequence. Decided to use this scene as the glue to hold the episode together.

August 16th/

Finally figured out a new (and more original) analogy for the section on randomness. I feel it is going to be a refreshingly unique way of explaining the physics of dice and the mathematics of the uniform distribution (using coffee and cream of all things). Last night I shot some closeups of someones coffee using a large pot of coffee to inter-cut with a real coffee cup. I found that narrow containers offered better results as the cream cycled around faster inside the container. I had to brew about 35 cups to get it right. To remove the steam above the container I used an old school trick, a blow drier -

Then I took the coffee swirls and composited it into a cup of coffee…who woulda’ though?:

Sept 22/

Working away on a series of math animations and editing together the second half of the episode. Meanwhile Cam is composing some amazing music out of his closet…literally

Oct 1st/

Finally  finishing closeup shots for the 2nd half on various cipher techniques.

Oct 10th/

Time for another cool CG composite effect. Working on an effect to help demonstrate the huge number of five letter word combinations. Hoping to use Blender for the CGI paper stack. The idea is to have a stack of paper reaching 1.2 km high. Here was my process.

First I shot the empty background plate, which takes place in a forest.

Then I fired up blender (first time using it!) and tried to mimic the virtual camera angle I’d need.

Then I created a rough looking stack using cube and loop cuts with random twists. I began by applying some different lighting to simulate the sun through the trees:

Then I applied a material and texture to the stack:

Next, I wanted to simulate the patterned shadows that the trees would cast onto the stack. So I created a “burn layer” in Photoshop using a textured brush, and animated it changing over a few frames.

Here is the finished model before compositing it into the scene:
Here it is in the scene, notice two problems…perspective and contrast

I boosted the contrast on the stack and then applied some curvature to get it to here:

Meanwhile cam is working away on themes….

2 Responses to The Making

  1. Pingback: Gambling with Secrets: Behind the scenes « Not A Nework

  2. Pingback: Kick Starter, Brit Cruise and Connections, Old and New « The Starry Messenger

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